« AnteriorContinuar »
to be discovered," said his friend. his question rather impatiently, for “ Paris, in my opinion, is full of plots the speaker, as he passed on, was —which had better soon be dashed to turning a glance of attention that pieces." He made an emphatic mo- way: the gendarme, too, with a sudtion with the sheathed sabre on his den motion of his hand to his huge left arm, and glanced firmly along the cocked hat, seemed less careful to street, from face to face. “My dear reply than to leave full room for the Armand !" ejaculated the other, stop- two gentlemen. The younger of ping for an instant till their eyes met them stopped, turned, and addressed and the cheek of the garde-du-corps a word of sharp reproof to the official. seemed to redden—" this is"-but the “Permit me, monsieur,” he added, remainder was lost to Sir Godfrey, as coming forward with a slight bow, he held round towards the outskirts and speaking tolerably good English; of the Faubourg St Honoré. Crossing “it is probably rather to the commisby a shorter way, however, they still sary of your quarter you would address preceded him at the next corner. yourself, and his residence is not far; * On the contrary,” continued the at the number which I forget, younger, “had there been anything in the Place Montaigne, Champs to discover"-"- stupidly acute as Elysées." The Englishman thanked the police are"- "_but believe me, him briefly ; bowing in return the my friend,” he added with animation, more profoundly, as he felt the usual " there was nothing—nothing-it was unwillingness of his race to receive a merely ennui. And what police, favour he had no claim to. were it the very espionage of old De “It is denoted, besides," continued Sartines himself, bis apprentice and his informant with increased courtesy, friend Lenoir, or even my fine cousin “ by the red lantern over the portico, De Breteuil, with your thrice-humble which since two years has been fixed servitor here, can guard against ennui? over the doorway of every commis'Tis the only spectre I dread, for the sary's residence in Paris. Day or philosophers, the Encyclopédie, have night this will serve to distinguish still left it us!" Sir Godfrey had them by a glance.” passed them, indeed, hardly heeding “ Indeed?" was the sole answer, in their detached words so much as the a tone of some indifference. There young soldier's chivalrous air; a little was nothing officious in the younger on, he checked his horse at sight of a gentleman's unasked interference ; gendarme's blue and red livery, to while his singularly handsome face, inquire for the police-bureau of the his vivacious eyes, the air of life in quarter; at which the man turned his expression, along with an undenisharply, struck no doubt by the accent able elegance of manner, were conor the form of the question, and sur- trasted for the first time with his veyed him before attempting to give elder companion, who stood apart,
and almost haughtily silent, a dark “Ennui!" repeated the officer ener- shade seeming to gather on his thin getically, as they came on; “my faith, and dusky cheek, as he gazed into the we shall soon have little enough of street, having even withdrawn his that luxury, I think! I had imagined momentary notice of the spirited it the disease of England !"
horse. Yet the baronet felt less “But without her suspecting it,” annoyed thus than by the prolonged rejoined his livelier companion;" while politeness of his friend; he involunFrance alone endeavours to expel, to tarily bit his lip; there was somedefine the malady! What is Ver thing disagreeable even in being so sailles, Fontainebleau, Marly, Lu- promptly addressed in his own lanciennes, but a vast sigh, a drowsy guage. effort, a yawn (baillement)? Those “Might it be possible for one to parterres of Lenotre, those fountains, assist monsieur in any yet further those statues, which are like the manner ?”'inquired the stranger, with crimes of Paris ! But we awake the same easy grace ; though a and assure yourself, my friend, it is peculiar smile, at the time uninat the root of one half-"
telligible to Sir Godfrey, had hovered Colonel Willoughby had repeated about his lips. VOL. LXXVI.-NO. CCCCLXVI.
“My best thanks, monsieur," was the strangest symptoms of that strange the stiff response. “I think not-it time, that while the king had been is a mere ordinary piece of business ;" suppressing dungeons and projecting and, bowing deeply towards his horse's the good of the people, while the shoulder, the English baronet turned nobles desired reform of abuses, and in the direction indicated. He could the whole nation seemed to breathe see them from the distance, however, peace, philanthropy, and enthusiasm overtaken by a light cabriolet, which the very fashion of the salons had seemed to have been slowly following conceived a sudden sensibility to the them all the while ; the young élégant miseries and wants of the lowest class. stepped leisurely in, and with a ges- The late winters had been severe, and ture of adieu to his friend, was driven the last desperate, amidst dear proviswiftly off towards the city again ; the sions: there had been fêtes, lotteries, white plume of the garde-du-corps and performances of classic dramas disappeared among the passengers. in the theatre, although for these last
When Sir Godfrey had found the the curés had refused to distribute their commissary's office, shown the indis- unhallowed proceeds : yet greatest of pensable passport, and received, as he all had been the activity of the ladies in had expected, but little prospect of the genteel faubourgs, who, in graceful speedy information, he yet rode home- toilettes de quête, the most becoming wards in considerable ease of mind; of dresses, and with purses bearing the thing had in fact passed from his embroideries of flowers, cupids, and thoughts as he took the nearer way touching mottoes, turned their mornfrom the grand avenues of the Champs ing calls into a quest for alms. In Elysées, thronging with gaiety, by the less aristocratic quarters, where the overhanging shade of garden walls morning calls were scarcely made, it and backs of stables, across the open had taken hold chiefly on the little spaces flushed green with the after- girls, from mere childhood up to their noon light, alive with strolling girls teens ; lasting longer, doubtless, bein their teens, beside their prim gou- cause exercised only in the open air vernantes, or children scattered about on the street-passengers, with all the the groups of their sitting, gossipping, amusement of a play mingled in its sewing bonnes; while here and there, touch of reality. How interesting into a line of secluded street, full of was it, too, to the subjects of the tall, stately, old-fashioned houses in performance, as they were chosen from massy blocks, or separate in their the passing current with all that high-walled court-yards, sloped lazily faculty of prompt organisation so pethe white, gushing glory from far culiar to the race of France ; for the above; till the way towards a bridge, rendezvous was made in the neighor some glimpse of the bustle about bouring archway of some portethe airy quays, renewed again the cochère, apart from the bustle of the sense of being in Paris. But it seemed crowd, to hold the table with its as if some of its occurrences, other. white fringed cloth, and the silver wise as apparently fragmentary as the salver, where the savings of their own street-cries or confused accents, bore pocket-money had been first put for every now and then a more connected a handsel, as they gathered from the purport to the baronet as he came in various houses near. The old gentlecontact with them.
man, as he approached, had his skirts He had already thrown a coin or pulled by some lisping little one, with two mechanically to some squalid chubby cheeks, and curls that had cripple, or some one-eyed beggar in vainly been flattened, while her face his route, thinking no more of it; as peered from under the grey stuff of he turned into the thoroughfare near the mimic beggar's cloak: the most home, however, out of one of these simply dressed would hold the salver sun-bright and silent streets, where a to the lady of quality; the most polite few figures crossed here and there, a to the bourgeois; the plainest-featured singular little incident presented itself, to the widow, the spinster, or faded which was but part of many such beanty; the tallest to the middle-aged scenes throughout the quieter quarters gentleman, the prettiest to the gallant: of the French capital. It was one of and no rivalry, but how to get most,
disturbed the co-operation of those “ To the cures and their vicars, young quêteuses. The English baronet, Monsieur,” she said gravely, “who indeed, knew nothing of it as he will distribute it—they know every trotted forward, before the archway one so well !” Sir Godfrey mused. could be seen, with its lurking, listen- “And you live near us !” he said, ing, peeping group, holding their thinking of his own daughter, as he breath in expectation : he only saw a asked her name. slender young form, too tall for the “ It is Aiméeand my brother grey cloak to smother the whole of her is Armand de l'Orme, an officer at, white summer dress, trip from beside Versailles. We are orphans, Arthe wall, and hold up her rosy palm mand and I, and we do not belong before him, like a beggar; they had to Paris. We were both born in the chosen the eldest, for her eyes and com- south, in Provence-Were you ever plexion, to try the rich Englishman. in Provence, Monsieur-ah, how much
“ Pour nos pauvres, s'il vous plait, more beautiful it is !” With an air of Monsieur," said a clear sweet voice, empressement she clasped her hands, plaintively. Sir Godfrey had checked and standing there in the quietly his horse with a start; she was a girl sunny street, while the stream of the little younger than his own Rose, with populous chaussée passed athwart its the very blue eyes and that palest yel- end, the girl seemed to forget her imlow hair, which are so rare in France, patient company beyond, whose whisthough with that warmly-bright com- pers and exclamations at last betrayed plexion which is never seen out of it, them to the surprised glance of Sir suffused as it seems through a strange Godfrey. “ Was she allowed,” he shadow of brown. The folds and hood asked, however, “to make visits from of the cloak could not disguise the her convent-for he had a daughter, girlish grace of her figure, just shoot- little older than herself, who had no ing towards womanhood; the studi- companions of her own age in Paris." onsly plain arrangement of the hair And the young quêteuse responded à la quete, virgin-like, added to her eagerly to the hint. Oh, yes-she pure beauty, and did not take away was allowed-on certain days-and from the slightly coquettish glance she would positively come. Indeedfrom her drooped head as she thus perhaps-mademoiselle herself would made her appeal. “My dear little assist at their quête.” one !" ejaculated Sir Godfrey hastily The baronet shook his head, almost -“how-what-you are not a~in starting in his saddle at the thought. poverty ? "
But it struck him suddenly that Her cheek reddened as she drew up his oddly-made new acquaintance, her head proudly. “Me ? Yes, we through her friends the curés, might are poor, but noble-Armand and I. aid him in discovery of the missing It is for the poor of the city, Mon- Suzanne Deroux; and she was all sieur- of Paris."
readiness and sanguine expectaSir Godfrey reddened too, and lis- tion when he explained the matter. tened calmly to her eager explana. There was one young vicar in partition. “Ah, you are rich-you are cular, so mild, so missionnaire, so aposEnglish!" she added anxiously, as if tolique, whose acquaintance with all afraid he hesitated. His glance of the poorer quarters was miraculous : surprised inquiry did not escape her. she would be able to bring the news,
"I know you, Monsieur,” she said, she was sure, very soon indeed. So “for you live close to our convent in giving her, at her request, the same the Rue Debilly, near the Quai de paper he had recalled from his banker, Change, where I am a pensionnaire, Sir Godfrey saw her rejoin her archand where my aunt is the superior. way amidst the impatient welcome of I come often with one of the sisters her companions, and took his way to arrange the quête here. There are into the Rue Debilly, with a feeling Bo many poor !"
half-amused, half-meditative. “ And to whom do you give this At home, there were fresh letters money, belle petite?" asked the bar. and newspapers awaiting him, with onet, smiling at her delighted thanks the dinner-time, unwontedly late. for the gold he placed in her hand. There had been already the expected tidings from Francis to his mother, sure of home-thoughts: the very atthough brief, that he was finally free mosphere of the room seemed English, of term-times, having reached London, for all its bare waxed floor and pateh which he was ready to leave next of carpet, its airy paper-hangings of week; his father's remaining business pastoral scenes, its light curtains and there seemed fully settled, but he was tall glaring windows with flimsy to dine, before starting, at their friend frames, its stove-filled chimney-place, the solicitor's, and bring over with and the wbite folding-doors of its him everything wanted. He enclosed antechamber, about all wbich there his sister's letter, however, from her lurked no corner of substantial comdearest school-fellow, crossed and re- fort, as round the wainscot and pancrossed, with all its precious gossip elling, the recesses and embayments, for common use, its inexpressible sen- corner-cupboards, and hearth-places, timents that were not to be seen by and presses of home, with its highanother creature, and its postscript backed arm-chair, noiseless floors, and with the sole piece of real, intelligible family pictures: the sound of the coninformation. Mrs Mason's corre- vent-bell, and Sir Godfrey's account spondence also, whose contents had at of his pretty little quêteuse, alone no time been breathed to any one, had brought back their recollection. It been forwarded: while Sir Godfrey had been long since Lady Willoughby bimself had a packet from Mr Hes- saw her husband so cheerful, even keth's office in Exeter, giving on the when he turned to his newspaper, and whole satisfactory prospects, and con- sat absorbed in its varied matter, taining a few papers from among the leaning back on that hard diminutive late Sir John's dreary mass of lumber; sofa;-Mrs Mason, as her custom was, hitherto overlooked, but wbich he has withdrawn to the mysterious primight care to examine. They were vacy of her own apartment; Mr for the most part unimportant, but he Thorpe, to a book, apart in the wide saw, from the first glance at one of naked antechamber; while at its furthem, that had it arrived that morn- ther windows, looking out, sit the two ing, it night have simply saved him a young people in their unwearied charge little trouble and uncertainty; as it of the street;-till, as that after-dinner was a French letter of date not long repose steals through the sitting-room, before his brother's death, evidently with cool shade from the early May written by some humble notary's twilight, she feels instinctively that clerk, to state the case of the Suzanne his old easy habit of middle age has in question, who had received a pen- returned on him, the first time since sion for an injury received while reaching France — nay, on second in his service, probably interrupted thought, since the day of that melanthrough the change of abode by her choly message from Devonshire-of children, whose work supported them; sinking at that hour into a doze. It but her son had been ill, and the win- scarce needs her turning her head, to ter severe; the application had been see how the affairs and concerns of the rather made at the penman's instance, world at large have fallen from his as he lived au quatrième in the house mind; while gently netting on, withwhere their attic was, and had him- out word or other motion, perhaps self discovered the address by going with no particular thought besides, to the banker's, where he had obtained she sits quiet that it may last the no other prospect. It stated the place longer. It had seemed vague, in its and number distinctly, and had in all connection with a trifle ; but neither likelihood led to the memorandum of she nor he could have told the indeSir John,—though no doubt thrown scribable relief it had given him to find aside at the moment, and with his the only singularity in Sir John's meconfused mind in those latter days, so moranda cleared up; in this commonbusy amidst out-door matters or con- place way, too, when even casual cirvivial meetings, its chief point had cumstances had seemed joining to been forgotten.
give it a feverish importance. That Joining in the eager table-talk it intended but ineffectual will of his, by had all excited, with a mind at rest, which he had evidently contemplated the baronet could fully share the ples- a formal bequest, with those slight
exceptions, of everything to the col- but on previous ones also ? Actually, onel, already his legal heir, could in the hot, beating sun, it had for a after all have had no rational motive; moment or two resembled the preface it was probably but one of those to his fever in the colonies, after that strangely groundless suspicions, those affair with their rabble of militia, longings to exercise influence from among whom he had fancied he saw a the very tomb, which cross an un- known visage disguised; and the strong sound mind. The colonel had not effort of his understanding which rebeen unconscious of the superior abi- covered him had only brought more lities of his eldest brother, nor of the keenly the sudden question-whether still brighter parts which were attri. his brother indeed, or he himself, had buted to his brother John in early been touched with the germs of a growlife ; he only felt reassured by the ing madness. There had been strange conviction, again confirmed, that the horror in the thought. For, had unhappy results of his foolish match there really been a deliberate, sober bad been such as to touch his brain meaning in his brother's stray purwith insanity. There was a vulgar poses, through the confusion of all his old story about their family, in fact- neglect, and though cut off by death? a sort of absurd country superstition while the quick, clear self-suspicion —that owing to some ancient ances- had seemed to pierce his own mind tral impiety, even when the ghost with shame, how, amidst anuneasiness ceased to be heard of in the long por- to associate with his countrymen, he trait-gallery at Stoke, over the great was still traversing Paris everywhere, staircase—which had been invisible to under cover of guidance to his family, the family alone-then somewhere or mingling private anxieties with the other a Willoughby was mad. Often grandeur of royal edifices, and conti. had the colonel smiled at it, when nuing to expect some chance vestige merely a younger brother in the army; of things wbich his brother might have a wound once received in his head in chosen wisely to leave in silence. Since America, which had cost him deliri- his succession to Stoke he must have ous days and nights, seemed formerly been altering insensibly. Even selfish to entitle him doubly to his smile at feelings, impatient wishes, hidden the corroboration, when restored to thoughts, or half-fretful expressions full health : nay, from some cause, he towards her who had been so long his had found himself thinking of it once solace, had then recurred to mind with or twice in the full blaze of the streets a painful surprise; compared with of Paris, with their vivid reminis- which, his brother's eccentricity apcences—though his smile had been but peared innocent indeed, sadly as his faint, now he was the younger brother earlier follies had brought it on. And no longer. For why, really, after all, had he heard before from Mr Hesketh had he come to Paris in particular, what he learned from the letter on his or lingered there, persuading himself return, that the manor-house and park under so many different forms about were unlikely to be soon let, or to its convenience, the novelty to his bring any profitable addition to the children, the advantage of his bro- rents at present, from a fresh and ther's banker, the little legacy, the growing rumour that they were hauntcomparative privacy, the rapid post, ed, it would have startled him with a or the many notices of places to let ? superstitious feeling far more oppresWhy, in that indirect way, had he sive than any at Stoke. But, as it sought to make inquiries of the police, was, with a sober return to accustomand caught himself listening to words ed thoughts, calmed by his unwonted in the street, of unknown suicides, self-scrutiny, for him so deep-and baffled investigations, and French soothed by gentle presence-Sir Godennui? Why had hé mechanically frey slipped from his practical, mattershrunk from the Boulevards and rush-of-fact English newspaper to repose ; ing St Honoré, yet glanced askance though with the melancholy conviction at windows full of faces, or looked that bis brother's understanding had again with an irresistible suspicion, to indeed partially given way. They had see if he recognised or was recognised not latterly seen very much of each by any one-not merely on that day, other: John was now at peace; his