« 上一頁繼續 »
led him immediately to her mistress and retired. The first object which his eyes fell upon, as he entered the room, was the poniard of which the duke had spoken.
friends. Do not be afraid. I do not
reproach you. I was insane at Paris, but the voyage has changed me. I come as a father to comfort you. Do not kill yourself: I could not survive you." He stopped and listened intently. He heard nothing but the beating of his own heart. A fear seized him. "Honorine," he cried, advancing again, "are you dead?" Death itself made answer: his foot caught against a chair, he stumbled and fell in a pool of blood.
Mantoux, in answer to eager questioning from madame, could only report that her name had not been uttered at dinner, and that Count Villanera had retired at his usual hour. Her disappointment at hearing such report was only equaled by her anger; her former devotee not only renounced his idolatry, but made mock of the idol: the threat of suicide then did not move him. But she will have vengeance. She engages Mantoux to kill her rival. He demands fifty thousand francs as the price of the crime she accepts those terms. But, asks the prudent Mantoux, has she the money at hand; for if he is not paid on the spot, he would not care to go to Paris to seek his wages. Yes, she has a hundred thousand francs in her secretaire. He asks five minutes to reflect on the matter. Very good, reflect, said Madame Chermidy, so sure of her man that she did not even look at him while awaiting the result of his deliberation.
The shadow that had followed Mantoux was the old Duke de la Tour d'Embleuse. When the other entered the house, he hid himself in the garden and patiently watched the window whence shone the light. He knew that was her room. When the light was extinguished, and he saw Mantoux come out and run rapidly away, he left his hiding-place and went to the window, against which he pressed his lips in ecstasy. He knocked softly against the panes to attract attention, but received no answer. He gazed with straining eyes through the darkness, and thought he saw Honorine kneeling by the bedside; again his diseased fancy seemed to show her asleep on her couch. After waiting a long time, and feeling of the window wherever his hands could reach, he began with extreme caution to loosen one of the panes, which were set in lead; and finally, after infinite pains, succeeded in inserting one of his hands, all cut and bleeding, and turned the espagnolette. He groped cautiously across the floor, which was encumbered with trunks and furniture lying about in confusion, whispering at each step: "Honorine, are you there? It is I, your old friend-the most unhappy, the most devoted of all your
When the femme de chambre entered the room in the morning, she found him then on his knees beside the corpse, dabbled with her blood, monotonously babbling an articulate cry in a low, wailing tone. The girl, who had never had but one human sentiment, blinded by grief and rage, could only see in this idiotic wreck of humanity the murderer of her adored mistress. She beat him, bit him, tore him with her nails like a wild beast; but the duke was insensible to physical pain.
Mr. Stevens, the English magistrate resident at Corfu, had dined the preceding day at the Villa Dandolo, where he was always a welcome visitor, and had long since become a valued friend. He had passed the night there. In the morning he joined the family group in the garden--the old and young countess, and Don Diego, and the doctor-who were amusing themselves with the infantile sports and graces of the little Gomez. The duke had not yet appeared his windows were still closed, and they respected his morning slumbers. Mathieu Mantoux was near by, zealously occupied in the performance of some domestic duty. The smiles and jests of the party were interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Stevens's servant, who came to call his master. A murder had been committed in the neighborhood, and everybody was calling for the judge. All he knew of the affair was, that people said a French woman had been found dead in her bed in the house, a half mile distant.
Capital!" said the doctor, with a laugh. My dear M. Stevens, the breakfast-bell is ringing; you had better take your coffee. I think I know the case it is not pressing. It is only an unsuccessful suicide. You have been sent for in the hope that the message would bring another member of our company in your train." M. de Vil
lanera bit his moustache and kept silent. He had loved Madame Chermidy for three years, and had believed that he was sincerely loved by her. His heart was bitterly pained at the idea that she had possibly killed herself for him, and memories of the past rose up in fresh revolt against the mocking levity of the doctor. Impelled by different motives, they both accompanied the magistrate, who, regardless of the doctor's incredulity, immediately proceeded to the scene of the murder.
Madame Chermidy lay upon the bed in the dress she wore the preceding evening. Her beautiful features were horribly distorted. Through her halfopen lips her teeth were visible, clenched in the convulsion of her last agony. Her eyes stared wildly open. It was evident from the marks of blood on the floor and furniture, that she had been struck near the fire-place, and afterwards dragged to the bed. The femme de chambre, whose strength had been exhausted by the first violent outbreak of her grief, sat crouched in a corner of the room, silently and fixedly regarding the corpse. But when the inquest began, and she heard the testimony that seemed to confirm the idea of suicide, she burst out in passionate eloquence of denial; and then first perceiving the count, who had thrown himself into an arm-chair and was silently weeping, she seized him by the arm, and, dragging him toward the bed, cried out in a wild voice, broken by sobs: "Look! look! See the beautiful eyes that used to gaze so tenderly on you; the pretty mouth you used to kiss; the great long locks you used to twine your fingers among! Do you remember the first time you came to the Rue du Cirque? How, when they had all gone, you went down on your knees to kiss that hand! But
how cold it is! And the day when the boy was born-do you remember? Who cried-who laughed then? Who swore fidelity till death? Come, now, kiss her-kiss her now!"
"Curriculo pulverem Olympicum Collegisse juvat."
The count, motionless, unresisting, horror-stricken, colder than the corpse he gazed upon, expiated in a moment three years of illegitimate pleasure.
It was evident from circumstances that Madame Chermidy had not committed suicide, and that the duke could not have committed the murder. Accident soon revealed the true assassin in the person of Matthieu Mantoux.
After two or three years passed in foreign travel, of which the Parisian world never knew the incidents, the Count and Countess Villanera took possession of their hotel in Faubourg St. Honoré three months ago. The excellent Duchess de la Tour d'Embleuso lives with them, and takes part in the management of the household and the education of a fine little girl some two years old, who resembles her mother, and is, consequently, much more beautiful than her deceased brother, the late Marquis de los Montes de Hieros.
The marquis and the old duke died in the arms of Doctor le Bris, who is still the family physician--the duke at Corfu, the child at Rome, where he was attacked with a typhoid fever.
It is said that the little marquis had a large fortune in his own right, bequeathed by a distant relation. After his death the family sold his estate, and dispensed the proceeds of it in works of charity.
Such is the last French novel, which will doubtless be soon translated. The interest of the story and the skill of the narration confirm About's place in contemporary French literature.
LIFE AT AN ENGLISH WATERING-PLACE A HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO.
How animated look his train, his outriders, and the fellows clustered leg and wing behind his carriage! How enlivening the music of the band which accompanies him; how brilliant the tone of those horns, which startle the air with their clangor. How the people
stop on every side to gaze on the cortége as it passes! How the sick poor, creeping homeward to the hospital, clasp their hands and utter benedictions on him by whose exertions it was raised! How others, ladies and gentlemen of all degrees, offer him courteous homage, which he as courteously acknowledges. And now another carriage meets his, and its occupant-a prince of the blood, by'r lady!-pulls his check-string and thus invites to conference. After a few moments' conversation, the hats are raised from the heads (not, reader, the heads taken out of the hats), the Prince of Wales proceeds, and then the horns reawaken their clamor, the postillions crack their whips, the fiery grays spank onwards, and in this guise the monarch of Bath, King Nash, arrives at the pump-room.
The monarch himself was heavy in figure, coarse in feature; he had a long curled peruke-wig, surmounted by a white, or, more frequently, a yellow threecornered beaver. He had high-heeled shoes and large buckles, blue silk stockings (with silver clocks) and breeches; a waistcoat reaching to his knees, and a coat with cuffs to the elbows, both profusely covered with silver lace.
This was the monarch of the eighteenth century, and an absolute monarch was he; his laws were like those of the Medes and Persians, unalterable; but it must be conceded to him that he never abused the "right divine." Survey we this monarch in his rule.
Though Nash governed as if born to empire, the throne of Bath was not his by right; he had no hereditary claim: he was merely a citizen of the world, an idler of London, an impoverished Templar, a man living as multitudes of men did then, and do now, by his wits, when he was summoned by the voice of the people to take upon his shoulders the sovereignty of Bath. He obeyed the call, and, like the last King of the French, became the king of the people.
dirty, and expensive; the public rooms were desecrated by all sorts of vulgarity and rudeness. Under the direction and authority of their new monarch, the corporation of Bath reedified their city, and noble streets, beautiful squares, verdant gardens, soon combined their attractions with the medicinal waters of the place, to render it the most fashionable city in England. He drew up a code of ceremonial laws which he rigidly enforced, and which were implicitly submitted to by the inhabitants and visitors of the city.
Like all popular monarchs, King Nash was a strenuous advocate of reform, and at Bath promoted it with all the influence of his potential voice, and enforced it with all the weight of his supreme authority. His first care was to improve the accommodations of his seat of empire. When he first undertook the government of Bath, it was a mean, dirty, and incommodious place; the lodgings for visitors were shabby,
The duchess colored, hesitated a moment, and then quietly resigned the apron, saying, with much good-humor: "I believe I was wrong; your majesty must forgive me."
The king bowed, took the apron, and gave it to the care of an attendant.
An intimation of his royal will carried with it the form of a mandate with all the gentle sex-the other was often refractory. The king, however, was firm, and invariably, in the end, successful. The gentlemen's boots, it is said, made the most obstinate stand against his authority for our readers must know that up to the era of this king's reign, the fashionable assemblies of Bath were
held in a booth, where the ladies wore aprons and hoods at pleasure, and the gentlemen went equipped with swords, boots, and tobacco-pipes. The aprons were banished, as we have seen, though not without some demonstrations of opposition on the part of the fair sex: the tobacco and the swords disappeared, but the boots were obstinate. The good-natured king, who did not like to proceed all at once to the last extremity with his misled and refractory subjects, had recourse to stratagem to effect his purpose. About this time, the representations of Punch were the delight of the fashionable world, and the king of Bath announced to his loyal subjects that, for their especial recreation, the celebrated proprietor of Punch, then in the city, would exhibit a new scene in that hero's life. Full of eager anticipation, the fashionable world of Bath crowded to see the show; and intense, indeed, was expectation as the new scene opened with Punch and a beautiful lady preparing for their night's repose; but, to the horror of the fair one, Punch was stepping into bed with his boots on. She desired him to remove them he refused; she remonstrated, but Punch was firm.
chairs, attired in their bathing-dresses, but with their heads dressed as if for an evening assembly; and while their bodies were receiving the benefit of the healing waters, their beaming countenances were turned to the surrounding gallery, whither the gentlemen duly repaired to pay their morning compliments to the fair. Soft music played around; and that no luxury might be wanting, no sense ungratified, each lady had a small floating dish by her side coutaining her pocket-handkerchief, nosegay, and a snuff-box. Could the gods in Elysium have more?-Ye powers! a finely-dressed head, a warm bath, a crowd of beaux, a band of music, a bunch of flowers, and a snuff-box!
Then the water had to be drunk, and the gay invalids and fashionists of both sexes assembled in the pump-room, where three glasses, at three different times, were drunk by each hygeist, soft music still filling up the intervals between swallowing water and emitting scandal. Oh, the charm of this assembly talk of scandal broached at an old maids' tea-party! why that is milk and honey compared to the wormwood and verjuice diffused in the aqua-solis of the pump-room at Bath.
From the pump-room, the ladies adjourned to the toy-shop, the gentlemen to the coffee-house. Then came public breakfasts, concerts, or lectures upon art and science, delivered to the subscribers to the rooms. "These lectures," says one historian, "are frequently taught in a pretty superficial manner, so as not to tease the understanding, while they afford the imagination some amusement."
"Some for chapel trip away,
for now it is time for prayers, and when they are ended it is noon; and some play cards at the Assembly House, and some walk on the Grand Parade, and others drive and others ride; and thus two hours are disposed of, and then comes that ceremony, in the due and regular performance of which all people in all places pique themselves, and which has never yielded (in itself) to the versatility of fashion. We mean dinner. Everywhere people eat dinner (if they can get it), and yet it is
pointed out in the list of the diversions of Bath, as if the pleasant occupation appertained to that place alone. But this is owing to the undue partiality of local historians.
Well: after dinner people went to church again, and thence to the pumproom; "from which they withdrew to the walks, and thence to drink tea at the Assembly Houses, and the evenings are concluded with balls, plays, and mutual visits; so that Bath yields a continued round of diversions; and people, in all ways of thinking, even from the libertine to the Methodist, have it in their power to complete the day, the week, the month, nay, almost the whole year, to their own satisfaction."
Our readers need hardly be told that those were the days of minuets and country-dances; quadrilles were known, even the parent cotillon had not appeared, gallopades were unheard of, mazurkas were hidden in the womb of time, polkas were an impossibility, and as to the exotic waltz, graceful though it be, young Englishwomen of those days, how wanting soever in some of the refining characteristics of these, had not learnt unblushingly to confide themselves to the arms of mere acquaintance of the other sex, to bear their close and not always respectful gaze, to feel their breath on their very necks, their cheeks, fanning the hair that strays on their face! Englishwomen can do this now, ay, and deem themselves modest, but it is the fashion.
The strictest etiquette was enforced, and the claims of precedence were rigidly adhered to. In the due adjustment of these, Nash was unrivaled, and, doubtless, derived therefrom no small portion of the respect and deference with which he was uniformly treated; and a great addition was made to the comfort of the vast number of respectable middle classes who resorted to Bath, in the courteous treatment which the monarch of all exacted for them, from those titled individuals who had hitherto arrogated somewhat too much to themselves from the circumstance of their rank.
The ball in King Nash's time began at six o'clock, and ended at eleven. This was a rule to which the master of the ceremonies most rigidly adhered, and from the worthiest motives, viz.: out of regard to the comfort of the invalids, with whom the city always abounded. The minuet which opened the ball, was usually performed by two persons of highest distinction at it, and when concluded, the Bathonian King (or master of the ceremonies) conducted the lady to her seat, and led a new partner to the gentleman; that minuet over, both retired, and a second gentleman and lady stood up, and thus until the minuets were over, every gentleman dancing with two ladies. The minuets usually lasted about two hours; then came the country-dances, in which ladies of quality, according to their rank, stood up first.
At eleven o'clock, even in the middle of a dance, the King of Bath advanced up the room, raised his finger, and in an instant the music ceased.
The following rules, written by Mr. Nash, and placed in the pump-room, are characterized by the historian of his life as being drawn up with an attempt at wit; he adds, however, that the wit was fully as elevated as that of the persons for whom it was intended. A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine perhaps more truly understood them, when he said that they were artfully contrived to make a kind of penalty the necessary consequence of a breach of them," and added, that they were "universally complied with, because they could not be violated, without rendering the offender ridiculous and contemptible." They will be read with some interest now, as giving us a key to the state of society generally, when we find that in the very focus of fashion and ton, such rules were not merely endurable, but were peremptorily called for, and were admirably well adapted to the manners and habits of those-viz.: the élite of the fashionable worldfor whose behoof they were promulged. They are here :—