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offence, but I wished him good- she delivered her commands, Be bye, thanking him for the valuable there. information he had communicated I required no more. I would to me.
go. She had bidden me: it was Four days went by, and owing henceforth a duty. Perhaps she to some unusual pressure of work, might want help; no one but myI had seen nobody, nor heard from self should give it to her ; perhaps any one, when towards evening a she wished me to witness her unlittle note was handed to me. It willingness, her powerlessness, her contained these words :
sacrifice to duty. Did I not know “ Monday next, eleven o'clock, it? No; I could not go. May be at the Mairie of the VII. Arron- she wanted me to have the chance dissement. Be there.-D.”
of forbidding the banns. I would To describe my feelings on re- rise in my chair on the following ceiving this is to attempt the im- Sunday, and throw my glove, to possible. I had believed in a be picked up by the Senator crisis, but in one which would Count. take place before any necessity Perhaps she wished me to prove had arisen to go so far as the myself her champion on the day Mayor's presence.
of her sacrifice. Yes; I would. I had fancied that at the last I took a sheet of paper, pinned moment either Diane's parents upon it the little blue favour would have had pity on their which I had so long treasured, daughter's misery; that the Count and wrote these words :would have respected her undis- “The blue is as bright as it was guised loathing to this arranged when I received it. Please return marriage ; that Diane herself it if a storm is impending. I would have thrown herself at her want to protect my property. father's feet and implored his By nine in the morning it was mercy; or would have begged the returned with these words: -Count to spare her young years « Il faut combattre à nous deux and relieve her misery; but ap- maintenant." parently all these considerations I fully understood the message, were absurd, indeed they never and returned an answer by post, had been thought of.
fully directed to Diane, and writ• Monday next, eleven o'clock, at ten in the boldest characters :the Mayoralty. Be there.” Diane herself, in her own handwriting, - MY DARLING,-Rely upon me. though she merely initialed the I shall be by your side on Monday, note and did not sign it—Diane, and we shall win the day.” my Diane, invited me to be present at her wedding with my rival. She answered it by a messenger, a
I read again. There was no valet of her own father's, saying -mistake. Lest I should forget the exact district of Paris where the “Wait till I give the signal : girl lived who constituted my life, do not precipitate things. My my hope, my soul, my faith, my signal will surprise so many that creed, my everything, she had it will be unmistakable ; but it may marked it down. There it was writ- strain all the courage I possess, ten_Seventh District, at eleven and at that supreine moment I may o'clock—and in letters as clear and be unable to do more. I thereas distinct as if they were printed, fore look to your strong arm, your
strong will, and our stronger love, and, perceiving me, whispering to to help your wife that is to be. each other that which I cared not
- DIANE." to hear, but which, I felt certain,
referred to my sad disappointment As a man prepares by fasting and my well-known admiration for and prayer to deserve a life eter- la mariće. nal hereafter, so did I from the The noise increased as the commoment I received the above note pany increased, and many devote myself to solitude and pressed near me and talked and thought, as a preparation to the compassionated with me. ceremony of Monday, to which To all remarks I preserved a Diane alone had bid me: to which stolid silence; but edged myself I looked for the signal which forward, so as to keep well in sight would free her and free me, and of Diane. throw us into one another's arms. A few moments later the Mayor,
Monday came, and long before wearing his scarf, and his clerk, the clock had struck ten, arrayed entered the room, bowed to the in my best clothes, wearing the audience, and asked whether the blue favour given by Diane during marriage ceremony could be prothat cotillon which had played ceeded with. such a part in our lives, with a They are coming !” shouted countenance as stolid, as firm, as the people in the audience; and resolved as was the will within making room for them, there me, which reflected itself in my marched forward a procession, in features, I sought admittance at the first two persons of which it the Mairie.
was composed I alone took interest. At ten, and not before, I was The Marquis de Breteuille led allowed to go into the hall ; but it his daughter to the table. His was not before half-past ten that step uncertain ; hers I was permitted to enter the room perfectly steady. His eyes wanwherein Mademoiselle de Brete- dered ; hers were fixed. His uille's marriage was about to be countenance indicated trouble; solemnised in accordance with the hers was as calm and as placid requirements of the French civil as if nothing in the world was law.
more common than to be led as a There was a square table, with lamb to the slaughter. pen, ink, and paper.
As they approached the table, two chairs for the engaged couple they both caught sight of me. in front of the table, and two Diane bowed to me, and gave me others for the Mayor and his once more that divine smile which clerk, or adjoint, on the other had led me captive at her feet, side.
and plunged my whole frame, body There were a few other chairs and soul, into one long worship of in the body of the room for near her beauty, goodness, and being. relatives and old people; but I The Marquis frowned, and looked cared not for a seat, and took up away. my position next to the wall on Another man saw me, too, and the side which the lady would frowned likewise. M. de Maupert, occupy during the ceremony. on taking his seat on the other
Presently the people came troop- side of Mademoiselle de Breteuille, ing in,and all in gay humour, bandy- had me full in view, and relished ing their remarks at one another, not the sight. As if the air had
become suddenly charged with elec- " I do," replied the Count, with tricity, every one kept looking at a bow to Diane. the anxious faces of myself, M. de "And you, "continued the Mayor, Maupert and the Marquis.
still reading in the same unconAlthough rumour had not been cerned fashion, “ Diane Marie very busy respecting us, still suffi. Ghislaine de Breteuille, do you, cient report had spread as to this with the consent of your parents, marriage being hateful to the bride, duly certified and freely givenfor the concern which our coun- do you take Count Charles Emtenances exhibited not to give it manuel de Maupert for your husconsistency; and a kind of silence, band?" such as precedes a storm, fell upon My whole soul went out to the the noisy and brilliant company. girl, who in that solemn moment
The unusual sight, too, of a coti)- had it in her power by one single lon ribbon at my button-hole at word from her lips to seal her own tracted attention, and made people fate and mine, and with a terrible wonder what possessed me to wear sickness of heart that foreboded an such a bauble on such an occasion. equally terrible crisis, I marked her
It was therefore with breathless lovely pale face, from which all rays attention that the large gathering of sunshine had faded, and I was of the friends of both families about to utter a yell of despair listened to the Mayor's statements when from under her veil I noticed as to what constituted legal im- a little blue bow, just like the one pediments to a marriage, and with I wore, sewn beneath the folds of almost painful expectation that the bodice of her white dress, hid they awaited the answers which almost from view, but peeping at were now to be given to the Mayor's that moment at me as if to say, questions.
What manner of faith have you in “ Monsieur," asked the Mayor-- me? am I not true to you? am I a very gentlemanlike man of some not here to show you how staunch fifty years of age, with a long, I can be ? wait for the signal and well-combed beard, a stately gait, see. and a countenance suited to his All this was felt, thought of, official position--" are you the per- seen, and appreciated in the space son desirous to be married ?" of a second; for in another second
It seemed so absurd a question, a clear voice like that of a silver seeing that M. de Maupert was bell, went forth pure and true into standing before him for the pur- the hall, and taking that assempose, that I could not refrain a blage to witness, sounded in my ears sickly smile that forced itself to like the message of an angel, as the my face, and which De Maupert words, “Non, Monsieur le Maire," noted almost at the same time that struck the whole audience dumb he acquiesced in reply to the official with amazement. question.
Before the astonishment of all “ Then,” proceeded the Mayor in present had had time to translate a sententious manner, reading from itself into words, the Mayor, cona paper he held in his hands, and tinuing his official duties with having previously adjusted an eye- the slightest possible semblance of glass, “you, Count Charles Em- surprise visible on his face, asked manuel de Maupert, do you take the noble girl the motives of her this lady--Diane Marie Ghislaine refusal. de Breteuille—for your wife?” In the same distinct tones came
the reply, “ Because it is the first the world of gossip with the details time that I have an opportunity of the painful tragedy they had of replying to distinct question. just witnessed. Because neither my parents nor
But what cared I for gossip or this gentleman here,” inclining her criticism at that moment? my head towards M.de Maupert, “have darling was safe from the profanacondescended to ask it of me; and tion of other hands, and I believe because," her voice began to falter, I should have struck dead with the her strength was evidently failing, fury of a maniac the first person " because," - I rushed to her side, that had attempted to approach and supporting her beautiful form, my charge.
.“ because," she concluded, her In a short time the wearied eyes eyes lifted to mine, “this is the opened, and seemed to look for man of my choice."
something. My arm was round I kissed her lips before the whole her in a moment, and before her of the startled audience. I took stunned and petrified parents my her up in my arms with a giant's little Diane put her slight arms strength to a chair away from the round my neck for protection, and cursed seat she had been made to we embraced with all the might sit upon before; I knelt by her that four weeks of pent-up love side while the Mayor rushed off for could pour into one happy moment restoratives, and by the side of my of glorified bliss. speechless love I stood guard, as a Those who looked down upon us man defiantly protecting the life in that hour of our triumph and of his life.
ecstacy realised then, if they never Then, as if for the first time the did before, how powerless are the significance of the scene enacted cold calculations of humanity and before them had just struck them, its meaningless projects for the there was a rush to the door of happiness of youth against the frightened ladies and discreet power of love, that, once acknowlfriends, one and all anxious to ledged by two ardent young naquit a place where their stereo-' tures, brooks no obstacle, knows no typed notions of propriety, involv- barrier, and overturns in its sweeping, for aught they cared, the ruin ing current the firmest bulwarks of a young life, had received so raised against them by social codes great a shock, and hurrying to fill or national prejudices.
The events of the last few hours the room, it was left for the old were of too great an importance Marquis to express to us his to allow of any delay in bringing opinion of our conduct, and to them to a settlement; and whereas determine the line of action he the dignity of a Senator had appa- himself wished us to adopt. rently been enough for the Count It must, however, be acknowto find a ready excuse why he ledged that the Count de Maupert, should not be the cause of a scan- on retiring from the scene of action, dal, or play a part in an affair of left word that he was only behavlove, into which he well knew he ing as he deemed at present the had not been willingly dragged, cause of discretion and dignity and he had on that account left required of him; but that he would await in an ante-chamber any call I stood by, looking on. to him which might be made by Diane, without saying a word, either the Marquis, the Marquise, caught hold of her father's hand, or the young lady herself.
and gently leading it, put it into As to Diane and myself, we mine. were so rapt in the enjoyment We shook hands without saying of the moment, so happy in the a word; but the change had been fact that we were there together, wrought that we hoped for. breathing one breath, speaking one Regaining his voice, the Marquis thought, and defying the world in asked for the Comte de Maupert, our strong young love, that we and on his coming in, the Marquis could not speak.
addressed him— We looked at one another, and “ Monsieur le Comte, I owe you the outpouring of our souls went a reparation of honour for the inout to each other in that look. sult which has been publicly offered So intense was it, that it was to you by my own flesh and blood. almost alarming to the onlookers, I am at your orders where and who for some time were riveted when you may please to appoint." to the the spot, where they stood I listened stupefied. This had
. silent and dazed, like ourselves never entered into my reckoning. in a dream.
I only noted with satisfaction that I was the first to break the Diane had not taken in the meanspell, and taking my arm away ing of this speech ; but the Comte from the frail little treasure that at once replied, with a courage that I had been holding next my heart did him honourwith such infinite tenderness and “ Monsieur le Marquis, if such pride, I went up the Marquise, be your wish, I am, of course, at and taking her unwilling hand, your commands; but we are too old she had no power to keep back, acquaintances for you to misunderI kissed it reverentially ; then stand me, when I here declare that going to the old Marquis, whose I am unwilling to repay in blood tears stood thickly in his eyes, I the debt of gratitude I owe for an said: "Monsieur, here is your honour to myself you had considdaughter. I ask her of you, and ered me deserving of, and which I give up my profession to live it is not your fault, or that of with her and you, if you consent Madame la Marquise, that I should to it.”
not now enjoy." He did not answer, but looked There was a pause; but as it at Diane. The tears welled in her was evidently for the Count to beautiful tired eyes. She gave speak, and he felt it, he went onhim a little eloquent smile, but “ Mademoiselle your daughter when she tried to speak she could has only said the truth, and in not.
that she has not disgraced herself I ran to her, fearing she was or your name. She has, indeed, going to faint again : but she re- acted with a courage so rare among vived on my being near her, and young persons of her age in the gave my hand so meaning a pres- France of the present day, that I sure that, keeping it locked in can only regret, and bitterly regret, mine own, I raised it to my lips, that I should not have perceived, and looked at her father.
until it was too late, the whole He could stand it no longer, and extent of my loss. bent down to embrace his child. “It is perfectly true that she