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knew too well what was due to herself, ever to bestow a thought on Frederic. And he begged of her, if the report was ever again mentioned in her presence, to contradict it unequivocally.
She promised to do so, but she hinted at the same time, that the most effectual contradiction would be to separate the young people. The marquis, blinded by his absurd pride, declared that such a step was totally unnecessary; and they parted very little pleased with one another.
Nevertheless, though the marquis would not own to it, to Madame De-——; what she said made some impression upon him. It seemed to him that it was beneath the Marquis de Touranges, to regulate his conduct by the gossip of a provincial town, and he did not believe there was a necessity to so separate Frederic and Adrienne, because they both appeared to acquiesce perfectly in his wishes. Three months passed without his thinking any more upon the subject, when one morning Madame De was again announced at an unusually early hour; and this time she went through to the apartments of the marquis. She told him she came, out of respect to their ancient friendship, to acquaint him with a matter which nearly concerned his daughter's reputation. At a ball the night before, some of the brother officers of Frederic had allowed themselves to joke publicly on the subject of his intimacy at the chateau; and her saying that the marquis had other views for his daughter was so far from imposing silence upon them, that it made them redouble their railleries. This account made the marquis take his resolution on the spot; but as he would not appear to yield to the public voice, he resolved that the separation of the lovers should appear to rise from other causes. "I told you before, my dear Madame De-- ," said he, "and I now repeat it, that there is not a word of truth in this absurd report; so far from it, Frederic's most ardent wish is tojobtain a command in Corsica, which as you know the republic of Genoa has just sold to France; if I obtain it, as I have no doubt I shall, he will depart without delay.
The good Madame De apologized for a liberty, which, in truth, proceeded from a most friendly zeal for the honour of his family. The Marqius forced himself to appear sensible of the goodness of her motive. She then paid a short visit to Adrienne, and directly that she was gone, he sat down and wrote to the Marquis of Chauvelin, who commanded the troops then about to be sent to take possession of Corsica, to ask from him a colonel's commission for De la Villette. The marquis's friendship for him made him certain of obtaining it, and he was not deceived, it was forwarded to him with the utmost expedition.
As soon as he had received it, he sent for Frederic and his uncle into his apartment, and related to them the subject of Madame De's visit. The countenance of the venerable ahbé was filled with sorrow; while Frederic;
beside himself with grief and indignation, swore that those perfidious slanderers should pay with their heart's blood for the insult they had dared to offer to Adrienne.
"That," replied the marquis, "would be a means of compromising my daughter. I am far from having the smallest suspicion either of her, or of you; and if I have any one to accuse, it is myself; for I ought to have foreseen that those stupid provincials could never elevate their ideas to mine, nor conceive that a De Touranges was dispensed from acting in the ordinary manner; but in short, the mischief is done, and the reparation must depend on you."
Then without giving him time to answer, he presented him with the commission he had obtained, and begged of him to confirm what he had said to Madame De ; by hastening instantly to Toulon, to join the troops, who were assembling there to embark for Corsica.
Such an offer would at another time have crowned Frederic's wishes, but to leave Adrienne at that moment, was a blow which struck him to the heart. He was mute with sorrow and astonishment. The abbe's heart was torn between the thought of parting with a nephew whom he loved as a son, and the necessity of making that painful sacrifice to the reputation of Mademoiselle de Touranges.
The marquis saw the state of their minds, and begged of them to reflects that either Frederic must go, or he would be obliged to send his daughter to the house of a relation. These words instantly decided De la Villette. "Say no more, sir,” cried he, "I am ready to depart when you will. Oh' rather would I fly to the world's end, than be the cause of estranging Adrienne from the paternal roof. At these words, his uncle, who had not yet spoken, threw himself into his arms. I expected no less from you, my dear boy," said he ; "and in spite of the sorrow I feel at parting with you, I rejoice to see you act as you ought."
The marquis embraced and thanked the young man. "I will never," cried he, forget the obligation you lay me under, and you shall find proofs of my gratitude in your prompt advancement. "Ah!" replied Frederic, sorrowfully, "if the road to glory could lead to the sole object of my wishes, I should know how to confront all dangers to arrive at it, but
"I will promise nothing," replied the marquis; "you know my views for Adrienne, and nothing can change them. But it would not be impossible for you yourself to aid my plans, by obtaining a high military reputation, and perhaps?
He stopped. He had no need to say more, these words fired the ardent soul of Frederic! "Ah," cried he, "if death does not arrest my efforts, I will know how to render myself worthy of her!"
From that moment his whole soul was filled with that fascinating idea ; it sustained him in parting with his beloved, who, on her side, showed an almost incredible fortitude; but she paid dearly for the absurd composure which she owed only to her pride; for the sorrow that she concealed so effectually, had such an effect on her health, that for several days after his departure Louise trembled for her life; and those fears were augmented by the impossibility of employing medical aid, on account of her situation.
Her youth, and the hope that Frederic would return, crowned with laurels, to claim her hand, at length restored her to herself. The time of her confinement now drew very near, and the baroness, faithful to her promise, put her plan into execution for removing the marquis. She had been, or rather had pretended to be, during some time in treaty for an estate at a short distance. She flew to the marquis, assured him that her presence there was absolutely necessary for a few days; that the baron, being engaged for a hunting party, had refused to accompany her, and that he must absolutely attend her. The marquis would fain have evaded the request, for his head was just then full of some intelligence that he had received from De Villars, but she would not be refused; she begged, scolded, and at last even wept. The marquis could not resist her tears, and they set out accompanied by the comtesse, whom it was quite as necessary to remove as the marquis.
They went at an early hour in the morning, and no sooner had they departed, than Adrienne set out with the governess and Louise to pass the day at her bower. They both prayed her to take the carriage, but she obstinately refused, and though already feeling the approach of the moment that was to make her a mother, she set out on foot for the subterranean apartment; where, thanks to the care of her lover, every thing necessary for her situation was in readiness. There was she received by the faithful Nannette, who, by her expressive signs and gestures, demanded Frederic. Adrienne's pangs were short, but severe, and in less than an hour she gave to the world a lovely little girl. It is impossible to paint the joy of the poor mute at the sight of the child; she threw herself upon her knees before it, pressed its little feet, and then seizing it as if it had been a long promised treasure, could scarcely be brought to yield it even to Adrienne.
With what delicious sensations did that erring but unfortunate being receive it to her bosom, and how bitterly did she in those first moments of maternal joy, regret that she had resisted the prayers of Frederic to live for it and him alone. The faithful Louise, who divined her feelings, said all
that the tenderest friendship could devise, to sustain her spirits; and vowed, as she pressed the infant to her heart, to be to it while she lived a second mother. The goat was brought in, Nannette made her lie down, as she had been taught, and the infant sucked with astonishing rapidity.
Tranquillized for the fate of her child, Adrienne now began to think of returning home. Her friends assisted her to gain the tower, and Louise then hastened to the chateau, and pretending that Adrienne had had a fall, returned in a carriage to fetch her. This excuse accounted very well for her paleness and feebleness, and enabled her to keep her room for a few days without suspicion.
On the fourth morning the marquis returned. He was alarmed at the supposed accident of his daughter, and blamed her for not having written to him, but she made light of it, and as she was already surprisingly recovered, she quitted her apartment the next day.
From that time her mornings were passed entirely at the bower, or rather we would say in the subterranean apartment, with her infant. Never was mother more tender; her sole delight was to caress her child, to gaze upon it, and to form with Louise plans for its future happiness. Alas! if the advice of that faithful friend had been followed, its happiness would have been secured, and Adrienne would not have had to reproach herself.—But let me not anticipate.
One morning when she entered the subterranean apartment, Louise, who was a good step behind her, heard her utter a loud cry; but she herself stopt motionless at the sight of Frederic, who clasped at the same moment to his bosom, Adrienne and her infant. Poor Louise! what was the excess of her emotion, in seeing again that being so dear to her heart, and whom she believed to be at that moment at the other extremity of the kingdom. Her whole soul flew towards him, yet she dreaded to raise her eyes to his, and the very excess of her emotion made her appear almost insensible. Adrienne seeing her stand apparently insensible, called to her: "Come, come, dear Louise, enjoy with me a happiness we could so little hope for." In fact, nothing but the excess of his love could have given Frederic the strength to travel as he had done during eight days and nights, without allowing himself one moment's repose; but how much was his fatigue overpaid, when he clasped his Adrienne and his child to his heart.
As the troops were very soon to depart, he could obtain but a very short leave of absence; and it may easily be supposed that he carefully avoided saying whither he meant to bend his steps. A few hours were all he could spare with his beloved, but before he quitted her, he opened to her in the presence of Louise his whole heart.
"I leave thee, my Adrienne,” cried he, " in the belief that thou wilt never violate the faith that thou hast pledged to me, while it pleases Heaven that I exist but the chance of war may tear asunder those knots which love has go firmly united; then it will be to thee alone, that our daughter must look for support and protection. Oh! Adrienne, parents situated as we are, owe much to their offspring! For me, I call the Host of Heaven to witness, that I will live only for thee and my child; and if death should ravish thee from my embraces, never will I form other ties: my days shall from that moment be devoted entirely to my daughter. Tell me, Adrienne, have you courage to take the same oath ?"
F "Cruel!" exclaimed she, " can you doubt my truth? yea, I swear it by all that is most sacred; and may Heaven bless or curse me as I keep my vow.”
Frederic caught her to his bosom; hardly could he tear himself from her arms, but the voice of honour imperiously called. Losing sight in that moment of all but her love for him, she offered to renounce everything, and fly instantly with him; but this proposal he thought himself obliged in honour to refuse. She had now passed all the dangers that she had to apprehend, and he would not take the advantage of her tenderness for him to render her a dishonoured fugitive. Straining her with fervour to his heart, he invoked a blessing on her head, and tore himself from her with a heart much more oppressed than it had been at their first parting.
The same foreboding shook her soul; a terrible voice seemed to cry," Thou shalt see him no more." All her firmness forsook her, and she sank insensible in the arms of Louise, who by an effort of which the virtuous alone are capable, forgot her own sorrows to soothe and comfort the unhappy
Both looked anxiously for tidings from Frederic; for, added to all the pangs of parting, was the fear that he might not arrive before the fleet would have sailed; and thus his love for Adrienne would be the cause of covering him with dishonour. Fortunately, those fears were vain ; he arrived the day before the expedition left Toulon, and his first care was to tranquillize the mind of Adrienne and her friend, by informing them of it.
About this time De Villars returned, after a long absence, to the chateau. He had been at Versailles on a mission for the marquis, in which, during some time, he had a prospect of succeeding. A very strong party had been made against the minister Choiseul, and it had been intimated to the marquis, that if he was on the spot he might find means, in the struggle of opposing interests, to gain the portfolio, which was so long the object of his ambition. But he had so repeatedly declared that he never would reappear at court without being recalled by the king, that he could not resolve