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to go back; and he contented himself by sending De Villars, in whom he placed entire confidence, to act for him with the different parties; and to give him notice if a decisive blow could actually be struck, that he might hasten himself to the spot.
This mission was in opposition to all the habits and the tastes of the philosopher; but gratitude to the marquis forbade him to refuse it. He went to the house of a relation of the baroness, a man of high rank and much in favour with the king. Though a personal stranger to the marquis, this nobleman was very well disposed to serve him, because of the hatred that he bore to Choiseul. De Villars then set out for Paris, taking with him the plans for a reform in the divers branches of the [administration, or which the marquis, or rather himself, had been so many years employed.
Those who know the intrigues of courts, will not wonder that months and months ran, without anything decisive being done at length, wearied out with continual disappointments, and seeing that the minister, instead of succumbing under the repeated attacks of his enemies, appeared more firmly fixed than ever in favour of his sovereign, the marquis recalled De Villars, who returned with joy to the chateau; where he hoped to find at last some hours every day for those studies in which alone he delighted.
He was struck with the change in the manners of his beloved pupil; she appeared to have entirely lost her relish for her ancient occupations, or if she enjoyed them it was with an indifference which sensibly wounded him. How, indeed, could it be otherwise,-Adrienne's whole thoughts were with De la Villette, and her child, whom she had named by the desire of Frederic, Celine, after his mother. She spent every moment that she could absent herself from the chateau, with that infant who formed her sole consolation, in the absence of its father.
Soon a fear of the most terrible nature came to rend her heart; it was evident by all accounts that they received from Corsica, that the slight hope which the marquis had given to Frederic, was the cause of his precipitating himself into the greatest dangers. He himself carefully avoided speaking of his exploits, but the Marquis de Chauvelin, commander in chief of the expedition, wrote to his friend De Touranges, that Frederic's bravery was absolute rashness. "He exposes himself," says he, "in such a manner, that to escape, he must bear a charmed life. I have several times remonstrated with him in the strongest terms, he hears me respectfully, but that does not prevent him, the next occasion that offers itself, from rushing to dangers,
from which as yet he has escaped by miracle, I might almost say; for in truth it appears little else. Write to him, my good friend; you will have more influence than I have had, and engage him to moderate an ardour which cannot have other than fatal result."
Steeled as the marquis was to every softer feeling by ambition, he could not read these lines unmoved. If he should meet his death through the rashness of which I know myself to be the cause, never could I forgive myself," said he: And he wrote upon the spot to charge Frederic not madly to throw away his life. But the fiat had gone forth; at that instant even the unfortunate youth had, by an effort of almost superhuman valour, covered himself with laurels, and found an honourable grave.
He fell mortally wounded in the midst of the enemy, and must have been trodden to pieces, had not his soldiers, who loved him with enthusiasm, resolved bravely to sacrifice themselves, or to carry him out of the field. They succeeded in bearing him from it, but he felt that death approached, and his last hours were employed in promoting the happiness of those for whom alone he wished to live.
He wrote to his Adrienne. Ah, in what terms of love did he recommend to her the precious pledge of their affection. "Live for her, beloved of my heart," said he: "it is she who will, who can console thee for my loss; and if it be permitted to disembodied spirits, to watch over those who in this life were dear to them, believe that mine will never cease to hover over thee and my Celine."
He wrote, also, to the marquis, and to his venerable uncle; he carefully avoided addressing to the first the slightest reproach, but he avowed the hope of rendering himself worthy of Adrienne, had precipitated his fate; a fate which must render her wretched; and he besought the marquis to respect her sorrows.
He said to his uncle, all that the fondest and most dutiful of sons could say to the best of fathers. "I shall not be dead to you," said he, while Adrienne survives; watch over her then for my sake. Oh! my more than father, it is sweet to me in this moment, to think that she will console you for my loss, and that your pious counsels may lead her to peace."
And was Louise, then, that truest, that tenderest of friends, forgotten? No, it was to her that he entrusted the reputation of his Adrienne,-and the care of his child, in case death should rob it of its mother. In contemplating the probability of his own fate, he had believed it was his duty to deposit in her hands what money he possessed; the sum, though small, would secure his Celine from the horror of poverty; and the letter of the baroness, in order that Louise might use it as a check upon that perfidious woman, in case she ever menaced the repose of Adrienne.
This letter he sealed up in an envelope, in which he explained the use he meant to have made of it, and it was to be opened only in the case of his death. In the tender adieu which he wrote to Louise, just before his last hour, he reminded her of that packet, and begged of her to lose no time in examining it. This was the last effort of which he found himself capable; he felt the approach of the fatal moment, he met it with the fortitude of a hero and the resignation of a christian; and a prayer for the happiness of her whom to the last moment he persisted in calling, and in thinking his wife, was the last sound that issued from his lips.
A cruel presentiment had for some time tormented Adrienne; three posts had passed and brought no news from Frederic, who till then had written regularly. The most direful forebodings pressed upon her heart, and the marquis participated in her fears. For the first time the spell that ambition had so long cast around him vanished; he opened his heart to De Villars, and acknowledged in terms of bitter regret, his repentance for having separated the lovers. He was balancing in his own mind whether he should not recall Frederic, when a letter arrived from De Chauvelin, informing him of his fate.
"I must fly," said he, shuddering; yes, "I must fly; I dare not see Adrienne; I should be hateful in her eyes. It is you, De Villars, who must break to her this dreadful news, who must support her under it."
The task was a hard one. De Villars, with all his philosophy, felt himself unable to take it alone. He sought Louise, in order to consult with her the best method of executing it; he knew not that the intelligence would not be less dreadful for her than for Adrienne. She forgot in that moment of horror, all the restraint which she had till then imposed upon herself; and revealed in the wildness of her grief, that deep and unchangeable sentiment which till then she had concealed in the deepest recesses of her heart.
But that generous heart could not even in the most profound affliction, long think wholly of itself. When the first burst of agonizing sorrow had passed, De Villars uttered the name of Adrienne; that name acted as a talisman, her tears stopped flowing, her firmness returned; and casting herself upon her knees, "Oh, my God! cried she, all I ask of thee, is to sustain her under this blow!"
She was then at the bower, whither Louise immediately hastened. De Villars would have entered with her, but knowing that Adrienne was with Celine, she dared not suffer it. She prayed him so earnestly to leave to her the dreadful task, that he could not refuse. She entered then alone, and went directly to the retreat of Celine.
Adrienne, with the child upon her knees, was seated opposite to the picture of Frederic, upon which she had been gazing, till her imagination exalted
by her feeling, almost persuaded her that its eyes were turned upon her with a look of mournful pity, and that the mouth was opening to address her. At that instant she heard a step. "Gracious God !" cried she, "can it be him?" She turned precipitately, and saw Louise pale as death, her eyes swelled with weeping. There needed no more,-an icy coldness crept through her veins. "Frederic is dead!" cried she; Louise replied not, and that silence confirming her fears, she sprang forward with her daughter in her arms, traversed with the rapidity of lightning the subterraneous passage, gained the garden, and in a few moments was close to a piece of water;-yet an instant, and she would have precipitated herself and her infant into it, but Nannette, who must from her frantic air have divined that some danger menaced that child; so dear to her, had preceded Adrienne without being perceived. She was upon the bank of the basin, and at the moment when Adrienne sprang forward with her daughter, Nannette repulsing her with all her strength, threw her down, and snatching Celine, flew back with her to the subterraneous retreat, leaving Adrienne senseless on the ground.
(To be continued.
(From Goldsmith's Deserted Village.)
Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheer'd the labʼring swain ;
And parting summer's ling'ring blooms delayed;
Dear, lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
The never failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church, that topp'd the neighb'ring hill ;
The hawthorn bush with seats beneath the shade,