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THE PHILOSOPHER AND HIS PUPIL.
(Continued from page 13.)
Poor Adrienne! had she not one friend, says the reader, to save her from the effects of false praise? Yes, she had one; and that one, had he been allowed to have taken part in her education, would have corrected, if he could not have eradicated those faults which had such a fatal influence on her after life. This was the Abbé De la Villetti: he had heard the exaggerated praises bestowed on the good action of Adrienne; he had been sensibly touched with it, and as he bestowed his benediction upon her, had prayed that Heaven would continue to her those happy dispositions. The task of making her feel that her action had been most extravagantly praised, was to the mild abbé a most unpleasant one; but he conceived that duty required it from him, and to the voice of duty he was never deaf. He seized the opportunity of retracing the particulars as if without design, and of placing the part that Louise had taken in a strong point of view. "With her slender pocket-money," said he, “she has made a real sacrifice; for ten louis are to her a little fortune: and she would have made a still greater one had it been necessary, for she could not have paid for a nurse without subjecting herself to great privations."
Adrienne's naturally candid mind directly drew the inference that he wished. "It is Louise," cried she, with vivacity," that is truly generous. Yes, I see it now; she is far, far my superior. But how is it, Monsieur l'Abbé, have we all been blind, that every one has spoken of me, and nobody has thought of Louise?"
"All is right," thought the good abbé ; "her heart is yet incorrupt." But it was not an easy matter to answer her question, for it was not merely as a rich heiress that she attracted attention from Louise; she would have won it had they been of equal rank: her dazzling beauty, her lively wit, and the thousand graces of her deportment, threw her estimable but unpretending friend completely into the shade. The abbé could not tell her this; and as he would not give a false reason, he contented himself with praising the resolution she averred, to make every body do justice to the merit of Louise.
She succeeded only with de Villars, whose judgment, though warped for the moment by his long unbounded affection for his pupil, was too correct AUGUST, 1845.
not to estimate Louise's character at its just value. As to that amiable girl herself, it appeared to her the most natural thing in the world, that every body should speak and think only of Adrienne; of whom she was equally fond and proud.
The fêtes in honour of the peace lasted for eight days, and during that time the young couple remained at the chateau. On the ninth morning, the marquis took de Villars aside. "I have waited," said he, "till our guests were gone, to give my family a pleasure which even your philosophy will approve; but I want you to aid me in putting my plan in execution. Come in an hour with the ladies to the spot where the poor Marie had so nearly terminated her life: you will find there something that will please you ; but say nothing to the women, and let your coming appear accidental.”
Neither the Comtesse nor Mademoiselle d'Anvers were inclined to walk; the preceptor therefore set out with Adrienne and Louise, and directed his steps as if by chance towards the scene of their late adventure; they could not enter the wood without recalling it to their minds. "Oh," cried Adrienne, “it was in this very spot that I heard those groans which made me shudder with terror." As she spoke, the sprightly sounds of rural music burst upon their ears; they ran eagerly forward, and in sight of the spot where the courageous Louise had saved the life of Marie, they saw a verdant arch, which served as the entrance to a newly planted orchard; there the marquis holding the hand of Marie, and the baroness that of Pierre, met them. The bridegroom hastened to place upon the head of Adrienne a crown of roses, and the bride paid a similar homage to Louise; begging of them at the same time to enter their habitation, that they might enjoy the sight of the happiness they had caused.
In fact the marquis had a small house at the foot of the bridge; he had had it privately fitted up for their reception; every thing necessary for the business of a carpenter was placed in it, and in the little farm yard adjoining was a good cow, and plenty of poultry. He had added to his gift the piece of ground which reached from the house to the spot that had nearly been so fatal to the pretty bride. What a treasure for the new-married couple, who thus saw their hopes and wishes not only crowned, but surpassed. The simple and touching expression of their huppiness and gratitude enchanted the young people; even the philosopher was moved, and the marqius forgot for one moment the portfolio, that great object of his life; as to the baroness, her heart was too corrupt to be capable of tasting a pleasure as pure as it was delicious; but she had sufficient art to feign an entire participation in the general satisfaction.
De Villars feared, and justly, that the denouement of Marie's adventures
might have an injurious effect upon the mind of Adrienne; and he took care to assure her, when they were alone, that the felicity of that young creature had no durable basis; that the natural result of her fault would be the loss of her husband's esteem and confidence, and that her life might be for ever embittered by the reproach which would too deservedly rest upon her name.
Circumstances had steeled the mind of Adrienne against the impression he thought to make. She had not forgotten what her father had said of Madame du Barry ; and she had unfortunately an example nearer home, that infamy does not always follow the want of chastity. Words indiscreetly dropt in her hearing, had revealed to her the nature of the empire which the baroness constantly exercised over her father: thus worldly considerations had no power on her mind which already began to use that sublime right of reasoning which modern philosophy gives to its votaries. She saw in the weakness of Marie, not a crime, but a proof of her tenderness for her lover; and her attempt upon her own life, and that of her child, appeared a noble sacrifice of an existence which she could not retain without dishonour.
Very different were the sentiments of the poor girl herself. She had bitterly repented of her fall, and of the horrible step to which it led. Her penitence was accepted, her fall was a happy one. Pierre, persuaded that he alone was to blame for her fault, never reproached her with it; and her exemplary conduct to himself and to her children proved that her error was but for a moment, and that her heart had never been corrupted. But to return to Adrienne.
De Villars saw with pleasure, that she appeared from that time eager to perform acts of benevolence; and the Marquis's fortune, as well as the generosity of his disposition, gave her ample power to do good; but the pride which was the leading feature of the marquis's character, took every day a more pernicious influence on the mind of his daughter, who had unhappily inherited too much of it; and whatever pains her preceptor took to cure her of that defect, were rendered useless by the injudicious conduct of her father and her governess, who both joined in applauding what they termed the noble fierte of her character, The marquis, because he considered it as a necessary appendage to her noble blood, and expected to make it useful to his own views; and Mademoiselle d' Anvers, because she thought she saw in it a shield for her pupil from the then too general corruption of manners in France.
Among the objects who profited by the bounty of Adrienne, was a poor deaf and dumb girl, whom chance had thrown upon her protection. One evening as she was returning with Louise and De Villars to the chateau,
they saw this poor creature seated upon a stone and weeping bitterly. They questioned her, and soon perceived that she was deaf and dumb. Her youth, (she was but fourteen,) her mild countenance, and desolate situation, sensibly touched Adrienne. She took her to the chateau, where her industry, mildness, and intelligence, soon made her a general favourite. In a little time afterwards she took a fancy to have what she called a house of her own, and the marquis giving into her whim, made her a present of a gothic tower which was in the park, and a part of the ground that surrounded it. There she had a garden, cows, poultry, and a menagerie. She named it the Bower of Friendship. Her governess, Louise, and herself visited it frequently; no one else came without being expressly invited, not even her father. The young mute had the care of the dairy, and the basse cour, and acquitted herself with an activity and intelligence above her years.
Adrienne was now approaching fast to womanhood, and the marquis saw with undissembled pleasure that her beauty excelled even what her childhood had promised. On the day that she completed her sixteenth year, he said to her in the presence of De Villars,-" You are now, my daughter, no more a child. I wish, and I intend you to take your dear mother's place in my house, and perform henceforward the honours of it, which my sister-inlaw acquits herself so badly of. We will leave to her the domestic details, there she is at home; but in all else my Adrienne will enjoy her mother's rights. Take, my love, these diamonds, they were hers; her apartments shall be newly furnished for you, and in seeing you occupy them, I shall believe I have not lost her. You will have from this day two waiting women, two footmen, your own carriage, and an allowance of three hundred louis a year."
Adrienne threw herself into the arms of her too indulgent father. "No thanks, my daughter," said he ; you have it in your power to repay me for all that I have done, and all that I shall do for you. Yes, my Adrienne, it is to you that I look to obtain the object dearest to my heart. You are not ignorant that all my desires, all my wishes point to the ministry the services I have rendered my august master, as well as my profound knowledge of political affairs, ought long since to have placed me at the head of it; and would have done so, but for the arts of my enemies. It is on thee, my Adrienne, that I found my hope of conquering them; thy wit and beauty, joined to the immense fortune thou wilt one day inherit, and the lustre of thy ancestry, will make thee sought in marriage by the most illustrious houses in France; but thy hand shall be the prize of him only who can aid me to accomplish my desire; a desire, the fulfilment of which will be as glorious for thee, as for myself. Yes, my Adrienne, thou shalt see thy father elevated to
the summit of political power, govern France under the name of the king; an elevation which will be sweeter to him, if he owes it to thee. It is necessary for the success of my plan, that thy charms and thy accomplishments should be noised abroad. I shall not hasten thy marriage, but from this day thou shalt enjoy in every respect the most absolute liberty; for I am well convinced that the noble pride which thy illustrious origin inspires, is a surer safeguard to thy virtue, than a surveillance as dishonourable to thee, as it would be to me."
As at that time the heart was rarely consulted in the marriages made between noble families in France, Adrienne was not at all surprised nor affrighted at the sacrifice which her father demanded of her. She embraced him tenderly, promised to be always worthy of him, and obedient to his will; and from that day she took her place at the head of his house with an ease, a grace, and a propriety, which enchanted every body except her aunt; who was incensed at seeing the privileges she so long enjoyed taken from her to be bestowed upon her niece, whom she affected to consider and to treat as a child.
The good lady's resentment made no impression on anybody. She was, in fact, a complete nonentity, and invariably treated as such by everbody but Louise and the abbé. We must, however, except those times when there were strangers at the chateau. On those occasions Adrienne knew how to raise her aunt, of whom she was ordinarily very negligent in the opinion of the company; or, at least, to oblige them by her manners to treat the comtesse with respect; but this conduct, which would have been so amiable had it sprung from a good motive, had its origin in that pride which influenced all her actions; she could not suffer any one that belonged to her to be treated otherwise than with respect.
When Adrienne was about seventeen, the nephew of the worthy abbe arrived with his regiment at Valenciennes, and directly paid a visit to his uncle; and about the same time the son of Captain de Chyny returned for a short time to his paternal mansion. Both the young men were received with kindness by the marquis; but his daughter made, even at first sight, a marked distinction between them. Nature had, in fact, done little for Jacques de Chyny, and education still less; not that he wanted the exterior polish of his profession; he was an officer, but it was easy to see that the attentions he showed to others were exacted by the forms of society, and that he was in reality a cold and selfish being, who cared but for himself, and regarded others only as they could or could not contribute to his amusement. He affected to throw his mild and amiable sister into the shade; and either took no notice of her, or addressed her with a tone of insolent