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and perdition hereafter. In short, never was there such an epistle. It is, however, well calculated to preclude any very deep regret for the writer ; though it prevents not my chagrin for the loss of my fortune. Quelle mère dénaturée !
Ma tante, avec cette douceur et cette amabilité qui la distinguent, appears more gratified than grieved by our cruel disappointment. She knows that we are now wholly in her power, and hers is not a nature to use that power generously. How right you were, ma chère Caroline, when you pronounced her to be aussi méchante que bête !
I must leave you, as ma couturière has come to take my orders for my mourning. How I hate black! for it makes me look so ill. I shall resume my letter when Victorine departs.
Only fancy what has oceurred, — never was there such a piece of meanness! Madame ma tante came into the room where I had left my unfinished letter to you, while I was giving my instructions to Victorine for my mourning, and had the want of decency to read what I had written. She was frantic with rage at the mention made of herself in it, and vows vengeance against me and you.
You, fortunately, are out of her reach ; but on poor me it will fall heavily. It was very unthinking of me to leave the letter open upon my desk ; but who could dream of her being guilty of so reprehensible an action as that of reading the letter of another ? and beneath her own roof, too! What a violation of the rights of hospitality and decorum!
She declares she will reveal my liaison with the duc to Florestan. Little does she imagine that it has long been no secret to him: he, pauvre cher homme, was always reasonable, and adopted the philosophical system which takes for its motto, vivre et laissez vivre.
This ancient dame was positively transformed into a fury by the perusal of my letter. She looked a very Megara, with her bleared eyes, and withered cheeks Aushed to crimson by the violence of her anger.
* 1, bête! I, méchante !” exclaimed she; “ what a vile calumny! and this, too, from you, base and ungrateful woman! who owe me so much
on whom I have lavished such generosity and kindness.
Yes, your mother was right to disinherit you. wickedness, and has punished you in the only vulnerable point-your love of wealth. The example shall not be lost, depend upon it, The méchante bête shall find means to repay you for all your sins!'
She knew your
Thus saying, she left the room, darting at me the most infuriated glances.
I have reflected long and deeply on the subject, and now pronounce, that all the evils in this life emanate from poverty. Were I in possession of the fortune to which I had a right, this old Tisiphone could not insult and humiliate me; Florestan would not be in a prison, and I should not be wretched - for wretched I am - at this moment. Should she expel me from her house, I know not where to go, unless to the Comtesse de Hauteforte's; and she, of late, has been so negligent in writing to me, and so altered in her manner, when I have called on her, that the alternative is far from being an agreeable one.
I will despatch ma femme de chambre, in whom I can confide, with a letter detailing my vexatious position to le duc; he will sympathise with me, for on his affection I can count,
and this is indeed a consolation under present
annoyances. I have seldom seen him of late, for my aunt, not content with prohibiting his visits at her hotel, has so strenuously insisted on my not meeting him elsewhere, that, to preserve peace in her triste maison, I have only rarely had an interview with him at Madame de Hauteforte's, who affected to be prudish about it. This conduct is un peu ridicule, n'est-cepas ?-having so long known our attachment: and not a little ungrateful, considering that I have always thrown the shield of my friendship over her equivocal liaison with my husband. I was, also, much hurt by observing the indifference she has evinced with regard to Florestan's incarceration.
She even permitted herself to make some ill-timed reflec
tions on his extravagant habits, and incorrigible propensity to gaming; which came with a bad grace from her, who had profited so