Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

“ You may speak to her freely, somewhat worn off, and she had for I believe her to be devoted to warmed to the conversation.

" DIANE DE BRETEUILLE. It was a trying undertaking for " P.S.-Look at the favour, and

a woman in her responsible positell Mademoiselle Garoux whether tion, and the sense of this responit is not faded. The azure of my her little prim body the French

sibility weighed upon her; but in sky is, alas! very cloudy. Pity her little prim body the French me."

governess treasured a Frenchwo

man's tenderness of heart for the Here was a blow, and how to girl she had under her care, and parry it without mixing myself up distasteful as anything might have in the intimate affairs of an hon- been to her, she would have underourable French family, who prob- taken it for her sake. ably knew what they were about Withal, she preserved those sterin the interest of their daughter's eotyped ways of a Frenchwoman happiness, and bringing upon my- when addressing a man, and conself a load of responsibility I nei- stantly looked to what she deemed ther had the right nor a legitimate “ les convenances,”

as if, poor excuse to bear, I could not tell. soul, any one filled as I was with At any rate, I would see the gov- thoughts of a lovely girl, or, inerness and find out how the ground deed, any one not so filled, would lay.

have had time and will to notice I told the servant accordingly whether she sat upright or curtto show her in, and reflected mean- seyed low, whether her dress hid while that I would ascertain all I her feet, or whether her veil was could from her as to Diane's senti- down. ments in my regard, something as It so happens that I did notice to the nature of the girl herself in the veil down, and this only beher own home, and whether I could cause I was so anxious to hear enlist this governess on my side if what she had to say, that I thought requisite.

its removal would have been an inAt this juncture a prim little provement; but when I indiscreetly woman, with the tiniest specks of suggested its being lifted, she gave eyes imaginable, entered the room. me so decided a look of horror, that Her eyes were only discernible, be- I recoiled from any further attempt. cause her face being small and her “ Sir,” she began, “ I have come features thin and distinct, any. on a painful errand, which you thing black would have shown on may readily believe I would never her palid complexion ; but had she have undertaken had I not seen been stout, I was convinced she my poor Diane in tears, and would have proved a phenomenon known you to be a friend of the of nature, and have presented a family." face without eyes. This was not I was rather confused by this encouraging ; for when we prepare speech, for I knew_myself to be for an encounter, we rely upon our unacquainted with Diane's father, reading what is in the opponent's and acquainted only with her eye before we settle on a line of mother since a few hours, while, action.

at the same time, the mention of Mademoiselle Garoux's eyes, Diane's tears set me into a fury however, opened out a little more against these unnatural and cruel after a while, when the novelty of parents ; but I had to bear Diane's visiting a young man's rooms had letter and caution in mind, and I

a

)

merely replied that I well under- “Then it has been arranged bestood her painful position, begging tween them?" of her to take a chair.

“So I fancy.” This at first the governess would I cared not in the least for these not do, but she finally accepted details, but it served my purpose of a most uncomfortable high-backed putting Mademoiselle Garoux off old-fashioned oak chair, whereon it the dangerous topic she wanted to was rather amusing, in the midst of touch on, and to place us on a conour mutual sorrowing reflections, versational footing. to see her endeavour to preserve 6 Mademoiselle Diane tells me her ankles from the profane look in this letter that the sears she was of a man, and at the same time sit good enough to confide to me yestergracefully on a seat evidently too day have been realised this mornhigh for her.

ing; and without being asked * You have read the letter she whether she were willing or not has sent you through me, and you by either her parents or M. de know the cause of her grief. She Maupert, she is at present as good tells me you are her friend, and as engaged to that gentleman." implores you to see her aunt as “So I understand,” said the desoon as possible.

She believes mure governess. Madame la Comtesse de Chantalis

"Under these circumstances, to be omnipotent with her brother, Mademoiselle," I said, “it seems and fancies that you have great to me very difficult for you and me influence with her aunt.

to interfere with the decisicn of her “ I know," she continued, “that parents." Monsieur le Marquis is very much • So I told Mademoiselle." attached to his sister, and I have " And though difficult for you, osten heard of you from Madame it seems almost impossible for me, la Comtesse, but I was not aware does it not ?" until yesterday that you had ever "I made the same remark to met Madeinoiselle Diane."

Mademoiselle." The sly rogue ! I thought. Ah! " And what did she reply?" you want to find out, do you? but “No, no-nothing is impossible you shall

not

that I swear. for M. Vere, for I am sure he takes Whereupon I asked, as if she had too real an interest in me to mind not spoken—" And who is M. de obstacles." Maupert?"

I looked hard at the governess. “ He is a college friend of Mon- “ Mademoiselle Garoux, I said, sieur le Marquis."

“are these the very words used by Has he ever seen Mademoiselle Diane ?" Diane ?"

She looked up surprised, both at “ Not till a couple of days ago." my calling Diane by her Christian “ How is that?"

name only, and at my tone of voice. “ He belongs to • la noblesse de “Certainly," she replied, “ those province,' and seldom comes to were her words; and if Monsieur Paris.”

allows me to say so, judging by his “What part of France does he last remark, I would guess Madecome from?"

moiselle Diane to be right in her " Du Dauphiné."

surmise." “ Has the Marquis any property This was artful, and I had half in that department ?"

a doubt whether I should expose “I believe so."

my real sentiments so soon ; but

[ocr errors]

the doubt was soon dismissed, for “Diane is very self-willed," the poor governess, sobbing aloud, observed Mademoiselle Garoux; implored of me in accents of des- “but,” she quickly added, “she has peration to save her dear charge an angel's heart." from this miserable situation, if, “So I believe ; and as evidently, as she felt I did, I loved Diane mademoiselle, you and I admire enough to do her bidding.

and love that heart, respect and I tried, however, one more pru- wish to follow that will, let me dent question, and asked Made- tell you that her will will be my moiselle Garoux whether she had law, whatever be the consequence, weighed all that her pleading on just as my heart belongs to her, behalf of Diane entailed.

whatever may be the result.” “ Have you measured," I said, "I will console the poor girl “the consequences of my interfer- by those kind words," said the ence? Have you foreseen the duties governess. of honour which such interference And I added, " Come sometimes would impose upon me-duties to. and console me with a message wards Mademoiselle Diane herself, from her, whether of confidence, maybe, which, God knows, I would or of hope, or of sorrow, or of fill with alacrity, but which might expectation : it will always be a require from her a response she may boon to the second being M. de. not be altogether disposed to give?" Maupert is making miserable,

Mademoiselle Garoux dried her though probably without knowtears, and holding out her hand to ing it." me, said, “ Monsieur, vous êtes un so I think," observed the govergentilhomme. You are quite right, ness with a little mystery, " that we must think these matters over. he suspects something, for he has I am bound to tell you that Made: asked to be excused from dining moiselle Diane has not spoken of with the Countess this evening, you to me in the light which corre- and requested that Diane should sponds to your evident attachment likewise be absent." for her; and though it may be she “ Impossible,” I said. returns your affection, I have no " On this point however," added right to speak on that point, as I Mademoiselle Garoux, “ Madeam wholly in the dark.”

moiselle Diane has been obdurate, “I will see her this evening," I and has pleaded that the events said, “at dinner at her aunt's; and that have taken place are so fresh I will endeavour for myself to and so sudden that she wants a make her understand the feelings little diversion to her thoughts. that animate me.”

Her parents have naturaliy not “No, monsieur, do not do that; been able to deny this request, our French girls cannot compre- and she has told me that I was hend these matters except through to let you know.' the intervention of a third party.” "Mademoiselle Garoux," I an

Pardon me, mademoiselle," I swered,“ may I make a friend replied, “it is the love of interfer- of you? May I ask you to be ence on the part of the third party my friend and to that prevents French girls appear- truly?" ing to understand what in common "Certainly, monsieur." nature they comprehend quite as " Then will you find out for me well as anybody else throughout whether in the struggle which is the world.”

imposed upon me I may hope for

answer

me

a

SO

a return of that love which impels me, friend or lover, Diane has me to undertake it? I want no an ally in me." absolute promise any more than a She was just going to leave the conditional one. I know Diane to room, when remembering the postbe a mere girl, on whom, before script in Diane's letter, I said to her time, have fallen some of Mademoiselle Garoux, “ Will you life's greatest difficulties. I want kindly give Diane a direct mesto help her through these ; but sage from me, which, though perwith what different feeling haps enigmatical to you, will, I would I undertake the task were think, be understood by her, as hope of winning her at stake, I it only refers to a little conversaleave you to guess. I simply tion we had last night, and say adore her very name, let alone that the sky is always blue for me the person herself. Think, then, while I deserve her favour?" what love would achieve where “I will,” said the governess, friendship is ready to do so and left the room, out of which much."

I accompanied her. The poor governess took to her On my return I had scarcely tears again.

time to reflect upon the extraor“ How well, monsieur, I enter dinary position which in twentyinto your feelings, and how justi- four hours I had created for myfied are you in entertaining them. self, when the servant again came If you only knew Diane as I do, in, and in an airy way said, you would worship her very tread ; " Monsieur has many visitors this for I, a woman, have never known morning." anything so adorable. She is " Who wants to see me now?" "loyalty itself. Her sense of duty A gentleman this time," he and justice is beyond her years; said, with a smile. and her loving heart, where it "Give me his card." yields, is so gentle, so feminine, “ Here it is." so pure so good, that the reward "Le Comte de Maupert, Sénaof its bestowal is a prize noble teur," was what I read. Good men would have every right to heavens! had he met the goverpride in."

ness? That was my first thought. I rose

a hundred per cent in I do not care, was the second. my estimation after this, for had • Ask him to come up," I said. I not been selected as the chosen I was too astonished to think confidant of this lovely paragon of of anything, or determine on any beauty and virtue ?

action, before the door opened and As I told you before," the there entered a handsome, gentlegoverness went on, “I was not manlike person, with the red rosette aware that you had laid any of a Commander of the Legion of claim on Mademoiselle Diane's Honour at his button-hole, and a affections, and as she has told very long ebony stick in his hand. me nothing on the subject, I can He was plainly dressed in a give you no encouragement what- tightly fitting frock-coat buttoned ever ; but it is fair that you up to the collar, and wore a black should know how you stand, and neck-tie in the shape of a bow, with I will let you know, if I can, the ends showing on each side how matters are."

of the coat. I thank you with all my

His hair had a touch of grey, heart," I said; “though, believe and a small imperial gave his face a longer cut than perhaps his the Count looked at me, squared square chin would otherwise have his chin, and repeated—“whom I allowed; and altogether his expres- hope to marry, does not find it in sion was, if not positively amiable, her power to forego the pleasure that rather of a good-natured than she anticipates of dining there, and of a bad-tempered man.

as your acquaintance with our I felt rather as if I were in country may have told you, it is presence of some kind male rela. not usual for young persons who tive about to rebuke me than in are affianced to go out where their that of a rival, and the person I betrothed is not one of the comat that moment hated more cor- pany." dially than any other in the world. I remained stolidly silent.

Standing at the door, hat in As, of course, I could not say hand, he said, “It is very good as much to Mademoiselle de Breteof you to receive me, monsieur, uille, I have come, very simply though I was sure you would not as you see, to ask you to make the refuse me an interview, seeing that sacrifice which it would be wrong your intimacy with several mem- to urge on my fiancée, seeing how bers of the family of Mademoiselle much she had set her heart on this de Breteuille has probably sug- outing.” gested to you already the motives " Monsieur le Comte," I obof my visit to you this morning." served, “ your visit does me great

I made up my mind on hearing this honour, and I assure you I appreto listen rather to the end than to ciate the candour of your request make any premature remarks, and as much as I do your generosity begged the Count to take a chair. in not depriving a young girl of

When he had seated himself, so modest a recreation as a family and finding I preserved a discreet dinner at her aunt's." silence, he went on

I could not help this sumewhat “I have the honour of being sarcastic thrust, for indeed I felt engaged to marry Mademoiselle de disgusted with the cunning selfishBreteuille. Happening to hear ness of this old sinner, as I conthat a family dinner to which I sidered him, wishing to deprive was bidden,' but cannot unfortu- Diane of her evening's amuseinent, nately attend this evening at that and maybe her last chance of young lady's aunt, is to have the seeing me. addition of your presence, I have "You mistake me," said the come perfectly frankly, and, as you Count; "nothing is further from see, with absolute confidence in an my thoughts.

I have told you English gentleman's honour and exactly what I mean, and I mean high breeding, to request a favour every word I have said, neither from you."

more nor less." “But, sir," I quickly remarked, " And have you considered how “this dinner was arranged before rude my behaviour would appear your engagement, which you now to Madame de Chantalis, who has announce to me, was even thought purposely asked me to meet Madeof; I beg that you will bear that moiselle Diane ?" in mind.”

“Do you know Mademoiselle de “I am aware of it, he replied ; Breteuille so well,” asked the Count, “ but the young lady whom I hope was to call her by her Christian to marry

name? Her father tells me he At this word I gave a frown; has never met you. Her mother

a

66

« PoprzedniaDalej »