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sacrifice yourself to Him. No, child ; passed by the presbytery. He was watch God would despise the choice you pre-ing me and his bees meanwhile. When meditate between Him and a being you I looked up he beckoned me to ap dislike. It's a profanation. Any who proach. There was no one in the lane would encourage you in such a course but ourselves, but he led me under the are already marked for eternal damna- great trees and began expostulations on tion. It is offending the majesty of the the rash step I was going to take ; re. Lord. I have told you that before. S minding me that Jean Rantzau would Now please go back home; we are going never forgive me ; that he was so violent to have our dinner. At four precisely I he might strangle me, or apply for my shall be at your father's house."
dismissal ; and that the father of a family Louise had not a word to say. She had to think of those who were nearest held my hand with emotion, murmuring, and dearest, and so on. in a very weak voice,“ I thank you, Mon- I guessed rightly that my wife had gone sieur Florent - I knew you would not re- and asked him to endeavour to dissuade fuse."
My wife and Juliette had heard every- “Monsieur le Curé," said I, “ I should thing. When Louise had left the house have come to you for advice before I my wife began," I hope you will not go made the promise to call on Monsieur and deliver that message to Monsieur Jean ; but I have promised now.” Jean, Florent.”
“I am sorry to hear it. This is a seri “ Indeed I shall,” I replied, in a pas- i ous case.” sion. “I mean to, and I will not let you
I believe it is; but having given my make any improper remarks on my con- word, I must keep it." duct. A dutiful wife has nothing to say He did not reply immediately, but after
- even if I had not promised I should a moment he added, “Well, my dear go. Can a man of my respectability, a Florent, as you have made up your mind schoolmaster, stand by and see one of his to the consequences, go; God grant it best pupils ruin her prospects for life, all may turn out better than I expect!” because . . . . . No, no, I should blame We shook hands, but I felt very vexed myself for such weak-mindedness." with my wife. Monsieur Jannequin con" You will get ill-treated, Florent, that's tinued reading his missal.
As I proceeded I thought how difficult * He ill-treat me? Let him try,” I it was for an upright man to fulfil his duty added, doubling up my two fists.
in the midst of so much prudence and If I had been told I should one day wise advice. I thought of this as I went face so dangerous a man as Monsieur down the street, which was full of carts Jean, however, and in his own house, I heaped up to the top with green and would not have believed it. I had always golden crops. The lovely evening had been very prudent, but indignation was called all living things out to breathe the now too violent. Í set caution at de- scented cool breeze which stirred the fiance and strengthened myself in my orchard trees and planted hedge-rows; resolution all dinner-time, iny wife and everything was glowing under the setting Juliette exchanging looks. When the sun. Three large waggons stood in front cloth was removed I retired to my study, of Monsieur Jean's door, waiting until where I reflected, then went down to they could be unloaded, for all were busy. the schoolroom. At four I went up again The old store-house was already full up to put on a clean shirt, my best coat and to the gable of bright, bristling 'sheaves, hat. All men are apt to judge from ap- and the men were stuffing more and pearances, and I hoped I might exert more into every spare corner. some influence on the barbarian by the What riches in such a house! what care I bestowed on my person.
droves of cattle in the sheds and stables ! The headkeeper was absent, supervis- what quantities of provender in the lofts ; ing a public adjudication at Saarbourg, what wine in the cellars ! No wonder if but he was expected back at Chaumes in many suitors come forward as candidates the course of the evening, so I had no for the hand of an only daughter who time to lose, and I left home as the half- goes in with the lot! hour struck at our church clock.
This latter thought presented itself to My wife and daughter had not said my mind in connection with Monsieur le another word to dissuade me, but I saw Garde-Général. Monsieur Jannequin walking up and The men at work, the reapers and serdown the lane, reading his missal, when I'vants, who were nearly all old scholars of
mine, had each something to say to me, I there devote herself entirely to the seras I went by, about their labour or the vice of God.” weather. “Glorious time for the har- Monsieur Jean's face turned livid ; his vest !" cried one. “There'll be no want eyes glared and seemed to start out of next winter, Monsieur Florent,” cried his head. another; and all turned to make some “ You understand, Monsieur Rantzau," sort of friendly remark, but I was so un- I pursued, “that when my best pupil easy about the reception I was to have at He did not allow me to finish, rose Monsieur Jean's that I only answered, from his chair, and rushed out in the pas** Yes, yes, children ; beautiful weather; sage, calling “ Louise ! Louise !” Then keep to your work; courage !
he came back and walked up and down, The nearer I came to the old house as if I had not been there, with his hands the more intense became my anxiety: behind his back, his head bent forward, The lower floor was closed on account of his nose standing out in a larger curve the heat, and if I had not promised I than ever, and his heavy chin firmly flatshould have gone back to the schoolhouse tened down : his large shoes creaked on without having shown myself. Somehow the floor at each step. Suddenly he I got to the entrance, of which both doors stopped to listen, for light steps were were wide open, to make room for the heard on the stairs, then he coughed. numerous people going in and out to help I thought every particle of blood would de reapers.
leave my veins when I saw Louise enter. The first room on the passage, to the At one glance she knew why she had right, was Monsieur Jean's counting been called, and looked as terrified as I house, a place well known to his cred- was myself; but her father, containing itors, purchasers, and tenants ; the books his anger, only frowned. were kept here, and I could see Mon- “I want to hear from your own lips sieur Jean through the half-open door. what is in the wind. You have called on He was sitting at his walnut bureau, with this schoolmaster to tell him something his back to the door. A warm sun-ray, you have not told me
- me, your father! in which shone glittering atoms of dust, Are you not ashamed to go and confide came through a crack in the shutters and private concerns to this idiot and his two it lit up his round, bald head so sparely magpies, who will repeat every word they fringed with grey hair, his broad shoul- have heard ? Is that the way a Rantzau ders, and round back.
behaves ? Monsieur Florent has just He was writing, putting down on one told me, like a simpleton, that you want line of his register all his cartloads of to go back to the convent and devote hay, straw, wheat, barley, and oats ; on yourself to the service of the Lord. What another line opposite, rows of francs in is the meaning of that, — the Lord ?” hand and of francs coming in.
The old sinner's features expressed I looked on, scarcely daring to breathe ; deep sarcasm when he spoke of the Lord ; but when this had lasted five or six min- and yet here was a man who never stoputes, a servant happening to come in the ped away from mass or vespers on Sunpassage, I coughed, and then walked in days! I now saw through his religion. with my hat off.
It was the religion of pride, avarice, and “ Monsieur Rantzau, I have the hon- love of the good things of this world. our to
Let me hear - speak -- answer !” "Ah! that's you, is it?" said he in a Louise drew her slender figure up and gruff way, turning round in his seat, replied, “I do want to go back to the without rising, and looking at me from convent." Then, turning to me, she head to foot.
continued, “I hope Monsieur Florent “What is this that I have been hear- will forgive all the insults he is being exing about my daughter having been twice posed to for my sake. He has told nothto see you ?"
ing but the plain truth. I am not happy It was obvious he had been informed. at home. I wish to serve the Lord, to go There are tale-bearers everywhere, espe- to the good sisters forever; there, at cially round the rich. I did not feel at least, I shall enjoy peace and quiet." all comfortable.
Her voice quivered, but she was firm. “Well, what does it all mean?"
The old barbarian looked at her with “I am here on a very painful mission, his arms folded, as he would have looked Monsieur Rantzau," I replied. “ Louise at a poor weak fly he meant to crush in a has begged me to tell you she intends to minute. I, knowing I was not strong go back to the Molsheim convent, and enough to defend her against him, felt
the perspiration starting out of my brow; out of the room,” but I couldn't get the but he, still keeping in his fury, began, words out. like a wary old wolf, to work on her feel- “Yes, yes," he went on, as if griefings.
stricken, “I have sacrificed everything " So this is to be the reward of my love! I could have married twenty times, but i This is how my child rewards me !” He would not. In spite of that sanguinary joined his two hands above his head as if robber I have prospered, thank God! A in a paroxysm of grief.
worthy young man, the best scholar in “So I had a danghter,” he went on, “a the whole country, honours the whole daughter for whom every mortal thing family by soliciting the hand of my has been. I could have married a second daughter. I have given you to him time, but I wouid not bring a stepmother by promise - and every inhabitant of home to an only child, and remained a these mountains knows that Jean Rantwidower at the age of thirty-seven. My zau has only one word ! It is all arranged. days and nights have been spent over I shall recover the possession of all i making her a fortune and giving her a have lost, be the father of grandchildren, first rate education. I never denied her and end my days in peace and joy. We anything. She loved music and had the shall be the first people of the commune, best masters ; she wanted to have a pi- the first in all the arrondissement; my ano, I ordered one from Paris ; she want- daughter will be the grandest lady in the ed dresses, hats, everything — she had environs for ten leagues round Chaumes; everything. Nothing was too good or my son-in-law will live in my own house, dear enough for her she should have and the villain opposite will laugh on the had my last morsel of bread if she had wrong side of his mouth when he finds asked me to give it her. She was my Monsieur Lebel is master, while his idol, my all; and when I said “That's drunken slothful vagrant is ready to dry Louise,' I meant, * There's perfection.' up with envy! I tell you," he added more She was my pride, my joy; and now emphatically than before, in his loudest this is my reward !”
tones, “No one shall say no to me when Louise turned red and pale through all I say yes. Do you hear that ? ” he roared, this, but did not utter a syllable: her face coming close to Louise again. remained impassive, and the old wretch, She was standing with her face to the finding he did not succeed in moving her, light, self-possessed and determined, as stopped his moaning to ask, in a threat- defiant as all the Rantzaus. ening tone, whether she really was seri- “Do you hear ?” he repeated, with inous in her resolve to go back to Mols- creased fury. “Dare you say no - dare!" heim.
“ Well then, no," she replied, looking “I am," she replied. “It is settled. I him straight in the face. will enter on the service of God.”
An icy-cold shudder ran over me, for No sooner were these words firmly ut- she had no sooner said the word than the tered than Monsieur Jean went to the tiger came down on her. With his broad window, threw the shutters open, and, hand he struck her down on her knees to taking her by the shoulders as if she the ground. She was crushed, but not weighed no more than a feather, brought subdued, for, lifting her head, she looked her to the window.
at her father with flashing eyes, and stern“ There is your god!” he cried, point- ly replied, ing to his brother's house. “ He is the 6 No— never!” son of the villain who has made my blood “ He lifted his arm to strike her again, boil for the last thirty years. Deny it. but I held it back. Lie - lie now as you are going to be a “Monsieur Rantzau,” I cried, “rememnun! Ha, ha, ha!”
ber she is your child !” Monsieur Jean's face was a horrible All his fury was now turned on me. sight. Louise, more dead than alive, did “Who are you to come and meddle in not reply.
my family concerns ?” he thundered. In “ Is it true?” he roared, shaking her. a second an iron grasp raised me from “Speak. So you won't ?' Then it is the ground, the back of my head was viotrue!"
lently knocked against the wall, and the Finding she could not be made to an- next thing was a heavy fall over some swer with his hands on her, he let her steps, which shattered my limbs and filled alone. My legs shook under me. I felt me with terror. The door was then something in my throat as if I wanted to slammed with a bang, and I thought I say, "Now is the time to run, child; run was done for ; however, I tried to move
and was making a strong effort to rise, was sure to hear the story of what had when my hat flew after me out of the win- occurred before he went to bed, and dow and the shutters were closed again. would awake with the same feelings as
I looked round — all the neighbors and his future father-in-law. reapers were running away, and shrieks George came back from a timber sale rang through the house. It was the hard- he had attended later still. hearted old villain beating his daughter ! I was just telling my wife, in a low My heart bled. At length I got on my voice, what Monsieur Jean and Louise feet and sat down on a step, though I had had said about him, when his char-à-bancs lost all my strength, and could scarcely rattled by our house, and I exclaimed, on fetch breath. Everybody had deserted I hearing it, “ Marie-Barbe, there he is ! the spot, none caring to be called on to If he could but know that Louise loves say what they had seen and heard. I him!” picked up my hat, and crawled home as “ Hold your tongue,” she cried. “We well as I could, not meeting a single per- shall be ruined if any one hears you say son on the way, but seeing faces peer out that." here and there from behind the house I did not discover until it was time to windows.
rise next day that, though none of my None of my bones were broken, fortu- bones were broken, they were all very nately, though I looked so very pale. sore. I thought I should be compelled When I reached our door I inwardly to keep my bed, but I dressed, with my thanked the Almighty for my preserva- wife's assistance, and managed to get tion, and walked in, without giving any into my armchair. account of myself to my wife or Juliette. It is a great trial to have nothing to
Neither were slow in perceiving that live on but one's profession when old age something very extraordinary had hap- comes on, and there is nothing to fall pened to me nevertheless ; in the first back on ! place, there was the evidence: I was The events I have related took place white all down my left side, having fallen years ago, but when I think over them in the dust, and my hat was knocked in. they still move me. I did not deserve It was quite enough to alarm them with- such a terrible humiliation : Monsieur out the change on my face.
Jean would not have dared treat a man “What, in the name of heaven, has capable of defending himself in such a happened, Florent ?” asked my wife.
A rich man would have sued "Nothing,” said I; "Monsieur Jean him; but, alas ! the justice of a poor and pushed me out of the counting-house and weak man's cause is not sufficiently supI fell."
ported in this world. " I told you it would be so," said my wife, sobbing; and Juliette began to cry. “I told you how it would end, and you I HAD not been seated more than a did not believe me !"
quarter of an hour, thinking of the misThe neighbours soon came in to make eries of every-day life, when I saw George inquiries, the report having a ready spread in the distance from our gable window that I was going to be dismissed for that looks out on the high street. He having insulted Monsieur Jean. My had his old straw hat and blouse on, held wife's sighs, tears, and sobs increased, his stout alpenstock, and came our way but I enjoyed a calm conscience, feeling in deep thought. I had only done what was right. When The villagers, who at that early hour I found that Marie-Barbe and Juliette were sweeping the stables and letting were in such distress, I told them there their barn-fowl out, stopped to look at was justice here below, that all Monsieur him as he went along, but he paid no Jean's spite and all the head-keeper's attention to any one. power could not deprive me of my situa- My wife was making the coffee, but no tion, because I should have a hearing sooner caught a glimpse of George than before I was sent away, and Monsieur she came running up. Jacques was sure to stand up for me. “Now, Florent, here's George. I dare This comforted them a little, but there say he will want to find out what has was no thought of sleep or supper that happened -- be cautious; do not repeat night.
the words you said yesteaday — take Towards nine, in the dead silence of care ; if Monsieur Jean knew !” night, we heard the head-keeper return- “ Attend to your coffee, Marie-Barbe, ing on horseback from Saarbourg. He said I, turning round. After all these
bruises I have a right to say a little of feeling very miserable in her father's my own mind.”
house. She asked me, her old master, to I was quite vexed with her; and as break the news to him — you understand, soon as Juliette had done sweeping the George, that it was quite proper in her to room she went with her mother into the come and ask me ?" kitchen.
And is that why he struck her ?” Just then George walked up-stairs. “ That is not the exact reason," I re
Good-day, Monsieur Florent,” said plied with some hesitation. he. “I am going to the saw-mills, and My wife had heard the preceding conthought I would like to see you as I went versation, and now came in from the by."
kitchen, making her usual signs, but in“Sit down, George — take a chair; 1 stead of noticing them, as I so often had cannot move.
done, I flew in a passion, for a man does " I hear uncle Jean has ill-treated you, not like to be led by his wife like a child. and I have come to know all about it. “ You want to know the whole truth, He is a big coward; he would not lay his George? Well, he struck Louise behand on me, but turns on the defence- cause she loves you! It happened in less; beats his own child! In this man- this way. Your uncle pushed the shutner he is sure to come to no harm ! Old ters of his counting-house wide open, villain! I hope the day is not far off and, pointing to your father's house, said when he will cease to have the upper- that the son of the rascal opposite was hand."
the god she loved." I shared George's views entirely. “ Did he say that? Did you hear him,
“You would never guess what is going Monsieur Florent ? ” on now, Monsieur Florent. Uncle Jean's “I could not help hearing him, he house is in a pretty state. He came shouted loud enough for the whole vildown into his stable early this morning lage to hear.” and saddled a horse himself, called old " What did Louise answer ? " Dominique, and ordered him to ride as “Nothing He shook her, saying, fast as he could to Saarbourg and fetch Deny it ; lie, lie, if you
dare ! Monsieur Bourgard, the doctor. The “ And did she not answer him?" man had to gallop off as he was, without “No, George. She would not tell an any waistcoat on. Louise, it seems, is untruth." very ill indeed – the brute nearly killed I gave my wife a look that meant, her yesterday."
“There, that will teach you to leave off “George,” said I," you can pride your- fussing with your signs and warnings." self on having one of the most barbarous George had turned red looking first at uncles."
me and then at my wife. “ Don't mention him," said George, “Well, yes, Monsieur Florent, we do with his teeth set ; " if you do, I shall go love each other. I have loved her for a back and give him a thrashing; that is long time. I always loved her, even why I have left the house. I could not when I fancied I hated her, because I endure the temptation. I had rather walk had been told I did. Whenever I have about."
uttered a word against her I have always “Quite right, George ; and then she is been vexed with those who backed his daughter after all. No single person what I said. I hid it all here,” he said, but your father, accompanied by a gen- placing his hand on his bosom ; “but darme, has a right to set his foot in that since the day of the waggon-load — you house. We unfortunately must keep remember that day, Monsieur Florent ? away. It is very terrible.”
- it has been too much for me." “ He is an old savage !” said George, His eyes were full of tears ; he caught suddenly standing still. “One thing my hand and looked as if he could have there is, however, Monsieur Florent, that thrown his arms around my neck. I should much like to know. I cannot “I have been very unhappy,” he went understand why he struck his daughter. on. “How I have hated myself for carHe must have had some serious provoca- ing for uncle Jean's daughter! How I tion.”
have cursed and upbraided myself for - Oh! she told him she meant to take this weakness ! How I have roamed the veil and become a nun."
about in the woods, saying, “ The child “A nun? Louise a nun?"
of the old villain who robbed your own “Yes ; she said she wanted to go back father! the daughter of the man who is to Molsheim and give herself up to God, I planning your ruin !' I turned hard and