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tual than constitutional; for old Jaquelette, being much alone, generally thought that a cough was very good company.
Perpignan, as he speedily undressed himself and got into bed, (to save time he had said his prayers in the dairy, over the raspberries and cream,) was much disconcerted by the state of the irritability of the membranes of the fauces, pharynx, larynx, trachea, and bronchi, of the aged Jaquelette, and he muttered, “ She coughs like an old horse ! However, he made up his mind for the worst, and tranquilly exclaimed, “How delightful is the calm silence of night, after a day of healthful labour!”
Jaquelette had extended her crazy old form on the settee, and wrapped herself up, when the sounds of music became very audible, and again were rapidly approaching ; chattering, laughter, enjoyment, were all close in the neighbourhood. Suddenly a loud single knock was given at the door.
“Can that be a rat?” thought Jaquelette. Another loud double knock was inflicted. No, bless me! it is a rat-tat at the door.”
Now a whispering commenced outside, accompanied with sundry sly laughs, and presently a panel of the old portal was smashed in. Jaquelette jumped up in alarm, and escaped as she was — that is to say, in the costume of an ancient Venus unadorned by the Graces, to Monsieur Perpignan's room, to ask his advice; but, before she could make that salutary inquiry, Monsieur Dominique's mischievous hand had removed the slight bolt, the door was opened, and in danced the numerous masquerading couples, until the little apartment was crowded.
“On, Madame,” said Dominique. “You are the most spirited partner I ever had the honour to lead out,” and they bounced into the next room, about ten pair of these mad promenaders.
Old Jaquelette, being in an unfit state to receive company, and not so much fearing her old and kind master as an exposure of her unpicturesque dishabille, rushed behind the curtain of Perpignan's bed, certainly to his surprise and alarm.
On went the dancers, circling the little room ; and Dominique, going round, pulled aside the drapery of the bed, and discovered Monsieur Perpignan to the uninvited spectator, sitting up, looking horror-struck, in his night-cap, and Jaquelette standing beside him, with her face averted, and a large sewn patch on her under habiliment, which proved that she had not taken the trouble to visit a Parisian linen-draper, to match the colour of the original jupon !
At this interesting tableau —as the writers of melodramas express it—we leave our readers until the next chapter.
CHAPTER VII. MADAME PERPIGNAN affected to be extremely shocked at this public exposé of the infidelity of her husband, and a liaison with such an object as old Jaquelette ; she stepped most indignantly out of the lodge, amidst the suppressed laughter of the company. As for Perpignan, he could not get out of bed in the presence of so many ladies ; at length the room was cleared ; but, when the guests were again in the garden, all offering opinions on the ludicrous scene they had just quitted, a violent and sudden shower of rain put an end to the Polish promenade dance. The characters were dispersed in all directions for shelter ; feathers and artificial flowers were instantly saturated; several gallant Pierrots and Scaramouches scampered to the château for cloaks and umbrellas for the sylphs, huntresses, and goddesses. Here stood a dripping Diana; there two half-drowned shepherdesses. Monsieur Dominique flew to the hall of the château, wherein stood a sedan-chair, in which he intended to place Madame Perpignan, and bring her dry to the house.
Sophia and Justine were at this moment at the door of the empty cottage. Sophia gave Justine a key, and told her to unlock the door.
“ The empty cottage, Mademoiselle, at this time of night?”
“Do as you are bid. When I am in, lock the door, put the key in your pocket. Keep watch. If Monsieur le Blond comes, admit him into the cottage, but no other living creature. As you value my future regard, be faithful.”
Sophia then entered. Justine locked the door ; her curiosity excited to the highest pitch, and she muttered," I should vastly like to know what all this means ?”.
Du Plessis had watched the footsteps of Sophia, and now came gently up to Justine, and said,
“My good girl, if you have any mercy, relieve my suspense. Here is gold for you."
Justine replied, “ It is of no use taking your money, sir, for I cannot answer the question.”
“Nay, then,” vehemently uttered Gaston, “I force the bribe on you ; and now dare to conceal the truth from me.”
Here he seized her hand, into which he put a purse. She struggled, and unconsciously dropped the key of the cottage. She then cried, “For shame, Monsieur du Plessis, this is outrageous! I must run for assistance.” She fled, and Gaston swore he would not quit her until she divulged the secret.
Justine thought this the only mode by which she could draw Du Plessis from the cottage door.
Pimental's plump Bacchante was washed away from him by the heavy rain, and he incipiently felt that his own harlequin pantaloons were being converted into a pair of slops. He was seeking shelter, and arrived at the door of the empty cottage, where he thought he could stand up at the porch until the storm had a little abated. Here he accidentally put his foot on the key which had been dropped by Justine. He picked it up.
“What a lucky dog I am !” said he. “Perhaps the key of this cottage. What a soaking shower!" He tried the lock; it turned ; and at the same moment the Marquis de la Tour le Colombier came up, with the intention of sheltering his person from the torrent which was falling, when Pimental in an instant perceiving his vindictive foe, slammed the door in the face of the Marquis.
“That incorrigible villain !”, exclaimed Le Colombier, and tried with all his strength to force the door, which, however, would not give way to his exertions. He then thought he would hastily stride towards the château. In his road there he was unlucky enough to have his temper again put to the test, for he saw the harlequin fixing a pole into a sedan-chair, and he exclaimed, " There is the villain Pimental!” forth came again the Toledo rapier, he fenced at Dominique fiercely, and it required all the activity of the flexible Dominique to parry off the Marquis's attack with the pole of the sedan-chair, Le Colombier at length received one powerful thrust
in his tambour waistcoat with the pole, which caused him to reel, and Madame Perpignan, putting her head out of the window of the sedan, inquired the cause of the fracas. The Marquis, bowing, sheathed his rapier, but kept his hand on his waistcoat, under which was a pain, which Le Colombier's politesse could not conceal. Domi. nique seized his opportunity, and, beckoning to a brother Mime, they gallantly placed themselves, like the globe, between the poles, and carried Madame Perpignan to the château. The Marquis was now more incensed than ever. Again disgraced, and by such a being as Pimental! Wandering gloomily down the walk again, he saw Le Blond: : so, as he was in the humour, and had actually been stirred up with a long pole, he determined to vent his fury on him, He therefore followed Le Blond, who stopped at the door of the empty cottage.
Sophia was waiting with the utmost anxiety for the arrival of Le Blond: she had also been so employed all the evening that she had not encountered the Marquis de la Tour le Colombier, who had promised to use his influence with Père la Chaise to procure the pardon of the fair heretic, Emilie. Hearing a footstep in the next room, she thought it must be either Justine or Le Blond. Her anxiety was very natural—for, by the cruel law then in existence it was death to harbour a Protestant,-a discovery would bring destruction not only to her
poor prisoner, but utter ruin to them all. She therefore peeped in at the door of the ante-chamber, and was much alarmed by seeing Pimental there, who was grumbling aloud, “A pleasant night's enjoyment ! wet through, and in danger of being run through.”
Pimental had already re-opened the cottage door, to see if the coast was clear; but, overhearing a female voice within (Sophia's), he came back into the ante-chamber, and left the outside portal leading to the garden open.
6. That infernal old Noli me tangere ! ” thought Pimental, “my life is really not safe for two minutes together." He had scarcely uttered this when he clearly distinguished Le Blond's voice in the entry, who said,
“Monsieur le Marquis, let us arrange this unpleasant affair in the morning."
The answer to this was, “ Monsieur le Blond, you have behaved nobly and consistently, but, as for your contemptible Pimental, I will annihilate him." And then their footsteps were approaching the ante-chamber. Pimental first tried a door in the centre (at which Sophia had appeared); it was locked. He tapped at it, hoping for admittance and escape.
He articulated, “ I am hunted like a young innocent rabbit, by an aged, bloodthirsty ferret. Is there no place of concealment? ” and
little Pimental's only resource, in his apprehension, was to step into a wide fire-place, which he had scarcely effected, when Le Blond and the Marquis entered the ante-chamber together.
Le Blond remarked, “ Your presence at this critical moment is most painful."
Le Colombier replied, “ The gross insults I have received since I have been in these premises demand exemplary satisfaction. That · vulgar ruffian, Pimental, has contrived to assault me at every opportunity. Not once—that might be a joke; not twice—that might have been forgiven at a masked-ball; not thrice— But, after I saved his life,- for I might have killed him,—he thrust a chair-pole
at me, which greatly incommoded my personal feeling, the wretch shut the door of this cottage in my very teeth ; and, though I have seen him since, he may now be concealed within. I shall search the whole place; and, if I discover him, the crows may feed on his vile carcass.
Pimental, on hearing these terrible words, made some successful advances in ascending the chimney, and, luckily, finding an iron bar across it, he held tight there, with his toe resting on the point of a cottage grate, in almost as pleasant a position as a soldier condemned to be picketed. The Marquis stepped to the centre door, found it fast, and said, “The wretched person is concealed here."
Sophia, within, not at the moment recognising the voice of Le Colombier, grasped the hand of Emilie with an emotion of perfect agony.
Le Blond came to the portal, and exclaimed, “ Marquis, I must appeal to your gallantry. I have already told you there was a lady in the case.”
• That assurance, Monsieur le Blond, shall prevent me forcing the door.”
At this moment Justine had returned, and was in loud altercation with Gaston du Plessis. The door of the cottage was open, and Gaston rushed into the entry. Sophia rapidly opened the portal of the inner chamber, seized Le Blond by the arm, and actually pulled him in, to the utter surprise of the Marquis. Du Plessis and Justine entered the anteroom together; he vociferating, she remonstrating. Du Plessis flew to the inner door, and commenced an attack on it. Sophia appeared, but closing the door after her, mildly said, “Gaston, are you mad?”
“ Driven to insanity by your duplicity, Sophia— nay, attempt not to save your minion by concealment.”
“Cruel, cruel !” exclaimed Sophia.
When the Marquis de la Tour le Colombier gravely stepped forward, and, drawing again his Toledo rapier, rather pompously said,
“ Dry your tears, Mademoiselle Sophia Perpignan. Condescend to appoint me your sentinel here. No human being shall force me from my post." And here he threw himself into an elegant attitude of defence. “In the cause of afflicted beauty I will hold it a pleasing task to sacrifice my life.”
Here there was another bustle outside the empty cottage, (which, by-the-bye, was now filling with visitors). Mademoiselle Sophia had been missing everywhere. Perpignan was sought, and put his clothes on again, much against his inclination; and, as lights had latterly been seen in the cottage, some of the masqueraders ventured forth to seek the young lady. When they entered, the marquis stood vigilantly before the door of the inner apartment. Sophia whispered to Le Colombier.
“Ah, Marquis, for the Holy Virgin's sake tell me, have you procured the pardon?"
Charming Sophia !” replied Le Colombier, with a benignant smile, “I have sought you the whole evening personally to deliver it into your fair hand. My friend, Le Père la Chaise, had sufficient influence over the mind of Madame de Maintenon, and she, with all her scruples, overcame the scruples of the Grand Monarque in favour of your pretty heretic, and there is the interesting document.”
“Joy! happiness ! everlasting happiness!” hysterically exclaimed Sophia, “she is saved !” and she went to the door, and said, “Come forth, Le Blond! Come forth, Emilie!- ah! come forth, and remove the dreadful suspicions of Gaston du Plessis. Le Blond appeared now, leading a care-worn, but beautiful personage, who trembled on his arm, and he addressed himself to his friend Gaston,
“ Monsieur du Plessis, permit me to introduce my wife to you.” “Wife?" said the astounded Du Plessis.
“Yes,” replied Le Blond. “I have been compelled to keep the secret of our dear Sophia. I am no longer her affianced, and resign all claim to her, having been the husband of this fair lady for many months.”
Gaston was confused; he glanced at his beloved Sophia, and said, What a jealous fool I have been ! can you pardon me, my love?” “ There is my hand, Gaston,” and Sophia smiled sweetly on him.
After poor Emilie had been congratulated on her escape from persecution, Le Colombier said,
“ Since happiness is thus restored, it does not become me to stand. sword in hand.”
The Marquis was here sheathing the Toledo rapier close to the chimney. “I will not again permit an incident to ruffle my naturally serene temper." Unluckily, at the moment he uttered this several bricks fell down with a clatter, and Pimental slipped after them, who tumbled, with his hands and face blackened with the soot, against the striped domino of the Marquis.
Fire and fury !” exclaimed Le Colombier. Will you never desist ? ” and, forth came the interminable rapier, when Sophia interposed, and said,
"Ah! Marquis, pardon poor unlucky Monsieur Pimental. Let me henceforth make you inseparable friends."
The Marquis winced and replied, “For your sake, mademoiselle, I forgive this person his freaks and follies ; but, as to ever becoming inseparable, excuse me; I have had more than enough of him.”
We will now finally sheath the TOLEDO RAPIER, and convey our whole party, laughing at the events of the evening, and seat them down agreeably at the supper-table of Madame Perpignan, to discuss the merits of the white soups, the dindons aux truffles, the roasted quails, the ices and pine-apples, and other delicacies of the season too numerous to detail.
Beyond the life I lose in losing thee-
I leave a world where thou wert all to me!
It may be that my spirit shall expire-
But while Time lasts this suit I would require,
Is this fair leaf-inscribed it is to thee
(Shipwreckt at last upon a summer sea,)
J. AUGUSTINE WADE.