Mrs. Mumpson smiled upon him--if certain contortions of her thin, sharp face could be termed a smile--from that side of the table at which his wife had sat so many years, and he saw that the low rocking chair, which he had preserved jealously from his former "help," had been brought from the parlor and established in the old familiar place. Mrs. Mumpson folded her handstron price prediction graph and assumed a look of deep solemnity; Jane, as instructed, also lowered her head, and they waited for him to say "grace." He was in far too bitter a mood for any such pious farce, and stolidly began to help them to the ham and eggs, which viands had been as nearly spoiled as was possible in their preparation. The widow raised her head with a profound sigh which set Holcroft's teeth on edge, but he proceeded silently with his supper. The biscuits were heavy enough to burden the lightest conscience; and the coffee, simply grounds swimming around in lukewarm water. He took a sip, then put down his cup and said, quietly, "Guess I'll take a glass of milk tonight. Mrs. Mumpson, if you don't know how to make coffee, I can soon show you."
"He may be yearnin' for breakfast," Jane remarked, completing her toilet by tying her little pigtail braid with something that had once been a bit of black ribbon, but was now a string. "You'd better come down soon and help."tron coin price in pakistan"If Mrs. Viggins cannot get breakfast, I would like to know what she is here for" continued Mrs. Mumpson loftily, and regardless of Jane's departure. "I shall decline to do menial work any longer, especially on this sacred day, and after I have made my toilet for church. Mr. Holcroft has had time to think. My disapproval was manifest last night and it has undoubtedly occurred to him that he has not conformed to the proprieties of life. Indeed, I almost fear I shall have to teach him what the proprieties of life are. He witnessed my emotions when he spoke as he should not have spoken to ME. But I must make allowances for his unregenerate state. He was cold, and wet, and hungry last night, and men are unreasonerble at such times. I shall now heap coals of fire upon his head. I shall show that I am a meek, forgiving Christian woman, and he will relent, soften, and become penitent. Then will be my opportunity," and she descended to the arena which should witness her efforts.
During the period in which Mrs. Mumpson had indulged in these lofty reflections and self-communings, Mrs. Wiggins had also arisen. I am not sure whether she had thought of anything in particular or not. She may have had some spiritual longings which were not becoming to any day of the week. Being a woman of deeds, rather than of thought, probably not much else occurred to her beyond the duty of kindling the fire and getting breakfast. Jane came down, and offered to assist, but was cleared out with no more scruple than if Mrs. Wiggins had been one of the much-visited relatives."The hidee," she grumbled, "of 'avin' sich a little trollop round hunder my feet!"Jane, therefore, solaced herself by watching the "cheap girl" till her mother appeared.Mrs. Mumpson sailed majestically in and took the rocking chair, mentally thankful that it had survived the crushing weight imposed upon it the evening before. Mrs. Wiggins did not drop a courtesy. Indeed, not a sign of recognition passed over her vast, immobile face. Mrs. Mumpson was a little embarrassed. "I hardly know how to comport myself toward that female," she thought. "She is utterly uncouth. Her manners are unmistakerbly those of a pauper. I think I will ignore her today. I do not wish my feelings ruffled or put out of harmony with the sacred duties and motives which actuate me."Mrs. Mumpson therefore rocked gently, solemnly, and strange to say, silently, and Mrs. Wiggins also proceeded with her duties, but not in silence, for everything in the room trembled and clattered at her tread. Suddenly she turned on Jane and said, "'Ere, you little baggage, go and tell the master breakfast's ready."
Mrs. Mumpson sprang from her chair, and with a voice choked with indignation, gasped, "Do you dare address my offspring thus?""Yer vat?""You have often made me feel that of late, dear Rose."This touched her. But she fought down the kindly feeling. "I amglad of it," said she, out of perverseness. She added after awhile, "Edouard, you are naturally jealous.""Not the least in the world, Rose, I assure you. I have manyfaults, but jealous I am not.""Oh, yes, you are, and suspicious, too; there is something in yourcharacter that alarms me for our happiness.""Well, if you come to that, there are things in YOUR conduct I couldwish explained.""There! I said so. You have not confidence in me.""Pray don't say that, dear Rose. I have every confidence in you;only please don't ask me to divest myself of my senses and myreason.""I don't ask you to do that or anything else for me; good-by, forthe present.""Where are you going now? tic! tic! I never can get a word in peacewith you.""I am not going to commit murder. I'm only going up-stairs to mysister.""Poor Madame Raynal, she makes it very hard for me not to dislikeher.""Dislike my Josephine?" and Rose bristled visibly.
"She is an angel, but I should hate an angel if it came foreverbetween you and me.""Excuse me, she was here long before you. It is you that camebetween her and me.""I came because I was told I should be welcome," said Edouardbitterly, and equivocating a little; he added, "and I dare say Ishall go when I am told I am one too many.""Bad heart! who says you are one too many in the house? But you aretoo exigent, monsieur; you assume the husband, and you tease me. Itis selfish; can you not see I am anxious and worried? you ought tobe kind to me, and soothe me; that is what I look for from you, and,instead of that, I declare you are getting to be quite a worry.""I should not be if you loved me as I love you. I give YOU norival. Shall I tell you the cause of all this? you have secrets.""What secrets?""Is it me you ask? am I trusted with them? Secrets are a bond thatnot even love can overcome. It is to talk secrets you run away fromme to Madame Raynal. Where did you lodge at Frejus, Mademoisellethe Reticent?""In a grotto, dry at low water, Monsieur the Inquisitive.""That is enough: since you will not tell me, I will find it outbefore I am a week older."This alarmed Rose terribly, and drove her to extremities. Shedecided to quarrel."Sir," said she, "I thank you for playing the tyrant a littleprematurely; it has put me on my guard. Let us part; you and I arenot suited to each other, Edouard Riviere."He took this more humbly than she expected. "Part!" said he, inconsternation; "that is a terrible word to pass between you and me.Forgive me! I suppose I am jealous.""You are; you are actually jealous of my sister. Well, I tell youplainly I love you, but I love my sister better. I never could loveany man as I do her; it is ridiculous to expect such a thing.""And do you think I could bear to play second fiddle to her all mylife?""I don't ask you. Go and play first trumpet to some other lady.""You speak your wishes so plainly now, I have nothing to do but toobey."He kissed her hand and went away disconsolately.Rose, instead of going to Josephine, her determination to do whichhad mainly caused the quarrel, sat sadly down, and leaned her headon her hand. "I am cruel. I am ungrateful. He has gone awaybroken-hearted. And what shall I do without him?--little fool! Ilove him better than he loves me. He will never forgive me. I havewounded his vanity; and they are vainer than we are. If we meet atdinner I will be so kind to him, he will forget it all. No! Edouardwill not come to dinner. He is not a spaniel that you can beat, andthen whistle back again. Something tells me I have lost him, and ifI have, what shall I do? I will write him a note. I will ask himto forgive me."She sat down at the table, and took a sheet of notepaper and beganto write a few conciliatory words. She was so occupied in makingthese kind enough, and not too kind, that a light step approachedher unobserved. She looked up and there was Edouard. She whippedthe paper off the table.
A look of suspicion and misery crossed Edouard's face.Rose caught it, and said, "Well, am I to be affronted any more?""No, Rose. I came back to beg you to forget what passed just now,"said he.
Rose's eye flashed; his return showed her her power. She abused itdirectly."How can I forget it if you come reminding me?""Dear Rose, now don't be so unkind, so cruel--I have not come backto tease you, sweet one. I come to know what I can do to pleaseyou; to make you love me again?" and he was about to kneelgraciously on one knee."I'll tell you. Don't come near me for a month."Edouard started up, white as ashes with mortification and woundedlove."This is how you treat me for humbling myself, when it is you thatought to ask forgiveness.""Why should I ask what I don't care about?""What DO you care about?--except that sister of yours? You have noheart. And on this cold-blooded creature I have wasted a love anempress might have been proud of inspiring. I pray Heaven some manmay sport with your affections, you heartless creature, as you haveplayed with mine, and make you suffer what I suffer now!"And with a burst of inarticulate grief and rage he flung out of theroom.
Rose sank trembling on the sofa a little while: then with a mightyeffort rose and went to comfort her sister.Edouard came no more to Beaurepaire.There is an old French proverb, and a wise one, "Rien n'est certainque l'imprevu;" it means you can make sure of nothing but this, thatmatters will not turn as you feel sure they will. And, even forthis reason, you, who are thinking of suicide because trade isdeclining, speculation failing, bankruptcy impending, or your lifegoing to be blighted forever by unrequited love--DON'T DO IT.Whether you are English, American, French, or German, listen to aman that knows what is what, and DON'T DO IT. I tell you none ofthose horrors, when they really come, will affect you as you fancythey will. The joys we expect are not a quarter so bright, nor thetroubles half so dark as we think they will be. Bankruptcy comingis one thing, come is quite another: and no heart or life was everreally blighted at twenty years of age. The love-sick girls thatare picked out of the canal alive, all, without exception, marryanother man, have brats, and get to screech with laughter when theythink of sweetheart No. 1, generally a blockhead, or else ablackguard, whom they were fools enough to wet their clothes for,let alone kill their souls. This happens INVARIABLY. The love-sickgirls that are picked out of the canal dead have fled from a year'smisery to eternal pain, from grief that time never failed to cure,to anguish incurable. In this world "Rien n'est certain quel'imprevu."Edouard and Rose were tender lovers, at a distance. How muchhappier and more loving they thought they should be beneath the sameroof. They came together: their prominent faults of characterrubbed: the secret that was in the house did its work: andaltogether, they quarrelled. L'imprevu.
Dard had been saying to Jacintha for ever so long, "When grannydies, I will marry you."Granny died. Dard took possession of her little property. Up camea glittering official, and turned him out; he was not her heir.Perrin, the notary, was. He had bought the inheritance of her twosons, long since dead.
Dard had not only looked on the cottage and cow, as his, but hadspoken of them as such for years. The disappointment and the ironyof comrades ate into him."I will leave this cursed place," said he.
Josephine instantly sent for him to Beaurepaire. He came, and wasfactotum with the novelty of a fixed salary. Jacintha accommodatedhim with a new little odd job or two. She set him to dance on theoak floors with a brush fastened to his right foot; and, after arehearsal or two, she made him wait at table. Didn't he bang thethings about: and when he brought a lady a dish, and she did notinstantly attend, he gave her elbow a poke to attract attention:then she squeaked; and he grinned at her double absurdity in mindinga touch, and not minding the real business of the table.But his wrongs rankled in him. He vented antique phrases such as,"I want a change;" "This village is the last place the Almightymade," etc.Then he was attacked with a moral disease: affected the company ofsoldiers. He spent his weekly salary carousing with the military, aclass of men so brilliant that they are not expected to pay fortheir share of the drink; they contribute the anecdotes and thefamiliar appeals to Heaven: and is not that enough?Present at many recitals, the heroes of which lost nothing by beingtheir own historians, Dard imbibed a taste for military adventure.His very talk, which used to be so homely, began now to be tinselledwith big swelling words of vanity imported from the army. I needhardly say these bombastical phrases did not elevate his generaldialect: they lay fearfully distinct upon the surface, "like lumpsof marl upon a barren soil, encumbering the ground they could notfertilize."Jacintha took leave to remind him of an incident connected withwarfare--wounds.
"Do you remember how you were down upon your luck when you did butcut your foot? Why, that is nothing in the army. They never go outto fight but some come back with arms off, and some with legs offand some with heads; and the rest don't come back at all: and howwould you like that?"This intrusion of statistics into warfare at first cooled Dard'simpatience for the field. But presently the fighting half of hisheart received an ally in one Sergeant La Croix (not a bad name fora military aspirant). This sergeant was at the village waiting tomarch with the new recruits to the Rhine. Sergeant La Croix was aman who, by force of eloquence, could make soldiering appear themost delightful as well as glorious of human pursuits. His tonguefired the inexperienced soul with a love of arms, as do the drumsand trumpets and tramp of soldiers, and their bayonets glittering inthe sun. He would have been worth his weight in fustian here, wherewe recruit by that and jargon; he was superfluous in France, wherethey recruited by force: but he was ornamental: and he set Dard andone or two more on fire. Indeed, so absorbing was his sense ofmilitary glory, that there was no room left in him for that mereverbal honor civilians call veracity.To speak plainly, the sergeant was a fluent, fertile, interesting,sonorous, prompt, audacious liar: and such was his success, thatDard and one or two more became mere human fiction pipes--ofcomparatively small diameter--irrigating a rural district with falseviews of military life, derived from that inexhaustible reservoir,La Croix.
At last the long-threatened conscription was levied: every personfit to bear arms, and not coming under the allowed exceptions, drewa number: and at a certain hour the numbers corresponding to thesewere deposited in an urn, and one-third of them were drawn inpresence of the authorities. Those men whose numbers were drawn hadto go for soldiers. Jacintha awaited the result in great anxiety.She could not sit at home for it; so she went down the road to meetDard, who had promised to come and tell her the result as soon asknown. At last she saw him approaching in a disconsolate way. "ODard! speak! are we undone? are you a dead man?" cried she. "Havethey made a soldier of you?""No such luck: I shall die a man of all work," grunted Dard.
"And you are sorry? you unnatural little monster! you have nofeeling for me, then.""Oh, yes, I have; but glory is No. 1 with me now.""How loud the bantams crow! You leave glory to fools that be sixfeet high.""General Bonaparte isn't much higher than I am, and glory sits uponhis brow. Why shouldn't glory sit upon my brow?""Because it would weigh you down, and smother you, you little fool."She added, "And think of me, that couldn't bear you to be killed atany price, glory or no glory."Then, to appease her fears, Dard showed her his number, 99; andassured her he had seen the last number in the functionary's handbefore he came away, and it was sixty something.This ocular demonstration satisfied Jacintha; and she ordered Dardto help her draw the water.
"All right," said he, "there is no immortal glory to be picked upto-day, so I'll go in for odd jobs."While they were at this job a voice was heard hallooing. Dardlooked up, and there was a rigid military figure, with a tremendousmustache, peering about. Dard was overjoyed. It was his friend,his boon-companion. "Come here, old fellow," cried he, "ain't Iglad to see you, that is all?" La Croix marched towards the pair."What are you skulking here for, recruit ninety-nine?" said he,sternly, dropping the boon-companion in the sergeant; "the rest areon the road.""The rest, old fellow! what do you mean? why, I was not drawn.""Yes, you were.""No, I wasn't.""Thunder of war, but I say you were. Yours was the last number.""That is an unlucky guess of yours, for I saw the last number. Lookhere," and he fumbled in his pocket, and produced his number.La Croix instantly fished out a corresponding number."Well, and here you are; this was the last number drawn."Dard burst out laughing.
"You goose!" said he, "that is sixty-six--look at it.""Sixty-six!" roared the sergeant; "no more than yours is--they areboth sixty-sixes when you play tricks with them, and turn them uplike that; but they are both ninety-nines when you look at themfair."Dard scratched his head."Come," said the corporal, briskly, "make up his bundle, girl, andlet us be off; we have got our marching orders; going to the Rhine.""And do you think that I will let him go?" screamed Jacintha. "No!
I will say one word to Madame Raynal, and she will buy him asubstitute directly."Dard stopped her sullenly. "No! I have told all in the village thatI would go the first chance: it is come, and I'll go. I won't stayto be laughed at about this too. If I was sure to be cut in pieces,I'd go. Give over blubbering, girl, and get us a bottle of the bestwine, and while we are drinking it, the sergeant and I, you make upmy bundle. I shall never do any good here."Jacintha knew the obstinate toad. She did as she was bid, and soonthe little bundle was ready, and the two men faced the wine; LaCroix, radiant and bellicose; Dard, crestfallen but dogged (forthere was a little bit of good stuff at the bottom of the creature);and Jacintha rocking herself, with her apron over her head."I'll give you a toast," said La Croix. "Here's gunpowder."Jacintha promptly honored the toast with a flood of tears.
"Drop that, Jacintha," said Dard, angrily; "do you think that isencouraging? Sergeant, I told this poor girl all about glory beforeyou came, but she was not ripe for it: say something to cheer herup, for I can't.""I can," cried this trumpet of battle, emptying its glass."Attention, young woman.""Oh, dear! oh, dear! yes, sir.""A French soldier is a man who carries France in his heart"--"But if the cruel foreign soldiers kill him? Oh!""Why, in that case, he does not care a straw. Every man must die;horses likewise, and dogs, and donkeys, when they come to the end oftheir troubles; but dogs and donkeys and chaps in blouses can't diegloriously; as Dard may, if he has any luck at all: so, from thishour, if there was twice as little of him, be proud of him, for fromthis time he is a part of France and her renown. Come, recruitninety-nine, shoulder your traps at duty's call, and let us go forthin form. Attention! Quick--march! Halt! is that the way I showedyou to march? Didn't I tell you to start from the left? Now tryagain. QUICK--march! left--right--left--right--left--right--NOWyou've--GOT it--DRAT ye,--KEEP it--left--right--left--right--left--right." And with no more ado the sergeant marched the little odd-job man to the wars.
VIVE LA FRANCE!Chapter 18Edouard, the moment his temper cooled, became very sad. He longedto be friends again with Rose, but did not know how. His own prideheld him back, and so did his fear that he had gone too far, andthat his offended mistress would not listen to an offer ofreconciliation from him. He sat down alone now to all his littlemeals. No sweet, mellow voices in his ear after the fatigues of theday. It was a dismal change in his life.At last, one day, he received three lines from Josephine, requestinghim to come and speak to her. He went over directly, full of vaguehopes. He found her seated pale and languid in a small room on theground floor.
"What has she been doing to you, dear?" began she kindly."Has she not told you, Madame Raynal?""No; she is refractory. She will tell me nothing, and that makes mefear she is the one in fault.""Oh! if she does not accuse me, I am sure I will not accuse her. Idare say I am to blame; it is not her fault that I cannot make herlove me.""But you can. She does.""Yes; but she loves others better, and she holds me out no hope itwill ever be otherwise. On this one point how can I hope for yoursympathy; unfortunately for me you are one of my rivals. She toldme plainly she never could love me as she loves you.""And you believed her?""I had good reason to believe her."Josephine smiled sadly. "Dear Edouard," said she, "you must notattach so much importance to every word we say. Does Rose at herage know everything? Is she a prophet? Perhaps she really fanciesshe will always love her sister as she does now; but you are a manof sense; you ought to smile and let her talk. When you marry heryou will take her to your own house; she will only see me now andthen; she will have you and your affection always present. Each daysome new tie between you and her. You two will share every joy,every sorrow. Your children playing at your feet, and reflectingthe features of both parents, will make you one. Your hearts willmelt together in that blessed union which raises earth so near toheaven; and then you will wonder you could ever be jealous of poorJosephine, who must never hope--ah, me!"Edouard, wrapped up in himself, mistook Josephine's emotion at thepicture she had drawn of conjugal love. He soothed her, and vowedupon his honor he never would separate Rose from her.
"Madame Raynal," said he, "you are an angel, and I am a fiend.Jealousy must be the meanest of all sentiments. I never will bejealous again, above all, of you, sweet angel. Why, you are mysister as well as hers, and she has a right to love you, for I loveyou myself.""You make me very happy when you talk so," sighed Josephine. "Peaceis made?""Never again to be broken. I will go and ask her pardon. What isthe matter now?"For Jacintha was cackling very loud, and dismissing with ignominytwo beggars, male and female.
She was industry personified, and had no sympathy with mendicity.In vain the couple protested, Heaven knows with what truth, thatthey were not beggars, but mechanics out of work. "March! tramp!"was Jacintha's least word. She added, giving the rein to herimagination, "I'll loose the dog." The man moved away, the womanturned appealingly to Edouard. He and Josephine came towards thegroup. She had got a sort of large hood, and in that hood shecarried an infant on her shoulders. Josephine inspected it. "Itlooks sickly, poor little thing," said she.