"I'm afraid I terrakrw coin price predictionswore too," he said sadly.
"That's the way with you men," said the woman bitterly. "Theterra outdoor gearse things count for little. Henry Ferguson must prove he's honest in what he says by deeds, not words. I'll do as I've said if he acts square, and that's enough to start with.""All right," said Ferguson, glad enough to escape the caress. "I'll do as I say."
He did do all he promised, and very promptly, too. He was not capable of believing that a woman wronged as Alida had been would not prosecute him, and he was eager to escape to another state, and, in a certain measure, again to hide his identity under his own actual name.Meanwhile, how fared the poor creature who had fled, driven forth by her first wild impulse to escape from a false and terrible position? With every step she took down the dimly lighted street, the abyss into which she had fallen seemed to grow deeper and darker. She was overwhelmed with the magnitude of her misfortune. She shunned the illumined thoroughfares with a half-crazed sense that every finger would be pointed at her. Her final words, spoken to Ferguson, were the last clear promptings of her womanly nature. After that, everything grew confused, except the impression of remediless disaster and shame. She was incapable of forming any correct judgment concerning her position. The thought of her pastor filled her with horror. He, she thought, would take the same view which the woman had so brutally expressed--that in her eagerness to be married, she had brought to the parsonage an unknown man and had involved a clergyman in her own scandalous record.--It would all be in the papers, and her pastor's name mixed up in the affair. She would rather die than subject him to such an ordeal. Long after, when he learned the facts in the case, he looked at her very sadly as he asked: "Didn't you know me better than that? Had I so failed in my preaching that you couldn't come straight to me?"She wondered afterward that she had not done this, but she was too morbid, too close upon absolute insanity, to do what was wise and safe. She simply yielded to the wild impulse to escape, to cower, to hide from every human eye, hastening through the darkest, obscurest streets, not caring where. In the confusion of her mind she would retrace her steps, and soon was utterly lost, wandering she knew not whither. As it grew late, casual passers-by looked after her curiously, rough men spoke to her, and others jeered. She only hastened on, driven by her desperate trouble like the wild, ragged clouds that were flying across the stormy March sky.At last a policeman said gruffly, "You've passed me twice. You can't be roaming the streets at this time of night. Why don't you go home?"Standing before him and wringing her hands, she moaned, "I have no home."
"Where did you come from?""Oh, I can't tell you! Take me to any place where a woman will be safe.""Are you a wife?""Yes."He winced and quivered as if a bullet had pierced him.
"This is how I came to be suspected; she I loved was false.""Yes, Camille.""No, no!" cried Rose; "don't believe HER: she never suspected you.We have brought her to this, we alone.""Be silent, Rose! oh, be silent!" gasped Josephine."I lived for you: I would have died for you; you could not even waitfor me."A low moan, but not a word of excuse."What can I do for you now?""Forget me, Camille," said she despairingly, doggedly.
"Forget you? never, never! there is but one thing I can do to showyou how I loved you: I will forgive you, and begone. Whither shallI go? whither shall I go now?""Camile, your words stab her.""Let none speak but I," said Camille; "none but I have the right tospeak. Poor weak angel that loved yet could not wait: I forgiveyou. Be happy, if you can; I bid you be hap-py."The quiet, despairing tones died away, and with them life seemed toend to her, and hope to go out. He turned his back quickly on her.He cried hoarsely, "To the army! Back to the army, and a soldier'sgrave!" Then with a prodigious effort he drew himself haughtily upin marching attitude. He took three strides, erect and fiery andbold.
At the next something seemed to snap asunder in the great heart, andthe worn body that heart had held up so long, rolled like a dead logupon the ground with a tremendous fall.Chapter 11The baroness and Aubertin were just getting out of their carriage,when suddenly they heard shrieks of terror in the Pleasaunce. Theycame with quaking hearts as fast as their old limbs would carrythem. They found Rose and Josephine crouched over the body of aman, an officer.Rose was just tearing open his collar and jacket. Dard and Jacinthahad run from the kitchen at the screams. Camille lay on his back,white and motionless.
The doctor was the first to come up. "Who! what is this? I seem toknow his face." Then shaking his head, "Whoever it is, it is a badcase. Stand away, ladies. Let me feel his pulse."Whilst the old man was going stiffly down on one knee, Jacinthauttered a cry of terror. "See, see! his shirt! that red streak!Ah, ah! it is getting bigger and bigger:" and she turned faint in amoment, and would have fallen but for Dard.The doctor looked. "All the better," said he firmly. "I thought hewas dead. His blood flows; then I will save him. Don't clutch meso, Josephine; don't cling to me like that. Now is the time to showyour breed: not turn sick at the sight of a little blood, like thatfoolish creature, but help me save him.""Take him in-doors," cried the baroness."Into our house, mamma?" gasped Rose; "no, no.""What," said the baroness, "a wounded soldier who has fought forFrance! leave him to lie and die outside my door: what would my sonsay to that? He is a soldier himself."Rose cast a hasty look at Josephine. Josephine's eyes were bent onthe ground, and her hands clenched and trembling.
"Now, Jacintha, you be off," said the doctor. "I can't have cowardsabout him to make the others as bad. Go and stew down a piece ofgood beef for him. Stew it in red wine and water.""That I will: poor thing!""Why, I know him," said the baroness suddenly; "it is an oldacquaintance, young Dujardin: you remember, Josephine. I used tosuspect him of a fancy for you, poor fellow! Why, he must have comehere to see us, poor soul.""No matter who it is; it is a man. Now, girls, have you courage,have you humanity? Then come one on each side of him and take handsbeneath his back, while I lift his head and Dard his legs.""And handle him gently whatever you do," said Dard. "I know what itis to be wounded."These four carried the lifeless burden very slowly and gently acrossthe Pleasaunce to the house, then with more difficulty and cautionup the stairs.All the while the sisters' hands griped one another tight beneaththe lifeless burden, and spoke to one another. And Josephine's armupheld tenderly but not weakly the hero she had struck down. Sheavoided Rose's eye, her mother's, and even the doctor's: one gaspingsob escaped her as she walked with head half averted, and vacant,terror-stricken eyes, and her victim on her sustaining arm.
The doctor selected the tapestried chamber for him as being mostairy. Then he ordered the women out, and with Dard's help undressedthe still insensible patient.Josephine sat down on the stairs in gloomy silence, her eyes on theground, like one waiting for her deathblow.
Rose, sick at heart, sat silent too at some distance. At last shesaid faintly, "Have we done well?""I don't know," said Josephine doggedly. Her eyes never left theground."We could not let him die for want of care.""He will not thank us. Better for him to die than live. Better forme."At this instant Dard came running down. "Good news, mesdemoiselles,good news! the wound runs all along; it is not deep, like mine was.He has opened his eyes and shut them again. The dear good doctorstopped the blood in a twinkle. The doctor says he'll be bound tosave him. I must run and tell Jacintha. She is taking on in thekitchen."Josephine, who had risen eagerly from her despairing posture,clasped her hands together, then lifted up her voice and wept. "Hewill live! he will live!"When she had wept a long while, she said to Rose, "Come, sister,help your poor Josephine.""Yes, love, what shall we do?""My duty," faltered Josephine. "An hour ago it seemed so sweet,"and she fell to weeping patiently again. They went to Josephine'sroom. She crept slowly to a wardrobe, and took out a gray silkdress."Oh, never mind for to-day," cried Rose."Help me, Rose. It is for myself as well; to remind me every momentI am Madame Raynal."They put the gray gown on her, both weeping patiently. It will beknown at the last day, all that honest women have suffered weepingsilently in this noisy world.Camille soon recovered his senses and a portion of his strength:
then the irritation of his wound brought on fever. This in turnretired before the doctor's remedies and a sound constitution, butit left behind it a great weakness and general prostration. And inthis state the fate of the body depends greatly on the mind.The baroness and the doctor went constantly to see him, and soothehim: he smiled and thanked them, but his eager eyes watched the doorfor one who came not.
When he got well enough to leave his bed the largest couch was sentup to him from the saloon; a kind hand lined the baron's silkdressing-gown for him warm and soft and nice; and he would sit orlie on his couch, or take two turns in the room leaning upon Rose'sshoulder, and glad of the support; and he looked piteously in hereyes when she came and when she went. Rose looked down; she coulddo nothing, she could say nothing.With his strength, Camille lost a portion of his pride: he pined fora sight of her he no longer respected; pined for her, as the thirstypine for water in Sahara.
At last one day he spoke out. "How kind you are to me, Rose! howkind you all are--but one."He waited in hopes she would say something, but she held her tongue."At least tell me why it is. Is she ashamed? Is she afraid?""Neither.""She hates me: it is true, then, that we hate those whom we havewounded. Cruel, cruel Josephine! Oh, heart of marble against whichmy heart has wrecked itself forever!""No, no! She is anything but cruel: but she is Madame Raynal.""Ah! I forgot. But have I no claim on her? Nearly four years shehas been my betrothed. What have I done? Was I ever false to her?
I could forgive her for what she has done to me, but she cannotforgive me. Does she mean never to see me again?""Ask yourself what good could come of it.""Very well," said Camille, with a malicious smile. "I am in herway. I see what she wants; she shall have it."Rose carried these words to Josephine. They went through her like asword.Rose pitied her. Rose had a moment's weakness."Let us go to him," she said; "anything is better than this.""Rose, I dare not," was the wise reply.But the next day early, Josephine took Rose to a door outside thehouse, a door that had long been disused. Nettles grew before it.
She produced a key and with great difficulty opened this door. Itled to the tapestried chamber, and years ago they used to steal upit and peep into the room.Rose scarcely needed to be told that she was to watch Camille, andreport to her. In truth, it was a mysterious, vague protectionagainst a danger equally mysterious. Yet it made Josephine easier.
But so unflinching was her prudence that she never once could beprevailed on to mount those stairs, and peep at Camille herself. "Imust starve my heart, not feed it," said she. And she grew palerand more hollow-eyed day by day.Yet this was the same woman who showed such feebleness andirresolution when Raynal pressed her to marry him. But then dwarfsfeebly drew her this way and that. Now giants fought for her.
Between a feeble inclination and a feeble disinclination her deadheart had drifted to and fro. Now honor, duty, gratitude,--whichlast with her was a passion,--dragged her one way: love, pity, andremorse another.Not one of these giants would relax his grasp, and nothing yieldedexcept her vital powers. Yes; her temper, one of the loveliestHeaven ever gave a human creature, was soured at times.
Was it a wonder? There lay the man she loved pining for her;cursing her for her cruelty, and alternately praying Heaven toforgive him and to bless her: sighing, at intervals, all the daylong, so loud, so deep, so piteously, as if his heart broke witheach sigh; and sometimes, for he little knew, poor soul, that anyhuman eye was upon him, casting aside his manhood in his despair,and flinging himself on the very floor, and muffling his head, andsobbing; he a hero.And here was she pining in secret for him who pined for her? "I amnot a woman at all," said she, who was all woman. "I am crueller tohim than a tiger or any savage creature is to the victim she tears.I must cure him of his love for me; and then die; for what shall Ihave to live for? He weeps, he sighs, he cries for Josephine."Her enforced cruelty was more contrary to this woman's nature thanblack is to white, or heat to cold, and the heart rebelled furiouslyat times. As when a rock tries to stem a current, the water fightsits way on more sides than one, so insulted nature dealt withJosephine. Not only did her body pine, but her nerves wereexasperated. Sudden twitches came over her, that almost made herscream. Her permanent state was utter despondency, but across itcame fitful flashes of irritation; and then she was scarce mistressof herself.Wherefore you, who find some holy woman cross and bitter, stop amoment before you sum her up vixen and her religion naught: inquirethe history of her heart: perhaps beneath the smooth cold surface ofduties well discharged, her life has been, or even is, a battleagainst some self-indulgence the insignificant saint's very bloodcries out for: and so the poor thing is cross, not because she isbad, but because she is better than the rest of us; yet only human.
Now though Josephine was more on her guard with the baroness thanwith Rose, or the doctor, or Jacintha, her state could notaltogether escape the vigilance of a mother's eye.But the baroness had not the clew we have; and what a differencethat makes! How small an understanding, put by accident orinstruction on the right track, shall run the game down! How greata sagacity shall wander if it gets on a false scent!
"Doctor," said the baroness one day, "you are so taken up with yourpatient you neglect the rest of us. Do look at Josephine! She isill, or going to be ill. She is so pale, and so fretful, sopeevish, which is not in her nature. Would you believe it, doctor,she snaps?""Our Josephine snap? This is new.""And snarls.""Then look for the end of the world.""The other day I heard her snap Rose: and this morning she halfsnarled at me, just because I pressed her to go and console ourpatient. Hush! here she is. My child, I am accusing you to thedoctor. I tell him you neglect his patient: never go near him.""I will visit him one of these days," said Josephine, coldly."One of these days," said the baroness, shocked. "You used not tobe so hard-hearted. A soldier, an old comrade of your husband's,wounded and sick, and you alone never go to him, to console him witha word of sympathy or encouragement."Josephine looked at her mother with a sort of incredulous stare.
Then, after a struggle, she replied with a tone and manner sospiteful and icy that it would have deceived even us who know herhad we heard it. "He has plenty of nurses without me." She added,almost violently, "My husband, if he were wounded, would not have somany, perhaps not have one."With this she rose and went out, leaving them aghast. She sat downin the passage on a window-seat, and laughed hysterically. Roseheard her and ran to her. Josephine told her what her mother hadsaid to her. Rose soothed her. "Never mind, you have your sisterwho understands you: don't you go back till they have got some othertopic."Rose out of curiosity went in, and found a discussion going on. Thedoctor was fathoming Josephine, for the benefit of his companion."It is a female jealousy, and of a mighty innocent kind. We are sotaken up with this poor fellow, she thinks her soldier is forgotten.""Surely, doctor, our Josephine would not be so unreasonable, sounjust," suggested her mother.