Come.""Josephine, have pity on me, do not deceive me; pethereum halving historyray do not takethis, my only friend, from me, unless you really love me.""I love you; I adore you," was her reply.
Chapter 1the ethereum code opinioni8 Holcroft Gives His HandAlida was seated by a window with some of the mending in which she assisted, and, as usual, was apart by herself. Watterly entered the large apartment quietly, and at first she did not observe him. He had time to note that she was greatly dejected, and when she saw him she hastily wiped tears from her eyes.
"You are a good deal cast down, Alida," he said, watching her closely."I've reason to be. I don't see any light ahead at all.""Well, you know the old saying, 'It's darkest before day.' I want you to come with me again. I think I've found a chance for you."She rose with alacrity and followed. As soon as they were alone, he turned and looked her squarely in the face as he said gravely, "You have good common sense, haven't you?""I don't know, sir," she faltered, perplexed and troubled by the question.
"Well, you can understand this much, I suppose. As superintendent of this house I have a responsible position, which I could easily lose if I allowed myself to be mixed up with anything wrong or improper. To come right to the point, you don't know much about me and next to nothing of my friend Holcroft, but can't you see that even if I was a heartless, good-for-nothing fellow, it wouldn't be wise or safe for me to permit anything that wouldn't bear the light?""I think you are an honest man, sir. It would be strange if I did not have confidence when you have judged me and treated me so kindly. But, Mr. Watterly, although helpless and friendless, I must try to do what I think is best. If I accepted Mr. Holcroft's position it might do him harm. You know how quick the world is to misjudge. It would seem to confirm everything that has been said against me," and the same painful flush again overspread her features."Oh, dear, yes! poor Camille! who has the power to make us allmiserable, and who does it, and will go on doing it until he ishappy himself.""Ah! would to Heaven I could make him as happy as he deserves tobe.""You could easily make him much happier than that. And why not doit?""O Rose," said Josephine, shocked, "how can you advise me so?"She then asked her if she thought it possible that Camille could beignorant of her heart.
"Josephine," replied Rose, angrily, "these men are absurd: theybelieve only what they see. I have done what I can for you andCamille, but it is useless. Would you have him believe you lovehim, you must yourself be kind to him; and it would be a charitableaction: you would make four unhappy people happy, or, at least, putthem on the road; NOW they are off the road, and, by what I haveseen to-day, I think, if we go on so much longer, it will be toolate to try to return. Come, Josephine, for my sake! Let me go andtell him you will consent--to all our happinesses. There, the crimeis mine." And she ran off in spite of Josephine's faint andhypocritical entreaties. She returns the next minute looking allaghast. "It is too late," said she. "He is going away. I am surehe is, for he is packing up his things to go. I spied through theold place and saw him. He was sighing like a furnace as he strappedhis portmanteau. I hate him, of course, but I was sorry for him. Icould not help being. He sighed so all the time, piteously."Josephine turned pale, and lifted her hands in surprise and dismay."Depend on it, Josephine, we are wrong," said Rose, firmly: "thesewretches will not stand our nonsense above a certain time: they arenot such fools. We are mismanaging: one gone, the other going; bothlosing faith in us."Josephine's color returned to her cheek, and then mounted high.Presently she smiled, a smile full of conscious power and furtivecomplacency, and said quietly, "He will not go."Rose was pleased, but not surprised, to hear her sister speak soconfidently, for she knew her power over Camille. "That is right,"said she, "go to him, and say two honest words: 'I bid you stay.'""O Rose! no!""Poltroon! You know he would go down on his knees, and staydirectly.""No: I should blush all my life before you and him. I COULD not. Ishould let him go sooner, almost. Oh, no! I will never ask a manto stay who wishes to leave me. But just you go to him, and sayMadame Raynal is going to take a little walk: will he do her thehonor to be her companion? Not a word more, if you love me.""I'll go. Hypocrite!"Josephine received Camille with a bright smile. She seemed inunusually good spirits, and overflowing with kindness and innocentaffection. On this his high gloomy brow relaxed, and all hisprospects brightened as by magic. Then she communicated to him anumber of little plans for next week and the week after. Among therest he was to go with her and Rose to Frejus. "Such a sweet place:I want to show it you. You will come?"He hesitated a single moment: a moment of intense anxiety to thesmiling Josephine.
"Yes! he would come: it was a great temptation, he saw so little ofher.""Well, you will see more of me now.""Shall I see you every day--alone, I mean?""Oh, yes, if you wish it," replied Josephine, in an off-hand,indifferent way.He seized her hand and devoured it with kisses. "Foolish thing!"murmured she, looking down on him with ineffable tenderness.
"Should I not be always with you if I consulted my inclination?--letme go.""No! consult your inclination a little longer.""Must I?""Yes; that shall be your punishment.""For what? What have I done?" asked she with an air of greatinnocence."You have made me happy, me who adore you," was the evasive reply.Josephine came in from her walk with a high color and beaming eyes,and screamed, "Run, Rose!"On this concise, and to us not very clear instruction, Rose slippedup the secret stair. She saw Camille come in and gravely unpack hislittle portmanteau, and dispose his things in the drawers withsoldier-like neatness, and hum an agreeable march. She came andtold Josephine."Ah!" said Josephine with a little sigh of pleasure, and a gentletriumph in her eyes.
She had not only got her desire, but had arrived at it her way,--woman's way, round about.This adroit benevolence led to more than she bargained for. She andCamille were now together every day: and their hearts, being underrestraint in public, melted together all the more in their stoleninterviews.At the third delicious interview the modest Camille begged Josephineto be his wife directly.Have you noticed those half tame deer that come up to you in a parkso lovingly, with great tender eyes, and, being now almost withinreach, stop short, and with bodies fixed like statues on pedestals,crane out their graceful necks for sugar, or bread, or a chestnut,or a pocket-handkerchief? Do but offer to put your hand upon them,away they bound that moment twenty yards, and then stand quitestill, and look at your hand and you, with great inquiring,suspicious, tender eyes.
So Josephine started at Camille's audacious proposal. "Nevermention such a thing to me again: or--or, I will not walk with youany more:" then she thrilled with pleasure at the obnoxious idea,"she Camille's wife!" and colored all over--with rage, Camillethought. He promised submissively not to renew the topic: no morehe did till next day. Josephine had spent nearly the whole intervalin thinking of it; so she was prepared to put him down by calmreasons. She proceeded to do so, gently, but firmly.Lo and behold! what does he do, but meets her with just as manyreasons, and just as calm ones: and urges them gently, but firmly.
Heaven had been very kind to them: why should they be unkind tothemselves? They had had a great escape: why not accept thehappiness, as, being persons of honor, they had accepted the misery?with many other arguments, differing in other things, but agreeingin this, that they were all sober, grave, and full of common-sense.
Finding him not defenceless on the score of reason, she shifted herground and appealed to his delicacy. On this he appealed to herlove, and then calm reason was jostled off the field, and passionand sentiment battled in her place.In these contests day by day renewed, Camille had many advantages.Rose, though she did not like him, had now declared on his side.She refused to show him the least attention. This threw him onJosephine: and when Josephine begged her to help reduce Camille toreason, her answer would be,--"Hypocrite!" with a kiss: or else she would say, with a half comicpetulance, "No! no! I am on his side. Give him his own way, or hewill make us all four miserable."Thus Josephine's ally went over to the enemy.And then this coy young lady's very power of resistance began togive way. She had now battled for months against her own heart:first for her mother; then, in a far more terrible conflict forRaynal, for honor and purity; and of late she had been battling,still against her own heart, for delicacy, for etiquette, thingsvery dear to her, but not so great, holy, and sustaining as honorand charity that were her very household gods: and so, just when themotives of resistance were lowered, the length of the resistancebegan to wear her out.
For nothing is so hard to her sex as a long steady struggle. Inmatters physical, this is the thing the muscles of the fair cannotstand; in matters intellectual and moral, the long strain it is thatbeats them dead.Do not look for a Bacona, a Newtona, a Handella, a Victoria Huga.
Some American ladies tell us education has stopped the growth ofthese.No! mesdames. These are not in nature.
They can bubble letters in ten minutes that you could no moredeliver to order in ten days than a river can play like a fountain.They can sparkle gems of stories: they can flash little diamonds ofpoems. The entire sex has never produced one opera nor one epicthat mankind could tolerate: and why? these come by long, high-strung labor. But, weak as they are in the long run of everythingbut the affections (and there giants), they are all overpoweringwhile their gallop lasts. Fragilla shall dance any two of you flaton the floor before four o'clock, and then dance on till the peep ofday.
Only you trundle off to your business as usual, and could danceagain the next night, and so on through countless ages.She who danced you into nothing is in bed, a human jelly tipped withheadache.What did Josephine say to Rose one day? "I am tired of saying 'No!no! no! no! no!' forever and ever to him I love."But this was not all. She was not free from self-reproach.
Camille's faith in her had stood firm. Hers in him had not. Shehad wronged him, first by believing him false, then by marryinganother. One day she asked his pardon for this. He replied that hehad forgiven that; but would she be good enough to make him forgetit?"I wish I could.""You can. Marry me: then your relation to that man will seem but ahideous dream. I shall be able to say, looking at you, my wife, 'Iwas faithful: I suffered something for her; I came home: she lovedme still; the proof is, she was my wife within three months of myreturn.'"When he said that to her in the Pleasaunce, if there had been apriest at hand--. In a word, Josephine longed to show him her love,yet wished not to shock her mother, nor offend her own sense ofdelicacy; but Camille cared for nothing but his love. To sacrificelove and happiness, even for a time, to etiquette, seemed to him tobe trifling with the substance of great things for the shadow ofpetty things; and he said so: sometimes sadly, sometimes almostbitterly.
So Josephine was a beleagured fortress, attacked with one will, anddefended by troops, one-third of which were hot on the side of thebesiegers.When singleness attacks division, you know the result beforehand.
Why then should I spin words? I will not trace so ill-matched acontest step by step, sentence by sentence: let me rather hasten torelate the one peculiarity that arose out of this trite contest,where, under the names of Camille and Josephine, the two great sexesmay be seen acting the whole world-wide distich,--"It's a man's part to try,And a woman's to deny [for a while?]."Finding her own resolutions oozing away, Josephine caught at anotherperson.She said to Camille before Rose,--"Even if I could bring myself to snatch at happiness in thisindelicate way--scarce a month after, oh!" And there ended thelady's sentence. In the absence of a legitimate full stop, she putone hand before her lovely face to hide it, and so no more. Butsome two minutes after she delivered the rest in the form and withthe tone of a distinct remark, "No: my mother would never consent.""Yes, she would if you could be brought to implore her as earnestlyas I implore you.""Now would she?" asked Josephine, turning quickly to her sister.
"No, never. Our mother would look with horror on such a proposal.A daughter of hers to marry within a twelvemonth of her widowhood!""There, you see, Camille.""And, besides, she loved Raynal so; she has not forgotten him as wehave, almost.""Ungrateful creature that I am!" sighed Josephine!"She mourns for him every day. Often I see her eyes suddenly fill;that is for him. Josephine's influence with mamma is very great: itis double mine: but if we all went on our knees to her, the doctorand all, she would never consent.""There you see, Camille: and I could not defy my mother, even foryou."Camille sighed."I see everything is against me, even my love: for that love is toomuch akin to veneration to propose to you a clandestine marriage.""Oh, thank you! bless you for respecting as well as loving me, dearCamille," said Josephine.
These words, uttered with gentle warmth, were some consolation toCamille, and confirmed him, as they were intended to do, in theabove good resolution. He smiled."Maladroit!" muttered Rose.
"Why maladroit?" asked Camille, opening his eyes."Let us talk of something else," replied Rose, coolly.
Camille turned red. He understood that he had done something verystupid, but he could not conceive what. He looked from one sisterto the other alternately. Rose was smiling ironically, Josephinehad her eyes bent demurely on a handkerchief she was embroidering.That evening Camille drew Rose aside, and asked for an explanationof her "maladroit.""So it was," replied Rose, sharply.