Page images



“ I replied calmly-
“Yes, gentlemen, and for ever.'
•• You do ?' they exclaimed all together.
6. I do.'

They looked at each other in astonishment.
“ 'Tis impossible !' they exclaimed.
6 I was silent.

[blocks in formation]

“ When I recovered my senses, I found myself in bed—my nurse bathing my temples. Poor dear soul ! She tried to console me ; and then she wept: we both wept. Oh, Emile, what a false, hideous accusation !

“ I have not left my bed since; and as my sorrows will soon end-nay, end to-morrow-I write this last farewell to my love, my Emile, my husband.

“ I must tell you all. My nurse says that the way they suspected us was this. Father Bramand questioned your father's gardener, just before the last visit of the guardians. When she mentioned the gardener, do you know, I remembered how minutely Father Bramand made me detail the circumstances, the time, the place where we used to walk. But this must have been a wicked temptation. Wretchedness makes one so suspicious.

“ This is the statement. I have given it lest you should suppose that Father Bramand violated the sacred secret of confession in the disclosure. man ! if he has interested himself in my destruction, may Heaven forgive him! I forgive him, from my




heart. I confessed my doubts to him, respecting himself; he re-assured me: denied the allegation ; and spoke so feelingly that I believed his innocence.

“ I wished to make my will; but they tell me that, not being of age, my property must go to the next heir. If I could bequeath it, I would will the capital to be vested so that, out of the interest, a certain sum might be given as a marriage-portion to young people of both sexes : to the men for

your sake, Emile-to the women for your poor Lucille's. .

“ Farewell, Emile. Dear Emile, my love, my husband! You will never forget me.


“ Poor Lucille !” exclaimed Leonard, deeply affected.

The Count folded up the letter, exclaiming, “ Now for the conclusion, my friend. And in that conclusion


will hear my destiny."






“ The nurse brought me the letter. " What would have distracted most men, stupified

I have been reminded of its effect, when I have seen an ox struck dead by a single blow of a mallet.

“Revenge was my first thought. Even the fate of Lucille was second to that ravenous mania. “I ordered the gardener to my room.

He came. I locked the door; I placed a loaded pistol on the table; I said to him,

“. You have been questioned by Father Bramand; tell me all that passed between you ?'

“The man fell on his knees, stammering out a supplication for mercy.

Your pardon,' said I, depends on your sin. cerity: tell me all, and I forgive you ?'

“ He then related how the Jesuit had enticed him into a conversation, leading him from one subject to another, till at last he touched on the point in ques

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

tated to say.

tion. He said that he hesitated; and then the Jesuit put the question to him in plain words, promising a large reward if he would tell him what he had hesi

Bramand assured him that he was a friend of my family, and that it was for the love of God that he wished to take means to prevent a great misfortune. The man still hesitated. The Jesuit pressed him with all manner of arguments,— Till,' said he, 'I thought 't would be a great sin not to try and save your soul, my dear master, and the soul of the dear young lady, whom God preserve for you, my dear young master !'

“To the point,' said I; 'what next ?'

“I still felt fearful,' he replied, “lest my talk might cost me my place; for, look you, master, the deepest secrets will get out at last—and now I find it is so, to my sorrow. I said to the good Father, says I, Mon père, I am a poor man: you tell me God wills me to tell the secret; but what if you should be moved by le bon Dieu to betray me ?

You must give me your promise in writing, signed by your own hand, that le bon Dieu will never move you to betray me.” Father Bramand said there was no need of that, his holy character was sufficient; I might confide in him. But I said, No.— I was firm. So be pulled out a large sum of money, and gave it to me; I put it in my pocket. “Now, tell me what you know?” said he. “ Not without the paper,said I, very firmly. Then he began to talk with memat first very gently, then very seriously—then he got angry; but I said 't was no use talking, I must



have the paper. You see, master, he had gone too far to go back—that's the worst of these mattersand so he pulled out a pencil and a piece of paper, and wrote what I wanted. I always keep it in my pocket; it's safe there.'

“Give it to me,' said I, holding out my hand; he gave

it. “ Enough!' said I, 'I know the rest. To how many persons besides have you told the secret ?'

Only to one, master, and that was the lady's own nurse; my best friend she is. I told it her, when I heard what they had done with her young mistress; and because I began to think that Père Bramand wasn't so good as he ought to be, I told her all; for she would have it out of me-and, master, you will know the women by and by. She said Père Bramand was very wicked to tamper with my master's servant. I think so too. Why can't they let poor folks be honest, as poor folks should be?'

“ The fellow ceased. I left the house, and rushed to the Jesuit.

66 Ah! notre cher Emile!' said he ; “how delightful to see our celebrated pupil.'

"Excuse me, sir,' said I coolly ; let us pretermit compliments for the present. Doubtless, you know the object of my visit.'

" You seem angry, my dear Emile; how have I offended you?'

You, sir, can answer that question to yourself. My business is soon explained. You must repair the injury as far, and as soon, as you can—this is

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »