Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE CONVENIENT SPOT.

289

would wreak his despairing vengeance on the man who called him to the field !

How fearfully did every passion lacerate that breast, lately so buoyant with hopeful thoughts !

That state, must it not end in death or mad. ness?

[blocks in formation]

Leonard applied to an acquaintance, who consented to be his “ friend” on the occasion: the affair was arranged to take place at St. Cloud.

The morning was brilliant; the sky cloudless.

St. Cloud was soon reached : the parties alighted, and walked arm-in-arm in the appointed direction, where they were met by the other principal and his friend.

Then respectful bows were interchanged: on such occasions the bitterest enemies observe all the proprieties.

A convenient spot was selected. It was a smooth, level green, sheltered on all sides by a rising ground, topped with trees, forming a sort of amphitheatre.

How cheerful and smiling those trees, clothed in their summer garb, appeared on that eventful morning. Little birds there were singing merrily, and skipping from branch to branch in the sweet blandishments of nature's love — God's universal brotherly love.

And now the beautiful sun shines forth in all his splendour. All nature is gladdened by his thousand rays; not a cloud shades the warmth of heaven from the heart of man; even yon ruined tower lets

U

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

pass those piercing rays, like brilliant and gentle thoughts through the mind of the old in years. .

But, hark !
Swords clash: the strife is begun.

The salute is given with admirable precision and grace on both sides; the combatants fixing their eyes each on each—to read the very soul.

They recovered position, eyeing each other for an instant, as if undecided; but there was no indecision. Instantly, each other's thought fully known, they engaged. Gramont advancing-pressing his antagonist, who retreated, parrying every thrust, baffling every feint.

Gramont had made a discovery. He saw that all his skill would be needed to glut his revenge.

He provoked an attack.

Leonard advanced upon him with a boldness and tact which seemed for a moment likely to be fatal. Then was the deadly strife at the highest

. Every thrust was given--every parry needed—every feint tried and defeated; the combatants are equal — victory was for neither, or for both-attack and defence were perfect.

“Mort!” exclaimed Gramont, with a yell never to be forgotten, as he plunged on the youth, whose feint had deceived him. In the instant Gramont's sword flew from his grasp—the hilt stuck in the turf before him,-he lost balance, fell forward on his own sword, whose point passed through his body -he sank to the hilt.

“God of heaven!” cried Leonard, frantic, and

[blocks in formation]

clasping his hands, as he knelt beside the dying man -dying and blaspheming.

Gramont rejected his hand-expired with a curse on his lips.

“Oh God! forgive me!" cried Leonard, in the anguish of his heart. “I am a murderer! I killed him!”

With difficulty his friend tore him from the body. He cried to Heaven for pardon; he wept; he wrung his hands; he begged them to let him remain, or kill him on the body.

[blocks in formation]

And thus it is! The ravening heart's desire gratified-in the very instant of fruition-lacerates us with remorse.

How deceitful is the promise of fruition-how true the certainty of remorse!

Its cause is obvious :—the desire being gratified, faints, as it were; and then in that instant of calm -conscience asserts her power, appealing to other sentiments, stifled by delirious passion.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

The Jesuits in Paris were aware of Gramont's threats against Leonard Devigne. They had taken measures to prevent a meeting.

They had managed to decoy him from Paris just before Leonard's arrival; but Gramont returned unexpectedly. Hence the “danger" predicted by the astrologer; for it need scarcely be stated that the whole scheme was concocted and paid for.

Father Fraser was actually awaiting Leonard's return from the astrologer, fully prepared to deepen the impression already made, and, perhaps, work on the youth still more, as he imagined, by hinting to his “danger” with regard to Gramont. At all events, they would have prevented the duel, as soon as projected; having taken means, as they thought, to arrive at the discovery.

How striking the fact, that the very scheme they planned to move the youth to his “vocation,” threw him into the very jaws of peril, by accidentally bringing him in contact with the man they dreaded !

[merged small][ocr errors]

THE JOY OF THE JESUIT'S HEART.

293

When Leonard was brought to his apartments, his agony of mind was increased.

He had not called on Father Fraser, according to his promise, to give an account of the astrologer. Father Fraser called at Leonard's in the morning, His valet told him enough to fill him with dread. He entreated the valet to give him the earliest possible intelligence of his master, and left in the greatest anxiety.

On Leonard's return, the valet hastened to Father Fraser. The youth was safe. Then the despair of the duellist gave joy to the Jesuit's heart. He started instantly. What must have been his reflections as he went! All his precautions had been unavailing to prevent the duel; it had taken place; and, behold! it, the duel, if “skilfully managed," would crown “the holy work!”

“O, inscrutable judgments of Heaven!” How Providence seemed to work for “ the holy cause !” Yes, the Jesuits might have dispensed with the desperate and disreputable measure they took to decoy Gramont from Paris; the expense might have been saved. Yes, they might even have dispensed with the astrologer's aid,--for the terror of conscience is the readiest handmaid of Jesuitism; it can be made to yield all, if“ skilfully handled.”

These reflections made the Jesuit eager for the work.

“ It couldn't be better," he said to himself, as he entered.

Leonard was lying on the floor. The Jesuit

« PreviousContinue »