The World's Greatest Books, Vol VII
Part 4 out of 7
thine; as to Albano, let the prince decide.' Thy father allowed that
thou shouldst be brought up as son of the count. The documents of thy
genealogy were thrice made out, and I, the count, and the court chaplain
Spener, were put in possession of them. The Countess Cesara went off
with Linda to Valencia, and took the name Romeiro. By this change of
names all would be covered up as it now stands.
"Ah, I shall not live to be permitted openly to clasp thy son in my
arms! May it go well with thee, dearest child! God guide all our weak
expedients for the best.
"Thy faithful mother,
Albano stood for a long time speechless. Joy of life, new powers and
plans, delight in the prospect of the throne, the images of new
relations, and displeasure at the past, stormed through each other in
He went out, and in the twilight stood upon the mountains, whence he
could overlook, but with other eyes than once, the city which was to be
the circus and theatre of his powers. He belongs now to a German house,
the people around him are his kinsmen; the prefiguring ideals, which he
had once sketched to himself at the coronation of his brother, of the
warm rays wherewith a prince as a constellation can enlighten and enrich
lands, were now put into his hands for fulfilment. His pious father,
still blessed by the grandchildren of the country, pointed to him the
pure sun-track of his princely duty: only actions give life strength,
only moderation gives it a charm.
He descended to Bluemenbuhl. The funeral bell of the little church of
Bluemenbuhl tolled for Luigi. Albano joined his sister Julienne, and they
betook themselves with Idoine and Rabette to the church. At the bright
altar was the venerable Spener; the long coffin of the brother stood
before the altar between rows of lights. Here, near such altar-lights,
had once the oppressed Liana knelt while swearing the renunciation of
her love. The whole constellation of Albano's shining past had gone down
below the horizon, and only one bright star of all the group stood
glimmering still above the earth--Idoine.
After the solemn service, Idoine addressed herself to him oftener; her
sweet voice was more tender, though more tremulous; her maidenly shyness
of the resemblance to Liana seemed conquered or forgotten. Her existence
had decided itself within her, and on her virgin love, as on a spring
soil by one warm evening rain, all buds had been opened into bloom.
"How many a time, Albano," said Julienne, "hast thou here, in thy
long-left youthful years, looked toward the mountains for thine own
ones--for thy hidden parents, and brothers and sisters--for thou hadst
always a good heart!"
Here Idoine unconsciously looked at him with inexpressible love, and his
eyes met hers.
"Idoine," said he, "I have that heart still; it is unhappy, but
Then Idoine hid herself quickly and passionately in Julienne's bosom,
and said, scarcely audibly, "Julienne, if Albano rightly knows me, then
be my sister!"
"I do know thee, holy being!" said Albano, and clasped his bride to his
"Look up at the fair heaven!" cried Julienne. "The rainbow of eternal
peace blooms there, and the tempests are over, and the world's all so
bright and green. Wake up, my brother and sister!"
* * * * *
The Papers of the Forest Schoolmaster
In Austrian literature the "story in dialect" is a modern
development. Its founder and most distinguished exponent is
Peter Kettenfeier Rosegger, who was born at Alpel, near
Krieglach, on July 31, 1843, and who has spent his lifetime
among the people of the Styrian Alps. Mr. Rosegger first
attracted attention in 1875 with a volume of short stories,
bearing the general title of "Schriften des
Waldschulmeisters," or "Papers of the Forest Schoolmaster,"
and since then he has written a large number of similar tales,
all more or less sentimental in tone, and all dealing with
certain aspects of peasant life. "The Papers of the Forest
Schoolmaster," which takes the form of a diary, is not only
one of the most winsome idylls that has come from Herr
Rosegger's pen, but it exhibits a delicacy of touch, a keen
penetration into the mysteries of human life, and a deep
insight into nature in her various moods; and under all there
is a strong current of romance and a great sense of the poetry
of things--qualities that have made its author one of the
foremost prose poets in recent German literature.
Mist and rain made it impossible for me to ascend the "Grey Tooth" for
some days after I had arrived at Winkelsteg, the highest village in the
remotest valley, and I was temporarily lodged in the schoolhouse, which
had been deserted since the schoolmaster, who--so I was told--had lived
in this out-of-the-way corner for fifty years, had disappeared last
Christmas. The whole next day the rain continued to beat against the
window. There was nothing to be done, and I spent my time in arranging
the scattered but numbered sheets of the vanished schoolmaster's
manuscript, which I found littered in the drawer allotted to me for my
scant belongings. And then I began to read that strange man's diary, the
first page of which only bore the words:
_The Papers of the Forest Schoolmaster_
So I am at last settled in this wilderness. And I will write it all
down, although I know not for whom. My father died when I was seven, and
I was taken charge of by an itinerant umbrella-maker who taught me his
trade, and on his death left me his stock of some two dozen umbrellas,
which I took to the market. A heavy shower just at midday helped me to
sell them rapidly, and I only retained one for my own protection and for
that of an elegant gentleman who, unable to secure a carriage, made me
accompany him to town to save him from getting drenched. He made me tell
him all about myself, and offered to take me as apprentice in his
bookshop. He was a kind master. When he discovered' that I was more
interested in the contents of his books than in my work he secured me
admission in a college. I studied hard, and obtained my meals at the
houses of private pupils whom I undertook to coach. My friend Henry, a
clothmaker's son, had procured me a post as teacher to Hermann, the son
of the Baron von Schrankenheim. I was treated with every consideration
in his house, and became deeply attached to my pupil's sister. Of
course, the case was hopeless then; but in a few years, when I should
have passed my examinations and taken my degrees--who knows?
An indiscreet speech, which offended my teachers, made an end to all my
dreams. I was ploughed, and I resolved at once to leave the town, and to
seek my fortune in the world. I first enlisted with Andreas Hofer to
fight the French invaders, and was carried off a prisoner into France.
Then only I learnt that the Tyrolese were rebels against their own
emperor, that I had fought for a bad cause; and to atone for it I took
service with the great Napoleon's army. I was among those who escaped
from the Russian disaster, and, in my enthusiasm for Napoleon, whom I
regarded as the liberator of the peoples, fought for him against my own
country. At Leipzig I shot Henry, my best friend, whom I only recognised
when in his agony he called me by my name. Then only my eyes were
opened. Failure had dogged my every step. A hermit's life in the
wilderness was all that was left for me. This resolve I communicated to
the Baron von Schrankenheim, who, after vain attempts to dissuade me
from my purpose, spoke to me of this wilderness, his property, where I
could do real good among the rough wood-cutters, poachers, shepherds and
charcoal-burners, who, cut off from the rest of the world, eked out
their existence without priest or doctor or schoolmaster. Winkelsteg was
to be my hermitage; and now I am here, a schoolmaster without a school.
I shall have to study these rough folk and gain their confidence before
I can set to work.
_The Forest Folk_
Strange trades are carried on in this wilderness. These people literally
dig their bread out of earth and stone and ant-heaps, scrape it off the
trees, distill it out of uneatable fruit. There is the root-digger,
whose booty of mountain ovens is said to go to far Turkey to be turned
into scent. He would long have given up digging, to live entirely on
poaching, but for his hope to unearth some day treasure of gold and
jewels. One of these "forest-devils" has just died. He never worked at
all. His profession was eating. He went from village to village and from
fair to fair, eating cloth and leather, nails, glass, stones, to the
amazement of his audience. He died from eating a poisonous root given
him by some unknown digger--they say it was the devil himself. His
funeral oration was delivered by a pale, bent, quiet man, known as the
Solitary, of whose life nobody can give one any information.
Then there is the pitch-boiler. You can smell him from afar, and see him
glitter through the thicket. His pitch-oil is bought by the wood-cutter
for his wounds, by the charcoal-burner for his burns, by the carter for
his horse, by the brandy-distiller for his casks. It is a remedy for all
ailments. The most dangerous of all the forest-devils is the
brandy-distiller. He is better dressed than the others, has a kind word
for everybody, and plays the tempter with but too great success.
Black Matthias is dying in his miserable hut. His little boy and girl
are playing around him, and his wife bids them be silent. "Let them
shout," says Matthias; "but try and keep down Lazarus' temper." On his
death-bed Matthias told me the story of his life--how he, a jolly, happy
fellow, fell into the recruiting-officers' trap, escaped from their
clutches, was betrayed by his own village people, and flogged through
the line, and how they rubbed vinegar and salt into his wounded back;
how he escaped from the battlefield and found refuge in this
wilderness--a changed man, quarrelsome, with an uncontrollable temper,
which led him into many a brawl; and how, under great provocation, he
had stabbed a wood-burner at the inn, and had been beaten within an inch
of his life by the wood-cutters. His life was now ebbing away fast, and
he had good reason to fear that his uncontrollable temper would live in
his son. Hence his exhortation to his wife. Black Matthias died a few
hours after he had told me of his sad life.
And so I get to know them all, and make friends with them all,
especially with the children, and with the shepherd lad Berthold and the
poor milkmaid Aga. There was a wedding down at Heldenichlag, where they
have a parish church, and dancing and merrymaking at the inn all night.
Next morning Berthold went to the priest. He wanted to marry Aga, but
the priest told him he was too young, too poor; he could come back again
in ten years! The poor lad is left speechless and does not know how to
explain _why_ he wants to be united for ever with his Aga. Sadly he
leaves the room, but out in the open air his spirit returns to him. On
the second day of the wedding feast there was no holding him. He was the
wildest and merriest of the lot. In the afternoon we all returned to
Winkelsteg in the forest.
I know I must begin with a church. And at last I have obtained the
baron's consent. I have designed the plan myself--it must be large
enough to hold all who are in need of comfort here, and bright and
cheerful, for there is darkness enough in the forest. And the steeple
must be slender like a finger pointing heavenwards. Three bells there
must be to announce the Trinity of God in one Person, and to sing the
song of faith, hope, and love. And an organ there must be, but no
pictures and gilding and show.
I have been taking a census. How very limited is their range of names.
They have no family names, and only some half dozen Christian names!
This must be altered. I must invent names for them, according to their
occupation or dwelling or character: Sepp Woodcutter, Hiesel
Springhutter, and so forth. They like their new names; only Berthold
gets angry and refuses to take a name. "A name for me? I want no name; I
am nobody. The priest won't let me marry. Call me Berthold Misery, or
call me Satan!"
I have been ill--the result of being snowed up on the way home from a
visit to a forester who had been wounded by a poacher. The danger is
over now, but my eyes continue to suffer. The forest folk have been very
good to me, and much concerned about my progress. And now I am able to
go out again. To-day I was watching a spider in the thicket, when I saw
Aga rushing towards me. "Ah, it's you!" she cried. "You must help us. We
want to live in honour and decency. The priest won't marry us. You can
ask for our blessing." The next moment Berthold had joined her and they
were kneeling before me. And I pronounced the words which I had no right
to pronounce. I married them in the heart of the green forest.
_St. James's Day_, 1817.
Matthias's widow is in despair. Lazarus has disappeared. In a fit of
temper he threw a stone at her, then gave a wild yell and rushed away.
"It was a _small_ stone, but there is a heavy stone upon my heart,"
laments the mother; "his running away is the biggest stone he could have
_St. Catherine's Day_, 1817.
Lazarus' sister found a letter pinned on to a stick on her father's
grave, which she often visits. It was from her brother, and told them
not to worry--he is "in the school of the Cross." And then there was
another letter to say that he was well, and thinking of them all. They
answered, imploring him to return, and fixed the note and a little cross
on the tomb. It is still there, and has never been opened.
Berthold is gone among the wood-cutters, and has got his hut. A little
girl was born to Aga yesterday, and I was sent for to baptise it. I am
no priest, and must not steal a name from the calendar. So I called her
Forest Lily, and baptised her with the water of the priest.
The first Sunday in these forests! The church is finished, and the bells
have summoned the people from the whole neighbourhood. The priest has
come from Heldenichlag to dedicate the church, and the schoolmaster to
play the organ. But some of the folk grumble because there is no inn by
the church; and I hear that the _grassteiger_ has applied for a spirit
license. This is the shadow of the church!
In the evening, as I went back to the church, I saw a youth, apparently
at prayer, who took to his heels the moment he found he was discovered.
I caught him up and recognised. Lazarus! But I could not get a word out
of him. I rang the church bells, and soon the lad was surrounded by the
astonished villagers. He only murmured, "Paulus, Paulus!" and refused to
take the proffered food, though he looked half starved. I took him back
to his mother the same evening.
Lazarus must have been through a miraculous school. He has completely
lost his evil temper, but he refuses to speak clearly of his life during
the past year, though he mumbles of a rock-cave, a good dark man, of
penance, and of a crucifix. We have no priest. I have to look after the
church, ring the bells, play the organ, sing and conduct prayer on
Sundays. I hear bad news of Hermann, my old pupil. He is said to be
leading a wild life in the capital. I cannot believe it.
And now we have a priest--as strange and mysterious as the altar
crucifix which I had taken to the church from the rock valley. On the
last day of the hay-month, when I entered the church to ring the bells,
I found "the Solitary" reading mass on the highest step of the altar. I
asked for an explanation, and he answered with a rusty voice that he
would tell me all next Saturday at a desolate place he appointed in the
The Solitary has told me the whole sad story of his life. He was born in
a palace, and had been rocked in a golden cradle. He had drained the cup
of pleasure to the very dregs, and then, prompted by his tutor, had
joined a religious order, taken the binding vow, and renounced his
fortune to the order. A girl, whom he had known before, implored him not
to leave her and her child in distress. It was too late--he was now
penniless and irrevocably bound. She drowned herself and haunted his
dreams, even after he had become a priest under the name of Paulus.
Blind obedience was exacted from him by his order, and when he refused
to betray a king's confession he was sent as missionary to India. After
his return he became a zealot, exacting severe penance from sinners, and
through his severity driving a man to suicide. In his remorse he, too,
had sought refuge in this wilderness, where no one knew him, and where
one day he found Lazarus, took him to his cave, and taught him to tame
his quick temper. I had always thought the first pastor at Winkelsteg
should be a repentant sinner, and not a just man. We have now our
For more than ten years I have neglected my diary, partly because I was
no longer alone, but had a friend and companion in "the Solitary,"
partly because I was busy with the building of the schoolhouse. I have
my own ideas on education. The child is a book in which we read, and
into which we ought to write. They ought to hear of nought but the
beautiful, the good, the great. They ought to learn patriotism--not the
patriotism which makes them die, but that which makes them live for
Berthold has become a poacher. I have already had to intercede for him
with the gamekeeper. Then, one winter's night, Forest Lily, his
daughter, was sent out to beg some milk for the babies. Snow fell
heavily, and she did not return. For three days they searched, and
finally found her huddled up with a whole herd of deer in a snow-covered
thicket of dry branches--kept alive by the animals' warmth and the pot
of milk she was taking home. When Berthold heard that the forest animals
had saved his child, he smashed his gun against a rock, and shouted,
"Never again! never again!"
_Carnival Time_, 1832.
In the parsonage lies a farm-hand with a broken jaw. Drink and quarrel
and fight--it is ever the same. The priest has warned them often enough.
He has called the brandy-distiller a poison-brewer, and a few days ago
the distiller came to the parsonage, armed with a heavy stick. He poured
out his complaints. The priest was spoiling his honest business. What
was he to do? He took up a threatening attitude. "So you have come at
last," said Father Paulus; "I was going to come to you. So you won't
give them any more spirits--you are a benefactor of the community! I
quite agree with you. You will prepare medicines and oils and ointments
from the roots and resin? I'll help you, and in a few years you will be
a well-to-do man."
The distiller was speechless. He had said nothing of the sort, but it
all seemed so reasonable to him. He grumbled a few words, stumbled
across the threshold, and threw his stick away as far as it would fly.
_March 22_, 1832.
Our priest died to-day.
I can scarcely believe it. But there is no knocking at the window as I
pass the parsonage--no friendly face smiling at me. And I can scarcely
believe that he has gone.
_Ascension Day_, 1835.
A few days ago I had a letter from my former pupil, our present master.
He was ill, tired of the world, and wanted to find peace and rest in the
mountains. He remembered his old teacher, and asked me to be his guide.
I went to meet him, and he behaved so strangely that I thought I was
walking with a madman. On the second day he seemed better. He wanted to
ascend at once the highest peak, known as the "Grey Tooth." And as we
passed the dark mountain lake, we saw a beautiful young woman bathing.
She looked like a water-nymph. But when she saw us she disappeared under
the water, and did not show herself again. Was she drowning herself from
very modesty? I pulled her out of the water, we dressed her; then fear
gave her strength, she jumped up and ran away. It was my "Forest Lily."
Hermann no longer insisted on climbing the mountain. He came with me to
Winkelsteg, remained three days, made Berthold gamekeeper, and arranged
that he should forthwith marry Aga in our church. Before he left he said
to me: "She thought more of her maidenhood than of her life. I never
knew there were such women. This is a new world for me--I, too, belong
to the forest. I entrust her to you--teach her if she wants to learn,
and take care of her. And keep the secret If I can be cured, I shall
It has come to pass. Schrankenheim has broken through class prejudice.
Two days ago he was married to Forest Lily in our church. They have left
us, and have gone to the beautiful city of Salzburg.
The years pass in loneliness and monotony. Yet they have brought a great
change. A prosperous village now surrounds the church, and orchards
surround the village. And the folk are no longer savages. How smartly
they are now dressed on Sundays! The young people have more knowledge
than the old, but too little reverence for the old. But they still smoke
tobacco and drink spirits. What can an old schoolmaster do quite by
Hermann's beautiful sister, she who turned my head so many years ago, is
coming here to seek refuge from the troubles in town, where they are
building barricades. I must see that everything is made pleasant and
comfortable for her.
To-day she gave a dinner party, and invited the parson and the
innkeeper. And I was sent a piece of meat and a glass of wine. I gave it
to a beggar. So two beggars have received alms to-day. I hear they spoke
of me during dinner. She said I received charity from her father when I
was a poor student; then I ran away from school and returned as a
vagabond. So you know it now, Andreas Erdmann!
_Christmas Eve_, 1864.
I have not left the forest for fifty years. If I could only see the sea.
They say on a clear day you can see it from the "Grey Tooth."
Here the diary broke off abruptly. The next day being bright and sunny,
I engaged a lad to guide me on the deferred ascent. It was glorious. And
whilst my eyes were searching the far distance, my companion gave a
sudden scream, and pointed--at a human head protruding from the snow. He
recognised the schoolmaster. We dug him out of the hard snow and found
in his pocket a paper on which a shaky hand had written in pencil:
"Christmas Day. At sunset I beheld the sea and lost my eyesight"
* * * * *
JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU
The New Heloise
Jean Jacques Rousseau, born at Geneva on June 28, 1712, tells
the story of his own life in the "Confessions" (see LIVES AND
LETTERS, Vol. X). All his dreams of felicity having been
shattered, he took up his abode in Paris, where he made a poor
living by copying music. Hither, again, he returned after a
short stay in Venice, where he acted as secretary in the
Embassy. He now secured work on the great Encyclopaedia, and
became known, in 1749, by an essay on the arts and sciences,
in which he attacked all culture as an evidence and cause of
social degeneration. A successful opera followed in 1753; and
to the same year belongs his "Essay on Inequality among Men"
("Discours sur l'inegalite parmi les Hommes"), in which he
came forward as the apostle of the state of nature, and of
anarchy. His revolutionary ideas were viewed with great
displeasure by the authorities, and he fled in 1764 to
Switzerland; and in 1766, under the auspices of David Hume, to
England. Rousseau wrote "The New Heloise" ("La Nouvelle
Heloise") in 1756-7, while residing at the Hermitage at
Montmorency--an abode where, in spite of certain quarrels and
emotional episodes, he passed some of the most placid days of
his life. This book, the title of which was founded on the
historic love of Abelard and Heloise (see Vol. IX), was
published in 1760. Rousseau's primary intention was to reveal
the effect of passion upon persons of simple but lofty nature,
unspoiled by the artificialities of society. The work may be
described as a novel because it cannot very well be described
as anything else. It is overwhelmingly long and diffuse; the
slender stream of narrative threads its way through a
wilderness of discourses on the passions, the arts, society,
rural life, religion, suicide, natural scenery, and nearly
everything else that Rousseau was interested in--and his
interests were legion. "The New Heloise" is thoroughly
characteristic of the wandering, enthusiastic,
emotional-genius of its author. Several brilliant passages in
it are ranked among the classics of French literature; and of
the work as a whole, it may be said, judicially and without
praise or censure, that there is nothing quite like it in any
literature. Rousseau died near Paris, July 2, 1778.
_I.--"The Course of True Love"_
I must escape from you, mademoiselle. I must see you no more.
You know that I entered your house as tutor to yourself and your cousin,
Mademoiselle Claire, at your mother's invitation. I did not foresee the
peril; at any rate, I did not fear it. I shall not say that I am now
paying the price of my rashness, for I trust I shall never fail in the
respect due to your high birth, your beauty, and your noble character.
But I confess that you have captured my heart. How could I fail to adore
the touching union of keen sensibility and unchanging sweetness, the
tender pity, all those spiritual qualities that are worth so much more
to me than personal charms?
I have lost my reason. I promise to strive to recover it. You, and you
alone, can help me. Forbid me from appearing in your presence, show this
letter if you like to your parents; drive me away. I can endure anything
from you. I am powerless to escape of my own accord.
I must, then, reveal my secret! I have striven to resist, but I am
powerless. Everything seems to magnify my love for you; all nature seems
to be your accomplice; every effort that I make is in vain. I adore you
in spite of myself.
I hope and I believe that a heart which has seemed to me to deserve the
whole attachment of mine will not belie the generosity that I expect of
it; and I hope, also that if you should prove unworthy of the devotion I
feel for you, my indignation and contempt will restore to me the reason
that my love has caused me to lose.
Oh, how am I to realise the torrent of delights that pours into my
heart? And how can I best reassure the alarms of a timid and loving
woman? Pure and heavenly beauty, judge more truly, I beseech you, of the
nature of your power. Believe me, if I adore your loveliness, it is
because of the spotless soul of which that loveliness is the outward
token. When I cease to love virtue, I shall cease to love you, and I
shall no longer ask you to love me.
My friend, I feel that every day I become more attached to you; the
smallest absence from you is insupportable; and when you are not with me
I must needs write you, so that I may occupy myself with you
My mind is troubled with news that my father has just told me. He is
expecting a visit from his old friend, M. de Wolmar; and it is to M. de
Wolmar, I suspect, that he designs that I should be married. I cannot
marry without the approval of those who gave me life; and you know what
the fury of my father would be if I were to confess my love for you--for
he would assuredly not suffer me to be united to one whom he deems my
inferior in that mere worldly rank for which I care nothing. Yet I
cannot marry a man I do not love; and you are the only man I shall ever
It pains me that I must not reveal our secret to my dear mother, who
esteems you so highly; but would she not reveal it, from a sense of
duty, to my father? It is best that only my inseparable Cousin Claire
should know the truth.
FROM CLAIRE TO JULIE
I have bad news for you, my dear cousin. First of all, your love affair
is being gossipped about; secondly, this gossip has indirectly brought
your lover into serious danger.
You have met my lord Edouard Bomston, the young English noble who is now
staying at Vevay. Your lover has been on terms of such warm friendship
with him ever since they met at Sion some time ago that I could not
believe they would ever have quarrelled. Yet they quarrelled last night,
and about you.
During the evening, M. d'Orbe tells me, mylord Edouard drank freely, and
began to talk about you. Your lover was displeased and silent. Mylord
Edouard, angered at his coldness, declared that he was not always cold,
and that somebody, who should be nameless, caused him to behave in a
very different manner. Your lover drew his sword instantly; mylord
Edouard drew also, but stumbled in his intoxication, and injured his
leg. In spite of M. d'Orbe's efforts to reconcile them, a meeting was
arranged to take place as soon as mylord Edouard's leg was better.
You must prevent the duel somehow, for mylord Edouard is a dangerous
swordsman. Meanwhile, I am terrified lest the gossip about you should
reach your father's ears. It would be best to get your lover to go away
before any mischief comes to pass.
FROM JULIE TO MYLORD EDOUARD
I am told that you are about to fight the man whom I love--for it is
true that I love him--and that he will probably die by your hand. Enjoy
in advance, if you can, the pleasure of piercing the bosom of your
friend, but be sure that you will not have that of contemplating my
despair. For I swear that I shall not survive by one day the death of
him who is to me as my life's breath. Thus you will have the glory of
slaying with a single stroke two hapless lovers who have never willingly
committed a fault towards you, and who have delighted to honour you.
Have no fear for me, dearest Julie. Read this, and I am sure that you
will share in my feelings of gratitude and affection towards the man
with whom I have quarrelled.
This morning mylord Edouard entered my room, accompanied by two
gentlemen. "I have come," he said, "to withdraw the injurious words that
intoxication led me to utter in your presence. Pardon me, and restore to
me your friendship. I am ready to endure any chastisement that you see
fit to inflict upon me."
"Mylord," I replied, "I acknowledge your nobility of spirit. The words
you uttered when you were not yourself are henceforth utterly
forgotten." I embraced him, and he bade the gentlemen withdraw.
When we were alone, he gave me the warmest testimonies of friendship;
and, touched by his generosity, I told him the whole story of our love.
He promised enthusiastically to do what he could to further our
happiness; and this is the nobler in him, inasmuch as he admitted that
he had himself conceived a tender admiration for you.
Dearest, the worst has happened. My father knows of our love. He came to
me yesterday pale with fury; in his wrath he struck me. Then, suddenly,
he took me in his arms and implored my forgiveness. But I know that he
will never consent to our union; I shall never dare to mention your name
in his presence. My love for you is unalterable; our souls are linked by
bonds that time cannot dissolve. And yet--my duty to my parents! How can
I do right by wronging them? Oh, pity my distraction!
It seems that mylord Edouard impulsively asked my father for his consent
to our union, telling him how deeply we loved each other, and that he
would mortally injure his daughter's happiness if he denied her wishes.
My father replied, in bitter anger, that he would never suffer his child
to be united to a man of humble birth. Mylord Edouard hotly retorted
that mere distinctions of birth were worthless when weighed in the scale
with true refinement and true virtue. They had a long and violent
argument, and parted in enmity.
I must take counsel with Cousin Claire, who never suffers her reason to
be clouded with those heart-torments of which I am the unhappy victim.
FROM CLAIRE TO JULIE
On learning of your distress, dear cousin, I made up my mind that your
lover must go away, for your sake and his own; I summoned M. d'Orbe and
mylord Edouard. I told M. d'Orbe that the success of his suit to me
depended on his help to you. You know that my friendship for you is
greater than any love can be. Mylord Edouard acted splendidly. He
promised to endow your lover with a third of his estate, and to take him
to Paris and London, there to win the distinction that his talents
M. d'Orbe went to order a chaise, and I proceeded to your lover and told
him that it was his duty to leave at once. At first he passionately
refused, then he yielded to despair; then he begged to be allowed to see
you once more. I refused; I urged that all delays were dangerous. His
agony brought tears to my eyes, but I was firm. M. d'Orbe led him away;
mylord Edouard was waiting with the chaise, and they are now on the way
to Besancon and Paris.
Why was I not allowed to see you before leaving? Did you fear that the
parting would kill me? Be reassured. I do not suffer--I think of you--I
think of the time when I was dear to you. Nay, you love me yet, I know
it. But why so cruelly drive me away? Say one word, and I return like
the lightning. Ah, these babblings are but flung into empty air. I shall
live and die far away from you--I have lost you for ever!
FROM MYLORD EDOUARD TO JULIE
Deep depression has succeeded violent grief in the mind of your lover.
But I can count upon his heart, it is a heart framed to fight and to
I have a proposition to make which I hope you will carefully consider.
In your happiness and your lover's I have a tender and inextinguishable
interest, since between you I perceive a deeper harmony than I have ever
known to exist between man and woman. Your present misfortunes are due
to my indiscretion; let me do what I can to repair the fault.
I have in Yorkshire an old castle and a large estate. They are yours and
your lover's, Julie, if you will accept them. You can escape from Vevay
with the aid of my valet, when I have left there; you can join your
lover, be wedded to him, and spend the rest of your days happily in the
place of refuge I have designed for you.
Reflect upon this, I beseech you. I should add that I have said nothing
of this project to your lover. The decision rests with you and you
FROM JULIE TO MYLORD EDOUARD
Your letter, mylord, fills me with gratitude and admiration. It would
indeed be joy for me to gain happiness under the auspices of so generous
a friend, and to procure from his kindness the contentment that fortune
has denied me.
But could contentment ever be granted to me if I had the consciousness
of having pitilessly abandoned those who gave me birth? I am their only
living child; all their pleasure, all their hope is in me. Can I deliver
up their closing days to shame, regrets, and tears? No, mylord,
happiness could not be bought at such a price. I dare brave all the
sorrows that await me here; remorse I dare not brave.
FROM JULIE TO HER LOVER
I have just returned from the wedding of Claire and M. d'Orbe. You will,
I know, share my pleasure in the happiness of our dearest friend; and
such is the worth of the friendship that joins us, that the good fortune
of one of us should be a real consolation for the sorrows of the other
Continue to write me from Paris, but let me tell you that I am not
pleased with the bitterness of your letters--a bitterness unworthy of my
philosophic tutor of the happy bygone days at Vevay. I wish my true love
to see all things clearly, and to be the just and honest man I have
always deemed him--not a cynic who seeks a sorry comfort in misfortune
by carping at the rest of mankind.
FROM MADAME D'ORBE TO JULIE'S LOVER
I am about to ask of you a great sacrifice; but I know you will perceive
it to be a necessary sacrifice, and I think that your devotion to
Julie's true happiness will endure even this final test.
Julie's mother has died, and Julie has tormented herself with the idea
that her love troubles have hastened her parent's end. Since then she
has had a serious illness, and is now in a depressed state both
physically and mentally. Nothing, I am convinced, can cure her save
absolute oblivion of the past, and the beginning of a new life--a
M. de Wolmar is here once more, and Julie's father will insist upon her
union with him. This quiet, emotionless, observant man cannot win her
love, but he can bring her peace. Will you cease from all correspondence
with her, and renounce all claim to her? Remember that Julie's whole
future depends upon your answer. Her father will force her to obey him;
prove that you are worthy of her love by removing all obstacles to her
FROM JULIE'S LOVER TO HER FATHER
I hereby renounce all claims upon the hand of Julie d'Etange, and
acknowledge her right to dispose of herself in matrimony without
consulting her heart.
FROM MADAME D'ORBE TO JULIE'S LOVER
Julie is married. Give thanks to the heaven that has saved you both.
Respect her new estate; do not write to her, but wait to hear from her.
Now is the time when I shall learn whether you are worthy of the esteem
I have ever felt for you.
FROM MYLORD EDOUARD TO JULIE'S LOVER
A squadron is fitting out at Plymouth for the tour of the globe, under
the command of my old friend George Anson. I have obtained permission
for you to accompany him. Will you go?
FROM JULIE'S LOVER TO MADAME D'ORBE
I am starting, dear and charming cousin, for a voyage round the
world--to seek in another hemisphere the peace that I cannot enjoy in
this. Adieu, tender and inseparable friends, may you make each other's
_III.--The Philosophic Husband_
FROM M. DE WOLMAR TO SAINT PREUX (PSEUDONYM OF JULIE'S LOVER)
I learn that you have returned to Europe after all these years of
travel. Although I have not as yet the pleasure of knowing you, permit
me nevertheless to address you. The wisest and dearest of women has
opened her heart to me. I believe that you are worthy of having been
loved by her, and I invite you to our home. Innocence and peace reign
within it; you will find there friendship, hospitality, esteem, and
P.S.--Come, my friend; we wait you with eagerness. Do not grieve me by a
FROM SAINT PREUX TO MYLORD EDOUARD
I have seen her, mylord! She has called me her friend--her dear friend.
I am happier than ever I was in my life.
Yet when I approached M. de Wolmar's house at Clarens, I was in a state
of frantic nervousness. Could I bear to see my old love in the
possession of another? Would I not be driven to despair? As the carriage
neared Clarens, I wished that it would break down. When I dismounted I
awaited Julie in mortal anxiety. She came running and calling out to me,
she seized me in her arms. All my terrors were banished, I knew no
feeling but joy.
M. de Wolmar, meanwhile, was standing beside us. She turned to him, and
introduced me to him as her old friend. "If new friends have less ardour
than old ones," he said to me as he embraced me, "they will be old
friends in their turn, and will yield nothing to others." My heart was
exhausted, I received his embraces passively.
When we reached the drawing-room she disappeared for a moment, and
returned--not alone. She brought her two children with her, darling
little boys, who bore on their countenances the charm and the
fascination of their mother. A thousand thoughts rushed into my mind, I
could not speak; I took them in my arms, and welcomed their innocent
The children withdrew, and M. de Wolmar was called away. I was alone
with Julie. I was conscious of a painful restraint; she was seemingly at
ease, and I became gradually reassured. We talked of my travels, and of
her married life; there was no mention of our old relations.
I came to realise how Julie was changed, and yet the same. She is a
matron, the happy mother of children, the happy mistress of a prosperous
household. Her old love is not extinguished; but it is subdued by
domestic peace and by her unalterable virtue--let me add, by the trust
and kindness of her elderly husband, whose unemotional goodness has been
just what was needed to soothe her passion and sorrow. I am her old and
dear friend; I can never be more. And, believe me, I am content.
Occasionally, pangs of regret tear at my heart, but they do not last
long; my passion is cured, and I can never experience another.
How can I describe to you the peace and felicity that reign in this
household? M. de Wolmar is, above all things, a man of system; the life
of the establishment moves with ordered regularity from the year's
beginning to its end. But the system is not mechanical; it is founded on
wide experience of men, and governed by philosophy. In the home life of
Julie and her husband and children luxury is never permitted; even the
table delicacies are simple products of the country. But, without
luxury, there is perfect comfort and perfect confidence. I have never
known a community so thoroughly happy, and it is a deep joy to me to be
admitted as a cherished member of it.
One day M. de Wolmar drew Julie and myself aside, and where do you think
he took us? To a plantation near the house, which Julie had never
entered since her marriage. It was there that she had first kissed me.
She was unwilling to enter the place, but he drew her along with him,
and bade us be seated. Then he began:
"Julie, I knew the secret of your love before you revealed it to me. I
knew it before I married you. I may have been in the wrong to marry you,
knowing that your heart was elsewhere; but I loved you, and I believed I
could make you happy. Have I succeeded?"
"My dear husband," said Julie, in tears, "you know you have succeeded."
"One thing only," he went on, "was necessary to prove to you that your
old passion was powerless against your virtue, and that was the presence
of your old lover. I trusted you; I believed, from my knowledge of you,
that I could trust him. I invited him here, and since then I have been
quietly watching. My high anticipations of him are justified. And as for
you, Julie, the haunting fears that your virtue would fail before the
test inflicted by the return of your lover have, once and for all, been
put to rest. Past wounds are healed. Monsieur," he added, turning to me,
"you have proved yourself worthy of our fullest confidence and our
What could I answer? I could but embrace him in silence.
Madame d'Orbe, now a widow, is about to come here to take permanent
charge of the household, leaving Julie to devote herself to the training
of the children.
Hasten to join us, mylord; your coming is anxiously awaited. For my own
part, I shall not be content until you have looked with your own eyes
upon the peaceful delights of our life at Clarens.
FROM SAINT PREUX TO MYLORD EDOUARD
Madame d'Orbe is now with us. We look to you to complete the party. When
you have made a long stay at Clarens, I shall be ready to join you in
your projected journey to Rome.
Julie has revealed to me the one trouble of her life. Her husband is a
freethinker. Will you aid me in trying to convince him of his error, and
thus perfecting Julie's happiness?
FROM SAINT PREUX TO MADAME D'ORBE
Mylord Edouard and I, after leaving you all yesterday, proceeded no
farther than Villeneuve; an accident to one of mylord's attendants
delayed us, and we spent the night there.
As you know, I had parted from Julie with regret, but without violent
emotion. Yet, strangely enough, when I was alone last night the old
grief came back. I had lost her! She lived and was happy; her life was
my death, her happiness my torment! I struggled with these ideas. When I
lay down, they pursued me in my sleep.
At length I started up from a hideous dream. I had seen Julie stretched
upon her death-bed. I knew it was she, although her face was covered by
a veil. I advanced to tear it off; I could not reach it. "Be calm, my
friend," she said feebly; "the veil of dread covers me, no hand can
remove it." I made another effort, and awoke.
Again I slept, again I dreamt the dream. A third time I slept, a third
time it appeared to me. This was too much. I fled from my room to mylord
At first, he treated the dream as a jest; but, seeing my panic-stricken
earnestness, he changed his tune. "You will have a chance of recovering
your reason to-morrow," he said. Next morning we set out on our journey,
as I thought. Brooding over my dream, I never noticed that the lake was
on the left-hand of the carriage, that we were returning. When I roused
myself, I found that we were back again at Clarens!
"Now, go and see her again; prove that the dream was wrong," said
I went nervously, feeling thoroughly ashamed of myself. I could hear you
and Julie talking in the garden. I was cured in an instant of my
superstitious folly; it fled from my mind. I retired without seeing her,
feeling a man again. I rejoined mylord Edouard, and drove back to
Villeneuve. We are about to resume the journey to Rome.
FROM MADAME D'ORBE TO SAINT PREUX
Why did you not come to see us, instead of merely listening to our
voices? You have transfixed the terror of your dream to me. Until your
return, I shall never look upon Julie without trembling, lest I should
M. de Wolmar has let you know his wish that you should remain
permanently with us and superintend the education of his children. I am
sure you will accept Rejoin us swiftly, then; I shall not have an easy
moment until you are amongst us once more.
FROM MADAME D'ORBE TO SAINT PREUX
It has come to pass. You will never see her more! The veil! The veil!
Julie is dead!
FROM M. DE WOLMAR TO SAINT PREUX
I have allowed your first hours of grief to pass in silence. I was in no
condition to give details, nor you to receive them. Now I may write, and
you may read.
We were on a visit to the castle of Chillon, guests of the bailli of
Vevay. After dinner the whole party walked on the ramparts, and our
youngest son slipped and fell into the deep water. Julie plunged in
after him. Both were rescued; the child was soon brought round, but
Julie's state was critical. When she had recovered a little, she was
taken back to Clarens. The doctor told her she had but three days to
live. She spent those three days in perfect cheerfulness and
tranquillity of spirit, conversing with Madame D'Orbe, the pastor, and
myself, expressing her content that her life should end at a time when
she had attained complete happiness. On the fourth morning we found her
During the three days she wrote a letter, which I enclose. Fulfil her
last requests. There yet remains much for you to do on earth.
FROM JULIE TO SAINT PREUX
All is changed, my dear friend; let us suffer the change without a
murmur. It was not well for us that we should rejoin each other.
For it was an illusion that my love for you was cured; now, in the
presence of death, I know that I still love you. I avow this without
shame, for I have done my duty. My virtue is without stain, my love
Come back to Clarens; train my children, comfort their noble father,
lead him into the light of Christian faith. Claire, like yourself, is
about to lose the half of her life; let each of you preserve the other
half by a union that in these latter days I have often wished to bring
Adieu, sweet friend, adieu!
* * * * *
BERNARDIN DE ST. PIERRE
Paul and Virginia
Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint Pierre was born at Havre on
January 19, 1737. Like many boys that are natives of seaports,
he was anxious to become a sailor; but a single voyage cured
him of his desire for a seafaring life, although not of his
love for travel. For some years afterwards he was a rolling
stone, sometimes soldier and sometimes engineer, visiting one
European country after another. In 1771 he obtained a
government appointment in Mauritius, a spot which was the
subject of his first book (see TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE, Vol.
XIX), and which was afterwards made the scene of "Paul and
Virginia." In his "Nature Studies," 1783, he showed an
enthusiasm for nature that contrasted vividly with the
artificiality of most eighteenth-century writers; but his fame
was not established until he had set all the ladies of France
weeping with his "Paul and Virginia," perhaps the most
sentimental book ever written. It was published in 1787, and
although it does not cause in modern readers the tearful
raptures that it provoked on its first appearance, its fame
has survived as the most notable work of a romantic and
nature-loving sentimentalist with remarkable powers of
narration. Saint Pierre died on January 21, 1814.
_I.--The Home Among the Rocks_
On the eastern declivity of the mountain which rises behind Port Louis,
in the Isle of France, are still to be seen, on a spot of ground
formerly cultivated, the ruins of two little cottages. They are situated
almost in the midst of a basin formed by enormous rocks, with only one
opening, from which you may look upon Port Louis and the sea.
I took pleasure in retiring to this place, where one can at once enjoy
an unbounded prospect and profound solitude. One day, as I was sitting
near the cottages, an elderly man approached me. His hair was completely
white, his aspect simple and majestic. I saluted him, and he sat down
"Can you inform me, father," I asked, "to whom these two cottages
"My son," replied he, "these ruins were inhabited by two families, which
there found the means of true happiness. But who will deign to take an
interest in the history, however affecting, of a few obscure
"Father," I replied, "relate to me, I beseech you, what you know of
them; and be assured that there is no man, however depraved by
prejudices, but loves to hear of the felicity which nature and virtue
Upon this the old man related what follows.
In the year 1735 there came to this spot a young widow named Madame de
la Tour. She was of a noble Norman family; but her husband was of
obscure birth. She had married him portionless, and against the will of
her relations, and they had journeyed here to seek their fortune. The
husband soon died, and his widow found herself destitute of every
possession except a single negro woman. She resolved to seek a
subsistence by cultivating a small plot of ground, and this was the spot
that she chose.
Providence had one blessing in store for Madame de la Tour--the blessing
of a friend. Inhabiting this spot was a sprightly and sensible woman of
Brittany, named Margaret. She, like madame, had suffered from the
sorrows of love; she had fled to the colonies, and had here established
herself with her baby and an old negro, whom she had purchased with a
poor, borrowed purse.
When Madame de la Tour had unfolded to Margaret her former condition and
her present wants the good woman was moved with compassion; she tendered
to the stranger a shelter in her cottage and her friendship. I knew them
both, and went to offer them my assistance. The territory in the
rock-basin, amounting to about twenty acres, I divided equally between
them. Margaret's cottage was on the boundary of her own domain, and
close at hand I built another cottage for Madame de la Tour. Scarcely
had I completed it when a daughter was born to madame. She was called
Virginia; the infant son of Margaret bore the name of Paul.
The two friends, so dear to each other in spite of their difference in
rank, spun cotton for a livelihood. They seldom visited Port Louis, for
fear of the contempt with which they were treated on account of the
coarseness of their dress. But if they were exposed to a little
suffering when abroad, they returned home with so much more additional
satisfaction. They found there cleanliness and freedom, blessings which
they owed entirely to their own industry, and to servants animated with
zeal and affection. As for themselves, they had but one will, one
interest, one table. They had everything in common.
Their mutual love redoubled at the sight of their two children. Nothing
was to be compared with the attachment which the babes showed for each
other. If Paul complained, they brought Virginia to him; at the sight of
her he was pacified. If Virginia suffered, Paul lamented; but Virginia
was wont to conceal her pain, that her sufferings might not distress
him. All their study was to please and assist each other. They had been
taught no religion but that which instructs us to love one another; and
they raised toward heaven innocent hands and pure hearts, filled with
the love of their parents. Thus passed their early infancy, like a
beautiful dawn, which seems to promise a still more beautiful day.
Madame de la Tour had moments of uneasiness during her daughter's
childhood; sometimes she used to say to me: "If I should die what would
become of Virginia, dowerless as she is?" She had an aunt in France, a
woman of quality, rich, old, and a devotee, to whom she had written at
the time of Virginia's birth. Not until 1746--eleven years later--did a
reply reach her. Her aunt told her that she merited her condition for
having married an adventurer; that the untimely death of her husband was
a just chastisement of God; that she had done well not to dishonour her
country by returning to France; and that after all she was in an
excellent country, where everybody made fortunes except the idle.
She added, however, that in spite of all this she had strongly
recommended her to the governor of the island, M. de la Bourdonaye. But,
conformably to a custom too prevalent, in feigning to pity she had
calumniated her; and, consequently, madame was received by the governor
with the greatest coolness.
Returning to the plantation with a bitter heart, madame read the letter
tearfully to all the family. Margaret clasped her to her arms; Virginia,
weeping, kissed her hands; Paul stamped with rage; the servants hearing
the noise, ran in to comfort her.
Such marks of affection soon dissipated madame's anguish.
"Oh, my children!" she cried. "Misfortune only attacks me from afar;
happiness is ever around me!"
As the years went on, Paul and Virginia grew up together in purity and
contentment. Every succeeding day was to them a day of happiness. They
were strangers to the torments of envy and ambition. By living in
solitude, so far from degenerating into savages, they had become more
humane. If the scandalous history of society did not supply them with
topics of discourse, nature filled their hearts with transports of
wonder and delight. They contemplated with rapture the power of that
Providence which, by aid of their hands, had diffused amid these barren
rocks abundance, beauty, and simple and unceasing pleasures.
When the weather was fine, the families went on Sundays to mass at the
church of Pamplemousses. When mass was over, they ministered to the sick
or gave comfort to the distressed. From these visits Virginia often
returned with her eyes bathed in tears, but her heart overflowing with
joy, for she had been blessed with an opportunity of doing good.
Paul and Virginia had no clocks nor almanacs nor books of history or
philosophy; the periods of their lives were regulated by those of
nature. They knew the hour of the day by the shadow of the trees; the
seasons by the times when the trees bore flowers or fruits; and years by
the number of the harvests.
"It is dinner-time," Virginia would say to the family; "the shadows of
the banana-trees are at their feet." Or, "Night approaches, for the
tamarinds are closing their leaves."
When asked about her age and that of Paul, "My brother," she would
answer, "is the same age with the great coconut-tree of the fountain,
and I the same age with the small one. The mango-trees have yielded
their fruit twelve times, and the orange-trees have opened their
blossoms twenty-four times since I came into the world."
Thus did these two children of nature advance in life; hitherto no care
had wrinkled their foreheads, no intemperance had corrupted their blood,
no unhappy passion had depraved their hearts; love, innocence, piety
were daily unfolding the beauties of their souls in graces ineffable, in
their features, their attitude, and their movements.
Nevertheless, in time Virginia felt herself disturbed by a strange
malady. Serenity no longer sat upon her forehead, nor smiles upon her
lips. She withdrew herself from her innocent amusements, from her sweet
occupations, and from the society of her family.
Sometimes, at the sight of Paul, she ran up to him playfully, when all
of a sudden an unaccountable embarrassment seized her; a lively red
coloured her cheeks, and her eyes no longer dared to fix themselves on
Meanwhile Margaret said to Madame de la Tour, "Why should we not marry
our children? Their passion for each other is extreme, although my son
is not sensible of it."
"Not yet," answered madame; "they are too young, and too poor. But if we
send Paul to India for a short time, commerce will supply him with the
means of buying some slaves. On his return we will marry him to
Virginia, for I am certain that no one can make my daughter so happy as
your son Paul. Let us consult our neighbour about it."
So they discussed the matter with me, and I approved of their plan. But
when I opened the business to Paul, I was astonished when he replied,
"Why would you have me quit my family for a visionary project of
fortune? If we wish to engage in trade, cannot we do so by carrying our
superfluities to the city, without any necessity for my rambling to
India? What if any accident should befall my family during my absence,
more especially Virginia, who even now is suffering? Ah, no! I could
never make up my mind to quit them."
I durst not hint to him that Virginia was lovesick, and that the voyage
had been projected that the two might be separated until they had grown
a little older.
Just at this time a letter came to Madame de la Tour from her aunt, who
had just recovered from a dangerous illness, and whose obdurate heart
had been softened by the fear of death. She requested her niece to
return to France; or, if the state of her health prevented her from
undertaking the voyage, to send Virginia thither, on whom she intended
to bestow a good education, a place at court, and a bequest of all her
possessions. The return of her favour, she added, depended entirely on
compliance with these injunctions.
The letter filled the family with utter consternation.
"Can you leave us?" Margaret asked, in deep anxiety.
"No," replied madame, "I will never leave you. With you I have lived,
and with you I mean to die."
At these words tears of joy bedewed the cheeks of the whole household,
and the most joyous of all, although she gave the least testimony to her
pleasure, was Virginia.
But next morning they were surprised to receive a visit from the
governor. He, too, had heard from madame's aunt. "Surely," he said, "you
cannot without injustice deprive your young and beautiful daughter of so
great an inheritance." Taking madame aside, he told her that a vessel
was on the point of sailing, and that a lady who was related to him
would take care of her daughter. He then placed upon the table a large
bag of piastres, which one of his slaves had brought. "This," he said,
"is what your aunt has sent to make the preparations for the voyage."
After the governor had left, madame urged her daughter to go. But wealth
had no temptations for Virginia. She thought only of her family, and of
her love for Paul. "Oh, I shall never have resolution to quit you!" she
But in the evening came her father confessor, sent by the governor. "My
children," said he as he entered, "there is wealth in store for you now,
thanks to Heaven. You have at length the means of gratifying your
benevolent feeling by ministering to the unhappy. We must obey the will
of Providence," he continued, turning to Virginia. "It is a sacrifice, I
grant, but it is the command of the Almighty."
Virginia, with downcast eyes and trembling voice, replied, "If it is the
command of God that I should go, God's will be done." And burst into
I was with the family at supper that evening. Little was eaten, and
nobody uttered a syllable.
After supper Virginia rose first, and went out. Paul quickly followed
her. The rest of us went out soon afterwards, and we sat down under the
banana-trees. Paul and Virginia were not far off, and we heard every
word they said.
"You are going to leave us," began Paul, "for the sake of a relation
whom you have never seen!"
"Alas!" replied Virginia. "Had I been allowed to follow my own
inclinations, I should have remained here all my days. But my mother
wishes me to go. My confessor says it is the will of God that I should
"Ah!" said Paul. "And do you say nothing of the attractions of wealth?
You will soon find another on whom you can bestow the name of brother
among your equals--one who has riches and high birth, which I cannot
offer you. But whither can you go to be more happy than where you are?
Cruel girl! How will our mothers bear this separation? What will become
of me? Oh, since a new destiny attracts you, since you seek fortune in
far countries, let me at least go with you! I will follow you as your
Paul's voice was stifled with sobs. "It is for your sake that I go!"
cried Virginia tearfully. "You have laboured daily to support us. By my
wealth I shall seek to repay the good you have done to us all. And would
I choose any brother but thee! Oh, Paul, Paul, you are far dearer to me
than a brother!"
At these words he clasped her in his arms. "I shall go with her. Nothing
shall shake my resolution!" he declared, in a terrible voice.
We ran towards them, and Paul turned savagely on Madame de la Tour. "Do
you act the part of a mother," he cried, "you who separate brother and
sister? Pitiless woman! May the ocean never give her back to your arms!"
His eyes sparkled; sweat ran down his countenance.
"Oh, my friend," cried Virginia to him in terror, "I swear by all that
could ever unite two unhappy beings that if I remain here I will only
live for you; and if I depart, I will one day return to be yours!"
His head drooped; a torrent of tears gushed from his eyes.
"Come to-night to my home, my friend," I said. "We will talk this matter
"I cannot let her go!" cried madame, in distraction.
Paul accompanied me in silence. After a restless night he arose at
daybreak, and returned to his own home.
Virginia had gone! The vessel had sailed at daybreak, and she was on
By intricate paths Paul climbed to the summit of a rock cone, from which
a vast area of sea was visible. From here he perceived the vessel that
bore away Virginia; and here I found him in the evening, his head
leaning against the rock, his eyes fixed on the ground.
When I had persuaded him to return home, he bitterly reproached madame
with having so cruelly deceived him. She told us that a breeze had
sprung up in the early morning, and that the governor himself, his
officers, and the confessor has come and carried Virginia off in spite
of all their tears and protests, the governor declaring that it was for
their good that she was thus hurried away.
Paul wandered miserably among all the spots that had been Virginia's
favourites. He looked at her goats, and at the birds that came
fluttering to be fed by the hand of her who had gone. He watched the dog
vainly searching, following the scent up and down. He cherished little
things that had been hers--the last nosegay she had worn, the coconut
cup out of which she was accustomed to drink.
At length he began to labour in the plantation again. He also besought
me to teach him reading and writing, so that he might correspond with
Virginia; and geography and history, that he might learn the situation
and character of the country whither she had gone.
We heard a report that Virginia had reached France in safety; but for
two years we heard no other news of her.
When at length a letter arrived from Virginia it appeared that she had
written several times before, but as she had received no replies, she
feared that her great-aunt had intercepted her former letters.
She had been placed in a convent school, and although she lived in the
midst of riches, she had not the disposal of a single farthing. She was
not allowed to mention her mother's name, and was bidden to forget the
land of savages where she was born; but she would sooner forget herself.
To Paul she sent some flower-seeds in a small purse, on which were
embroidered the letters "P" and "V" formed of hair that he knew to be
But reports were current that gave him great uneasiness. The people of
the vessel that had brought the letter asserted that Virginia was about
to be married to a great nobleman; some even declared that the wedding
was already over.
But soon afterwards his disquietude ceased at the news that Virginia was
about to return.
On the morning of December 24, 1752, Paul saw a signal indicating that a
vessel was descried at sea, and he hastened to the city. A pilot went
out to reconnoitre her according to the custom of the port; he came back
in the evening with the news that the vessel was the Saint Gerard, and
that her captain hoped to bring her to anchor off Port Louis on the
following afternoon. Virginia was on board, and sent by the pilot a
letter to her mother which Paul, after kissing it with transport,
carried hurriedly to the plantation.
Virginia wrote that her great-aunt had tried to force her into marriage,
had disinherited her on her refusal, and had sent her back to the
island. Her only wish now was once more to see and embrace her dear
Paul, in his excitement, rushed to tell me the news, although it was
late at night. As we walked together we were overtaken by a breathless
"A vessel from France has just cast anchor under Amber Island," he said.
"She is firing distress guns, for the sea is very heavy."
"That will be Virginia's vessel," I said. "Let us go that way to meet
The heat was stifling, and the flashes of lightning that illumined the
dense darkness revealed masses of thick clouds lowering over the island.
In the distance we heard the boom of the distress-gun. We quickened our
pace without saying a word, not daring to communicate our anxiety to
When we reached the coast by Amber Island, we found several planters
gathered round a fire, discussing whether the vessel could enter the
channel in the morning and find safety.
Soon after dawn the governor arrived with a detachment of soldiers, who
immediately fired a volley. Close at hand came the answering boom of the
ship's gun; in the dim light we could see her masts and yards, and hear
the voices of the sailors. She had passed through the channel, and was
secure--save from the hurricane.
But the hurricane came. Black clouds with copper edging hung in the
zenith; seabirds made their way, screaming, to shelter in the island.
Then fearful noises as of torrents were heard from the sea; the mists of
the morning were swept away and the storm was upon us.
The vessel was now in deadly peril, and ere long what we had feared took
place. The cables on her bows snapped, and she was dashed upon the rocks
half a cable's length from the shore. A cry of grief burst from every
Paul was about to fling himself into the sea, when I seized him by the
"Oh. let me go to her rescue," he cried, "or let me die!"
I tied a rope round his waist, and he advanced toward the ship,
sometimes walking, sometimes swimming. He hoped to get on board the
vessel, for the sea in its irregular movements left her almost dry. But
presently it returned with redoubled fury, and the unhappy Paul was
hurled back upon the shore, bleeding, bruised, and senseless.
The ship was now going to pieces, and the despairing crew were flinging
themselves into the sea. On the stern gallery stood Virginia, stretching
out her arms towards the lover who sought to save her. When he was
thrust back she waved her hand towards us, as if bidding us an eternal
One sailor remained with her, striving to persuade her to undress and
try to swim ashore. With a dignified gesture she repelled him. Then a
prodigious mountain of water swept towards the vessel. The sailor sprang
off, and was carried ashore. Virginia vanished from our sight.
We found her body on the beach of a bay near at hand, whither much of
the wreckage had been carried. Her eyes were closed, but her countenance
showed perfect calm; only the pale violet of death blended itself upon
her cheeks with the rose of modesty. One of her hands was firmly closed.
I disengaged from it, with much difficulty, a little casket; within the
casket was a portrait of Paul--a gift from him which she had promised
never to part with while she lived.
Paul was taken home stretched on a palanquin. His coming brought a ray
of comfort to the unhappy mothers; the tears, which had been till then
restrained through excess of sorrow, now began to flow, and, nature
being thus relieved, all the three bereaved ones fell into a lethargic
It was three weeks ere Paul was sufficiently recovered to walk. For day
after day, when his strength was restored, he wandered among the places
endeared to him by memories of Virginia. His eyes grew hollow, his
colour faded, his health gradually but visibly declined. I strove to
mitigate his feelings by giving him change of scene, by taking him to
the busy inhabited parts of the island. My efforts proving quite
ineffectual, I tried to console him by reminding him that Virginia had
gained eternal happiness.
"Since death is a blessing, and Virginia is happy," he replied
mournfully, "I will die, also, that I may again be united to her."
Thus, the consolation I sought to administer only aggravated his
Paul died two months after his beloved Virginia, whose name was ever on
his lips to the last. Margaret survived her son only by a week, and
Madame de la Tour, who had borne all her terrible losses with a
greatness of soul beyond belief, lived but another month.
By the side of Virginia, at the foot of the bamboos near the church of
Pamplemousses, Paul was laid to rest. Close at hand the two mothers were
buried. No marble is raised over their humble graves, no inscriptions
record their virtues, but in the hearts of those who loved them, they
have left a memory that time can never efface.
With these words the old man, tears flowing from his eyes, arose and
* * * * *
The life of the great French novelist, George Sand, is as
romantic as any of the characters in her novels. She was born
at Paris in July, 1804, her real name being Armandine Lucile
Aurore Dupin. At eighteen she married the son of a colonel and
baron of the empire, by name Dudevant, but after nine years
she separated from her husband, and, bent upon a literary
career, made her way to Paris. Success came quickly. Entering
into a literary partnership with her masculine friend, Jules
Sandeau, the chief fruit of their joint enterprise was "Rose
et Blanche." This was followed by her independent novel,
"Indiana," a story that brought her the enthusiastic praises
of the reading public, and the warm friendship of the most
distinguished personages in French literary society. A few
years later her relations with the poet Alfred De Musset
provided the matter for what is now an historic episode. Her
literary output was enormous, consisting of a hundred or more
volumes of novels and stories, four volumes of autobiography,
and six of correspondence. Yet everything that she wrote is
marked by that richness, delicacy and power of style and of
thought which constitutes her genius. "Consuelo," which
appeared in 1844, is typical of all these in its sparkling
dialogue, flowing narrative, and vivid description. George
Sand died on June 7, 1876.
Little Consuelo, at the age of fourteen, was the best of all the pupils
of the Maestro Porpora, a famous Italian composer, of the eighteenth
At that time in Venice a certain number of children received a musical
education at the expense of the state, and it was Porpora, the great
musician--then a soured and disappointed man--who trained the voices of
the girls. They were not equally poor, these young ladies, and among
them were the daughters of needy artists, whose wandering existence did
not permit them a long stay in Venice. Of such parentage was little
Consuelo, born in Spain, and arriving in Italy by the strange routes of
Bohemians. Not that Gonsuelo was really a gipsy. She was of good Spanish
blood, and had a calmness of mind and manner quite foreign to the
wandering races. A rare and happy temperament was hers, and, in spite of
poverty and orphanhood--for her mother, who brought her to Venice, was
dead--Consuelo worked on with Porpora, finding the labour an enjoyment,
and overcoming the difficulties of her art as if by some invisible
When Consuelo was eighteen Count Zustiniani, having heard her sing in
Porpora's choir, decided she must come out as a prima donna in his
theatre. For the fame and success of this theatre Zustiniani cared more
than for anything else in the world--not that he was eager for money,
but because he was an enthusiast for music--a man of taste, an amateur,
whose great business in life was to gratify his taste. He liked to be
talked about and to have his theatre and his magnificence talked about.
The success of Consuelo was assured when she appeared for the first time
in Gluck's "Ipermnestra." The debutante was at once self-possessed and
serious, receiving the applause of the audience without fear or
humility. For her art itself, and not the results of art, were the main
thing, and her inward satisfaction in her performance did not depend on
the amount of approbation manifested by the public.
But Zustiniani, gratified as he was by the triumph of his new prima
donna, was not content with Consuelo's success on the stage; he also
wanted her for himself. Consuelo gravely refused the jewels and
ornaments he offered her, and the count was strangely annoyed. He was
thrilled with unknown emotions by Consuelo's singing, and his patrician
soul could not realise that this poor little pupil of Porpora's was not
to be won by the ordinary methods, which he had hitherto employed
successfully in the conquest of opera singers.
Porpora saved Consuelo from the count's threatening attentions.
The prima donna suddenly disappeared, and it was said she had gone to
Vienna, that she had been engaged for the emperor's theatre, and that
Porpora was also going there to conduct his new opera.
Count Zustiniani was particularly embarrassed by Consuelo's flight. He
had led all Venice to believe this wonderful new singer favoured his
addresses. Some, indeed, maintained for a time that, jealous of his
treasure, the count had hidden her in one of his country houses. But
when they heard Porpora say, with a blunt openness which could never
deceive, that he had advised his pupil to go to Germany and wait for
him, there was nothing left but to try and find out the motives for this
To all inquiries addressed to him Porpora answered that no one should
ever know from him where Consuelo was to be found.
In real truth, it was not only Zustiniani who had driven Consuelo away.
A youth named Anzoleto, who had grown up in Venice with Consuelo so that
the two were as brother and sister, and who lacked both heart and
constancy, made life too hard for Consuelo. Anxious to get all the
advantages of Consuelo's friendship, and to be known as her betrothed,
so that he could procure an engagement in the opera through her generous
influence, he yet made love to another singer, a former favourite of
Zustiniani's. Learning of Anzoleto's heartless unfaithfulness, and
pressed by Zustiniani, Consuelo had turned to her old master for help,
and had not been disappointed.
Among the mountains which separate Bohemia from Bavaria stood an old
country house, known as the Castle of the Giant, the residence of the
Lords of Rudolstadt. A strange mystery reigned over this ancient family.
Count Christian Rudolstadt, the head of the house, a widower, his elder
sister, the Canoness Wenceslawa, a venerable lady of seventy, and Count
Albert, the only son and heir, lived alone with their retainers, never
associating with their neighbours. The count's brother, Baron Frederick
Rudolstadt, with his daughter Amelia, had for some time past taken up
their abode in the Castle of the Giants, and it was the hope of the two
brothers that Albert and Amelia would become betrothed. But the silence
and gloom of the place were hateful to Amelia, and Albert's deep
melancholy and absent-mindedness were not the tokens of a lover.
Albert, in fact, had so brooded over the horrors of the old wars between
Catholic and Protestant in Bohemia, that when the fit was on him he
believed himself living and acting in those terrible times, and it was
this kind of madness in his son which made Count Christian shun all
social intercourse. Albert was now thirty, and the doctors had predicted
that this year he would either conquer the fancies which took such
fierce hold on him, or succumb entirely.
One night, when the family were assembled round the hearth, the castle
bell rang, and presently a letter was brought in. It was from Porpora to
Count Christian, and the count, having read it, passed it on to Amelia.
It seemed that Christian had written to Porpora, whom he had long known
and respected, to ask him to recommend him a companion for Amelia, and
the letter now arrived not only recommended Consuelo, but Consuelo
herself had brought it.
The old count at once hastened with his niece to welcome Porporpina, as
the visitor was called, and the terror which the journey to the castle
and the first impressions of the gloomy place had struck upon the young
singer only melted at the warmth of Christian's praises of her old
From the first the whole household treated Consuelo with every kindness,
and Amelia very soon confided in her new friend all that she knew of the
family history, explaining that her cousin Albert was certainly mad.
Albert himself seemed unaware of Consuelo's presence until one day when
he heard her sing. Amelia's singing always made him uneasy and restless,
but the first time Consuelo sang--she had chosen a religious piece from
Palestrina--Albert suddenly appeared in the room, and remained
motionless till the end. Then, falling on his knees, his large eyes
swimming in tears, he exclaimed, in Spanish: "Oh, Consuelo, Consuelo! I
have at last found thee!"
"Consuelo?" cried the astonished girl, replying in the same language.
"Why, senor, do you call me by that name?"
"I call you Consolation, because a consolation has been promised to my
desolate life, and because you are that consolation which God at last
grants to my solitary and gloomy existence. Consuelo! If you leave me,
my life is at an end, and I will never return to earth again!" Saying
this he fell at her feet in a swoon; and the two girls, terrified,
called the servants to carry him to his room and restore him to
consciousness. But hardly had Albert been left alone before his
apartment was empty, and he had disappeared.
Days passed, and the anxiety at the castle remained unrelieved. It was
not the first time Albert had disappeared, but now his absence was
longer than usual. Consuelo found out the secret of his hiding-place--a
vaulted hall at the end of a long gallery in a cave in the forest was
Albert's hermitage, and a secret passage from the moat of the castle
enabled him to pass unseen to his solitude. She traced him to the
chamber in the recesses of the cavern.
Already Consuelo had discovered the two natures in Albert--the one wise,
the other mad; the one polished, tender, merciful; the other strange,
untamed and violent She saw that sympathy and firmness were both needed
in dealing with this lonely and unfortunate man--sympathy with his
religious mysticism, and firmness in urging him not to yield to the
images of his mind.
That Albert was in love with her, Consuelo understood; but to his
pleadings she had but one answer:
"Do not speak of love, do not speak of marriage. My past life, my
recollections, make the first impossible. The difference in our
conditions would render the second humiliating and insupportable to me.
Let it be enough that I will be your friend and your consoler, whenever
you are disposed to open your heart to me."
And with this Albert, for a time, professed to be content. So determined
was he, however, to win Consuelo's heart, that he readily obeyed her
advice, and even promised never to return to his hermitage without first
asking her to accompany him.
Gentle old Count Christian himself came later to plead his son's cause
with Consuelo. Amelia and her father had left the Castle of the Giants,
and Christian realised how much Consuelo had already done for the
restoration of his son's health.
"You were afraid of me, dear Consuelo," said the old man. "You thought
that the old Rudolstadt, with his aristocratic prejudices, would be
ashamed to owe his son to you. But you are mistaken, and I go to bring
my son to your feet, that together we may bless you for extending his
"Oh, stop, my dear lord!" said Consuelo, amazed. "I am not free. I have
an object, a vocation, a calling. I belong to the art to which I have
devoted myself since my childhood. I could only renounce all this--if--
if I loved Albert. That is what I must find out. Give me at least a few
days, that I may learn whether I have this love for him within my
The arrival of the worthless Anzoleto at the Castle of the Giants drove
Consuelo once more to flight. Anzoleto had enjoyed some success at
Venice, but having incurred the wrath of Zustiniani, he was escaping to
Prague. Passing through Bohemia, the fame of a beautiful singer at the
castle of the Rudolstadts came to his ears, and Anzoleto resolved to
recover the old place he had once held in Consuelo's heart. He gave
himself out as Consuelo's brother, and was at once admitted to the
castle and treated kindly. For Consuelo, the only course open now was to
flee to Vienna, and take refuge with Porpora, and this she did, leaving
in the dead of night, after writing explanations to Christian and
The greater part of the journey to Vienna was accomplished on foot, and
Consuelo had for her travelling companion a humble youth, whose name was
Joseph Haydn, and whose great musical genius was yet to be recognized by
Many months had elapsed since Consuelo had seen her master and
benefactor, and to the joy which she experienced in pressing old Porpora
in her arms a painful feeling soon succeeded. Vexation and sorrow had
imprinted their marks on the brow of the old maestro. He looked far
older, and the fire of his countenance seemed chilled by age. The
unfortunate composer had flattered himself that he would find in Vienna
fresh chances of success and fortune; but he was received there with
cold esteem, and happier rivals were in possession of the imperial
favour and the public admiration. Being neither a flatterer nor an
intriguer, Porpora's rough frankness was no passport to influence, and
his ill-humour made enemies rather than friends. He held out no hopes to
"There are no ears to listen, no hearts to comprehend you in this place,
my child," he said sadly. "If you wish to succeed, you would do well to
follow the master to whom they owe their skill and their fortune."
But when Consuelo told him of the proposal made by Count Albert, and of
Count Christian's desire for her marriage with his son, the tyrannical
old musician at once put his foot down.
"You must not think of the young count!" he said fiercely. "I positively
forbid you! Such a union is not suitable. Count Christian would never
permit you to become an artist again. I know the unconquerable pride of
these nobles, and you cannot hesitate for an instant between the career
of nobility and that of art."
So resolute was Porpora that Consuelo should not be tempted from the
life he had trained her for, that he did not hesitate to destroy,
unread, her letters to the Rudolstadts, and letters from Count Christian
and Albert. He even wrote to Christian himself, declaring that Consuelo
desired nothing but the career of a public singer.
But when, after many disappointments and rebuffs, Consuelo at last was
appointed to take the prima donna's place for six days at the imperial
opera house, she was frightened at the prospect of the toils and
struggles before her feverish arena of the theatre seemed to her a place
of terror and the Castle of the Giants a lost paradise, an abode of
peace and virtue.
Consuelo's triumph at the opera had been indisputable. Her voice was
sweeter and richer than when she sang in Venice, and a perfect storm of
flowers fell upon the stage at the end of the performance. Amid these
perfumed gifts Consuelo saw a green branch fall at her feet, and when
the curtain was lowered for the last time she picked it up. It was a
bunch of cypress, a symbol of grief and despair.
To add to her distress, she was now conscious that her love for Albert
was a reality, and no answer had come from him or from Count Christian
to the letters she had sent. Twice in the six days at the opera she had
caught a glimpse, so it seemed to her, of Count Albert, but on both
occasions the figure had melted away without a word, and unobserved by
all at the theatre.
No further engagement followed at the opera, and Consuelo's thoughts
turned more and more to the Rudolstadts. If only she could hear from
Christian or his son, she would know whether she was free to devote
herself absolutely to her art. For she had made her promise to Count
Christian that she would send him word should she feel sure of being in
love with Albert; and now that word had been sent, and no reply had
Porpora, with a promise of an engagement at the royal theatre in Berlin,
and anxious to take Consuelo with him, had confessed, in answer to her
objection to leaving Vienna before hearing from Christian, that letters
had come from the Rudolstadts, which he had destroyed.
"The old count was not at all anxious to have a daughter-in-law picked
up behind the scenes," said Porpora, "and so the good Albert sets you at
Consuelo never suspected her master of this profound deceit, and, taking
the story he had invented for truth, signed an agreement to go to Berlin
for two months.
_IV.--The Return to Bohemia_
The carriage containing Porpora and Consuelo had reached the city of
Prague, and was on the bridge that spans the Moldau, when a horseman
approached and looked in at the window, gazing with a tranquil
curiosity. Porpora pushed him back, exclaiming:
"How dare you stare at ladies so closely."
The horseman replied in Bohemian, and Consuelo, seeing his face, called
"Is it the Baron Frederick of Rudolstadt?"
"Yes, it is I, signora!" replied the baron, in a dejected tone. "The
brother of Christian, the uncle of Albert. And in truth, is it you
The baron accompanied them to a hotel, and there explained to Consuelo
that he had received a letter from the canoness, his sister, bidding
him, at Albert's request, be on the bridge of Prague at seven o'clock
"The first carriage that passes you will stop; if the first person you
see in it can leave for the castle that same evening, Albert, perhaps,
will be saved. At least, he says it will give him a hold on eternal
life. I do not know what he means, but he has the gift of prophecy and
the perception of hidden things. The doctors have given up all hope for
"Is the carriage ready, sir?" Consuelo said, when the latter was
finished. "If so I am ready also, and we can set out instantly."
"I shall follow you," said Porpora. "Only we must be in Berlin in a
The carriage and horses were already in the courtyard, and in a few
minutes the baron and Consuelo were on their journey to the castle of
At the doorway of the castle they were met by the aged canoness, who,
seizing Consuelo by the arm, said:
"We have not a moment to lose. Albert begins to grow impatient. He has
counted the hours and minutes till your arrival, and announced your
approach before we heard the sound of the carriage wheels. He was sure
of your coming; but, he said, if any accident detained you, it would be
too late. Signora, in the name of Heaven, do not oppose any of his
wishes; promise all he asks; pretend to love him. Albert's hours are
numbered; his life is close. All we ask of you is to soothe his
sufferings." Then, as they approached the great saloon, she added, "Take
courage, signora. You need not be afraid of surprising him, for he
expects you, and has seen you coming hours ago."
The door opened and Consuelo darted forward to her lover. Albert was
seated in a large arm-chair before the fire. It was no longer a man, it
was a spectre, Consuelo saw. His face, still beautiful, was as a face of
marble. There was no smile on his lips, no ray of joy in his eyes.
Consuelo knelt before him; he looked fixedly at her, and then, giving a
sign to the canoness, she placed his arms on Consuelo's shoulders. Then
she made the young girl lay her head on Albert's breast, and the dying
man whispered in her ear: "I am happy." With another sign, he made the
canoness understand that she and his father were to kiss his betrothed.
"From my very heart!" exclaimed the canoness, with emotion. The old
count who had been holding his brother's hand in one of his and
Porpora's in the other, left them to embrace Consuelo fervently.
The doctor urged an immediate marriage.
"I can answer positively for nothing," he said, "but I venture to think
much good may come of it. Your excellency consented to this marriage
"I always consented to it. I never opposed it," said the count. "It was
Master Porpora who wrote to say that he would never consent, and that
she likewise had renounced all idea. Alas, it was the death-blow to my
"Do not grieve," murmured Albert to Consuelo. "I have understood for
many days now that you were faithful. I know that you have endeavoured
to love me, and have succeeded. But we have been deceived, and you must
forgive your master, as I forgive him."
Consuelo looked at Porpora, and the old musician reproached himself for
homicide, and burst into tears. Only Consuelo's consent was necessary,
and this was given.
The marriage was hastened on. Porpora and the doctor served as
witnesses. Albert found strength to pronounce a decisive "Yes," and the
other responses in the service in a clear voice, and the family from
this felt a new hope for his recovery. Hardly had the chaplain recited
the closing prayer over the newly-married couple, before Albert arose
and threw himself into his father's arms; then, seating himself again in
his arm-chair, he pressed Consuelo to his heart, and exclaimed:
"I am saved!"
"It is nature's last effort," said the doctor.
Albert's arms loosed their hold, and fell forward on his knees. His gaze
was riveted on Consuelo; gradually the shade crept from his forehead to
his lips, and covered his face with a snowy veil.
"It is the hand of Death!" said the doctor, breaking the silence.
Consuelo would take neither her husband's title nor his riches.
"Stay with us, my daughter?" cried the canoness, "for you have a lofty
soul and a great heart!"
But Consuelo tore herself away after the funeral, though her heart was
wrung with grief. As she crossed the drawbridge with Porpora, Consuelo
did not know that already the old count was dead, and that the Castle of
the Giants, with its riches and its sufferings, had become the property
of the Countess of Rudolstadt.
* * * * *
It was while George Sand was pleading for a separation from
her husband, on the ground of incompatibility of temperament,
that "Mauprat" was written, and the powerful story, full of
storm, sentiment, and passion, bears the marks of its
_I.--Bernard Mauprat's Childhood_
In the district of Varenne, within a gloomy ravine, stands the ruined
castle of Roche-Mauprat. It is a place I never pass at night without
some feeling of uneasiness; and now I have just learnt its history from
Bernard Mauprat, the last of the line.
Bernard Mauprat is eighty-four and no man is more represented in the
province. Passing his house with a friend who knew the old man, we
ventured to call, and were received with stately welcome. Later Mauprat
told us his story in the following words:
There were formerly two branches of the Mauprat family and I belonged to
the elder. My grandfather was that Tristan de Mauprat whose crimes are
still remembered. My father was his eldest son, and on his death, which
occurred at a shooting party, the only living member of the younger
branch, the chevalier, Hubert de Mauprat, a widower with an infant
daughter, begged that he might be allowed to adopt me, promising to make
me his heir. My grandfather refused the offer, and when I was seven
years old and my mother died--poisoned some said by my grandfather--I
was carried off by that terrible man to his house at Roche-Mauprat. I
only knew afterwards that my father was the only son of Tristan's who
had married and that consequently I was the heir to the property.
It was a terrible journey I made with my grandfather but more terrible
still was the life led at Roche-Mauprat by Tristan and his eight sons.
Beset by creditors, the Mauprats with a dozen peasants and poachers
defied the civil laws as they had already broken all moral laws. They
formed themselves into a body of adventurers, levying blackmail on the
small farms of the neighbourhood, intimidating the tax-collectors and at
times not hesitating from petty thefts at fairs. Masters and servants
were united in bonds of infamy. Debauchery, extortion, fraud, and
cruelty were the precept and example of my youth. All notions of justice
were scoffed at, and the civilisation, the light of education, and the
philosophy of social equality, then spreading in France and preparing
the way for the convulsion of the Revolution, found no entrance at
The eight sons, the pride and strength of old Mauprat, all resembled him
in physical vigour, brutality of manners, and in a cunning ill-nature.
They gave themselves the airs of knights of the twelfth century. What
elsewhere was called assassination and robbery I was taught to call
battle and conquest. The frightful tortures heaped upon prisoners by my
uncles gave me a horrible uneasiness, but what kept me from admiring the
savagery that surrounded me was the ill-usage I received myself. I grew
up without conceiving any liking for vice, but a tendency to hatred was
fostered. Of virtue or simple human affection I knew nothing, and a
blind and brutal anger was nourished in my breast.
As the years went by Roche-Mauprat became more and more isolated. People
left the neighbourhood to escape our violent depredations, and in
consequence we had to go farther afield for plunder. I joined in the
robberies as a soldier serves in a campaign, but on more than one
occasion I helped some unfortunate man who had been knocked down to get
up and escape.
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