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fresny, looking at her, " that it was his ill. I him out a martyr. And when I think of ness that brought me to the cottage, not a my portrait! By a few strokes I could wish to instruct him."
transform it, either into a sign-post for the “Oh! that would be a pity. Père Coïc inn 'A la bonne Villageoise, or into the ill!” cried Angèle. “We must pray for representation of a Roman emperor. A' his recovery. We cannot lose him. He dash or two of the brush dipped into veris a curiosity – he is something to see. milion and white, would do all that is Jouy would not be Jouy without him. If necessary to the face, a few more - and Père Coïc were to die, he should be pre- I would turn the draperies into a foulard, served in spirits of wine – bis attitude, or a toga. Do let him come — I did like his'expression, all his delicious contor him, you know. Do let us have a little tions and wriggles of conceit.”
laugh. He does not mind.” Angèle spoke with something of forced “He did mind. For all his clumsy exgaiety in her accent. She was half lean- terior, he had a sensitive nature, ing against the high box of an orange-swered Dufresny quietly. tree. The massive foliage spread sombre “Well,” she said petulantly, above her head, a ray of the full moon ceited people ought to suffer. It is ridicshot a pale shaft through the dark leaves, ulous the man should think of himself as and it just touched her hair. Monsieur he does. If he was in a sort of sleep, Dufresny looked at her. She had the dreaming he was a great artist, it might fantastic, careless, mocking glance, that have hurt him to wake him up for a momight have belonged to a dryad, looking ment, make him to rub his eyes and see out of her tree, ignorant of all human himself as he is - but I know he has grief and sympathy.
gone to sleep again, and he is dreaming A singular expression contracted his once more he is Titian. Then,” she brow. "You are saying things you may went on with a little vexation, as Duafterwards be sorry for," he said quietly. fresny did not answer her, “ we wished to
“Oh!” she replied flippantly, “ 1, too, pay him, so what does it matter?” have my ideas of life. They are to sin He would not take the money. You and to repent. Those two active verbs must not forget that,” said Dufresny. represent the two needful emotions, the “ I do not forget it,” she answered with pleasurable and the pitiful. Come,” she ardor. “ It has troubled me, the thought went on, as he let the talk drop,“ will you of it. I have walked about with these take us to see Père Coïc to morrow?" three hundred francs in my pocket, till
“No, for it might make you under they seem to burn it. Yesterday, I thought stand repentance too well,” he answered I would throw them into the pool, but I brusquely, and he turned on his heel. felt that would be a pity; three hundred
“Your betrothed, my dear, is charm- francs, you know! Then, I meditated flinging,” said Madame de Récy; "but some- ing them through Père Coïc's window. times he has distinctly the air of Croque- Indeed, I have longed to give him the mitaine."
money. If you will only take me to him “We shall be a contrast,” replied An- to-morrow, I shall find some way of getgèle, laughing rather loud, but without ting him to put it into his pocket. I shall gaiety;
feel quite di erent then, as if I had got A few moments after Dufresny was rid of a sin." wandering alone about the park; he heard Dufresny hesitated. He looked at her the rustle of a dress trailing on the grass with a sort of perplexity. It seemed as behind him, and the approach of a quick if there was something he wished to say. step.
“ Do take me," she urged. " You will Why this mystery?” said Angèle, see, you will be pleased with me." joining him. “Why do you wish to keep Still be hesitated; then suddenly he Père Coïc to yourself? Why does he not put away hesitation. come up to paint me? I want my portrait Yes, we shall go to-morrow together finished.”
to see him, but we must go without Ma"Do not ask; you will know it all quite dame de Récy." soon enough,” he answered, with grave Thank you, oh yes, we shall go withrestraint.
out her,” she said gaily. “You will see “You speak like an embodied omen of how I will flatter and soothe the poor evil,” she said with childish badinage. man. If he is still a little bit awake, he “ You hedge round with a halo of ro will go to sleep, and dream - dream he is mance this village genius. You make Velasquez.”
garded him; but it was the unreflective CHAPTER VI.
awe of a child; she gave herself no acDUFRESNY was punctual the next day, count of it. She did not understand him, and at the appointed hour be found An. and she knew she had the power to charm gèle waiting for him on the steps in front and to amuse him; this gave an element of the house. The château was empty of excitement to their relationship. Now, by this time. Madame de Récy had gone as she went on, she plucked the heather, with the general, to inspect a site on and inade bouquets of it, ornamenting the the top of a hill, where she had set her body of her white merino dress and her heart upon building a rustic habitation for broad-leaved hat with bunches of pink herself some day. The other guests had waxen flowers, and garlands of wild ivy. sped various ways; Angèle had refused | All the while she babbled gaily, as usual, their entreaties to reign as usual over of Père Coïc. She wished him to take their afternoon amusements. She had her father's portrait, in his warrior's acbeen mysterious but decided in the ex- coutrements; the buttons, the gold lace, cuses she made, Mademoiselle de Lustre and panache would give a magnificent alone had remained behind to escort her scope to his genius. She saw the portrait niece; it would have been against all her already; then another village genius might traditions of convenance to have allowed be found — who would surround it with her to go alone with her betrothed. martial strains. The whole inight be en
“See,” said Angèle to Dufresny, when graved and sold for one sou to the boys he joined ber, stretching out her hand, in at the fair. which lay a dainty silk bag, "here are the Mademoiselle de Lustre, behind, catchthree hundred francs. I have made a ing the word uniform, now held forth purse for them. Père Coïc shall have on the various uniforms she admired; them in exchange for my portrait. I shall Monsieur Dufresny walked on, paying carry it off to-day. I shall never be in apparently little heed to the talk of his want of something to laugh at, when I companions. An interruption presently have it hanging up."
came to it. As they neared the village a Dufresny looked at the purse, and held girl of twelve passed them; she carried a the tender little outstretched hand in his child, whose head was buried on her He did not answer, but it seemed to her shoulder fast asleep; a basket was slung that he was going to speak. He dropped on her arm, full of carrots and vegetables. the hand, however, without breaking si. She was barefooted, and trudged somelence.
what laboriously along, an expression of They set off together, Mademoiselle de fatigue slightly ruffling her brow. Lustre keeping near Angèle, or lagging a “ A picture !” said Angèle, putting her little way behind her. The good lady hand under the little maid's chin, and was rejoicing that matters looked more smiling up at Monsieur Dufresny. Then promising between the lovers; and she taking out her purse she dropped a five. kept up a high-pitched monologue of re- franc piece amongst the vegetables. marks upon the weather, the aspect of the “There, ma mignonne," she said, "buy country, and other various topics. It yourself something pretty from me.” As must be admitted that if the kind soul the delighted child went on her
“I was somewhat vapid, and did not con- should take her to the shoemaker," she tribute greatly to the general amusement added, “and cover her poor red feet with of society, she seldom expected any one a pair of boots, but that would spoil all to reply to her running comments, and the artistic effect.” was quite content to talk out a theme to “ That is barbarous,” said Dufresny herself until she had exhausted the sub- smiling ; “only to look at the barefooted ject.
child from a picturesque point of view." They took the road to the village, “But is that not always the way you through the crimsoning aisles of the look at the poor? How to make use of wood, in which departing summer was them in your pictures?" lighting its funeral pyres.
“I trust not,” he answered slowly, and Angèle was very gay; and agitated her- paused. “But you — how do you look at self as she walked by the side of her them?” betrothed, like a bird fluttering from "How?" she replied, stopping; then bough to bough. She was happy; still she shrugged her shoulders and laughed. she was never quite at her ease with “In a more orthodox fashion, giving them Monsieur Dufresny. There was a touch alms, and thereby winning my salvaof awe in the feeling with which she re- tion.”
ago on this."
“That is right,” took up Mademoiselle said, with brief accentuation; "the tedi. de Lustre from behind." There is no ous subject. I wish with all my heart I surer way of winning our salvation than had never seen your Père Coïc. Since by being charitable. Monsieur le Curé that unlucky day you have been nothing preached a very good sermon some weeks but a walking reproach.”..
“I think,” he said with vivacity, " that " I understand," said Monsieur Dufres- one day you will admit it was a well-deny, “the poor are put upon earth to act as served reproach. Let me tell you, once stepping-stones to fame for some — and for all, the result of what I know was to Heaven for others. In the scheme of done in thoughtlessness was cruelty.” creation, they are part of the economy She did not answer, and he went on: instituted solely for the rich.”.
“ Perhaps you did not know the circum“Oh!” said Angèle uneasily, detecting stances of his life. You were not aware a sarcasm, “admit at any rate that we he had a mother to support. He was ill give them the beau rôle. Then it is but a and suffering also, and if he was confair exchange, they want money, we want ceited, this pride in his work had a beauty opportunities to do good. We give it to in it a beauty that might bring tears to each other.”
some eyes.” i This is the mistake you make, Angèle,” As they spoke, they reached the church he answered, as if weighing his words, that stood at the ntrance of the village. “that money can buy exerything.”
“I want to go into the churchyard for “ I detect the clatter of the hoofs of a few moments,” Dufresny said, stopping. your hobby-horse in the distance
you “Will you come with me?" are mounting it — Père Coïc again,” she Angele hesitated. She looked fushed said gaily:
and vexed; there was a pout on her pretty “ Yes, Père Coïc,” he answered. “I lips. want to talk to you about him.”
Mademoiselle de Lustre protested “Let me tell you I am getting tired of loudly. She would not go. Churchyards the subject,” she answered.
depressed her. The grass was wet; An. “I must speak about it all the same,” gèle's dress would be completely spoiled. he repeated.
There had been a knell sounding all the “Well I listen,” she said, crossing her morning; some one had died; perlaps arms in front of her. "Only, I protest I the funeral was going on now. see no harm in what I did. Where was " I shall only keep you a few moments," the wrong? He wanted a job. I gave said Dufresny, addressing Angèle. him one.”
Very well, I will go, if you like," she “This is an illusion,” Dufresny replied answered. “It seems to me a strange hastily. “You know, Angèle, you did not fancy. Are you going to make a picture ? give it for a job. Come now, confess it. It will be a gloomy subject.” There was not the motive of charity actu- Mademoiselle de Lustre remained obating you. It was the pleasure of seeing stinate. She tried to dissuade Dufresny the fly wriggling, with the pin through its from his purpose; but after a while she body.” He restrained himself, and re- consented that Angèle should accompany sumed more gently, “ It was thoughtless, him, only she must not remain many min. and I want to lead you to think to im- utes. Meanwhile she would wait for them press you, as I myself am impressed." under the church porch.
“Oh!" she interrupted petulantly, Angèle followed Dufresny in silence. "you ascribe sensitiveness to people who He walked on without saying a word. do not possess it. You romance; you are They made their way through the modest an artist.”
The ample sunlight lay like a “No, you are wrong," he burst out hand extended in blessing over the few with ill-concealed emotion. “You will stone slabs and the crowd of black not see it; you are like a child, with a crosses, with the white-painted epitaphs child's ignorance of life and its suffering, and the representation of tears upon I have seen him constantly since, and them. Here and there were plots of know it gave him mortal pain. His siin- garden flowers, and everywhere the wild ple belief in himself was lost from that powers crested the grassy billows, at the day. He was too roughly awakened. His heads of which the crosses stood. An. spirit broke."
gèle, in her fantastically wreathed hat and Angèle listened impatiently, smiting the dress, picking her steps among the tombs, trunks of the trees with her sunshade. looked out of place. Yet there was noth"If you would only drop the subject,” sheling dismal in the little enclosure; there
was even a sort of charm in the infinite ing what has become of us ; only” (laugh. serenity around.
ing nervously) “she never wonders when They had not proceeded far, when An. she is knitting. She counts her stitches ; gèle paused and called to Dufresny to she makes no count of the minutes.” stop; but he did not heed her. They Angèle interrupted herself suddenly, and were making their way towards an open remained blankly staring before her. "I grave, towards which also, on the other wish the sun did not shine over graves,” side, a funeral procession was advancing. she resumed querulously. Then, before She saw the crucifix, borne aloft, with the he could put in a word, she rattled on: sunlight upon it; the enfants de chaur, Now, I like the catacombs much better; carrying the boly water; the coffin, cov- those dark galleries low down under ered with a shabby pall, carried by four ground, and the living people losing their
Behind came the mourners, headed way in them. That is just what a city of by a peasant woman, her black bodice cut the dead should be ; no place for the liv. square, her face rigid with grief, shaded ing in it. There is such a difference beby a large Aapped cap; two younger tween the living and the dead." She women walked on either side of her. shuddered, and gazed with that strange There were several village folk who, fixity before her. Suddenly she turned when they reached the tomb, disposed and looked at Dufresny. • What did he themselves on its borders. Angèle had die of?” she asked brusquely: never assisted at a burial service. A “ Père Coïc? He died of congestion little trembling seized her; she crossed of the lungs.” herself hurriedly:
" How long was he ill ? " “Come away," she said, touching Du- “ He fell ill about a month ago, I think.” fresny's arm.
A pause, during which she walked on “Will you not stay a minute or two ? 1 with an automatic step; then, fixing upon should like to stay, for I knew him.” him her eyes, in which was a painful ex
“Who was it?" she asked, nervously pression, she said abruptly: “Then it is gathering herself up in her dress, as the true ; after all, you were right. We did scrape of the lowered coffin against the help to kill him that day.” side of the grave was beard, and the He was frightened at her pallor, and chanting began.
at the alteration of her features. “It was Père Coïc."
you are exaggerating. His chest was She did not answer. He did not dare always delicate.” to look round; but he felt her standing “That has nothing to do with it," she silently and solemply by his side. Pres- said. “We helped to kill him. You ently he heard a little gasp; he turned, know it. You would not have brought and saw the tears streaming down her me here if it had not been so." face.
He noticed that her step was unsteady. "Let us go,” he said, taking her hand Putting his arm about her, he supported to draw her away.
her to a bench, upon which she sank. "No,” she replied; “I should like to “My dear,” he said, holding her two stay to the end."
hands in his, “I ought to have told you They remained until the ceremony was before taking you here. You are exag. over and the mourners dispersed; then gerating. He was ill before ; his constiAngèle turned away. She had dried her tution was weak. He died the day berore tears, and she walked off with her rapid yesterday, painlessly, even cheerily.” step and resolute bearing.
“The day before yesterday !” she re· Why did you bring me here ?” she peated mechanically. “I remember so said, without looking round. “You know well the day he came. I noticed his hand churchyards have always a miserable trembled as he stood in the doorway. I effect upon me. Once, when I was a thought he was timid.” She shut her child, I dreamt I was lost in one. Was eyes. “I wish I could forget him. He it not horrible? All those black crosses was so gentle. He trusted us. I rememand slabs, you know, on every side." ber his piteous look when he began to
He saw that she shivered. "I am doubt us. I think he clung to his faith afraid you feel cold,” he said, gently in me; be turned to me for protection. I drawing her cloak about her.
remember he would look at me, as if in "It is always cold in churchyards. I appeal, when the others mocked him; yet think the sunshine, out of compliment to ! joined in the mockery." Here she the place, strips itself of its warmth when broke off with a sob. it fails upon one.
Aunt must be wonder. "My poor child,” said Dufresny. "I
am to blame. I should not have brought|sible.” She put her hand up to her brow. you here. He would have died anyhow.” “ My head is so confused, I can think of
She shook her head, with a sad gesture nothing distinctly. Yet it seems as if I of denial.
might.” Her eyes had brightened, and a “Kind Eugène,” she said, loosening timid hope had stolen over her face. She one hand from his clasp, and caressing began twisting up the heavy plaits of hair bis. “ You are trying to comfort me. that bad fallen from their fastening. DuBut you see, it is not his death only, it is fresny waited till she grew calmer, then the thought of the insults, of the outrage they went out and rejoined Mademoiselle , we heaped upon him. It is that, it is de Lustre. that. You were right when you said it The worthy lady was still sitting under was a mortal wound we gave him. Ah ! the porch knitting. The village people, to think, to think, that I shall have to as they came out, had told her of Père remember it all my life, this scene of jeer. Coïc's death. She was beginning her ing at an unoffending, hard-working, hon. lamentations and the recital of her fears orable man ; that I shall always see that at Angèle's delay in the churchyard, but poor, infirm figure, and that trembling Dufresny drew her thoughts away. He hand extended. It will be like always devoted himself to her, and engaged her feeling denounced before God. And attention in the near and dear discussion what was it all done for ?" she went on, of the guests at the château. Angèle interlacing her fingers convulsively to walked silently by his side.
She was gether. . Good heavens ! for what? For very quiet. As they neared the house a little amusement."
they met the returning groups of visitors. She swayed herself backwards and for. Madame de Récy was in high spirits. wards. Dufresny took her hands and She described the site she had chosen for kissed them. " It was a freak, my dar- her future habitation. One fitted for a ling, the madcap results of high spirits ; fairy palace, she said. It seemed susothers took the lead, you only followed.” pended in the air. Woods grew under it.
“ No," she replied, “it was deliberate, She must always have a house full of peoit was done in cold blood. We kept it up ple when she lived in it, or she would die for three days. I was the willing instru- of fright. It was just the place for brigment; I who was the hostess and should ands to prowl about in. It was enchanthave shielded him from insult. Ah! how ing. She would begin the building next strange it is, how strange, when a sin is week. There was scarce any time left to brought home to one ; and now I must question Angèle as to the manner in always carry it about in my heart. I used which she had spent her afternoon. to laugh, I used to amuse myself, but I do When the interrogatories began the not think I ever hurt any one before; but young lady hurried her. guests in.
was time for dinner.
They were late. Dufresny rose and began pacing up and The cook would be furious.” At dinner down, bewildered by the effect of the Dufresny noticed that she ate nothing, shock of bringing this thoughtless nature but she entered with feverish volubility before reality. "It is no use, Angèle,” he into Madame de Récy's plans for her new said at last, "lamenting and exaggerating house. There must be a tower, a drawWe can never take a word out of the book bridge, a ghost. The necessity of a ghost of life and obliterate it, but we can make was carried by acclamation. In the midst the book contain a tenderer story for it.” of her talk Angèle would interrupt her
• But how?" she cried, bursting into self, and remain gazing straight before sobs. How? I am powerless. It is her; then suddenly she would rush back this.
I can repair nothing; I cannot into the talk, and break into peals of even give him the money I owe him; to laughter. It seemed to Dufresny that earn which he came out facing the bad she wished to avoid him, yet once or twice weather in his weak health."
he caught her gaze riveted upon him, “ He has left a mother unprovided with a frightened and piteous expression. for,” said Dufresny gently:
“ Ah! unprovided for,” she repeated, her tears stopping a little.
It was the day after the funeral, Mère A mother and two sisters."
Coïc and her daughters had been hard at “ You think I could help them,” she work, ever since their return from the said, looking up to him like a frightened cemetery. There was going to be a sale child, wishing to be reassured. "If they in the cottage. Père Coïc's pictures were will only let me, I might; it seems pos- I to be put up for auction, and some of the