[ocr errors]

Hither and thither moves, and checks, and the long, hot summer had set in, it was slays,

his habit to walk up and down the stretch And one by one back in the closet lays.

of highroad which borders the sea there, Of human help to satisfy the soul's pausing sometimes to look across the blue doubts it is also written,

waves towards France, or up at Notre

Dame d'Afrique, rising dark on its bill. Magst Priester oder Weise fragen, Und ihre Antwort scheint nur Spott

top against the fiery sunset. His tall, thin Ueber den Frager zu seyn.

figure, bis hollow cheeks, his drooping

grey moustache, his threadbare coat, with Great Lessing says: “If God held, its scrap of red ribbon in the button-hole, shut up in his right hand, all truth; and and something in his manner of carrying in his left hand the ever-active impulse his head and twirling his cane which can after truth that impulse being con- only be described as a sort of deprecating nected with a continual liability to err jauntiness — all these things were apt to - and should say to me 'Choose!' I arrest the attention of the unoccupied would, in all humility, seize the left hand, stranger: and say, 'Father, that one! Pure truth is If such a person looked hard at him, he for Thee alone!'» Greater Goethe, after would return the gaze half timidly, balf long and ardent striving, attained to sov. affably, and would probably end by raising ereign victory, and reached to light and his old, but carefully brushed hat, and peace. Many men are constantly strain. saying, “ Bon soir, monsieur,” in a high, ing, with failure or success, in the burning quavering voice. He was willing, upon quest of the enthusiasm of conviction, and slight encouragement, to eoter into conthe blessing of assurance. Not always versation, and would descant upon tbe are those patures the lowest that fail in beauty of the weather and the charm of the divine conflict, and that have, wearily, the surrounding scenery, and similar comto adınit that they cannot reach the ideal monplace topics, with a good deal of of communion with God. Reading be. courteous fluency.

“ An adorable coun: tween the lines we can guess that Mr. try, monsieur!. a divine climate! Fig. Shorthouse is well acquainted with the ure to yourself that I came here twenty spiritual struggles and sorrows which he years ago, and that I have not yet been attributes to John Inglesant; and it is able to tear myself away! What would necessary to realize this fact, to sympa- you have ? - when one becomes old, one thize with such states of soul, before we learns to value tranquillity above all can understand or sympathize with the things.” But if by any chance his interessence of the book, or can pluck out the locutor grew inquisitive, asked where he heart of Mr. Shorthouse's mystery. In- lived, produced a card-case, or showed cidents, description, and story would en other signs of wishing to keep up the sure for this book a certain amount of acquaintance thus begun, he would take popularity; but, as regards his higher alarm. His loquacity would cease, he meanings, Mr. Shorthouse may fear that would draw his heels together, lift his hat there are comparatively few that fitly will again, and "Monsieur," he would say, conceive his reasoning, or rise with him with a low bow, “j'ai l'honneur de vous to the high level of bis most noble and souhaiter le bon soir.” With which he subtle thought shown in this spiritual, would retire hurriedly. psychological, philosophic romance of It was not that he had any desire to * John Inglesant.”

conceal either his name or his place of H. SCHUTZ WILSON. abode. M. Lelièvre was well known to

all the inhabitants of Saint-Eugène, and any one of the dirty children playing on the beach, or of the black-browed women

lounging in the doorways, or of the unFrom Longman's Magazine.

shaven inen playing bowls in their shirt. THE HERMIT OF SAINT-EUGENE.

sleeves before the cafés, could have shown UNTIL quite recently, any one who you his house a white villa, with all its chanced to stroll out of Algiers towards persiennes closed, standing in a neglected evening, by the Rue Bab-el-Oued, and garden and shut in by rusty iron gates, thence past the barracks to the dusty, upon the side posts of which, the inscrip. evil-smelling suburb of Saint-Eugène, tion L'Hermitage in thin black letters was would have been pretty sure to meet him. barely legible. That amount of informaBetween four and five o'clock during the tion M. Lelièvre would have grudged to winter months, and a few hours later when nobody; but he dreaded the society of


his fellow-creatures as much as he loved He fell with the fall of the empire, and it, because he had once been hospitable, on losing his appointment discovered, as and could be hospitable no longer. many others have discovered under simi

Time has moved so fast during the last lar circumstances, that he had been somedecade, and changes have been so many, what imprudent in making no provision that probably only a very few people recol- for a rainy day. When France was lying lect M. Lelièvre as he used to be in the under the heel of the invader, and every days of his prosperity - those good old able-bodied man was volunteering for days before the war, when an imperial active service, M. Lelièvre went off to official could afford himself a pretty villa fight for his country with the rest. He in the suburbs as well as his house in committed his daughter to the care of a the town, and could even go so far as lady frieod of his (for his friends were to invest bis surplus cash in a farm far still numerous then), and departed with away on the Metidja plain, which every his usual indomitable cheerfulness; but body said was sure to pay magnificently. he came back a good deal aged and In that happy pre-republican era, Saint-broken, only to find that his farm had Eugène was as lovely a retreat as any been sacked during the Arab insurrection, official could wish for, and the guests at and that his bailiff had decamped, leavthe merry breakfast parties which used to ing neither money nor address behind him. take place at the Hermitage several times This was a rather serious calamity; for a week were wont to swear, as they looked the old gentleman had calculated that the out upon tbe roses in the garden and up-i sale of the farm and stock would help him on the sea, glittering through a belt of out considerably with the dot of Isabelle, palms and bamboos, that M. Lelièvre was whose marriage was now about to be sol. the luckiest dog in Africa. He did not lemnized. It was not in the least likely contradict them; his opinion, indeed, that M. de Lugagnan and his family would quite coincided with theirs. He had a consent to any diminution of the large sufficient income, congenial employment, sum agreed upon, and a rupture at the a charming daughter; and if anything had eleventh hour, if it had not broken Isa. been lacking to complete bis happiness, belle's heart, would assuredly have gone the want was supplied when, after some very near to breaking her father's. He what lengthy pegotiations, he was able to passed through some weeks of mental announce Isabelle's betrothal to that aris. agony; but somehow or other, the money tocratic personage the Vicomte de Lu- was forthcoming at the required date; the gagnan. Perhaps he exulted a little too marriage took place; the bride and bride. much over this latter piece of good for- groom left for France; and M. Lelièvre tude; perhaps M. de Lugagnan's name might have sung Nunc Dimittis, had it was rather too frequently upon his lips ; not been the will of Heaven that he should and perhaps his friends sometimes laughed live a good many years longer in a world at him in their sleeves. If so, he was un which cannot have possessed many attracconscious alike of incurring ridicule and tions for him. of having given cause for it; for there It was now that the Hermitage began never lived a more innocent or unsuspi- to deserve its name, and that its owner, cious creature.

who, with his old servant Marthe, only But all this is ancient history. There occupied three of its rooms, began to be are no more breakfast parties at Saint- known as the hermit. The sobriquet was Eugène pow, and such of the villas as conferred upon him, not by his former bave not been pulled down are inhabited acquaintances, who had all gone away or by nobody knows whom. Saint-Eugène had forgotten his existence, but by the itself is lovely no longer. The devastat. humbler neighbors who watched his proing hand of modern civilization has fallen ceedings and manner of life with a certain beavily upon it, pouring forth tramcars curiosity. Neither from him nor from aod omnibuses on to its highway, defiling Marthe did they gain any information as its beach with drainage and rubbish, and to his circumstances; but if a man gives making its shores hideous with mean hab- no orders to the butcher and seldom itations, where that strange and unpre- troubles the grocer, it is tolerably safe to possessing being, the French colonist, conclude that his purse is as empty as his dwells cheerfully in an atmosphere of dust stomach. All Saint-Eugène was and mephitic gases. Possibly this sad that M. Lelièvre did not sit for hours on transformation did not affect M. Lelièvre the rocks with a bamboo fishing.rod in as much as it might have done, had his bis hand merely pour se distraire, which own transformation been less complete. I was Marthe's explanation of that habit of



his. It was notorious that, with the her. turn upon you and cut you to the heart mit, Lent lasted all the year round; and with their ingratitude ! Will you never if he could keep body and soul together learn to be just to yourself? ” with a few red mullet, such gleanings M. Cohen was very fat, very dirty, and from the harvest of the sea were not very ugly. His complexion and features grudged him by his fellow-citizens. “ He were those of the Moorish variety of his will not be very fat when old Cohen de. race; but he had adopted the European cides to eat him up,” they were wont to costume. As he thus apostrophized him. say, with grim pleasantry.

self, there was a mixture of cunning and That he would be eaten up eventually sincerity in his tone which might have none of them doubted. M. Elias Cohed, seemed comical enough, if his victim had that wealthy Hebrew and powerful mu. been in a mood to appreciate the comic nicipal counsellor, had risen from the side of things. But poor M. Lelièvre had smallest of beginnings to his present never felt less inclined to laugh in his high estate by nothing else than by eating life. people up, and that the poor hermit was “ Listen, M. Cohen," he said persuaalready in bis larder was evidenced by the sively, after a pause; you will not have fact that M. Cohen was the only visitor long to wait for your money. When the who ever rang the door.bell at the Her croque-inort has come for me you will get mitage. He was fond of calling there on everything. Could you not allow me to Saturday afternoons, after performing his die in my old house?” religious duties at the synagogue, and “Your old house! But it is not your was often to be seen walking about the house, it is mine; and precisely what I deserted garden with M. Lelièvre, whose complain of is that it is old. You have gait at such times had no jauntiness at not treated me well, my friend; you have all. These periodical visits, it was true, cheated me by allowing this place to fall had gone on for a matter of ten years, and into ruins; and what is it worth now as the hermit was not yet devoured; but that security?" proved nothing. M. Cohen had his plans “ I am told that it is worth more than it and his fancies; you could never tell for was when I borrowed the money of you," certain what he meant to do with you; answered the old man hesitatingly. the only thing of which you might feel “Ah, M. Lelièvre, you should not say quite sure was that, when once you had such things! You are trying to deceive fallen into his clutches, you would not one who has been very kind and forbear. escape from them again until death or ing with you, and you think that because ruin set you free.

he has shown so much weakness he must One fine Saturday afternoon in January be a fool. Now that is very wrong; for I this redoubtable personage was sitting in am as well aware as you are that house M. Lelièvre's garden. He had carried property in Saint-Eugène commands a out a wooden chair from the house, be lower price in the market than it did some cause the weather was hot and he was years ago.' neither as young nor as thin as he had " And the new road?” cried M. Le. once been. M. Lelièvre was standing be- lièvre eagerly. “You forget the new road side him, leaning on his stick.

which is to cut through the middle of my " My friend,” the Jew was saying, with garden. It has been surveyed already, the thick, oily utterance of his nation, “I and only a few days ago I received the have been very good to you. I have had plans and a letter, asking me to state what patience — ah, what patience I have had !” I should require as compensation. I be

“M. Cohen," returned M. Lelièvre, lieve I might ask a large sum, for it will who was a good deal agitated, “I have destroy my privacy. Would you like to paid you interest regularly — and ah, what see the papers ?" And he drew them interest I have paid !”

from his pocket with trembling fingers. “Are you going to say now that I have But M. Cohen waved them aside.“ Ah, made you pay high interest?” shouted bah! the road is not made yet. They are the other. "That would be perfect! always talking about roads and never benothing more than that would be wanting!ginning them. As for compensation, I Oh, Elias, Elias, see what you gain by can tell you, if you do not know, what that generosity! Not only are you kept out means. You will make your demand; you of the use of your money, not only do you will be informed that it is excessive; the miss opportunities of making your fortune road will then be declared to be a measure from sheer want of capital; but those of “public utility," and you will have to whom you have robbed yourself to serve | accept what is given you. It is not by

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

that transaction that you will make your | Then the children were born; then M. le fortune, my dear friend."

Vicomte had business to attend to; and Now it was by no means unlikely that then this, and then that - what do I this prediction would be fulfilled in the know? But now it is time that there was case of a humble proprietor like M. Le an end of all these excuses." lièvre, but a very different result was to “ Marthe, you do not know what you be anticipated in the event of the Hermit. propose. You would break my daughter's age passing into the hands of M. Cohen, heart.” who had means of bringing pressure to • Supposing always that she has one," bear upon the authorities which were not said the old woman drily. open to his unlucky debtor.

•Supposing that she has a heart !" For the rest,” he added, with an air of that Isabelle has a heart! What do you indifference, “you can easily keep pos- mean?” session of this old ruin, if you hold to it. “ With all the respect that I owe to You have only to pay me what you owe monsieur, I will permit myself the obser

But unless I am paid in three weeks' vation that I would not have allowed ten time, I must enter upon possession in years to go by without seeing my father, your place. You have had ample warning, whether he was papering his house or my dear friend; it is for you to make not.” your arrangements.” And without further " I know why you say that. You want words M. Cohen took his leave.

to frighten me, and you think that I shall For some minutes after his departure send for my daughter to convince myself the old man stood still on the same spot, that she has not changed. But you are tracing wavering lines in the dust with mistaken. I shall never doubt ber, and I his stick. “Of what is monsieur think will not have her distressed and put to ing?” asked a gruff voice behind him, shame. I swear to you, Marthe, that if which caused him to start and turn round. you tell her of my difficulties I will never

"My good Marthe,” he replied, at once forgive you !" assuming a sprightly mien, "you would "She shall be told nothing about them, never guess. Is it not absurd that at my then, since you are so obstinate," antime of life I am beginning to feel the swered the old woman sullenly. want of a change? Yes, decidedly I shall Nevertheless, she posted the following give up the Hermitage. After all, it is too brief missive before she went to bed: large a house for you and me, and the “ Madame la Vicomtesse, - I have the neighborhood is not what it was, and — regret to inform you that monsieur is failand there are great advantages in living ing rapidly in health, and if you wish to in the town, I do not say in the Euro- see him again in this world, I think you: pean quarter, which is expensive and un- would do well to postpone your visit to healthy; but in the Arab town, where the Algiers no longer.” air is naturally purer, owing to the greater The herinit Aitted quietly from Saintheight

Eugène without waiting for his three " Monsieur need not give himself the weeks' period of grace to run out. He trouble to invent histories,” broke in the had decided to sell such furniture as reold woman, whose yellow, wrinkled face mained to him, and he thought it would wore an expression of mingled anger and be well to get the auction over before M. pity. “ I heard all that passed between Cohen, who was more given to seizing monsieur and that animal of a Jew — and property than to surrendering it, became to-night I write to Madame la Vicom. the owner of the Hermitage. He hired tesse.

three small rooms in one of the few EuroMarthe, you would never do such a pean houses which have been built near thing as that?

ihe Kasbab, or citadel, a quarter standing “ Pardon me, monsieur, that is what I high in a physical sense and somewhat am going to do. Ever since mademoi. low in a moral one. M. Lelièvre affected selle's marriage it has been one pretext to be delighted with it. It was occupa. after another to keep the truth om her tion enough only to sit at the window all and prevent her from seeing you. You day long, he declared. The view over the would not go over to France because you port and the bay; the purple mountains were afraid of the seasickness; you could of Kabylia in the distance; and nearer not receive her here because you were at hand the dazzling white houses, the having the house papered and painted — minaret of the mosque of Sidi Ramdan, though heaven knows whether we have and glimpses of narrow, tortuous streets, ever had a sight of paper or paint-brush! I through which Moors, Jews, negroes, and


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]




veiled ladies in their voluminous white / whole of the night which preceded his trousers and high-heeled shoes kept pass. daughter's arrival in trotting up and down ing and re-passing — all these things he the quay, and trying to keep himself warm. did not fail to point out to Marthe, who For the best of all possible reasons, he professed herself unable to discover the had not brought a great.coat with him, elements of beauty or interest in any one and if he neither caught his death of cold, of them. It was a little tiring, to be sure, nor dropped from fatigue, it was probably to climb up these steep streets from the because the special providence which is Frenchtown; but that inconvenience, said to watch over children and drunk. as M. Lelièvre observed, might be dis ards, extends a little of its care to foolish posed of by the simple expedient of not old men whose daughters are about to be going down to the French town.

restored to them after a separation of ten He had, however, to descend thither years. once a week to get his letters —

- or rather The sky and the sea were losing their his letter — from the post-office; for dur- delicate opalescent hues, and the glow ing all the years that they had been sepa- upon the snowy Djurdjura Mountains rated, his daughter had never omitted to showed that sunrise was near, when the write to him on Sundays, and he had of wished-for steamer hove in sight, and M. course been careful not to mention his Lelièvre hastened to secure a boat. He change of address to her. He had not felt none the worse for his long vigil; his been long established in his new abode, only regret was that he was not shaved. when he returned from one of these pe. But perhaps Isabelle would not notice riodical descents with a scared face. that. In other respects he felt that he

“Marthe,” he said, holding out an open was looking his best. His coat had been letter in his shaking hands, “here is Isa- carefully brushed and inked at the seams, belle, who announces to me her arrival the red ribbon of the Legion of Honor for the day after to-morrow. What is to was in his button-hole, an Arab boy had be done?"

polished his boots beautifully for a sou, “ Is it possible !" cried the old servant, and Marthe had bought him a perfectly with every appearance of profound sur- new pair of grey cotton gloves. “ Not prise.

much appearance of penury here, I think," “It is as I tell you. A sudden decision, muri M. Lelièvre complacently, as

a long-promised visit — and I be hurried up the gangway of the steamer am to engage rooms for them at an hotel. and gazed eagerly among the passengers Ah! Marthe, would you believe that I am in search of the one whom he hoped to such an old fool that I can hardly contain meet. myself for joy? But she must suspect He could not see her anywhere. There nothing - mind that! - she must suspect was a stout lady who resembled her a nothing. After all, concealment will be little; but — yes! certainly that tall, sol. easier than if we were living at Saint-emn man was M. de Lugagnan; and here, Eugène still. I shall explain that I am sure enough, was the stout lady flinging changing my house, and that I have taken her arms round his neck and exclaiming, lodgings in the mean time. They will not “But, papa, do you not recognize me, ask to see the lodgings, I hope. I shall then?" place them at an hotel at Mustapha, which It was a moment of profound emotion. is more healthy than the town, and When the embracings were over, M. farther away.

All will arrange itself.” | Lelièvre took a clean handkerchief from And the old gentleman, who had got over his pocket, shook it out, and blew his his first feeling of alarm, rubbed his hands nose loudly; after which he proceeded to gleefully.

wipe his eyes, not being in the least It is impossible to tell at what hour ashamed to let people see that he was the steamer from Marseilles will reach shedding tears of joy. He began to Algiers. Sometimes, when the weather is bustle about, insisting upon carrying as fine, it will enter the harbor at midnight; many of his daughter's packages as she more often it comes in at five o'clock in would let him take; he hurried her and the morning, and sometimes not until her husband into the boat and accomseveral hours later. There is thus con- panied them to the shore, where he had siderable difficulty about going on board ordered a carriage to be in waiting for to welcome friends from Europe, and no them. When he was seated in the latter, sensible person thinks of attempting such with his back to the horses (M. de Lu. a thing. The proof that M. Lelièvre was gagnan having allowed him to take that not a sensible person is that he spent the place, after some slight protest), he en

she says

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »