Poems & Short Stories: 4,271
Forum Members: 70,634
Forum Posts: 1,033,546
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
PORTE ST. ANTOINE
When I try to look back on the time that followed, all is confusion. I cannot unravel the threat of events clearly in my own mind, and can only describe a few scenes that detach themselves, as it were, from a back-ground of reports, true and false, of alarms, of messages to and fro, and a horrible mob surging backwards and forwards, so that when Mademoiselle returned to Paris and recalled me, I could only pass backwards and forwards between the Louvre and the Hotel de Nidemerle after the servants had carefully reconnoitred to see that the streets were safe, and this although I belonged to the Orleans' establishment, which was in favour with the mob. Their white scarves were as much respected as the tawny colours of Conde, which every one else wore who wished to be secured from insult.
I longed the more to be at home because my very dear brother, now convalescent, was preparing everything for his journey to the Hague. He had an interview with M. de Poligny, and convinced him that it was hopeless to endeavour to gain Annora's consent to the match with his son, and perhaps the good gentleman was not sorry to withdraw with honour; and thus the suit waited till the Parliament should be at leisure to attend to private affairs.
My mother was greatly disappointed, above all when my brother, in his gentle but authoritative manner, requested her to withdraw her opposition to my sister's marriage with Darpent, explaining that the had consented, as knowing what his father's feeling would have been towards so good a man. She wept, and said that it certainly would not have been so bad in England, but under the nose of all her friends--bah! and she was sure that Solivet would kill the fellow rather than see canaille admitted into the family. However, if the wedding took place at the Hague, where no one would hear of it, and Annora chose to come back and live en bourgeoise, and not injure the establishment of the Marquis de Nidemerle, she would not withhold her blessing. So Annora was to go with Eustace, who indeed had not intended to leave her behind him, never being sure what coercion might be put on her.
In the meantime it was not possible for any peaceful person, especially one in my brother's state of health, to leave Paris. The city was between two armies, if not three. On the one side was that of the Princes, on the other that of M. le Marechal de Turenne, with the Court in its rear, and at one time the Duke of Lorraine advanced, and though he took no one's part, he felled the roads with horrible marauders trained in the Thirty Year's War. The two armies of Conde and Turenne skirmished in the suburbs, and it may be imagined what contradictory reports were always tearing us to pieces. Meantime Paris was strong enough to keep out either army, and that was the one thing that the municipality and the Paliarment were resolved to do. They let single officers of the Prince's army, himself, the Duke of Beaufort, Nemours, the Court d'Aubepine, and the rest, come in and out, but they were absolutely determined not to be garrisoned by forces in direct rebellion to the King. They would not stand a siege on their behalf, endure their military license, and then the horrors of an assault. The Duke of Orleans professed to be of the same mind, but he was a mere nonentity, and merely acted as a drag on his daughter, who was altogether devoted to the Prince of Conde. Cardinal de Retz vainly tried to persuade him to take the manly part of mediation, that would have been possible to him, at the head of the magistracy and municipality of Paris.
The Prince--Heaven forgive him--and the Duke of Beaufort hoped to terrify the magistracy into subservience by raising the populace against them. Foolish people! as if their magistrates were not guarding them from horrible miseries. In fact, however, the mobs who raved up and down the streets, yelling round the Hotel de Ville, hunting the magistrates like a pack of wolves, shouting and dancing round Monsieur's carriage, or Beaufort's horse--these wretches were not the peaceable work-people, but bandits, ruffians, disbanded soldiers, criminals, excited by distributions of wine and money in the cabarets that they might terrify all who upheld law and order. If the hotels of the nobles and magistrates had not been constructed like little fortresses, no doubt these wretches would have carried their violence further. It seems to me, when I look back at that time, that even in the Louvre or the Luxembourg, one's ears were never free from the sound of howls and yells, more or less distant.
Clement Darpent, who had been separated from his work by his injury, and had not resumed it, so far as I could learn, was doing his best as a deputy at the Hotel de Ville to work on those whom he could influence to stand firm to their purpose of not admitting the King's enemies, but, on the other hand, of not opening their gates to the royal arm itself till the summons to the States-General should be actually issued, and the right of Parliament to refuse registration acknowledged. His friends among the younger advocates and the better educated of the bourgeois had rallier round him, and in the general anarchy made it their business to protect the persons whom the mob placed in danger. My mother, in these days of terror, had recurred to her former reliance on him, and admitted him once more. I heard there had been no formal reconciliation with Annora, but they had met as if nothing had happened; and it was an understood thing that he should follow her to the Hague so soon as there should be an interval of peace; but he had a deep affection for his country and his city, and could not hear of quitting them, even for Annora's sake, in this crisis of fate, while he had still some vision of being of use, and at any rate could often save lives. Whenever any part of the mob was composed of real poor, who had experienced his mother's charities, he could deal with them; and when they were the mere savage bandits of the partisans, he and his friends scrupled not to use force. For instance, this I saw myself. The Duke of Orleans had summoned the Prevot des Marchands and two of the echevins to the Luxembourg, to consult about supplies. The mob followed them all the way down the street, reviling them as men sold to Mazarin, and insisting that they should open the gates to the Prince. When they were admitted the wretches stood outside yelling at them like wolves waiting for their prey. I could not help appealing to Mademoiselle's kindness of heart, and asking if they could not be sheltered in the palace, till the canaille grew tired of waiting. She shrugged her shoulders, and called them miserable Mazarinites, but I think she would have permitted them to remain within if her father had not actually conducted them out, saying, 'I will not have them fallen upon IN HERE,' which was like throwing them to the beasts. We ladies were full of anxiety, and all hurried up to the roof to see their fate.
Like hungry hounds the mob hunted and pelted these respectable magistrates down the Rue de Conde, their robes getting torn as they fled and stumbled along, and the officers, standing on the steps of the hotel of M. le Prince, among whom, alas! was d'Aubepine. Waved their yellow scarves, laughed at the terror and flight of the unhappy magistrates, and hounded on the mob with 'Ha! There! At him! Well thrown!'
Suddenly a darker line appeared, advancing in order; there was a moment's flash of rapiers, a loud trumpet call of 'Back, ye cowards!' The row of men, mostly in black hats, with white collars, opened, took in among them the bleeding, staggering, cruelly-handled fugitives, and with a firm front turned back the vile pursuers. I could distinguish Clement Darpent's figure as he stood in front, and I could catch a tone of his voice, though I could not made out his words, as he reproached the populace for endeavouring to murder their best friends. I felt that my sister's choice had been a grand one, but my heart sank as I heard the sneer behind me: 'Hein! The conceited lawyers are ruffling it finely. They shall pay for it!'
There was a really terrible fight on the steps of the Parliament House, when the mob forced the door of the great chamber, and twenty- five people were killed; but Darpent and his little party helped out a great many more of the counsellors, and the town-guard coming up, the mob was driven off. That evening I saw the Cardinal de Retz. He was in bad odour with Monsieur and Mademoiselle, because he was strongly against the Prince, and would fain have stirred the Duke of Orleans to interfere effectively at the head of the Parliament and city of Paris; but a man of his rank could not but appear at times at the Duke's palace, and on this fine May evening, when all had gone out after supper into the alleys of the garden of the Luxembourg, he found me out. How young, keen, and lively he still looked in spite of his scarlet! How far from one's notions of an Eminence!
'That was a grand exploit of our legal friend, Madame,' he said; 'but I am afraid he will burn his fingers. One is not honest with impunity unless one can blindly hang on to a party. Some friend should warn him to get out of the way when the crash comes, and a victim has to be sacrificed as a peace-offering. Too obscure, did Madame say? Ah! that is the very reason! He has secured no protector. He has opposed the Court and the Prince alike, and the magistrates themselves regard him as a dangerous man, with those notions a lui about venality, and his power and individuality, and therefore is factious, and when the Court demands a Frondeur there will be no one except perhaps old Mole to cry out in his defence, and Mole is himself too much overpowered. Some friend should give him a hint to take care of himself.'
I told my brother as soon as I could, and he ardently wished to take Darpent away with him when it should be possible to quit Paris; but at that moment Clement and his young lawyers still nourished some wild hope that the Parliament, holding the balance between the parties, might yet undeceive the young King and save the country.
The climax came at last on the second of July. M. le Prince was outside the walls, with the Portes St. Antoine, St. Honore, and St. Denis behind him. M. de Turenne was pressing him very hard, endeavouring to cut him off from taking up a position on the other side of the army, at the confluence of the Seine and the Marne. The Prince had entreated permission to pass his baggage through the city, but the magistrates were resolved not to permit this, not knowing what would come after. Some entrenchments had been thrown up round the Porte St. Antoine when the Lorrainers had threatened us, and here the Prince took up his position outside the walls. There, as you remember, the three streets of Charenton, St. Antoine, and Charonne all meet in one great open space, which the Prince occupied, heaping up his baggage behind him, and barricading the three streets--M. de Nemours guarded one, Vallon and Tavannes the other two. The Prince, with the Duke of la Rochefoucauld and fifty more brave gentlemen, waited ready to carry succour wherever it should be needed. Within, the Bastille frowned over all.
We were waiting in the utmost anxiety. A message came to Mademoiselle, at the Louvre, from the Prince, entreating her not to abandon him, or he would be crushed between the royal forces and the walls of Paris. Monsieur had, for a week, professed to be ill, but, on driving through the streets, lined with anxious people, and coming to the Luxembourg, we found him on the steps.
'I thought you were in bed,' said his daughter.
'I am not ill enough to be there,' he answered; 'but I am not well enough to go out.'
Mademoiselle entreated him, in her vehement way, either to mount his horse and go to help M. le Prince, or at least to go to bed and act the invalid for very shame; but he stood irresolute, whistling, and tapping on the window, too anxious to undress, and too timid to go out. Annora would have been ready to beat him. I think his daughter longed to do so. She tried frightening him.
'Unless you have a treaty from the Court in your pocket I cannot think how you can be so quiet. Pray, have you undertaken to sacrifice M. le Prince to Cardinal Mazarin?'
He whistled on without answering, but she persevered, with alternate taunts and threats, till at last she extracted from him a letter to the magistrates at the Hotel de Ville, telling them that she would inform them of his intentions. Off, then, we went again, having with us Madame de Nemours, who was in an agony about her husband, and presently we were at the Hotel de Ville, where we were received by the Prevot des Marchands, the echevins, and Marshal de l'Hopital, Governor of Paris--all in the most intense anxiety. She was brought into to great hall, but she would not sit down--giving them her father's letter, and then desiring that the town-guard should take up arms in all the quarters. This was already done. Then they were to send the Prince 2000 men, and to put 400 men under her orders in the Place Royale. To all this they agreed; but when she asked them to give the Prince's troops a passage through the city, they demurred, lest they should bring on themselves the horrors of war.
Again she commanded, she insisted, she raved, telling them that if they let the Prince's army be destroyed those of M. de Turenne would assuredly come in and sack the city for its rebellion.
Marshal l'Hopital said that but for Mademoiselle's friends, the royal army would never have come thither at all, and Madame de Nemours began to dispute with him, but Mademoiselle interfered, saying: 'Recollect, while you are discussing useless questions the Prince is in the utmost danger;' and, as we heard the cries of the people and beyond them the sharp rattle of musketry, she threatened them with appealing to the people.
She was really dignified in her strong determination, and she prevailed. Evil as the whole conduct of the Prince had been, no doubt the magistrates felt that it would be a frightful reproach to let the flower of the gentlemen of France be massacred at their gates. So again we went off towards the Port St. Antoine, hearing the firing and the shouts louder every minute, at the entrance of Rue St. Antoine we met M. Guitaut on horse-back, supported by another man, bare-headed, all unbuttoned, and pale as death. 'Shalt thou die?' screamed out Mademoiselle, as we passed the poor man, and he shook his head, though he had a great musket ball in his body. Next came M. de Vallon, carried in a chair, but not too much hurt to call out: 'Alas, my good mistress, we are all lost.'
'No, no,' she answered; 'I have orders to open a retreat.'
'You give me life,' he said.
More and more wounded, some riding, some on foot, some carried on ladders, boards, doors, mattresses. I saw an open door. It was that of Gneffier Verdon, Clement's brother-in-law, and Darpent was assisting to carry in a wounded man whose blood flowed so fast that it made a stream along the pavement before the door. Mademoiselle insisted on knowing who it was, and there was only too much time, for, in spite of our impatience and the deadly need, we could only move at a foot's pace through the ghastly procession we were meeting. The answer came back--'It is the Count d'Aubepine. He would bleed to death before he could be carried home, so M. Darpent has had him carried into his sister's house.'
My heart was sick for poor Cecile. 'My brother-in-law!' I said. 'Oh, Mademoiselle, I entreat of you to let me go to his aid.'
'Your amiable brother-in-law, who wanted to have you enlevee! No, no, my dear, you cannot be uneasy about him. The Generalissime of Paris cannot spare her Gildippe.'
So I was carried on, consoling myself with the thought that Madame Verdon, who was as kind as her mother, would take care of him. When we came near the gate Mademoiselle sent orders by M. de Rohan to the captain of the gate to let her people in and out, and, at the same time, sent a message to the Prince, while she went into the nearest house, that of M. de Croix, close to the Bastille.
Scarcely were we in its salon when in came the Prince. He was in a terrible state, and dropped into a chair out of breath before he could speak. His face was all over dust, his hair tangled, his collar and shirt bloody, his cuirass dinted all over with blows, and he held his bloody sword in his hand, having lost the scabbard.
'You see a man in despair,' he gasped out. 'I have lost all my friends. Nemours, de la Rochefoucauld, Clinchamp, d'Aubepine, are mortally wounded;' and, throwing down his sword, he began tearing his hair with his hands, and moving his feet up and down in an agony of grief.
It was impossible not to feel for him at such a moment, and Mademoiselle came kindly up to him, took his hand, and was able to assure him that things were better than he thought, and that M. de Clinchamp was only two doors off, and in no danger.
He composed himself a little, thanked her passionately, swallowed down some wine, begged her to remain at hand, then rushed off again to endeavour to save his friends, now that the retreat was opened to them. Indeed, we heard that M. de Turenne said it seemed to him that he did not meet one but twelve Princes of Conde in that battle, for it seemed as if he were everywhere at once.
We could only see into the street from the house where we were, and having received some civil messages from the Governor of the Bastille, Mademoiselle decided on going thither. The Governor turned out the guard to salute Mademoiselle, and at her request conducted us up stone stair after stone stair in the massive walls and towers. Now and then we walked along a gallery, with narrow doors opening into it here and there; and then we squeezed up a spiral stone stair, never made for ladies, and lighted by narrow loopholes. In spite of all the present anxiety I could not help shuddering at that place of terror, and wondering who might be pining within those heavy doors. At last we came out on the battlements, a broad walk on the top of the great square tower, with cannon looking through the embrasures, and piles of balls behind them, gunners waiting beside each. It was extremely hot, but we could not think of that. And what a sight it was in the full glare of the summer sun! Mademoiselle had a spy- glass, but even without one we could see a great deal, when we were not too much dazzled. There was the open space beneath us, with the moat and ditch between, crowded with baggage, and artillery near the walls, with gentlemen on foot and horseback, their shorn plumes and soiled looks telling of the deadly strife--messengers rushing up every moment with tidings, and carrying orders from the group which contained the Prince, and wounded men being carried or helped out at the openings of the three chief suburban streets, whose irregular high-roofed houses and trees, the gray walls and cloisters of the abbey, hid the actual fight, only the curls of smoke were rising continually; and now and then we saw the flash of the firearms, while the noise was indescribable--of shots, shrieks, cries to come on, and yells of pain. My brother told me afterwards that in all the battles put together he had seen in England he did not think he had heard half the noise that came to him in that one afternoon on the top of the Hotel de Nidemerle. The Cavaliers gave a view halloo, and cried, 'God save the King!' the Ironsides sang a Psalm, and then they set their teeth and fought in silence, and hardly any one cried out when he was hurt--while here the shots were lost in the cries, and oh! how terrible with rage and piteous with pain they were!
Beyond the houses and gardens, where lie the heights of Charonne, were to be seen, moving about like ants, a number of troops on foot and on horseback, and with colours among them. Mademoiselle distinguished carriages among them. 'The King is there, no doubt,' she said; and as I exclaimed, 'Ah! yes, and my son,' she handed me the glass, by which I could make out what looked very like the royal carriages; but the King was on horseback, and so was my dear boy, almost wild with the fancy that his mother was besieged, and scarcely withheld from galloping down by assurances that no lady was in the slightest danger.
Below, in the hollow, towards where Bagnolet rose white among the fields and vineyards, the main body of Turenne's troops were drawn up in their regiments, looking firm and steady, in dark lines, flashing now and then in that scorching July sunshine, their colours flying, and their plumes waving. A very large proportion of them were cavalry, and the generals were plainly to be made out by the staff which surrounded each, and their gestures of command.
We presently saw that the generals were dividing their horse, sending one portion towards Pincourt, the other towards Neuilly. Mademoiselle, who really had the eye of a general, instantly divided that they were going to advance along the water-side, so as to cut off the retreat of the Prince's forces by interposing between thefaubourg and the moat, and thus preventing them from availing themselves of the retreat through Paris. M. le Prince was, as we could perceive, on the belfry of the Abbey of St. Antoine, but there he could not see as we could, and Mademoiselle instantly dispatched a page to warm him, and at the same time she gave orders to the artillerymen to fire on the advancing troops as soon as they came within range. This was the most terrible part to me of all. We were no longer looking on to save life, but firing on the loyal and on the army where my son was. Suppose the brave boy had broken away and ridden on! I was foolish enough to feel as if they were aiming at his heart when the fire and smoke burst from the mouths of those old brass guns, and the massive tower seemed to rock under our feet, and the roar was in our ears, and Madame de Fiesque and the other ladies screamed in chorus, and when the smoke rolled away from before our eyes we could see that the foremost ranks were broken, that all had halted, and that dead and wounded were being picked up.
In very truth that prompt decision of Mademoiselle's saved the Prince's army. Turenne could not send on his troops in the face of the fire of the Bastille, and, for aught he knew, of the resistance of all his army through the Porte St. Antoine without the loss of one wounded man or a single gun. Mademoiselle, having seen the effect of her cannon, came down again to provide for wine and food being sent to the exhausted soldiers, who had been fighting all day in such scorching heat that we heard that at the first moment of respite, M. le Prince hurried into an orchard, took off every fragment of clothing, and rolled about on the grass under the trees to cool himself after the intolerable heat.
Just as I emerged from the court of the Bastille, some one touched me, and said, 'Pardon me, Madame,' and, looking round, I saw M. Darpent, with his hat in his hand. 'Madame,' he entreated, 'is it possible to you to come to poor M. d'Aubepine? I have fetched her to her husband, but there will be piteous work when his wound is visited, and she will need all the support that can be given to her. My mother and sister are doing all in their power, but they have many other patients on their hands.'
I hurried to my Princess, and with some difficulty obtained a hearing. She called up M. Darpent, and made him tell her the names of all the five sufferers that he and his sister had taken into the Verdon house, and how they were wounded, for Conde's followers being almost all noble, she knew who every one was. Two were only slightly wounded, but two were evidently dying, and as none of their friends were within reach, Madame Darpent and her daughter were forced to devote themselves to these, though fortunately they had not been brought in till her son had piloted M. d'Aubepine through the crowded streets--poor little Cecile! who had hardly ever set foot on the pavement before. Her Count was in a terrible state, his right leg having been torn off by a cannon-ball below the knee, and he would have bled to death long before reaching home had not Clement Darpent observed his condition and taken him into the house, where Madame had enough of the hereditary surgical skill acquired in the civil wars to check the bleeding, and put a temporary dressing on the wounds until a doctor could be obtained; for, alas! they were only too busy on that dreadful day.
Mademoiselle consented to part with me when she had heard all, suddenly observing, however, as she looked at Darpent: 'But, Monsieur, are you not the great Frondeur with ideas of your own? Did not this same d'Aubepine beat you soundly? Hein! How is it that you are taking him in---? Your enemy, is he not?'
'So please your Royal Highness, we know no enemies in wounded men,' replied Darpent, bowing.
Her attention was called off, and she said no more, as Clement and I hastened away as fast as we could through a by-street to avoid the march of the troops of Conde, who were choking the Rue St. Antoine, going, however, in good order. He told me on the way that M. d'Aubepine had shown great courage and calmness after the first shock, and after a few questions had hung on his arm through the streets, not uttering a word, though he felt her trembling all over, and she had instantly assumed the whole care of her husband with all the instinct of affection. But as he and his mother felt certain that amputation would be necessary, he had come to fetch me to take care of her.
Fortunately for us, we had not to cross the Rue St. Antoine to enter the Maison Verdon, but Clement opened a small door into the court with a private key, presently knocking at a door and leading me in. Armand d'Aubepine had been the first patient admitted, so his was the chief guest-chamber--a vast room, at the other end of which was a great bed, beside which stood my poor Cecile, seeing nothing but her husband, looking up for a moment between hope and terror in case it should be the surgeon, but scarcely taking in that it was I till I put my arms round her and kissed her; and then she put her finger to her lips, cherishing a hope that because the poor sufferer had closed his eyes and lay still in exhaustion, he might sleep. there he lay, all tinge of colour gone from his countenance, and his damp, dark hair lying about his face, and with my arm round her waist stood watching till he opened his eyes with a start and moan of pain, and cried, as his eye fell on me: 'Madame! Ah! Is Bellaise safe?' Then, recollecting himself: 'Ah no! I forgot! But is he safe--the Prince?'
I told him that the Prince and his army were saved, feeling infinitely touched that his first word should have been of my Philippe, whom he seemed to have forgotten; but indeed it was not so. His next cry was: 'Oh! Madame, Madame, would that this were Freiburg! Would that I could die as Philippe die! Oh! help me!'
Cecile threw herself forward, exclaiming, in broken words, that he must not say so; he would not die.
'You, too,' he said, 'you, too--the best wife in the world--whom I have misused--- Ah! that I could begin all over again!'
'You will--you will, my most dear!' she cried. 'Oh! the wound will cure.'
And, strange mixture that he was, he moaned that he should only be a poor maimed wretch.
Darpent now brought in a priest, fresh from giving the last Sacrements to the two mortally-wounded men. The wife looked at him in terror, but both he and Clement gently assured her that he was not come for that purpose to M. la Comte, but to set his mind at rest by giving him absolution before the dressing of the wound. Of course it was a precaution lest he should sink under the operation; and as we led her from the bedside, Clement bade me not let her return as yet.
But that little fragile creature was more entirely the soul of Love than any other being I have known. She did, indeed, when we had her in Madame Verdon's little oratory hard by, kneel before the crucifix and pray with me, but her ear caught, before mine, the departing steps of the priest, and the entering ones of the surgeon. She rose up, simply did not listen to my persuasions, but walked in with quiet dignity. Madame Darpent was there, and would have entreated her to retire, but she said: 'This is a wife's place.' And as she took his hands she met a look in his eyes which I verily believe more than compensated to her for all the years of weary pining in neglect. The doctor would have ordered her off, but she only said: 'I shall not cry, I shall no faint.' And they let her keep his hand, though Clement had to hold him. I waited, setting our hostess free to attend to one of her dying charges, from whom she could ill be spared.
And Cecile kept her word, though it was a terrible time, for there was no endurance in poor Armand's shallow nature, and his cries and struggles were piteous. He could dare, but not suffer, and had not both she and Clement been resolute and tranquil, the doctor owned that he could not have succeeded.
'But Madame la Comtesse is a true heroin,' he said, when our patient was laid down finally, tranquil and exhausted, to be watched over through the night.
The time that followed was altogether the happiest of all my poor sister-in-law's married life. Her husband could hardly bear to lose sight of her for a moment, or to take anything from any hand save hers. If Madame Darpent had not absolutely taken the command of both she would never have had any rest, for she never seemed sensible of fatigue; indeed, to sit with his hand in hers really refreshed her more than sleep. When she looked forward to his recovery, her only regret was at her own wickedness in the joy that WOULD spring up when she thought of her poor cripple being wholly dependent on her, and never wanting to leave her again. I had been obliged to leave her after the first night, but I spent much of every day in trying to help her, and she was always in a tearful state of blissful hope, as she would whisper to me his promises for the future and his affectionate words--the fretful ones, of which she had her full share, were all forgotten, except by Clement Darpent, who shrugged his shoulders at them, and thought when he had a wife---
Poor Armand, would he have been able, even as a maimed man, to keep his word? We never knew, for, after seeming for a fortnight to be on the way to recovery, he took a turn for the worse, and after a few days of suffering, which he bore much better than the first, there came that cessation of pain which the doctors declared to mean that death was beginning its work. He was much changed by these weeks of illness. He seemed to have passed out of that foolish worldly dream that had enchanted him all his poor young life; he was scarcely twenty-seven, and to have ceased from that idol-worship of the Prince which had led him to sacrifice on that shrine the wife whom he had only just learned to love and prize. 'Ah! sister,' he said to me, 'I see now what Philippe would have made me.'
He asked my pardon most touchingly for his share in trying to abduct me, and Clement Darpent's also for the attack on him, though, as he said, Darpent had long before shown his forgiveness. His little children were brought to him, making large eyes with fright at his deathlike looks, and clinging to their mother, too much terrified to cry when he kissed them, blessed them, and bade Maurice consider his mother, and obey her above all things, and to regard me as next to her.
'Ah! if I had had such a loving mother I should never have become so brutally selfish,' he said; and, indeed, the sight of her sweet, tender, patient face seemed to make him grieve for all the sins of his dissipated life. His confessor declared that he was in the most pious disposition of penitence. And thus, one summer evening, with his wife, Madame Darpent, and myself watching and praying round him, Armand d'Aubepine passed away from the temptations that beset a French noble.
I took my poor Cecile home sinking into a severe illness, which I thought for many days would be her death. All her old terror of Madame Croquelebois returned, and for many nights and days Madame Darpent or I had to be constantly with her, though we had outside troubles enough of our own. Those two sick-rooms seem to swallow up my recollection.
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.