Изображения страниц

execrable stuff is drunk there under the expression in those large dark eyes of very falsest pretences.”

hers; yes, I must be very careful, or I “Ah, those great cities !” exclaimed shall be doing some mischief here.” Monsieur Duroc, lifting up his eyes. This was a somewhat hasty conclusion “But temptations abound in them which to arrive at, but whether the handsome cannot exist in the country. We are sim- young Parisian were right or wrong, it is ple and honest here, and that is all we can quite clear that “some mischief” had say for ourselves. Come, Antoinette, been done already, or he would scarcely monsieur's supper, and then, let us hope, have felt so thankful for the accident that a good night's repose."

promised to make a prisoner of him for I have certainly fallen on my legs here, the next few days-a sprained ankle bethough one of them is not very sound at ing, as he speedily discovered, a positive present,” soliloquised Henri, when Jean obstacle to immediate pedestrianism. He Duroc and his daughter had left the room. expressed this opinion to Monsieur Duroc “Here is an aubergiste, than whom it is when the latter made his appearance to impossible to find anybody more pious, ask him what wine he would be pleased to with an excellent bill of fare, and a daugh- order with his supper, and not content ter like an angel ! What magnificent with naming one sufficing reason, offered eyes she has ! Monsieur Duroc, too, must another. have been a handsome man in his day; He was, he said, just at the end of the but I don't like his mouth; it is too small money which he had provided for his exand well-formed; hers is like it-indeed, cursion, and to obtain more it was necesshe resembles her father-but a pretty sary that he should send to Liége, where mouth is by no means an objection in a a sum sufficient for the next three months' woman. What is her age now? I should expenses, -as he intended to pass some say about two or three-and-twenty. I time in Brussels,—had been lodged in a wonder she is not married! But that is banker's hands. If Monsieur Duroc, therethe misfortune of living in such an out-of-fore, had no objection, he proposed to stay the-way place as this : there is nobody at the auberge until he could procure as good enough for her. And yet, to judge much as he might require from Liégeby her dress, one would think she expect- otherwise, though he should travel with ed the arrival of a lover at every moment. reluctance and some inconvenience, he I had no notion there was so much beauty must endeavor to find a conveyance, and in this part of Belgium; she deserves to remain for a short time, he feared, a debthave been born at Bruges !"

or for the accommodation he had received Henri de Gourville pursued this train of at Champlon. thought till it was interrupted by the pre- To this statement, which was not literparations for his promised supper. These ally true, Henri de Gourville having still were made by Antoinette, whose empresse- a few louis in his possession, Monsieur ment to make the traveller comfortable Duroc replied, with great civility, that as was at least as great as that of her father, to any trifling expense which monsieur and it is not to be supposed that her ef- might incur during the time he rested at forts were less successful. The girl's the auberge, that was a matter of not the manners, indeed, were as prepossessing as slightest consequence; and with respect her person, and Henri de Gourville very to the means of travelling, there was the soon arrived at the conclusion that he had diligence every day to Liége, though, to never seen so charming a creature. It be sure, it was generally full, and the only might be vanity, or it might be something way to secure a place in it was by sending less presumptuous, but it appeared to him word to Arlon. “But, on the other hand, that he had made an impression on the he begged monsieur' to consider that it aubergiste's daughter, “ for”-he argued might be the cause of permanent injury to to himself during her momentary absence him if he used his foot too soon; that as _“she could hardly, I think, be so ex-long as monsieur chose to honor Chamtremely attentive to every chance passen- plon with his presence it would be a great ger: it is not kindness only, but really al. satisfaction both to himself and daughter; most tenderness, this often-repeated in that, thanks to the bon Dieu, he (Duroc) quiry as to the pain I suffer; and then the was not, after all, a poor man, and stood way in which she asks the question, the in no need of daily payment; and, finally, sweetness of her voice, and the singular that if monsieur preferred, for his own

[ocr errors]

reasons, to write to Liége for money, Jean Duroc did not this time return an either of the diligence conducteurs—who immediate answer. “I am thinking,” at were both perfectly honest -- could be last he muttered. . trusted to bring back any amount he After another pause he continued : might think proper to send for. In any “ It is Michel Latrobe who comes up case, he (Duroc) should be delighted to from Luxembourg to-morrow, is it not ? place himself entirely at monsieur's dis- Yes, I remember, I saw him on his way posal.

down this afternoon. Which do

you like As nothing could be more satisfactory best, Antoinette-Michel or Pierre ?" than this reply, Henri de Gourville at once “I care for neither," she answered; announced his intention of profiting by “but if I had to choose between them, the opportunity of sending to Liége, in-Michel is much the better tempered, and stead of setting out for that place himself; the best-looking of the two." the arrangements could be made next “Ah, but Pierre Fargeau is the cleverday. And now he would thank his host er fellow. He is the man to do what I to bring him a bottle of that fine wine he want just now; so I must wait another had spoken of; he left the choice of it en- day." tirely to Monsieur Duroc.

i. Wait ? For what?" Antoinette had entered the room while “No matter- -at present." Henri was speaking, and at these last But”—she spoke with unaccustomed words her eyes were bent inquiringly on hesitation—" will he" —she pointed upher father, who, answering her look, ob- wards—“will he—come down-to-morrow served:

morning ?" “No, my child, you have enough to do Jean Duroc regarded his daughter with this evening with your cuisine, you will a look of strange meaning. find it famous, monsieur, I promise you, “ To-morrow? Ah-and next day too, -I will go to the cellar myself. I know perhaps.” the kind I am sure that will please our Antoinette returned her father's glance guest."

with one of deep scrutiny. She said nothIf Antoinette had not turned away hering more, however, but, taking a light, head as her father spoke, Henri de Gour- went up-stairs. At Henri de Gourville's ville might have read something in her door sħe paused; her hand was on the countenance which would assuredly have latch for a moment, she then withdrew it, given him cause for fresh conjecture, but and noiselessly crossed the corridor to her whether it would have disturbed or con- own room. When morning dawned she firmed the ideas he had already indulged was still sitting by her bedside, with her in, is a question that I shall not at present own door just ajar. At that hour she discuss. Let us finish the events of the came forth, once more stopped to listen at evening: the supper and wine were both as the head of the staircase, and then with a good as Monsieur Duroc had boasted; the sigh which seemed to relieve her bosom traveller's bed was far better than could of a heavy weight, descended to her daily have been expected in the heart of the avocations. Ardennes; and the traveller himself slept

II. as well as if he had been at the Hôtel de l'Europe at Liége, which is one of the ALTHOUGH it would have been by no best I ever put up at.

means advisable, and indeed, scarcely posIt may be questioned, however, whether sible for Henri de Gourville to have conhis sleep would have been quite so sound tinued his journey on foot, he found his had he overheard the brief conversation sprained ankle so much better next mornwhịch took place between Jean Duroc ing, that it was necessary for him to feign and his daughter in the room beneath rather more lameness than he felt, in order him, after he had been assisted to his to justify his proposed stay at the auberge. chamber,

This was not exactly in accordance with “Was that the same wine, father ?” she the “careful” plan on which he had deasked; "it did not produce the usual termined the night before, but consistency effect."

in a young gentleman of five-and-twenty, "Perhaps not,” he replied.

who happened, moreover, to have fallen in Your purpose, then, at last is love, is rather too much to expect of changed ?” she said.

French human nature.

Jean Duroc, who was the first to meet teously, or, it may be, with more sinhis guest, accosted him with an air of cerity. much friendly sympathy. It did him Alone, in the midst of the Ardennes, good, he said, to see monsieur looking so with the lovely girl to whom he had sudwell, though he feared (as he pointed to denly lost his heart! How could Fate be the stick on which Henri leant) that all more propitious to Henri de Gourville ? was not quite right with him yet. And prudence and forbearance ? Ah!

“ Mais ça,” he added, “c'est un de ces they were clean forgotten. When was it petits malheurs que le bon Dieu nous en- ever otherwise ? voie, de temps en temps, pour nous faire Throughout that delicious autumn mornrappeler que c'est lui qui a fait les mem- ing, with the bright sun streaming full

upon bres dont nous sommes si fiers."

him, Henri rested upon a rustic sort of a He then, after the fashion of his class, bench that was placed beneath the winrelated how he had once been laid up for dows outside the auberge, but not to six weeks, in consequence of his hatchet muse in silence on the tranquil beauty of having slipped while he was felling a tree the scene. Like Desdemona in the midst in the forest; and having expatiated on of her “house affairs,” the aubergiste's that accident, and the resignation with daughter would come and linger near which he had borne it, changed the topic where he sat to listen to what he had to Monsieur de Gourville's affairs, and to say, which, if not quite so full of movinformed him that he had been turning ing incidents as the discourse of Othello, over in his mind the subject of the money, had in it matter to her of nearly as much inand had come to the conclusion that, as it terest. But notwithstanding the charm of was a matter of some importance, he had the situation, her manner was not so free fixed upon the conducteur who was to re- from restraint as it had been on the preturn from Luxembourg on the morrow as vious evening: on the contrary, there was the fittest person to take charge of the an embarrassment, at moments almost to order on the banker at Liége.

coldness, in her words, which Henri-who “You can supply me with the means of was really doing his best—could not at all writing, I suppose ?” said Henri, “for I account for. have only my pencil and sketch-book in “ Antoinette,” he said — for he had my knapsack."

speedily taken advantage of the privileges Jean Duroc smiled. “If it depended,” of an inn to call her by her Christian name he said, “ upon the use I make of them, “I am afraid you must think me a you have but a poor chance of finding any great bavard to talk to you so much about thing fit for the purpose at Champlon. I myself, and not have paid you the comcan employ my hands for any kind of hard pliment of asking your own history and labor, to get an honest living, but writing that of your father, for though you are alis rather beyond me; I leave that to my most alone here in the forest, your lives daughter. She was taught at the school cannot have passed without something to of the reverend fathers at St. Hubert, and tell of, and—I don't know why, but I can can use her pen as well as any one in this scarcely fancy that Monsieur Duroc has part of the country; it is she who writes been always an inn-keeper; there is that for all I require at distant places, so I about him which seems to say he was formake no doubt she can furnish you with merly accustomed to more active pursuits. what is necessary. Time, however, does Am I right in my conjecture ?". not press about that, only when it suits Antoinette's cheek had turned very pale the convenience of monsieur he can pre- during a part of this address, bnt she repare the letter.

covered herself before Henri had ended Jean Duroc then begged that his guest his speech, though she answered with some would excuse him if he absented himself hesitation. from the auberge for a time, as he had the “I believe,” she replied, “my father was business of his farm to attend to ; An- once in the army, but ever since I can retoinette would do everything that might be member we have lived at Champlon, and required, and he trusted that when he had -and-scarcely any one—that is—so very the honor of seeing monsieur again his few people come to-to stay with us—that health would be still more improved. No that nothing, you know, can happen.” licentiate of the College of Physicians “I don't quite agree with you,” said could have expressed himself more cour- Henri, smiling; "now here am I-alto

gether unknown to you yesterday, and sums of money to his house from Arlon, your guest to-day-feeling myself quite Marche, and other places. If your letter at home with your excellent father and is ready to-morrow on my return, I will your pretty self. When I go away, per- take charge of it and bring back the anhaps you will tell the next traveller the swer. Good day, sir. Adieu, Mam’selle same story, that nobody comes here.” Antoinette; your father said he should

“When you go away!” exclaimed An- soon be home.” toinette, again turning deadly pale -- The conducteur then hastily rejoined the “ah, that indeed is what I want to speak diligence, which drove off amid another of.

You are not able to do so now-your cloud of dust, and Henri, who was all foot still gives you pain ?”

anxiety to renew the conversation with “Mon Dieu !" returned Henri, in a the aubergiste's daughter, turned round tone of pique, “you do not wish me gone to interrogate her; but she had silently already »

disappeared. He called to her by name, “No—no,-yes-yes-oh, what can I but received no answer, and was left tó say? You may never have so good an meditate upon the sudden communication opportunity. Why should you wish to she had made. The adventure in which remain ?"

he was involved was strange and full of “Why, Antoinette? Can you ask that mystery. Antoinette's agitation, which question ? Because,” he went on rapidly, so strikingly contrasted with her previous seizing her hand as he spoke—“because, placid manner, was evidently caused by Antoinette, I love you;—you must have some strong motive, seen it in my eyes, have known that my “It must,” he thought, “be a very lips were trembling to tell it. Yes, beau- powerful one to induce her to raise doubts tiful girl, I swear to you that my heart in my mind to the prejudice of her own has been filled with your image from the father! Of what am I to suspect him?

I first moment I saw your heavenly face.” A design upon my purse? Her emotion

“Ah, would to Heaven, monsieur, that respecting the wine can only mean that, you had never seen it! But this will and something of the kind must have never do. You have said so much, that happened here before, or why should she I, in my turn, must speak. Whatever warn me against it? Still, if his object happens this evening, however friendly was to intoxicate me, he might have tried my father may appear, be constantly on the experiment last night. Ah, but I foryour guard: above all, drink no more got: he had already heard me say I was of his wine."

without money. It is true the proposi“I cannot understand you, Antoinette. tion about sending to Liége originated You surely do not mean

with me. Yet his opposition was very The quick jingling of bells was suddenly faint, and disappeared entirely before his heard, and a cloud of dust arose from the own suggestion. Yes, I begin to see the road that led into the forest.

matter pretty clearly ; he wishes to make “It is the diligence from Liége,” said me a bird worth plucking. I can quite Antoinette. “I cannot, I dare not say understand being robbed by an innkeeper; more;—but be warned.”

it is their métier to fleece everybody; but The diligence came in sight before she this girl seemed in such terror when she had done speaking, and drew up. The spoke, and I remember how pale she conducteur, à tall, spare, sallow man, who grew when I talked of going away. She looked double his real age, got down and cannot have been privy to anything worse crossed over to the auberge.

than robbery! Ma foi! this would make a “Bonjour, Mam'selle Antoinette," he fine situation for Eugène Sue!

I must said: “I saw Monsieur Duroc in the for- mind, though, what I am about, for this est just now, close to the new bridge over is an awkward part of the world to be the Wane, and we walked up the hill to- caught in a trap. Ah, here comes Mongether, He told me of a message for sieur le bon Dieu' himself, with a hare Liége. Ah, 'scusez, monsieur, you per- in his hand and a gun over his shoulder; haps are the gentleman who is to send it ?” a braconnier, I suppose, as well as an au

I am,” replied Henri. “You know bergiste. I am sate, however, for the preMonsieur Hónaux, the banker, in the Rue sent, and must look out for the future. St. Lambert ?"

Above all he must not perceive that I sus"Oh, perfectly monsieur. I often carry pect him,"

[ocr errors]

Accordingly, when John Duroc drew His first proceeding was to open the near, after congratulating him on the suc- letter, and, although he professed to be cess of his sport, Henri mentioned having no great clerk, he very soon mastered its seen the conducteur, and proposed that he contents. should now write to the banker at Liége. “Notre voyageur,” he muttered, “est The aubergiste was overjoyed that mon- assez fin: cependant, il saura un de ces sieur felt sufficiently recovered to be ca- jours qu'il y en a de plus rusés que lui.” pable, as he innocently said, of under- He then gave a glance at the spot where taking that labor, and proceeded with Henri was seated, and observing that he alacrity to fetch the writing materials was closely occupied with his drawing, from his daughter's chamber. Henri, went up-stairs to the room in which the who still declared himself very lame, was young man had slept. Taking down then assisted by Monsieur Duroc into the Henri's knapsack from the peg where it salon, and, after a few minutes' considera- hung, he immediately began to examine tion, wrote as follows:

it. A pocket-book met his view, in which

were some letters. He glanced hastily at “ Champlon, Oct. 4, 18– the superscriptions, and fixing upon one “Sir, -As I am confined here by an accident which bore the Paris post-mark, and was at some distance from a post-town, I write to re- addressed to Monsieur de Gourville at quest that you will confide to the bearer of this Mézières, tore it open and rapidly read it letter two hundred francs, which amount I beg you will deduct from the value which, I am ad through. “Three thousand francs,” he vised, was placed to my credit with you on the

exclaimed; “that is something worth 26th ultimo by MM. Duvaux et Cie, of Paris. having. Mon bon monsieur, nous allons - Your obedient servant,

faire un petit changement à votre insu;" “Henri DE GOURVILLE." saying which, he quickly replaced the let

ter in the pocket-book, repacked the “I think I have turned the difficulty," knapsack, restored it to its place, and desaid Henri, after reading what he had scended to the lower part of the house in written. “Monsieur Duroc can scarcely search of his daughter. He found her be so needy a rogue as to be tempted by standing before one of the windows of a paltry two hundred francs to practise the auberge that looked out upon the against me. That sum appears quite road. enough for my alleged purpose, and as to “Ma fille," he said, “ bring those writwhether I have much or little remaining ing things into my own apartment;

I in the bank of M. Hénaux, my worthy have something for you to do.” host, in case he should take the liberty of Antoinette obeyed, and followed her peeping into my letter, will not be greatly father into a small room at the back of enlightened. I suppose I must leave that the house, where she remained closeted consideration to his honor, as sealing wax with him for half an hour. At the expidoes not seem to be amongst the episto- ration of that time they both came out lary properties' of Mademoiselle Antoi- again. The bright eyes of Antoinette nette."

were dimmed with tears, and the wellWith an involuntary sigh, conjured up formed mouth of Jean Duroc wore not by her name, Henri then rose, and, taking the most amiable expression. his sketch-book, limped out of the salon to add the exterior of the auberge--all un

III. attractive as it was, in an artistical point of view-to his collection. He was met at It wanted about half an hour to sunset, the door by Monsieur Duroc, to whom he and Henri de Gourville was just putting gave the letter, and who, after again pro- the finishing touch to his sketch when a mising to place it in the hands of the con- miller, with a sack of flour hanging across ducteur, insisted on being permitted to the loins of his horse, rode up to the support him to the spot where he propos- auberge and inquired for Monsieur Duroc. ed to make the sketch, declaring at the A miller is a man who has generally a full same time that monsieur did his humble budget of news to deliver wherever he abode far too much honor. The auber- goes, and the aubergiste having asked him giste then returned to the house to assist, in, he fastened the rein of his animal to a he said, in preparing dinner. What else hook in the door-post, and willingly obeyhe did may also be briefly told.

ed the invitation.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »