A light seemed to burst ocardano ada previsionn Edouard from that high-minded, sorrow-stricken face.
"But you could bitcoin halving listmake a good guess?" the ambassador persisted.Kindell, who knew Myra's tone of sincerity, thought that she was speaking the truth for once, and that it would be useless to press her further. He was not surprised when she repeated: "I'm sorry I've no idea. He didn't say a word about it."
But Mr. Thurlow had not finished. He asked, with the abruptness he had first used, "It wouldn't by any chance be a Dogs' Home?"Myra was a practised and skilful liar, and she had, in fact, no particular reason for supposing that her uncle had gone to Snacklit's, being ignorant of the concluding events of the day. But the question startled her by its suggestion of a knowledge she had not supposed that they would have had.In half a second she had voice and expression under control, and said, with some trace of natural annoyance: "I keep telling you that I've no idea where. He's sure to be back before long. Would you like to wait?"But in that half-second Kindell had seen the startled fear in her eyes. He heard the ambassador say curtly: "No, we won't wait. We'll be getting on." As they left the house together, he said, "I suppose it's the Dogs' Home now?""Yes," the ambassador replied grimly. "I reckon I should have won that bet. But I wonder what they've done with Rene there?"
"Know the Snacklit Dogs' ome?" he asked the taxi-driver "Then here's a pound note, and don't stop for the lights if there's a way through.""Right you are, guv'nor," the man said cheerfully, and headed his car to the destination to which one of his fraternity had already gone that day on a journey from which there was no return."Mother! sister!" cried Josephine, "help me to love this man.""You need no help," cried the baroness, with enthusiasm, "not lovehim, we should all be monsters."Raynal came to supper looking bright and cheerful. "No more workto-day. I have nothing to do but talk; fancy that."This evening Josephine de Beaurepaire, who had been silent andthoughtful, took a quiet opportunity, and purred in his ear,"Monsieur!""Mademoiselle!" rang the trombone.
"Am I not to go to Egypt?""No."Josephine drew back at this brusque reply like a sensitive plant.But she returned to the attack."But is it not a wife's duty to be by her husband's side to lookafter his comfort--to console him when others vex him--to soothe himwhen he is harassed?""Her first duty is to obey him.""Certainly.""Well, when I am your husband, I shall bid you stay with your motherand sister while I go to Egypt.""I shall obey you."He told her bluntly he thought none the worse of her for making theoffer; but should not accept it.Camille Dujardin slept that night at a roadside inn about twelvemiles from Beaurepaire, and not more than six from the town wherethe wedding was to take place next day.
It was a close race.And the racers all unconscious of each other, yet spurred impartiallyby events that were now hurrying to a climax.
Chapter 7The next day at sharp nine two carriages were at the door.But the ladies were not ready. Thus early in the campaign did theythrow all into disorder. For so nicely had Raynal timed the severalevents that this threw him all into confusion. He stamped backwardsand forwards, and twisted his mustaches, and swore. This enforcedunpunctuality was a new torture to him. Jacintha told them he wasangry, and that made them nervous and flurried, and their fingersstrayed wildly among hooks and eyes, and all sorts of fastenings;they were not ready till half-past nine. Conscious they deserved ascolding, they sent Josephine down first to mollify. She dawnedupon the honest soldier so radiant, so dazzling in her snowy dress,with her coronet of pearls (an heirloom), and her bridal veilparted, and the flush of conscious beauty on her cheek, that insteadof scolding her, he actually blurted out, "Well! by St. Denis it wasworth waiting half an hour for."He recovered a quarter of an hour by making the driver gallop. Thenoccasional shrieks issued from the carriage that held the baroness.That ancient lady feared annihilation: she had not come down from agalloping age.
They drove into the town, drew up at the mayor's house, werereceived with great ceremony by that functionary and Picard, andentered the house.When their carriages rattled into the street from the north side,Colonel Dujardin had already entered it from the south, and wasriding at a foot's pace along the principal street. The motion ofhis horse now shook him past endurance. He dismounted at an inn afew doors from the mayor's house, and determined to do the rest ofthe short journey on foot. The landlord bustled about himobsequiously. "You are faint, colonel; you have travelled too far.Let me order you an excellent breakfast.""No. I want a carriage; have you one?""I have two; but, unluckily, they are both engaged for the day, andby people of distinction. Commandant Raynal is married to-day.""Ah! I wish him joy," said Camille, heartily. He then asked thelandlord to open the window, as he felt rather faint. The landlordinsisted on breakfast, and Camille sat down to an omelet and abottle of red wine. Then he lay awhile near the window, revived bythe air, and watched the dear little street he had not seen foryears. He felt languid, but happy, celestially happy.She was a few doors from him, and neither knew it.
A pen was put into her white hand, and in another moment she hadsigned a marriage contract."Now to the church," cried the baroness, gayly. To get to thechurch, they must pass by the window Camille reclined at.
Chapter 8"Oh! there's no time for that," said Raynal. And as the baronesslooked horrified and amazed, Picard explained: "The state marriesits citizens now, with reason: since marriage is a civil contract.""Marriage a civil contract!" repeated the baroness. "What, is itthen no longer one of the holy sacraments? What horrible impietyshall we come to next? Unhappy France! Such a contract would neverbe a marriage in my eyes: and what would become of an union theChurch had not blessed?""Madame," said Picard, "the Church can bless it still; but it isonly the mayor here that can DO it."All this time Josephine was blushing scarlet, and looking this wayand that, with a sort of instinctive desire to fly and hide, nomatter where, for a week or so.
"Haw! haw! haw!" roared Raynal; "here is a pretty mother. Wants herdaughter to be unlawfully married in a church, instead of lawfullyin a house. Give me the will!""Look here, mother-in-law: I have left Beaurepaire to my lawfulwife.""Otherwise," put in Picard, "in case of death, it would pass to hisheir-at-law.""And HE would turn you all out, and that does not suit me. Nowthere stands the only man who can make mademoiselle my LAWFUL wife.So quick march, monsieur the mayor, for time and Bonaparte wait forno man.""Stay a minute, young people," said the mayor. "We should sootherespectable prejudices, not crush them. Madam, I am at least as oldas you, and have seen many changes. I perfectly understand yourfeelings.""Ah, monsieur! oh!""Calm yourself, dear madam; the case is not so bad as you think. Itis perfectly true that in republican France the civil magistratealone can bind French citizens in lawful wedlock. But this does notannihilate the religious ceremony. You can ask the Church'sblessing on my work; and be assured you are not the only one whoretains that natural prejudice. Out of every ten couples that Imarry, four or five go to church afterwards and perform the ancientceremonies. And they do well. For there before the altar thepriest tells them what it is not my business to dilate upon--thegrave moral and religious duties they have undertaken along withthis civil contract. The state binds, but the Church still blesses,and piously assents to that"--"From which she has no power to dissent.""Monsieur Picard, do you consider it polite to interrupt the chiefmagistrate of the place while he is explaining the law to acitizen?"(This closed Picard.)"I married a daughter last year," continued the worthy mayor."What, after this fashion?""I married her myself, as I will marry yours, if you will trust mewith her. And after I have made them one, there is nothing toprevent them adjourning to the church.""I beg your pardon," cried Raynal, "there are two things to preventit: a couple that wait for no man: Time and Bonaparte. Come, sir;marry us, and have done with it."The mayor assented. He invited Josephine to stand before him. Shetrembled and wept a little: Rose clung to her and wept, and the goodmayor married the parties off hand."Is that all?" asked the baroness; "it is terribly soon done.""It is done effectively, madam," said the mayor, with a smile."Permit me to tell you that his Holiness the Pope cannot undo mywork."Picard grinned slyly, and whispered something into Raynal's ear."Oh! indeed," said Raynal aloud and carelessly. "Come, MadameRaynal, to breakfast: follow us, the rest of you."They paired, and followed the bride and bridegroom into thebreakfast-room.
The light words Picard whispered were five in number.Now if the mayor had not snubbed Picard just before, he would haveuttered those jocose but true words aloud. There was no particularreason why he should not. And if he had,--The threads of the web oflife, how subtle they are! The finest cotton of Manchester, thefiner meshes of the spider, seem three-inch cables by comparisonwith those moral gossamers which vulgar eyes cannot see at all, the"somethings, nothings," on which great fates have hung.
It was a cheerful breakfast, thanks to Raynal, who would be in highspirits, and would not allow a word of regret from any one. MadameRaynal sat by his side, looking up at him every now and then withinnocent admiration. A merry wedding breakfast.But if men and women could see through the walls of houses!
Two doors off sat the wounded colonel alone, recruiting the smallremnant of his sore tried strength, that he might struggle on toBeaurepaire, and lose in one moment years of separation, pain,prison, anguish, martyrdom, in one great gush of joy withoutcompare.The wedding breakfast was ended. The time was drawing near to part.
There was a silence. It was broken by Madame Raynal. She askedRaynal very timidly if he had reflected. "On what?" said he."About taking me to Egypt.""No: I have not given it a thought since I said 'no.'""Yet permit me to say that it is my duty to be by your side, myhusband." And she colored at this word, being the first time shehad ever used it. Raynal was silent. She murmured on, "I would notbe an encumbrance to you, sir: I should not be useless. Gentlemen,I could add more to his comfort than he gives me credit for."Warm assent of the mayor and notary to this hint."I give you credit for being an angel," said Raynal warmly.He hesitated. Rose was trembling, her fork shaking in her poorlittle hand.
She cast a piteous glance at him. He saw it."You shall go with me next time," said he. "Let us speak of it nomore."Josephine bowed her head. "At least give me something to do for youwhile you are away. Tell me what I can do for my absent friend toshow my gratitude, my regard, my esteem.""Well, let me think. I saw a plain gray dress at Beaurepaire.""Yes, monsieur. My gray silk, Rose.""I like that dress.""Do you? Then the moment I reach home after losing you I shall putit on, and it shall be my constant wear. I see; you are right; graybecomes a wife whose husband is not dead, but is absent, and alas!
in hourly danger.""Now look at that!" cried Raynal to the company. "That is her allover: she can see six meanings where another would see but one. Inever thought of that, I swear. I like modest colors, that is all.My mother used to be all for modest wives wearing modest colors.""I am of her mind, sir. Is there nothing more difficult you will beso good as give me to do?""No; there is only one order more, and that will be easier still tosuch a woman as you. I commit to your care the name of Raynal. Itis not so high a name as yours, but it is as honest. I am proud ofit: I am jealous of it. I shall guard it for you in Egypt: youguard it in France for me.""With my life," cried Josephine, lifting her eyes and her hand toheaven.
Soon after this Raynal ordered his charger.The baroness began to cry. "The young people may hope to see youagain," said she; "but there are two chances against your poor oldmother.""Courage, mother!" cried the stout soldier. "No, no; you won't playme such a trick: once is enough for that game.""Brother!" cried Rose, "do not go without kissing your littlesister, who loves you and thanks you." He kissed her. "Bravo,generous soul!" she cried, with her arms round his neck. "Godprotect you, and send you back safe to us!""Amen!" cried all present by one impulse, even the cold notary.
Raynal's mustache quivered. He kissed Josephine hastily on thebrow, the baroness on both cheeks; shook the men's hands warmly buthastily, and strode out without looking behind him. He was movedfor once.They all followed him to the door of the house. He was tighteninghis horse's girths. He flung himself with all the resolution of hissteel nature into the saddle, and, with one grand wave of his cockedhat to the tearful group, he spurred away for Egypt.Chapter 9The baroness took the doctor a-shopping; she must buy Rose a graysilk. In doing this she saw many other tempting things. I say nomore.
But the young ladies went up to Beaurepaire in the other carriage,for Josephine wished to avoid the gaze of the town, and get home andbe quiet. The driver went very fast. He had drunk the bride'shealth at the mayor's, item the bridegroom's, the bridesmaid's, themayor's, etc., and "a spur in the head is worth two in the heel,"says the proverb. The sisters leaned back on the soft cushions, andenjoyed the smooth and rapid motion once so familiar to them, sorare of late.Then Rose took her sister gently to task for having offered to go toEgypt. She had forgotten her poor sister.
"No, love," replied Josephine, "did you not see I dared not looktowards you? I love you better than all the world; but this was myduty. I was his wife: I had no longer a feeble inclination and afeeble disinclination to decide between, but right on one side,wrong on the other.""Oh! I know where your ladyship's strength lies: my force is--in--myinclinations.""Yes, Rose," continued Josephine thoughtfully, "duty is a greatcomfort: it is so tangible; it is something to lay hold of for lifeor death; a strong tower for the weak but well disposed."Rose assented, and they were silent a minute; and when she spokeagain it was to own she loved a carriage. "How fast we glide! Nowlean back with me, and take my hand, and as we glide shut your eyesand think: whisper me all your feelings, every one of them.""Well, then," said Josephine, half closing her eyes, "in the firstplace I feel a great calm, a heavenly calm. My fate is decided. Nomore suspense. My duties are clear. I have a husband I am proudof. There is no perfidy with him, no deceit, no disingenuousness,no shade. He is a human sun. He will make me a better, truerwoman, and I him a happier man. Yes, is it not nice to think thatgreat and strong as he is I can teach him a happiness he knows notas yet?" And she smiled with the sense of her delicate power, butsaid no more; for she was not the one to talk much about herself.But Rose pressed her. "Yes, go on, dear," she said, "I seem to seeyour pretty little thoughts rising out of your heart like a bubblingfountain: go on."Thus encouraged, Josephine thought on aloud, "And then, gratitude!"said she. "I have heard it said, or read it somewhere, thatgratitude is a burden: I cannot understand that sentiment; why, tome gratitude is a delight, gratitude is a passion. It is thewarmest of all the tender feelings I have for dear Monsieur Raynal.
I feel it glow here, in my bosom. I think I shall love him as Iought long before he comes back.""BEFORE?""Yes," murmured Josephine, her eyes still half closed. "His virtueswill always be present to me. His little faults of manner will notbe in sight. Good Raynal! The image of those great qualities Irevere so, perhaps because I fail in them myself, will be before mymind; and ere he comes home I shall love him dearly. I'll tell youone reason why I wished to go home at once was--no--you must guess.""Guess?" said Rose, contemptuously. "As if I did not see it was toput on your gray silk."Josephine smiled assent, and said almost with fervor, "Good Raynal!I feel prouder of his honest name than of our noble one. And I amso calm, dear, thanks to you, so tranquil; so pleased that mymother's mind is at rest, so convinced all is for the best, socontented with my own lot; so hap--py."A gentle tear stole from beneath her long lashes. Rose looked ather wistfully: then laid her cheek to hers. They leaned back handin hand, placid and silent.