Page images

Honoré, a collection of dirty sheds lovely face. Yet she could not be the where fish, flesh, and fowl are weighed mother of that child. She was a mere out in unpolished scales, and bargained girl, with all the simple innocence of for over greasy stalls. Having stopped nineteen upon her face. Oh! she before one of them, she commenced a could not, she must not be married. lively conversation in good French Why did I ever believe in the rouged with a stout market-woman, whose beauty of the Marquise de Bonpoudre, busy face seemed to brighten up as or the jewelled charms of Lady Floshe saw her, as if they were old rence Faithless? Why was I born friends. I delayed at a neighbouring the heir to four thousand a-year, unenstall, and feigned a deep interest in cumbered with mortgages, when such capons and sucking-pigs, while its simple loveliness is to be found in the loquacious owner ran on in praise of workshop? Why did I not wear a her various commodities.

blouse and a pair of wooden sabots, to “Milord must surely admire that be able to woo and win that beauty in duck. There's not a finer in the mar- a speckled shawl, a black straw bon. ket; and ducks are scarce just now. net, and-curl-papers ? Ah! it's those turnips that monsieur So I soliloquised as she went from thinks of buying;" and she held up stall to stall, and filled her basket with the bunch to my unbeeding gaze. her day's provisions. At one time the

I turned a sidelong glance to the dreadful thought came across me that next stall, and, horror of horrors ! the she might be a cook. But, then, if black straw bonnet concealed nothing the kitchen contained such graceful but a huge bunch of curl - papers. beauty, even beef-steaks and suetCurl-papers! and that too of news. dumplings would become ambrosia bepaper! Oh! abomination of abo neath her fingers. But she could not minations! Was there ever such a be a cook. High as I hold the culi. disappointment ? Still my interest was nary art, much as betimes I had wor not to be wasted. I had seen nothing shipped Vatel and Soyer, I could not but the curl-papers, but there might deem that there was such happiness for be beauty beyond, and the literary rounds of beef and legs of mutton. papillotes might contain raven locks, The question was at length settled in which at another hour would be radiant my mind, when she stopped at last with some substitute for Macassar. before a flower-stall, and chose and car

A large bunch of carrots lay a little ried off the most tasteful of the bou. on one side. Over these I bent with quets there. No cook would buy the air of a connoisseur, and waited flowers, at least so I convinced mytill the curl-papers turned. They did self-and no cook could have the taste 80 at last. Oh! Venus de Medici, to choose that identical nosegay. In. Diane de Poictiers, Mary Queen of terest was growing deeper as doubts in Scots, and Eugénie, Empress of our creased. Cook, house-maid, scullerynoble Allies! ye sovereigns of beauty, maid even, whatever she might be, I bide your diminished heads. The lady would follow and find it out. of the curl-papers outdoes you all. It She left the market, and I trudged was not the features for they were after, at a careful distance, across the neither fine nor of Grecian regularity; Tuileries Gardens. I was too old a it was not any one portion of that face hand at this game to run any risk of which lent it such a sweet beauty. It discovery, had I feared it. I ought to was the fairness, the freshness, the have been born in the land of Don softness of the whole. The complex Quixote, where it is deemed but a poion was bright and clear as a summer lite compliment for the stranger, who sun-dawn; the hair (as much as the passes some pair of flashing eyes, or curl-papers hid not) was of that golden some swaying mantilla, to utter his tint which we give to angels; the eyes, admiration aloud, as_“ Hija del sol!" mocking beaven in their blueness, had or “Como grazosa!" I am always in that happy glow which makes us smile love in the streets with unknown beauIn adoration; and the mouth, red and ties, but too often the long-sought acpouting as it was, had yet such charac- quaintance breaks the spell after the ter, such glad sweetness, that none first few words. I was now, however, coald look on it without loving. No so convinced of the genuine modesty Wonder the little urchin laughed with of the object of my pursuit, that I very joy when he looked up in that would not allow the least chance of


her being offended by my conduct, and I hung back so far in the rear that she left the gardens, arrived on the quay, and turned out of sight, while I was still too far off to overtake her. I therefore ran gently up to the gate by which she had passed out, and reached the quay. What disappointment was mine to find that she had disappeared! Everywhere my eyes sought her in vain. There are no houses bere-nothing but the huge pile where kings and emperors have stored luxury for a reckless mob to hurl from the win. dows. She might have turned through one of the arches of the Tuileries, but that would be returning in the direction she had just come. I determined to leave no stone unturned. I rushed up to the first arch, which is a public thoroughfare, and would have turned under it, had she not met me there face to face.

A well-dressed young Frenchman was by her side.

"If mademoiselle would only believe how beautiful she is,” he was saying, with an air of impudent admi. ration.

"Monsieur, I do not know you You annoy me by your intrusion. I must request you to leave me,” she replied, in a tone of piteous embar. rassment.

« But surely mademoiselle will al. low me to bear her burden for her; she is quite unfit for such a load," and he said his hand on her basket.

None but a Frenchman would have possessed the aplomb and impudence to sustain the look of haughty indignation with which she drew back at this insult; but he was not in the least abashed. No Parisian believes in the possible virtue of the sex, and he was not likely to change his faith at such a juncture. He was just about to repeat the insult when I stepped forward and thrust him back.

** Sir," I said, in my best French, “ your proffered services displease this young lady. I cannot stand by and see her annoyed. I insist upon your retiring."

Our Gallic neighbours, with all their undoubted courage, are the very antipodes of their Irish co-originates. Discretion has at least a large share in all their valour; and where the ad. vantage in view is not very consider able, they will prefer not to risk a brawl. He muttered something about

gratuitous interference, which it was not iny cue to attend to, and having, doubtless,'a great respect for the boxe Anglais, bowed, and withdrew, I turned to the young lady. Her beautiful face was crimson.

« Your are free, mademoiselle," I said, in French; “ you may rest as. sured that you will not be further an. noyed.

“I am most sincerely obliged to you, sir," she replied in English, with just so much accent as to render Shaks. peare's tongue even softer than it is ; is you have done me a great service, and I wish I could show my grati. tude more palpably than by mere thanks."

I was too confused by her look to answer coherently; but she spared me the trouble, by taking the hand of the child, who had all the while been standing by staring with open eyes of wonder, and left me with a bow and a smile.

By the time I had recovered from my embarrassment, she was already half-way across the Pont-Royal. She had quickened her pace. I could follow securely, and I did so. She passed into the Rue de Lille, and, walking the whole length of it, entered one of the last houses.

My plan was now to sound the porter belonging to the house, but I well knew the difficulty of the enterprise. From Cerberus to St. Peter, doorkeepers have been noted for their ami. able reception of strangers; but the dragon who guarded the golden apples himself could not have been less agreeable in his manners than the Pa. ris concierge. It was therefore with much diffidence that I approached a thin, dark man, who sat, with an habitual scowl, behind the window of his box, fulfiling his difficult functions.

“ Would you kindly tell me the name of the person who just entered ?"

“It is not my business to give in. formation about the lodgers in this house," was the reply.

“But surely, Monsieur le Conci. erge," said I, laying stress on the "title,” “ you would not refuse to as. sist my bad memory to discover a name which I have quite forgotten?"

As I spoke, I slipped a coin into his hand. It had its effect.

“ If monsieur merely wishes to refresh his memory, I am sure I cannot refuse to assist him. Does monsieur

mean the lady who came in with a those fresh days of active life, with an basket and a little boy?"

unshadowed field of hope before us, “ Precisely."

where life was subject to the Aladdin's “ It is a Madame Sherwood, then, lamp of our wild imaginations, and on the fourth story above the entresol, the rainbow was above in its brightest the left-hand door.

colours. “ Sherwood, ah! just so. She is I sat down in the Tuileries Garmarried, is she not?” How fervently dens, for those memories saddened me. I hoped the answer might be-No. Yes, I remembered Sherwood's hand

“Yes, and she lives with her hus. some, honest face, that all liked so band.”

much. He was not much of a scholar. I collected myself.

He could never remember his quanti“And he is an Englishman?”. ties, or his Greek verbs; but when

" Yes, and a teacher of languages, there happened to be an English essay, I believe. He gives lessons, if mon. he would write half-a-dozen for his sieur wishes to take any."

friends, and his own last of all; and “ Thank you, thank you," and I his own somehow was always different rushed from the house.

in every idea, and yet better than all I crossed the street, and looked at the rest. Then, at times, he would the windows of the fourth story. be the leader of all our fun, devising There was nothing remarkable about every species of school iniquity, and them ; so I retraced my steps. As I leading us on with his unfailing tongue went I mused. My first thought was and his stronger mind. I remember of the incognita. That she should be often how the anomalies of his characmarried, and with a child of three or ter astonished me. four years, seemed impossible, she My reminiscences might have run on was so fresh, so blooming, and had for hours, had not an internal warning none of that assured manner which reminded me that I had been out for wedlock guarantees. How strange! a long time, and not breakfasted. I and, I confessed to myself, how disap broke my meditations with the shadows pointing! I still hoped there might of the past, remembering that be some mistake, I, who had not felt

* Man's mind's a mammoth, and the stomach is an interest in anything for so long, The rock on which it fossils, could not restrain the strong emotions which this new one caused me. After and returned to the hotel, resolving to seven years of society's oppression, call that very afternoon, and discover where every sentiment, every passion if the Mr. Sherwood who gave lessons even, bad been made the slave of the in Paris, was the same Sherwood whose general laws of worldliness, what a father was one of the richest men in novelty would love, real love, be to his county. I secretly thought it highly me. And here was so worthy an ob improbable ; but the vision of that fair ject, one to whom my wealth would face in curl-papers haunted me, and I bring pleasure and ease-one who, if determined to risk it. lovely in a black-straw bonnet and an I wrote a few lines of excuse to that old shawl, would be a queen of beau. highly-gifted and entertaining mortal, ty in tarlatan and diamonds. But those Bob Harrington of the Blues, to whom I swore she should never wear; for I I had promised to fill the vacant seat already chalked out a life of cottage behind his superb greys. I have no simplicity, beyond the reach of a false doubt he did not feel acutely the loss world, where every heart was rouged of my society, for I must confess I had and painted.

little taste left for horseflesh, and was Then the name of Sherwood. quite ignorant of the general opinion Where bad I heard that name be of Old Dan Tucker's merits, or the exfore? I searched the cobwebbed pectations of the Eccleston filly. In store-rooms of memory. Ah! there short, if Bob's handsome face and long it is, in that old chest of school purse had not, at that period, made boy reminiscences. Yes, I had been him the plaything of “the” Giovinetta, at Rugby with a Sherwood, but it I should scarcely have accepted the incould scarcely be this one, for I re- vitation. As it was, when four o'clock membered his father had been a large came, I drove quietly down to the Rue

landed proprietor in Shropshire. What de Lille. For the first time for many a . memories that name brought back, of day, I felt my heart beat with a lively

up on my knees. Do look at her ; I declare she is the exact image of you."

“ She has your horrid black eyes, though,” replied a silvery voice, which I recognised immediately by its slight pretty accent.

" Ab l" replied the deeper tones, "they should have been blue, like the handsome stranger's who rescued you this morning. Eh! Beaty ?".

“Your old rule again," said the other, merrily, “ jealous of a flower."

“Yes, I confess it, jealous of the wind, which kisses you more often than I may do, dear Beatrix. But come, confess that you were thinking of him."

Of course I was. Of course I was not trying to remember that verse of your favourite Victor Hugo

interest as I mounted the stairs - I had not been up so many since my arrival in Paris and when I got to the “qua. triême audessus de l'entresol,” I was fairly beat. I leant a moment on the balustrade, and then perceived that the door on the left-hand was ajar. While summoning courage to ring, I was stopped by peals of children's laughter from a room within. I listened a mo. ment, and could distinctly hear a man's voice mingled with the higher notes of the little ones.

“That's right; pull away, Charlie, my boy. Look at him, Beatrix, he'll pull off those horrid whiskers in a few minutes, at this rate."

And then there was another roar of merriment from the little lungs of the children.

I blush to confess that I could never bear children. Intrinsically, I liked them well enough, apart from their mammas and nurses, when I could get one of the “ dear things" on my knee, and frighten it into convulsions by hor. rible tales of impossible giants, or make ing diabolical faces at it. But all the thumbscrews of the Inquisition, all the hardships of St. Simeon Stylites, are nothing compared to “ the children” at dessert, or so little petsy-wetsy," the image of its dear papa, without tact enough not to slobber over one's white cravat. Still it would have required the heart of a very Moloch not to have rejoiced with that merry laughter, happy as church-bells on the sea-shore, or the music of the horn at early morning. To me, who for so long had not heard the laugh that springs from real heart's mirth, when happiness is so burning within that it must needs burst out in that music, which angels love better than sighs and tears—to me this inerri. ment had a new charm.

1 rang the bell timidly, but there was no answer--all were too busy to hear. I rang again with the same result, and finding it useless, pushed open the door, and made my way to the room whence all the noise proceeded. I knocked diffidently, but no one heard or heeded me, and I felt half-ashamed to push my hard face into a scene of such bounding bappiness. I waited a moment, uncertain what to do, and could scarcely help overhearing them.

“ Beatrix,” cried the man's voice, amid the children's busy chattering, “ do look at little Beaty. She is mak. ing the most comical efforts to climb

“ L'enfant Est le nom paternel dans un rayon doré." “But seriously, tell me what he is like ?”

Now there was nothing I hated so much as a married couple who were always making love to one another; but I dreaded too much hearing my por. trait drawn by so affectionate a wife, so I slowly opened the door.

There, on the floor of a small room, simply but tastefully furnished, lay a young man, whose face I could bardly see. The boy I had seen in the morning with the incognita was pulling lustily with his little hands at his father's long whiskers, and screaming with the excitement of that merciful operation. A beautiful little girl of two years was climbing up his knees, with a serious little face, wbich looked as if the fate of nations lay in the success of the attempt ; and the lady of the curl. papers, no longer with those literary appendages, nor even with flowing tresses, but with bright waves of golden hair braided low upon her neck-no longer with the old gown and the speckled shawl, but in all the grace of a simple French toilette-was sitting with her work on her knees, gazing with a smile at her husband's face, and he at her's. Yes, it was her husband, and to my own horour I must say that I forgot my disappointment in admiration of that pleasant picture.

An exclamation told me I was discovered, and in a second the young man had started to his feet. Little Beaty, finally foiled in her important attempt, bad rolled softly on the carpet, secure in the plumpness that pro

tected her tiny limbs. I stood, an in. face, in all the blushing beauty of a truder, before them.

girl of nineteen, though, of course, she “I was right,” I exclaimed ; “it is, was older. yes, it is Charles Sherwood. What! We ran on for some time on every you don't remember me, your old possible subject, old school-fellows bave Rugby friend, Edward A ?" The so much to tell each other. With next moment we were locked in one what joy we went back to every meanother's arms.

mory of those jovial days when life My dear fellow, how jovial it is to had such intrinsic pleasure, and the see you again. But how in the world bosom of the boy swelled with high did you unearth me?"

hopes and eagle fancies for the future "You'll not be jealous if I tell of the man. Happy were it for many you ?"

of us if the world had never lopped He opened his dark eyes to the those young shoots of burning ambiwidest. I turned to his wife. Her tion, to replace them by narrow prin. fair girl's cheek was crimson as a ripe ciples and sordid interests. With peach.

what glad pleasure we recalled each “I felt certain, monsieur," said that one of our school friends, and learnt voice which thrilled through me, “that from one or the other what had become you were really a friend, when yorid of many of them. I found that I was acted in so friendly a manner this here the chief informant. Sherwood morning."

had lived long abroad and lost sight of And again the blush ran from cheek all his old chums. One wild fellow to brow, and Sherwood's eye beamed was now a quiet parson in a small vil. with pleasure as he saw it.

lage in Yorkshire. That man Jones, “And you, A ; you are the whom we all thought so steady, was handsome stranger that saved Beatrix now the fastest fellow on the turf. from the insults of a low Frenchman One bad joined a regiment which had this morning, who must have been gone to India ; another had had a depraved, indeed, to have expected dreadful row and was off to the dig. anything but an indignant repulse gings ; while another, poor fellow, was from her, whose very face beams with dead of consumption in the Isle of modesty, like ?"

Wight. She placed her hand over his lips, And yourself ?” Sherwood asked, and then put her arın in bis, as he when we had gone through the list. looked at her with the admiration of a "Am what you see me, though, I fear, lover rather than that of a husband. scarcely what you knew me,” I re

“You are right," I replied; " and plied. “ You remember that I was an as a proof of it, I may confess that I was orphan. My majority brought me so struck myself with her loveliness four thousand a-year and the old place, that nothing but that very expression where I have been but once since I you speak of kept me back from " came of age. I have been living all

Poor Beatrix was quite overcome over the world, and seen it all, till I with all these remarks, and implored am sick of it. I have not an interest me to change the conversation.

on earth, and I believe, if I could " Will you believe,” she said, in ex read hearts, scarce a true friend in it tenuation of herself," that I have but yourself, old fellow." been to market at that hour every day Sherwood mused. for the last six months, for, otherwise, “I know your complaint,” he said, I think we could scarcely afford to live “ I once suffered from it myself. Can in Paris, and have never once met with you guess where I found my cure ?" annoyance of any kind. I confess I " Where?" am vain enough to put my hair in curl. “ Here,” he replied, drawing his papers and to wear a very old shawl; wife closer to him. “I would have but I assure you I think I might dis given the world, and all in it, at one pense with them, if Charles did not time, for six feet of cold earth; but I force me to do so."

believe now, if I received a formal in. “ And, indeed, he is quite right, vitation to Paradise, I would not go if madame, and would be merely doing Beatrix and the little ones were not his duty if he obliged you to wear a asked also.” regular mask,” I replied; and I felt it Again her fair cheek went among sincerely, as I looked at her radiant the roses of Lancaster.

« PreviousContinue »