Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

3

I will sacrifice my life to her-I will “ I know nothing about it." own her before the world! I shall be “ So much the better," he said proud of her, and introduce her to my “ three months ago she disappeared friends—to you yourself, M. Baraton - she has left the Opera.” —who don't listen to a syllable I am • What did her companions tell saying, but keep poring over those you ?”. musty papers.”

“ They told me nonsensical stories Papers, indeed! It was his uncle's -some said she had been carried off will I had discovered, which disin- another told me, with the utmost herited him, and disposed of his enor- coolness, she had resolved to destroy mous fortune among hospitals and herself.' other charitable foundations. I told • Possible enough," I said "since Arthur the contents—but he did not the Revolution of July, suicide has show the least disappointment; and come greatly into fashion.” began to read Judith's letter again “ Say it not-say it not!” cried and again.

Arthur, “ you will drive me mad—I " You shall see her, M. Baraton- went to her apartments in the Rue de you shall see my beautiful Judith Provence, but she had left them withyou shall dine with her this very out saying where she was going.” day!”

• No trace?" « But these papers—this will," I “ The rooms are to let ; they have said.

never been occupied since.” “ Well- I have nothing more to do And you found nothing in them?" with them,” he said with a smile ; “ Nothing->except that in her « but Judith will love me.-Adieu, aunt's room, on the ground floor, this M. Baraton; adieu. I shall find with card, intended for some trunk, with her more happiness than I lose by the address, "To Madame Bonnivet, these papers,

adieu :" and he left me, Bordeaux,'--and now, that I remem. while his eyes beamed with joy and ber, she comes from that neighbouranticipation.

hood.” “ Strange young man!" I said to 66 Well." myself—" to be consoled by a pretty - Take all the management of my face for the loss of such a succession!” affairs-make what arrangement you and I finished the inventory.

like. An hour or two afterwards, I was “ What are you going to do?" about to go home, when Arthur rushed “ Follow her traces-or rather those in like a madman.

of her aunt." 6 She is not there--she is gone “ In your present state of health I have lost her!"

you wouldn't start for Bordeaux ?” - What! she's false, then?”

« This hour!"_He started that “ Who told you so ? Unsay the evening; and- -But here the fourth word-or- ” he had taken tight act of the Huguenots began, and the hold of me by the collar.

notary listened in silence.

CHAPTER V.

ARTHUR remained six months at 66 Where did it come from?" Bordeaux, making every possible en- “ Nobody knew." quiry about Madame Bonnivet, but “ Did she ever speak of her niece?" nobody could give him the slightest " Sometimes she mentioned her information. He advertised for her in name;"_but instantly checked herthe newspapers—and at last an old self, as if there was some secret to be lady, with whom it appeared she had concealed. lodged, came and informed him that And this was all that Arthur had his search was now useless, for Madame been able to ascertain by the most Bonnivet had been dead two months. careful enquiry. He came back in

And her niece !" exclaimed Ar- despair ; for, since he had lost Judith, thur.

his attachment had grown into a pas" She was not with her but the sion. It was the one idea of his exaunt lived

very comfortably, and had istence. He bitterly recalled the an annuity of a hundred louis."

minutes--so few and unobserved at

up my mind.

[ocr errors]

the time he had passed beside her. not talked of, every thing else was Every look, every smile, rushed back indifferent to him. As for me, I lost upon his memory—he visited every no time in giving a receipt, paying spot where she had been-he never off our creditors, clearing the estate, missed the Opera.

and every thing went on swimmingly, He wished to occupy her apart with the exception of one very curious ments in the Rue de Provence; but incident. unluckily they had been engaged by One day Arthur met M. de Cor. a stranger, who did not live in them. val, who had behaved so honour. He thought at all events he would go ably, and thanked him in the kindest and look at them—the porter had not terms. At the very moment when the keys, and the doors and window. that gentleman had began to excuse shutters continued firmly closed! himself, on the plea of some recent Arthur, as you may suppose, took losses, for being still unable to pay very little interest in his own af. what he owedfairs, but they gave great uneasi- “ But you paid me last month a ness to me. Disinherited by his uncle, hundred thousand crowns. he had nothing left but the small pro. 66 I?" perty of his mother- about fifteen 6 I have no further claim on youthousand livres a-year. He had squan- you owe me nothing." dered half of it, first in his expenses or 'Tis impossible!" with Judith, and next in his endeavours “ Ask my notary.” to discover what had become of her; The debtor-who was such no for he grudged nothing to attain his longer-hurried to me, and could not object. At the slightest hint, he sent conceal his amazement. out couriers all over the world, but “ You are a lucky man,” I said. always without success, and he kept 66 M. Arthur still more so," he reconstantly saying to me—“'Tis use. plied, very testily—“ for I had made less !_she is dead!." In our meet

As I could not possibly ings upon business, he spoke to me of pay, it was exactly the same as if I nothing but her—and I could hardly did not owe, and this business does slip in a word about the state of his not make me a farthing richer ; but affairs. At last I got him persuaded the case is very different with him to sell off every thing, and pay his he may think himself exceedingly debts; but it was a great sacrifice for fortunate." him to part with the lands that came 66 What then?" I said.

66 You to him from his mother. But it really don't know where the money was indispensable. He owed nearly came from?" two hundred thousand francs, and the 6 I have no'notion,” replied M. de interest would very soon have swal- Corval ; but if the same party lowed up the remainder of his estate. should offer to pay off any more of Bills, therefore, were printed ; adver- my debts, I hope you will let me tisements inserted in the newspapers; know; it would be pleasant to have and, on the very evening before the some of the benefit for myself.” sale was to take place, I received a We were more amazed than ever. communication from one of my legal I went to the notary who had transbrethren, which filled me with joy and acted the business. The letter which surprise. Fate seemed at last to have instructed him to pay me the money grown tired of persecuting poor bore the post-mark “ Havre," and Arthur.

the hand it was written in was unA certain M. de Corval, a man of known to us all ; but Arthur uttered very indifferent character, who had an exclamation of joy when he saw owed his mother a very considerable the seal, half broken as it was. It sum, now desired to pay it, with full was Judith's. He had presented a interest from the time it had become seal to her in former days with the due-making in all the sum of a hun- motto, Toujours seul”-and there dred thousand crowns; and the notary it was upon the letter. he employed brought me the full • The letter has come from Ju. amount in gold and bank-rotes. I dith !” he said, and dropped it on the rushed off to tell the good news to floor. Arthur, but he seemed neither glad - Well then," I replied, “ you see nor sorry.

As long as Judith was she is still alive, and has not forgot

66

1

[ocr errors]

ten you-you ought to be delight- ed in silence through all the noise of ed.'

the assembly-he went on the stage, Arthur was furious. He would where he had seen Judith so oftenhave liked better if she had been then wandering among the corridors, dead. “ For why does she conceal he ascended slowly to the box on the herself? Why, since she knows where second tier where he had sat so often I live, does she not come to me? She in those happy days, and from which is not worthy to see me-she loves me be had given the signal of a visit to no longer-she has forgotten me !" the Rue de Provence on the following

“ The letter,” I suggested, “proves morning. The door of the box was the reverse.'

open. A female in an elegant domino “ And what right has she to insult was sitting there alone, and apparently me with her benefits ? Where has sunk in deep thought. At sight of she got her riches ? How has she had Arthur she started, rose up, and would the audacity to offer them to me? have left the box; but, scarcely able And since when has she considered to support herself, she leaned on one me base enough to accept them? I of the sides, and sank down upon the won't have the money-take it back sofa. Her agitation attracted Arthur's again!”

notice, and he went forward and offer« With all my heart," I said ;- ed his assistance. " but what am I to do with it?" Without answering, she rejected his

• What you like-I refuse it." offer with a motion of her hand. « The

6. You can't refuse it pow. Your heat has made you ill," he said, with debts are paid with it-your estate an emotion which he could not master; cleared—thanks to the hundred thou- « if you will take off your mask for a sand crowns."

moment". I instruct you to sell my lands- She refused bis assistance again, and realize that sum, which I shall never contented herself with throwing back touch, and keep it till I find some the hood of her domino, which had means of returning it."

covered her head. “ But think what a state your affairs Arthur saw the beautiful black hair will be in."

falling in ringlets on her shoulder. It “ That is of no consequence. Faith- was exactly in the same style that less as she is, I cannot repent of Judith wore it—that graceful attitude, having ruined myself for Judith; that exquisitely elegant form the but to be enriched by her is a degra- shape, the manners—that indefinable dation I cannot submit to. Sell every charm which we may feel, but cannot thing!"

account for-all were there! And, in spite of all my remonstran. She rose up at last. ces, he persisted in his resolution. Arthur started. It was now his The estate was sold--the first three turn to feel faint-but instantly, sumhundred thousand francs were deposito moning all his strength, he whispered ed with me, and the surplus was • Judith! Judith! 'tis you!” sufficient to buy an annuity of six thou- She would have left the box, sand livres for Arthur in the national “ Stay, stay I for Heaven's sake! funds—and that was the whole of his and let me tell you that I am the most fortune.

unhappy of men; that I never knew He lived in this way for two years, you, even when you deserved all my striving to banish a recollection that love !" weighed upon his heart. Sombre and She trembled. melancholy, he foreswore all society. “ Yes, you deserved it then, and He saw me almost every day, and I did not know it; and now I love spoke of nothing but Judith. He you, Judith! I love nobody but you told me he had forgotten her--that I shall love you for ever, even now he despised her; and yet the only that you are unfaithful-now that you places he went to, were those which have forgotten me!" recalled her to his recollection most She tried to answer, but could not. vividly. One day, or rather one night, She laid her hand on her heart, as if there was a masked ball at the Opera, to justify herself. to which, by. the-by, he never went & And how, then, can I account for without a violent beating of the heart. your absence; and, above all, for your Alone, in spite of the crowd, he walk benefits - those benefits which have

65

[ocr errors]

made me blush for you, and which I 66 And how am I to believe you ?have rejected? Yes, Judith! I de- what proof can I have ?" sire them not I wish for nothing but 6 Time.” you, and your love! And if it be, in- 6. What can I do?"

deed, true that you have not forgotten " Wait!” i me, and that you love me still, come “ And what token of your love ?” to me!

It is love only I can give you She dropped the bouquet which she pow, for I have no longer a fortune to held in her hand ; and, while Arthur i offer you!-Ah, you hesitate-you stooped to pick it up, she darted

answernot-I understand your silence! through the corridor, and disapFarewell-for ever!”

peared. He was turning to depart, but Judith He followed her-saw her at a disheld him by the hand.

tance among the crowd- lost her “ Speak, then, Judith! Speak, I again-and had nearly recovered her i entreat you !"

traces once more, when, on arriving The poor girl could not. Sobs at the lobby, he saw her leap into a choked her voice.

magnificent chariot, which went off at Arthur fell at her feet-she had not full gallop ! I spoken ; but she was in tears--and • Gentlemen," said the notary, inArthur felt that she was justified. terrupting his narrative, “'tis very late

“ You love me, then, still ?-you-I am an early man-and, with your love nobody but me?”.

permission, will finish the rest of my " No one !” she said, and gave him story next opera night.” her hand.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sor.

[ocr errors]

came.

On the following Wednesday we « Yes you do-you owe us were all in the orchestra punctual to our A denoúment," said the profesappointment, but the notary did not make his appearance.

The

opera was “ Ah, the history of Judith-well” “ Robert," and it recalled to my recol- M. Baraton took the seat that had lection my first meeting with Arthur. been kept for him, and continued his I

now understood his melancholy and tale:pre occupation; and fancied that if She had said - Wait!”-and, for Meyerbeer himself had been aware of some days, Arthur was patient enough his story, he would have pardoned his he hoped every hour for a letter or inattention even to the inimitable a rendezvous. “I shall see her again !" Trio. But was Arthur at that mo. he exclaimed -- she will come to me ment in a less miserable condition ?- again!" But days and weeks passed was he better qualified to appreciate on, and Judith never

Six good music ? Was he happy, and had months passed in this way a year hediscovered the beautiful Judith? We and at last two years rolled by. I were still ignorant of the causes that felt anxious about Arthur, and somekept them apart; and the absence of times I was even uneasy about his our little historian added to our impa- sanity. The scene at the masked ball tience. He arrived, at last, at the had affected him strangely. There end of the second act, and never was were moments when he believed that so enthusiastic a reception given to a he was labouring under some hallufavourite actor, or à dancer, after cination. He fancied it was all a three months' absence, as we now gave dream-an illusion; and he began to M. Baraton.

“You've come at last, have doubts of every thing he heard my good friend-beresit down

It was with difficulty that we've kept your place. How late you our utmost care restored him from a are!"

dangerous illness, into which hope de“I have been present at the signa- ferred had thrown him. He never tures of a contract," replied the notary would touch the money advanced by "I say present at the signatures, Judith ; and his own fortune, I have but not professionally. I have given told you, amounted only to six thouup the shop; and, thank Heaven! I sand livres a-year. Of these he owe nothing to any one."

spent four thousand in subscribing for

or saw.

[ocr errors]

a box at the Opera-the box on the water in a fit of despair; and that, second tier, where he had encountered after being rescued by the old nobleJudith the night of the masked ball. man, she gained his heart so entirely, He went there every evening, as long that he persuaded her to marry him, as he had any hopes of seeing her to enable him to leave her his enor. again ; and when he sank into despair, mous fortune-which he had actually he could not summon courage to enter done. it. He felt himself, when he sat in it, The deuce !--if she's a widow ó seul, toujours seul”-and the feeling she's a glorious catch!" of loneliness made him wretched. All Her time of mourning is just ex. he could do was to come occasionally pired, and, of course, all the young to the orchestra ; and, after looking fellows both in England and France long and earnestly at the box on the are making up to her. opposite side, he would say, " She is « No doubt,” said the young man not there !” and leave the theatre. who had been making these enquiries, This was his course of life, only di- pulling up his neckcloth; " and do you versified by an occasional journey into know, my good fellow, I rather think the country, when he fancied he had her ladyship is looking in this direcobtained some trace of the lost one; tion." but he always came back disconsolate 6. Nonsense!" to Paris, and resumed his old habits. - 'Tis no nonsense, I assure youIt was to meet him more frequently I appeal to this gentleman;" and he that I secured a seat here by the year. addressed himself to Arthur, who had Last week he had come-he had seated heard nothing of the conversation, and himself in tlie orchestra-not at this had to be informed of the whole matter. side, but at the other. On that occa- Arthur raised his eyes, and in the sion_hopeless and wretched—he had box in the second tier, that box that turned his back to the house, and was used to be his, he saw. sunk in his own miserable reflections. Ah! people, don't die of surprise But a sudden sensation among those and joy, for Arthur is still alive ;-he around him, aroused him from his felt his heart beat quick. 'Twas she! reverie,

'twas Judith! but at the same time he A young lady of the most exquisite continued motionless-he did not dare beauty, and magnificently dressed, to stir; he was afraid of awakening. had come into a box, and the whole - You know her then, sir?” enquiartillery of opera glasses was turned red his neighbour. upon her in a moment. Nothing was Arthur made no reply, for at that heard but exclamations of " What a instant his eyes met Judith's! He beautiful creature!-how brilliant! - saw hers lighten up with joy-and how graceful!

what was he to think? My heavens! " What age should you think her, how did his brain keep from turning, sir ? " said one.

when he saw the hand of Judith-that “Twenty-one, or twenty-two," said hand so white and beautiful, raised another.

slowly to her ear, (the very signal 6. Bah! she isn't eighteen.”

that in other days he used to give to “Do you know who she is, then ? ” her,) and play with the emerald drops

" No, sir, this is her first appear. that he had presented to her ? Lucky, ance at the Opera--for I'm a sub- as I said before, that people don't die scriber-and know every face that has of happiness; but Arthur felt some made a sensation here since the year vague idea that he should go mad. hem".

He hid his face in his hands a moment, And it seemed that nobody knew to convince himself it was not an illuany thing about her. At last a gentle. sion; and when he looked up again, man of very distinguished appearance the vision had vanished ! Judith had bowed to her. Every one worried disappeared ! him with questions who she was. A tremor took possession of his

'Tis Lady Inggerton-the wife of limbs--a hand of iron crushed his a rich English nobleman."

heart; but when he remembered what “Indeed!--so young--and so rich!" he had seen-what he had heard-and

And it was whispered about that she that she had given him a signal known had been nobody once--a poor girl that only to themselves, he darted from his was about to throw herself into the place ; he left the orchestra, and hur

« IndietroContinua »