« AnteriorContinuar »
minded the house and the children, instead enough for myself and for Rosalie. It is of parading like a peacock on the Kauter, hard to leave the children, but it is better chattering to popinjays, one might get a to leave them for a time; at least, any dinner or a supper one could eat." thing is better than this constant strife. Í
At this Rosalie flew out in rebellion, will not submit to it. I will tell Rosalie “She had been brought up to be waited on. my intention; then the next time she finds She had never done servants' work, and fault with me, I will write to Jacques.” she was not going to begin."
Louis Scherer was good-tempered, and “And about the Kauter," she said, pas- soft, and weak; but he was selfish. It did sionately, “it is too bad. I may speak to not occur to him that in himself lay a Captain Delabre, or I may not; but I go means of softening and helping the irritable to the Kauter to hear the band play, not temper his cold, insouciant manner fretted. to seek him. It is quite different from He represented to himself that Rosalie you, who go out every evening to talk to was not the girl he had married. He had Eugénie Legros.”
more to vex him than she had, and yet he Louis shrugged his shoulders.
never began a quarrel, though she was so “ Ma foi,” he said, wearily, “ I am grow- vain in manner and extravagant in dress. ing tired of this, Rosalie. You are always “ There is no doubt,” said Monsieur angry when I go to see Legros; but it has Scherer, as he walked slowly back to his never occurred to me, when I go to smoke own door, " that I am an exceedingly illa pipe with him, that I might also talk to used husband.” His next remark was not his daughter. As you suggest it, I will so true. "It is my own fault, for taking try perhaps. Au revoir. I advise you to things so quietly. I will end the whole afcultivate a good temper."
fair." But Louis Scherer did not go as usual He went home, and found Rosalie sitto see his old friend. Rosalie's temperting where he had left her. She had realhad never struck him so unfavorably as it ly been crying bitterly; but she would not did tonight. She had grumbled inces- let Louis guess this, and when he announcsantly, but she had never spoken so open- ed his determination, she listened in sily. Rosalie had parted angrily from her lence. Louis waited, but she did not sister, and had told Clémence that it was speak; and he turned away, and went to her visit that had stirred up strife; and see Legros. though this was not true in the sense in Rosalie began to cry afresh. There which the poor jealous girl meant it, it was was a tap at the door, and Captain Delatrue that Louis had become more aware of bre came in. He was a fine-looking man,. his wife's ungentleness by means of the much taller than Louis Scherer, with á. contrast she offered to Clémence. She bold, swaggering air, had grown into a way of upbraiding her He seemed disturbed when he saw Mahusband for every thing he did, and yet dame Scherer crying. she felt aggrieved by his want of tender- “ Madame is in sorrow," he said, awkness. Louis Scherer, on this evening, did wardly; and he sighed. not even give himself the enjoyment of his It seemed to Rosalie as if she had not pipe. He was deeply, thoroughly un- fully realized her husband's unkindness till happy.
now. Louis, to whom she had given her" And women's tempers do not improve self and her love, had actually threatened with age,” he thought.“Who could have to desert her; and here was this grand guessed a sweet, blooming girl like Rosalie gentleman-a grade higher in the army change into such fretfulness ?"
than Louis had ever been—troubled at He paced up and down beside the even the sight of her grief. canal. Lights in the distance twinkled Her heart felt bursting; it relieved among the trees, and glittered faintly on itself in a fresh flow of sobs and tears. the water. Some people had stopped on The captain looked still more tender the nearest bridge, and were laughing mer- and sympathetic. He felt that he rily.
should like to punch the head of Louis "Why do I endure this existence ?" he Scherer. said, moodily. “My cousin Jacques, at “ Pardon me, madame; may I not ask Brussels, has often said he would gladly what is your sorrow?" exchange his clerkship for mine. I have Rosalie's sobs grew less frequent.
"I can not tell you, monsieur." A little to avoid reproaches, perhaps because I quivering sob came; but she wiped her am so weary of thine ; but I was not blind eyes, and felt ashamed of her wet face. at the fête. I saw thy vanity and folly, “But-but I am the most miserable wo- and not only with Delabre. If I left the man in the world."
fête alone, it was not till thou hadst twice “Ma foi, do not say so; it makes me refused to come with me. On that day, too sad. But can I not make you hap- Rosalie, the choice was with thee between
me and thy vanity; now I choose beThe Captain's voice was very soothing tween thee and peace. It is useless to in its tenderness. “Ah! if Louis would believe that I am necessary to the happionly speak to me like that,” she thought. ness of a vain, inconstant woman.” “ No, monsieur ; no one can make me At first she had softened, but the last happy. My husband is angry with me, words brought back all her pride. and 1- _” here her sobs began again. “ It is too wicked," she said, passionate
Captain Delabre took Madame Scherer's ly, speaking more to herself than to her hand.
husband. “ He is to spend all his time “ The man who can cause grief to so with others, and I am to be mute and fair and angel-like a being—" and then meek, and I may not even listen to a senhe stopped abruptly. The door had open- tence from another man. No, indeed, it ed, and Louis Scherer stood frowning on is true; thou art not necessary to my hapthe threshold.
piness. I can not well be less happy than Captain Delabre did not let go the I am with thee.” hand he held. He rose with admirable " It is settled, then we separate;" but coolness.
Louis lingered, and kept his eyes fixed on “ Bon soir, madame," he said. “I am the head so scornfully turned away. so pleased to hear better news of Madame Rosalie shrugged her shoulders, and de Vos. Ah! ça, Scherer, where did you then she went suddenly out of the room, spring from? If I were not pressed for ran upstairs to Madame de Vos's bedtime, I would stay and smoke a pipe with chamber, and locked herself in. you; but, as it is, au revoir;" and he was gone before Scherer could recover him
The fat, rosy-cheeked portress tapped Rosalie's eyes were dry at once. She at the door of the nuns' parlor in the conlooked angrily at her husband, but her vent of the New Jerusalem. heart was full of fear.
“A note for the Sæur Marie," she “So this is the way thou spendest the said, when she had been bidden to come lonely evenings I hear so much of.” Louis in. had come forward, and he stood facing his “ For the Sour Marie ?" and then a litwife.
tle chorus of wonder and gentle joking In reality, this was only the second visit buzzed round the quiet, sweet-faced sister, of Captain Delabre; but Rosalie felt too who sat busily employed in repairing a much outraged by her husband's suspi- point-lace petticoat, which would be wantcion to answer him quietly. She got up ed for the month of Mary.” and faced him, pale and trembling with “ The Mother is in her parlor," said the anger.
portress; and she held the door open with “It is too much, Louis. For six deep respect. The Sour Marie, spite of months, at least, thou hast left me every her humble, retiring nature, had somehow evening; and am I to have no society or inspired all those with whom she lived with sympathy ? Even on the day of the fête, a conviction of her saintliness. because I spoke to some of my friends, She found the head of the convent readthou wert angry, and I had to get home ing in a room, whitewashed, like all the as I could.”
rest, but richer than the rest in pictures and Louis had recovered his self-possession. statuettes, and other objects of religious He spoke in a calm, stern voice, which art, loving gifts from the pupils educated frightened his wife a little.
in the convent. The Superior looked up “Thou art unwise to recall that day, from her book. She had a calm, peaceful Rosalie. In all this cold estrangement face, not so sweet as that of the Sour which has come between us, I have tried Marie, but fuller of intelligence. She took
the note from the sister's hand and read I am given up to vanity and folly, and he it.
has left me." “ Thou must go to her, my daughter." The words came out in little broken She smiled, but she looked troubled too. groups between her deep-drawn sobs, but “Thou knowest I had always fears about Sister Marie did not interrupt; she knew our poor Rosalie. I fear this Monsieur that the wound could not close while any Scherer must be worse than unkind to de- poison lingered there. sert his wife and children."
Yet her pure soul was deeply troubled. “Bien, ma mère;" and then the Sour She had thought of Rosalie as one of the put on the black veil she wore out of sinless lambs of the convent flock, and to doors, and was soon on her way to the the Saur Marie it seemed woeful that her house beside the canal.
young niece should even wish for the adRosalie's note to the Soeur Marie had miration of any man besides her husband. been written impulsively in a moment of “ It is not my fault," said Rosalie again; agonized remorse at having, as she thought, and the words sounded like a question. driven her husband away from her. In The good sister smiled. that moment all her love for Louis had “ Mon enfant, the hardest thing to bear come back. But she had calmed down is our own blame—we are so lazy, we alfrom this mood; and when Sister Marie ways try to make some one else carry it; kissed her niece tenderly on the forehead, and yet, Rosalie,” she spoke more gravely, instead of the despairing penitent she ex- “ the nature of love is to bear all for the pected, she saw Rosalie smiling, and seem- sake of the one beloved, is it not ?” ingly quite indifferent. But the Soeur had Rosalie did not understand, but she looklived too much among young girls to be ed uneasy. easily deceived.
“ Thou seest, my child"—the Sceur Ma“Thou art sorrowful, Rosalie." Her rie spoke in a cheerful confiding voice, as niece blushed under the sweet, direct look if she were only full of quiet gossip—"we of her truthful eyes. “What help can I who call ourselves Christians have all got give thee?"
to bear our cross; is it not so? We have Rosalie twisted her fingers together. been shown the way to bear it, and if we She felt angry with herself, with the Sour will, we may strive to follow that way in Marie, and with every one.
every footstep; but it is useless to put our “I do not know,” she said fretfully. “I burden on others; each has his own.” hardly know now why I wrote; only it Rosalie's head moved restlessly. seemed as if I must tell some one of the “There is no use, my aunt, in telling me great wrong done me, and I could not all this. When I was at the convent even, let my father know. He would have I did not care for this sort of talk, and I said it was my fault, and so would the like it less now. I can't understand it. I bonne-maman : it is always my fault with am not Clémence. She has no burden, I some people.”
suppose, or else she would not be so hapShe tossed her head and laughed. py. Ah, there are people who have not
“When thou wrotest to me, it seemed feeling enough to be unhappy." as if thou wert very sorry for something." She spoke bitterly, and Sister Marie Here the Soeur waited a little. “What has sighed. happened, Rosalie, to make thy husband “I think it is because Clémence carries go away?"
her burden willingly that she is able to be “ Thou had best ask him;" but there so bright and happy. If we think of a was such tender pity in the look that met hardship, it grows heavier.” hers that a sudden, unexpected sob came But I do bear-see how much I have in the girl's throat. Next minute her head borne," Rosalie burst forth impetuously, was on the sister's shoulder, and she was carried out of her sulky reserve by her desobbing as if her heart would break. sire to justify herself. "Louis has left me
" It's not my fault; Louis is so cold, so evening after evening, and I have not comselfish; he is enough to break any wo- plained.”. man's heart with his cool indifferent ways; “But have you been loving to him, Roand then because I let others talk to me salie ?-have you borne with him ?-have and admire me—ever so little—just to you shown him that his happiness is your sting him into being more loving-he says chief care ?"
Rosalie's blue eyes opened widely and deed;" and Rosalie dressed herself, and suddenly. That a quiet staid religieuse went out for a walk. like her aunt Marie should sit there in- She could not help seeing that her neighstructing her in the art of loving her hus- bors stared at her. She saw two women band, seemed almost laughable.
put their heads together and whisper, and “Of course I love him"-here she gave then they looked at her with eyes full of a little toss of her frizzled head—“and I condemnation. should be wanting in self-respect if I were “Let them,” she said haughtily; and to go on being just the same when he takes just then she came face to face with Capno care to make me happy.”
tain Delabre. A burning flush rose in her Sister Marie smiled.
face, she returned his greeting, and hurried “If you and Louis saw each other on on so fast that he could not find a pretext opposite sides of the canal, you could not for speaking, clasp hands across it, Rosalie. One of It was strange. Rosalie knew that her you must cross over the bridge and seek aunt, the Sour Marie, was only a religieuse the other, must you not ?"
—a woman who, as Louis said, lived a Rosalie grew red with anger.
shut-up secluded life, which deprived her “I mean no disrespect, my aunt, but I of all power of judgment, and yet the told the same to Clémence. Single women Sour's words stuck like burs. Rosalie can not judge for us who are married. found herself pondering them even after Surely thou wouldest not have me follow she went to bed that night. What was it Louis to Brussels and ask his pardon for she had said of love being shown in deeds what is his own fault ?"
and words ?" “I would have thee do this : search “Love, what is this love ?” thought thine own heart—thou knowest what I Rosalie sleepily. “I love Louis—is not mean, Rosalie-and see if all blame rests that enough? but what can the Sour mean with Louis; and if it does, remember by showing love ?" those who are in the right are more ready to be reconciled than those who are in the
VII. wrong. If thou dost not write to thy hus- It is a pouring wet morning. Louis band, or go to seek him, I think thou wilt Scherer sits in a café before his breakfast, be unhappy, and sinful also."
listening to the drip, drip, on the verandah “ It is too bad—too bad !" Rosalie outside. stamped with vexation at the sight of her He has as much peace as he desires in aunt's serious face. “Every one is so un- his Brussels life, but he is not happy; there just. I am always to blame."
is a want at his heart which he never felt The Sister Marie did not answer; she in his bachelor days. asked after the children, and then she got He has just been asking himself this up to go away.
question over and over again. Would “I will come again if thou wishest it, it not have been better to have spent my dear child,” she said. “I fear I have some of his evenings, at least, with Rosanot given comfort to-day.”
lie? “At least, I am able to make thee sure “The great quarrel between us was of one thing," said Rosalie; “I love about those visits to Legros," he said; “I Louis. I may not have told him so, but might have tried to be more at home. I I feel it all the same, even when I am the wonder how she takes my absence;" and most angry."
then he thought of Captain Delabre, and Sister Marie smiled again.
he looked very angry. But then how is he to know it? I do His cousin Jacques had not been so not think I should believe in the love of a much pleased to see him after all. He had person who spoke angrily to me. Love found Louis a temporary employment, but must show itself in deeds and words, or it not so congenial a post as that which Moncan not live. Good-by, my dear child !" sieur Scherer held at Bruges.
And then she kissed Rosalie lovingly, However, it was time to be at office and went back to the convent of the New work, and Monsieur Scherer stretched himJerusalem.
self, yawned, and departed. “A good thing she has gone. I shall "A lady has been here," the porter said, not be in a hurry to send for her again, in- as he passed into the office; "she seemed
in a great hurry to see Monsieur, and she He did not answer, his thoughts stayed left this address.”
a little while with Rosalie, but the strongA strange kind of expectation came to est feeling in Louis Scherer's heart was love Louis Scherer, and he looked at the card for his children. and felt checked.
It seemed to him as if the train would It had simply “Clémence de Vos," and never reach Bruges; and when at last they the name of an hotel close by.
were fairly on their way to his home, his Louis's hand shook as he put the card agony grew so strong that he covered his in his pocket. Why had Clémence come? face with his hands. what tidings had she brought ? He did The door stood open; Clémence went not dare to think; he hurried on to the in and beckoned him to follow up the stairs hotel.
along the gallery into his wife's bedroom. Clémence came forward, and she held Rosalie was kneeling beside the bed, one his hand while she spoke.
arm round her child. “I am come to fetch you home, Louis: Loulou's eyes were closed, but he openI have bad news."
ed them and looked at his mother. He could not speak-he only looked; He was so pale, so very still, but his there was shame as well as anxiety in his father saw the purple rings under the dark face.
widely opened eyes. “It is not Rosalie; she has been ill, but They were fixed on his mother. she is better. She would have come; but, “Kiss me,"—the little voice was so faint, Louis, she can not leave home. Loulou so weary, that it sounded far, far off to the is ill-very ill !"
two listeners—" and kiss papa when he “ Tell me, he is not dead ?" He spoke comes : he will come-dear-dear mamhoarsely; her pale sorrowful face had filled ma.” him with the sudden agony of a new fear. The eyes shut and opened again. Was this mad freak of his to end in such a There was a little faint fluttering, and grief?
Loulou was far away-away from his moth“No, he was living early this morning, er's tears and his father's agony of sorrow, when I started; but we must hasten, and yet closely present, praying for them, Louis, for I fear. It was a sudden attack it may be, in this their sore trial. -a kind of fit, and the doctor said I must Clémence stole softly out of the room, be quick."
there was silence awhile, and then the Louis followed mechanically, while Clé- man's sorrow burst from him in deep mence led the way to the station; he even struggling sobs. let her take his ticket while he stood ab- Rosalie looked up; she had not realized sorbed in his fast-growing dread.
that her husband had indeed come back; Perhaps he had not known before how and in the unlooked-for joy her new sorthe child had got twined round his heart, row was hushed. She went to him, took but it seemed as if a mighty cord were his hand and kissed it tenderly, then she tugging there, hurrying him to Bruges. clung to him.
“Oh, that I had never left him !" “ Louis, my Louis,” she whispered, “for
Over and over again came the thought, give me, wilt thou not? I will try and but no words. He leaned back beside love thee as well as Loulou loved.” Clémence; he seemed to be listening to
VIII. all she was saying, but at first he scarcely heard a syllable.
The rainy weather has passed away; “Rosalie has been very ill,” said the the sky is bright and clear, with just a few soft, tender voice,“ oh, so ill, Louis; and soft gray-tinted clouds to take hardness they heard of her illness at the convent, from its intense blue; but those days of and sent for me; she is not strong yet. heavy rain have robbed the lilac flowers of Louis, do you know why she wanted to their bloom, and made the gueldres rose get strong ?"
blossoms hang their head like a drenched The direct question roused him; he mop. looked at Clemence.
But the birds in the cages sing out loud“She wanted to go to you to ask you to ly that the rain has brought a more genial come back, Louis; she is very sorry, and warmth into the old court-yard; and the she has been ill, I think, from grief.' vine leaves have also found this out, and