« ZurückWeiter »
gates of the grave. I arose from it another man. Désirée was no more to me than a murderess, stained with her brother's blood. I longed with an unutterable longing to be at home, to grasp my father's hand, and to look into my mother's eyes. In the evening M. Lalande drove me to Falaise, and waited to see me off by the first train in the morning.
"You have done well to leave vengeance to God," he said, as we parted. "I will explain your sudden departure to M. Clauzel. Write to him kindly when you reach home. He is an old man, and already broken by trouble."
I reached home, and saw my own people again; but they wondered at the change which had been wrought in me in Normandy, and I could explain it to none of them. It was neither madness nor illness which befell me, but a malady of both mental and bodily suffering, yet in neither case amounting to disease, overmastered me for a time. My secret and my sorrow were almost too heavy a burden to be borne.
I received a letter not long after my return, written in heartbroken terms by M. Clauzel. His daughter, he said, and her fostermother, were about to enter a convent of the most rigorous rule, and M. Lalande was hurrying on the profession with the utmost haste. Once having taken the vows, Désirée would be lost to him, as she could nover more leave the convent walls, even to be present at his deathbed; and the old man urged me to return to Normandy, and prevent the sacrifice. Only I, he said, could prevail with her; neither prayers, nor tears, nor threats from him availed anything. If my parents still withheld their consent to our marriage, I could at least induce her to give up the fatal resolution so far as to remain with him until his death, which could not be, he added, far distant.
I could only answer that M. Lalande and his daughter knew best what sacrifice duty required of her, and that my parents would not hear me speak of a return to Normandy after so long an absence. Do what I would, the letter was cold and formal; and I never heard from the old man again. But in the course of the year our house received the intelligence that M. Clauzel was dead, and his mills had passed into other hands.
A month or two ago, being in Paris, I met M. Lalande accidentally. He had not much to say to me, except that he was still the spiritual director of Désirée Clauzel, who was no longer known in the world by that name; and that her soul, by sore penances and bitter mortifications,
was being slowly purged from its stain. Her foster-mother had been dead for some months, and she was left to bear the burden of her sin alone, having given her whole life as an atonement for it.
Did I act rightly? Was I justified in leaving her in the hands of her priest, or ought I to have betrayed a secret of the confessional in delivering her and the murderess over to the judgment of the civil law?
The Last of Lilian.
AH! Lilian, those laughing eyes
Betray'd you, though you seem'd dejected;
You tried to feign some slight surprise,
When talking autumn rambles over,
You won't forbid my morning whiff,
Late London's round of balls and hock
And, maybe, teas at five o'clock
A new philosophy have taught us.
Is it the same with you as me?
Is life still circumscribed and narrow
No tender thoughts of Cousin C.,
That day when Eton played with Harrow?
Were flower-shows and Zoo's in vain,
In spite of all tradition teaches ?
Can you recall, unscared by pain,
That pic-nic under Burnham Beeches ?
Well, leading questions are not fair-
My contrasts were sublime, but hazy;
Good-bye! we're nearly quits I think,
You wake to find your love supplanted,
You saw a heart-which was not wanted.
Bright birds their farewell carols trill,
Wild flow'rets in the earth are sleeping; Red roses die beneath the hill,
Gold dew the russet leaves are weeping; And Lilian must follow fleet,
And fade from me with summer's glory; Have pity on me, lady sweet,
And hear me tell the old, old story.
I've track'd the sea of love before,
And sailed with care, and helter-skelter,
I've longed to near a quiet shore,
But never felt so near to shelter ;
My bark by tempests idly tost,
Has made courageous pilots shudder;
If no one aids me, I am lost,
Come, darling, will you take the rudder?
CLEMENT W. SCOTT.