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Perhaps not. I suppose not. It is not of

notes from Léon-he had no time for more—and before their pillows in the silent night-watches? we could not write to him, as he was constantly If the blame rests with him who led a nation on the march.

blindfold to its doom, has it not been bitterly At last, on the 28th of July, the Emperor and atoned for? Will it not be a haunting memory his boy—the child of so many hopes and fears- throwing its weird shadows on the down-hill of

Jeft Paris amidst shouts of “A Berlin! à Berlin!

life? Vive l'Empereur ! " Did any shadows of his impending fate rest on his spirit as he looked his hearts and homes, not of individual joys and last on the fair city that had grown into such sorrows, that those placed on the slippery heights queenly beauty under his hand, upon whose of power think. Necessarily not. People, and people he was about to bring so terrible a classes, and armies are to them but pieces to be doom? I think it must have been so. To me, moved on the chess-board of politics. The fallen at least, an under-tone of disquiet seemed to run Emperor risked his all upon one desperate more, through the martial notes of his address to his and lost. His all was throne and fame; but for soldiers. Perhaps that was because my mind those upon whom it fell to carry out that game, ever received the imprint of Léon's thoughts, life and limb, and the love that is dearer than and because it was so unusual to hear the coming life. It is scarcely to be wondered at that, in struggle spoken of as one in any wise likely to be her frenzy of amazed despair, poor, bleeding, “ long and arduous.”

deluded France should forget her own share in We thought compassionately of the burden the matter, and proclaim herself betrayed, disthat must rest on the royal heart left desolate honoured, ruined by him whose hand held the amidst the splendours and loneliness of its palace helm when the barque was hurried into the fray halls; for that royal heart was a woman's, and amidst the defiant shouts of an excited and rethat woman a wife and a mother. So her sorrow joicing people. was a common sorrow; but not so her burden. Not that I, or any of us, sympathized with How heavily must the sceptre of France have the blind rage that laid all blame at one door, weighed in the hands that had so lately been because that one bore the imperial eagle. We occupied in the homely, loving task of prepar- are no Imperialists, no advocates for the glittering her boy's outfit! People told how each ing tinsel that covered the corruption, and oparticle had been laid in its place by those hands pression, and extravagance, and paltriness of the alone. Hearts sore with the anguish of the Second Empire. I say we, meaning we De Lawrenching of their own tendrils from the daily bordes. Politics are not woman's spherepresence of beloved ones, could scarcely fail to they certainly are not mine ; but these bare sympathize with those who on their lonely heights been times in which even a thoughtful child of greatness must stand calm, unmoved, in the must learn something of them. The traditions sight of a nation's eyes, when their hearts — of our family are all of the old régime of Franceweak human hearts still, if beating under im- as tinsel, and certainly more oppressive, than the perial purple--are wrung with anguish.

last. My father and uncle clung always to So they parted, those royal hearts. Men have the old royal stock-my Uncle Lucien does still;

told us lately how they met again, discrowned, but both were good subjects of the Empire, or exiled, amidst the rude gaze of half-sympathizing, rather true sons of France, ready to put aside all

, half-curious multitudes, on the crowded pier at personal prejudices and feelings for her sake. Dover. But they have met again : diadem and Victor's dream was a republic; but Léon said sceptre and purple , indeed, buried in the grave France ever needed a firm grasp on the reins,

, of the Past, but their home-band unbroken. and that revolution meant anarchy. Do no nightmare visions of the untold thousands We females troubled ourselves little on these of homes in France, by whose blood-stained points. I suppose the gift of individualizing hearths desolation and anguish sit brooding over is peculiar to women ; it certainly is to some graves holding other treasures than those, rise

The armies, and brigades, and bat


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talions, and companies of which men spoke so No letter came from Léon. It already seemed glibly as of certain parts of war machinery, were weeks instead of days since he had left us. We to us individual men-husbands, fathers, brothers, missed him sorely. My mother bore up wondersons: to my mother, and Nina, and me, and to fully, but the anxiety and separation from him

, some other women we knew. Thus it was, I told upon her feeble strength. Augustine exsuppose, that when on the day after the Emperor erted himself to supply as far as possible his left news was flashed into the city of a skirmish place, and was more like himself. Victor's gay at Niederbronn, in which we had been victorious, spirits were raised at that time to a higher pitch our hearts sunk within us. Only a skirmish, it than usual by excitement and delight in the war. was owned, but men exulted over it as a bright But his ways with my mother and me, always augury of coming success. But the first drops affectionate and winning, were still more so as of the coming storm of iron hail had done their he marked our evident depression. His coming deadly work—there were “ killed and wounded.” home was like a breath of fresh air let into a Only a few; but the world was darker to many close chamber, and never failed to bring new life even through them. And it was our first ex- to us by the force of that mysterious sympathy perience of the sickening dread and crushing with which mind answers to mind. anxiety that is the lot of those left behind in the At last news came from the seat of war, but quiet of ordinary life, while their nearest and not the tidings that had been listened for. The dearest are lost from their sight in the smoke of arms of France had sustained a

at distant battle-fields.

Weissem berg. There were darkening brows Poor Madame de l'Orme came in that evening and angry voices on the boulevards and in the in a deplorable state of nervous terror. We squares of Paris that evening; pale faces and knew it was improbable that the regiment that troubled eyes round social and family boards. was the centre of her hopes and fears—and of Angry questionings, passionate accusations, bitter ours—could have been the one engaged ; and reproaches, frantic invectives mingled from the Victor was able to give the name and number of lips of an indignant and disappointed people. the one which had been, so her fears were in But over the surging tide of resentment and measure allayed. But her look of settled agony passion the star of hope shone with ever-brightenof dread, as she took leave of me at the door, to ing radiance. Soon the unanimous verdict was which I had accompanied her, and said, or rather that all would, must yet be well. Our leaders wailed, “O Renée! my boy! my boy! shall I had erred by allowing the Prussians time to ever see his bright face again ?” filled me as gather their forces for one great effort. They much with fear as with compassion. If her boy would be wiser now: in a few days we should should fall, I feared it would cost her her reason hear of a glorious revenge. But a few looked or her life.

grave and anxious; and we at home remembered The excitement in the city increased. All Léon's words, and watched for, yet dreaded, the ears were strained to catch the first swell of the publication of the official list of “killed and shout of victory that was so soon, it was thought, wounded.” When it came, no names familiar to to be borne from beyond the Rhine. And on us were there ; but we knew those Jules, and the 3rd of August news came of a victory, and Louis, and Augustes, and Baptistes meant to of a town taken : Saarbrück was taken, and the other hearts and homes what Léon did to ours, Germans driven back. Then days passed, and no and wept over their sorrow, which so soon might more tidings. Our armies, it was whispered, be our own. were strangely inactive. Days were being lost, The chameleon moods of the population of each one of which was of untold value to the Paris had gone through the phases of passion, Germans. What could be the reason, when, by anger, depression, hope, and had arrived at the the assurances of our sovereign and his ministers, highest pitch of confidence, before new and all was ready? People grew angry, and some heavier tidings reached us : tidings of the terrible

heights of Spicheren, dearly bought by the despe


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rate foe at the cost of hecatombs of victims; and | Poor Fidèle seemed to understand as well as any of the fatal field of Wörth, steeped with the life of us that something was wrong about his blood of thousands of our bravest and best. master's absence; and the wistful look of his

Not all at once was the full extent of the large soft eyes, as he laid his great head on my disaster realized; nor, indeed, was it ever duly knee, and looked appealingly into my face, often estimated till after-events revealed it. First brought tears into my own.

He would prick came rumours that all was not going well; then up his ears when a step was heard on the stairs ; whispers of what no one cared to be the first to but when he found it not the one he was watchspeak of openly; then the official intimation of ing for, would lay down his head again with a defeat and loss-guarded, indeed, but the truth, low, plaintive whine, answered by many a reif the truth veiled—and the Emperor's assurance sponsive sigh. When I entered, Nina sprang that “all might yet be retrieved.” He, at least, up, with crimsoned, laughing face, and saying spoke the truth; the only one of our rulers, per- something about Fidèle's being such a ridiculous haps, that has had the courage to do so since the old dog, it was impossible to help being ridiculous laurels began to be stripped from the brow of with him, hurried from the room. But Fidèle's France in the slow agony of this bitter and rough head was wet with many

tears. unequal struggle. Till the last leaf was gone, Ah, Nina, I have been guilty of the same folly and Paris in the hands of the enemy, how have myself. When the overburdened heart shrinks we been duped and deceived by those who have from pouring any of the bitter drops of its oil called themselves our guides and defenders ! sorrow into the brimming cups of those who Humoured like children !—till such as were not have already received full measure, or when its children, but men, among the spoiled and de- grief is one that will not bear the cold clearness generate masses that form the population of gay, of every-day light, is it not a solace and relief to beautiful, folly-loving Paris, turned away in lay one's heavy, listless hands upon the head of scornful discredence from all their proclamations some dumb, faithful creature, whose mute caresses and assurances.

and wistful looks tell of sympathy for sorrow Long and full of anxious thought had been the felt while not understood ? few days that elapsed between the receipt of the Poor Madame de l'Orme! Each day, through news of the battles of Weissemberg and Wörth. heat and rain, her weary feet carried her feeble Could they have been only three ? Every one frame through the narrow, gloomy streets leading seemed to hold his breath in a hush of fearful to the Cathedral of Notre Dame. The reason expectancy - I speak rather of ourselves at of this daily pilgrimage was to induce the Virgin home-50 much hung upon the burden of the to protect and restore her son. Vainly I urged next despatches. I spent many hours each day her not to walk, as the fatigue, for which her with Madame de l'Orme. Nina and my mother delicate frame was at all times unfitted, was clung very much together; and the manner of telling sadly upon her health, weakened also by the former was more like what it had been in sleeplessness and anxiety. "Nothing, nothing mamma's illness-gentle, and quiet, and sweet- could be too great a sacrifice for such an end, and together they would talk of Léon. I think Renée,” she would answer; "and it is all I can Nina felt I knew too much of the true state of do. When the Blessed Mother sees I spare no things, and her womanly instincts kept her re- effort to gain her pity and help-her help, which served. I was sure she grieved still over her is the only help that can avail my boy—she will unkindness to him that last night.

surely plead for me with her Son.” Many little things assured me of it. Among So, though each day the effort became more others, this. One day, going suddenly into the painful, she rigidly fulfilled her purpose. The library, where Léon had spent most of his quiet day before I received Léon's third letter, and the hours, I discovered her sitting on the floor, with one on which rumours were afloat of some disaster her arms round the neck of Fidèle, Léon's having again befallen us, conflicting with vaque favourite dog, and her head resting on them. I reports of success and triumph, I went with her,


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as I really feared to allow her to go alone. As his men. My heart bleeds for her, and it is to we entered, a closely-veiled figure rose from save her the terrible shock of hearing officially of before the altar and passed us. Veiled as it her loss that I hasten to beg you to break it to was, I recognized it. Poor little Nina! She

Poor little Nina! She her tenderly. I was with him when he died, was to find a better helper than a deified Hebrew after the battle, but on the spot where he fell. maiden.

And with him was one who spoke such words to It was with difficulty Madame de l’Orme him as I pray God may fall on my ear when I reached her home, which was close to ours. It shall be as he was then. He was conscious to was a comfort to me afterwards that that day my the last, and sent his love and a lock of his hair mother was unusually well, and spent some of to his mother, begging me to try and have the the cool evening hours with her sorrowful and shock broken for her. You will do it, Renée, I lonely friend; and her words, as she tenderly know. I am well and unhurt, and will write took leave of her, are to me a faint ray of light again when it is possible.” Then came some and hope glimmering through midnight darkness. loving messages and tender inquiries ; and in a She said, “ Adieu, dear Célestine; remember the postscript, “Do you remember our talk at the Lord Christ was a man on earth himself once. window the night of the Declaration, Renée ? He died for us, and such a death of torture ! I was right.” Love alone can have made him do that, and love O war, war ! how fearful is the draught from thy such as that cannot surely have died out. But crimson cup, from the first sip to the bitter dregs ! if, as you say, he died because his Father sent I read Léon's letter first, after my mother, to him to do so, because he loved his Father, and whom, of course, it was addressed. I had carried not us, it was still for us, and God must surely it to her with so joyful a heart. “Mamma, it care for those for whom he gave such a gift. will kill her!” I exclaimed. “Oh, I cannot do The Lord Christ, and the good God, and the Holy it !” But when I unfolded the paper in which Virgin comfort and help you, and bring your the short lock of soft brown hair was wrapped, a Henri back to you!”

torrent of tears fell from my eyes, and the rising I did not hear the rest of the conversation : I tide of sympathy and compassion swept over, and had only gone to bring my mother home; but I effaced for the moment all other feelings. have ever hoped that one spark of divine life may In saddened silence Léon's note was passed have been kindled that night in that troubled from one to the other when we all met below. heart," tempest-tossed, and not comforted." The shadow of a great sorrow fell over our own

The next day the gloomy tidings of disaster joy at our Léon's preservation. Nina stood apart were more than confirmed, and the excited popu- in a window, and Victor returned the letter to lace filled the streets like the surging waves of me when he and Augustine had read it together. an angry sea. But the early morning had I went up to her and gave it her. She took it brought me a bitter task-a task whose results quietly; but when she came to the close, and shut us in that day from the hubbub without. read Léon's kind message to herself, she threw The first post brought a few hurried lines from down the letter, burst into a passion of tears, and Léon. I will copy them here.

left the room. I followed her, and when we “Dearest mother, and all,” he wrote, "you reached her room, she threw herself into my will have heard ere this of our misfortunes at arms, exclaiming, “O Renée, it might have been

“ Wörth and Spicheren. We were outnumbered. | Léon! Instead of that, it is poor Henri, and The German troops under the Crown Prince are Léon is unhurt. But, Renée, if Léon shouldsaid to have been treble the number of ours. should be—"-she could not speak the wordOur troops behaved splendidly. I have no time “it will be my fault, to punish my sin. How I but for these few lines, and I write to give you, teased him, scorned him, grieved him, and he Renée, a painful commission,—to tell poor Madame was so good, so kind! God may well punish me

a de l'Orme that her gallant boy went down in by — Renée, Renée, if those days were only the thickest of the fight, charging at the head of back again!"


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you !”

But, dear Nina,” I said, “ Léon is safe, and heart-pressure by those who know him not, even he does not think of your wilful ways now- -only as he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the of you. See how tender a message he sends good, and sends the rain on the just and on the

unjust. “Yes; that makes me feel it worse. O Léon, A strange strength and calm was given me as Léon!”

I faced old Bertine at Madame de l'Orme's outer I could not stay to comfort her then, though door. I dared not give her any idea of the I knew it was only in those moments of strong purpose for which I came. She loved Henri excitement that she would break through the devotedly. His death would be to her only a reserve in which she enveloped herself. With little less heavy a blow than to his mother. But throbbing heart and trembling limbs, I went to her volunteered account of Madame's sleeplessprepare for my painful errand. Oh, how I needed ness, and the fearful anxiety with which she then-needed, though I understood not the need watched for tidings of the well-being of the one -the presence and sustaining strength of Him on whom her heart had centred all its hopes who is a very present help in trouble; who, and affections for twenty years, was a bad preknowing our frame, and remembering that we parative for what was before me. are dust, is ready with abounding grace for every Without daring to think what I should say, need, unfailing strength for every trial, unerring how plunge the steel into that poor quivering wisdom for every perplexity, untiring, unchang heart, I entered Madame de l'Orme's room. She ing love for every dark and distressing hour. was lying back in an easy-chair, her large dark How would the sweet consciousness of His sym- eyes fixed mournfully upon a picture of her son pathy, His love, His tender pity with and for the that hung opposite to her. Pale, wasted, fragile sad children of sorrow have helped me to go -face and form and attitude alike telling of with the heavy tidings of the death of "the only weakness and suffering-how could she bear the son of his mother, and she a widow !” But I anguish that was coming to her ? did not know then that the “ Lord had compas

She held out her hands to me as I entered, sion on her;" and at times like that when my and a faint sad smile passed over her face. But heart was throbbing and my nerves quivering, I suppose my voice betrayed me as I returned the cold, lifeless "work of merit," which I then her embrace and asked after her health. "Is called prayer, was ever to me an impossibility. there any news, Renée ?" she asked eagerly. Oh, what earthly loss or gain, what suffering, “Yes," I said; "we have been defeated bereavement, or sorrow is worthy to be compared again." with the unspeakable blessedness of the know- “Ah, how distracted my brave boy will be! ledge of Him whose love "passeth knowledge," he loves France so much, my Henri. Perhaps whose riches are "unsearchable!”

Yet men

that is why he has not written. He could not despise and reject Him now, even as they did of bear to write of defeat for France. But you," old, when “his own received him not,” but she continued, suddenly turning and looking full cried, " Away with him! crucify him, crucify in my face—"how do you know this? Have you

“ him!”

heard from Léon ?” Is it to be wondered at that when Victor left

“ Yes.” me at the porte cochère that led to the house “What does he say? My boy,he is well, he in which Madame de l’Orme's apartments were, is unhurt?. Tell me so, Renée.” my heart utterly failed me, and I sank faint and “Dear Madame de l'Orme, I have sad news; trembling on the stone staircase ? But with the can you bear to hear it?" desperation of courage which the inevitable Her white face grew rigid, her dark terrified rouses in our hearts, I rose at the sound of des- eyes were fixed on mine. " The bravest are ever cending feet on the stairs, and went up to in the hottest fight,” I said,

" and where the Madame de l'Orme's door. I think God sup- fight is hottest the danger is greatest. Your boy plies the need experienced in times of high | was brave, Madame de l'Orme.”

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