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to provide our favourite with the white bridal CHAPTER III.
dress, wreath, and veil that are considered so THE TRUMPET PEAL.
indispensable for the toilet of the lowliest bride “Oh, war! thou son of hell,
in Paris. The snowy muslin dress was ready; Whom angry heavens do make their minister."
Nina's graceful fingers were to do the rest. I should make a bad historian. Thoughts and My mother lay with closed eyes; but the memories crowd so thickly upon me, I forget pained, worn look of the dear pale face was not that I commenced writing these pages with the that of sleep. I sat at the window watching for purpose of recording what I know of the mighty Léon or Uncle Lucien. events that have been passing round me. In Presently I saw them coming together. Uncle this I shall fail, I am sure. To a woman's heart Lucien walked quicker than usual; his step was and mind things present themselves so naturally light and firm, his portly form erect, his head only as they blend with or mar the harmony of thrown back; and as they came nearer I saw his home affections and interests. And looking over face was flushed, his eye sparkling, and his manner the pages of my diary, I find little mention of eagerly animated as he spoke rapidly and things with which the hearts of other nations vehemently to Léon, who walked by his side beside our own were palpitating-much of those grave and silent and thoughtful. which agitated only mine and those linked with Hardly had they entered the house when it. Well, outer events were soon to become in- | Arnaud rushed violently into the room, decked, extricably twined with the inner life of the family as usual, with képi and sword, knapsack and in almost every home of France.
bayonet. Furiously charging and upsetting The trumpet note was sounded at last. On Nina's work-table, he shouted out, “Hurrah for the 15th of July the Emperor Napoleon pro- Berlin! Mamma! Renée! Nina! war is declaimed war against Prussia. Of course ere then clared at last! Vive la France ! Vive l’Emour ears were prepared for the sound that was pereur! Oh, I wish I was Léon, to be going à to prove itself to be the death-knell of an empire Berlin, à Berlin !” and the excited child capered and its glory, though few indeed caught the wildly about the room, utterly regardless of the minor key of coming disaster in that thrilling effect his sudden intelligence was producing upon peal.
my mother. We were sitting in the drawing-room on the She had started up white and trembling just afternoon of that day, my mother, Nina, and I. as Léon entered the room, and laying his hand From time to time we had heard sounds which on Arnaud's shoulder, said, in the low, quiet betokened unusual excitement in the city, beyond tones he always knew better than to disregard, the quiet space, near the Luxembourg gardens, gentle as they were, “Hush, Arnaud; do you in which our house stood. Pealing bells, and not see you are frightening your mother? Go and distant shouts, and martial instruments. They tell Justine and Louis, if you will; but, rememfell on our ears, on my mother's and mine at ber, no noise." The boy obeyed at once, first least, sadly as funeral music. Too truly we pausing to say, “Pardon, mamma,” as he raised guessed the cause.
his glowing face for her to kiss. What Nina felt I know not. She sat sur Then Léon took my mother's hand in his, sat rounded by a mass of white flowers and net, down on a low seat beside her couch, and spoke quietly and composedly twining the former into in calm, reassuring tones of the tidings with a tasteful wreath, which on the morrow was to which every heart in Paris was throbbing that crown the pretty head of Marie Fournier, our day. lively and indulged waiting-maid. She had Presently Uncle Lucien joined us, and it was been with us almost from a child, was an orphan, almost impossible not to catch some of the martial and was regarded by our mother and ourselves enthusiasm with which he rejoiced over the proquite as one of the family. Her marriage was spect of France wiping off the slight her honour to take place next day; and we had undertaken I had received in the Prussian king's insolent in
terference with her policy with German blood | days. In our house—and ours might well be a and Rhine water.
sample of the rest-representatives of many classes Nina appeared wholly unconcerned, twisting gathered in it. Grave, elderly men, Uncle and untwisting her flowers, arranging and re- Lucien's political friends ; Léon's brother-ofiarranging the fall of the net-folds-breaking upon cers; Victor's fellow-students; Arnaud's schoolour grave thoughts and serious conversation with companions ; Nina's gay acquaintance of the appeals as to the best way of placing this orange- fashionable world, --- different elements all, yet blossom or that rose-bud. Yes, even when we fused for the time in a kindred glow of feelspoke of the too certain likelihood of Léon's ing. The mighty armies of France; her old regiment being ordered at once to the front. hereditary traditions of victory and glory; the
I saw Léon's colour change as he met the new and terrible weapons to be brought against bright glance of her untroubled eyes, and my the foe; the energy and spirit of her people; the
; heart swelled indignantly. Yet I noticed that eager war-appetite of her soldiers, — all were somehow the wreath, with all the time and ap- brought forward to fan the flame, till all minds parent interest bestowed upon it, never looked burned with a white-heat of enthusiasm. like the work of Nina's artistic fingers. She did It is true, some older and graver men would care, I knew, and that made it worse to bear. now and again drop under-breathed queries as to How could she feel pleasure in teasing Léon, whether the soldiers of France were all they when he would probably be so soon parted from used to be, all they would need to be, to meet
men, heavy, it might be, and dull, but resolute That day and the next, and the next, indeed and true, and fighting for “Vaterland.” Others for many days, Paris was all in one wild glow of would hint at possible discrepancies between martial excitement. Crowds of blue blouses and paper and flesh and blood armies-at a faulty well-dressed men formed round the Corps Légis- and corrupt system of commissariat—at a rush latif, blocked up the Place de Carrousel, thronged into darkness by rash and inconsiderate men, the Tuileries gates, gathered in place and boule-heated by party strife, and urged on by selfish vard, wherever public office or military depôt interests. But these were only whispers, borne formed a point of interest, shouting ever the war- down by the swell of many voices; and those cry, “A Berlin! à Berlin! Vive l'Empereur!” who breathed them were met by withering sarCafés were filled with eager, excited groups ; casm, or cutting contempt, or hot-headed indig. carriages rolled rapidly and thickly through the nation. I noted them more after what Léon busy streets; orderlies rode to and fro from one
said to me the evening of the declaration. post to another; soldiers passed and repassed to All the others had retired to rest, and he and the sound of stirring music, cheered with frantic I were standing looking down upon the partially enthusiasm wherever they went. In hotels, at illuminated city, and listening to the hoarse roar crowded table d'hôtes, at the social board, round of the multitude that thronged the streets. We the quiet home-hearth, there was but one watch- had been silent some time, occupied with our own word, one topic--the War. How could we thoughts, when a body of excited, half-tipsy think the flag of France, that fluttered gaily in ouvriers paraded the street before our house, the soft summer air from so many parts of the singing snatches of war-songs, and shouting, “A rejoicing city, would soon be torn from its high Berlin! à Berlin!” at intervals.
As they pinnacle, steeped in the nation's life-blood, and passed out of sight and hearing, I thought i trampled in the dust by the victorious foe!
heard a suppressed sigh from Léon. I had long No one seemed to dream of defeat. A bold wished to ask him to tell me his full opinion; as dash over the broad Rhine, a victorious pro- to the war—this was a good opportunity. So gress through a terror-stricken land, a triumphal I began,—"Léon, you do not like this war. entry into a vanquished capital, a glorious return Why? Is it not a just one? Will France be of laurel-crowned victors,-these were the things beaten ?” of which mien, and women too, talked in those He smiled rather sadly, I thought, and an
swered," Three questions at once, Renée; which now in a state of embryo mutiny. Officer dismust I answer first ?”
trusts officer; men- But it is useless dwelling “But,” I said very earnestly, “I mean, what upon this gloomy picture, Renée, and there are do you think about the war? Why are you so bright exceptions-brave men and true, in office grave and silent, when others, your brother- and in ranks. We must hope for the best.” officers even, are so enthusiastic over it? It “But your own regiment, Léon ?” frightens me, Léon. If you, who are so brave His face brightened. “Ah, it is one of the and fearless, are afraid of the result, you must Emperor's picked ones. The men are a fine set have good reason. What is it?”
of fellows, for the most part, in better order and He was silent a moment, then answered in discipline than many." low, grave voice: “I am afraid for France, " Do you think, then, the Germans are so Renée. She is rushing madly against a foe much better prepared than we?” without measuring her relative strength."
“Yes, Renée. The six months I spent in “But, Léon,” I said, “ surely our powerful Germany a year ago first opened my eyes to the armies—our legions of brave soldiers—will be superiority of their military system over our own. more than a match for those stupid Germans.” You heard me explain it to-night. And it will
Stupid Germans !'--ah, Renée, you do not not be with Prussia alone we shall have to fight, know of what you are speaking; and all is not but with united Germany. The different states gold that glitters.”
will join as one man to do battle for the Father" Then you are doubtful of the result ?” land. My friend Von Hergheim left this morn
"More than doubtful. As I said before, I am ing. He told me, when he bade me farewell afraid for France. Goaded on by her rulers, she yesterday, how, since the first probability of is rushing to her doom. Renée, you, at least, strife appeared, his countrymen, of all nationmust know how my heart bleeds to say these alities, were making their way homewards-from things. We may win-God grant we may!—but England, from Russia, from every point of the odds are desperately against us.”
Europe-yes, even across the wide Atlantic it“Léon, Léon, how can this be? Everyone says self-all to be absorbed in that great machine, how wonderfully strong are our armies and fleets; the German army. The Emperor has reckoned what immense sums have been spent upon them; without his host in hoping for the support of and where are braver men than French soldiers ?” any of the states disaffected to Prussia.-But do
“All true, Renée: our armies are strong—on not look so rueful, Renée. I ought not to have paper; immense sums have been spent upon them spoken to you thus, but my mind was so full of -nominally. French soldiers are brave, but the subject when you asked me. All may yet be bravery is not all. Long before this war was well. And perhaps the over-confidence and thought of, I have felt convinced that our whole flippancy with which most men look on these army system is rotten to its core. Money has things make me over-fearful. Necessity is a stern been lavishly squandered, but not accounted for teacher, and pressure brings out hidden stores Ignorance prevails to a frightful extent among from latent sources in men's hearts and minds. our soldiery,—not in the ranks alone, alas ! I grieve to have troubled you, Renée.” And the discipline is fearfully lax. The manage- “Ah, Léon, when have we had an unshared ment of our commissariat and military stores trouble?” must assuredly break down under the tremen- I saw a shade pass over his face even -in the dous strain that will be put upon it at so short dim light, and I knew he was thinking of his a notice. Then the men—they are brave indeed. unconfessed love for Nina. Yet it was no secret Yes; they would follow their officer cheerfully to me. A little longer we talked, of nothing I to breast a bayonet charge, or face the cannon's need record here. But these words of Léon's mouth, or dash forward on a forlorn hope ; but sank deeply into my heart. All the more so bethey will not obey him in minor matters-in cause I hid them there. In the dreary afterbarracks or in camp. Many regiments are even days, when German cannon boomed round us,
when German iron and steel girt us in, in one vast In my blindness and pain I knelt that night, prison-house, how often I looked back on their calling upon every saint I could think of to plead prophetic truth!
with the blessed Virgin to intercede for us with When we parted for the night, and Léon's her Son. Ah! well may tears gather thickly last tender words of hope and cheer had been and fall, blotting my letters as I trace them, as spoken, I went to my own room--through the I think how I wronged Him, the utterance of one in which I was thankful to see my mother whose loving lips was ever,
“ Come-come unto sleeping quietly--with a dull, heavy sense of me, unto me--unto myself.” Thank God, I know utter consternation growing upon me. Dark heavy him now, not as the terrible Christ, enthroned clouds were gathering round, with no rift in their amidst appalling judgment thunders, needing the heavy folds through which the rays of the Sun intercessions of myriads of saints to turn aside of righteousness could glint. Forebodings, all the edge of his vengeful sword, but as the meek the more difficult to contend with because they and lowly Jesus—the “Man of sorrows” once were so vague, weighed upon my heart. And I below—the Man in glory now above, "touched had never heard of One whose loving hands are with the feeling of our infirmities,” ever pleadever stretched forth to lift the burden from the ing, ever watching, ever caring for those whose failing shoulder--the weight from the oppressed trials he gauges, not alone by his omniscient heart. Oh, had I known then of Him who says wisdom, but by deep experience gathered with to all, “ Come unto me, all ye that are weary and "strong crying and tears in the days of his flesh" heavy laden-Cast your burden, all your care, --sharing still the sorrows and weaknesses of those upon me, for I care for you, and will in no wise whom he has purchased, not with "silver and cast out," I had not knelt so long that night, gold," but with his own precious blood-the with weary frame and troubled heart, before the fountain, the one only fountain, opened for sin pictured form of her who, while she called that and uncleanness. gracious One son, bent the knee before Him as It was no new thing for me to feel, in hours Saviour, and rejoiced in His salvation.
of anxiety and pain, that aching void within, The dawn was breaking dim and gray before, which no earthly treasure, however precious, can
, uncalmed and unsoothed, I slept at last. How fill, the deep yearnings which no mere human voice, .
, could I know those calm, untroubled faces in the however tender, can still. I could recall hours saintly ranks above would bend down from their in my
childhood when I dreamed of a time when unbroken quiet of holy, unrufiled repose to com- :
both might be satisfied in the holy calm of the passionate my unrest? When the taint and de- cloister's solitude; but since my early girlhood filement of earthly passion and feeling was purged life's cares and duties had so thickened round me away, would not the memory of, and sympathy as to make me put away the fulfilment of that with, earthly pain and sorrow vanish too? And dream, and gird myself for the battle of outer if not, how many were claiming their aid that life, shutting my ears, when I could, to the innight !-many who needed it more than I-if ward voices that spoke of God and eternity, lest that could be; for many would be called to lay they should unfit me for the secular path I was many offerings on the gorgeous altar of war--I, resolved to tread, not of gaiety and follywe, only one. Yet might it not be that that these had little charm for me—but of family one to us was as much as the many to others ? usefulness and domestic love. I was needed at But would the saints measure that duly ? Could home. Others might work out their salvation in they? Yet what hope was there for us---sisters, cloister and in cell; I must be of those who cling mothers, children of France--but in their favour to their skirts, and trust to their supererogatory and intercessions. How else could our need and works to help their pleadings to procure entrance sorrow and fear be noticed by Him who sat high at last, when purgatory should have done its above them all, with the lightnings of judgment cleansing work, into the rest of soul and spirit and wrath ready to fall from his mighty hands that could never be my portion below. Oh, how upon our guilty nation!
thick is the gloomy veil of falsehood and error
man and Satan have conspired to weave, to hide welcome change from the stagnation of barrack from weary, sinful eyes the glorious light of life and parade duties to the stirring prospect gospel truth as it is in Jesus !
of camp and field, the hopeful elasticity of youth rebounding from the restraint of anxious thought
and troubled probing into the roots of things CHAPTER IV.
that had been his of late, alike tended to quench A BLIGHTED DREAM.
the haunting whispers born of quiet midnight “Oh! Anger is an evil thing,
hours of study and research.
When I said something to him about it, he
answered, “A soldier's duty is not to examine, One angry moment often does What we repent for years ;
to question, to despond, Renée, but to obey and It works the wrong we ne'er make right
press forwards. In time of peace, it is well to By sorrow or by tears."
look round and point out the weak parts in the The next day was our pretty Marie's bridal. It fortress; but in time of war, we must put on a took place in the old church of St. Roch; it was bold front and stop the breach with our bodies. the wish of the bridegroom's parents that their And in face of the foe I cannot believe France only son should be wedded in the gray old walls can be untrue to her old hereditary fame. There which had witnessed their own union and his is a spirit among her soldiers now worthy of baptism. They kept a baker's shop in the Rue the traditions of a glorious past. If it will only St. Honoré, hard by, which was to belong to last, and bear out the vicissitudes of a long and Jules and Marie then, while the old people rested trying campaign.” with them in their quiet evening days. We- “ And will it?” Nina, Uncle Lucien, Arnaud, and I-were present. A shade of the old care swept over his face as And a pretty sight it was, Jules with his straight he answered, "I do not ask myself the question, manly figure, and proudly happy face; little Renée. For the present I have to strain every Marie, shrinking, blushing, trembling, her round nerve to do what one man can to forward precheek pale and red by turns, her bright eyes parations in my own company; by-and-by to lead veiled by the long dark lashes, and her rosy lip them, perhaps, against the enemy, and show quivering between smiles and sobs. Ah, how them how Frenchmen should meet the foe. For fearfully changed must have been that innocent the rest, time must decide. Do you
remember childish face ere the terrible day on which the words of the English poet, Renée :Augustine saw it last! Ah, Marie, poor bright
"Theirs not to reason whyeyed Marie, there was no presentiment of coming
Theirs but to do and die 'q" doom in the April tears and half-joyful sobs At this moment Léon was summoned away, with which you left the house that had sheltered and I sat still with those last ominous words your orphan youth for the home in which the ringing in my ear, "to do and die.” A cold chill meshes of a fearful fate began ere long to gather crept over me. What if they should be proround your heedless footsteps.
phetic? What if Léon, our Léon, should be Our fears and Léon's hopes were soon fulfilled. / among those who returned no more? For there His regiment received orders almost immediately would be such, many such. Yet we little to hold itself in readiness to proceed to the front. realized then how strong was that probability. It was to form part of the “Army of the The idea of the danger was shadowy and vague, Rhine." We saw little of him those days; he until the dim echoes of the far-off strife reached went out early and returned late, and when he our shrinking ears. It was the separation we was at home was full of life and animation, eagerly thought of most. discussing plans and probabilities, and seeming The dear mother bore her pain with the same to have thrown his doubts and forebodings to sweet, uncomplaining patience she always showed the winds. The soldier instincts so strong in in bodily suffering. Her brow was calm, and a bis nation and his race asserted their power; the faint smile rested as usual upon her gentle lips.