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to esteem myself happy to pass my life with you; but I am tired of this place, and wish to leave it. Look at it; I am eighteen years old, and is it not a shame for me to waste your powder here in hunting rabbits, when I might burn it gloriously in the service of France? The life which I am leading here is intolerable. Every night I dream that I see the Emperor mounted on his charger at the head of his battalions, and start in my sleep, as if at the thunders of his cannon. The time is come when my dream must be realized. Would you prefer that I waste my youth in vain pleasures? If you love me, you must desire that you may have good cause to feel proud of the object of your affection. Do not weep. Think of the joy I shall give you on my return. What joy! What delight! I will return a colonel; I will hang my cross in your chamber, and I will beguile your evenings with the story of my battles."
And the cruel boy departed. Neither remonstrances, nor prayers, nor tears, could retain him. At that time the young men were all so. Soon letters began to arrive from him, like so many bulletins of glory and triumph-all redolent of powder, and written the day after conflict. At first a simple private in a regiment of cavalry; promoted after the battle of Essling, and again, a short time after, for his conduct in the battle of Wagram, where his gallantry had attracted the notice of the Emperor, his career to distinction was rapid and without interruption. Animated by the love of glory, he proved the wisdom of the observation of Puisaye, "that a year of practice is worth all the manoeuvres and all the drillings of the esplanade. Each of his letters was a hymn to war and to the hero, its god. At the commencement of the year 1811, his regiment being then at Paris, Bernard availed himself of a furlough of a few days to visit his old father. The old man was delighted. How handsome was the young officer in the uniform of a lieutenant of hussars! How charmingly did his blue cloak, trimmed with silver, set off the cloquent gracefulness of his form-slender and pliant as the young poplar! How gallantly did he wear upon his shoulders the fur-trimmed cape! How charmingly did his brown moustache relieve his thin
and rosy lip! How proudly hung his sword, and how the floor echoed to his sounding step! Stamply could hardly contain himself. He seized the young soldier by the hand, covered it with kisses, and almost doubted if he was his son.
Like the sun at its setting, the imperial star was now beaming with its most beautiful light, when a mortal chill struck the heart of France. An army of five hundred thousand men, among which the mother country reckoned two hundred and seventy thousand of her bravest and most valiant sons, had just crossed the Niemen to strike a blow at England in the icy bosom of Russia. The regiment to which Bernard belonged constituted a portion of the cavalry reserve corps, under the command of Murat. A letter was received at the castle, dated at Wilna; then another, in which Bernard mentioned that he had been appointed commander of a squadron after the affair of Voluntina; then a third; then-no more. weeks, months rolled away, but no tidings of Bernard! It was only known that a battle, the most terrible of modern times, had been fought on the plains of Moscow, and that the victory had cost the French army twenty thousand men. Twenty thousand men slain, and no letters! The Emperor is at Moscow, but no letters from Bernard! But still Stamply hoped. It is a great distance, he mused, from the castle of La Seigliére to the Kremlin, and between these two places communication, especially in time of war, cannot be very regular or safe. But sinister rumors began to circulate; soon these vague reports changed into a cry of fear, and mourning France counted with consternation the remnants of her shattered legions. And what was now passing at the castle? That, alas! which was passing in many other desolate hearts who were seeking a son in the ranks now decimated by the iron hail of war and the terrible frosts of Russia. Stamply decided to address himself to the minister of war for information as to the fate of Bernard. The response came quickly back. Bernard had fallen at Moscow.
Stamply withstood the shock; his grief did not entirely overcome him, though in the short space of as many months he seemed, to those who knew him, to have
added as many years to his life, and on | some occasions might be seen plunged in a sort of listlessness which bordered on imbecility. On these occasions he would wander up and down through the fields, in sunshine or in storm, bare-headed, and with a smile upon his lips; but a vague and inconstant smile, sadder and more affecting than tears. When he had recovered from his despondency, the good man, by degrees, began to remark a fact of which he had never before thought; it was that he had around him neither friends nor relations of any kind or degree, and that he was absolutely alone. He even thought he perceived that he was the object of the general contempt and reprobation of the neighborhood. And this had been true for some time. So long as the reign of terror had endured, and Master Stamply had remained modestly on his farm, his neighbors had troubled themselves but little about his fortune, or his successive acquisitions; but when a period of calm had succeeded to that frightful storm, and the farmer had publicly installed himself in the seigniorial castle, they began to open their eyes. And when, finally, escutcheons and titles began to reappear, like the fragments of a wreck after the tempest, a fearful concert of objurgations and calumnies assailed the unfortunate farmer from every direction. What did they say? Rather, what did they not say? Some, that he had robbed, spoiled, ruined, and driven away his master; others, that he had been appointed the secret agent of the marquis, and that, abusing their confidence, he refused to give up the domains and the castle which he had purchased with the money of the La Seiglieres. The amiable persons who, in '93, would have been enchanted with the decapitation of the marquis, now took to singing his virtues and deploring his exile. Fools and knaves were filled with joy at Stamply's troubles; and even in the eyes of some honest people, the probity of their neighbor was not entirely unequivocal. The sad end of the good old dame, and the remorse with which she was tormented in her last moments, gave color to the most unfavorable suspicions, and the life which Bernard led during his short stay at home, after his return from school, had carried envy to its
highest pitch of exasperation. He had been, at Poitiers and its vicinity, the universal theme of indignant and hostile remark; and even his death, losing no opportunity for insult, they insisted was a providential visitation, a merited expiation of his own and his father's iniquities. Instead of sympathy, Stamply received only reproach; and instead of offering him consolation in his misfortune, they threw in his face the dead body of his son.
While Bernard was alive, Stamply, occupied with his parental joy and pride, not only did not remark the feeling of hatred which was entertained towards him, but did not even suspect that calumny could make him its victim. Thus it is too often. The world is full of prejudice, excitement, restlessness and noise, while the object of its indignation is generally resting happy and tranquil in some quiet corner, entirely unconscious of the honor which the world is doing him. But when, after the death of his son who had been his universe, the old man threw here and there a look of desolation, and encountered no friendly hand, no affectionate heart, no benignant recognition, he at length perceived that he was hedged in as it were by a sanitary cordon; that he was shut up from inter course with the world like an infected city. His subordinates hated him because he had arisen from their ranks; the more opulent and cultivated of his neighborhood turned aside when they met him without a recognition. Even in process of time the village boys would insult him, and stone him as he passed through the streets. "See!" they shouted, "there goes that old miser of a Stamply, who has made his money by robbing his benefactors." He passed on his way with a downcast look and a tearful eye. His courage, which had so long supported him under the double weight of age and chagrin, gave way under the feeling of public hatred; his conscience, which had never been entirely at ease, now began to afflict him anew. In short, in his castle, in the midst of plenty, and surrounded by his vast domains, he lived alone, wretched and despised.
Let us now return to the other castle, which we mentioned at the commence
ment of this history as half concealed be- | hind a cluster of oaks, and eyeing with a somewhat dissatisfied air, the proud façade of its neighbor, which, with its domain, occupied both banks of the Clain. The castle of Vaubert had not always borne the humble appearance which it presented at the time of which we are now speaking. Before the Revolution had laid its hand upon it, it was a vast structure with its towers and bastions, its drawbridges and its fosses, its battlements and terraces-a true strong-hold, whose imposing massiveness stood forth in striking contrast to the elegant and richly ornamented architecture of its aspiring and graceful competitor. The domains which belonged to it, and had constituted from time immemorial the barony of Vaubert, yielded in no respect, whether in extent or value, to those of La Seigliére. In short, La Seigliére and Vaubert enjoyed an undisputed preeminence, and saving some little rivalries, inevitable between neighbors of such high and generally concurrent pretensions, the two houses had lived for centuries in almost uninterrupted intimacy, which latterly the common sentiment of danger had only tended to increase. Both emigrated the same day, followed the same route, selected the same corner of a foreign land, and lived together in their adversity, even more intimately than in their prosperity. They even joined such of their effects as they had been able to realize from their former possessions, and established themselves under the same roof in the most unrestricted community of goods, of hopes and regrets but with fewer hopes than regrets, and with less of goods than either. Like the Marquis, M. de Vaubert had a wife, and, moreover, a son, yet an infant, who was destined to grow up in exile.
The nobility of that period, so much calumniated when malignity and falsehood were suffered to go almost without molestation, showed at least, in the hour of trial, that they knew as well how to bear their evil fortune, as if they had never enjoyed a better.
Among those who had been reared in luxurious effeminacy, and who were for the most part distinguished for their giddiness, frivolity, and dissipation, there were found in the day of misfortune abundant displays of energy, courage and
resignation. Thus our little colony cheerfully settled down in its new habitation, and yielded to the inconveniences and discomforts of its new life, with an amiable philosophy. They occupied a house at the outer extremity of one of the main avenues of the city, which consisted of a main building flanked by two wings, called respectively the castles of Vaubert and La Seigliére. In the morning, never forgetting the requirements of etiquette, they interchanged calls, and in the evening met together in the common parlor for conversation and amusement, each bringing to these little parties their exquisite politeness and refinement of manners. The marchioness and the baroness added the cheer of their grace and beauty-the one, lovely from that pensive disinterestedness and quiet unconcern peculiar to those who are destined to a premature death; the other, a nature less poetic, but active, energetic, adventurous, worthy to shine on a more extended theatre or to mingle in the intrigues which were then transpiring in the salons of Vienna and Coblentz. They sometimes consoled themselves in a bon-mot, and occasionally indulged in a little sarcasm, with regard to the new rulers of France, but never suffered themselves to be betrayed into reproaches or vituperation. Nevertheless, it must be confessed that so much philosophy rested upon a foundation of delusion and almost entire inappreciation of passing events. This, in fact, is the true secret of that display of courage, energy and resignation, of which we have just spoken. They persisted in the belief that the great work then going on at home was only a bloody parade, played off by a band of assassins; and expected month after month, to see France chastised, and brought back to obedience. But the ruin of their hopes operated singularly upon their minds, and forced them to a more just and rational appreciation of the nature of the changes then going on around them. Like heedless children, they had at first enjoyed their expatriation; but when they began to comprehend that the game was in earnest, when they found that exile was taking them at their word, many began seriously to think of returning to France;-some to join in the intrigues of the royalists, who
now began to show signs of life in cer- | magnitude of no enterprise, and boldly tain sections of Paris; others, to attempt resolved to regain and rebuild the heritage to gather up, so far as possible, the meagre he had received from his fathers, and remains of their dissipated fortunes. The which it was his dearest wish to transmit Baron de Vaubert was of this latter class. to his offspring. Nevertheless, years rolled Never, in truth, had he been much pre- away before success crowned his efforts, possessed with the idea of exile; but his and it was not till 1810 that he was able to wife had drawn him thither in spite of repurchase what remained of his manor, himself, while he was continually im- with the grounds immediately surroundpressed with the conviction, that, with a ing it. Thus far had he succeeded in little management, he might have saved his purpose, when death surprised him both his property and his head. The soon after he had written for his wife and marquis, however, whether from firmness, son, whom he had not seen for now nearor obstinacy, or resentment, persisted in ly fifteen years. declaring that he would never return to France unless with his legitimate masters. The baron, therefore, departed alone, leaving to the result of his movement and the turn of events to decide whether he should send for his wife and son, or return to them.
M. de Vaubert found his castle dilapidated, his battlements demolished, his fosses filled up, his escutcheons defaced, his lands parcelled out, his entire property sold. But his was a positive, energetic character, and he had no idea of sacrificing himself to the romantic notions of chivalry. He had returned under an assumed name, and made it his first purpose to procure his name to be stricken from the list of emigrants. Resuming his title of baron, as soon as the higher classes of society began to resume their former position, his next purpose was to recover his barony; and to this he devoted all his energies.
There is nothing like adversity to develope in a man the industrious instincts which, as a whole, constitute what we call a turn for business. The moment, moreover, was well chosen. It was a period of change-of ruin and reconstruction. If old fortunes crumbled like paper castles, new ones sprung up from their ruins like toadstools the day after a shower. Every ambition has its allurement; every effort its promised reward. Parvenus encumbered the land. Men
grew rich in a day from hazardous speculations, and in the midst of individual prosperity the state alone seemed to suffer from extreme destitution. M. de Vaubert plunged into business with the adventurous audacity of a man who has nothing to lose. He quailed before the
Meanwhile, what had passed among the exiles? The marquis had grown old; the baroness was no longer young; her son Raoul was eighteen; and ten years since the marchioness had died in giving birth to a daughter, who was called Helen, and promised to rival the beauty of her mother. The letter of M. de Vaubert decided his wife to start at once. The separation was a sad one. Long acquaintance and a common misfortune had bound the Marquis and Madame de Vaubert by ties not easily sundered, while the children, notwithstanding the disparity in their ages loved each other tenderly. Their enemies have maliciously insinuated that their mutual bereavement was a mutual consolation; but all such insinuations are without foundation. The truth is that they had been friends for years, and when they were about to separate they felt the separation keenly. The baroness had pressed the marquis and his daughter go with her, offering them freely the hospitality of her husband's castle, and not entirely concealing the hope that Helen and Raoul might one day be united. The marquis did not desire to conceal that such a connection would be in accordance with his most cherished wishes; indeed, he had secretly entertained the hope for a long time, that such might the case eventually. He took the baroness at her word, and from that moment the young representatives of two apparently falling houses were affianced to each other. As to the proposition to return to France and make his home at the mansion of M. de Vaubert, M. de La Seigliére, though not without the greatest reluctance thus to separate from his companions in misfortune, gave her to understand with sufficient distinct
ness that it could not be accepted. Twenty years had been added to his life, but his ideas remained stationary. He could not pardon M. de Vaubert for having compromised his name by condescending to furnish supplies to the republican armies, and was not the man to share in the benefits of a fortune purchased at such a price. For no consideration whatever would he consent, by such proximity, even impliedly to countenance the usurpation of the throne of France, or to see the domains of La Seigliére in the hands of one of his servants. In his estimation Bonaparte and Stamply were only a couple of spoliators whom he ranked in the same line; the one was the Stamply of the Bourbons, the other, the Napoleon of La Seigliére. It was amusing to hear him, who, in many respects, was a most amiable person, converse upon this subject. Impatient, abrupt, full of confidence in a future which should restore the monarchy and its faithful servants to their former possessions, rights and privileges, he obstinately persisted in his refusal to set his foot upon the soil of France until, by the cane or the cannon, it should be purged of Stamplys of every sort.
The re-entry of Madame de Vaubert was a poem of poignant deceptions and bitter disenchantments. From the letter of her husband, who did not enter much into detail, and who had previously exaggerated the success of his enterprise, the baroness had fondly imagined that she should find the castle, with all its dependencies, just as she had left it. She was, therefore, not a little surprised, on arriving at Poitiers, that her husband, whom she had taken the precaution to advertise of the probable day of her arrival, did not meet her there with a carriage emblazoned with the baronial escutcheon. But there was a good reason why M. de Vaubert did not meet her at the appointed rendezvous, which, however, the baroness did not suspect. Being in haste to tread again upon her own lands, she took the arm of her son, and, having gained the banks of the Clain, followed the winding path which leads thence to the castle. One must have passed twenty years in exile, in order to comprehend and appreciate the emotions which stirred the heart of that woman, as she again breathed the
perfume of those fields where she had passed the delightful years of her youth. Her bosom heaved, and her eyes were moistened with tears. Nor was it, to her praise be it spoken, the sentiment of recovered possessions that moved her thus. She had experienced the same emotions on touching the soil of France; and now there was added to this love of the common country, the happy recollections, the sweet intoxication of a recovered homeof her own domain within that of her native land, of her paternal fields, and her hereditary roof. It is not the mind of a woman that can withstand such memories
as these; and though thus to limit one's country to the boundaries of our patrimonial fields be a kind of selfishness, yet it is a selfishness natural to the race, and never to be obliterated, save in the general wreck of the best affections of our nature.
Raoul, however, had no recollection of the places he was approaching, and did not share in the emotions of his mother. Still, his young heart leaped with pride and joy as he saw that the castle, the woods, the fields, and the meadows, which he had so many times dreamed of, as of some fabulous shores, were so near at hand, and that he had at length reached that seigniorial opulence of which he had so often heard, and to which he so ardently aspired. As they advanced, his mother pointed out to him the ocean of verdure which lay spread out before them, and said, with proud satisfaction: "All this, my son, is for you." She was overjoyed at the transports of the young man, and at the speedy prospect of introducing him to the Gothic manor of his ancestorsa true fortress without, but within a palace resplendent with the luxury of ten generations. Meanwhile no one came out to meet her; neither M. de Vaubert, nor a deputation of the farmers and their wives and daughters, with flowers in their hands and joy in their countenances, to welcome her return. Raoul himself, who, though he had grown up in the midst of privations, had been, at an early age, by the care and conversation of his mother and the marquis, thoroughly imbued with the high expectations permissible to the only son and heir of a wealthy and noble family, wondered not a little at the apparent indifference with which their coming was