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I began by calling him lucky, and he was, in a sense. But

2023-12-01 20:23:10 source:A Spring Dream Netauthor: reading click:468Second-rate

"Bernard, we are both of us victims of a vicious family. This is not the moment to pile up charges against those who in this very hour are standing before the terrible tribunal of God; but they have done me an irreparable wrong--they have broken my heart. The wrong they have done you shall be repaired--I swear it by the memory of your mother. They have deprived you of education; they have made you a partner in their brigandage; yet your soul has remained great and pure as was the soul of the angel who gave you birth. You will correct the mistakes which others made in your childhood; you will receive an education suitable to your rank. And then, Bernard, you will restore the honour of your family. You will, won't you? Promise me this, Bernard. It is the one thing I long for. I will throw myself at your knees if so I may win your confidence; and I shall win it, for Providence has destined you to be my son. Ah, once it was my dream that you should be more completely mine. If, when I made my second petition, they had granted you to my loving care, you would have been brought up with my daughter and you would certainly have become her husband. But God would not have it so. You have now to begin your education, whereas hers is almost finished. She is of an age to marry; and, besides, her choice is already made. She loves M. de la Marche; in fact, their marriage is soon to take place. Probably she had told you."

I began by calling him lucky, and he was, in a sense. But

I stammered out a few confused words. The affection and generous ideas of this noble man had moved me profoundly, and I was conscious of a new nature, as it were, awakening within me. But when he pronounced the name of his future son-in-law, all my savage instincts rose up again, and I felt that no principle of social loyalty would make me renounce my claim to her whom I regarded as my fairly won prize. I grew pale; I grew red; I gasped for breath. Luckily, we were interrupted by the Abbe Aubert (the Jansenist cure), who came to inquire how I was after my fall. Then for the first time the chevalier heard of my accident; an incident that had escaped him amid the press of so many more serious matters. He sent for his doctor at once, and I was overwhelmed with kind attentions, which seemed to me rather childish, but to which I submitted from a sense of gratitude.

I began by calling him lucky, and he was, in a sense. But

I had not dared to ask the chevalier for any news of his daughter. With the abbe, however, I was bolder. He informed me that the length and uneasiness of her sleep were causing some anxiety; and the doctor, when he returned in the evening to dress my ankle, told me that she was very feverish, and that he was afraid she was going to have some serious illness.

I began by calling him lucky, and he was, in a sense. But

For a few days, indeed, she was ill enough to cause anxiety. In the terrible experience she had gone through she had displayed great energy; but the reaction was correspondingly violent. For myself, I was also kept to my bed. I could not take a step without feeling considerable pain, and the doctor threatened that I should be laid up for several months if I did not submit to inaction for a few days. As I was otherwise in vigorous health, and had never been ill in my life, the change from any active habits to this sluggish captivity caused me indescribable /ennui/. Only those who have lived in the depths of woods, and experienced all the hardships of a rough life, can understand the kind of horror and despair I felt on finding myself shut up for more than a week between four silk curtains. The luxuriousness of my room, the gilding of my bed, the minute attentions of the lackeys, everything, even to the excellence of the food-- trifles which I had somewhat appreciated the first day--became odious to me at the end of twenty-four hours. The chevalier paid me affectionate but short visits; for he was absorbed by the illness of his darling daughter. The abbe was all kindness. To neither did I dare confess how wretched I felt; but when I was alone I felt inclined to roar like a caged lion; and at night I had dreams in which the moss in the woods, the curtain of forest trees, and even the gloomy battlements of Roche-Mauprat, appeared to me like an earthly paradise. At other times, the tragic scenes that had accompanied and followed my escape were reproduced so vividly by my memory that, even when awake, I was a prey to a sort of delirium.

A visit from M. de la Marche stirred my ideas to still wilder disorder. He displayed the deepest interest in me, shook me by the hand again and again, and implored my friendship, vowed a dozen times that he would lay down his life for me, and made I don't know how many other protestations which I scarcely heard, for his voice was like a raging torrent in my ears, and if I had had my hunting-knife I believe I should have thrown myself upon him. My rough manners and sullen looks astonished him very much; but, the abbe having explained that my mind was disturbed by the terrible events which had happened in my family, he renewed his protestations, and took leave of me in the most affectionate and courteous manner.

This politeness which I found common to everybody, from the master of the house to the meanest of his servants, though it struck me with admiration, yet made me feel strangely ill at ease; for, even if it had not been inspired by good-will towards me, I could never have brought myself to understand that it might be something very different from real goodness. It bore so little resemblance to the facetious braggadocio of the Mauprats, that it seemed to me like an entirely new language, which I understood but could not speak.

However, I recovered the power of speech when the abbe announced that he was to have charge of my education, and began questioning me about my attainments. My ignorance was so far beyond anything he could have imagined that I was getting ashamed to lay it all bare; and, my savage pride getting the upper hand, I declared that I was a gentleman, and had no desire to become a clerk. His only answer was a burst of laughter, which offended me greatly. He tapped me quickly on the shoulder, with a good-natured smile, saying that I should change my mind in time, but that I was certainly a funny fellow. I was purple with rage when the chevalier entered. The abbe told him of our conversation and of my little speech. M. Hubert suppressed a smile.

"My boy," he said, in a kind tone, "I trust I may never do anything to annoy you, even from affection. Let us talk no more about work to-day. Before conceiving a taste for it you must first realize its necessity. Since you have a noble heart you can not but have a sound mind; the desire for knowledge will come to you of itself. And now to supper. I expect you are hungry. Do you like wine?"

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