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ampleness of a gesture indicating the sweep of a vast horizon.

2023-12-01 21:10:31 source:A Spring Dream Netauthor: nature click:145Second-rate

"Ah, that comes of my scratching your back. Youth is ever generous. Come, Mauprat, take courage. Follow the abbe's advice; he is a good man. Try to please your cousin; she is a star in the firmament. Find out truth; love the people; hate those who hate them; be ready to sacrifice yourself for them. . . . Yes, one word more--listen. I know what I am saying--become the people's friend."

ampleness of a gesture indicating the sweep of a vast horizon.

"Is the people, then, better than the nobility, Patience? Come now, honestly, since you are a wise man, tell me the truth."

ampleness of a gesture indicating the sweep of a vast horizon.

"Ay, we are worth more than the nobles, because they trample us under foot, and we let them. But we shall not always bear this, perhaps. No; you will have to know it sooner or later, and I may as well tell you now. You see yonder stars? They will never change. Ten thousand years hence they will be in the same place and be giving forth as much light as to-day; but within the next hundred years, maybe within less, there will be many a change on this earth. Take the word of a man who has an eye for the truth of things, and does not let himself be led astray by the fine airs of the great. The poor have suffered enough; they will turn upon the rich, and their castles will fail and their lands be carved up. I shall not see it; but you will. There will be ten cottages in the place of this park, and ten families will live on its revenue. There will no longer be servants or masters, or villein or lord. Some nobles will cry aloud and yield only to force, as your uncles would do if they were alive, and as M. de la Marche will do in spite of all his fine talk. Others will sacrifice themselves generously, like Edmee, and like yourself, if you listen to wisdom. And in that hour it will be well for Edmee that her husband is a man and not a mere fop. It will be well for Bernard Mauprat that he knows how to drive a plough or kill the game which the good God has sent to feed his family; for old Patience will then be lying under the grass in the churchyard, unable to return the services which Edmee has done him. Do not laugh at what I say, young man; it is the voice of God that is speaking. Look at the heavens. The stars live in peace, and nothing disturbs their eternal order. The great do not devour the small, and none fling themselves upon their neighbours. Now, a day will come when the same order will reign among men. The wicked will be swept away by the breath of the Lord. Strengthen your legs, Seigneur Mauprat, that you may stand firm to support Edmee. It is Patience that warns you; Patience who wishes you naught but good. But there will come others who wish you ill, and the good must make themselves strong."

ampleness of a gesture indicating the sweep of a vast horizon.

We had reached Patience's cottage. He had stopped at the gate of his little inclosure, resting one hand on the cross-bar and waving the other as he spoke. His voice was full of passion, his eyes flashed fire, and his brow was bathed in sweat. There seemed to be some weird power in his words as in those of the prophets of old. The more than plebeian simplicity of his dress still further increased the pride of his gestures and the impressiveness of his voice. The French Revolution has shown since that in the ranks of the people there was no lack of eloquence or of pitiless logic; but what I saw at that moment was so novel, and made such an impression on me, that my unruly and unbridled imagination was carried away by the superstitious terrors of childhood. He held out his hand, and I responded with more of terror than affection. The sorcerer of Gazeau Tower hanging the bleeding owl above my head had just risen before my eyes again.

When I awoke on the morrow in a state of exhaustion, all the incidents of the previous night appeared to me as a dream. I began to think that Edmee's suggestion of becoming my wife had been a perfidious trick to put off my hopes indefinitely; and, as to the sorcerer's words, I could not recall them without a feeling of profound humiliation. Still, they had produced their effect. My emotions had left traces which could never be effaced. I was no longer the man of the day before, and never again was I to be quite the man of Roche-Mauprat.

It was late, for not until morning had I attempted to make good my sleepless night. I was still in bed when I heard the hoofs of M. de la Marche's horse on the stones of the courtyard. Every day he used to come at this hour; every day he used to see Edmee at the same time as myself; and now, on this very day, this day when she had tried to persuade me to reckon on her hand, he was going to see her before me, and to give his soulless kiss to this hand that had been promised to myself. The thought of it stirred up all my doubts again. How could Edmee endure his attentions if she really meant to marry another man? Perhaps she dared not send him away; perhaps it was my duty to do so. I was ignorant of the ways of the world into which I was entering. Instinct counselled me to yield to my hasty impulses; and instinct spoke loudly.

I hastily dressed myself. I entered the drawing-room pale and agitated. Edmee was pale too. It was a cold, rainy morning. A fire was burning in the great fire-place. Lying back in an easy chair, she was warming her little feet and dozing. It was the same listless, almost lifeless, attitude of the days of her illness. M. de la Marche was reading the paper at the other end of the room. On seeing that Edmee was more affected than myself by the emotions of the previous night, I felt my anger cool, and, approaching her noiselessly, I sat down and gazed on her tenderly.

"Is that you, Bernard?" she asked without moving a limb, and with eyes still closed.

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