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- WHITE LIES - 77/77 -


"No violence, if you please," said the lady with cold hauteur. "Let us be friends, as Josephine and Raynal are. We cannot be anything more to one another now. You have wounded me too deeply by your jealous, suspicious nature."

Edouard gasped for breath, and was so far out-generalled that he accepted the place of defendant. "Wasn't I to believe your own lips? Did not Colonel Raynal believe you?"

"Oh, that's excusable. He did not know me. But you were my lover; you ought to have seen I was forced to deceive poor Raynal. How dare you believe your eyes; much more your ears, against my truth, against my honor; and then to believe such nonsense?" Then, with a grand assumption of superior knowledge, says she, "You little simpleton, how could the child be mine when I wasn't married at all?"

At this reproach, Edouard first stared, then grinned. "I forgot that," said he.

"Yes, and you forgot the moon isn't made of green cheese. However, if I saw you very humble, and very penitent, I might, perhaps, really forgive you--in time."

"No, forgive me at once. I don't understand your angelical, diabolical, incomprehensible sex: who on earth can? forgive me."

"Oh! oh! oh! oh!"

Lo! the tears that could not come at a remonstrance were flowing in a stream at his generosity.

"What is the matter now?" said he tenderly. She cried away, but at the same time explained,--

"What a f--f--foolish you must be not to see that it is I who am without excuse. You were my betrothed. It was to you I owed my duty; not my sister. I am a wicked, unhappy girl. How you must hate me!"

"I adore you. There, no more forgiving on either side. Let our only quarrel be who shall love the other best."

"Oh, I know how that will be," said the observant toad. "You will love me best till you have got me; and then I shall love you best; oh, ever so much."

However, the prospect of loving best did not seem disagreeable to her; for with this announcement she deposited her head on his shoulder, and in that attitude took a little walk with him up and down the Pleasaunce: sixty times; about eight miles.

These two were a happy pair. This wayward, but generous heart never forgot her offence, and his forgiveness. She gave herself to him heart and soul, at the altar, and well she redeemed her vow. He rose high in political life: and paid the penalty of that sort of ambition; his heart was often sore. But by his own hearth sat comfort and ever ready sympathy. Ay, and patient industry to read blue-books, and a ready hand and brain to write diplomatic notes for him, off which the mind glided as from a ball of ice.

In thirty years she never once mentioned the servants to him.

"Oh, let eternal honor crown her name!"

It was only a little bit of heel that Dard had left in Prussia. More fortunate than his predecessor (Achilles), he got off with a slight but enduring limp. And so the army lost him.

He married Jacintha, and Josephine set them up in Bigot's, (deceased) auberge. Jacintha shone as a landlady, and custom flowed in. For all that, a hankering after Beaurepaire was observable in her. Her favorite stroll was into the Beaurepaire kitchen, and on all fetes and grand occasions she was prominent in gay attire as a retainer of the house. The last specimen of her homely sagacity I shall have the honor to lay before you is a critique upon her husband, which she vented six years after marriage.

"My Dard," said she, "is very good as far as he goes. What he has felt himself, that he can feel FOR: nobody better. You come to him with an empty belly, or a broken head, or all bleeding with a cut, or black and blue, and you shall find a friend. But if it is a sore heart, or trouble, and sorrow, and no hole in your carcass to show for it, you had better come to ME; for you might as well tell your grief to a stone wall as to my man."

The baroness took her son Raynal to Paris, and there, with keen eye, selected him a wife. She proved an excellent one. It would have been hard if she had not, for the baroness with the severe sagacity of her age and sex, had set aside as naught a score of seeming angels, before she could suit herself with a daughter-in-law. At first the Raynals very properly saw little of the Dujardins; but when both had been married some years, the recollection of that fleeting and nominal connection waxed faint, while the memory of great benefits conferred on both sides remained lively as ever in hearts so great, and there was a warm, a sacred friendship between the two houses--a friendship of the ancient Greeks, not of the modern club-house.

Camille and Josephine were blessed almost beyond the lot of humanity: none can really appreciate sunshine but those who come out of the cold dark. And so with happiness. For years they could hardly be said to live like mortals: they basked in bliss. But it was a near thing; for they but just scraped clear of life-long misery, and death's cold touch grazed them both as they went.

Yet they had heroic virtues to balance White Lies in the great Judge's eye.

A wholesome lesson, therefore, and a warning may be gathered from this story: and I know many novelists who would have preached that lesson at some length in every other chapter, and interrupted the sacred narrative to do it. But when I read stories so mutilated, I think of a circumstance related by Mr. Joseph Miller.

"An Englishman sojourning in some part of Scotland was afflicted with many hairs in the butter, and remonstrated. He was told, in reply, that the hairs and the butter came from one source--the cow; and that the just and natural proportions hitherto observed, could not be deranged, and bald butter invented--for ONE. 'So be it,' said the Englishman; 'but let me have the butter in one plate, and the hairs in another.'"

Acting on this hint, I have reserved some admirable remarks, reflections, discourses, and tirades, until the story should be ended, and the other plate be ready for the subsidiary sermon.

And now that the proper time is come, that love of intruding one's own wisdom in one's own person on the reader, which has marred so many works of art, is in my case restrained--first, by pure fatigue; secondly, because the moral of this particular story stands out so clear in the narrative, that he who runs may read it without any sermon at all.

Those who will not take the trouble to gather my moral from the living tree, would not lift it out of my dead basket: would not unlock their jaw-bones to bite it, were I to thrust it into their very mouths.


WHITE LIES - 77/77

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