« PreviousContinue »
French novelist would tell us that he bear to meet with them. Besides, he had met his destiny. At all events, wished to continue his studies, which he considered himself fortunate to have would suffer by interruption. But he fallen in with so charming a person, did not now devote himself to his books who joined to great beauty and accom- with half the zest with which he had beplishment a taste for his favorite sub- gun. His thoughts were far away in jeots of thought and talk.
that country region, wherever it was, Ernest and Louise met continually, where Louise resided, and he thought and each day they renewed their in- the summer never would end. To distimacy. They talked together, they tract his attention, he varied his reading, danced together, and before the end of added novels, poetry, and history to his three months the young man scarcely scientific books; and thus, with many missed an evening at the house of a yawn, and many a longing, and Madame de Lastange, where she re- many a weary hour, the time passed, sided when in town. People at last and when the salon of Madame de Lastbegan to insinuate to the old lady that ange again opened, Ernest presented the friendship of the young people was himself the very first evening. rather warmer than should properly Louise de Redonte was there, more exist between a student in medicine lovely than ever, and she welcomed the and a rich heiress. A few days after young man, as he eagerly advanced to this Ernest missed Mademoiselle Louise greet her, with a smile which filled him de Redonte from the evenings of Ma- with rapture.
Madame de Lastange dame de Lastange, who, without the looked on in some alarm. Louise was least change in her manner towards in mourning — she had lost her uncle him, informed him that she was gone nearly six months, and she was rich in to the country to her uncle, where, in- the extreme. She was surrounded at deed, she spent the greater part of the once by a perfect host of suitors, but year. She was a kind-hearted woman, she gave encouragement to none. and by this separation simply wished Ernest still continued her favorite com- to spare both the pain which she panion, to the great annoyance of the thought must ensue if their affections mass of young men about town, who became engaged. Ernest felt very would have been delighted to have dull—the charm of the soirées was given her their name, and to have spent gone. He did not cease to go, how- her hundred thousand francs of annual ever, because it was probable that he income. Still no one looked upon the might again see her there, but his visits intimacy of Louise and Ernest as anybecame less frequent, and thus the thing likely to end seriously. The season ended.
crowds of suitors who filled the salons During the long summer months that of Madame de Lastange supposed that ensued Ernest continued the study of the young lady was a clever person, his profession. He wrote to his mother and showed a preference for the conthat he should not come that year to versation of the medical student—an the country, because his disgust at his individual she could not marry-simneighbors was so great he could not ply that she might look round unobserved and unsuspected and choose “Where do you intend settling on for herself.
the completion of your studies ?" said “My dear Louise,” said her friend Louise one evening. one day to her, “how much longer do " In Paris, or some other large town," you mean to keep the men in suspense ? replied Ernest. There are more than a dozen dying " In town! I thought you preferred for love"
country life," continued she, as if some" Of my château and cash,” replied what disappointed. Louise, laughing; “but I am quite sure “I did once, but I have changed my I shall see them all as rosy as ever mind. I originally intended devoting next season.'
myself to agriculture; but now I have “Do you not, then, mean to select a profession, I prefer living in cities.” your future husband before you again “But why?" bury yourself in your gloomy castle ?” “In the first place, to live in the said Madame de Lastange in an alarmed country, I should require a wife; but I tone.
despair of finding one suited to me,” “My dear madame, I am rich, I am replied Ernest, unaffectedly. young, I have time and independence. “ But what kind of a wife would I shall not choose a husband until I you like?” asked Louise, looking at have found a lover whose affection is him curiously. real, and whom I myself can like.” “May I tell you ? " said he timidly,
Madame de Lastange mentioned sev- looking up at her like a child looking eral of her suitors with high praise, at his mother when asking a favor. Of but Louise shook her head and found course he was allowed to speak his fault with all.
mind; and, need we add ? there was in “I have no patience with you,” cried almost no time a thorough mutual the good lady.
“You encourage that understanding. young student so much, that you have Next evening it was generally known no time to judge of the merits of others. that Ernest Delavigne and Louise de I have a great mind to close my door Redonte were affianced, to the great against him."
consternation of all fortune-hunters, “My dear Madame de Lastange," and the great joy of all those who replied Louise, gravely, "if you cease sympathized with truthful feeling and to receive my protégé, you will make sincere affection. But the salons of my evenings very dull. I shall run Madame de Lastange were no longer to the country a month sooner." crowded; the host of interested suitors
Madame de Lastange sighed, and vanished. turned away, but she studiously avoided “Do you know," said Louise one letting Ernest notice her annoyance; evening, as they were talking of the still, when the friends were together, future, “that I mean to make a regular she looked annoyed, and almost began patriarch of you? I have determined to agree with those who supposed to introduce among all my farmers and Louise to have some secret object in their neighbors the latest improvements, encouraging the medical student. and to give them the benefit of all the agricultural discoveries of England and it even more heartily than usual, and France."
went away. It was early, just before “It is useless making such attempts,” midnight; and as the other guests were replied Ernest, gravely, “ you will but about to depart, the bonne of Madame de lose your temper and your time.”
Lastange gave a letter to Louise, who “ Monsieur ! Why you are as bad alone, in a little boudoir where she as the Fool of Laboudie."
had retired, at once opened and read “ Hah ?” said Ernest, turning very it:pale.
“I write not in anger, but in deep “ Why," continued the merry girl, sorrow. I love you too much to expose without noticing his uneasiness, “you you to a life of misery. You have must know that my castle is close to expressed too much contempt for Laboudie."
persons of my character not to be very “Oh!" replied Ernest.
unhappy when you know me better. “ Well, there came from a neighbor- You will doubtless find, however, one ing town, some two years back, a young worthy of you. I shall seek, after that man belonging to our place, who had severe but just lesson which I have studied agriculture, and who desir- just received, to win your esteem, now ed, it appears, to reform the neighbor- that your love is impossible. Remember hood. Instead of introducing the change me kindly, if it be only because I have himself, however, he tried to persuade sufficient sense left to save you in time others to do so; told the ignorant farm- from everlasting unhappiness. This ers of what they might do, but did not night, at eleven, I start for home.” attempt to demonstrate his theories. “ What have I done?” cried Louise. People naturally enough laughed at his “ Poor Ernest ! how generous, how lectures—his disquisitions especially ; noble, now good ! Poor fellow! how as I am told he had land himself, and those thoughtless, bitter words must never thought of trying the sensible have gone to his heart! I must stop experiment of showing his neighbors by him. But, no: he is gone. Well, I practice the advantages he believed, but must wait until to-morrow. What a did not know, to exist. Such well-mean- night he will pass travelling! How ing men are worse than useless; they cruel he must think me!” And away stand more in the way of progress than she hurried to bed, as if by so doing the most obstinate devotee of antiquity; the morrow would come sooner. they are mere sentimental and not prac- Meanwhile Ernest, whose mind had tical reformers. But why so gloomy, been enlarged and elevated by more Ernest ? Surely I have not offend- extended studies, went away on his ed you? I see you are a little un- road home, subdued, dejected, and yet well. Good-night. Go home to bed, not wholly cast down. He saw disand tell your old concierge to make tinctly the truth of all that Louise had you some tisane.
It will soon be my said; he perceived where his owu office to take care of monsieur when errors lay, and determined to profit by he thinks proper to be ill."
the lesson. He arrived at home after Ernest took her proffered hand, shook a long journey, calm, serious, and full
of strong conviction of his own former had listened to the other's words with pride, which made his present humility deep interest. « Oh, it's nothing: a all the more pleasing. His mother was couple of nails and a screw are all that's delighted to see him; and when he wanted.” declared his intention of devoting Half an hour later the defect was himself in future to the farm, she was remedied, and the two eat breakfast doubly pleased. He took up his former together. The old man said that, if quarters, and then, after a day's rest, Ernest would now open his lectures, started for a long walk to recruit his they would be well attended of an evenbody, somewhat enervated by study ing; and, if confined to descriptions reand town life. He followed the high ferring to things the farmers began to road which led to the Château de understand, would continue so. The Plouvières, along which were several young man replied that he would make small farms, and one or two very exten- himself acquainted with what had been sive ones.
He walked along, his eyes done, and would deliver his first lecture fixed on the ground, in deep medita- on the following Tuesday. Next day, tion, until he was suddenly aroused by Ernest visited the model-farm of the a loud voice.
Château de Plouvières. He found a “Hollo there! Monsieur Ernest, I considerable tract of land under cultivawant to speak with you,” said the very tion. The farmers and their families old farmer whom he had first made an felt and saw the great benefits which attempt upon nearly two years before. lay within their grasp, and, as their pa
“What is it?” replied young Dela- trons gave them facilities for paying for vigne, raising his head a little haughti- all new implements by instalments, ly; “what can you have to say to the few refused to avail themselves of the opFool of Laboudie"
portunity. On fête days and holidays “Sir," cried the other, as they ap- the whole neighborhood came to the proached each other, “I beg your model-farm, to amuse themselves by pardon, and we all beg your par- looking around; and a change, he said, don. But do you not see we did not was already perceptible. One house, understand your fine talk? and we which had been burnt down close by, could not believe what we didn't had been rebuilt upon new principles
But then Mademoiselle Louise, with regard to comfort and cleanliness, our guardian-angel, had just finished her and all were anxious to follow the model-farm, and there she had all the example. improvements of which you told us. Ernest was more than ever convinced Well, when we saw that they were of the wisdom of the practical course better ways than we knew of, you see adopted by the Count de Plouvières we agreed to try, and I've bought a and Louise de Redonte. He saw clearnew plough-here it is—and it's a ly that if we would induce men to belittle out of order, and it's just to ask lieve in our precepts, we must practise your advice about mending it that I them ourselves; and that one example called you."
is worth a hundred expositions. He “ With pleasure,” said Ernest, who went away filled with admiration at the
nobility of character, the sound sense But one person lingered behind, and and wisdom of the young reformer, and stood within the barn when all had left with his heart doubly imbued with love it save Ernest and his mother. They for the beautiful girl. He prepared had reached the door before they his lecture in his mind during the made the discovery. whole three days which intervened, “Mademoiselle la Comtesse,” said and, when the hour came, entered the Madame Delavigne respectfully. barn amid loud applause. The place “ Ernest !” replied she, holding out was full. The whole neighborhood, her hand. male and female, was there. Every- “ Louise !” exclaimed be, for he saw body understood that the object of in the smile which accompanied the offer Ernest Delavigne had been good; and of her hand that she was unchanged. all blamed themselves for not com- << And so monsieur runs away,
and prehending him, though in reality the I must run after him!” said Louise, fault was with him, who had not under- taking his arm. “What think you, stood the right way to proceed. madame," she continued: “your son
He began. In eloquent words, with a month ago asked me to marry him; deep and strong feeling, he drew a I consented, and a week ago he ran picture of Laboudie before and after away, declaring he would not have me. the return of Louise from England; he Am I not very good to come and fetch compared in a humorous way the dif- him?" ferent line pursued by the young lady
« Louise! Louise !” cried Ernest and the Fool of Laboudie; he acknowl- passionately ; “I did not think you edged her means to be greater, but could marry the Fool of Laboudie." also allowed that he might have made “My dear friend, my speech of the bis own land the model-farm by in- other evening only shows how wrong dustriously devoting himself to the people are to judge from appearances. very course of improvement which he I had only heard a description of you recommended; he called down the under that name from an old servant, blessings of heaven on the lovely whose gossip I have been sufficiently patroness of the locality, hardly able punished for retailing." to restrain tears as he spoke, and then “But, my son," cried the amazed opened with his subject. He used mother, “what is the meaning of all simple and plain language ; he spoke this ??? of things which all began to understand, “My dear madame, that we are to and was listened to with deep interest be married, according to the previous and respectful attention. When he agreement, to-morrow three weeks," sat down the barn almost seemed about said Louise, taking her hand; " and to fall, so violently did they shake it that my husband is about to complete with their bravos and clapping of hands. the work which I have so imperfectly But it was late, and most had a long begun." way to go ; so the assemblage dispersed The whole affair was the most offafter receiving gratefully the promise hand thing imaginable. The marriage of a continuation that day week. of these two clever people-each clever