Her Grace, the Drummer's Daughter
THE girl whose suggestion had brought about this change in her father’s household, introducing anxiety and tears and pain where these were almost strangers, was not exceeding joyous in view of what she had done. But she was resolved and calm. It was everything to her, that night when she lay down to rest, to know that the same roof that covered her was also spread above the prisoner, and all the joys of youth passed into forgetfulness as she thought and vowed to herself concerning the future.
It seemed, perhaps, a state of things involving no consequences, this sympathy that Elizabeth had shared with the gardener Sandy, when the prisoner’s eyes gazed on them from his window, or turned towards them while he walked in the garden; but Sandy said to himself, when she told him that they were to have Laval’s place in the prison, “ It took her !”—neither did it seem incredible to him when she assured him that the new house was like home. He honestly believed that with the child—child he considered her—all things were possible.
What he had lacked and missed so long that the restoration had a charm of novelty about it, added to its own excellency, was now the prisoner’s portion. Good manners, kind and courteous voices, greeted eyes and ears once more. As in the days of Joan Laval, a woman was now sometimes in attendance on the prisoner. But in not one particular did Pauline Montier resemble Joan Laval. She called herself a soldier’s wife, and was exact and brave accordingly. She was thoughtful of her husband’s charge, and when she paused in her efforts for his comfort and content, it was because she had exhausted the means within her reach, but not her wit in devising.
The effect was soon manifest. The prisoner received this care and sympathy as he might have received the ministration of angels. The attendance was almost entirely confined to Montier and his wife, but now and then Elizabeth also could serve him. She served him with her heart, with unobtrusive zeal that was exhaustless as the zeal of love. Unobserved, she watched, as well as waited on him; and oh, how jealous and impatient of time and authority did she become ! Her pity knew no limit; it beamed from her eyes, spoke through her voice, was unceasing in activity. He was to her a romance terrible and sweet, a romance that had more abundant fascination than the world could show beside.
She went up to his room one morning, carrying his breakfast. Her father had been ordered to the barracks, and her mother was not well; the service therefore fell upon her.
The prisoner did not seem to heed her when she entered; at least, he gave no sign, until she approached him, and even then was not the first to speak. Going to the window, her eyes followed his to the garden below.
“ It looks well this morning,” she said, pleasantly.
“ Yes,—but I have seen prettier,” he answered;
" Where ? ” she asked, so quickly that Manuel almost smiled as he looked at her before he answered. He knew why she spoke thus, and was not offended by the compassion of her sympathy.
“ In my own home, Elizabeth,” he answered.
“ Ar’n’t you ever going back to it, Sir ? ” she asked, hurriedly.
He did not reply.
“ Won’t you ever see it again? ” she persisted.
“ Banishment, — a prisoner for life,” said he, for the first time explaining to any person his dread sentence.
Elizabeth Montier quietly pondered the words thus spoken.
“ If you had your freedom,” said she, “ would you go back to your own country ?—-Your breakfast is cooling, Sir.”
Manuel looked at her,—she bore his scrutiny with composure,—then he came to the table, sat down, and broke his bread, before he answered this bold Speaking.
“ Yes,” said he, at length. “ An honorable man is bound to keep his honor clean. Mine has been blackened by some false accusation. I owe it to all who ever believed in me to clear it, if I can.”
“ And besides, your home is there.”
“ Oh, if you would only tell me about it! I don’t want to know for anybody else, — only for you. Did you leave many behind, that—that loved you, Mr. Manuel ? ”
“ Yes,” said the prisoner,—but be said no more.
This answer was sufficient; with it Elizabeth walked away from the table where he sat, and took her stand by the window. By-and-by she said, speaking low, but with firm accent,—
“ I am sorry I asked you anything about it; but I will never speak of it again. I heard it was for religion; but I know you could not hurt the Truth. They said you fought against the Church. Then I believe the Church was wrong.
I am not afraid to say it. I want you to understand. Of course I cannot do anything for you ; only I was so in hopes that I could! You must not be angry with me, Sir, for hoping that.”
The integrity of nature that spoke in these words came to the hearer’s heart with wondrous power and freshness. He looked at Elizabeth; she was gazing full on him, and lofty was the bearing of the girl; she had set her own fears and all danger and suspicion at defiance in these words. Partly he saw and understood, and he answered,—
“ I am not angry. You surprised me. I know you are not curious on your own account. But you can do nothing for me. I did fight against the Church, but not any Church that you know. I fought against an intolerant organization, boundless superstition, shameful idolatry, because it was making a slave and a criminal of the world.—You can do nothing for me.”
“ Nothing ? ”
“ No, dear child, nothing.”
“ Is it because you think I am a child that you say so ? ” asked Elizabeth. “ I am not a child. I knew you must be innocent. I will do anything for you that any one can do. Try me.”
The prisoner looked again at the pleader. Truly, she was not a child. It is not in childhood to be nerved by such courage and such longing as were in her speech, as that speech was indorsed by her bearing. His thought toward her seemed to change in this look.
“ Can you write, Elizabeth ? ” asked he.
“ I can write,” she answered, proudly, standing forward like a young brave eager for orders. “ I can write. My father taught me.”
“ You might write ”——-
“ A letter ? ” she asked, breathless.
“ Yes.” He paused and considered, then continued, — “ You might write to —you might write to my friend, and tell her about the garden, and how I am now allowed to walk in it,—and about your father and your mother, — about yourself, too; anything that will make this place seem pleasant to her. You know the pleasant side of Foray,—giveher that,” Why was she so cautious ? why in her caution lurked so much of fear ? Perhaps she might have answered, if questioned by one she trusted, that further intrusion of herself than should serve as a veil for the really important information she had to convey would be cruel intrusion. But there was a very different reason; it had to do with the sudden revelation made to herself when her father wept at the prisoner’s hard fate,— a revelation that terrified her, and influenced every succeeding movement; it had to do with the illumination that came when Manuel told her the sad secret of his heart,—with that moment when she stood up stronger in love than in fear, stronger in devotion than in pride, strong for self-sacrifice, like one who bears a charmed life pierced to the heart, and never so capable as then.
“ Yes. Is she your mother ? ”
“ Your sister, Sir ? ”
“ No, Elizabeth. She and I were to have been married.”
“ Oh, Sir,—and you in Foray,—in a prison,—so far away! ”
“ Wide apart as death could put us. And shall I let you write to her ? Yes ! we will triumph over this death and this grave ! ”
“By me !—yes,—I will tell her,—it shall surely be by me,” said Elizabeth, in a low voice.
“ Then tell her;—you will be able, I know, to think of a great deal that is comforting. I should not remember it, I’m afraid, if I could write the letter. Tell her what fine music I have. You can say something, too, about the garden, as I said. You can speak of the view from this window. See ! it is very fine. You can tell her—yes, you can tell her now, that I am well, Elizabeth.”
“ Oh, Sir, can I tell her you are well ?”
“ Yes, — yes, — say so. Besides, it is true. But you must add that I have no hope now of our meeting in this world. She can bear it, for she is strong, like you. She, too, is a Soldier’s daughter. If you will say those things, I will tell you her name. That shall be our secret.” In this speech his tone was altogether that of one who takes the place of a comforter.
“ Yes,” said Elizabeth, calm and attentive. It was quite impossible that she should so mistake as to allow the knowledge that was quickening her perception into pain to appear.
“ You must tell her about yourself,” said he, again.
“ What shall I say ? There is nothing about myself to tell, Mr, Manuel.”
“ Is there not ? That would be strange. Tell her what music you like best to bear your father play. She will understand you by that. Tell her anything,—-she will not call it a trifle. What if she answers you in the same mood ? Should we call it foolish, if she told us her thoughts, and the events that take place daily in her quiet life ? You can tell her what songs you love to sing. And if she does not know them, she will learn them, Elizabeth. Tell her how much it comforts me to hear you sing. Tell her, that, if she has prayed some light might shine on me from Heaven, her prayer is answered. For it is true. You serve me like an angel, and I see it all. Tell her she must love you for my sake,—though there is no need to tell her.—Do you see ? ”
“ I see.”
“ Tell her I remember ”-There he faltered ; he could say no more.
“Yes,” said Elizabeth, “I will,—I will tell her everything, Mr. Mannel,—everything that it would comfort her to hoar.”
She had written letters now and. then. Great pride Montier and Pauline took in their daughter’s skilful use of pen and ink, and pencil, — for Elizabeth could sketch as well as write. There was nothing new or strange, therefore, in her addressing this conversation to a spirit. But, also, there was nothing easy in this task, though she had the mighty theme of faithful love to dwell upon, and love’s wondrous inspiration to enlighten her labor.
The description to be given of island scenery was such as she had given more than once, in writing to her distant, unknown relatives. She need vary only slightly from what she had written before, when she gave report of her own daily life. She was always eloquent when 1 talking about the flowers or her father’s music. .
But this she had undertaken was not a repetition of what she had done before. With painful anxiety she scrutinized her words, her thoughts, her feelings. The work was a labor of love; the loving best know what anguish their labor sometimes costs them. The pain of this letter was not fairly understood by her who endured it,—it could not be shared.
More than once did Elizabeth rewrite that letter. More than once in the progress to its completion did she break, away from the strange task, that had no evidence of strangeness or of labor, to seek in the garden, or with her needle, or in the society of father or mother, deliverance from the trouble that disturbed her. In the toils of many an argument with her heart and conscience was she caught; but even through her doubting of the work she had engaged to perform, she persevered in its continuance, till the letter was ready for address.
It was surely right to aid, and comfort by such aid, one so unfortunate as this prisoner; yet her parents must not be implicated by such transaction. Therefore they must be kept in ignorance, that, if blame fell anywhere, it might not fall on them. So she satisfied her conscience ; —love will not calculate coldly. But it was less easy to satisfy her heart.
She had lived but sixteen years; she looked to her youth as to a protector, while it rebuked her. She leaned upon it, while daily she took to herself the part of womanhood, its duties and its dignity. lHe had called her a child ; she called herself a child. She was careful to let this estimate of herself appear in that letter; and in what she undertook she was entirely successful; Madeline Desperiers would be sure to read it as the letter of a child.
When all was done Elizabeth repeated to Manuel the substance of this letter. He praised it. Jealous scrutiny would find it difficult to lay its finger on a passage, and condemn the writer for evading the law concerning the prisoner. When she signed and sealed the letter, addressed it, and carried it away with her to mail, he was satisfied; his praise was sweet to the girl who had earned it.
No sooner was this work off her hands than another engaged her. With a purpose prompted may-be by her angel, certainly by no human word, and unshared by any human intelligence, Elizabeth began to make a sketch of the island as seen from Manuel's prison-window. She made the sketch from memory, correcting it by observation when occasion called her to the prisoner’s room.
At length she brought the sheet of paper, on which this sketch was drawn, to Manuel, and laid it before him. She did this without any accompanying word of explanation. In the foreground was the garden, stretching up the slope of the hill towards the top, where the fort-wall began; beyond, fort, barracks, settlement, -—and still beyond, the sea. The island of Foray, as thus represented, appeared like many other views on paper, very pleasing and attractive. Nature is not responsible for sin and suffering, that she should veil her glory wherever these may choose to pitch their tent.
The prisoner took the drawing from the table where she had laid it, and scanned it closely.
“ You have left out my house,” said he.
“ There was no room for it,” she answered.
“ True ! ” He understood her.
“ Do you know whom this is for, Mr. Manuel ? ”
“ Whom is it for, Elizabeth ? ”
“ For Madeline ; is it a pretty view ? ”
“ Really for her, Elizabeth ? ”
“ Surely. Her eyes shall look on the same view as yours.”
“ The fort, flag, sea-wall, burial-ground, ocean, barracks, garden ;—it is well done, —Now I will tell you of the place where it will find her.”
He paused a moment ere he began that description. He looked at the quiet figure of the child for whom he dared recall the past. She stood with folded hands, so fair, so young, the sight was a refreshment, and a strange assurance always, to his weary eyes and weary heart. Never did she look so lovely to him as now when he was about to speak again to her of his life’s love for another.
“It was once a magnificent estate,” he began.
“ Oh, is she a grand lady ? ” broke from Elizabeth.
“ Yes, a grand lady. You speak well,” replied Manuel, with a smile. “The estate was once ten times as large as this island. Towns and villages are built over the land now, but the old house stands as it has stood through ten generations. There she lives. If she stands by the library-window to-day, she can see the church built by her great-grandfather, and the little, town of Desporiers, which had in his day a population of tenantry. She can see the ponds and the park, and a garden where there are hothouses, and graperies, and conservatories, and winding walks where you might walk all day and find something new to surprise and delight you at every turn. There is a tower that commands a view of fifty miles in one direction, The old house is full of treasure. She is mistress of all,—the only representative of a long line of noble men and beautiful women who have dispensed magnificent hospitality there. The last time I saw her, Elizabeth, she was standing in the library, a woman so beautiful and so strong you would not have thought that trouble could approach her. It came through me. I opened those ancient gates for the black train,—I, who loved no mortal as I loved her! But I lost her in my fight for Truth. Shall I complain ? Her heart was with mine in that struggle. Cannot Truth comfort her ? ”
“ She is not lost to yon, Sir,—you are not lost to her,” eried Elizabeth, in a voice as strong as breaks sometimes through dying agony.
“ I know,” said he, more gently. His thought was not the same as hers; he was taking refuge in that future which remains to the loving when this life wholly fails in hope.
“ You shall go back to that old place, Sir ! You shall—you two-—shall forget all this!”
The prisoner smiled to hear her,-—a sad smile, yet a sweet smile too. He did not despise the comfort she would give him, nor resent her presumptuous speech.
“As when I dream sometimes,” said he, gently,—“or in some pleasant vision. Yes, that is true, Elizabeth. I have been back, and I shall go again.”
Vehemently now she broke forth. It was love defying the whole universe, if the whole universe opposed itself to the sovereign rights of love, the divine strength and the divine courage of love. —“ You shall go on board some vessel, a passenger; you shall see with your own eyes; your hands shall be free to gather the sweetest rose that—ever blossomed in the world for you. Mr. Manuel, do not look so doubting,—do not smile so! Am I not in earnest ? Do you not hear me? As God lives, and as I five, I will do what I promise. Why, what do you think I am here for? ”
Wondering, doubting if he heard aright, Manuel looked at Elizabeth. The painful, kindly smile, the incredulity, had disappeared from his face; the power and confidence of her words seemed to persuade him that at least she purposed seriously and was not uttering mere wishes. It might be the enthusiasm and generosity of a child that inspired her speech, but its determination and gravity of utterance demanded at least a respectful hearing.
“ What do you mean, Elizabeth?” he asked.
“ I mean that I will go home and explain, and yon shall be set free.”
He shook his head. “ There is nothing to be explained,” said he. “ I am not here by mistake. I am very clearly guilty, if there is guilt in doing what I am accused of. The hearts of those who condemned me must be changed, and their eyes opened, or I shall never be set free.”
“ God chooses humble agents,” she said, humbly. “David slew Goliath, and he was but a lad. He will open the way for me, and by me change the hearts of those who condemned, and by me open their eyes. Therefore I shall go, — I shall surely go. Ah, Mr. Manuel, give me the picture! It is all that you shall have of the island of Foray, please Almighty God, when these doors are all open for you, and your hands are free, Sir, and we tell you to come, for the vessel is waiting!”
She went out from the room while these words took solemn possession of the place. She locked the door behind her;—no requirement of law was to be neglected or withstood ; she made him a prisoner whom she would set free;—and from this interview she went away, not to solitude, and the formation of secret plans, but, as became the daughter of Adolphus and Pauline Montier, she went quietly, with that repose of manner which distinguished her through almost every event, back to her mother’s chamber.
There stood Adolphus Montier, drummer to the regiment, jailer to the prisoner, father of Elizabeth,—loving man, whichever way you looked at him. He had his French horn in his hands, and was about to raise it to his lips; in a moment more a blast would have rung through the house, for Adolphus was in one of his tempestuously happy moods.
But his daughter’s entrance arrested his purpose. Say, rather, the expression of her face performed that feat. He saw, likewise, the paper which she carried, the pencilled sketch,—-and he followed her with his eyes when she crossed the room and placed it on the mantel under the engraving of the city of Fatherland. This act took the parents to the fireplace, for discussion and criticism of their daughter’s work, and of the two homes now brought into contrasted connection.
“ But you have left out the prison,” was the comment of Adolphus.
“ I am glad of that,” said Pauline.
“ But it is part of the island.”
“ It ought to be left out, though,” maintained his wife.
“ Where would you keep him, then?” asked Adolphus, a broad smile spreading over his face. He knew well enough what the answer would be.
“ I’d set him adrift,” was Pauline’s reply, spoken without the least pretence of caution.
“Hush!” said her husband; but that was because he was the jailer. He laughed outright close on this admonition, and asked Elizabeth if she expected him to make a frame for this picture to hang opposite Chalons.
“ No,” she answered, “ I am going to take it with me.”
“ Where now ? ” asked the parents in one breath.
“ Oh, home,—Chalons.”
This reply seemed to merit some consideration. by the way the eyes of Adolphus and Pauline regarded their child. They did not understand her; —her meaning was deeper than her utterance.
“ To Chalons ? ” repeated Adolphus, quietly.
“Home?” said Pauline;—it was almost the sweetest word she knew, almost the easiest of utterance.
“ You have promised me a hundred times that I should go. Did you mean it? May i go? You wish me to see the old place and the old people. But the old place is changing, and the old people are dying. Soon, if I go to Chalons, it will not be jour Chalons I shall see.”
Dumb with wonder, Adolphus a’nd Pauline looked at one another. To be sure, they had done their best in order to excite in the breast of Elizabeth such love of country as was worthy of their child, and such curiosity about locality as would constrain her to cherish some reverent regard for the place of their birth, the home of their youthful love; but never had they imagined the possibility of her projecting a pilgrimage in that direction, except under their guidance. They could hardly imagine it now.
Often they had talked over every step of that journey they would one day make together; the progress was as familiar to Elizabeth as it could be made by the description of another; but that they had succeeded in so awaking the feeling of their child, that she should seriously propose making the pilgrimage alone, passed their comprehension.
“ You know,” said Adolphus, with a shrug, “ your father is an officer, and he cannot now leave his post. Are you going to take your mother along with you ? ”
He said these words at a venture, not certain of his ground. He was not kept in suspense long.
“ My mother must not leave you,” answered Elizabeth, greatly agitated, and yet speaking strongly, as one whose will exceeded her emotion.
“ Then you go alone ? ” asked Adolphus, shortly. He could not understand her, and was thoroughly vexed that he could not; mysteries were not for him. “ What is the matter? is it the prison ? Wife !”—he turned to Pauline, but, as he looked at her, his perplexity seemed to increase, as did his impatience also.
Wife and daughter evidently were not in league against him; she, the mother of his child, shared his anxiety and doubt. Tears were in her eyes, and he had only been impatient!—she had passed so quickly to an apprehension that was grievous, Adolphus stood the image of dismay. Those three, so entirely one, seemed to have been thrust apart by a resistless evil Fate who had some malignant purpose to serve.
Not now for the first time did Pauline see that the young face before her was pale, and grave with a gravity once unknown to it. It might be, that, for the first time, she was asking herself outright if this prison-life was to serve Elizabeth as it had served the wife of Laval,—but not for the first time was she now visited by a foreboding that pointed to this fear.
“ It is the prison,” said she.
“ Elizabeth, is it so ? Is this house going to be the death of you ? ” asked Montier, abruptly,—referring the point, with stern authority, to the last person who would be likely to acknowledge the danger of which he spoke.
“ If you think so, papa and mamma, I must give up the voyage, just to prove that you are mistaken,” answered she.
“Look at her, Adolphus!” said Pauline; “remember what she was a year ago! She’s not the same now. I can see it. Strange if I could not! Young people are different from old. I thought this place would never seem like homo to me, but I found out my mistake.”
“ I knew you would,” said Adolphus, quickly.
“ Of course it is the place for me, on the prisoner’s account. I hate the prison just the same, though. But if I was mistaken, so was Elizabeth. She thought it would seem like home to her;—it never has; it never will. But I do not think there is a chance of our being kept here long by poor Mr. Manuel. Adolphus, I am for Elizabeth's going home.”
“ Colonel Farel and his lady are getting ready' to go in the next vessel,” said Adolphus, as if in a sleep, or as though his power of speech opposed and defied him in its activity,—so bewildered did he look at his wife and daughter.
“ Oh, then, may I go ? It is only out and back. I will not be long away. Then we shall all go some day together, and never, never return.”
“ That is my wish,” said Pauline; “ isn’t it yours, Adolphus?”
“Yes!” And this answer was given by a man who was neither asleep nor bewildered, but by one who had. put himself out of sight, and was thinking only of others.
Adolphus had not been as blind as Pauline must have supposed him when she bade him remember what their daughter was a year ago. He, too, had seen that the bloom was fading from her face, and by many a device he had striven to divert the gravity, descending upon her, from taking possession of her. Pauline’s words revived every fear, every anxiety he had felt: for their child. Generous as impetuous, he saw now only one thing to be done, one result to be accomplished. Elizabeth must sail in the next vessel, and he was not the man to know another quiet moment till that vessel hove in sight. That was his way; why hesitate a twelvemonth, when a moment sufficed for a decision, and the good and happiness of others were concerned in the deciding ? And it was not merely his way, as has been made sufficiently apparent,-—it was his wife’s way, and his daughter’s.
Yet fain would Pauline have entered now upon a discussion of what remained to be done ; she could have gone on from this point at which they suddenly found themselves standing so wistfully; she would have made, in advance, every needful preparation and arrangement for Elizabeth, up to the time of her return. But Adolphus was in no mood for this. He must go and see Colonel Farel, he said, by way of excuse, —and he must see the doctor. It would have been a dangerous experiment, had Pauline persisted in the endeavor to discover how much he could endure. Montier felt that he was not fit for family deliberation now, and wisely made his escape from it.
“ I know,” said Pauline, when she and her child were left together, “ I know why it is the best thing in the world for yon to go on this voyage,—but—I do not know how you came by the sudden wish to go,—or if it is sudden, Elizabeth.”
No demand,—no confidence required, —not a request, even, to enter into any secret counsel with her child. But that child saw the relation in which she stood to the loving woman by her side, whose eyes were gazing into her eyes, whose love was seeking to fathom her heart, and she answered humbly, and with confidence,—
“ I am going to your old home, my mother,—and to see if it is true that Manuel is to die here in this abhorred prison. It is my secret,—it is my errand. I trust you, for you love me; oh, love me, my mother, and trust me! I dare not live, I cannot endure my freedom, while he is wearing out his life in a prison. Am I ill ? Has it worn me to see him, this year past, dying by inches? I am glad of it,—I am proud of it! Now I will see if there is any pity or justice among rulers.”
Pauline Montier was confounded by this outbreak. She had expected no such word as this she heard. It terrified her, for she was a loving woman, and she thought she heard in the voice of her daughter the voice of a woman who loved,—the impassioned, daring voice of one whom love incited to action such as sober reason never would attempt. She repented already the words she had spoken to her husband. She had no power then, could not prevail then, or the misgivings which sent Adolphus weeping into the wood, and not in search of doctor or colonel, would have drawn him back to her side, and against their love and their authority this girl had not prevailed. A question trembled on her lips. But bow should she ask it of her child ? She could not ask it of her child, — but as woman of woman. The simplest and the shortest speech was best; and far away were curiosity and authority.
“ Elizabeth, do you love this prisoner ? ”
The answer did not linger.
“ He is dying,—a noble man perishing unrighteously! Oh, my mother, in that land there is a lady waiting to know why the arm of the Lord so long delays! He shall not die a prisoner! She loves him,—he loves her. I will give them to each other. Only keep him alive till I come.”
“ My child !"
“ Why do you weep?”—but Elizabeth, so speaking, bowed to the floor by her mother’s side, and wept with her, and the tender arms maternal clasped her close; and the girl did not see when her mother’s eyes looked upward, nor did she hear when her mother's voice said, with a saint’s entreaty, and a lover’s faith, “ O Saviour!”
That night Elizabeth went for the tray which her father had left in the prisoner’s room when he carried him his supper. No danger that Adolphus would stand to gossip now with any man, for a moment. His heart was sore at the prospect of his daughter’s departure, at the prospect of actual separation, every feature of which state of being he distinctly anticipated ; and yet he would have scorned himself, had he thrown in the way anything like the shadow of an impediment to her departure from Foray. So far from that, he was already doing everything, in act and thought, by which that going might be made more certain and immediate.
Elizabeth found the prisoner sitting before his untasted supper. She went up the room at a rapid pace.
“ Strength does not come of fasting,” said she, as she glanced at the table.
“ Appetite does not come of torpor,” was the reply, spoken almost as quickly; he seemed to be echoing her tone. She looked at him surprised; so much energy of speech she had not expected of him, and never before had heard.
“ I must wait for the tray,” said she; and she took her usual stand by the window. “ Eat something to please, my mother,—she will be so troubled.”
At this be took bis spoon and tasted the porridge, which liad grown cold in the dish before him.
Now, as she, stood there waiting, a curious state of mind was that through which Elizabeth passed. When he answered her greeting, it was with less apparent weariness, less exhibition of sad indifference to all things, than usual,— with some animation, indeed ; not at all as one speaks who is dead to every hope. And with this utterance, which on any other day would have lightened the burden Elizabeth bore, a new darkening of the spirit of heaviness seemed to fall upon her. She knew that by her he must have come to whatever hopefulness he had ; and she would give him freedom that she might see his face no more !
“ There is no crucifixion without pain.” It is never with a light heart that man or woman attends his or her own immolation. There is awful terror in the triumphs of the divine human nature. If, indeed, Suttee is noiseless, superstition and force have stifled the voice of the widow.
And therefore the words which Elizabeth only by an effort restrained, as she crossed the prison-threshold, could come from her now by effort only. If she had found him drooping, despairing, utterly cast down'—no hinderance then to a full utterance of the heroic purpose which death alone could dampen or defeat! But now some strength seemed in himself,—and liberty would give him to others, of whom he could not, think as quietly as he could think of her. Could she, then, better afford to weep than to rejoice with him ?
Before he had pushed away the table and its contents, before time constrained her to speak, she said,—
“ I promised you something, Mr. Manuel. You remember what. I may go to-morrow. So tell me, — how shall I serve you best? Tell me now; something may happen ; and I wish my work to be clear.”
The prisoner started from the table at these words. He hastily approached the quiet speaker, his face brightened not more by hope than by wondering admiration.
“ What do you mean ?•—to-morrow ? I am waiting, Elizabeth.”
“ Colonel Fare! and bis lady are going home. He has leave of absence. I have spoken to my father and mother. I have told my mother everything. She knows that I am going to visit your relations as well as hers. Tell me how I shall find them. Tell me what I must do. You shall have freedom, if woman can ask or man can give it.”
She had advanced a single step towards him, in thus speaking. She stood now with hands folded, quiet, waiting his answer.
“ Noble girl ! ” be began ; then he paused. Full of reverence was his gaze.
“ Do not praise,—direct me,” she said, hurriedly. “I know what I shall say. But to whom shall I say it ?—Yes, I will find her whom you love. I will carry balm across the sea to heal her breaking heart I will join together whom,” —here for an instant she hesitated, then began again,—“ whom God has joined,— whom man dared separate. Direct me, Sir.”
And there she stood, waiting. Who sighing beholds her ? No pusillanimity there ; but on the very heights of danger, which none other than the bravest could have gained, dauntless and safe, let, her stand and fight her battle. So strong, yet so defenceless, so conspicuous for purpose and position, there, the arrows rain upon her,—yet not one is poisoned to the power of hurting her sacred life. Listen, Elizabeth, while he speaks of her! Deeply can his voice grave every word of direction; not one wilt thou lose! Chosen of the few from among the many called, go, woman to love, and hero to endure, — yea, if thou must, as gentle and dauntless martyr, to die before the stronghold thou wouldst summon to surrender !
Later in the day the prisoner heard Elizabeth singing, as not rarely he heard her,—for, knowing that the sound of her voice was pleasant to him, and that its cheerfulness cheered him, she had the habit of frequenting with her songs that part of the house in which his room was. The prisoner heard her singing later in the day, and thanked her for the grace, but did not catch the words whose sound swept past him. It was an ancient hymn she sang,—one that she often sang; and that she sang it this day of all days, I copy here the first verse :—
“ Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle,
With completed victory rife,
And above the Cross’s trophy
Tell the triumph of the strife,
How the world's Redeemer conquered
By surreendering of his life."
The Drummer’s Daughter has crossed the sea,—has landed on the shores of Fatherland. She has even parted from her fellow-voyagers at the station whence the coach shall take her on to Chalons, that venerable town and well-beloved, where the lives whence her own sprung were born and blended. She is in the land of wonders, of meadows, vineyards, gardens, lakes, and rivers, and of cattle feeding on a thousand hills,—among the graves of millions of men, among the works of heroes and of martyrs, in the land of mighty towns, of palaces, of masters, and of slaves, where a great king is building the great palace which shall witness, centuries hence, the dire humiliation of his race.
Of all the crowds and companies that hurry to and fro from one end of the land to the other, Elizabeth seeks only two persons. It is not to her father’s native town that she is drawn by the superior attraction. She passes Chalons in the moonlight. When the coach stops at the inndoor for a change of horses, she keeps her place, — she acts not with the quicker beating of her heart. She looks about her as they drive through the silent streets, —out on the moonlit landscape when they have passed the borders of the town ; she sees the church-towers, and the old buildings, and the river whose windings she has heard described so often by the voices that once talked of love all along its borders. Chalons is dear to her; she looks back with tearful longing when the driver hurries on his horses as they pass into the open country. But she has no right to wait on her own pleasure,—to verify her parents’ calculations when they talk together, by the fireside in Foray, of her journeying through Fatherland.
No,—each sunrise appoints him one more day of imprisonment and exile! Every sunset leaves him to one more night of cruel dreams which morning shall deride ! And while this can he said, what has Chalons, or any other spot on earth, that it should lure her into rest ?
The higher powers sometimes convey their messages and do their work after a prosaic fashion. It was no uncommon thing for a young girl in neat raiment to stand waiting admittance before the door of the Château Despcriers. Hospitality was called upon in those days not so often, perhaps, as benevolence ; and for its charity the château had a reputation far and wide; the expectation of the poor perished only in fruition there.
Into the library of this ancient mansion Elizabeth Montier was ushered by the old gray servant. There she might wait the return of his mistress; at what hour the return should be anticipated he could not undertake to say. His counsel to the stranger was, that she had better return at a later hour; but when Elizabeth said it was impossible, that she had come from a great distance to see the lady of the place, and must await her return there, he led her without further parley to the library, and left her.
And from its lofty windows, at her leisure, she might now look down upon the prospect Prisoner Manuel had described. When she crossed the threshold of that room, she knew where she was; left alone, she looked around her. There he once had stood; there he had parted from Madeline Desperiers; from that last interview he had gone forth to long captivity! She stood by the lofty, narrow windows, to see what he had seen when standing before them,—that town the ancient Despcriers laid out for his tenants in the ancient days,—the church, the pond, the park,—the garden, so vast, and so astonishing for beauty, the gazer scarce believed her eyes. And she remembered beds of flowers under a prisonwall, and who that day looked on them.
He had said that the mistress of this grand domain was a soldier’s daughter. He had said that she was a grand lady. A soldier’s daughter had come here to hold an interview with her ! A drummer’s daughter, a girl from out the barracks and the prison of Foray, was here!—-A strange light, so strange that it seemed not natural, broke from these reflections of Elizabeth, and illuminated the library. It fell on the great bookcases that were filled from floor to ceiling with books which cost a fortune, on the great easychairs black with age, on picture and on bust, on the old writing-stand, tho more modrnm centre-table piled with newspapers and pamphlets, on the curious clock that told the hours with a “ silvery voice.” It fell, too, on a portrait that did not often greet the gaze even of such as found access into that room,—a portrait of him for whose sake she was here, having compassed land and sea.
When she first saw the picture, she was sitting in one of the chairs beside the table,—her eyes had taken cognizance of everything but that,-—and of that became aware so strangely that she could not at first persuade herself of the nature of the mystery that took such hold of her and possessed her so wholly. A proud and glorious vision, it rose up before her, emerging from the shadows of the alcove where it stood. This was not Manuel, not the wan prisoner of Foray,—but her heart needed none to tell her it was the hero who had loved the lady of this chateau, in the splendor of his manhood. She saw it, and saw nothing more,—the prescience of her soul was satisfied. As he was, she beheld him now ;—was it safe for her to sit there gazing at that likeness ?
The old servant, who now and then walked up and down the hall, perceiving that the stranger was sitting quiet, with her eyes generally in one direction, was satisfied that she should prove so patient with this long delay in his mistress’s return. He knew not what occupied her eyes or thoughts,—fancied, may-be, that she was numbering the books of the library, or engaged in some equally diverting occupation.
At last came Madeline.
Learning from the servant in the hall that a young person waited her return, and had waited half the day, with a patience that was evidently proof against time, the lady proceeded at once to the library.
Elizabeth, who heard the arrival, and the approach, arose and stood, waiting the meeting. In her hand she held a paper scroll, the drawing of Foray, which she had brought to aid her in this interview.
It was, indeed, a royal person upon whom the eyes of the Drummer’s Daughter fell,— a person whose dignity and grace held at a distance even those whom they attracted. Nothing short of reverence could have dictated the movement of any noble mind that had to do with her. She was the Sister of Mercy, whom the whole country round about knew for the most righteous Desperiers of them all. The noble line was ending nobly in her pure and lofty and most gracious womanhood. She was the star of society, if the “sweet influences ” might only be bound,—no comet, no fiery splendor of intellect or passion, but a pure light that would still shine through all paling, and enter with its own distinct ray into the last absorption.
She approached to meet her guest with a kind and frank expression of regret that she should have been kept waiting so long.
Beholding her, remembering him, strong even through her sense of impotence, Elizabeth unrolled the pencilling of Foray. The moment during which she was thus occupied passed in silence ; then she looked up and spoke, with the coldness in which her embarrassment and emotion sought disguise.
“ I came here with a message,—on an errand,” said she; “and I have come so far, that, finding myself really in tjis house, I did not like to leave it again till I had seen the lady I sought. I knew that it would give you pain, if you could know the whole.”
“ Tell me the whole,” was the reply, spoken with evident and encouraging approval of the stranger’s mode of address ; and the lady sat down in the great chair on one side of the table. “ Be seated; tell me your wish.”
“ It is to serve you,” said Elizabeth, a little proudly. “ I have not come to ask favor for myself or mine. I came across the sea for you and him.”
She spoke now with vehemence, and as she spoke glanced at the portrait in the alcove. Quickly the eyes of Madeline Despeners followed hers. How had this stranger managed to discover what was so securely hidden from the observation of ordinary eyes ? She did not even suspect the light which had illumined that dim recess, and made it brighter to the gazer than the bright garden even.
“ This is Foray,” said Elizabeth, exposing now the token that would instantly make all plain and equal between them. “ I should have sent it to you. Madam, when I wrote ; but there was more to be done,—and so I came. I am Elizabeth Montier. I am a soldier’s daughter; so, he said, are you,”
The lady’s answer was not at first by speech. She arose, swiftly as light moves she moved, and brought her guest up to the window of the shadowy room. Well she scanned the face of Elizabeth.
“ Truth,” she murmured. “ It was you that wrote. You are Truth. You speak it. Blessings on you! Blessings descend upon you from all the saints and heroes who have moved and suffered here ! Do you come from him, -— Stephen Cordier ? ”
How proudly and how tenderly she spoke that name! To hear her soothed the heart of Elizabeth Mon tier,—soothed her. and made her strong.
“ Is that his name ? ’’ she asked, pointing to the portrait. “ We call him Manuel.” She paused a moment, but not for an answer. Before Madeline could speak, she went on,—
“If you can hear me, I will tell you of him, and why I am here.”
“ Tell me all. I can bear to hear anything that you can endure to tell. You are his friend. I claim you for mine, too. You came to find me. Speak.”
This was the utterance of a calm selfknowledge. By what she had endured, the woman knew what she could yet endure.
Without pause Elizabeth now spoke. Without interruption the lady listened,— listened while this young stranger told the life of the past months, in which he was concerned,—of the garden where she worked and he walked,—-of her father, the musician,—of their old home near the barracks, and the new home in the prison,—of the day when he first told her of his country and his love,—howT for him she had written the letter, repeating oftentimes in the narration the very words he had used,—of his gestures, his looks;—she was thoughtful of all.
How strangely intelligent in all her communication! Ah, if it was eager love that hearkened, it was thoughtful love that spoke!
The story, as she told it, was brief; but the voice never faltered in telling the tale, and the eyes of Elizabeth, with constant scrutiny, were upon her listener. She was satisfied, when, having said all, she paused, and had now no further fear for her own heart’s integrity or of the listener’s constancy.
A long silence followed her Speech. At length said Mile. Desperiers,—
“ I see it all. You are God’s messenger from that other world. I have believed too little. You are truer and wiser than I. Lead me, dear child ! Shall we go to Foray? I will sail with you to-morrow, if you say so. Better a prison, with him, than all this freedom, so alone.”
“ He must be set free, first,” said Elizabeth. The manner of her speaking, her look as well as her tone, might almost have been taken for a rebuke. Madeline might pardon that.
“ I have said so,” she answered, mildly. “ I have tried to move heaven and earth. I was but a feeble woman. Still it is a consolation to know that I have done everything my wit or my love could devise, and not stopped at what looked like extravagance or indelicacy. "What further, Elizabeth? The man who is now in power, and through whom alone the king can be reached, will grant him liberty ”-
“ He will ? ”
“ At a price that would take away its value from him.”
“ What is that price ? ”
“My life. He wants me for his wife,
-—a purchase, you perceive.”
Elizabeth Montier did not heed the scorn and bitterness of these words, as Mile. Desperiers spoke them. The blood in her veins seemed turning to fire,—it swept through her body and brain like the flood of a volcano,—and she thought, she who knew the prisoner's life, and all that captivity was to him,—
“ Coward and selfish, that will not instantly give up her life for his ! ”
A very dismal satisfaction, that the woman he loved best should so prove unworthy of him ! The horror of that satisfaction, its humiliation and its pain, sufficiently attested to the poor girl who endured it that her soul’s integrity remained secure. As if for a personal conflict with an enemy, she started to her feet
“ It must not be ! ” she exclaimed.
And, far from suspecting to whom the words were addressed, to what the speaker closed her eyes, rebuking her pure heart, the lady answered,—
“ Then, unless he outlives this tyranny of power, he will die a prisoner, Elizabeth. I will go with you to him. I can die with him. God, certainly, does not require me to stay here longer, for He has sent you to me.”
“ He has sent me for him ! ” exclaimed Elizabeth. “ I am here to make him free.” She did not add, “ If I were you, my life for his!” but again, in spite of her, she thought it, and a terrible strength of pride possessed her at that moment.
“ Speak on,” was the eager, tremulous response. “ You are here to set him free. God knows; but at least I believe wholly in you. What will you do, Elizabeth ? ”
“ Go to the officer to-morrow. Tell him everything that is to be told. If he is human ”——
" That is what I doubt. He knows what petitions 1 presented and caused to be presented to his predeces-or.”
“ You ? ”
“ I ?—who but I ? Do you think I have been idle, or that I have left anything undone that I could think to do ? Child, the sun has never risen on me since I saw him last ! They say I am dead to the world. But they who say it know not how terribly true their words are. Shall I tell you how many times, when the weary days have come to an end, I have said, in the morning I would make that loathsome bargain with General Saterges, and in the morning God's grace, as I believe, has alone prevented me ? Do you think that it is because I love myself better than him, that I have not bought his freedom at this price ? It is because I know him,— because I am sure that liberty at such price would be worthless to him. I cannot torture him with the belief that I am unfaithful, nor suffer him to look on me as a sacrifice. We can endure what God allows. Trust me. You have done so bravely, you are yourself so true, believe in me. I am really no coward. I am not a selfish woman.”
“ Forgive me,” said Elizabeth, most humbly. Her pride had left her defenceless in its flight. If there was not now the true, brave, generous woman to lift and proclaim herself from the humiliation of her mistake, alas for her !
The woman was there,—ready and true,—was there. Humbled, yet resolute, she spoke,—and in her speaking was the triumph of a spirit that should never again surrender its stronghold of peace.
“ You must direct me, Madam. Show me how I shall find this minister. I will speak then as God’s servants spoke of old,—trusting in Him. If the man will not hear me, then I will conduct you to Foray. You shall see Mr. Manuel. You can live—with us. My mother’s heart is kind, and my father is a soldier; we shall all love to serve you. Let us take courage! They cannot prevent us here. You could endure exile for him ? ”
“ Exile ? Ah, how do you shame me! All these years I might have ”——
“No,” said Elizabeth, hurriedly. “Never till now. You could not. The way was not open till this day. Love, too, must have its servants. I am yours and his. I trust in God. In His time He has opened His own way.”
By Mile. Desperiers’s management, Elizabeth without difficulty obtained audience, the next day, of the chief ministerial power of the realm.
I shall attempt no pictorial description of that interview. The men of authority know best how often women come into their presence, burdened with prayers for the pardon of those who have justly, or unjustly, fallen under the displeasure of the powers that be. From high station and low Love draws its noblest and most courageous witnesses, and the ears of the officials are not always deaf.
The case of Stephen Cordier was of sufficient importance to come under discussion before the governing power as often as that power underwent a change in person or policy. Twice petitions in his behalf had been presented,—once by the lady of Château Desperiers in person,—petitions that were in themselves the proudest praise of him, the greatest honor that could be conferred upon him. They had fallen powerless to the ground.
The old man, statesman and soldier, now holding office, had, before he came to this position, knowing the interest and the kind of interest taken by Madeline Desperiers in the petitions presented, volunteered his name to the last document, mentioning, though with due deference to the fashion of the world, the price at which it was to be procured,—her hand. His name had just the weight that would have made the other more honorable names successful in their pleading. What sort of success was to be expected, now that he occupied the passage to royalty ? Elizabeth Montier crossed the threshold of the apartment where the old warrior and statesman sat amongst books and papers, without dismay ruling by pen and voice, as confident in himself, when he took up these weapons, as in the former time of sword and powder.
His practice was to receive all petitioners,—all should have audience. But he made short work of business. Never were affairs dispatched with more celerity, seldom with less conscience. At a glance his keen eye read, to his own satisfaction, the state of every case,—and he came to his own conclusions. His requirement was, that the petitioner should be selfpossessed and brief,—which requisition, hinted by the doorkeeper, and reiterated by the General himself, had not always precisely the effect intended.
The fault was not in Mlle. Desperiers that she had proved so unsuccessful in her petitions, as has been made sufficiently clear. General Saterges had found in Stephen Cordier a powerful antagonist in action. He had moved to power through the very paths which Stephen Cordier had attempted to lay waste. He upheld the faith against which Cordicr had preached a crusade. The old warrior regarded the young thinker as a personal enemy. It was hardly probable that he would very energetically strive to procure the reversal of a hard sentence in behalf of such a man.
As Adolphus Montier’s daughter came into his presence, she had not the bearing common to such as appeared there with intent to plead for the life or liberty of those they loved. A sense of the. sacredness of her mission was upon her. She had cried to God, and she believed that He had heard her. Where do the possibilities of such faith end ? “ Time would
fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah, of David also, and of Samuel, and of the prophets; who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were, slain with the sword ; they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.”
She had considered well what she would do and say, and did not forget and was not confounded when she stood before the old man, knowing her time had come. Calm and strong, because so bent on accomplishing her purpose, and so conscious of her past secret weakness, of her suspicion and cruel judgment, as if she would here atone for it, she took stern vengeance of herself.
General Saterges recognized at one glance the evidences of a strong and determined spirit. When she had crossed the room and stood before him, he requested her to be seated,—and it was the first time that he had made such request of such visitor.
Declining the civility, Elizabeth stood, and told her errand. She had come across the ocean, she said, to plead the cause of a poor prisoner who was dying under sentence of the law. She paused a moment, having made this statement, and was answered by a nod. Prisoners often died without reprieve, he seemed to be aware. This cold civility warmed the petitioner’s speech. Her mother would have been satisfied, Madeline Desperiers would have been overwhelmed with grief and horror, to have heard this young girl’s testimony in regard to prison-life. The old man, as he listened, sighed unconsciously,—for not every nerve in him was strung to cruelty. To one of his restless career what image of life more dreadful could have been presented than was in this testimony ? To be shut away from human society so many years, patient, resigned, receiving the few comforts yet allowed him!—to live on, pure in spirit, lofty in thought, hoping still in God and man ! The old warrior in selfdefence, because she brought the case too vividly, the life too forcibly before him, broke through the words she was speaking, interrupting her.
“ Who is this person ? ” he asked.
" Stephen Cordier,” was the answer. Without hesitation, even proudly, she spoke it. She had compelled him to ask the name!
“ And who are you ? ” he asked ; and if he felt displeasure, as if his sympathy, of which he was so chary, had been stolen from him, he did not alLow it to appear.
“ Elizabeth Montier,” she replied.
“ That is no answer. What is a name, if it conveys no meaning to my mind ? ”
“ I am the daughter of Adolphus and Pauline Montier. My father is a drummer in the military band of Foray. He is also present keeper of the prison where Stephen Cordier is confined.”
“ Very well. Does he know your errand here ? ”
“ He does not. He let me come to this country — it is his native land, and my mother’s,—he let me come because in his heart he has always loved his country, and he has never been able to return. We were to have come back together. But there was an opportunity for me. I dared not wait. So I am here,—and for nothing, Sir, but this man's liberty.”
Those last words she spoke seemed to quicken the thought of General Saterges. He drew himself up still more erect in his chair. His eyes were on Elizabeth with the will to scan her heart of hearts. He spoke,—
“ What is this man to you ? ”
She paused a moment. And she, too, had a thought. She could play a game for life. She looked at the old man, hesitated, answered,—
“ He is everything.”
“Just let me understand you,” and he looked upon her as if he might touch her secret. “ Do you love Cordier ? ”
“ I love him,” she answered, with exceeding dignity, evident truthfulness.
“ Do I understand you ? ” he said again,—“ what are you to him ? ”
“ Everything,” she again replied, with perfect confidence and faith. Was she not liberty and the joy of life to him ?
If liberty and joy were ever to be his portion, they must come through her. So she believed, and thus answered.
“ Does he love you ? ”
“ You speak with great assurance. I know the man better, I’m afraid.” Then his voice and manner changed. “ He is sentenced. Justice passed that sentence ; —to reverse it were the work of imbecility. Speak no more. It is not in man to grant what you ask.”
He was trying her in her last stronghold,—proving her in her last depth.
“Is this your answer?” she asked. And indeed, after what had just passed between them, it did seem incredible.
The old man bowed. He seemed now impassible. He was stern, and hard as rock. He believed that he had wellnigh been deceived,—and deception practised successfully on him would have disgraced him in his own eyes forever. He believed, what he would not trust his lips to utter, that this applicant was Madeline Desperiers’s agent. When he bowed and did not answer, a fear came down upon Elizabeth that almost took away her power of speech ; that it did not quite deprive her of that power rendered it so much the more terrible for the anguish of its emphasis.
“ Do women kneel to you when they ask the pardon of those they love ? ” said she, with a paling face. “ What shall I do to move you ? What have I not done ? I trusted, that, having come so far, on such an errand, it must be that God was my leader. Am I mistaken ? Or dare you withstand God ? Tell me,— you are an old man,—have you no pity ? Have you never had a sorrow ? Can you not see that I never could have come here to plead for a bad man’s life ? Must I go back to see him die ? ”
“ Madam, you are standing where I cannot come to argue with you. Pity and justice have their respective duties to perform. Oftentimes pity may be exercised, and the claims of justice waived; in the ease of the man you plead for, it is simply impossible.”
He had risen in displeasure to pronounce these final words. When that word “ impossible ” smote her as a sword, he touched a spring in the table, a bell sounded, Elizabeth went forth,—the audience was over.
She went not with tears, but self-possessed, imperious in mien, strong in despair. Coming into the presence of Madeline Desperiers, it was not needful that she should speak to make known the result of her audience.
“ Have you learned when the vessel sails?” was her first question. It was her reply to the lady’s glance,—a glance for which there were no attendant Words in all the language.
“ To-morrow, Elizabeth.”
u Are you ready ? ”
“ I will be.”
“ Then I will give you to him. I promised that, too. I can fulfil that, at least. You must not think the prisonwalls too dreary. My mother ”&emdash—
“ I understand, Elizabeth.”
And they sailed on the morrow. No delay for wandering among the meadows of the pleasant town, for gossip with the men and women who were in childhood playmates of her father and her mother; no strolling along lovely river-banks. Chalons had nothing for Elizabeth ; only one green nook of all the world had anything for her,—an island in the sea,—a prison on that island,—and there work to do worthy of Gabriel.
But—wonder of wonders !
Paul and Silas sang songs in their prison, and the jailer heard them; then there came an earthquake.
"Who was he that found his cell-doors opened suddenly, and a messenger from out the courts of heaven there to guide his steps ?
History is full of marvellous records; I add this to those. The eleventh hour goes always freighted with the weightiest events.
On board the vessel that carried Elizabeth and her charge back to Foray went a messenger commissioned of the king. He took from court to prison the partial pardon of Cordier. Liberty, but banishment henceforth. Stephen Cordier should be constrained to faithfulness towards his new love. Doomed to perpetual exile, he should be tempted by no late loyalty to Madeline Desperiers. The new acts of his drama should have nought to do with her. Justice forever!
Rascal that he was, according to the word of General Saterges, it was rascality which the General could pardon, lie had gained many a victory in desperate strife,—now one other, the last and most complete: the kingdom’s fairest star to shine among his honors ! The proclamation of Stephen Cordier’s pardon would instantly make broad the way to Château Desperiers. She came of a proud race, and he reckoned on her pride.
Let us not glory in that old man’s defeat,—for he died ere his enemy received, through Elizabeth Montier, life, and the joy of life. Let us not call him by an evil name to whom tbe nation gave so fine a funeral,—but rather pause to listen to the music that comes forth in royal glory from the harmonious world of Adolphus,—and turn to look with loving reverence, not with doubt or wonder, and surely not with pity, on the serene face of Her Grace, the Drummer’s Daughter.