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The Baldwin Library
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THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT
PUBLISHED UNDEK TlHE DIELlC IUN UI T11E LUlMMIT EE OF
GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION
APPOINTED BY TIIE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
I iMR S. M 1. E \WO RT H
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THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
EARLY a hundred years ago this beautiful country
of France, where I am now writing, was in a most
sad and troubled state,-a state which we, whose lives have
been passed in quiet and peaceful times, can scarcely picture
to ourselves. For many, many years-hundreds of years-
the causes which led to the terrible outbreak of the people
against the ruling classes, known in history as "the Great
French Revolution," had been slowly but surely growing and
gathering till at last the storm broke all bounds, and the
unhappy country was given over to the rage and fury of
the mob. Yet, cruel as were the leaders of this revolt,
frightful as were the deeds they committed, it is impossible,
and it would be altogether unjust, to blame them and their
followers alone. In national as in family quarrels, the
adage of "faults on both sides" is almost always found to
be true, and certainly the misdeeds which were -at the
bottom of this most terrible of quarrels were far more on
the side of the upper classes than of the lower. For gene-
rations they had been growing more and more indifferent
to the sufferings of those whom they should have protected
and helped. They seemed to think that the poor and the
humble only existed to be their slaves. They seemed to
2 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT
forget that those beneath them had hearts and feelings,-
almost to forget that they were human beings. The beauti-
ful teaching of Jesus Christ was trampled and cast under-
foot, even by those who still called themselves His followers.
The rich lived in the greatest luxury, squandering money
which had been ground out of the sore toil and labour of
the poor. And the poor hated and abhorred the rich, till
at last all classes, alike but in one thing-that they listened
only to their own evil passions, caring nothing for the voice
of God in their consciences, till that voice, so long disre-
garded, grew silent, and the good angels of the unhappy
country seemed to fly away in mournful despair-were
plunged into a sea of horror and bloodshed.
The king and queen were put to death, and so were
hundreds, nay thousands, of the nobles and gentry of the
country. For the leaders of the Revolution, seeing how
badly things had gone under a bad government, foolishly
thought, like children escaping from the rule of too harsh a
schoolmaster, that the only way to be truly free and happy was
to have no regular government at all, but for every one to
do just what he pleased, with no regard for others, no respect
for the eternal laws of right and wrong-a state of things
which could not but become the worst of tyrannies, for it
was the tyranny of the many instead of the few.
What was the end of this dreadful state of things-" the
Reign of Terror," as it is often called-can be read in the
many histories that have been written of this time. It did
not last long-it could not have done so, for Order is
Heaven's first law." Disorder and confusion soon wear
themselves out. But the story of the Great French
Revolution will never be forgotten while history exists. It
stands there as a terrible warning of the fate of a nation
whose rulers neither themselves regard, nor teach to those
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 3
below them, the Divine laws of justice and mercy and love
to all mankind.
Good has come out of evil, as sooner or later it always
must, in the history of France as in all other histories.
But it would be a mistake to suppose that even during that
dark time there was no brighter side to things. The very
greatness of the evil brought out nobleness that in other
times might have never been called forth. Among the
many who suffered the horrors of the dungeon and the
guillotine were numbers of pure and good and benevolent
people, who, though belonging to the rich upper classes,
had never treated their poorer neighbours unjustly or
unkindly, but had done their utmost to make them happier.
These met death with calmness and courage beautiful to
see, though their hearts were wrung with sorrow for the
misery of their country. And among the people there were
many instances of faithful devotion at the greatest risk to
themselves, of compassion even for some of those who had
little deserved at their hands. The simple story I am
going to tell you will show you this, I hope-will show that
even in the darkest pages of our poor old world's much
troubled history, bright lines stand out like rays of sunshine
through a cloudy sky, telling of noble courage and self-
sacrifice for others, of faithfulness till death-of trust in God
through the most awful trials.
HERE grat r .joicing
the farmhouse of Belle
Prairie, onc of the most
fluurisllng farms in the
beautiful part I ouraine where it %as
.. siruat:d lo-minorrow would be their
nm.,ther'. birthday, and for as long back as
any of the small people could remember
"mother's birthday" had always been a holiday.
For it fell in JTune, the loveliest month of the
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 5
year, and the fun began the day before, when, as soon as
they were released from school, they, and some chosen
ones among their companions, came racing down the village
street on their way to what was still called the chateau,"-
although the house had long since disappeared-there, in
the grounds- now left to run wild, to gather to their hearts'
content honey-suckle and roses, which had not always been
" wild," bunches of forget-me-nots and trailing branches of
ivy, with which to adorn the sitting-room at the farm which
was considered peculiarly their mother's. It was what in
an English farmhouse used to be called the best parlour,"
and very proud of it were the boys and girls of Farmer
Marcel, the owner of Belle Prairie. For it was not by any
means every farmhouse that had a best parlour at all, and
none possessed one so pretty as that of Madame Marcel,
the farmer's wife.
The old gates of the chAteau were still standing, as
massive as ever, though only a few moss-covered stones
marked the place where the mansion had once been. And
the villagers were too used to the sight of them, and the
still distinct traces of a carriage-drive leading to nowhere,
to be struck with their strangeness and melancholy, as
occasional visitors often were.
It was burnt down in the great Revolution, like many
another," they would reply with a shrug of their shoulders.
" But what of that ? Those old times are past. We are
happy and prosperous in our village of Valmont-les-Roses,
and the lands of the de Valmonts have long been divided
among those who make a better use of them than the old
owners-though, to be sure," some of the older among them
would add, "they were not bad masters after all, those
Counts of Valmont."
And so the village children played unchecked within the
6 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
ancient gates, and gathered flowers as many as they wished,
with none to say them nay.
Flushed and breathless, but eager and triumphant, the
Marcel children hastened home with their spoils.
"Out of the way, little stupid !" cried Pierre, the eldest
boy, nearly knocking over his tiny brother of three, in his
hurry to get to his mother in the kitchen, where she was
busied in some mysterious way which he pretended not to
observe-Madame Marcel on her side handing him the key
of the best parlour in the most innocent manner possible.
"Come quickly, Edmee," he called out as he hurried
back again, this time nearly tumbling over his sister as
well, for she was employed in comforting little Roger,
whose feelings had been much wounded.
"Pierre shan't call you 'little stupid!'" she said.
"See, you have made him cry, poor dear: and he was so
clever; he gathered such a lot of flowers all himself for the
dear mother's birthday."
"Pierre was only in fun; Roger mustn't cry," said the
big, elder brother, good-naturedly picking up the tiny one.
"Where are Marie and Joseph? Come quick, all of you,
we shall only have time to put up the wreaths before father
comes in to supper."
In another minute the five children were collected in
the parlour, Pierre carefully locking the door inside when
they had entered to secure against surprises. It was always
with a certain awe that the young Marcels crossed the
threshold of this room. They spoke in softer voices-they
carefully wiped their thick shoes on the mat at the door-
they would as soon have thought of romping or jumping in
church as in here. And yet they themselves could hardly
have explained why they felt so. The room, though pretty
in a rather stiff way, was, after all, very simple. The
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 7
wooden floor, to be sure, was polished like a mirror,
and there were little lace curtains in the windows, which
were never torn or soiled, for Madame Marcel took the
greatest care of them, washing and getting them up twice
a year with her own best caps, and never allowing Susette,
the servant, to lay a finger on them. The brass handles
of the old marble-topped chest of drawers were as bright
as the copper pans in the kitchen, and so was the heavy
old brass fender, behind which were the iron bars for the
logs of wood which, on very rare occasions, such as New
Year's Day, or a marriage or christening feast, should it
fall in winter, made a cheerful blaze up the old chimney.
But the stiff hard sofa backed up against the wall, and the
stiff hard chairs and arm-chairs standing round in a row,
were no longer white as in the days of their long past
youth, and the old-fashioned tapestry with which their seats
and backs were covered had little colour left, and here and
there a careful darning was plainly to be seen.
The children stood still and looked round them, as they
always somehow did on first entering the room, as if they
expected to discover something they had never seen before.
Then said Pierre :
"How shall we do it? The same as last year-a
wreath on the chimney-piece, and two smaller ones round the
mirror and the little old portrait ? Yes, I think that is the
For there was a small, queerly-shaped mirror in a heavy,
now dull, gilt frame on one side of the fire-place, and on
the other, matching it, the object which the children
regarded with more interest than anything in the room,
"the little old portrait," they called it among themselves,
and "some day," their father had promised them, they
should be told its history. But all they knew at present
8 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
was that it had been many, many years-not far off a
hundred-in the best room of the old farmhouse.
It was the portrait of a little girl-a very little girl.
She did not seem more than four or five years old: one
dimpled shoulder had escaped from the little white frock,
the fair hair brushed back from the forehead was tied with
a plain white ribbon-nothing could be simpler. But there
was a great charm about it: the eyes were so bright and
happy-looking, the rosy mouth seemed so ready to kiss you
-it looked what it was, the picture of a creature who had
never known sorrow or fear.
How pretty she is !" said Edmde, as she twisted the
ivy-leaves round the frame, and a ray of sunshine fell on
the little face. I think she gets prettier and prettier-
don't you, Marie? I wonder when father and mother will
tell us the story about her."
Pierre stopped short in his part of the business, which
was that of arranging the garland over the mantelpiece, to
listen to what his sisters were saying.
"Suppose we ask to hear it to-morrow,' he said, "for a
treat ? Mother is always ready to give us a treat on her
"Not instead of the creams and the cake," put in
Joseph, who was rather a greedy little boy. "I wouldn't
like that. Stories aren't as nice as cake."
Little glutton !" exclaimed Pierre : "you deserve to
have none. All the same I know what I know. One has
but to step inside the kitchen and to sniff a little, to see
that mother forgets nothing."
"Indeed !" said Joseph, with satisfaction. "Yes, truly,
I could almost fancy I smelt it even in here. That comes
of having an oven of one's own. There is no other house
at Valmont with an oven like ours. When I am a man, if
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 9
I cannot afford an oven of my own in my kitchen, I
"What ?" asked Marie.
"I shall be a baker," said Joseph, solemnly. I always
stop before the door of Bernard, the baker, to smell the
bread, especially on Saturdays, when he is baking the
Sunday cakes and his Reverence's pie. Ah, how it smells !"
"A baker !" said Pierre with disdain. "Not for worlds !
To see Bernard stewing away in his bakehouse till he can
scarcely breathe is enough to make one hate the thoughts of
cakes. A baker indeed! Ah, no-the open air and the
fields for me I shall be a farmer, like my father and
my grandfathers and my great-grandfathers. We have
always been plain, honest farmers, we Marcels-and my
mother's people, the Laurents, too !"
"Some one told me once," said Edmde, who, her work
finished, was standing thoughtfully contemplating the effect
of the pretty wreath round the little face, "some one told
me once, or I dreamt it, that the little old portrait was that
of a great-grandmother of ours. I wonder if it is true ? If
all our people have always been farmers I don't see how it
can be, for that little girl doesn't look like a farmer's
daughter-and besides, they wouldn't have made a grand
picture of her in that case."
Mother must know," said Marie.
I asked her once if it was true," said Edmde, "but
she said I was to wait till I was older, and she would tell
us the story. I would so like to hear it. She is so sweet,
that dear little girl. I wonder if she lived to grow old.
How strange to think of her, that little baby-face, growing
into an old woman, with grey hair."
"And little wrinkles all over her face, and her eyes
screwed up, and red patches on her cheeks, like old Mother
10 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
Mathurine, down in the village," said Joseph. "They do
say, you know, that old Mathurine is nearly a thousand
years old," and Joseph nodded his head sagaciously.
"Joseph!" exclaimed Marie, "how can you tell such
stories ? Nobody's a thousand !"
"Well, then, it is a hundred,-I meant to say a-hundred,"
said Josep)h. I always forget which is the most-a thou-
sand or a hundred," for poor Joseph was only seven.
"What things she must remember!" said Edmde.
"Fancy, Pierre, a hundred years ago! Perhaps she
remembers the little girl. Oh, Pierre, do let us ask mother
to tell us the story to-morrow !"
Yes," Pierre agreed, "I should very much like to hear
it. We'll ask her to-night, Edmee."
And just then the sound of their father's voice, as he
crossed the farmyard on his way into the house, made them
hasten to pick up the stray leaves and flowers which had
fallen from the wreaths, and to put the chairs and all back
in their places, so as to leave the room in perfect order for
That evening, when the little ones were in bed, Pierre,
Edmde, and Marie lingered a moment when they were
going to say good-night to their parents.
What is it, my dears?" said their mother, for she saw
there was something they wanted to ask.
1Mother," said Pierre, you know you are always very
good to us on your birthday; we want to ask you a
favour. Will you to-morrow tell us the story of the little
picture in the parlour?"
You said you would when we were older," said Edmee,
"What do you think?" said Madame Marcell, turning
to her husband.
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 11
The farmer shrugged his shoulders good-naturedly.
"I have no objection," he said. "They are sensible
children, and not likely to get foolish notions in their heads.
On the contrary, they are old enough to learn good lessons
from the story of these troubles of long ago. I am quite
pleased that they should hear it, and I should like to hear
it again myself, for I am not so good a scholar as you. I
have sometimes looked into the papers, but I find the
"I think I almost know it by heart," said his wife.
"My mother liked me to read it to her. Well, then, my
children, to-morrow evening, when the little ones are asleep,
you shall hear the story of the little old portrait."
T CHAPTER 11.
H .. Marcel children were up betimes
thel next morning-not that they
%ere ever late, in summer espe-
"ci.ll., ir, youngg as the\ were, there were
plenty of wa.T s in hich they already helped
ji their busy ath'h..r and mother. And as
evcrytb,. dN knows, there is no time so
bu',y in a drinl in sulmmler as the early
S morning. In gent ral they were all,
Secept little RKogr, due at school
Sr at eight o'clJ,'k, but to-day, as
.. --_ I have explained, was a holiday,
A and the mere feeling
-L- of not having to go
to school seemed to
J., manke them wish to
get ul, even earlier
ThIlin there was the
treat of coffee for
breakfast, instead of
"the sowp a very
S- soup made with
-- wouldd not, I
tfarncy, think very
, .. .- was their usual
fare, and not
only coffee, but
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 13
white bread and buter Joseph smacked his lips at
this, you may be sure. After breakfast they all went into
the parlour for a a few minutes, there to present to Madame
Marcel the little gifts they had prepared for her, with which
she was of course greatly pleased, as well as with the
decorations of the room.
Now go, my children," she said, and amuse yourselves
well till dinner-time. It is a most lovely day. If you can
find a nice basketful of wood strawberries they will not
come in badly for the dessert."
"No, indeed," said Joseph, "there is nothing better than
strawberries with cream. You will give us a little of that
beautiful thick cream you make the little cheeses for market
with, won't you, mother? For a very great treat."
And Madame Marcel could not help laughing at the
pathetic air with which he said it, even though she told him
she feared he was growing too fond of nice things to eat.
The strawberry hunt was very successful, and the children
came home in good spirits, and quite ready to do justice
to the birthday dinner, to which had been invited the
clergyman of the village, or cur6," as he was called, and
Farmer Marcel's widowed sister, with her two children.
Later in the day the young people all played games in
the orchard; then, too hot and tired to romp more, they
sat on the grass playing with their pet kitten, till mother
called them in. Their aunt and her little boys and the
old curd soon after went away, and then, when Joseph and
Roger were safely in bed, the three elder ones reminded
their mother of her promise.
I have not forgotten it," she said. "Your father is
coming in a moment. I must let you sit up an hour later
than usual this evening; but if there is not time to read all
the story, we can finish it on Sunday evening, perhaps."
14 T'HE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
And then she led the way back to the parlour, which
seemed the most suitable place for reading the story in,
besides being cooler than the kitchen, for the evening was
In a few minutes the farmer made his appearance. He
seated himself in one of the two largest and most comfort-
able of the arm-chairs, while Madame Marcel took the
other, drawing it near enough to the window to have a
good light; for the sheaf of papers which she held in her
hand was yellow with age, and the ink of the writing, from
the same cause, had become pale and not very easy to
read. And the children's eyes watched with eagerness, not
unmixed with awe, the pages, which were tied together with
a faded blue ribbon, as their mother smoothed them out
and placed them ready.
Before I begin," she said, I must tell you, children,
who wrote this little story, and why. It was written by my
mother; you cannot remember your dear grandmother,
children; she died when you, even, Pierre, were a very
little boy, and Edmee still a baby. It was a great sorrow
to me. I had hoped she would have lived to help me to
bring you up, and to educate you as she educated me,
though I fear I have now forgotten much of what she
"There is no one in the village as clever as you,
mother," said Pierre and Edmee. "Every one says so.
Who can write so nicely, as you, mother, or keep' accounts
"Yes, indeed," said the farmer. Many a compliment
I have had about my accounts, and very proud I am to say
it is my good wife who makes them out."
"So you see, mother !" said the children.
Well, well," said Madame Marcel. But the little I
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 15
can do is nothing to what my dear mother knew and could
do. And she, again, used to say she felt ashamed of her
ignorance in comparison with her mother's superiority.
And this brings me to the story, or rather, in the first place,
to the picture. That dear little girl up there, children, is
my grandmother, your great-grandmother, whose maiden
name was EdmUe de Valmont."
"Edmee de Valmont," repeated the children, as if they
could scarcely believe it. "You don't mean-not de
Valmont of Valmont-les-Roses, not one of them ?" said
"Yes, dear. My grandmother was the last of the old
name. And how she came to be so, and how in the end
she changed it for a much humbler one, and never repented
having done so-that is the story here written out by her
wish, and under her superintendence, by her daughter, my
The children looked at their mother bewilderedly.
"I don't think I quite understand," said Edmie.
" Whom did she marry ? Was it our grandfather Marcel ?"
"Oh dear no, my child," replied her mother, laughing.
"That would have made very funny relationships," and
Farmer Marcel smiled as he said-
It is not to my side of the house, but to little mother's,
that you owe your noble descent."
And Madame Marcel went on to explain.
My grandmother, Edm6e de Valmont, married Pierre
Germain. They had but one child, my mother, also
Edmde, and she in turn married Joseph Laurent, my father.
I, again, was an only child, so it has always been by Edmees
that the de Valmonts have been remembered, till now,
when my little Roger has revived the old Valmont name.
There was always a Roger de Valmont in the old days."
16 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
Ah yes," exclaimed Pierre, "I know that by the old
inscriptions in the church. Mother, why did you not call me,
the eldest, Roger ? I should have been proud of the name."
His mother looked at him with a rather anxious expres-
sion; he was a handsome boy, and before now some of the
old people in the village had whispered to her that the
Valmont blood was to be seen in the little farmer, though
she had begged them always to put no nonsense in her
My boy," she said seriously, almost solemnly, when you
have heard this little story, you will, I think, agree with me that
no one could be otherwise than proud to bear the name of my
dear and honoured grandfather, Pierre Germain. I do not
wish to speak with anything but respect of my grandmother's
ancestors, especially as I am happy to think many of them
deserved to be so thought of. They did their best, and
strove to be just and benevolent at a time when there were
few to show the example, and for that let us honour them.
But the ancestors I am the most proud of, and I know
your father agrees with me, are not the de Valmonts."
Pierre slipped his hand into his mother's.
"I should like to think the same as you and father," he
said gently. And then Madame Marcel, having the papers
smoothed out, and sitting in a good clear light began to
read as follows :-
"BELLE PRAIRIE FARM,
Ist June, in the year of our Lord 1822.
"I, Edmbe Germain, the only child of Pierre Germain
and Edmde his wife (born Edmee de Valmont), by the wish
of my mother, am going to endeavour to write the story of
her life, that her descendants may know the true facts; and
THE LITTLE OLI I'N)TRTITAT. 17
above all, may learn to honour the memory of my dear
either, Pierre Germain, who ended his good and faithful
life on the 12th of last April. My dear mother and I have
felt dreadfully sad since his death, and the idea of writing
this simple narrative is the first thing which has at all
consoled us. I fear I shall not do it very well, for though
my mother has educated me carefully, I am not by nature
as clever as she, and I feel that I have not well repaid the
trouble she has taken with me. But it is her wish that I
should write it lather than she herself; so I shall do my
best, and if it should ever be read by children or grand-
children of mine, I am sure they will judge it gently, and
not be severe on my blunders. When it is completed,
mother is going to ask our kind curd to read it through,
and to put his name to it as a sign that all is truly stated,
and without exaggeration. My mother and I wish that
these papers should be always kept in the top drawer of
the handsome chest of drawers in the best parlour rt Belle
prairiee Farm, so long, that is to say, as the farm continues
in the hands of our descendants, which we hope will be
for very, very long. And as the children of the family
grow old enough to feel an interest in its history, we wish
that what I am about to write should be read aloud to them."
Madame Marcel stopped a moment. All eyes were fixed
on her, all ears were eagerly listening. So she went on again.
There was no other title or heading to the manuscrriFt.
It is nearly forty years ago that one day a little girl-
a veiy little girl-was playing with a boy a few years older
than herself on the terrace in front of the chateau of
Valmont-les-Roses. The chateaui was very old; many
generations of Valmonts had played on the same old
terrace-had grown to be men and women, and found
there were many things besides playing to be done in the
1 'THE LITTLE OLD POITIAIT.
world-had passed through the busy noontime of life, and
gradually down the hill to old age and peaceful death.
For they had been in general kindly and gentle, loving to
live quietly on their lands, and make those about them
happy, so that they were respected and trusted by their
dependants; and even in troubled times of widely-spread
discontent and threatened revolt, the talk of these things
passed quietly by our peaceful village, and no one paid much
heed to it.
"The little girl who was racing up and down the terrace,
her companion pretending to try to catch her, and letting
her slip past so that she might fancy she was quicker than
he, was Edmee, only child of the Count de Valmont, and
the boy was Pierre Germain, her favourite playfellow, though
only the son of her father's head forester.
Edmde had no brothers or sisters, and Pierre's mother
had been for some time her nurse when she was a tiny baby.
The kind woman had left her own little boy to come to
the chLteau to take care of the Countess's baby, who was
so delicate that no one thought she would live, and by her
devotion Madame Germain had helped to make her the
bright, healthy little girl that she now, at five years old, had
become. So, as one always loves those to whom one has
been of great service, Madame Germain loved little Edmee
dearly, and Edmee loved her. There was nowhere in the
village she so much liked to go as to the Germains' little
cottage, and no child she cared to play with as much as
Pierre, who was only four years older than she, but so
gentle and careful with her that no one felt any anxiety
when they knew that the little lady, 'Mademoiselle," as
she was called, was with Pierre Germain.
"Tired with running and laughing, Edmde called to
Pierre to help her down the steep stone steps at one end
THE ITTLE OLD.I> l'()];Tl;AIT. If,
of the terrace, and the two children settled themselves
comfortably under the shade of a wide-spreading beech tree.
"'Now Pierrot, good pretty Pierrot,' said Edmee coax-
ingly, tell Edmee a story-a pretty story.'
"'What about? My little lady has heard all the stories
I know, so often,' said Pierre, gently stroking the pretty
fair hair tumbling over his arm, as she leant her head
"'Never mind, I like them again-only not about Red
Riding Hood,' said Edme ; 'that frightens me so, Pierre:
I fancy I am little Red Riding Hood, only then, I always
think my Pierrot would come running, running so fast, so
that the naughty wolf shou/idn't eat me. Wouldn't my
Pierrot do that ? He wouildn' let the naughty wolf eat
poor little Edmee ? '
"' No, indeed-indeed.' I wouldn't,' said Pierre eagerly.
I'd get the old sword-you know it, Edme : father has it
hanging up orve the door in our cottage; it's rather rusty,
but it would he good enough for a wolf-and I'd run at
him with it before he could touch you. If he /ad to eat up
somebody, I'd let him eat me first.'
Oh, don't don't Pierrot,' said Edmee, trembling and
clinging to him, 'don't say that; don't let us speak about
things like that! There are no wolves here, are there ? and
don't you think, Pierrot dear, if people were very, very kind
to all the wolves, and never hunted them, or anything like
that-don't you think perhaps the wolves would get kind i'
'I'm afraid not.' he said, but there are no wolves
"'No, no,' repeated Edmee, 'no wolves and no naughty
people at Valmont. Don't you wish there were no naughty
people anywhere, Pierrot?'
"23 T'HE LITI'LE OLD PORTItAIT.
"'Indeed, I do,' said the boy, and then he sat silent.
'What makes you talk about naughty people, Edme ?'
"'I don't know,' said Edm6e; 'sometimes I hear
things, Pierrot, that frighten me. I hear the servants
talking-they say that some lords like papa are so naughty
and unkind. Is it true, Pierrot ?'
"'I'm afraid all rich men are not so kind as the Count,'
said Pierre. But don't trouble yourself about it, dear;
we won't let naughty unkind people come here.'
"Somehow Edmee had grown silent; she sat there
quite still, leaning her little head on the boy's shoulder.
And he did not talk either; Edmie's innocent words had
reminded him of things he too had heard-of talk between
his father and mother, which, young as he was, he already
understood a good deal of. Even to quiet Valmont growl-
ings of the yet distant storm, which ere long was to over-
whelm the country, had begun to penetrate. Now and
then peasants from other villages would make their way to
this peaceful corner, with tales of cruelties and indignities
from which they were suffering, which could not but rouse
the sympathy of their more fortunate compatriots. And
more than once Pierre had seen his quiet and serious
father strangely excited.
'It cannot go on for ever,' he would say to his wife;
'we may not live to see, but our children will, some
terrible retribution on this unhappy land. Ah, if all masters
were like ours BuPt I fear there are but few, even in his
own family, think of the difference.'
"But when Pierre eagerly asked what he meant, he
would say no more-he would say nothing to sow pre-
judice in the child's heart. But from others the boy
learnt something of what his father was thinking of,
and as he grew older and understand still more, his
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. T1
heart ached sometimes with vague fear and anxiety,
though not for himself.
'It would be a bad day for us all-a bad day for our
poor mistress and the dear .little lady-if the good Count
were taken from us,' he heard now and then, and the words
always struck a cold chill to his l.crrt; for the Count was
by no means in good health-he had always 1;ecn some-
what delicate, unable to take part much in field sports and
such amusement as absorbed the time of most of his
country neighbours. IHe read much and thought much,
and in many ways he was different from those among whom
he lived. And though somewhat cold in manner, it was
evident he was not so in heart, for all the little children in
the village loved him as well as his beautiful and loveable
young wife, and their dear little daughter, and beyond the
limits even of his own domain he was spoken of as ti e
good Count of Valmont.
"Suddenly, as the two children sat there in silence, a
voice was heard calling-
Mademoiselle! Mademoiselle! wherever can the child
have hidden herself? Mademoiselle, you are wanted at
once in the drawing-room.'
"And as EdmIe rose slowly, and perhaps rather uinwill-
ingly, to her feet, she saw' coming along the terrace her
mother's new maid Victorine, to whom, it must be confessed,
she was not partial.
'I am not hidden, Victorine,' she said; '.it is easy to
see if one looks.'
"' If one looks in proper places,' said the maid pertly.
' I never before saw a young lady always playing with a
clodhopper i' and she came forward as if about to take
Edmne by the hand and lead her away. But she reckoned
without her host.
"N E C-NAPTER 111)I
DMEE drew herself away.
"'Naughty Victorine!' she said,
'You shall not call my Pierrot ugly
names. Come away, Pierrot; we
won't go with her.'
"' But you must come, Mademoiselle Edmee; your lady
mamma has sent for you,' said Victorine, by no means
pleased, but a little afraid of getting into some trouble
with this determined young lady.
"' Mamma has sent for me? Oh, then I will come.
Come, Pierrot, mamma wants us in the drawing-room.
You need not wait, Victorine; Pierre will bring me.'
Victorine's face grew very red.
"* Nobody wants him/,' she said. 'However, do as you
please. Thank goodness, I am not that child's nurse,'she
muttered, as she walked off with her
hiecad in ithe ..I r. )e in,- ho e-
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 23
that Pierre, and perhaps Edmee too, would get a good
scolding if the boy made his appearance with her in
the drawing-room; but she was much mistaken. The
children entered the house together, crossing the large
cool hall, paved with black and white marble, and then
making their way down a side passage of red tiles. Here
Pierre stopped : it was the way to the Countess's own rooms,
which opened into the large drawing-room by a side door.
"'I will wait here,' he said; 'if my lady wants me you
will come and tell me, will you not, Mademoiselle?'
For it was not often that Pierre returned to the village
without some message for his mother from the Countess,
who considered her as one of her best and trustiest friends.
"Edmde ran into her mother's room-there was no
one there, but the doors, one at each side of a tin), ante-
room, which led into the big drawing-room, were both open,
and voices, those of her father and mother and of another
person, reached her ears. She ran gaily in.
"'Here you are at last, my pet!' said her mother.
'How long you have been! This gentleman has been
waiting to see you; he has come all the way from Tours
on purpose to-can Edmde guess what he has come for?'
Edmde looked up in the stranger's face with a half-
puzzled, half-roguish expression, very pretty to see.
"' Ah !' exclaimed the young man, hastily; 'excuse me,
Madame-if the young lady could but be taken as she is
now, it would be admirable.'
"'All in disorder !' exclaimed the countess, laughing.
' Why I was just going to send her to have her hair brushed,
and to have a clean white frock put on; she is all tossed
"'All the better-nothing could be better,' said the
artist, for such he was, and the Count agreed with him.
24- THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
But it was not so easily done as said. Edmee could not
at all see why she was to sit still on a stiff-backed chair
when she so much preferred running about, and though she
had jerked one dimpled shoulder out of the strap of her
frock, she had by no means intended to keep it there, as
the stranger insisted. Furthermore, she objected to look-.
ing up at him as he desired, and was on the point of telling
him that he was not pretty enough to look at so much,
when happily another idea struck her.
"' Let Pierrot come in,' she said; Pierrot can come and
tell me a story, and then I'll sit still. Edmce always sits
still when Pierrot tells her stories.'
"' But how are we to get hold of him ?' said the Count,
whose patience was rather tried by her fidgetiness. There
is not time to send to the village, the light will be failing'
-for it was already advanced in the afternoon-' and Mr.
Denis is so anxious to make the first sketch to-day.'
"'Pierrot is not in the village; he is here at the door.
Send for him and tell him to come in, and then Edmie
will be so good-oh so good, and will sit so still!'
The Countess rang a little bell which stood on a side
table; an old man servant soon came to see what was wanted.
"'Is Pierre Germain still here?' she said; 'if so, tell
him to come in.'
In a moment Pierre made his appearance. His boots
were thick and clumsy, and clattered on the shining
polished floor; he held his cap in both hands, and stayed
an instant at the door to make his bow and to wait the
lady's pleasure. But, country boy though he was, he
neither looked nor felt foolish or awkward, and the young
artist, taking his eyes for a moment from his refractory
little sitter, was struck by his bright face and fearless
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 25
"'I would like to sketch him,' he said to himself. 'It
is not often one sees peasants of his type now-a-days among
the half-starved, wolfish, and yet cowed-looking creatures
they are becoming,' he added, though not so as to be heard
by any one else, turning to the Count, who stood beside
"'No, indeed,' replied the gentleman, and a look of
anxiety crossed his pa:c, serious face.
"' Come forward, my boy,' said Edmee's mother. Why
did you not come to see me before ? You lnow youc are
"' I thought as Mademoiselle was sent for, perhaps there
was company,' :aid Pierre smiling, while his sunburst face
"' It was that naughty Victorine ?' said Edmde, pouting;
'she called my Pierrot a clodhopper. I don't like Victor-
"'A clodhopper?' said the Countess; 'no, indeed,
she should not have said so; that comes of having a maid
from Paris, I suppose. I think I shall keep to our own
good Touraine girls for the future, even though they are
not so clever. Now, Pierre, my boy, you are to help us to
get Edmde to keep still; Mr. Denis is going to paint her,
just as she is now.'
"Pierre's quick wits soon understood what was wanted.
He sat down on a stool by Edm&e, and began telling her in a
low voice one of her favourite stories, which soon drew all
her attention. And it was thus that the portrait which is now
hanging in the parlour at Belle Prairie Farm, and which will,
I hope, always hang there, came to be taken. If one looks
closely at one corner, one will see the da:e, 'July 15th
1783,' and the painter's initials, R. D.'
"This little scene which I have described is one of the
26 THE LITTLE OLD PORTKIAIT.
first clearly impressed on my mother's memory. She has
often told it to me. Perhaps the reason that she remembers
it so well is that that summer was the last of the unbroken
happiness of the Chateau de Vahnlmont. The good Count
my grandfather, though always delicate, had hitherto been
well enough to enjoy the quiet home life, which was what
he preferred, and to attend himself to the care of his
property and of his people. But the winter following this
bright summer, which had seen my mother's fifth birthday,
was a severe one. My grandfather unfortunately caught
cold one day from having been exposed to a snowstorm on
his way home from a visit to his wife's brother, the Marquis
de Sarinet, whose chateau was about two days' journey
from Valmont-les-Roses. And this illness of my grand-
father's was the begiinning of troubles-not for himself and
his family alone, but for scores of others whom he had
always wished and endeavoured to protect and to make
happy, so far as he could; though for him, and the few
like him, it was more difficult than could now-a-days be
believed to behave with kindness, even with any approach
to justice, to those in their power. For these few good
and truly wise men stood alone against the blind obstinacy
of the many, bent, though they knew it n6t, on their own
"A glimpse of life in another and less favoured village
than Valmont may perhaps give to those who in future
days will, I hope, read this story, a better idea of the state
of things than I could otherwise ensure them. I have
heard all about it so often from my mother, and even more
from my father, who had seen more of the peasant life of
the time than she, that it often seems to me as if I had
myself been an eye-witness of the scenes I have heard de-
scribed. And some knowledge of the things which were
THE LITTLE OLD POR''rAIT. 27
passing at but a short distance from my mother's peaceful
home will enable her grandchildren and great-grandchildren
better to understand the events I have to tell.
"We need travel no further than Sarinet, the place I
have spoken of as the home of my grandmother's family-
the wife of the good Count. She had married young,
fortunately for her, for Sarinet would not have been a
happy home for her. It was in the possession of her half-
brother, the proud Marquis de Sarinet, who lived there a
great part of the year with his wife and one child, Edmond,
a boy about the age of Pierre (ermain.
It is winter-that same cruelly severe winter which
laid the seeds ol the good Count's fatal illness. Heavy
snow is on the ground, and the air is bitter and cutting.
The village of Sarinet seems asleep; there is hardly any
one moving about. It is so cold-so cold that the poor
inhabitants, such as are not obliged to be away at their
daily work, are trying to keep some little warmth in them
by staying indoors. And yet indoors it is scarcely warmer;
in many of the cottages there is no fire to be seen, in some
but a few wretched embers on the great open chimney,
down which blows the wintry wind as if angry that any one
should attempt to get warm. The well, or fountain, as
they call it, whence they all draw water, has been frozen
for some days; when the men come home at night they
have to break the ice away with hatchets. There are few
children to be seen-one is almost glad to think so-and
yet the absence of the little creatures has brought sad
sorrow to many hearts. For not many months ago the
village and some others in the neighbourhood had been
visited by a wasting fever, the result of bad food, overwork,
and general wretchedness, and scarcely a family but had
lost some of its members-above all, among the children.
28 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
At the door of one of the miserable cottages stands a
young girl of about fifteen, crying bitterly. Cold though it
is, she scarcely seems to feel it. She looks up and down
the road as if watching for some one, then she re-enters the
cottage, which is bare and miserable beyond description,
and tries to coax into flame a little heap of twigs and
withered leaves which are all the fuel she possesses. Her
clothing is desperately poor-one could scarcely see that
it had ever had any colour or shape-and yet there is an
attempt at neatness about her, and she is, or rather she
would have been had she had a fair amount of food and
decent clothing, a pretty, sweet-looking girl.
As she stands again in her restless misery at the door
of the cottage, an old woman comes out from the next door.
What is the matter, Marguerite ?' she says; 'is your
brother ill agiin?'
"'Oh, Madelon,' she exclaims, 'I think it would be
better if he were dead My poor boy !' and she burst out
"'What is it ? Anything new ? Come in here and tell
me,' said the woman, and she drew Marguerite inside her
own dwelling, which was, perhaps, a shade less wretched
than its neighbour, though in one corner, on a pallet bed
hardly worth calling such-it was in reality but a bag of
coarse sacking filled with straw-a man, looking more like
a corpse than a human being, was lying, apparently in a
state of half-unconsciousness.
'He is getting better, they say,' observed the woman
nodding her head in his direction. 'The doctor looked in
yesterday-he had been up at the Chateau to see the little
lord. Yes, he says Jean is getting better, and with good
food he might be fit for something again,' she added in a
hard, indifferent tone, as if she did not much care.
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 29
"'And will they not send some to /him-they-up at
the Chateau?' said Marguerite, indignantly. 'They know
how the accident happened; it was in saving my lord's hay-
stacks; but for him every one says they would all have
"The woman gave a short, bitter laugh.
"'On the other hand, as the bailiff says,' she replied,
'we should be overwhelmed with gratitude that Jean has
not been accused of setting fire to them. You know what
that would have meant,' and she passed her hand round
her neck with an expressive gesture, for in those days a much
smaller crime than that of incendiarism-or even, alas in
most cases, the suspicion of such a crime-was too surely
punished by hanging, and hanging sometimes preceded by
tortures too frightful to tell you of, and followed by hideous
insult to the poor, dead body, adding untold horror to the
misery of the victim's friends, even after he could no longer
suffer. 'There is one cause for thankfulness,' Jean's wile went
on,-I have called her an old woman, but she was, in reality,
barely forty, though you would have taken her for fully
twenty years more--' and that is that he and I are now
alone to bear it. The fever has been our best friend after
Yes,' said Marguerite simply, 'your children with my
mother and little Angele-they are all at rest and happy in
ut how can there be a heaven-how can there be a
God, if He lets us suffer so horribly ? Suffer till there is no
good, no gentleness, no pity left in us, my girl. There are
times when I feel as if the devil were in me, when I would
enjoy the sight of their suffering, they who treat us worse
than their dogs-dogs indeed! see my lady's little pampered
poodles! if we were treated like their dogs we need not
:"I THE LITTLE 0I.L) PORTRAIT.
complain-when I would not have a drop of pity in my
heart, however I saw them tortured,' and Madelon's face,
in its thin misery, took an expression which made Marguerite
shiver, so that the elder woman, thinking it was from cold,
drew her nearer to the fire, which she stirred with her foot.
I should not talk so to you, poor child. Now tell me
your troubles. Is it about Louis?'
"'Partly, and about everything. Last night, Madelon,
quite late, that horrible Martin, the bailiff's son, came down
again, sent by his father about the rent. He said if we
had not yet got it ready, Louis must either pay the fine
or do extra work. You know we have not got it ready-
how could we ? And then-I think he had been drinking
-he began teasing me. He said I was a pretty girl, in
spite of my rags ;-they are poor enough, Madelon. but they
are not rags ; I do my best to mend them.'
'Ah, that you do,' replied the neighbour.
And,' pursued Marguerite, lie pulled me to him and
tried to kiss me, and said if I would be amiable he would
get me a new silk kerchief, and would persuade his father
not to be harsh with us for the rent. But I tried to push
him away-and Louis, he got so angry-my poor Louis !-
he seized a stick and hit him.'
"' Hit Martin, the bailiff's son !' exclaimed Madelon, an
expression of fear and anxiety replacing the sort of hard
indifference on her face. My poor child-he must have
been mad !'
'He did not hurt him much,' continued Marguerite,
'but Martin was furious. He went out vowing vengeance,
and with an evil smile on his face. And not half-an-hour
after he left, one of the bailiff's men came down, late as it
was, to order Louis to be there at five this morning. Iouis,
so delicate as he is, and so cold and dark and miserable as
THEi LITTLE OLD POINTI'AIT. 31
it was : But that is not the worst; the man-it was Andre
Michaud-was sorry for us, and warned us that Louis is to
be terribly punished. The bailiff swore he would put him
in harness-the roads are so bad for the horses in this
weather; he laughed and said it would give one of them a
rest. Oh, Madelon, you know how dreadful it is-and Louis
so weak as he is still-it will kill him I have been all
the morning running to the door, thinking he would be
coming back, or that perhaps they would be carrying him
back, all torn and bleeding, like Felix-you remember
Felix, when they put him in the horse's place, and he broke
a blood vessel ?'
"" Madelon turned away-ah, yes, she remembered but
too well, but what could she say ? It was true what Mar-
guerite had described, and there was no use in complaining.
The lords, such as were cruel enough to do so, were allowed
by law to drive the peasants in their employ, in the place
of horses or oxen, and even if lashed or goaded till they
dropped, the wretched sufferers could claim no redress.
"' Warm yourself, my child,' she said at last to the
weeping girl. Keep up your heart, for Louis' sake, as
well as you can. Have you a bit of fire in there ?'
"Marguerite shook her head. Madelon went to a corner
of the cottage, and came back with some twigs.
"'I will try to make it up for you,' she said; 'come back
with me. 'This wood is dry.'
"'But, Madelon, you have so little for yourself,' said
Marguerite. 'I had meant to try to find some this morn-
ing, though there is scarcely any now, but my fears for
Louis have stopped my doing anything.'
They had coaxed the miserable fire into a more
promising condition when the sound of voices on the
road made Marguerite start nervously, and rush to the
32 THE LITTLE OLD PO'RTRAIT.
door. At first she thought that her worst fears were fulfilled.
Two men were carrying something on a plank, while beside
walked a boy-a boy of about ten or eleven, whom she did
not know by sight, who from time to time as they came
along stooped over the plank and looked anxiously at the
motionless figure extended on it. With a fearful scream
Marguerite rushed out.
"' My Louis! my Louis !' she cried. Is he dead?'
"The two men tramped on into the cottage stolidly, and
laid down the plank.
"' Dead ?-I know not,' said one, with a sort of in-
difference that was not heartlessness. 'Would you wish
him alive, you foolish child?'
But the little boy touched her gently.
He is not dead,' he said softly; he has only fainted,'
and he drew a small bottle out of the inside of his jacket.
'I have a little wine here,' he said,, mother gave it me
before I left home. He is opening his eyes-give him a
"The girl did as he said. Poor Louis swallowed with
difficulty, and a very little colour came into his face. -He
tried to sit up, but sank back again, murmuring-
My back-oh, my back "'
"'He has strained it,' said the second man. 'No
wonder. He must lie down; have you no mattress?'
"Marguerite gazed round her stupidly. Madelon
Rouse yourself, my girl,' she said; he looks nothing
like as bad as Jean when they brought him home,' and
Marguerite turned to drag out of its corner the heap cf
straw on which, covered with what had once been a woman's
skirt, Louis spent the night. The little boy darted forward
to help her.
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. S3
"'Who are you?' she said, looking at him with the
quick suspicion with which these poor creatures looked at
every new face. 'I don't know you-you don't belong
No,' said he; 'I come from Valmont. I came in the
carriage that has been sent to fetch my lord, who has been
staying here with my lady's brother. The coachman brought
me to help him, as the groom who generally comes is ill.'
And how did you-how came you to see Louis?'
"'I was strolling about the woods when I met them
driving him,' said the boy, in a low voice of distress and
horror. 'I saw-him fall-and I was so sorry for him,' he
added simply, I thought I would come to see how he was.
But I must not stay ; the Count is returning home to-day-
I must not stay. But see here,' and from his pocket he
drew a little bag containing a few copper coins and one
small silver piece.
"' These are my own-my very own. It is all I have,
but take it, to get some food for poor LouiF.'
Marguerite seized his hand and kissed it.
Tell me your name, that I may pray for you.'
"' I am Pierre-Pierre Germain, the son of the forester
at Valmont,' he said, as he ran off.
It was in very different circumstances that these two
nnnt Its h. tcS. Iit.M
"T CHIAPTER1. I\/.
""A %' a terrible ,iirntr i ,
ba>Ak ,r.,,i, S;ar. ct to ,.-i } i I
Pierre Gerni.iin nl er fr r-
.ot 1 l'he first ldav the' got on "cll en'utigh, 1j
and p'er:lic.l up on his -cat Il.side te th ca.. liman,
the ho- cnj- ,d the driiin. along lthi 'inntrv
r,-ads, lihlre the sno" had hanmlcned itiiceny .'ti
t', enable them to mIlakc their .,. ,'.ith no
gr.;it difii-ulity. They stopped flv, the iight '
a;t a %I'li..:- muidw'.iwv Itiwc-en thlie two
ch iteati, .and despite ,oiric wara.."
4 .. J, -
ings, started again the next mr-rnin I1.1 ie ('1unt was
eager to get home, feeling sure that any delay would
make the Countess very anxious. But long before they
reached Valmont the snow came on again,* more heavily
than it had yet fallen that winter. For many hours it was
absolutely impossible to go on, and they were thankful
THE LITTLE (;L,) POITRA1T. 3
even for the refuge of a miserable cabin, inhabited by an
old road mender and his wife, two poor creatures looking a
hundred at least, whom they found cowering over a wretched
fire, and who were at first too frightened at the sight of
them to let them in. The name of the Count de Valmont
reassured them, and they did their best to find shelter,
both for the human beings and the horses, though their
best was miserably insufficient. And the night in that po;o
hovel laid the seeds of the severe illness with which Edmee's
father was prostrated but a few hours after reaching
For some weeks he was so ill that the doctors scarcely
hoped he would live through the winter. The pretty yot.ng
Countess grew thin and careworn with sorrow and anxiety
and nursing, for she scarcely ever left his bedside, day or
night. It was little Edmie's first meeting with trouble.
The Marquis de Sarinet deferred going to Paris till he saw
how his brother-in-law's illness was to end, and he came two
or three tines to Vahnont. For if he had a tender spot in
his cold selfish heart it was love for the young sister who
had when but a child been confided to his care, and though
he scarcely understood it he pitied her distress. Madame,
his wife, the Marquise, did not come, and I do not think
her absence was regretted. She must, by all accounts,
have been a most unloveable woman, as cold and proud to
the full as her husband, and with no thought but her own
amusement and adornment. As to their only child,
Edmond, you will hear more as I proceed with my narra-
tive of events.
"To the delight, almost to the amazement, of all about
him, the Count by degrees began to show signs of improve-
ment. As at last the cold gave way to the milder days of
spring, his strength slowly returned, and he would now and
36j THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
then allude to the possibility of recovering his health to a
certain extent. It had been a most trying winter for many
Besides the invalid. Exceedingly rigorous weather is always
a terrible aggravation of the sufferings of the poor, and even
at Valmont, in so many ways an unusually happy and pros-
perous village, many had suffered; and some perhaps more
than was suspected, for now that the Count and Countess
were unable to go amongst their people as usual, and to see
for themselves where their help was called for, a natural
feeling of pride prevented many from complaining until
actually forced to do so, though the Countess did her
best. She intrusted Pierre's mother with many a kindly
mission, and whenever the weather was fit for so tender a
creature to face it, little Edmee might have been seen,
trotting along by the kind woman, often herself carrying a
basket with gifts for some little child or old person whom
they had heard of as ill or suffering in some way.
"'I don't like winter now,' she said one day, when,
with Pierre on one side and his mother on the other, she
was on her way to a poor family a little out of the village.
'I used to think it was so pretty to see the snow and to
slide on the ice. But I don't like it now. It made dear
papa ill, and the poor people are so cold, and I think they're
so much happier in summer.'
"'Yes' said Madame Germain. 'Hunger is bad to
bear, but I fear cold is still worse. It has been a sad winter,'
and the kind woman sighed.
'And if sad here in Valmont, what must it have been
in other places ?' said Pierre, his thoughts returning to what
he had seen at Sarinet.
At those places where the lords are not kind to the
poor people, do you mean?' said Edmde, eagerly. The
subject always seemed to have a fascination for her, though
THE LITTLE OLD POITtRAIT. 37
her parents, and the Germains too, had taken care to tell
her nothing to distress her sensitive feelings.
'Yes, of course that makes it worse,' said Madame
Is my uncle Sarinet kind to his poor people ?' asked
Edmee, in a low voice, though there was no one to over-
"'Why do you ask that, my child?' said Madame Germain.
'No one has ever spoken against the Marquis to you?'
"'N-no,' said Edmee, 'but he has not a kind face,
mamma Germain. He smiles at me, but still it is not a
real smile. And before Victorine went away-oh, I am so
glad she has gone to be my aunt's maid instead of little
mamma's !-before she went away she said she was glad
she was going where there would be no nonsense of spoil-
ing the common people like here. At Sarinet they are
well punished, she said, if they are naughty. How do
they punish them, mamma Germain ?'
"' My little girl must not trouble herself about these
things,' said Pierre's mother. It is sometimes right to
punish those who are really naughty.'
Yes,' said Edmee. But the poor people who are so
often cold and hungry-ah, I could not make them more
Bless her kind heart !' murmured Madame Germain,
and many a dweller in Valmont-les-Roses echoed the words.
"Some weeks passed-as if to make up for the severity
of the winter, the spring came early that year, and with
unusual softness and balminess. The Count was able to
sit out on the terrace in the finest part of the day, enjoying
the sweet air after his long confinement to the house, and
though he knew in his heart that the improvement was but
for a time, he had not the courage to say so to his poor
:!8 THE LIITTL; OLI) PORTR IT.
wife. And so some amount of hopefulness seemed to have
"One day, when Edmee was coming back from a visit
to the village, escorted by Pierre, she was met at the gates
of the chateau by one of the servants, who told her that
the Count and Countess wished her to go at once to the
"' M lord the Marquis has arrived unexpectedly,' added
Edmee shrank back.
"' Pierrot,' she said, in the half-babyish way she still
sometimes spoke, Edmec doesn't want to see him.'
But Edmie must,' said the boy smiling.
"' Pierrot must come too, then,' said the little girl
coaxingly; and so, a good deal against his will, for he had
an instinctive dislike to the lord of Sarinet, the boy was
obliged to go with her. And, out of a sort of mischief, the
child clung tightly to him, even when they came within sight
of the group on the terrace, though when he saw that there
were strangers there, Pierre would gladly have drawn back.
"A tall, distinguished-looking man, with clear cut
features and piercing dark eyes, was sitting beside the
Countess. He rose as he heard her exclamation, At last
comes Edmde !' and callin- to him a boy about Pierre's
age, but much smaller and thinner, came forward as if to
meet her. But catching sight of her companion he
hesitated: a frown crossed his face, and turning to his
sister-for he was the Marquis de Sarinet-he said coldly:
Whom have we here, Louise ? It is time it seems to
me, that Edmde had some one to play with if you are so
at a loss for comrades for her.'
"The Countess's face flushed. But she knew her
brother's character, and knew that there was no use in
THE I ITT'LEI OII) PORT'AIT. S3
noticing such speeches. She held out her hand to Edmde,
who ran forward to her, and then smiling kindly to Pierre,
who stood, cap in hand, waiting respectfully-
'This is Pierre Germain,' she said, 'the son of our
much-trusted forester. His mother, you may remember,
saved our Edmde's life by her devotion to her when she
was such a delicate baby. Pierre often accompanies
Edmde in her walks. I am never the least uneasy when I
know he is there-he is so careful of her.'
"'Ah, indeed !' said the Marquis indifferently, as if the
matter had already ceased to occupy his thoughts; he knew
his sister too, and knew that, gentle as she was, she would
not yield to any prejudices when she felt she was in the
right. 'Here, Edmond, you must make friends with your
cousin, and be her little cavalier.'
"Edmond did not stir; he stood beside his father with
a vacant expression, as if he hardly heard his words. The
Countess stooped and whispered something to Edmde;
the little girl, though with much less than her usual bright
readiness, came forward, and trying to get hold of the boy's
hands, said gently-
"'Good day, my cousin. Welcome to Valmont.'
"Curiosity got the better of Edmond's surliness. He
looked at Edmde with a mixture of expressions on his face
-admiration, suspicion, and as I said, a strong spice of
Good day, Mademoiselle,' he said.
But you must not say Mademoiselle to your little
cousin, said the Countess, half laughing. She was sorry
for the boy, and wished to be kind to him; but she had a
strong feeling that Edmte would not approve of him as a
playfellow. He was pale and thin, and looked extremely
delicate, and his face, though the features were small and
40 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
pretty if closely examined, was not attractive. Its expres-
sion was peevish and discontented, and there was a want of
the bright, open frankness one loves to see in a child.
' Would you not like to go with Edmde to see some of her
treasures?' she went on encouragingly. She has two pet
rabbits and several birds to begin with.'
"' Would you also like to see my picture ?' said Edmde,
for since the picture had been framed and hung up in her
mother's room, she thought it the most wonderful thing in
I don't care for rabbits, and I don't care for birds,'
replied Edmond. 'I don't mind looking at the picture.
You may show it me if you chose.'
Edm6e had kept hold of his hand, and now drew him
'Come, then,' she said; 'we shall look first at the
picture, and then we shall go out in the garden, and Pierre
will tell us stories, if you don't care to play with the
rabbits. Pierre tells such pretty stories.'
She was, to tell the truth, so exceedingly anxious to
get away from the Marquis, that she was not easily dis-
couraged by Edmond's ungraciousness. Besides, had not
dear little mother whispered to her to be 'kind to the poor
Edmond, who was on the point of allowing her to lead
him away, drew back again.
Who is Pierre?' he said. 'Is it that boy ? I don't
want to play with him.'
"Edm6e's patience seemed about to give way. She
looked at her mother appealingly. The Countess took
Edmond's other hand.
"'Come with me,' she said decidedly. 'It is right I
should show you Edmee's picture, as it is in my room.
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 41
And then we shall see what we can find for you to play at.
Come, Pierre, my boy.'
Edmond could no longer resist; the Marquis, affecting
to pay no attention to what was passing, had sat down by
the Count, and went on talking to him. Pierre followed
the lady and the children into the house.
The first pleasant look that had been in Edmond's
face came over it at the sight of the picture. He actually
""It is like her,' he said. 'I wish it was mine.'
"'It was Pierrot made me sit still,' said Edmee; 'he
told me stories all the time. He knows such pretty stories.'
Edmond glanced at Pierre with some approach to
amiability for the first time. At that moment, through the
open window, the Countess heard her husband's voice
calling her. She turned quickly away.
"'I must go,' she said. 'Edm6e, take care of your
cousin, and try to amuse him. Pierre' will, I know, help
"The children made their way down into the garden.
Then, after all, Edmond condescended to look at the
rabbits, and to give his opinion of things in general. It
was less pretty, he said, here at Valmont than at his own
home of Sarinet, where the flower garden was very magni-
ficent, laid out and managed by foreign gardeners-' not
by these stupid louts of ours,' he added, contemptuously.
"Pierre's face flushed, but he said nothing. He felt on
his honour bound to resent nothing the querulous little
lord of Sarinet might say or do, for had not his dear lady
trusted him-him, Pierre Germain-to help Edm6e to
amuse the guest. But Edmee was little accustomed to
check or restrain her feelings, and she at once took her
cousin to task.
'1 don't know what "louts" means,' she said; 'we never
hear those words here, but our people are not stupid, what-
ever yours are. And I don't care how grand your gardens
at Sarinet are. I should never like it as well as Valmont.
Here everybody is happy and contented. I know it is not
so at Sarinet.'
"Edmond laughed contemptuously.
"' At Sarinet people are kept in their proper places,' he
said. We don't have low fellows like that'-and he
flung a little cane he held in his hand at Pierre-' con'sort-
ing with ladies and gentlemen.'
The cane struck Pierre on the cheek, and for an instant
the pain was sharp, but it was not that that made him
start forward with clenched hands and glowing eyes-he
minded pain as little as any one-it was the insult. For
he and his had not been used to such treatment; they had
not been ground down by insolence and oppression, and
the first contact with such things was bitter to him. But
almost as quickly as he had started forward he drew back
again, and passing his hand over his eyes, where the tears
were springing, he turned away.
"'1 must not touch him,' he said; he is my lady's
Edmee was by his side in a moment.
Pierrot--my Pierrot she said; 'that naughty, horrid
boy '-I will run in and tell papa-I will : Why don't
you beat him, Pierrot ?'
Pierre could not help smiling at her vehemence.
"'The Countess trusted me to take care of him,' he
said, 'and then-why he is only half my size. One never
lights with a boy like that.'
"'I see,' said Edmte. quite convinced. 'But let me
look at your face, Pierre. No, it is not very bad. Stoop
THE LITTLE ULD PI'OTIAIT. 43
down and let me tie my nice soft handkerchief round it.
There now, that will do.'
"'But what are we to do?' said Pierre. 'We can't
leave him alone. I do not want him to go in and com-
plain, and perhaps add to your dear mamma's troubles.'
"They turned and looked at Edmond. He was
standing half sulky, half disconsolate-as if he too did not
know what to do.
"'After all,' said Pierre, philosophically, we must
remember he has never been taught better. I think the
best way is to treat him as a naughty, spoilt child, and take
He turned back.
"' Master Edmond,' he said, 'if you would like to play
a game of "graces with Miss Edmie, I will go and get
you the hoops and sticks.'
"Edmond muttered something about not knowing how.
"'Never mind,' said Pierre good-naturedly; 'I'll soon
show you how,' and off he set.
Edmee stood still; she was less generous for Pierre than
he was for himself; she would make no advances to Edmond.
He, feeling, to tell the truth, rather ashamed of himself, threw
on her from time to time furtive glances, which she took
no notice of. At last tired of her indifference, he spoke.
Edme,' he said.
Well,' replied the little girl.
"' It did not hurt him-that boy, I mean.
"'Did it not? How do you know?'
"'It did not hurt him much,-I did not wish to hurt
him,' continued Edmond.
'I am glad to hear it,' said Edmee. Her tone was a
very little softened, Edmond was encouraged by it to edge
a little nearer.
44 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
I would not wish to hurt any one you like, Edm6e,'
he said. 'But you made me angry by speaking against
You began by speaking against Valmont.'
"'Well, I beg your pardon for that. I can see that
that was ill-bred. I never wish to be ill-bred. My father
would be shocked if he heard of that.'
Would he not be more shocked at your.throwing your
stick at Pieire ?'
"' Ah no,' said Edmond; 'in that there is nothing ill-
bred. That is a different thing altogether from saying
anything to annoy a lady.'
"'But,' said Edm6e, her eyes flashing again, 'I am
much more angry with you for hitting Pierre than for
speaking against Valmont.'
"'Really? Well, I am sorry to have vexed you,' said
Edmond, 'I like you very much, Edmde, and I want you
to like me and Sarinet, for when I am quite grown up I
mean to marry you. I have often thought of it; for since
I was quite little I have known we were to be married
Who told you so ?' said Edmie. I am not at all sure
that I should like to marry you. You will have to do a
great many things and change very much before I could
even think of it.'
"'How? What things do you mean?' said the boy
'You must grow tall and strong-like Pierre.'
"' Pierre repeated Edmond, contemptuously; 'I will
not be compared with a-'
"'Hush!' said Edinue, putting her little hand on his
mouth before he could pronounce the word; 'don't say it,
or you will make me very angry I'
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.- 45
Well, do not speak of Pierre; say tall and strong like
Edmde gave a little shiver.
"' N,' she said, 'I won't say that. Never mind about
being tall and strong. You must above all be very good and
brave, and yet kind to everybody,-like a true knight in some
of Pierre's stories. I think there are rio true knights now.'
Pierre again !' muttered the boy discontentedly. 'Tell
me, Edm6e, what do you mean by a true knight?'
"'One who is always good and kind to everybody,' said
Edm6e. 'Not only to ladies and gentlemen, but to poor
people, and weak and unhappy people, and who will not let
any one be cruel. I can't tell you very well. But papa
has books with stories about knights, which he lends to
Pierre, and then Pierre tells them to me.'
"' I never heard anybody talk like that before,' said
Edmond. 'I don't know anything about poor people, and
I'm sure I shouldn't like them. But I won't call that boy
names if it vexes you, Edmee.'
"Edmde had no time to say more, for just then Pierre
returned with the sticks and hoops. And when the
Countess, rather anxious in her mind in consequence of
the new addition to the childish party, came out an hour
later to call Edmde and her cousin in, she found all of them
playing merrily, and apparently on good terms with each
"'Perhaps my nephew is a more amiable child than he
appears at first sight,' she said to herself.
"This afternoon-the first visit of Edmond de Sarinet
to Valmont-is another of the scenes of her early childhood
clearly impressed on my mothers mind."
V mother has been reading over what
I ha.e already written. She smiles
Sat my desw_.rption of her as a
Shild, .nd maintains that my
portrait of her,
as well as that
e e which hangs in
F the best par-
lour, is flattered.
But I must, with
all respect, dis-
agree with her.
She says I must
now hurry on
a little faster,
otherwise I shall
never arrive at
the most in-
teresting part of
my story. Of
the history of her
S.:arl, childhood there is
------ nt,1 %cry much more to
tell. It may really be said to have ended with the death of
her dear father, the good Count, which took place early in
the spring of the year after thaB of which I have been telling
you. They had not expected him to linger so long, but
the last winter of his life was an unusually mild one, and
he had regained some strength during the preceding sum-
mer, when he had lived almost entirely in the open air.
The last days, and weeks even, of his life are not very dis-
tinct in my mother's remembrance. She thinks she was
THJ LITTLE OLD POI!TILALT. 47
probably kept away from him a good deal on purpose, that
she might not be saddened by the sight of his suffering and
increased feebleness ; and it seems to her, on looking back,
that the greater part of that time was spent by her with
Madame Germain and Pierre. But she distinctly remem-
bers the day of the good Count's death, 'and those that
followed it: her poor mother's terrible grief-how she
clasped her to her arms, repeating that her Edmee was now
all, all she had left; how bitterly she herself cried when
she saw her dear father so cold and white and still, and
through all, how kind and loving and unselfish were her
dear "mamma Germain," and Pierrot. Then came the
funeral;-all the gentlemen of the neighbourhood assembled
in the great salon, and first and foremost among them, and
in everything, her uncle the Marquis, tall and dark and
proud as ever, with a smile for her whenever he caught sight
of her, which she disliked almost as much as his frown.
He brought a magnificent box of bon-bons for her, and
many pretty messages from her cousin 'and devoted cavalier'
Edmond, none of which, she felt sure, child as she was,
had really been sent by him. But she was a dignified little
lady, and knew how to curtsey to the Marquis, and make
her acknowledgments faultlessly, and to send messages in
return to Edmond, saying that she would like to see him
again, which seenied to please her uncle, and was really true.
For she and Pierre had often talked together about the
poor boy. and agreed that there must be some good in him,
and that the ill was not to be wondered at, considering how
feeble and pampered and badly brought up he had been.
Many things were discussed at that time which Edmb e
knew nothing of till long afterwards.
"The Marquis did his utmost to persuade his sister to
leave her dear home and take up her quarters at Sarinet for
48 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
part of the year, accompanying him and his wife to Paris
every autumn; there to spend six months in their house in
the Rue de Lille. But the Countess was firm in refusing.
She knew in her heart, though she did not say so, that there
never could be any real sympathy between herself and her
sister-in-law, and she longed to keep Edm6e in the country.
But she thanked her brother for his kindness and affection
for her, which so far as they went, were real.
"'When Edmde is older,' she said, 'and her education
calls for it, I must make up my mind to spend part of the
year in Paris.'
Of course,' said the Marquis, t/at is a matter there
can be no doubt about. But I wish you could have made
up your mind to get in the way of visiting Paris sooner.
Not that Cldmence-Cl6mence was the Marquise, his wife-
would expect you to take part in any gay doings for some
time to com.-. But you are too young and too pretty,
Louise, to get in the way of shutting yourself up. And for
my little niece-for a girl with her prospects, sole heiress
to all the de Valmont property-Paris is a necessity. I
have a right to an opinion; Edmde, you remember, comes
next to Edmond in our succession, and Edmond, poor
fellow, is still a delicate lad.'
Oh, brother, I trust not; I trust he may grow up
strong and healthy exclaimed the Countess, shocked at
the Marquis's cool way of talking of his son, and certainly
with no desire to see her little Edmde in his place.
I hope so too. I hope to see the properties united in
a different way, my fair sister,' he replied with a courtly
bow. And the Countess pretended not to understand what
he meant, for she was by no means sure that Edmond,
brought up as he was, would ever be the husband she would
choose for her precious child.
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 49
"And then to her relief, and the relief of all the inhabi-
tants of the chateau, the Marquis, and his crowd of insolent
attendants, took their leave. He drove away, satisfied that he
had thoroughly fulfilled the duties of a brother and an uncle,
and his servants gossiped and grumbled among themselves
at the dull life they had led the last week at Valmont, and
rejoiced to think that next month they would be back at
Paris. And when one of the horses broke down on the
road, from the furious driving the Marquis loved, the
coachman was sworn at till he forced a trembling innkeeper
to give them another, for which the chances were he would
never be repaid save by the oaths the coachman threw at
him in his turn. It was no matter of rejoicing in those
days when a great lord came driving through the country,
and this one was specially well known. No friendly voices
bade him good speed on his way, as his wheels tossed the
dust against the villagers of Valmont, as they had been
wont to do to their own good lord, when he passed with a
kindly greeting,-no homely faces lighted up with pleasure,
or little children shouted with glee as he re-entered his own
domain; on the contrary, the men turned aside with a
scowl, to avoid the servile obeisance expected of them, and
more than one woman rushed into the road to see that no
unfortunate child happened to be straying there. It was
not to be supposed that the steeds of my lord the Marquis
would be checked for an instant for the sake of any risk to
a being so utterly beneath contempt as a peasant's brat !
"And little Edm6e and her mother for a time, a consid-
erable time, were left in peace.
Those were quiet and uneventful years-at Valmont-les-
Roses, that is to say. In the outside world the distant
storm was coming nearer and ever nearer; the secret
discontent was brewing and fermenting: the hard, cruel
50 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
determination to listen to none of the people's complaints,
the stupid blindness to what sooner or later must come
unless timely measures were taken to avert it,-all these
things were surely increasing. But at Valmont was heard
but little, and that little affected but few. The Countess
and her child lived so thoroughly among their people, they
took such part and sympathy in their joys and sorrows, they
felt themselves so trusted and gave back such trust in
return, that the notion of treachery and disloyalty, even if
suggested, which it never was, would not for an instant
have found place in their hearts. But Valmont, and some
few other favoured spots like it were, as I have said, happy
exceptions to the rule. And even here, as will be seen
later on, once the wild contagion was thoroughly aroused,
there were some who yielded to it; for it is not difficult to
dazzle and lead astray simple and uneducated people, who,
left to themselves, would have remained faithful to their
The Marquis came from time to time, and his visits
were the darkest spots in Edm6e's quiet life. He was
more gentle to her and her mother than to anyone else, but
nevertheless the child shrank from him with indescribable
dislike and fear. She could not bear the cold contempt
underlying his courteous tones, and some remarks she once
overheard as to his becoming her guardian, in case of her
mother's death, made an impression on her she never
forgot,-though, just because she thought of it with such
terror perhaps, she could not bear to speak of it to the
All these years the mother devoted herself to Edmee's
education, which she was well fitted to do. She was
herself of great intelligence, and had learnt much from
her studious husband. Edmee never had at Valmont
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 51
any teacher but her mother, or any attendant of more
importance than the young girl who had been her maid
ever since Madame Germain had left her. And in some
things Madame Germain still had a charge of her former
nursling. It was she who taught Edmde all sorts of fine
and beautiful needlework. It was under her direction that
the young lady of the chAteau worked the set of chairs
which, as I write, are still wonderfully fresh and beautiful
in the best parlour here. It was she, too, who taught her
how to nurse the sick, to dress wounds and burns, to distil
scented waters, and make simple salves, and brew tisanes,
or warm drinks made from different kinds of herbs, which
are very useful as household remedies. It was a quiet,
simple life-compared with that of most ladies of their time.
It appeared, I daresay, old-fashioned, and the Countess had
taken an unusual course, and set at variance the opinions
of her brother and other friends, in keeping Edm6e at home
instead of sending her to be educated at a convent.
"Till the year Edm6e was ten years old-that was the
year 1787-she had never again seen her cousin Edmond.
She and Pierre often talked of him, for in her secluded
life his two days' visit had been an event she had never
forgotten; they wondered how he was growing up, if he
were less petulant and self-willed, if he were strong and
healthy now-for Pierre especially had always an idea that
to be delicate and sickly was an excuse for almost anything;
he, who had never known a day's illness, scarcely an hour's
Discomfort, could imagine nothing more unbearable. And
when her uncle came to Valmont, Edmee always inquired
with pretty courtesy, and at the same time with real interest,
for the poor boy, though the answers she received never
gave her much satisfaction.
Edmond was quite well-would be much honoured by
52 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
his cousin's remembrance of him,' the Marquis would reply,
with the half-mocking courtesy the little girl so disliked.
But once she overheard some careless words of his to her
mother which roused her old pity for the boy.
"' He is a poor specimen; he will never be much of a
credit to me,' and by the look on her mother's face, she
saw that she too pitied the evidently unloved boy.
"This year, 1787, began the great changes in Edmne's
life. They came in this way.
"It was autumn. Several months had passed since the
Marquis had been at Valmont, but now and then letters
had come to the Countess which seemed to trouble and
distress her. More than once Edmde had seen her mother
with tears in her eyes, and at last one day, coming suddenly
into her room and finding her crying, the little girl could
no longer keep silent.
"' Little mamma,' she said, as she sat down on her fa.
vourite stool at her mother's feet, and stroked and kissed
the hand she had taken possession of, 'I know it is not my
place to ask you what you do not choose to tell me, but I
am sure there is something the matter. I can see you have
"' But you have often seen me cry, my poor Edmee.'
"'Yes, but not in that way. When you cry about dear
papa it is sad, but not troubled in the same way.'
"' That is true,' said her mother. I have a new trouble,
my child. Many people, however, would think me very
foolish for considering it a trouble. Besides, it is something
I have always known would have to be sooner or later. I
will promise to tell you all about it this evening, Edm6e; I
feel sure you will understand all I feel, though your are
still only a little girl.'
"' Not so very little, mamma. Ten past.'
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 53
"The Countess smiled.
"'Certainly, compared with the Edmee up there,' she
replied, 'you are beginning to look a very big girl. But I
am going to be busy now, dear. I have a long letter to
write. This evening I will tell you all about it. You are
going now to Madame Germain for your embroidery lesson,
are you not?'
"' Yes, mamma. Nanette is waiting to take me. Mam-
ma,' she said, then stopped and hesitated.
"' What is it, Edme ?'
"' Does mamma Germain know about what is troubling
Yes, dear; she does.'
"' Might I-would you mind her telling me ?'
"The Countess considered a moment.
"'You may ask her to tell you. I know she will say
nothing that is not wise and sensible.'
"'Thank you, mamma,' said Edmee, well pleased. You
see, dear mamma, if it is anything that troubles you, it will
save you the pain of telling me,' she added, with a little
womanly protecting air she sometimes used to her mother;
'and then this evening we can talk it over, and I will do
my best to console you. Good-bye; and good-bye, little
Edmee,' she said, waving her hand to her own portrait, as
she ran off; 'take care of little mother till I come back.'
"Big Edmee, as she now considered herself, was very
silent on her way to the village that afternoon. She went
down the long, red-paved passages and crossed the large
tiled hall, so cool and pleasant in summer, but so cold in
winter, with the two great flights of stairs one at each side,
meeting up above on a marble landing, and again branching
off till they ended in an immensely wide and long corridor,
running the whole length of the house, with doors on each
-4 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
side leading into rooms which of late years had been but
seldom used. Edmde stopped a moment when she had
half crossed the hall and looked up-then out through the
open doorway on to the terrace.
"'How I love the chateau!' she said to herself. 'I
daresay it isn't so grand as Sarinet, but I don't care; I
should never be so happy anywhere else. I do hope I
shall never, nezwe have to go away from Valmont,' and
Nanette wondered what had come over her usually talk-
ative little mistress, for all the way through the park and
along the village street she hardly said a word.
"The Germains' cottage was at the further end. To
reach it Edmde had to pass the old church, a large and
imposing building for so small a village, and the neat
little parsonage, or presbytre, as it is called, where lived
the good old curd, who had baptised and married and seen
(lie more than one generation since he had first come to
Valmont. He was standing at his garden gate as the little
girl passed, and, though he smiled and waved his hand to
her, he did not speak or entice her to come in to see his
flowers and bees as usual, which rather surprised her.
"' I think Monsieur the Cure looks sad this morning,'
thought Edmee; 'perhaps he too knows the news that is
making little mother sad.'
"And unconsciously her own face looked graver than
usual as she nodded back in greeting to all her friends,
who came to their cottage doors to see their little lady pass.
"The Germains' cottage was a little better than most of
the others in the village, yet it was extremely plain and
simple. It was perhaps the neatness and cleanliness that
made it seem so much more comfortable than its neigh-
bours, though compared with such villages as Sarinet, every
cottage in Valmont was a picture of prosperity. There
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 55
were few but what possessed one or two good beds-some-
times, it is true, only recesses in the wall, but with good
mattresses and blankets; but in several there were sub-
stantial four posters, which had been handed down for
generations. And in almost all, the large family cupboards,
which are to be seen, I believe, nearly all over France, and
which those learned in such subjects can recognize by their
carving as belonging to the various parts of the country.
"The walls of Madame Germain's kitchen were some-
what smoke-stained, for in cold or stormy weather it is, of
course, impossible to keep the smoke of the great open
chimneys altogether in its proper channel. But once a
year it was whitewashed, and just at this season, the end
of the summer, when the weather had been better for
several months, it looked fresh and clean.
"Madame Germain was sitting by a table near the
window, arranging Edmde's tapestry frame, which the little
girl had left behind her the last time to have a mistake
which she had made put right. She had already cleared
up all remains of their dinner, though the big pot was
simmering slowly by the fire, reminding one that supper
and soup were to come.
"'So there you are, my child,' said the good woman;
'I was just expecting you. See, here is where you made
the wrong stitch-I have put it all right. You must get
on with it, my child, if it is to be ready for my lady's
"'Yes, I know,' said Edmie, sitting down with a rather
disconsolate air. Nanette,' she added, rather less courte-
ously than she usually spoke, 'you may go; I don't want
you; Pierre will bring me home.'
"' Very well, Mademoiselle,' said Nanette; 'of course I
was only waiting for Mademoiselle's pleasure.'
56 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
"Madame Germain looked rather anxiously at Edmde
when the maid had left her.
"' I don't mean to be cross,' said the little girl, 'but she
troubles me, Mother Germain. She would chatter all the
way, and I didn't want to talk. Mamma Germain, there is
something very much the matter; you must tell me what it
is, for you know. I saw it in Monsieur the Cur6's face,
and even, it seemed to me, in the look of the villagers, as
I passed. I am so unhappy; tell me what it is. Mamma
said I might ask you,' and the child pushed aside her
embroidery frame and knelt down beside her old friend,
leaning her elbows on Madame Germain's knees.
M CHAPTER VI.
OTHER Germain stroked back
the fair hair from Edm6e's
"-" Nl*M) lad s. d .,
I migi ht tell ,.
',o ?' she ..1id sluwly. But, ,. %
my diear, do not look 4
uclh %cry ba,
to be. ooner or lot ci
You are ri a bi i.
:c Edmcie-indeed. I should ni.
"" longer call you thu; L,\ ):iu
"".\oI C-s, )'., 111m1111 (;Clr aill,
58 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
interrupted the child; 'to you I must always be
Madame Germain smiled.
"'You will always be as dear to me as my own child,
whatever name you are called by,' she said. 'But as I was
saying, Edmee, you are growing a big girl; there are many
things young ladies of your station need to learn that cannot
be taught in a village like Valmont. And your dear
mother has never wished to be separated from you, so she
would not send you away to a convent to be educated, as
so many young girls are sent. That is why she now feels
there is truth in what her brother, my lord the Marquis, is
always saying-that she must go to live in Paris for awhile,
taking you with her. There you can have lessons of
every kind, in all the accomplishments right for you to
know. And my lady too-she has lived here so many
years, seldom seeing any friends of her own rank-perhaps
for her, too, it may be well-this change. It is only
natural, sadly as we shall all miss her.'
Edme's face had grown more and more melancholy as
Madame Germain went on speaking, till at last she dropped
it in her hands, and, leaning her head on her friend's knees,
burst into a fit of sobbing. She did not cry loudly or
wildly, but Madame Germain, laying her hand on her
shoulders, felt how the child shook all through, and was
startled at the effect of her words.
"' My child, my precious little lady,' she said, 'do not
take it so to heart. Be brave, my Edmee. Think how it
will trouble your dear mamma if she sees you so unhappy.
For it is for your sake my lady is doing this-for your good
-that you may grow up all that she and the good Count
hoped you would.'
Edmde raised her tear-stained face.
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 59
"'I don't mean to hbe naughty,' she said, 'but I don't
want to go to Paris. I want to stay here, among my own
people. In Paris no one will love us; it will all be full of
strangers, who care for us no more than we care for them.
Here in my own Valmont I know every face. I never
walk down the village street without every one smiling at
me. Oh mamma ;ermain, I shall feel starved and cold
among strangers, and I shall choke to be in a town among
houses and walls-no longer my dear gardens and park,
and trees and fields, and all the lovely country.'
"'P ut that is selfish, Edmde, my child,' said her kind
friend. 'If your dear mother can make up her mind to
do it-for to her it is perhaps even more painful than to
you-for your sake, you at least should be grateful to her,
and do your best to show her you are so. In after years,
if you never saw anything of the world but your little
Valmont, you might regret your ignorance-might even
reproach your friends for having shut you up in this corner.
And you will come back again. It is not for always you
are going away.'
"'No, indeed, that is my only comfort,' said Edmee. 'I
will try to learn all my lessons as fast and well as ever I
can, so that little mother will soon see there is no need to
stay longer in Paris, and we will come back, never again to
leave our dear Valmont. Will not that be a good plan,
mother Germain ?'
"'Excellent !' said the good woman, delighted to see
that the child had taken up this idea; 'that will certainly
be much better than crying.'
"'Though,' continued Edmee, 'I shall not like Paris-I
have a sort of fear of it. I think there must be many cruel
people there. That Victorine-do you remember her,
mama Germain ?-she told me things I hardly understood,
GO THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
about the way people live there-hodw the rich despise the
poor, and the poor hate the rich. And sometimes she
would shake her head and say, "Ah, one would live to see
many things changed-she herself might be a great lady
yet; but if she were a great lady she could know how to
enjoy herself-she would not choose for her friends common
peasants." That she said to vex me, you know.'
"'Ah yes, she was not a nice girl,' said Madame
"'And she is still with my aunt, the Marquise,' went on
Edmde. 'I do not want to see her again. I hope
manmma will take Nanette. I should not like Victorine to
have anything to do for me.' She remained silent for a
moment, then looking up suddenly, Mother Germain,' she
said, 'does Pierre, my poor Pierrot, does he know about
our going away?'
"Madame Germain nodded her head. For herself she
could bear her share of the sorrow, but her heart failed her
when she thought of how her boy would feel it, and for
the first time the tears came into her eyes.
"'Ah, he does,' said Edmee. He has not been to the
Chateau for two days, and I wondered why.'
"' He dared not go, till we knew that you knew it,' said
Pierre's mother. We felt sure your quick eyes would see
there was something the matter.'
"'I think I have known it was coming,' said the little
girl with a sigh. 'I have felt sad sometimes of late without
knowing why, and never has my uncle been here without
my seeing that his words troubled my mother, even though
she did not tell me why. Mother Germain, I cannot do
any embroidery to-day; just let me sit still here beside you
for awhile, and then I will go home. Pierre will be in soon,
will he not?'
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 61
"And, tired with the excitement and the crying, Edm~e
again laid her head on her old friend's knee, and Madame
Germain went on quietly knitting, and did not at first notice
that the little girl had fallen asleep, till, hearing a step
approaching, she looked up and saw Pierre entering the
cottage. She was going to speak, but the boy held up his
"' She is asleep, mother,' he whispered as he came near,
'and she has been crying. Does she know ? Has my
lady told her?'
"'I have told her, the poor lamb!' said Madame
Germain. 'Her mother wished it so. Yes, she has been
crying bitterly. She seems to think it will break her little
heart to leave Valmont and go away to Paris.'
Pierre looked very sorrowfully at the innocent face,
which seemed scarcely older than the fair baby face of the
portrait at the Chateau.
"'Mother,' he said gently, I think I would give my life
for our little lady.'
"'I believe you would, my boy,' said his mother.
"'I cannot bear their going away,' he continued. 'It
is not only that we shall miss them so sorely, but I have
a sort of fear for them-our lady and this tender little
creature; who would protect them and take care of them in
any danger as we-their own people of Valmont-would ?'
But what danger could come to them ?' said Madame
oGermain. You must not be fanciful, my boy. They will
be in the Marquis's grand house in Paris, surrounded by
his servants. And though I have no love for him, still I
have no doubt he will take good care of his sister and her
child. Indeed, the Countess has told me that that is one
of the arguments he uses with her-he says it is not safe
for two ladies alone as they are in the country in these
62 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
unsettled times. For it appears there is a great deal of
discontent and bad feeling about; that was a terrible
business your father was telling me of the other day-a
chateau burnt to the ground in the dead of night, and
several of the inmates burnt to death, and no one can say
who did it.'
"' But then it is no mystery as to why it was done,' said
Pierre. The lord of that country is noted for his cruelty.
Father said he would not wish you ever to hear the horrors
that he has committed among his people; what wonder
that at last some one should try to avenge them? And,
mother, the Marquis is both feared and hated. I hear
strange things and see strange looks when he comes over
here. I cannot think that he is a good protector for our
ladies. They are far safer here at Valmont, where every one
"'It might be so were they going to Sarinet,' said
Madame Germaih, who was of a cheerful and hopeful
disposition; 'but in Paris In Paris, where are the king
and queen, and all the great lords and ladies, and the
king's regiments of guards !-ah no, it is not there that
there could ever be any revolt.'
"'But dark days have been known there before now,
mother, and dreadful things have been done in Paris,'
persisted Pierre, who had read all the books of history he
could get hold of, and had thought over what he had read.
'I could tell you-'
"' Hush !' said Madame Germain, speaking still, as they
had been doing all the time, in a whisper; 'the child is
"And as she spoke Edmee opened her blue eyes and
looked about her in surprise. As she saw where she was
she gradually remembered all, and how it was that she had
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 63
fallen asleep there, and a look of distress crept over her
face as she held out her hands to her friend Pierre.
"' I did not know I had fallen asleep,' she said. My
eyes were sore with crying. Oh, Pierrot, are you not sorry
for your poor little Edmde ?'
Pierre did not speak, but his lip quivered, and he turned
away his face. He was too big now to cry, he thought, but
it was very difficult to keep back the tears.
"'Come now, my children,' said Madame Germain; 'you
must not look so sad, or my lady will think I have very
badly fulfilled her commission. You must cheer Edmee,
Pierre; talk to her of the happy time when she will come
home again to her own people-two, three years soon pass !
Ah, when you are my age you will see how true that is,
and not wish the time over.'
"Edmde drew the kind face down to hers and kissed it.
"' I will promise you to try to be cheerful with mamma,'
she said. 'It is only here I will allow myself to cry. Now
I must go home; Pierrot will come with me to the little
But all the way home to the Chateau through the village
the children scarcely spoke, though usually their tongues
ran fast enough. Their hearts were too full; and when
they got to the little gate through which a footpath led
directly to the side door by which Edm6e usually entered,
she did not urge Pierre to come in to see her mother.
Come to-morrow,' she said; by that time I shall be
a little more accustomed to it. To-night it will be all I
can do not to cry when mamma speaks to me, and to see
you looking so sorry makes me still more unhappy, my poor
"So they said good-night at the gate. I would not
undertake to say that on his way home Pierre's resolution
64 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
not to cry now that he was so big a boy held good. There
was no one to see him except the little birds and a rabbit
or two that scudded across the path through the park-and
it was his first real trouble.
His tears would have been still more bitter, poor boy,
had he known how few 'to-morrows' he and Edmee would
have to spend together; for when the little girl entered the
Chateau she was met by unexpected news, and Nanette,
who had been on the point of going to fetch her, told her
to go at once to her mother's room, as the Countess wished
to speak to her.
"Feeling still bewildered by all she had heard, Edm6e
obeyed half-tremblingly. A glance at her mother told her
there was further trouble in store for her. The Countess
was in tears, and her room, usually so neat and orderly, was
all in confusion: cupboards and drawers open, and great
travelling cases, which Edm6e did not remember ever to
have seen before, standing about, and the Countess's maid,
Francoise, an old woman who had been in the Valmont
family since the time of the last Count's mother, was fussing
about with trembling hands, her red eyes telling their own
"'Oh, Edmee, my darling, I am glad you have come
back!' exclaimed her mother, but without giving her time
to say more the little girl flew into her arms.
"'She has told me, mamma-mother Germain has
told me. But why are you crying? You were not so un-
happy when I went out this morning-and poor Francoise
"' It is only, my darling,' said the Countess, taking her
little daughter upon her knee, 'it is only that the summons
has come rather sooner than I expected. A courier has
arrived from Sarinet with letters from your uncle, desiring
THE LITTLE OLD PI'OT1A1T. 65
us to arrange for going there almost at once. He requires
me to be there a few days before going on with him and
the Marquise to Paris, for there is much to arrange. So,
Edmee, my sweet, we must say good-bye to our dear
It was hard, very hard, for Edmee to keep her resolution
of doing nothing to add to her mother's distress. But she
bravely drove back her tears, and throwing her arms round
the Countess's neck, kissed her tenderly.
"' Don't cry, dear little mother,' she said; Madame
Germain has been speaking to me, and I am going to be
very good. I am going to learn my lessons in Paris so well,
so very well, that you will be quite surprised how clever I
shall become, and then we shall all the sooner be able
to return to our dear Valmont. When are we to start, dear
mamma? You see, I am going to be very good. You
need not be afraid to tell me all, and she sat up, valiantly
blinking away the tears that would keep coming.
"The Countess was greatly relieved.
"'My good Marie,' she said-' Marie' -was Madame
Germain's first name-' it is very kind of her to have spoken
so wisely to my little girl, and it will make all easier for me.
Yes, dear, it will be soon, very soon-the day after to-morrow
we have to leave for Sarinet.'
"'The day after to-morrow! exclaimed Edmee. 'Ah,
yes, that is very soon.'
"But no other words of complaint or distress escaped
"And two days later saw the Countess and her daughter
in the great big travelling carriage, which had made but few
journeys since the good Count's death, on their way to the
Chateau de Sarinet. They were accompanied by Nanette
and her uncle Ludovic, who had long been a sort of steward
66 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
in the house, and could not make up his mind to see his
lady go to Paris without him. Poor old Francoise would
gladly have gone too, but at her age it was out of the ques-
tion, so she remained, with many tears, at Valmont, where
she kept all in the most perfect order, so that, as she used
to say, 'if my lady comes back at any moment, there will
be nothing to do but light the fire.' And on the box,
between the rather fat coachman and Ludovic, Pierre Ger-
main managed to squeeze himself in. He had begged hard
to accompany them all the way to Sarinet, but the Countess
had judged it better not. Her regard for the boy and his
parents was very sincere, and it would have pained her for
him to have been treated at her brother's house like a
common servant-boy, as,. indeed, no servant-boy was ever
treated at Valmont. So Pierre bade his dear ladies farewell
at Machard, a little village where they stopped for the first
night, whence he returned by himself to his home, for
twenty or thirty miles on foot were nothing to the sturdy
It was a sad farewell-sadder my mother has often told
me, than the actual circumstances really warranted, and
many times, on looking back to it, she has thought that
some foreboding of the terrible events to come must have
been on their spirits.
Good-bye, my faithful little friend,' were the Countess's
last words to poor Pierre, as he reverently kissed her hand;
' you are the true son of your good father and mother-I can
wish no better thing for you, my boy, than that you may
grow up to resemble them.'
My lady,' said Pierre, the tears coursing down his face,
'I can never, never thank you for all your goodness to me,
but my life-everything I possess-is yours and my little
lady's. I would give my life for you if it would do you good.'
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 67
"And the future showed that his words said no more
than the truth. As for Edmee, she was sobbing too much
to say farewell to her childhood's friend at all. But the
last view he had of her face was drowned in tears-the dear
little face that had so seldom been aught but radiant and
"She brightened up a little when they started again. It
was the first time in her remembrance that she had been
so far from home, and novelty has always great charm for
a child. Travelling was not in those days as it is now,
when the public conveyances go to Paris at least twice a
week, and one does not require to be a great lord to be
able to visit distant places. And Edmde felt as if she had
got quite to the other side of the world when, on the even
ing of the second day, the heavy travelling carriage turned
in the gates of Sarinet and drew up before the great door,
where her uncle, the Marquise, a small delicate-looking lady,
with a peevish expression, and a boy, whom, though he had
grown taller, she knew again in an instant to be her cousin
Edmond, were all waiting to receive them with proper
"Edmee turned as quickly as she could, with politeness,
from the smiles of her uncle, which she somehow always
fancied to be half mocking, and the careless greeting of her
aunt, to the boy cousin, of whom she had often thought
with pity. She wondered if he had become better-tempered
and less selfish. But the first glance was not reassuring.
Except that he had grown taller he was very much the
same as the cross, haughty little boy of two or three years
What do you look at me so for, my cousin ?' he said;
'I have grown tall, have I not ? You are taller too, though
of course much smaller than I. But you are very pretty.
68 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
I find you even prettier than before, only your hair is
arranged in a very old-fashioned way. However, I am de-
lighted you have come to live with us. I shall now have
some one to amuse me, and for you too-you will find Paris,
and even Sarinet much livelier than Valmont.'
"Edmde had grown redder and redder during this speech,
but Edmond did not seem to observe it.
And how is that stable-boy you used to be so fond of?'
continued Edmond. The children were a little apart from
the elders of the group by this time, so, fortunately perhaps
for future harmony, no one overheard when the girl flashed
round upon her cousin.
"' Edmond de Sarinet,' she said with a dignity that was
comical and yet touching, I warn you now, once for all, that
I will only be your friend--I will only play with you and be
kind to you-on condition of your never daring to say one
word against my dear home or my dear friends. And this,
sir, it is just as well you should understand from the begin-
ning,' and then, overcome by all she had gone through in
the last few days, she flew to her mother, and hiding her
face in her arms burst into tears.
"' What a little savage !' said the Marquise in a low voice
to her husband. But the boy Edmond looked sorry.
C. APTER Vll.
Na fine summer evening about two years
after the sad day that had seen the
departure of Edmee and her mother from
0 their beloved home, Madame Germain,
with her husband and son, was sitting on
the bench in front of their cottage-the cottage which is at
present, at the time I am writing, inhabited by Mathurine
Le Blanc and her sons, standing, as I think I have already
said, some short way out of the village-enjoying a little
/ rest after the labour of the day. Not that they
were alt, thcl idle. The rilcthcr i,,, ,Li c%-,Lirs-
SI :.. ._:, 11 rd r ld aln c.c._Li.alior., and tlie -.-,n \a
.0ii- h o]t n Ici .:.r in Ii& h:.nd. fronm
I\ which hie I1.1.I tl.t beer rcc adiii
""Yes,' he -.1id, in l l ,
days fllin no' e e Illna.
certainly c\l.cct hei.
She wa, to
"' -" .-
I 7U."- -. ..<-.
70 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
leave the next week, my lady says, and that is a fortnight
"'Old Ludovic was to bring her a part of the way, was
he not?' said Germain, taking his pipe out of his mouth;
'I wish he had been coming all the way. I should have
liked a talk about many things with the good old man.'
Ah yes,' agreed his wife, 'and so should I. But think
of the long journey, Germain, and he is getting very old.'
'Besides, he would never have agreed to leave my
lady and her daughter for so long,' said Pierre. 'Think-
now that Nanette has left them, old Ludovic is the only
one of their own people about them! Oh, how I wish my
lady would make up her mind to come home !'
'Perhaps she cannot-she hints as much,' said
Madame Germain. 'You know the Marquis is the dear
child's guardian by law, and he is an obstinate man once he
takes a thing in his head. But we shall hear more from
Nanette-more, perhaps, than the Countess likes to write;
letters are risky things, to my way of thinking.'
"'And these are ticklih times,' said father Germain.
He was a man of few words, and therefore what he did say
carried the more weight.
"'Yes, father, you are right,' said Pierre, and uncon-
sciously he dropped his voice and spoke in a lower key.
' Our good cure was telling me some strange things to-day.
The bad feeling is spreading fast. There was a chateau
fired last week not very far from Sarinet. To be sure it
was put out and no lives lost; but there was a good deal of
destruction done, and it shows that it is coming nearer.'
But here at Valmont,' said his mother, always slow to
believe ill, 'I could never be afraid. Think how steady
and industrious a set our people are-how loyal and faithful
they have always shown themselves : and with good reason,
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 71
for have they not ever been treated most generously and
kindly by our masters?'
'Ah yes,' said Germain, 'but it is not always the
majority that carries the day. Here, as everywhere, there
are some idle and discontented and turbulent spirits-
enough to give trouble if they united with others. And I
am assured that in no case is it the country people them-
selves that start the thing. Poor creatures! they are
mostly too ground-down and wretched to start anything.
But they are ready to follow, though not to lead, and the
fire of revolt once lighted by the secret emissaries sent for
the purpose from Paris, soon spreads. Alas, I see not what
is before us all-here even in our quiet, happy Valmont!'
"Pierre, who had listened eagerly to his father's words,
was on the point of replying when he suddenly started.
They had been talking so earnestly that they had not heard
footsteps coming up the few yards of lane which led from
the village main street, till the new-comer was close to
them, and Pierre, recovering from his first surprise, touched
his mother on the shoulder.
'Some one is here, mother,' he said, as Madame
Germain looked up from her knitting. 'Can it be-yes, I
think it must be-Nanette ?'
'Yes, indeed,' said the young woman, holding out her
hand with a smile. 'I am not surely so changed as you,
Monsieur Pierre. Had I seen you anywhere else I would
not have known you, so tall as you have grown.' And you,
Monsieur and Madame, of course you are not changed at
all; you do not look a day older.'
Life passes quietly here, my good Nanette,' said the
forester. 'We do not wear ourselves out with wishing to
be everything that we are not, as some do.'
"' Ah no-you are wise,' said the girl. 'And I-I cannot
72 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
tell you how happy I am to be at home again. Even,' she
added with a slight blush, 'even if I were not going to be
married'-for it was to fulfil an engagement made before
she had gone to Paris that Nanette had returned-' it is so
good to feel safe in one's own country.'
"'Safe,' repeated Madame Germain; 'but surely you
were not afraid in Paris ?'
"'I don't know,' said Nanette evasively, and yet with a
half glance round as if she feared her words might be over-
heard; 'I don't like Paris. It' is not a place for good,
simple people. All these new ideas 1-ah, don't let us talk
of all that. I have so much to tell you of our dear ladies;
Paris or no Paris, it has been a terrible grief to me to leave
them,' and her pretty bright eyes filled with tears.
"'We were just talking of them when you came up,'
said Madame Germain, 'and wondering when we should
see you. Sit down, my child; in our surprise at seeing you
we are forgetting politeness, and you must be tired with
your long journey.
"' When did you arrive?'
Only last night,' said Nanette. But I am not tired
now. Yesterday was very pleasant; father drove the light
cart over to Machard to meet me. The two days before in
the diligence-ah, that was tiring. My great-uncle Ludovic
came the first day's journey with me, by my lady's wish ; you
see what care she takes of me-of every one about her.'
"'As ever-our dear lady I' said Madame Germain.
"'Ah, if there were more like her!' said Nanette.
'Things and feelings would not be what they are coming to,
if there had been more like her. The Marquise now-for all
she looks so tiny and delicate-ah she has a hard and cruel
heart-or no heart at all. She is a fit wife for her husband.
And how they are hated Worse than ever, I believe.'
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 73
By those about them in Paris, do you mean ?' said the
father Germain. At Sarinet he is now almost a stranger.
All these years, I think, he has never been back again.'
"' And do you not know why?' said Nanette. "Tis
said he dare not-and yet at worst he is a brave man.
Perhaps after all. he has some conscience left, and shrinks
from seeing the utter wretchedness he has caused. We
passed through many villages on our way, but in none did
I see more hideous misery than at Sarinet. My lord is
always short of money now-he spends so much in every
way-and they do say that he and the Marquise too lose
great sums at play. And when the money runs dry it is
always the same thing. Get it out of those lazy hounds
of mine at Sarinet," writes my lord to his bailiff, and then
the screw is put on again, ever tighter and tighter. Ah, it
is horrible !' and Nanette shuddered.
"Germain looked up at her in surprise. She had.
changed. It was not like the simple, light-hearted girl of
three years ago to speak so forcibly, or to feel things so
"' How have you heard so much, my girl ?' he said.
"' In Paris one learns much,' said Nanette. 'Much ill
I might have learnt had my lady not taken care of me
almost as if I had been her own sister. But the servants
all talk, and chatter, and complain, and threaten-and my
lady, she too told me a great deal. She has almost no one
to talk to there-no one who sees things as she does. And
she told me to tell you-her good friends she always calls
you-all I could. She wants you to understand how she
is placed. There is nothing she longs for so much as to
return to Valmont, and from month to month she is hoping
to see her way to doing so. But the Marquis opposes it,
and you know he is Mademoiselle's guardian by law, and
74 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
my lady does not like to anger him; his temper, too,
grows worse and worse, though he is gentler to her than
to any one else. But you can fancy it is not a home such
as our dear ladies can be happy in. And at times I can
see that the Countess is really afraid. There is talk of dark
and wild things. There have been meetings of the people
where dreadful threats have been uttered against the king
and queen, the clergy and the nobles-against every one in
high position, and sometimes the police and the soldiers
even, could scarce disperse them. Many think the people
once roused will not be quieted again. And of all the
great rich nobles who have oppressed the poor and made
themselves hated, none, or few at least, are more hated than
"'And our dear Countess is his sister!' exclaimed
Madame Germain, over whose cheerful face had crept a
cloud of foreboding.
I wonder you could bear to leave them,' said Pierre,
almost indignantly; but Nanette did not resent his tone.
She turned to him, her eyes full of tears.
I did my utmost to stay,' she replied, 'but my lady
would not hear of it. Albert had waited so long, she said;
it was not right to put him off still, though for my part I
could have found it in my heart to put him off altogether.
I saw that the idea worried her. Then, too, I think she
was glad for me to come home to talk to you-to explain
things a little. She dare not write very much-letters are
never very safe. And she is so lonely-in the midst of all
that racket-she and Mademoiselle Edmde.'
'Have they no friends they care for?' asked Pierre.
Few-very few. And already of those some have left
the country. Yes, indeed,' said Nanette, 'it is not yet
much known, but several of the wiser and far-seeing among
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 75
the nobility have gone to Switzerland-some to Holland,
and to England, on pretence of travelling, but it is known
they do not intend to return till they see how things turn
It seems almost cowardly,' said Pierre.
'Yes,' said Nanette, 'so my lady said. But I do not
know that it is so. What can the few do in such a state of
things? And they have their children to think of.'
It is true. But our lady need not go so far. In no
foreign country could she be so safe as here in her own
It seems so at present,' said the girl with a sigh.
'But all the talk I have heard frightens and confuses me.
Once the fire is lighted, who can say? Still I wish with
all my heart, and so does my old uncle Ludovic, that the
ladies were here, and not in Paris. And you may be sure
the Countess will seize the first chance of returning. I was
to tell you this-and to say that she will count on you,
father Germain, and on Pierre, to help them if occasion
'She will not be disappointed,' said Germain, and
Pierre eagerly agreed with him.
'But all the same,' continued his father, 'I confess I
do not see the great difficulty about their getting away; the
Marquis would never force his sister to stay?'
No,' said Nanette, but there are difficulties. I think
my lord has power over Mademoiselle Edmee's money, and
if the Countess broke off with him she might not know
what he did with it. It is something like that, but my
lady never fully explained to me. I only hope- But
then Nanette hesitated.
'What, my girl ?' said Madame Germain.
'Perhaps it is wrong of me to think so, but I have
76 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
sometimes wondered if my dear little lady's money is safe.
The Marquis is always short of money now, and for my
part I think some of these fine gentlemen have strange
notions of honesty.'
'Not among themselves,' said Germain. 'They may
rob the poor, but they would think it dishonour to rob each
other. However, I can understand how you mean,
Nanette,' and he too gave a deep sigh. Ruin to their
young mistress would not be prosperity for Valmont.
And who is taking your place now, my good Nanette,'
asked mother Germain. 'Is that girl whom Edmee disliked
so-that Victorine, still with the Marquise?'
'Yes,' said Nanette. 'I cannot bear her. She is
clever and cunning, and no one can please the Marquise as
she does. She flatters her lady to her face, but behind her
back she speaks worse than any of the servants. She is as
false as she can be, and would be the first to turn on her
masters-she wanted to attend to Mademoiselle when she
heard I was leaving, but our ladies do not like her. They
live so simply-never going to parties or anything of that
kind, for which indeed, Mademoiselle is too young, and my
lady too sad she says-that they need but little attendance.
And there is a poor girl there-a Sarinet girl-whom my
ladies have taken a fancy to. Marguerite Ribou is her
name. She is a pretty, gentle girl, about my own age. I
taught her what I could ; perhaps with such kind mistresses
she may get on,' said Nanette, with a slightly patronising
'A Sarinet girl! I wonder to hear they have any one
from Sarinet in the household,' said mother Germain.
This girl is an orphan. Her only brother died some
years ago. I think there was some ugly story about his
death, though she never speaks of it,' said Nanette. 'I
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 77
fancy he was cruelly treated, and that even the Marquis
was somewhat ashamed, and the girl was offered a place at
the chateau to save appearances.'
I wonder she took it,' said mother Germain.
'She was starving probably,' said Nanette. Hunger
is a hard master. But I doubt if her feelings to the family
are much better than those of Victorine, only Marguerite
"Suddenly Pierre broke in.
'Marguerite Ribou-I remember her !' he exclaimed.
'Mother, you have not forgotten my telling you of what I
saw at Sarinet ?-a young man all fainting and bleeding,
and they were driving him-the brutes And his sister
was called Marguerite. Yes, indeed how could she go to
serve them ?'
"' It must have been, as I say-she had no choice,'
answered Nanette. 'And now I think she will stay.out .of
affection for our ladies, who have been kind to her from
the first. But for them, in that bad Paris, what would
have become of her, heaven only knows. I must be going,
my good friends. I promised mother not to be long-
my first day at home But I shall see you often, for I
shall not be more quickly tired of talking of our ladies
than you will be of hearing. The Countess has such trust
in you; she even told me to say to you- But here
again poor Nanette stopped, and the tears filled her eyes.
'There is no hurry,' she said ; 'I will tell you another time.'
'Nay, my dear,' said Mother Germain, 'I would like
to hear it now, while her words are fresh in your mind.'
"'It was the day I left. She was very sad; I think
she was sorry for me to go, and perhaps there were other
causes. "Tell my dear Germains," she said, "that if any-
thing happens to me-one knows not what it might be in
78 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
these times that are threatening us-there is no one-I
have no friends I trust as I do them, no one to whom I
could better confide my child. Even little Pierre "-my
lady does not know how tall you are now, Monsieur Pierre,'
said Nanette, with a smile-" Pierre, I believe, would give
his life for Edmee," she said.'
'And she said true,' said Pierre, his face glowing.
'Thank you, Mademoiselle Nanette, for telling me her very
Then at last the girl left them, after reminding them
all, Pierre included, that she counted upon them as guests
at her wedding the following week.
'She is a good girl,' said Madame Germain, when
Nanette had gone; 'but that she always was. She comes
of a good stock. Old Ludovic is as faithful a servant as
any one could possibly desire. Nanette has improved
wonderfully. I used not to think her so intelligent and
quick of perception.'
"' It is the society of the Countess that has improved
and educated her,' said father Germain, between the puffs
of smoke from his pipe, which he was again enjoying-with,
however, a grave, almost uneasy, expression on his face.
He said nothing, however, till that evening, when
alone with his wife, for he was a man who well considered
not only his words, but the best time at which to utter
"' I like not the look of things-over there,' he said,
with a jerk of his thumb in the direction where Paris was
supposed to lie. I think the girl Nanette is right in her
fears. I wish my lady were back among us.'
'So indeed do I,' said Madame Germain.
'There is no use saying much about it before the boy,'
resumed her husband. 'He thinks enough of it already.
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 79
Much more and he would be setting off to Paris to rescue
them before one clearly sees the danger.'
'But we would not stop him,' said his wife.
'Not if it were to render them real service. I would
go myself. Thou knowest that, wife But we must wait
awhile till we see. No use getting ourselves into trouble
without doing them any good.'
True,' said Pierre's mother, for she had the greatest
respect for her husband's opinion.
"'At the same time do not mistake me,' he said. 'I
am more than ready-to do any service the Countess could
desire. It may be that what she says is the fact-that she
has no friends she can so depend on as upon us. We are
plain and simple folk, but we are faithful, and we are
grateful, and the time may come for us to show it.'
'God grant we may see how to act wisely should it be
so,' said his wife fervently. 'And God spare my lady and
her child for a peaceful life in their own home.'
"'Amen,' said the forester, no less devoutly than his
"Nanette's wedding-day arrived, and the ceremony was
celebrated with the usual gaieties. According to a special
message from Edmne, Pierre, who was a better scribe than
either his father or mother, wrote a full account of it to
the Countess in Paris. He was very important over this
letter, which took him quite a week to complete to his satis-
faction, and then he took it to Nanette, now young Madame
Delmar, for her approval, which was heartily bestowed.
Ah, how pleased Mademoiselle will be to get it,' she
said. 'I can fancy her reading it aloud to her dear
mother, and possibly, if he has been "very good," as
Mademoiselle calls it, Monsieur Edmond will be allowed
to hear it.'
SO THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
Pierre's: face darkened.
"' That fellow !' he exclaimed, and he made a movement
as if he would tear the paper. 'I won't have him mocking
at my letter, Nanette.'
"The young woman looked at him with surprise.
"'No fear,' she said. 'You don't think our young
lady would allow him or any one to mock at anything to
do with her dear Valmont. Besides poor Monsieur
Edmond is not likely to do so. He is much the best of
them, and he is so ill; they say he cannot live long. I
think it is partly pity for him that keeps our ladies there.
I was telling your good mother about him the other day,
but you were not there, I remember.'
"Pierre looked a little ashamed of his ebullition.
"' I am sorry,' he said. 'I did not know. I thought
of him as when I saw him five years ago.'
'.Ah, yes,' said Nanette; 'but since then he is much
changed. And he worships the very ground our young
lady stands on. No wonder! what would he have been
but for her and her mother? For neither his father nor
mother can bear the sight of him.'
Poor fellow,' said Pierre. Then he cannot be much
of a protector to our ladies in case of need.'
"'No indeed,' said Madame Delmar. And from that
moment Pierre only thought of his childish enemy with
S cry slowly in
"Illt nI:o long
aft,:r the return
pthih,. came to
V almnont, as to
%\n lar remoter
cornersof l- rance,
ith a rush like
ithat (A, a mighty
S' ind, tidings of
the first tremen-
P .. ..us outbur-t of the
great storm--thr ...auLllt and
taking of the prison of the Bastille by
the infuriated mob. My mother well remembers that day in
Paris. The terror which spread through all classes-the
strange stories which were afloat about the wretched
prisoners released from the dungeons, where some of them
had been confined till they had forgotten not only the
crime-imaginary in many cases-for which they had been
punished, but even their own names and histories The
destruction of the terrible Bastille can never be regretted,
but it was accompanied by dreadful deeds. The murder
82 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT
of the governor and other offiEers who were but doing their
duty; for the people, maddened by hunger as well as by
their many wrongs, did not stop to consider which were
the guilty and which the innocent. I have said to my
mother that from this point I wish she would take this
narrative into her own hands. It seems to me that as an
eye-witness-fot in this year 1789, she was an intelligent
girl of nearly thirteen-she could describe with much more
force and vividness many of the scenes which followed.
But she begs me to continue as I have begun. The story
concerns my father quite as much as herself, she says, and
she wishes it to be written as much from his recollections,
which he has often related to me, as from her own. So I
must do my best, sadly imperfect though I feel it to be.
"The taking of the Bastille was the signal for outrages
through many parts of the country. Chateaux were burnt,
convents sacked and destroyed, many even among the
superior farmer class, who had had nothing to do with the
government or the oppression of the poor, whose only
crime was that through their industry and economy they
had grown richer than their neighbours, suffered as well as
their betters. In Paris itself many of the most conspicuous
among the nobility were dragged by the mob from their
houses and put to death in a horrible way, by being hanged
on the street lamps. These I have always thought much
more to be pitied than those later sufferers who perished
by the famous guillotine; for this first manner of death
united insult to barbarity.
How it came to pass that my great-uncle, the Marquis
de Sarinet, was not among those'on whom this first fury
was wreaked, my mother has often felt at a loss to explain.
It may have been that he had never mixed himself up much
with affairs of state-for he was selfish even in this,
"TE1 LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 83
disliking everything which gave him trouble-and that thus
his name was not one of the best known. But his punish.
ment had already begun, for the following winter saw the
complete destruction by fire, after it had been robbed of
everything of value, of the beautiful old Chatcau of Sarinet.
News of this was not long in reaching Valmont.
"All through these months many a faithful heart there
had ached with anxiety for their Countess and her child.
But the disordered state of things was having everywhere a
bad effect. Quiet and peaceable folk began to be frightened.
Many dared not express any interest in or sympathy with
those whose turn it was now to be unjustly and crn,.ll)
treated. And among the loose characters who now and
then passed through or loitered about our quiet Valmont,
there were not wanting some on the look-out for mischief-
'You speak of your lady as different from others,' they
would say. 'Let her show herself among you. If she
cared for you she would be here, not amusing herself and
wasting money on nonsense like all the fine ladies in Paris.
It is that which has brought ruin on the country.'
And some listened to and believed these cunning words,
so that already, had the Countess just then returned to
Valmont, it is to be doubted if she would have been received
with the old affection. There was some reason, too, for dis-
content. Collet, the Countess's bailiff, was the most discreet
of men, devoted to the family's interest, but at the same
time ready to carry out all his lady's endeavours to do good
to her people. But it began to be noticed that he was
more rigorous than formerly in exacting all the payments
due, also that less money was forthcoming for charitable
purposes, that the new year's gifts year by year were
curtailed, and that Collet looked anxious and careworn.
84 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
"' It is his bad conscience,' said some. 'He is going
the way of all like him, enriching himself at our expense.'
And the Countess is no doubt learning to throw about
her money too. Trust fine ladies for that, however sweet-
spoken they may be; and after all she is a Sarinet by birth,'
"But I need not say that in the Germains' cottage, and
indeed in most of those in the village, nothing of this kind
was believed, and once or twice, when words or hints to
this effect were. uttered before Pierre, his father had to
check the hot indignation with which the lad would have
met them, reminding him that by a dignified silence he was
both showing more respect for their lady, and perhaps
better serving her cause. He could speak with authority,
for both he and the old cure were in poor Collet's confi-
dence, and knew, what he thought it would be dishonourable
to tell, that he strongly suspected that the Marquis, having
exhausted his own resources, was now helping himself to
the-money of his sister and his niece. And more than
once both were of a mind to say out what they were almost
sure of. If it goes much further we shall feel it our duty
to do so,' said the curd to the bailiff. 'And even now I
have almost made up my mind to write to the Countess,
for I am certain she has no idea of what is being done, to
some extent, in her name.'
But just as the good man was meditating a letter to
Paris, one was received from there which altered the state
of things, and for a long time brought some sunshine and
hopefulness back to the hearts of the faithful friends of
Edmee and her mother.
The Countess and her daughter were returning to
"' All then will be well,' said Madame Germain, wiping
THE LITTLE OLD POLTITAIT. 8.
her eyes from which were running tears of joy. Things
are evidently quieting down; otherwise our ladies would
not think of undertaking the journey. Those poor, foolish
people, no doubt, seeing how ready the king is to agree to
everything reasonable, will be satisfied at last, and all will
"Nor was she the only one to hope, from time to time,
during these early years of the Revolution, that the black
cloud might after all disperse. For, thanks to the efforts of
some unselfish and wise men, more than once a cordial
understanding between the king, the government, and the
people was almost arrived at, though always, alas! to be
again broken through by treachery or mistakes or passionate
outburst on one side or the other.
This was in the summer of 1790, about a year after the
taking of the Bastille. All through the autumn days that
followed, the Germain family and others waited eagerly for
further news from Paris. At last came again a few hurried
words to Madame Germain from the Countess, referring to
other letters sent by the post which had never been received
at Valmont. She had found it impossible, she said, to
carry out her plan of returning home that last summer.
The Marquis had opposed it; he was so sure that things
were calming down, and he objected to any member of his
family leaving Paris. 'So again,' wrote the poor lady,
'Edmee and I must take patience. But surely next
summer, the fourth since our absence, will see us in our
own dear home.'
Next summer! Preceded by a severe winter, which
saw sufferings such as Valmont had never known before-
for the demands on Collet for money became more and
more peremptory, and though the cure and Germain had
written to the Countess a full account of the state of things,
S6 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
no notice had been taken of it, and they began to fear she
had never received their letter-' next summer' brought
no better state of things. The king and his family were
now, to all intents and purposes, prisoners in the hands of
their people; the few wiser and cooler-headed men in the
government were overruled; great numbers of the better
classes had left their unhappy country; of those whom
obstinacy, in some cases poverty, caused to remain, till too
late to get away, the fate became daily more uncertain.
And among these there was every reason to fear were
Edmde de Valmont and her mother !
"' If they had left the country, I feel sure they would
have found some means of letting us know,' said Madame
Germain, shaking her head, for the long anxiety and uncer-
tainty had lessened her hopefulness. And just as her
husband and son, after discussing for perhaps the hundredth
time this sad state of things, had arrived at the conclusion
that something must be done, some step they must and
would take, there came again suddenly, and in an unexpected
way, news of the two so dear to them.
It came in the shape of a very feeble and very old man,
who, looking more dead than alive, dragged himself one
evening, late in the month of September, in the year I have
now reached in my narrative, that of 1792, to the door of
the forester's cottage, and there, half-fainting on the thres-
hold, asked in a broken voice for Germain or his wife.
They did not know him in the least-how could they, in
this wretched, dust-and-mud-covered old beggar, whose
white beard hung neglectedly, whose feet were almost shoe-
less, whose poor old hands trembled with nervous weakness,
have recognized the carefully-attired, respectable, nay stately
Ludovic, who had driven away on the box of the travelling
chariot, so proud to follow his ladies to the end of the
THE LITTLE OLD 1'ORTTIAIT. 87
world, had they bidden him ? His devotion had cost him
dear, poor old man, and as he feebly murmured-
'Don't you know me-your old friend Ludovic?'
mother Germain burst into tears-tears of pity for him, of
terror for those he had come from.
"They at once did their best for him. It would have
been cruel to question him till he had regained a little
strength, and indeed useless. Now that he had reached
the end of his journey, his forces seemed altogether to
collapse, and for some hours they feared he would die
without having told them anything. But food and wine
carefully administered, and a refreshing sleep into which he
fell, did wonders for him, for notwithstanding his age, he
had been till lately a vigorous and healthy man; and by
the evening he woke up greatly revived, and eager to explain
everything, and by degrees his kind hosts heard all, which
perhaps it is well to give as far as possible in his own words
-for the events he related have often been told me both
by my mother who had seen them herself, and by my
father who heard them at the moment from Ludovic's own
"' I never thought I should reach here alive,' began the
old man. 'The last few days have been terribly hard.
From some distance on the other side of Machard I have
come on foot. But few conveyances are on the road-no
longer a chance of meeting with those of some of the great
lords whose attendants, had they known who I was, would
have given me a lift-no, the days of such travelling are
over indeed; and in the few public coaches I met I could
not have had a place, for I had not a sou She gave me
all she had-our dear lady-but it was very little, and
there was no time to sell the jewels she had with her.
Since four or five days I have scarcely tasted any food,
88 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
though once or twice kind souls took pity on me. The
first part of the journey was easy enough. I tiavelled in
the public conveyances, to save time; but though easy, I
soon saw it was a risk. While I was decently dressed they
looked at me more than once with suspicion-above all
that my clothes, though they were shabby enough compared
with those you used to know me in, in happier days, had
the look of my position, and nobleman's servants are now
often objects of suspicion. So I decided to make the rest
of the way as best I could, getting a lift in a cart as long
as my money lasted, and when my clothes became so
shabby I dare say it was a safeguard. At all events here I
am! God be thanked, if I could but think my dear
ladies were also in safety !'
'But where are they ?-what of them ?' burst out Pierre,
who had listened with compassion indeed, but not without
a certain impatience, to the poor old man's somewhat
rambling account of his own adventures.
Softly, my boy,' said his mother in a low voice. Do
not hurry him, let him tell all in his own way, otherwise he
may grow confused.'
But Pierre's words had done no harm.
Of course,' said Ludovic, that is where I should have
begun, instead of wasting time over my own affairs, stupid
old man that I am. But you' must forgive me, my good
friends. Old age is garrulous, and finds it difficult to keep
to the point. Where was I?' and he looked round
"'You were saying,' said Pierre, trying to restrain his
impatience, how thankful you would be, were you assured
that the Countess and her daughter were in safety like your-
self; and I interrupted you entreating you to tell us where
you believe them to be.'
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 89
'Where ?' said Iudovic; 'in Paris. At least, I fear
it is unlikely that they will again have attempted to
"'Attempted to leave it! Did they do so? and did
they not succeed?' exclaimed the Germains together.
"'Alas, no!' replied Ludovic, shaking his white head.
'That is how I come to be here alone. I will tell you all,
You have heard, no doubt, the principal events of this sad
time. My lady has been longing to return to Valmont
almost ever since she left it, but the Marquis has always
opposed it. Two years ago she at last gained his consent,
and was on the point of starting, when some one put it into
his head that it was undignified, and would have a bad
effect for any member of his family to leave his house, and
as my lady could get no money except from him, and as
she was also unwilling to anger him, she again gave in.
He is the most obstinate man-even now he will nbt
believe that there is any danger for him or his. Affd my
lady at last came to see that if she is to get away,
it must be without his assistance. All these weary months
she has been waiting for an opportunity. At last, about'-
three weeks ago, all seemed favourable. The Marquis was
away for a day or two, with some of his friends, who, like
him, have refused to take warning, and all arrangements
had been made for my ladies and myself to start quietly.
We were to travel in a small plain carriage, not likely to
attract attention, which a friend of the Marquis's, less
obstinate than he, and really concerned for the Countess
and her daughter, had hired, with a driver he could trust,
This gentleman,-how I do not know-had procured the
necessary papers, which described the Countess as my
daughter, returning to the country for her health. I was
described as a shopkeeper of Tours. Well, we started-
90 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
oh the joy of Mademoiselle Edmee The only drawback
was the poor boy Edmond, whom my lady dared not bring
away, in face of his father's commands that he was to stay.
She had already fought hard to get leave for him toaccompany
them when they should leave-and who was heart-broken.
At the last moment my lady got out of the carriage again
to clasp him in her arms, and whisper some words of
comfort; it caused a little delay; sometimes I have
thought those three minutes might have saved us. It was
not to be. I can hardly bear to tell you of our terrible dis-
appointment. We had scarcely got the length of the street
when we met the Marquis returning, in a furious temper at
having found it impossible to get as far as the country
house, a few miles out of Paris, where he was to meet his
friends. He was furious, and, perhaps for the first time,
alarmed; for, my friends, do you know what had happened
the night before ?-it was that of the 2nd of September !'and
Ludovic looked up hesitatingly. Germain bowed his head.
'I know,' he said, 'and so does Pierre. But we would
not tell my poor wife. However, perhaps it is foolish,'
and turning to Madame Germain, he rapidly related to her
how on that dreadful night bands of wretches, armed with
pikes and hatchets, had burst open the doors of the prisons
of Paris, and there slaughtered the unfortunate beings-all
of the upper classes, and many innocent of any wrong-
who had been seized and shut up as "suspected" of dis-
loyalty to the new Government. For which bloody deed
the wretches who had committed it were liberally rewarded
by the authorities !'
"'Yes,' continued Ludovic, 'for the first time the
Marquis believed that the mob-the hounds and dogs he
had despised-was a terrible enemy to have aroused, for
the worst and lowest come to the front at such times.
THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT. 91
Perhaps he meant it for the best; but it was, I fear, an
awful mistake. He turned the horses' heads, and insisted
on his sister returning to his hotel. It was utterly impossible,
he maintained, for her to attempt the journey thus alone
and unprotected, save by an old fool, as he amiably called
me. But what did I care And there we were again-
half-an-hour after our hopeful departure-powerless and
heart-broken with disappointment. What the Countess
heard of the horrors I have told you I do not know-I
dared not ask, for if she had not heard all, I would have
been the last to tell her. But that evening, late, she sent
for me privately, and gave me her instructions. She was
as pale as death-she has changed terribly, and what
wonder Many a time I have thought our dear lady was
not long for this world, and she thinks so, I believe,
herself. My good Ludovic," she said, this has been a
terrible disappointment. But for the moment I can attempt
nothing else. It may be here, as my brother says, that in spite
of all our precautions, in the present terribly excited state of
the town, had we got as far as the barriers it would but
have been to be stopped, and perhaps seized and im-
prisoned. He insists that it is better to wait a few dayi.
But he has promised me at once to arrange for our all
flying to Valmont-poor man, at Sarinet there is no longer
a roof to shelter him and his !-and so, my good Ludovic,
I must try to take courage and hope, though my mind
misgives me sorely. For that my poor brother has
hitherto escaped seems to me scarcely short of a miracle,
and I cannot feel confidence in his still doing so. There-
fore, my faithful friend, I wantyou to set off at once for
Valmont. It is for yourself ; less risk than staying here, not
that you think of that, I know, and it is the best
service you can at present render me and my child.
92 THE LITTLE OLD PORTRAIT.
Alone you will have, I am assured, little difficulty in
making your way. Here is all the money I have been
able to collect; to give you any of my jewels would but
expose you to suspicion; take it and go. And arrived at
Valmont, seek at once my dear Germains. If by the end
of this month they or you have no news of me-then I
fear, it will not mean good news-then, I must trust to
them to consider if in any way they can help me, or still
more my child. Should my brother be taken, I have a
plan in my head, for concealing ourselves here in Paris, till
we can venture to try to escape. And Germain is a shrewd
and clever man. I fancy there would be no risk for him
in coming to Paris, and if he knows we are in danger, I
believe nothing would keep him from attempting it. With
his help and strong arm, we might manage a safe disguise.
Should we succeed, as my brother hopes, in all leaving
Paris together, I shall find means of letting you know at
Valmont. Should we fail I shall still hope to conceal
myself and Edmde, though at present I cannot make any
detailed plan. One thing I may tell you "-and here my
lady lowered her voice-" the only person I trust here is
Marguerite Ribou. And now, my good Ludovic, the
sooner you leave the better. The Marquis has no idea
at present of my attempting anything. It will be time
enough for me to tell him you are gone when you
are beyond recall." 'And then,' continued Ludovic, 'she
held out her hand; I kissed it, in weeping you may be sure,
apd I obeyed her. That night I spent in a little tavern
near the barriers, and I got out the next morning without
difficulty. And here-here at last, after all my troubles,
I am I have told you, I think, my lady's exact words.
It is now-is it not ?-near the end of September?'
"'The twentieth,' replied Pierre.
THE LITTLE OLD) POR1TIAIT. 93
"' And you have no news?'
"' Not a word,' said Germain.
"'Then, said old Ludovic, 'it is for you to decide what
can be done. A few days still-a few days perhaps we
can wait. It will give me time to recover my old wits a
little, if it brings no news from our poor ladies.'
C, L N G a 't c =r old Ludovic
iii i- Ad and asleep
ih it ra niht, the Ger-
i majs .at up talk-
in.- over all he had
Sl'o.morrow will be
StheI tvnty-first of
Sept-uciber,' said old
i'lly; 'that makes
1 j more to
we wait, father?'
SI iel so certain no
Lines will come, and
e- el\ day, every
Shtur, it is so much
,i time lost--can
,. c not set off
i-- at once? Father,
S.amother, let me
Ssc:,.'- : .,: ,' I am so
strong-fatigue is nothing to me, and father is not so
strong as he was,' which was true, for rheumatiin, that
sad enemy of those whose duties force the-m to be out in
all weather, had already more than once, for weeks at a
time, crippled the forester's active limbs.
"The father and mother looked at each other. True,
they had said they would not grudge their boy in the