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The Baldwin Library
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CHAR-NEY TENDING HIS FLOWER,
W.& R. CHAMBERS,
|rJ CONTENTS. If
PICCIOLA, OR THE PRISON-FLOWER........................ 3
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA........................................ 71
HILDA'S SECRET...................................................... 90
FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH........................................... 109
A YOUNG HERO............................................ ..........122
THE LITTLE MATCH-SELLER................................130
MUSTAPHA THE LUCKY...........................................139
AT the beginning of the preset century, and
during the. consulate of Bonaparte, few young
men of fortune made so brilliant an appearance
amidst the learned and accomplished society of
Paris as Charles Veramont, Count de Charney.
This gentleman, a type of many of his class,
possessed natural powers of mind of no mean
order; he spoke and wrote various languages,
and was acquainted with most of the ordinary
branches of knowledge. So far, his talents
might be called enviable; while his fortune
and station afforded him the most favourable
opportunity of surrounding himself with all that
could gratify his taste or desires. What, then,
was wanting to render Charney happy in him-
self and with the world? His moral percep-
tions had been deadened. To a coarse mind,
this would perhaps have been no source of
immediate disquietude; but Charney's was not
a coarse mind. He was fond of reasoning on
subjects of an aspiring kind-on the meaning
of the universe of which he formed an atom-
on creation and providence; and, blinded by
prejudice, all his reasoning ended in difficulty,
doubt, scepticism. He saw not, because his
heart was untouched, that, reason as we will,
all things-all design, order, beauty, wisdom,
goodness-must ultimately be traced to one
great First Cause-that all moral attributes
and excellences are dependent from the throne
With a mind groping in the wrong direction
for something whereon to repose, it is not
wonderful that Charney was dissatisfied. There
was nothing on which his affections could be
satisfactorily placed. The world was to him a
sort of wilderness, in which he discovered
nothing to love, admire, or venerate. Wrapped
up in his own self-sufficiency, he esteemed
no one. Heaven spread her bounties around:
they were enjoyed, but not with a thankful
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 5
Incapable of making private friends, Charney
affected to take an interest in the welfare of an
entire people-so much easier is it for a man
to be a patriot than a philanthropist. Under
the impression that the system of government
at the time was detrimental to public welfare,
he enrolled himself as a member of a secret
society, whose object was to subvert the exisp
ing order of things. The particulars of the
conspiracy are of little consequence; it is
enough that the projects of the association
occupied Charney during the greater part of
the years 1803 and 1804, and were finally dis-
covered by the police, who extinguished them
with little difficulty. These were times when
no great ceremony was employed in seizing
and confining persons accused of political
offences. Bonaparte was not a man to be
trifled with. The leaders of the conspiracy
were quietly removed from their homes, con-
demned almost without a trial, and separated
from each other. In the eighty-six depart-
ments of France there were many prisons.
It was in the fortress of Fenestrella in the
Vaudois valleys, on the borders of France and
Italy, that Charles Veramont, Count de Charney,
was imprisoned, being accused of an attempt
to overthrow the government, and substitute
anarchy and disorder. Let us behold him the
tenant of one rude chamber, with no attendant
but his jailer, instead of the luxurious master
of a princely mansion! Yet he was supplied
with all necessaries. It was the weight of his
own thoughts which appeared insupportable.
However, there was no escape from them, for
all correspondence with the world was for-
bidden; and he was not allowed to retain books,
pens, or paper. The chamber which he occupied
was situated at the back of the citadel, in a
little building raised upon the ruins of the old
fortifications, now rendered useless by modern
inventions. The four walls, newly whitewashed,
left not even a trace of any former occupant; a
table of just sufficient size for him to eat from;
one chair, which, standing singly, seemed to
warn him that he must not hope for a com-
panion; a chest, that contained his linen and
clothes; a little cupboard of worm-eaten wood,
painted white, with which contrasted strangely
a costly mahogany dressing-case inlaid with
silver, and which was the only remnant of his
past splendour; a narrow but clean bed; and a
pair of blue linen curtains, that seemed hung at
his window in mockery, for through its thick
bars, or from the high wall which rose about
ten feet beyond it, he neither feared the
impertinence of curious eyes, nor the over-
powering rays of the sun. Such was the
furniture of his prison-chamber. The rest of
his world was confined to a short stone stair-
case, which, turning sharply round, led to a
little paved yard, that had formerly been one
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 7
of the outworks of the citadel. And here it
was that for two hours a day he was permitted
to walk. This even was a privilege; for, from
this little inclosure, he could behold the
summits of the Alps, which lay behind his
prison, though not the rocks and forests with
which they were studded. Alas! once returned
to his chamber, his horizon was bounded by
the dull wall of masonry that separated him
from the sublime and picturesque scenery which
might have relieved the tedium of the day. At
the extremity of the wall was a little window,
breaking alone its uniformity; and here, from
time to time, Charney fancied that he recognised
a melancholy figure.
This was his world-and here he wrote
curious sentences on the wall, near to the
sacred keepsakes of his mother and sister!
By turns he directed his mind to the
merest trifles-manufactured whistles, boxes,
and little open baskets of fruit stones-made
miniature ships of walnut shells, and plaited
straw for amusement. To vary his occupa-
tions, he engraved a thousand fantastic
designs upon his table; houses upon houses,
fish upon the trees, men taller than the steeples,
boats upon the roofs, carriages in the middle of
the water, and dwarf pyramids by the side of
gigantic flies! Perhaps, however, the greatest
interest this victim of ennui experienced, was
the curiosity he felt concerning the figure he
sometimes saw at the little window to which we
before alluded. At first he took the stranger
for a spy, placed there to watch his movements;
and then he fancied he was one of his enemies
enjoying the sight of his degradation-for
Charney was the most suspicious of mortals.
When at last he questioned the jailer, the poor
man only deceived him, though unintentionally.
"He is one of my own countrymen, an
Italian," said he; "a good Christian, for I find
him often at prayers."
Charney asked, Why is he imprisoned ?"
"Because he tried to assassinate General
Bonaparte," returned the jailer.
"Is he, then, a patriot ?"
"Oh no; but he lost his son in the war in
Germany, and that maddened him. He has
but one child left-his daughter."
"Oh, then it was in a transport of passion
and selfishness?" replied Charney. And then
he continued, "Pray, how does this bold con-
spirator amuse himself here ?"
"He catches insects," said Ludovic the jailer
with a smile.
Charney could no longer detest, he only
despised him, as he answered: "What a fool
he must be!"
"Why, count, is he a fool? He has been
longer a prisoner than you have, yet 'already
you have become a master in the art of carving
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 9
Notwithstanding the irony of this expression,
Charney betook himself to his old occupations;
and in such wearying trifles passed an entire
winter Happily for him, a new source of
interest was opening.
It was a beautiful morning in spring, when
Charney, as usual, paced the little courtyard.
He walked slowly, as if thus he could increase
the actual space which lay before him. He
counted the paving-stones one by one, doubtless
to prove if his former calculations of this
important matter were correct. With eyes bent
to the ground, he perceived an unusual appear-
ance between two of the stones. It was but a
very little hillock of earth open at the top.
Stooping down, he lightly raised some of the
particles of soil, and now saw a little blade of
vegetation which had scarcely yet escaped from
a seed, which had been dropped probably by a
bird, or wafted thither by the wind. He
would have crushed it with his foot, but at that
instant a soft breeze brought to him the odour
of honeysuckle and seringa, as if to ask pity
"for the poor plant, and whisper that it also
would perhaps some day have fragrance to
bestow! Another idea also stayed his move-
ment. How had this tender blade, so fragile
that a touch would break it-how had this
tender blade been able to raise itself, and throw
from it the hard dry earth almost cemented to
the stones by the pressure of his own feet?
Interested by the circumstance, again he stooped
to examine the infant plant.
He perceived a sort of soft coating, which,
folding itself over the young leaves, preserved
them from injury, while they pierced the crust
of earth and burst into the air and sunshine.
" Ah !" said he to himself, "this is the secret.
It derives from nature this principle of strength,
just as birds, before they are hatched, are
provided with beaks to break the egg-shell.
Poor prisoner! thou at least in thy captivity
dost possess an instrument for thine own liber-
ation." He looked at it for a few moments,
but thought no more of crushing it.
The next afternoon, while walking, again,
from sheer absence of mind, he nearly stepped
upon the little plant. Yet he paused instinc-
tively, surprised himself at the interest it
awakened. He found that it had grown in the
four-and-twenty hours, and that, having basked
in the sunshine, it had lost the sickly paleness
he had noticed the previous day. He reflected
on the strange power this feeble stem possessed
of nourishing itself, and acquiring the various
colours assigned to its different parts. "Yes,"
thought he, "its leaves will of course be of a
different shade from the stem; and its flowers,
I wonder what colour they will be ? How is it
that, fed from the same source, one imbibes
blue, and another scarlet ? They will so show
themselves, however; for, notwithstanding the
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 11
confusion and disorder there is in the world,
matter certainly obeys regular, though blind
laws. Very blind," he repeated to himself; "if
I needed another proof, here is one. These
great lobes, which helped the plant to burst
through the earth, are now quite useless; but still
they hang heavily upon it, and exhaust its sap!"
While the count thus reasoned, the evening
drew on; and though it was spring-time, the
nights were cold. As the sun sank, the lobes he
had been watching rose slowly before his eyes,
and as if to justify themselves in his opinion,
drew nearer to each other, inclosing the tender
leaves, folding their soft wings over the plant,
and thus protecting it from cold, or the attack
of insects! Charney understood this silent
answer all the better from perceiving that the
outer coating had been eaten the preceding
night by the slugs, whose silver trail still
remained upon the surface.
This strange dialogue, carried on by thought
on one side, and action on the other, could not
rest here; for Charney was too much accustomed
to dispute, to yield his opinion at once to a
good reason. "It is all very well," said he to
himself; "as it often happens, several fortunate
accidents have combined to favour this little
plant. Armed at first with a lever to raise up
the earth, and a shield to defend it from injury,
there was a double chance of its existence; but
for these, the germ would have been stifled, as
doubtless myriads of the same species are, which
nature having imperfectly formed, are unable to
preserve themselves, or perpetuate their kind.
Who can know the number of these unfinished
productions? Bah! there is nothing in all I
have noticed but a lucky chance."
Count Charney, nature has still an answer to
all your arguments. Be patient, and perhaps
you will discover that this frail production was
providentially placed in the courtyard of your
prison for a useful purpose. You are right in
thinking that these protecting wings will soon
be insufficient for the purpose; but then they
will wither and fall, no longer wanted. For
when the north wind shall blow damp fogs and
flakes of snow from the Alps, the new leaves
still in the bud shall find there a safe asylum, a
dwelling prepared for them, impervious to the
air, cemented with gum and resin, which,
increasing according to their growth, will only
open in genial weather; and when returning
sunshine calls them forth, they press together,
thus borrowing and lending fraternal support,
and find themselves provided with a downy
covering to protect them from atmospheric
changes. Be sure that, wherever danger in-
creases, the care of Providence is redoubled.
The prisoner still watched the changes of the
plant. Again he argued, and again it had a
ready answer. Of what use is this down upon
the stem ?" asked Charney.
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 13
The next morning he saw that the down was
covered with a light hoarfrost, which had thus
been. held at a distance from the tender bark !
"At all events, it will not be wanted in the
summer," continued the count; and when warm
weather came, behold the plant was stripped of
its first mantle, and its fresh branches were free
from a covering no longer necessary. "But a
storm may come, and the wind will scatter, and
the hail will tear thy tender leaves."
The wind blew, and the young plant, too
weak to wrestle with it, bent to the earth, and
so found safety. It hailed; and now, by a new
process, the leaves arose, and pressing to-
gether for mutual protection around the stem,
presented a solid mass to the blows of the
enemy: in union they found strength; and
though the plant sustained some slight injury,
it came out of the conflict still strong, and
ready to open to the sunbeams, which soon
healed its wounds!
"Has Chance intelligence ?" asked Charney;
" can it join spirit to matter ?" From attempt-
ing to discover some of the properties of this
humble plant, and watching over its progress
towards maturity, he unconsciously learned to
love it, for his heart was at length touched; and
it was the first thing which he loved. One day
he had watched it longer even than usual, and
surprised himself lost in thought beside it. His
thoughts were calmer and sweeter than any he
had experienced for a long time. Presently, on
raising his head, he perceived at the window
we before noticed the stranger, who evidently
was watching him, and whom Charney had
called in derision the fly-catcher. At first he
blushed, as if the other had known his thoughts;
and then he smiled, for he no longer despised
him. What room was there for contempt ? Was
not his own mind absorbed in a very similar
manner ? "Who knows ?" said he, "this Italian
may have discovered in a fly things as worthy
of being examined as I have in my plant."
On re-entering his chamber, the first object
which struck him was a sentence he had written
on his wall about two months before-it ran
Chance is the parent of creation."
He took a piece of charcoal, and wrote
beneath it-" Perhaps! "
Charney chalked no more upon the wall, and
only carved upon his table representations of
flowers and leaves. His hours of exercise he
passed almost entirely by the side of his plant,
watching its growth, and studying its changes;
and often, when returned to his chamber, he
continued to gaze on it through the grated
window. It had now, indeed, become his
favourite occupation-the only resource of a
prisoner Will he tire of it as he had done of
every other amusement ? We shall see.
ONE morning, while looking at the plant from
his window, he saw, or fancied, that the jailer,
in crossing the courtyard with hurried strides,
brushed so close to the stem that he almost
crushed it. Charney trembled from head to
foot. When Ludovic brought him his breakfast,
he set about offering his petition, which was,
that he would have the goodness to walk care-
fully, and spare the only ornament of the yard.
But simple as the request may appear, he
scarcely knew how to begin. Perhaps the
regulations for cleaning the prison might be so
rigid, that destruction must await the little
thing; and, if so, how great was the favour he
had to ask! At last, however, mustering up
courage to speak of such a trifle, he begged
Ludovic-who, though the warden of a prison,
and sometimes rough in manner, was not by
any means a hard-hearted man-to spare the
plant in which he had begun to take such a
Why, as for your wallflower "- began
"Is it, then, a wallflower ?" interrupted the
"Oh, I don't know, I am sure; but all such
things seem to me more or less wallflowers.
But this I will say, that you are rather late in
recommending it to my care. Why, I should
have put my foot upon it long ago, had I not
seen that you were interested in it."
"Yes, I do feel an interest," said Charney, in
a confused manner.
"Hush, hush," returned the other, winking his
eye with a comical expression; "people must
have something to care about, and prisoners
have no choice. Why, I have known great
people, clever people-for they don't send fools
here-amuse themselves at little cost. One
catches flies-no great harm in that; another"
-and here he winked again-" carves with his
penknife all sorts of monstrous things upon his
table, without remembering that I am.respons-
ible for the furniture. Some make friends of
birds, and some of mice. Now, so much do I
respect these fancies, that I have sent away our
cat, though my wife doted on her, for fear of
her killing them. Perhaps she might not have
injured them, but I would not run any risk; I
should have been a villain if I had; for all the
cats in the world are not worth the bird or
mouse of a prisoner."
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 17
"It was very good of you," replied Charney,
feeling himself humbled at being thought
Capable of such childish tastes. "But this
plant is for me something more than an amuse-
Well, what matters it ? If it reminds you
of the tree under which you prattled to your
mother in your childhood, so much the better.
The superintendent has not spoken about it,
and as for me, I shut my eyes to things I don't
wish to see. If it should grow to be a tree, and
so be able to help you over the wall, it will be
another affair; but we have no need to think
of that yet a while," he added with a laugh;
"though, I am sure, I wish you the free use of
your legs with all my heart; but this must
happen according to order. If you were to try
"What would you do ?"
"Do! Why, it should be over my body; I
would shoot you myself, or tell the sentinel to
fire, with as little remorse as if you were a
rabbit. But touch a leaf of your wallflower!
No, I have not a heart for that. I have always
considered that man unworthy of the dignity of
being a jailer, who would crush a spider that a
prisoner had become attached to; it is a wicked
action-a crime. Talking of spiders," continued
Ludovic, "I'11 tell you a story about a prisoner
who was let out at last by the help of the
"By the help of the spiders!" exclaimed
Charney with astonishment.
"Yes," replied the jailer; "it is about ten
years ago; Quatremer Disjonval was his name.
He was a Frenchman, like you, though he had
employment in Holland, and sided with the .
Dutch when they revolted. For this he was
put into prison, where he stayed eight years,
without having even then a prospect of being
released-for I heard all about him, count, from
a prisoner we had here before you came, and
who formed an acquaintance with the spiders;
though, luckily, Bonaparte gave him the use of
his legs again, without waiting so long for it as
his friend had done. Well, this poor Disjonval
having nothing to amuse himself with during
these eight long years, took to watching the
spiders; and at last, from their actions, he could
tell what the weather would be for ten, twelve,
or fourteen days to come. Above all, he noticed
that they spun their large wheel-like webs in fine
weather only, or when fine clear weather was
setting in; whereas, when wet and cold were
coming, they retreated clean out of sight.
Now, when the troops of the Republic were
in Holland, in December 1794, a sudden and
unexpected thaw so altered the plans of the
generals, that they seriously thought of with-
drawing the army, and accepting the money
that the Dutch would have willingly paid to
be free of them. But Disjonval, who thought
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 19
any masters would be better than-his present
ones, hoped, beyond all things, that the French
would be victorious; and knowing that only
the weather was against them, watched his
friendly spiders with redoubled interest. To
his joy, he discovered that a frost was coming;
a frost which would render the rivers and canals
able to bear the weight of the baggage and
artillery. He contrived to have a letter con-
veyed to the commander-in-chief, assuring him
that a frost would set in within fourteen days;
he, either believing what he wished, or really
putting faith in a prisoner's experience, main-
tained his ground; and when, at the end of
twelve days, every river was frozen over, Dis-
jonval no doubt felt that, if the French gained
the day, he deserved his freedom at their
hands. And he had it too; for when they
entered Utrecht in triumph, one of the first
orders issued was for the liberation of Quat-
remer Disjonval. This is a fact, count; though
I heard it said that afterwards he continued his
affection for the spiders, and wrote about them
too. Ah, it is a curious thing how much such
insects know; or at least how much they do,
that we can't at all understand! They must
be Heaven-taught, too, for they do not even
seem to teach one another."
Charney was touched by this recital, for well
could he enter into every feeling of Disjonval;
and his heart was softened by Ludovic's atten-
tion to his plant. Yet, now that he began to
respect his jailer, his vanity urged him the
more to give some reason for the interest
he took in such a trifle. "My dear, good
Ludovic," said he, I thank you for your kind
consideration; but I must repeat to you that
this little plant is to me more than an amuse-
ment. I am studying its physiology;" and as
he saw that the man listened without under-
standing, he added, "besides, the species to
which it belongs possesses, I think, medicinal
properties which are most valuable in certain
attacks of illness to which I am subject !" He
had descended to a species of falsehood. But,
alas! this had seemed to him less humiliating
than to acknowledge himself pleased with
"Well, count," said Ludovic, preparing to
leave the room, "if your plant, or its kind, has
rendered you so much service, I think you
might have shown your gratitude by watering
it sometimes. Poor PICCIOLA! poor little
thing! it would have perished of thirst if I had
ny( taken care of it. But adieu, adieu."
"One instant, my kind Ludovic," exclaimed
Charney, more and more surprised at discover-
ing the character of the man ; "is it possible
that you have been thus thoughtful of my
pleasures, and yet never mentioned your
"* Picciola-pronounced Pitchiola-is an Italian word sig-
nifying "poor little thing."
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 21
goodness to me? I entreat you to accept this
little present as an earnest of my gratitude,
though it is impossible I can ever repay you;"
and he presented a little silver-gilt cup which
belonged to his dressing-case. Ludovic took
it in his hand, examining it with some
Repay me for what,'Signor Count ? Flowers
only ask a little water, so we can let them
drink without being ruined," and he replaced
the cup in the dressing-case.
The count moved nearer, and extended his
hand; but Ludovic drew back in a respectful
manner, exclaiming: "No, no; a man only
gives his hand to a friend and an equal."
"Then, Ludovic, be you my friend."
"No, no; that would not do," replied the
jailer; "one should have a little foresight in
this world. If we were to be friends, and you
were to try to escape, how should I have the
heart to cry 'Fire !' to the soldiers? No;
I am your keeper, your jailer, and most
And now that Charney has learned another
lesson-the lesson that good as well as evil is
woven in that strange tangled texture, human
nature--we must hurry over some of the suc-
ceeding events, and relate but briefly how he
was-attacked by illness, and how his rough friend
Ludovic tended him through it. The reader
must, however, remember, that in making his
urgent, but, as it proved, most unnecessary
supplications for his plant, the count had even
descended to something like a falsehood; for he
had said that he thought the plant possessed
medicinal properties, a declaration which the
honest jailer called to mind when he beheld
his charge suffering from the delirium of fever.
It is true the medical attendant of the prison
had been called in; but whatever his judgment
might be, his skill seemed unavailing. Charney
was apparently in extreme danger, when,
amidst the wildest ravings, he passionately
exclaimed: "Picciola-Picciola !" In an
instant Ludovic concluded that it was for
curing this disorder the plant was famed; but
how to apply it was the question. Yet the
thing must be tried; so, after a consultation
with his wife, it was determined to cut some of
the leaves, and make a decoction of them.
Bitter-nauseous was the draught (probably a
great recommendation in Ludovic's opinion);
but, administered at the crisis by means of
which nature was working her cure, it had all
the credit. Yet to describe Charney's horror at
the discovery of the mutilation to which his
Picciola had been subjected, is impossible; but
he felt it was the punishment of his falsehood;
and so, as a medicine, it worked a moral
change, if not a physical one Neither may we
describe very accurately how, before his attack
of illness, Charney erected a defence for his
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 23
favourite flower. He had been frightened
one day by beholding the house-dog pass
through the yard, for he feared that a lash of
his tail might injure the beloved Picciola. Yes,
Picciola was now her name, the title bestowed
on her by the kind-hearted Ludovic, who was
called her godfather. Although the nights were
cold and his allowance of firewood at all times
insufficient, yet Charney cheerfully robbed
himself day by day of some portion of his
little store, till, with the aid of cords which he
carefully spun from his linen, he erected a
defence around the plant.
By the physician's orders the count had now
permission to walk in the courtyard whenever
he pleased, though he was still too weak to take
much advantage of the favour. Perhaps, how-
ever, there was something in his convalescent
state favourable to contemplation; certain it
is that he revelled in it more than ever: There
was little to break in upon his reveries; the
only event the solitary could bring to mind was,
that he had once seen a second figure at the win-
dow where he had before noticed the stranger.
As for Ludovic, he might be a little more
communicative; but he was in no degree more
complying than his office lawfully permitted.
Charney was anxious to procure pens and
paper, that he might note down the observations
he was daily making on his plant; but these
Swere obstinately refused, as against orders.
"Why not write to the superintendent for
permission ?" said Ludovic. "I dare not and
will rot give them you."
"Never," exclaimed the count, "will I ask
him to grant me a favour."
"As you please," returned Ludovic coldly,
singing one of his native Italian airs as he left
the chamber of his prisoner.
Too proud to humble himself to the governor,
Charney. was still unwilling to abandon his
design. With the aid of his razor, he formed a
pen of a toothpick; his ink was made from soot
dissolved in water, and mixed in a gilt scent-
bottle; and instead of paper he wrote on his
cambric handkerchief. Picciola was now in
flower, and among the phenomena she revealed
to him, he observed that the flower turned
towards the sun, following the orb in its
course, the better to absorb its rays; or when,
veiled by clouds which threatened rain, the
sun was no longer visible, Picciola bent down
her petals, as mariners fold their sails to pre-
pare for the coming storm. "Is heat so neces-
sary to her?" thought Charney; "and why?
Does she fear even the passing shadow which
seems so refreshing? But why do I ask? I
know she will explain her reasons." He who
had almost denied a God began to have faith
in a flower!
Picciola had already proved a physician;
and on an emergency she might serve for a
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 25
barometer. Now she fulfilled the uses of a
By dint of watching and observing, Charney
remarked that her perfume varied at different
periods of the day. At first he thought that
such a notion must be a delusion of the imagin-
ation; but repeated trials proved to him its
reality. At last he could declare the hour of
the day with certainty, simply from inhaling
the odour of his plant. Picciola was now in
full blossom; and, thanks to Ludovic, who
assisted the prisoner to construct a seat in the
courtyard, the invalid could enjoy the society
of his favourite for hours at a time. It some-
times happened that, towards the close of day,
he sunk into a waking dream-a reverie-in
which the imagination, triumphing over the
body, carried him to distant and most different
scenes. Once he thought himself in his old
mansion; it was the night of a festival-the
noise of a hundred carriages rattled in his ear,
and the gleam of torches flashed in his eye.
Presently the orchestra sounded, and the fete
began. The brilliant light of chandeliers
flooded the ball-room, where jewels gleamed
and feathers waved upon the fairest forms.
There was the haughty Tallien and the
beautiful R6camier; and Josephine the consul's
wife, who, from her goodness and grace, often
passed for the loveliest of the three. Others
were beside them, adorned with every aid
which taste and dress could lend to youth and
beauty. But it was not one of these that, in
Charney's reverie, riveted his attention. He
distinguished a young girl simply attired in
white; her native grace and faint blush were
her only ornaments; and as he gazed upon her,
the other figures faded from his view. Presently
they were alone, and as in thought he approached
her more nearly, he observed that in her dark
hair she wore a flower-the flower of his prison !
Involuntarily he made an attempt to greet her,
but in an instant she faded from his view-the
flower and the girl losing themselves in one
another. The walls of his mansion grew dim;
the lights were gradually extinguished; till,
reason dethroning fancy, the prisoner opened
his eyes! Behold, he was still on his bench,
the sun was setting, and Picciola before him.
Often he dreamed thus ; but always the young
girl with the flower-Picciola personified-was
the prominent figure of his charming vision.
He knew it was no memory of the past; could
it be a revelation of the future ? He cared not
to inquire; he only felt that it was happiness
to cherish the beloved image.
Thus the captive of Fenestrella, after his
graver studies, entered more and more into
that region of poesy, from which man returns,
like the bee from the bosom of flowers, per-
fumed and loaded with honey. He had now
a double existence, the real and the ideal,
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 27
the one the remainder of the other; without
which, man tastes but half the blessings
lavished on him by the Creator !
Charney became daily more and more ab-
sorbed in the contemplation of his flower, his
silent teacher and companion. But his eyes
were unable to follow the regular but minute
and mysterious changes of its nature. He was
one day more than commonly depressed in
spirits, and at the same time angry with him-
self for yielding to his feelings, when Ludovic
brought him a powerful microscope, the loan of
the stranger at the window, with which the
latter had been accustomed to examine his
insects, and by the aid of which he had
numbered eight thousand divisions in the cornea
of a fly Charney trembled with joy. The
most minute particles of his plant were now
revealed to his sight, magnified a hundredfold.
Now did he believe himself on the high-road to
the most wonderful discoveries. He had before
examined the outer covering of his flower, and
he is prepared to find that the brilliant colour
of the petals, their graceful form and purple
spots, and the bands, as soft to the eye as
velvet, which complete the outline, are not
there only to gladden the sight with their
beauty, but that they also serve to collect or
disperse the sun's rays according to the wants
of the flower. Now he perceives that these
bright and glossy particles are unquestion-
ably endowed with a mysterious power to
respire air, light, and moisture for the nourish-
ment of the seed; for without light there
would be no colour; without air and heat,
no life! Moisture, heat, and light! of these
the vegetable world is composed, and to these
must its atoms return when they die!
DURING these hours of study and delight,
Charney, unknown to himself, had two spec-
tators of his actions; these were Girhardi and
his daughter, who watched him with intense
and kindly interest.
The daughter was one of those rare beings
presented now. and then to the world, as if to
show that nature can surpass a poet's dreams.
Educated entirely by her father, the mother-
less girl was devoted to him. She seemed
to have no thought, but her one grief--her
father's imprisonment. She felt that her place
was not among the happy, but where she could
dry a tear or call up a smile; and to do this
was her pride and triumph. Until recently,
such had been her only thoughts; but since she
had seen Charney, she had learned to take an
interest in, and feel compassion for, him. Like
her father, he was a prisoner, which alone was
enough to awaken her sympathy; but the love
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 29
he bore to his plant-the only thing to which
his heart clung-gave birth to feelings of the
deepest pity. It is true that the command-
ing person of the count might have had some
weight in prepossessing her in his favour;
though assuredly, had she met him in the
hour of his prosperity, she would not have
distinguished him for such qualities. In her
ignorance of human life, she classed misfortune
among the virtues; and this was the charm
which had kindled her heart's warm sympathy.
One morning Girhardi, not content with
waving his hand from the window by way of
salutation, beckoned Charney to approach as
near as possible, and modulating his voice, as
if in great fear that some one else would hear
him, exclaimed, "I have good news for you, sir."
"And I," replied Charney, "have my best
thanks to offer for your goodness in lend-
ing me the microscope;" and, perhaps, in his
life Charney had never before felt so deep a
sense of obligation.
Do not give me any thanks," returned
Girhardi; "the thought was Teresa's, my
"You have a daughter, -then; and they per-
mit you to see her ?"
"Yes; and I thank God that they do, for
my poor child is an angel of goodness. Do
you know, my dear sir, she has taken a great
interest in you; first when you were ill, and
ever since in watching the a tention you bestow
on your flower. Surely yo must have seen
her sometimes at the window ."
"Is it possible; was it your daughter ?"
"Yes, indeed; but in speaking of her I forget
the news I have to give you. The emperor is
going to Milan, where he will be crowned king,
"What emperor ?"
"Why, General Bonaparte, to be sure. Did
you not know that the first consul has assumed
the title of Emperor-the Emperor Napoleon-
and having conquered Italy, he is going to
Milan to be crowned king of that country ?"
"King of Italy exclaimed Charney; "but
what then; he will be more than ever your
master and mine. As for the microscope," con-
tinued Charney, who thought much more of his
Picciola than this great event, and who knew
not what was to follow-" as for the micro-
scope, I am afraid I have already kept it too
long; you are depriving yourself of it. Perhaps
at some future time you will lend it to me
"I can do without it; I have others," replied
the kind old man, guessing from Charney's tone
how unwilling he was to part with it. "Keep
it, keep it as a remembrancer of your fellow-
captive, who, believe me, feels a deep interest
Charney strove for words to express his
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 31
gratitude; but the other interrupted him, say-
ing, "Let me finish what I had to tell. They
say that at the approaching coronation many
pardons will be granted. Have you any friends
who now can speak for you ?"
Charney shook his head mournfully as he
replied, "I have no friends."
"No friends!" echoed thefod man ith a
look of compassion; h e then, ubted
and suspected your o r tures, friend-
ship surely exists for io who ieeve in it ?
Well, well, if y yIe ot, I ae friends whom
adversity ev a as ot huken; and perhaps
they may s 'ue 4in u, though they have
failed for n. ',
"I wot of General Bonaparte,"
replied mount in a tone which betrayed his
rooI te and rancojr---
ush !-1ieiak Tower-I think some one is
ming-but no;" and after a moment's silence,
"the Italian continued in a manner so touching,
that reproach was softened as if falling from
the lips of a father. "Dear friend, you are still
angry, though I should have thought that the
studies 'you have now for months pursued,
would have extinguished in your heart the
hatred which God condemns, and which causes
so much misery in the world. The perfume of
your flower should have taught you charity. I
have more cause to complain of Bonaparte than
you have, for my son died in his service."
"And it was his death you strove to
revenge ?" replied Charney.
"I see that you, too, have heard that false-
hood," said the old man, raising his eyes to
heaven, as if appealing to the Almighty. "It
is true that in my first moments of agony,
when the people were rending the air with
their acclamations of joy for victory, my cries
of despair were heard in an interval. I was
arrested, and unfortunately a knife was found
upon me. Informers, who lived by lying,
made it appear that I had designs on the life
of Bonaparte; and him who was only a bereaved
father, mourning in his first agony, they treated
as an assassin. I can believe that the emperor
was deceived; and were he so very bad a man,
remember he might have put us both to death.
Should he restore me to liberty, he will but
repair an error, though I shall bless him for his
mercy. For myself, I can endure captivity, for
I have faith in Providence, and resign myself
to the will of God; but my misfortune.weighs
heavily on Teresa-though we both suffer less
from being together-and for her sake I would
indeed wish to be free. Surely you, too, have
some being who loves you, who suffers for you,
and for whose happiness, if not for your own,
you will sacrifice this false pride? Come, let
my friends do what they can for you."
Charney smiled bitterly.. "No wife, nor
daughter, nor friend weeps for me!" said he;
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 33
"no human being sighs for my return, for I
have no longer gold to bestow. What should
I do in the world, where really I was no happier
than I am here ? But could I find there friends
and happiness, and recover fortune, I would
still repeat 'No' a thousand times, if I must
first humble myself to the power I struggled to
"I never will address as emperor him who -
was my equal."
"I implore you not to sacrifice the future to
this false pride, which is vanity, not patriotism.
But hark! now some one is indeed coming-
adieu !" and Girhardi moved from the window.
"Thanks, thanks for the microscope!" cried
Charney, before the other had quite disappeared.
At that moment the hinges of the gate
creaked, and Ludovic entered the courtyard.
He brought with him the provisions for the
day; but perceiving that Charney was deep in
thought, he did not address him, though he
slightly rattled the plates, as if to remind him
that dinner was ready ; while he silently
saluted my lord and my lady, as he was accus-
tomed to call the man and the plant!
The microscope is mine!" thought Charney;
"but how have I deserved the kindness of this
benevolent stranger?" Then seeing Ludovic
cross the yard, his thoughts turned to him, as
he mentally exclaimed: "Even this man has
won my esteem; under his rough exterior,
what a noble and generous heart there beats !"
But while he pondered, he thought another
voice replied: "It is misfortune which has
taught you to estimate a kindness. What
have these two men done? One has watered
your plant unknown to you; the other has
procured you the means of examining it more
narrowly." "But," returned Charney, still
arguing with himself, "the dictates of the
heart are more true than those of the reason;
and my heart tells me that theirs has been no
common generosity." Yes," replied the voice,
"but it is because this generosity has been
exercised towards you that you do it justice.
If Picciola had not existed, these two men
would still have been despised. One would
have remained in your eyes an old fool, given
up to the most contemptible trifling; and the
other a coarse, and sordid, and vulgar creature.
Encased in your own selfishness, you never
loved before; and now it is because you love
Picciola that you understand the love of others;
it is through her they have been drawn to
And Charney looked by turns at his plant
and his microscope. Napoleon, emperor of
France, and king of Italy! The one half of
this terrible title had formerly induced him to
become a furious conspirator, but now its
magnificence scarcely dwelt in his mind for a
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 35
moment. He thought less of the triumphs of
an emperor and a king than of an insect which
wheeled with threatening buzz around his
Provided with the microscope, now his own,
Charney pursued his examinations with avidity;
and were we writing a botanical work, instead
of a narrative, we should be tempted to follow
his discoveries step by step. But this may not
be; though our story illustrates a truth. It is
enough that, like one who stumbles in the dark,
and consequently has often to retrace his steps,
one theory was often overthrown by another in
the mind of Count Charney. Yet nature was
his teacher-the plant, and the bird, and the
bee; the sun, and the wind, and the shower!
His present enthusiasm compensated for his
past ignorance; and though he called to mind
but vaguely the system of Linnaeus, it was after
the careful examinations of the flowers, that
he first perceived, however dimly, the chain
which binds the universe. His eyes wandered,
the microscope was laid aside, and he sank
on his rustic bench overpowered by his
"Picciola," he exclaimed, 'I had once the
whole world in which to wander; I had friends
without number, or at least such as usurped
that title; and, above all, I was surrounded by
men of science in every department; but none
of these instructed me as thou hast done; and
none of the self-styled friends conferred on me
the good offices which I have received from
thee; and in this narrow courtyard, studying
only thee, I have thought, and felt, and observed
more than in all my previous life. Thou hast
been a light in the darkness, a companion to
relieve my solitude, a book which has seemed
to me more wondrous than every other, for it
has convinced me of my ignorance, and humbled
my pride: it has convinced me that science,
like virtue, can only be acquired by humility;
and that to rise we must first descend: it has
shown me that the first rail of this mighty
ladder is buried in the earth, and that by this
we must begin to climb. It is a book written
in characters of light, though in a language
so mysterious, that we should be lost in awe
and wonder were not every word a consolation.
The world thou hast opened to my view is
that of thought-of the Creator, of Heaven,
of the Eternal. It is the law of love which
rules the universe; which regulates the attrac-
tion of an atom, and the path of the. planets ;
which links a flower to the stars, and binds
in one chain the insect which burrows in the
earth, to haughty man who raises his brow to
heaven, seeking there-his Creator!" The
agitation of Charney increased as the struggle
in his heart continued; but he murmured
again, "Oh God! oh God prejudice has dulled
my reason, and sophistry has hardened my
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 37
heart! I cannot hear THEE yet, but I will
call upon THEE; I cannot see, but I will seek
Returned to his chamber, he read upon the
wall, God is but a word." He added, "Is not
this word the one which explains the secret
of the universe ?"
Alas there was still doubt in the expression;
but for this proud spirit to doubt, was to know
itself half-conquered; and to Picciola he still
turned to teach him a creed, and convince him
of a God!
In contemplating and questioning the page
of nature which was opened to him, tine passed
quickly away; and when exhausted by deep
thought, he indulged in those reveries in which
the fair girl floated before his eyes, linked in a
mysterious manner with his beloved Picciola.
Not only the outward events, the changes and
progress of his plant, were chronicled on the
cambric, but the inner world of poesy, the life
of his day-dreams, was interpreted there,
though perchance vaguely; for language has
its limits, and cannot always reach to thought.
Once, however, his vision was painful; for
suddenly the young girl became pale, as if by
the finger of death. She stretched her arms
towards him, but he was chained to the spot;
an unseen obstacle interposed, and the dreamer
awoke with a cry of agony. Strange, that
another cry echoed his own, and that in the
voice of a woman! Happy was he to find his
anguish but a dream; himself upon the rustic
bench, and Picciola blooming beside him; yet
he felt that the shadow of evil was upon him.
Honest Ludovic came running to the spot.
"Oh, count," said he, "you are taken ill again,
I fear; but never mind, Madame Picciola and
I will cure you."
"I am not ill," replied Charney, scarcely yet
recovered from his emotion. "Who told you
"Why Mademoiselle Teresa, the fly-catcher's
daughter; she saw you from the window, heard
you scream, and ran to send me to your
Charney was touched; he remembered the
interest the young Italian had taken in his
illness, and it was to her thoughtfulness he
was indebted for the precious microscope. He
felt himself all at once overpowered with
gratitude; and strangely mingling the ideal
of his dream with the figure he had once or
twice seen at the window, he remembered that
the latter had no flower in her hair. Not
without some self-reproach, not without a
trembling hesitation, did he gather one of the
flowers from Picciola. "Formerly," murmured
he, "I lavished gold and jewels on worthless
women and false friends, without a feeling of
regret; but oh, if a gift be valued in proportion
as the giver prizes it, never have I bestowed
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 39
anything so precious as the flower which I
borrow from thee, Picciola!" Placing it in
Ludovic's hand, he continued: "Give this
from me to the old man's daughter. Tell her
that I thank her from my heart for the
interest she takes in me, and that the poor
and imprisoned Count de Charney possesses
nothing of more value to offer for her accept-
Ludovic took the flower with an air of stupe-
faction; for he had been so accustomed to
consider the prisoner's love for his plant as
all-engrossing, that he could not understand
how Mademoiselle Teresa's slight service had
deserved what he knew was the most munificent
return. "Well," said he, after a moment,
"they can now judge from the specimen what
a sweet thing my god-daughter is !"
CHARNEY pursued his examinations, and every
day some new wonders were developed. Picciola
was in the height of her beauty; not less than
thirty flowers graced her stem, and numerous
buds had still to open, when, one morning
approaching her with the joy of a lover, and
yet with the gravity of a man about seriously
to study, he started on perceiving that his
beloved Picciola was beginning to droop. He
supplied water to the plant with his most
tender care; still she drooped the next day
also. Something was wrong. On examining
minutely into the cause of the illness, he
learned, what he ought to have already looked
for, that the stem, pressed between the edges
of the two stones through which it had struggled
into existence, was too slender to maintain the
circulation in the plant. The stem must be
set free from this tightening pressure, or death
would be the consequence. Charney saw all this,
and knew but one means to save the companion
of his imprisonment. Alas how could he save
her? The stones must be broken or removed,
and dare he hope that this indulgence would
be granted? He waited impatiently for the
next appearance of Ludovic, and communicated
to him the disaster, with a humble request
that he would furnish him with tools to release
the plant from its bondage.
"Impossible," answered the jailer; "you
must apply to the superintendent."
"Never," cried Charney impetuously.
"As you like; but I think this pride is
somewhat out of place. I shall speak to him
about it, I tell you."
"I forbid you," replied the count.
You forbid me-how amusing! Do you
suppose I am to be ordered by you ? But never
mind; let her die if you like; it is nothing to
"Stay," returned the count, "would the
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 41
superintendent understand this favour-the
only one I will ever ask ?"
"Understand Why not ? Isn't he a man ?
Cannot he understand, like me, that you love
your plant ? Besides, I'11 tell him that it's
good for fever-for all sorts of sickness; and
he's not strong; he suffers terribly from rheu-
matism. Well, well, you're a scholar; now
prove it ; write him a letter, not too long--
Charney still hesitated, but Ludovic made a
sign of Picciola dying. The other gave a faint
token of assent, and Ludovic went away.
In a few minutes afterwards, an official, half-
civil half-military, appeared with pen and ink,
and a single sheet of paper bearing the
superintendent's stamp. He remained present
while Charney wrote his request; then reading
it, he sealed and took the letter away.
Reader, do you rejoice at the changed heart,
or do you despise our noble count for thus
conquering his pride to save a drooping flower ?
If the latter, you understand not the crushing
influence of captivity on the haughtiest spirit;
you imagine not the one strong love of a
desolate heart, which perhaps saved the mind
from madness or idiocy. The weakness of
which you accuse him, was the very necessity
of his mind, impelled by love and gratitude.
Would that such holy springs were always near
to bend the proud spirit!
Three hours dragged slowly away, and no
answer came to the petition. Charney's agita-
tion and anxiety were extreme. He could
not eat. He tried to persuade himself that a
favourable answer must arrive; that it would
be impossible to refuse so simple a request.
Yet, alas concession might be too late; Picciola
was dying! Evening came, and no relief to
his anxiety; night, and Charney could not close
The next morning brought the brief answer,
that "the pavement of a prison-yard was one
of its walls, and must be inviolable !"
And so Picciola must die? Her odours no
longer proclaim the hour truly; she is like a
watch whose springs are disordered; she can-
not entirely turn to the sun, but droops her
flowers. And Charney is in his chamber
writing with care and diligence on one of
his finest handkerchiefs!
His task completed, the handkerchief was
carefully folded; then returning to the court-
yard, and passing Picciola with the murmured
exclamation, "I will save thee!" he attached
the little packet to a cord which he found
suspended from Girhardi's window. In an
instant it was drawn up.
Yes! Charney had humbled his pride yet
more: to save Picciola he had addressed a
petition to Napoleon! And Teresa Girhardi,
the voluntary denizen of a prison, had under-
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 43
taken to be the bearer, although Charney knew
not at the time who was the messenger her
father had promised to find. Few were her
preparations, for every minute was precious;
and, mounted on horseback, accompanied by
a guide, in less than an hour she had left the
walls of Fenestrella. It was evening when they
arrived at Turin; but, alas! the first news
which greeted her was, that the emperor had
set out for Alessandria. His visit had made a
fete-day, and the people were too busy and
elated to answer her anxious questions very
readily; yet her resolution was instantly taken
to follow at all hazards. Here, however, the
guide, learning that the distance to Alessandria
was at least equal to double that which they
had already traversed, refused to accompany
her a step farther; and leaving her, as he said,
to a night's repose at a little inn, he coolly bade
her good-evening, as he should set out on his
return the first thing in the morning. Although,
for a moment, almost paralysed with the sense
of her desolation, the noble-hearted Teresa
faltered not in her resolution. She could hear of
no conveyance till the morrow, but it was torture
to think of losing the night in inactivity.
Seated in the chimney-corner enjoying their
supper were a couple, man and wife, who were
evidently travelling with merchandise. It is
true Teresa had just heard the order given to
feed their mules, which were sent to the stable;
it is true she heard their expressions of delight
at being housed after their journey; yet on
their assistance she built all her hopes.
"Pardon my question," said she in a trembling
voice to the woman; "but what road do you
take when you leave Turin ?"
"The road to Alessandria, my dear."
"" To Alessandria It is my good angel which
has led you hither."
"Your good angel, then," replied the woman,
"has led us through a very bad road."
"What is it you mean?" asked the man,
"Most urgent business calls me to Alessandria.
Will you take me ?"
"It is impossible," said the woman.
I will pay you well," continued Teresa; "I
will give you ten francs."
"I don't know how we can do it," replied
the man; "the seat is so narrow, it will hardly
hold three; though you are not very large, to
be sure. But we are only going to Revigano,
which is but half-way to Alessandria."
"Well, well, take me so far; but we must set
out this instant."
"This instant! What an idea: we cannot
start till the morning."
"I will pay you double the sum."
The husband looked at his -wife, but she
shook her head, exclaiming, "The poor beasts !
it would kill them."
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 45
"But the twenty francs," murmured he.
And the thought of twenty francs had so
much weight, that before the clock struck
eleven, Teresa found herself in the cart seated
between the worthy pair.
In her impatience, winged horses would
scarcely have contented her; but the slow pace
of the mules, with their bells jingling in
measured time at every step, seemed insupport-
able. "My good man, make them go a little
faster," said she.
"My dear child," replied he, "I do not like
spending the night in counting the stars any
more than you; but I am carrying earthenware
to Revigano, and if the mules trot, they will
break it all to pieces."
"Earthenware! oh !" groaned Teresa, while
the tears streamed down her cheeks; "but at
least you can make them go a little quicker ?"
And so was performed the half of her journey.
The seller of earthenware put her down on the
roadside at the break of day, wishing her safe
at her journey's end.
"Tell me, sir," said Teresa to the first person
she met, "how I can procure a conveyance to
"I do not think you will find one," replied
the stranger; the emperor reviews the troops
at Marengo to-day, and every carriage, every
place, has been engaged these three days."
.To another she put the same question. "You
love the French, do you ? that accursed race!"
was the answer he gave between his set
At last she got a ride for a mile or two, till
one whose place had been engaged was taken
up. And so, by degrees, she found herself on
foot among the crowd of sight-seekers who
thronged to Marengo.
A magnificent throne, surrounded with. tri-
coloured flags, had been erected on a hill which
overlooked almost the spot where, five years
before, the battle of Marengo had been fought;
and here the conqueror had determined to
review his victorious troops. The aides-de-camp,
covered with their glittering orders, passed
-rapidly to and fro; the trumpet and the drum
sounld'd ; banners floated in the breeze, and the
pholui.: in the helmets waved. Napoleon was
at the head of his guards; Josephine, sur-
rounded by her ladies, was seated on the throne,
with an officer by her side, deputed to explain
to her the military evolutions. Interested as
the empress was, she yet observed some slight
disturbance near her; and on inquiring the
cause, was told that a young woman, at the
risk of being trampled down by the horses,
had, under cover of the smoke, made her way
across the line, and was earnestly beseech-
ing permission to present a petition to her
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 47
What was the result of the interview will
by and by be seen.
Over the dreary prison of Fenestrella a yet
darker cloud seemed to hover. Charney
counted the minutes, and, unconscious who the
messenger really was, sometimes blamed his
tardiness, sometimes his own folly in daring to
hope. The fourth day arrived; Picciola was at
the point of death; and Girhardi came no more
to the window, though from his room could be
heard mingled prayers and sobs. The proud
Charney hung despairingly over his plant.
For her he had humbled himself to the dust,
and yet was he to lose the charm of his life,
the sole object of his love! Ludovic crossed the
courtyard. Since the prisoner's affliction, the
jailer had resumed his harsh deportment; for,
as he dared not act, he would not speak
"Ludovic, what have I done to you?"
exclaimed Charney in his wretchedness.
"Done nothing at all," replied the other.
"Well, then," continued the count, seizing
his hand, "save her now. Yes, the super-
intendent has no need to know it. Bring me
some earth in a box-but for a moment will the
stones be removed. We will transplant her."
"Don't touch me," replied Ludovic roughly,
drawing away his hand. "Your flower has
worked nothing but mischief. To begin with
yourself, you're going to fall ill again, I know.
You had better boil her down into drink, and
have done with her."
Charney looked unutterable indignation.
"However," pursued Ludovic, "if it only
affected yourself, it would be but your own
affair; but the poor fly-catcher, he'll never see
his daughter again, that is certain."
"His daughter !" exclaimed Charney in
"Yes, his daughter. You may whip the
horses, but who can tell where the carriage will
roll? You may fling a dagger, but who can
tell whom it shall wound? They've found out
that you have written to the emperor-through
the guide, I suppose."
"His daughter!" repeated Charney, deaf to
"Why, did you suppose your message would
go by telegraph ?"
Charney buried his face in his hands.
"Well, they've found it out," repeated the
jailer; "and it is a good thing I had no
suspicion. But she is not to be admitted to see
her father again: they told him so yesterday.
But your dinner is getting cold."
The count threw himself on his bench. For
a moment he thought of at once destroying
Picciola, instead of watching her lingering
death; but his heart failed him; and he dwelt
on the generous girl who had devoted herself to
his cause, and whose punishment, and that of
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 49
her good father, would be so heavy. "Oh," he
exclaimed, "if they would but open again to
thee these prison gates, how willingly would I
purchase the favour by sacrificing the half of
my life! Blessings on you, ye noble pair!"
In less than half an hour two officers pre-
sented themselves in the courtyard, accompanied
by the superintendent of the prison, who re-
quested Charney to return with them to his
chamber. The superintendent was a bald-
headed man, with thick gray moustaches. A
scar, which divided his left eyebrow, and
descended to his lip, did not greatly improve
his countenance; but in his own estimation he
was a person of great consequence, and on the
present occasion he assumed more than' an
ordinary degree of dignity and severity. He
began the conversation by requesting to know
if Charney had any complaint to make with
regard to his treatment in the fortress of
Fenestrella. The prisoner replied in the nega-
tive. "You know, sir," continued the great
nian, "that in your illness every attention was
paid to you. If you did not choose to follow
the doctor's advice, it was not his fault, nor
mine; and since then, I have accorded you
the unusual favour of walking when you pleased
in the courtyard."
Charney bowed and thanked him.
"However," said the superintendent, with
the air of a man whose feelings had been
wounded, "you have infringed the rules of
the fortress; you have injured me in the
opinion of the governor of Piedmont, who
doubts my vigilance, since you have succeeded
in sending a petition to the emperor."
"He has received it, then ?' interrupted
"What says he ?" and the prisoner trembled
What says he! Why, that for thus trans-
gressing orders, you are to be conveyed to a
room in the old bastion, which you are not to
quit for a month."
"But the emperor," exclaimed Charney,
striving to wrestle with the cruel reality which
thus dispelled his hopes-" what says his
"The emperor does not concern himself with
such trifles," replied the superintendent, seating
himself as he spoke in the only chair. "But
this is not all; your means of communication
discovered, it is natural to suppose your corre-
spondence has extended farther. Have you
written to any one besides his majesty ?"
Charney deigned not to answer.
This visit has been ordered," continued
the superintendent; "but before my officers
commence their examinations, have you any
confession to make? It may be to your
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 51
The prisoner was still silent.
"Do your duty, gentlemen."
The officers first looked up the chimney, and
then proceeded to rip open the mattress of the
bed; then they examined the person of the
count, and the lining of his clothes, while the
superintendent walked up and down the room,
striking every plank with his cane, to discover,
if he could, a receptacle for important docu-
ments, or the means of escape. But nothing
could they find except a little bottle containing
a dark liquid; this was, of course, the prisoner's
ink. There remained the dressing-case to be
examined, and when they asked for the key,
he dropped rather than gave it. The rage of
the superintendent had now conquered all
his politeness; and when, after opening the
dressing-case, the officers exclaimed: "We
have got them, we have got them his delight
was evident. From the false bottom they
drew the cambric handkerchiefs, closely written
over; and of course they were considered as
the most important proofs of a conspiracy.
When Charney beheld his precious archives
thus profaned, he rose from the chair into
which he had sunk, and extended his arm to
seize them; but though his mouth was open,
words he had none. These signs of emotion
only convinced the superintendent of the
importance of their prize, and by his orders
the handkerchiefs, bottle, and toothpick were
packed up. A report of their proceedings
was drawn out, and Charney was requested to
sign it: by a gesture he refused, and his refusal
was added to the list of his transgressions.
To save Picciola, Charney felt he had com-
promised his pride-almost his honour; he
had broken the heart of an old man, and
blighted the existence of his daughter; and
that which alone could reconcile him to life is
ruthlessly snatched away with all its fond
YET deeper agony was reserved for him. In
following the superintendent and his satellites
across the courtyard, on their way to the old
bastion, they approached the dying Picciola;
and the ire of the great man, already at fever-
heat from Charney's contemptuous silence, was
yet increased by the sight of the props and
defence placed round the plant.
"What is all this ?" said he to Ludovic, who
came at his call. "Is this the way you watch
your prisoners ?"
That, captain," replied the jailer with hesita-
tion, drawing his pipe from his mouth with one
hand, while with the other he made a military
salutation-" that is the plant I told you of,
which is good for gout and other illness."
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 53
"Don't talk such trash to me," returned the
superintendent; "if these gentlemen had their
will, I suppose they would turn the fortress into
a garden or menagerie. But come, tear it up,
and sweep all this away."
Ludovic looked at the plant, at Charney, and
then at the captain, and murmured some words
"Hold your tongue, and do as I order you,"
thundered the captain.
Ludovic took off his coat and cap, and rubbed
his hands, as if thus to gain courage. Then he
took away the matting, and made himself very
busy in tearing it up and scattering it about
the yard. One by one he plucked up the sticks
and palings which supported the stem, and
broke them singly across his knee. A stranger
would have thought that his love for Picciola
was changed to hatred, and that thus he was
Meanwhile Charney stood motionless, gazing
at Picciola, as if to protect her with his eyes.
The day had been cool, and the ,plant was
refreshed; it seemed as if she had gained
strength but to die the harder. And what
now should fill the void in the prisoner's
heart ? what now should chase the evil spirits
that had possessed him ? who now should teach
him holy lessons of wisdom, and instruct him
to look up "through nature to nature's God ?"
Must his sweet day-dreams never return ? must
he live his old life of apathy and disbelief?
No, death at once would be preferable. At
that moment the old man approached the
window, and Charney almost expected that,
maddened at being deprived of his daughter,
he came to triumph at the misery of him who
had been the cause. But when he looked up,
and their eyes met; when he beheld the
trembling hands of Girhardi stretched through
the bars of his prison, as if imploring mercy
for the plant, Charney's heart smote him
bitterly for his evil thought, and, rising at the
wand of sympathy, a tear rolled down his
cheek-the first he had shed since childhood!
"Take away this bench," cried the super-
intendent to the loitering Ludovic; and slowly
as he worked, its supports were at last removed.
Nothing now remained but Picciola in the
midst of the ruins.
"Why kill it ? it is dying," exclaimed
Ludovic, once more risking the captain's
anger by his supplication.
The great man only answered by a smile of
"Let me do it," cried Charney passion-
ately, on whose brow large drops of agony
"I forbid it;" and the captain stretched his
cane between Count Charney and the jailer.
At that moment two strangers entered the
courtyard. At the noise of their footsteps,
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 55
Ludovic turned his head and relinquished his
hold of Picciola. Charney and he showed-
emotions of surprise. The strangers were an
aide-de-camp of General Menon and a page of
the empress! The former presented a letter
from the governor of Turin to the super-
intendent, who, as he read, testified every sign
of astonishment. After a third perusal of the
paper, and with a suddenly assumed air of
courteousness, he approached Charney, and
placed it in his hands. With a trembling
voice the prisoner read as follows:
"His majesty, the emperor-king, commands
me to make known his consent to the petition
of Monsieur Charney relative to the plant
which grows in the courtyard of Fenestrella.
The stones which incommode it are to be
removed. You will be pleased to see that
this order is executed, and will communicate
with the prisoner on the subject."
"Long live the emperor!" cried Ludovic.
"Long live the emperor !" murmured another
voice, which seemed to come from the wall.
"There is a postscript from the empress,"
whispered the page; and Charney read on the
"I recommend Monsieur de Charney especi-
ally to your kind offices. I shall be obliged by
your doing all you can to render the position of
the prisoner as little painful as possible.
"Long live the empress!" shouted
Charney kissed the signature, and remained
some moments gazing on the paper mute and
Although Charney was permitted to retain
his accustomed chamber, and the superintendent
was even so far calmed as to send very often
his complimentary inquiries after Picciola, he
still thought himself justified in transmitting
the handkerchiefs he had seized to the nearest
authorities; who, however, not being able, as
they said, "to obtain the key of the correspond-
ence," despatched them to the minister of police
at Paris, to be by him examined and deciphered.
Charney, meanwhile, was supplied with writing
materials, and resumed his studies with avidity.
But, alas! Girhardi was no longer to be seen at
the window; for the superintendent, not daring
to act harshly by Charney, had vented his spite
on Girhardi, for the share he had taken in the
transaction, by removing him to a distant part
of the fortress. Charney would really have
been happy could he have forgotten that this
tried friend was suffering for him.
Events, however, were hurrying on. Charney
ventured to solicit the favour of a work on
botany; and the next day came a package of
books on the subject, with a note from the
governor, observing that, "as her majesty was
a great botanist, she would probably be pleased
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 57
to learn the name of the flower in which she
was so greatly interested."
"And must I study all these," exclaimed
Charney with a smile, "to compel my flower
to tell me her name ?"
But with what exquisite sensations did he
once more turn the leaves of a book, and
gaze on printed characters? Nevertheless, the
authors differed so greatly in their systems
of classification, that after a week's laborious
research, he gave up his task in despair. Nor
was this the worst; for, in questioning the
very last flower that Picciola bore, examining it
petal by petal, it fell to pieces in his hand, thus
destroying his hope of preserving the seed.
"Her name is Picciola!" exclaimed Charney
in grief and anger; "and she shall have no
other-Picciola, the prisoner's friend, companion,
and teacher." As he spoke, there fell from one
of the books a slip of paper, which contained
these words: "Hope, and tell your neighbour
to hope, for God does not forget you."
The writing was that of a woman, and
Charney could not doubt it was placed there
by Teresa. "Tell your neighbour to hope."
"Poor girl!" thought he, "she dare not name
her father, and is unconscious that we no
The very next morning, Ludovic entered his
chamber with a countenance radiant with joy,
and informed him that the apartment next to
his was to be occupied by Girhardi, and that
they were to share the courtyard between them I
And the next moment his friend stood before
him. For an instant they looked at each other,
as if doubting the reality of their meeting, till
Charney exclaimed: "Who has done this ?"
"My daughter, undoubtedly," replied the
old man; "every happiness I derive through
Charney again pressed Girhardi's hand, and
drawing forth the slip of paper, presented it to
"It is hers, it is hers; and behold the hope
Charney involuntarily stretched forth his
hand to recover the paper; but he saw that, the
old man trembled with emotion, that he read it
letter by letter, and covered it with kisses. He
felt that, precious as it was, it no longer
belonged to himself. Our egotist was learning
gratitude and generosity!
Their first thought, their first discourse,
was of Teresa; but they were lost in conjecture
as to where she could be, and how she had
obtained such influence. After a while, the
old man looked up, and read the sentences
which the philosopher had inscribed on his wall.
Two of them had already been modified; a
third ran thus: "Men exist on the earth near
to each other, but without a connecting link.
For the body, this world is a crowded arena,
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 59
where one is battled with and bruised on all
sides; but for the heart it is a desert !"
Girhardi added: "If one is without a
The captives were indeed friends, and they
had no secrets from each other. Girhardi
confessed his early errors, which had been the
opposite extreme to those of his companion.
Yes, the benevolent old man had once been
unloving and suspicious; but this is not the
place for his story; nor may we repeat those
holy conferences which completed the change
Picciola had begun. But she was still the book,
Charney the pupil, and Girhardi the teacher.
My friend," said Charney to the old man, as
they were seated on the bench together, "you
who have made insects your study, tell me,
do they present as many wonders to your view
as I have found in Picciola ?"
"Perhaps yet more," replied Girhardi; "for
methinks you are only half acquainted with your
plant, unless you know the nature of the little
beings which so often visit her, and fly and
buzz around her. By the examination of these
creatures we discover some of the hidden springs,
the secret laws, which connect the insect and
the flower, as they are bound to the rest
of the universe." While he spoke, a butterfly
of gorgeous colours, as if to verify his words,
alighted on a sprig of Picciola, shaking its
wings in a peculiar manner. Girhardi paused.
"Of what are you thinking ?" said Charney.
"I am thinking," returned the other, that
Picciola herself will help to answer your former
question. Behold this butterfly, she has just
deposited the hope of her posterity on one of
Charney gazed with attention, and beheld
the gay insect fly away, after having hardened
the eggs with a sort of gummy juice, which
caused them to adhere firmly to the tender
"Think you," continued Girhardi, "that
all this happens by chance? Believe it not.
The God of nature has provided a different sort
of plant for every different sort of insect.
Every vegetable thing has its guests to lodge
and to feed! This butterfly, you know, was
itself at first a caterpillar, and in that state was
nourished by the juices of such a plant as this;
but though, since her transformation, in her
winged state she has roved from flower to
flower, now that the. hour of maternity
approaches, she forgets her wandering habits,
and returns to the plant which nourished
herself in a former state. And yet she cannot
remember her parent, and will never see her
offspring; for the butterfly's purpose is accom-
plished-it will shortly die. It cannot be a
recollection of the plant which prompts the
action, for its appearance is very different
from that it bore in the spring. Who has given
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 61
the insect this knowledge ? Observe, too, the
branch which it has chosen; it is one of the
oldest and strongest-one not likely to be
destroyed by the frost of winter, nor broken by
But" said Charney, "is this always so?
Are you sure that it is not your imagination
which sees order in mere chance ?"
"Silence, doubter," replied Girhardi with a
faint smile; "have patience, and Picciola her-
self shall instruct you. When the spring comes,
and the first young leaves begin to open, the
insect will burst from its shell; then, but not till
then, not till the proper food is within its reach.
Of course you know that different trees burst
into foliage at different periods; and in the
same manner the eggs of different insects open
at different times. Were it otherwise, there
would indeed be distress and confusion. Were
the insects to arrive first, there would be no
food; and were the leaves full grown before the
arrival of the caterpillars, they would be too
hard to be separated by their tender jaws. But
Nature provides all things aright-the plant to
the insect, the insect to the plant."
"Picciola Picciola !" murmured Charney,
"what new wonders hast thou to show me ?"
They are infinite," continued the old man;
"imagination is exhausted in attempting to
conceive the variety, yet exactness, of the
means employed to continue the existence of
different creatures. The telescope conveys to
us an idea-faint and imperfect though it be-
of the vastness of creation; the microscope
shows us that the particles of matter are, in
their minuteness, equally incomprehensible.
Think of the cable of a spider-let us call it
so-being composed of a hundred threads; and
these, doubtless, are again as divisible. Look
at others of the insect tribe, how curiously
their bodies are provided and protected-some
with a scaly armour to protect them from
injury; a network to defend their eyes-so
fine, that neither a thorn, nor the sting of an
enemy, could deprive them of sight: creatures
of prey have nimble feet to chase their victims,
and strong jaws to devour them, or to hollow
out the earth for a dwelling, in which they
place their booty or deposit their eggs. Again,
how many are provided with a poisoned sting
with which to defend themselves from their
enemies. Ah, the more close our examinations,
the more clearly do we perceive that every
living thing is formed according to its wants
and circumstances; so Wondrously perfect, that
man-supposing, for an instant, he had the
power of creation-must injure, did he dare to
alter, the merest trifle; so wondrously perfect,
that man is awed by the very thought and
contemplation of such infinite wisdom. Man,
who is sent naked into the world, incapable of
flying like the bird, of running like the stag,
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 63
of creeping like the serpent; without the
means of defence among enemies armed with
claws and stings; without protection from the
inclemency of the seasons among animals
clothed in wool, or scales, or furs; without
shelter, when each has its nest or its shell,
its den or its hole. Yet to him the lion gives
up its dwelling, and he robs the bear of its
skin to make his first garments; he plucks
the horn from the bull, and this is his first
weapon; and he digs the ground beneath his
feet to seek instruments of future power.
Already, with the sinew of an animal and the
bough of a tree, he makes a bow; and the
eagle which, seeing his feebleness, thinks him
at first a sure and easy prey, is struck to the
earth only to furnish him with a plume for his
head-dress. Among the animal creation, it is
man alone who could exist on such conditions.
But man has the spiritual gift of intelligence,
which enables him to do these things; to take
a lesson from the nautilus, ere he constructs
his first frail bark ; or to find that science only
reveals the geometrical precision with which
the bees work."
"But, my teacher," interrupted Charney, "it
seems to me that the inferior animals are more
perfect than we, and ought to excite our envy."
No; for man alone is endowed with memory,
foresight, the knowledge of right and wrong,
the power of contemplation; and for him alone
is there the provision of a future state. Such
as the lower animals are, they have ever been;
if they are created perfect, it is because for
them there is no higher destiny. From the
beginning of the world, the beavers have built
their dwellings on the same plan; caterpillars
and spiders have spun their webs in the same
fashion; and the ant-lions have traced, without
compasses, circles and arches. One universal
law has governed all; man alone is permitted
to exercise free-will, and therefore for man alone
can virtue or vice exist. The world, too, is his
to traverse from pole to pole; he pitches his
tent in the desert, or builds a city on the banks
of a fertilising river; he can dwell among the
snows of the Alps, or beneath the sun of the
tropics; he bends the material laws to his
purpose, yet receives a lesson from the insect
or the flower. Oh yes," he cried; "believe
what Newton says-' the universe is one
perfect whole; all is harmony; all the evidence
of one Almighty Will. Our feeble minds cannot
grasp it at once, but we know from the per-
fection of parts that it is so !' Oh that proud
man would learn from the flower, and the bee,
and the butterfly !"
At that moment a letter was brought to
Girhardi. It was from Teresa, and ran thus:
"Is it not a happiness that they permit us to
correspond ? Kiss this letter a thousand times,
for I have done so, and thus transmit my kisses
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 65
to you. Will it not be delightful to exchange
our thoughts? But if they should permit me
to see you again Oh, pause here, my father;
pause, and bless General Menon, to whom we
owe so much. Father, I come to see you soon,
in a day or two; and-and-oh, pray for
fortitude to bear the good tidings-I come to
lead you to your home-to take you from
Yet his joy was moderated by the thought
that Charney would again be solitary.
She came. Charney heard her step in the
next room; he conjectured what her person
could be-he could not picture it. Yet he
trembled with apprehension: the polished
courtier grew bashful and awkward as a school-
boy. The introduction was appointed to take
place in the presence of Picciola, and the
father and daughter were seated on the bench
when Charney approached. Notwithstanding
the exciting scenes with which they had been
mutually connected, there was restraint in
their meeting; and in the beautiful face of the
young Italian, Charney at first persuaded
himself there was nothing but indifference to
be read. Her noble conduct had only proceeded
from a love of adventure and obedience to her
father's commands. He half regretted that he
had seen her, since her presence dispelled the
dim and shadowy thoughts he so long had
nourished. But whilst they were seated on
the bench, Girhardi gazing at his daughter,
and Charney uttering some cold and unmeaning
phrases, Teresa turned suddenly to her father,
by which means there escaped from the folds
of her dress a locket, which she wore suspended
round her neck. Charney perceived at a glance
that a lock of her father's white hair was on
one side, and on the other, carefully preserved
beneath the crystal, a withered flower. It was
that he had sent her by Ludovic !
A cloud seemed to pass away from before
the eyes of Charney. In Teresa he recognized
Picciola, the fair girl of his dreams, with the
flower resting on her heart, not in her hair.
He could but murmur some words of rejoicing;
but the ice was broken, and they understood
how much they had mutually thought of each
other. She listened to his history from his
own lips; and when he came to the recital of
all he endured when Picciola was about to be
sacrificed, Teresa exclaimed with tenderness,
"Dear Picciola, thou belongest to me also, for
I have contributed to thy deliverance!" And
Charney thanked her in his heart for this
adoption; for he felt it established more than
ever a holy .communion between them.
WILLINGLY would Charney have sacrificed for
ever liberty, fortune, and the world, could he
have prolonged the happiness he experienced
during the three days which passed before the
necessary forms for Girhardi's liberation were
completed. But in proportion to this happi-
ness must be the pang of separation; and now
he dared to ask himself the bold question,
"Was it possible that Teresa loved him ?" No;
he would not dare so to misinterpret her tender-
ness, her pity, her generosity; and he tried to
believe that he rejoiced; that it would have
been an additional pang to think he had
ruffled the serenity of her heart. "But I,"
he exclaimed-" I will love her for ever, and
substitute this exquisite reality for all my
unsatisfying dreams." This love, however,
must be cherished in secret; for it would be a
crime to impart it. They were about to be
separated for ever; she to return to the world,
doubtless to marry; and he to remain in his
prison alone with Picciola, and her memory.
He tried to assume coldness of manner, but
his haggard countenance betrayed him; while
Teresa, equally conscious and equally generous,
willing to endure all, so that his peace of mind
were not injured, assumed a gaiety of manner
that ill accorded with the scene. Modesty and
timidity, also, conspired to make her conceal
her emotions. Yet there are moments when
the heart will speak its language without
control; and that of their parting was one.
But few and broken ejaculations were heard,
though Teresa's last words were, stretching
out her arms to the plant, "I call Picciola for
Happiness must be tasted and lost to be
appreciated; and so Charney felt. Never had
he so appreciated the father's wisdom and the
daughter's excellence, as now that they were no
longer beside him. Yet memory was sweet,
and his former tormenting thoughts were cast
out for ever.
One day, when Charney least expected it, the
doors of his prison were thrown open. The
persons who had been appointed to examine
the handkerchiefs had carried them to the
emperor. After looking at them for a while,
he exclaimed scornfully, "This Charney is a
fool, but no longer a dangerous one; he may
make an excellent botanist, but I have no fear
of another conspiracy." At Josephine's entreaty
his pardon was granted.
OR THE PRISON-FLOWER. 69
And now it was Charney's turn to quit the
gloomy fortress of Fenestrella, but not alone.
No; Picciola, transplanted into a large box,
was carried away in triumph. Picciola, to
whom he owed every happiness; Picciola, who
had saved him from madness, who had taught
him the consolations of belief; Picciola, to
whom he was indebted for friendship and love;
Picciola, who had restored him to liberty !
Now, too, Ludovic, stifling his emotion,
extended his rough hand to the count, his
friend; for he was no longer the jailer.
Charney shook it with emotion, exclaiming,
"We shall meet again."
"God bless you! Adieu, Count! adieu,
Six months afterwards, a splendid carriage
stopped at the state prison of Fenestrella. A
traveller descended, and asked for Ludovic
Ritti. A lady leant upon his arm; they were
the Count and Countess Charney. Once again
they visited the prison-chamber. Of all the
sentences of despair and unbelief which had
soiled its white walls, only one remained. It
ran thus: "Science, wit, beauty, youth, and
fortune cannot confer happiness!" Teresa
added-" Without love!"
Charney came to request Ludovic that he
would quit Fenestrella for ever, and take up
his abode with him. The jailer inquired after
Picciola, and learned that she was placed
close to the count's private study, that he
watered and tended her himself, and forbade
a servant to touch her.
Ludovic arrived at the count's splendid
chateau a few days before the christening
of their first child. Almost the first thought
of the honest fellow was to visit his old friend
the prison-flower; but, alas! amid the emotions
of love and happiness which had welcomed their
first child, Picciola had been forgotten, and was
now fading to decay. Her mission had been
EL i "- i -,
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
WHO does not remember the pleasure with
which he read the interestingstory of Eliza-
beth, or the Exiles of Siberia, the courageous
devotion of the heroine, and her ultimate
success? Such literature is common among
the unfortunate people of Poland.
72 AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
In the story of M. Rufin Piotrowski, we
have an example of a man sentenced to
hard labour who tried to escape, and succeeded.
On foot, he made the long and perilous journey
over the Ural chain of mountains to Archangel,
Petersburg, and Riga, without passport or help,
and but little money, confiding his secret to no
one, that they might not be involved in his
terrible fate, if discovered.
He was one of those men who, after emi-
grating from Poland, returned to his oppressed
country with impossible plans, only to suffer as
a victim of Russian policy. The end of his
journey was Kaminietz, in Podolia, where he
gave himself out as a Frenchman who had come
to give private lessons in foreign languages, and
received the usual permit from the authorities
without exciting any suspicion. He was soon
introduced into the best society; and the better
to shield his connections, he chose the houses of
Russian employes, where he suffered tortures
from the remarks he heard made upbn his
insulted countrymen. His security rested much
upon his not being supposed to understand the
Polish language; and, during the nine months
that he remained, he obtained such command
over himself, that the police had not the
slightest suspicion of his being a Pole: the
warning voice came from St Petersburg, through
the spies in Paris.
Early one winter's morning he was roughly
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA. 73
shaken out of slumber by the director of police,
and carried before the governor of the province,
who had come specially on this errand. His
position was represented to him as one of the
greatest danger, and he was recommended to
make a full confession. This for many days he
refused to do, until a large number of those who
were his accomplices were brought before him;
and their weary, anxious faces induced him to
exclaim loudly, and in his native tongue.: "Yes,
I am a Pole, and have returned because I could
not bear exile from my native land any longer;
here I wished to live inoffensive and quiet,
confiding my secret to a few countrymen; and
I have nothing more to say." The governor's
eyes sparkled; he was delighted that the diffi-
culty was over; and an immediate order was
made out for the culprit's departure to Kief.
His sufferings were frightful, and were not
lessened when they stopped at a hut, where
some rusty chains were brought out, the rings
of which were thrust over his ankles: they
proved much too small, and the rust prevented
the bars from turning in the sockets, so that
the pain was insupportable. He was rudely
carried and thrown into the carriage, and thus
arrived in an almost insensible condition at the
terrible fortress of Kief.
After many months' miserable detention in
this prison, which we pass over to dwell more
particularly on his escape, he was sentenced to
74 AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
death, which was commuted to hard labour in
Siberia for life; degraded from his rank as a
noble, and ordered to make the journey in
chains. As soon as this was read to him, he
was taken to a chaise, with three horses, which
stood at the door; irons were put on, and he
was placed between two armed soldiers; the
gates of the fortress were shut, and the road to
Siberia was before him. Many more afflicted
ones than himself were passed: none but the
nobility have the privilege of riding; the com-
monalty are sent in convoys of from one to
three hundred, and to walk to their destina-
tion occupies from one to two years. Two
are chained together, and one cannot move in
his sleep without awakening the other, and
causing great pain. About ten thousand are
sent every year-yet the people on the road
are compassionate and sympathising: the
women give cakes, dried fish, or fruit. A
person came up to M. Piotrowski, and timidly
offered him a small packet, saying: "Pray,
accept this from me." The packet contained
bread, salt, and money.
Night and day the journey continued, with
the utmost rapidity, for about a month, when,
in the middle of the night, they stopped at the
fortress of Omsk, where he was placed for a few
hours with a young officer who had committed
some breach of discipline. They talked inces-
santly until the morning, so great was the
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA. 75
pleasure of meeting with an educated com-
panion. A map of Siberia was in the room,
which Piotrowski examined with feverish
interest. "Ah!" said his companion, "are
you meditating flight ? Pray do not think of
it: many of your fellow-countrymen have
tried it; and, tracked on all sides, tortured
with hunger, and wild with despair, have
resorted to suicide, to save themselves from the
consequences of the knout and a life of misery."
At midday he was brought before Prince
Gortschakoff, and the critical moment of his
fate arrived: he might either be sent to some
of the government factories in the neighbour-
hood, or to the mines underground. An hour
passed in cruel suspense whilst this was debated.
At length one of the council announced to
him that he was to be sent to the distillery of
Ekaterininski, three hundred miles to the north
of Omsk. The clerks around congratulated
him on his destination; and his departure was
immediate. On a wintry morning he reached
a vast plain near the river Irtish, on which a
wretched village of about two hundred wooden
huts was built, around a factory. When intro-
duced into the clerks' office, a young man who
was writing jumped up and threw himself into
his arms: he also was a Pole from Cracow, a
well-known poet, and sent away for life as "a
measure of precaution." Soon they were joined
by another political criminal: these spoke
76 AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
rapidly and with extreme emotion, entreating
their new friend to bear everything in the most
submissive and patient manner, as the only
means of escaping from menial employment,
and being promoted to the clerks' office. Not
long was he permitted to rest; a convict, branded
on his forehead and cheeks, the superintendent
of the others, came and ordered him to take a
broomiand sweep away a mass of dirt that some
masons had left: a murder a-, laii companion;
and thus he went on un.,-ig-lhtfll, when his
two friends were permitted to visit him, in the
presence of the soldiers and convicts, most of
the latter of whom had been guilty of frightful
crimes. Thus day after day passed on, in
sweeping, carrying wood and water, amid snow
and frost; sad, painful memories, on which it
is useless to dwell; the barracks a scene of
drunkenness at night, and his companions the
worst of mankind. His good conduct brought
him in a year and a half to the office, where he
received ten francs a month, and the work was
light. During this time, he saw and conversed
with many farmers and travellers from a dis-
tance, and gained every information about the
roads and rivers, with a view to the escape he
was ever meditating. The natives unite with the
soldiers in exercising an incessant supervision
over the hundreds of escaping convicts, and a
common saying among the Tartars is: "In
killing a squirrel you get but one skin, whilst
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA. 77
a convict has three-his coat, his shirt, and
Slowly and painfully he collected the
materials for his journey. First of all, a pass-
port was an essential. A convict who had
been sentenced for making false money, still
possessed an excellent stamp of the royal arms;
this Piotrowski bought for a few francs. The
sheet of paper was easily obtained in the office,
and the passport forged. After long waiting,
he procured a Siberian wig-that is, a sheep-
skin with the wool turned in, to preserve the
head from the cold-three shirts, a sheepskin
bournouse, and a red velvet cap bordered with
fur-the dress of a well-to-do peasant. On a
sharp frosty night he quitted Ekaterininski
for Tara, having determined to try the road
to the north for Archangel, as the least fre-
quented. A large fair was shortly to be held
at Irbit, at the foot of the Urals, and he hoped
to hide himself in the vast crowd of people
that frequented it. Soon after he had crossed
the river, a sledge was heard behind him; he
trembled for his safety-his pursuers were
Where are you going ?" shouted the peasant
who drove it.
Give me ten sous, and I will take you."
"No; it is too much. I will give eight."
"Well, so let it be. Jump in quickly."
78 AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
He was set down in the street; and knocking
at a house, inquired in the Russian fashion:
"Have you horses to hire ?"
"Yes-a pair. Where to ?"
To Irbit. I am a commercial traveller, and
going to meet my master. I am behind my
time, and wish to go as quickly as possible."
No sooner had they set off than a snow-storm
came on, and the driver lost his way. They
wandered about all night in the forest, and
it is impossible to describe the anguish and
suffering Piotrowski endured.
"Return to Tara," said he, as the day broke :
"I will engage another sledge; and you need
not expect any money from me, after the folly
you have shown in losing your way."
They turned, but had hardly gone a mile
before the driver jumped up, looked around,
and cried: "This is our road." Then making
up for lost time, he set him down at a friend's
house, where he procured some tea and fresh
horses. On he went in safety, renewing his
horses at small expense, until late at night,
when he suffered from a most unfortunate
robbery. He had not money at hand to pay
the conductor. They turned into a public-
house, where a crowd of drunken people were
celebrating the carnival. He drew out some
paper-money to get change, when the crowd
coming round, some one seized his papers,
among which were about thirty francs, his
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA. 79
invaluable passport, and a note in which he
had minutely inscribed all the towns and
villages he must pass through on the road to
Archangel. He was in despair. The very
first day, a quarter of his money was gone, and
the only thing by which he hoped to evade
suspicion, his passport. He dare not appeal to
the police, and was obliged to submit.
Regret and hesitation was not to be thought
of; rapid travelling is common in Siberia, and
he soon found himself on the highroad to Irbit,
crowded with an innumerable mass of sledges,
going or returning to the fair, filled with mer-
chandise and peasants, who guide their agile
horses with unparalleled skill. It is the season
of gain and good-humour; and the people show
it by unbounded gaiety. Piotrowski took cour-
age, and returned the salutations of the passers-
by-for how could he be distinguished in such
a crowd? The gates of Irbit were reached on
the third day. "Halt, and show your pass-
port," cried an official; but added in a whisper:
"Give me twenty kopecks, and pass quickly."
The demand was willingly gratified, and with
some difficulty he procured a night's lodging,
lying on the floor amidst a crowd of peasants,
who had previously supped on raddish-soup,
dried fish, oatmeal gruel, with oil and pickled
Up at daybreak, he took care to make the
orthodox salutations before the holy images
80 AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
which are found in the corner of every Russian
dwelling; and passing rapidly through the
crowded town, he walked out at the opposite
gate, for, henceforward, his scanty funds de-
manded that the journey should be made on
foot. In the midst of heavily falling snow,
he managed to keep the track, avoiding the
villages, and, when hungry, drawing a piece of
frozen bread from his bag. At nightfall, he
buried himself in the forest, hollowed a deep
hole in the snow, and found a hard but warm
bed, where he gained the repose he so greatly
needed. Another hard day, with a dry cutting
wind, forced him to ask for shelter at night in
a cottage, which was granted without hesita-
tion. He described himself as a workman,
going to the iron-foundries at Bohotole, on the
Ural Mountains. Whilst the supper was pre-
paring, he dried his clothes, and stretched
himself on a bench with inexpressible satisfac-
tion. He fancied he had neglected no precau-
tions; his prayers and salutations had been
made; and yet suspicion was awakened, as it
appeared, by the sight of his three shirts, which
no peasant possesses. Three men entered, and
roughly shook him from sleep, demanding his
By what right do you ask for it ? Are you
No; but we are inhabitants of the village."
"And can you enter houses, and ask for pass-
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA. 81
ports ? Who can say whether you do not mean
to rob me of my papers? But my answer is
ready. I am Lavrenti Kouzmine, going to
Bohotole; and it is not the first time I have
passed through the country."
He then entered into details of the road and
the fair at Irbit, ending by showing his per-
mission to pass, which, as it bore a stamp,
satisfied these ignorant men.
"Forgive us," said they: "we thought you
were an escaped convict; some of them pass
Henceforward, he dared not seek the shelter
of a house: from the middle of February to the
beginning of April, in the midst of one of the
severest winters ever known, his couch was
in the snow. Frozen bread was his food for
days together, and the absence of warm food
brought him face to face with the terrible
spectres of cold and hunger. The Urals were
reached, and he began to climb their wooded
heights. On passing through a little village at
nightfall, a voice cried: "Who is there ?"
"Well, would you like to come and sleep
"May God recompense you, yes; if it will
not inconvenience you."
An aged couple lived there; good people,
who prepared a meagre repast, which seemed a
feast to Piotrowski; the greatest comfort of all
82 AN ESCAPE ROM SIBERIA.
being that he could ta e off his clothes. They
gave him a fa t, and would not accept
any remuneration bt his warm and cordial
thanks. In the evening, he met with a convoy
of yamstchiks, or drivers, who were returning
from the fair with tlirty sledges-of goods, each
drawn by one horse, and guided by seven
yamstchiks. Their skill in descending the
mighty slopes of the mountain is wonderful;
the road is narrow, and bordered by walls of
snow so high, that men and horses completely
disappear in them. When two convoys meet,
the smaller turns out of the road, and buries
itself until only the horses' ears are visible.
This strange evolution finished, the men
belonging to both assist in drawing horses and
vehicles out; but many dead bodies of the
former strew the roadside, the fatigues are so
One evening, our poor friend's life was nearly
extinct; the way was lost, the hail pierced his
skin, his supply of bread was exhausted, and
after vainly dragging his weary limbs, he fell
into a kind of sleep. A loud voice roused
him: "What are you doing here ?"
I am making a pilgrimage to the monastery
of Solovetsk, but the storm prevented my
seeing the track, and I have not eaten for
"It is not surprising; we who live on the
spot often wander away. There, drink that."
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA. 83
The speaker gave him a bottle containing
some brandy, which burned him so fearfully,
that in his pain he danced about.
"Now, try to calm yourself," said the good
Samaritan, giving him some bread and dried
fish, which Piotrowski ate ravenously, saying:
"I thank you with all my heart: may God
bless you for your goodness."
"Ah, well, do not say so much; we are both
Christians. Now, try to walk a little."
He was a trapper; and led him into the
right path, pointing out a village inn where he
could get rest and refreshment. Piotrowski
managed to crawl to the place, and then fainted
away. When he recovered himself, he asked
for radish-soup, but could not swallow it; and
towards noon he fell asleep on the bench, never
awaking until the same time on the next day,
when the host roused him. Sleep, rest, and
warmth restored the weary traveller, who again
started on his long pilgrimage.
The town of Veliki-Ustiug was reached,
where he determined to change his character
and become a pilgrim, going to pray to the
holy images of Solovetsk, on the White Sea.
There are four of these holy places to which
pious Russians resort, and everywhere the
wayfarers are well received; hospitality and
alms being freely dispensed to those who are
going to pray for the peace of the donor.
Passports are not rigorously exacted, and he
84 AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
hoped to join himself to a company, trusting to
be less marked than if alone. As he was
standing irresolute in the market-place, a
young man accosted him, and finding that they
were bound to the same place, invited him to
join their party. There were about twenty;
but no less than two thousand were in the city
on their way, waiting until the thaw should
have opened the Dwina for the rafts and boats
which would transport them to Archangel, and
then to Solovetsk. It was a scene for Chaucer:
the sincere ascetic detached from this world;
the half-idiot, who sought to be a saint; the
knave who played upon the charity of others;
and the clever hypocrite. The rafts are loaded
with corn, and the pilgrims receive a free
passage; or a small sum of money is given
them if they consent to row ; from forty to
sixty sailors being required for each, the oars
consisting of a thin fir'tree. Piotrowski was
only too happy to increase his small store of
money by working. At the break of day,
before starting, the captain cried: "Seat
"yourselves, and pray to God." Every one
squatted down like a Mussulman for a moment,
then rose and made a number of salutations
and crossings: and next, down to the poorest,
each threw a small piece of money into the
river, to secure a propitious voyage.
Fifteen days passed, during which Piotrowski
learned to be an expert oarsman: then the
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA. 85
golden spires of Archangel rose before them;
a cry of joy was uttered by all; and the rowers
broke off the lower part of their oars with a
frightful crash: such is the universal custom.
It was a heartfelt prayer of gratitude that
Piotrowski raised to God for having brought
him thus far in safety. How pleasant was the
sight of the ships, with their flags of a thou-
sand colours, after the snow and eternal forests
of the Urals But there was again disappoint-
ment; he wandered along the piers, but could
not find a single vessel bound for France or
Germany, and not daring to enter the ca-fes,
where perhaps the captains might have been,
he left Archangel in sadness, determined to
skirt the coast towards Onega. He would thus
pass the celebrated monastery without the
necessity of stopping, and pretend that he was
proceeding to Novgorod and Moscow on the
same pious pilgrimage.
Through marshes and blighted fir-plantations
the weary wayfarer sped, the White Sea rising
frequently into storms of the utmost grandeur;
but the season was lovely, and the sun warm,
so that camping out offered less hardship: the
wolves howled around him, but happily he
never saw them. Many soldiers, who were
Poles, were established at different points, to
take charge of the canals. He often listened
to their sad complaints, and once remarked to
one: "But they do not beat you much ?"
86 AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
"How? Not beat us!" was the answer,
accompanied by a bitter laugh. Do you think
the czar lets us eat his bread gratuitously ?"
Another sad spectacle were the convoys of
Jewish children, who are taken away from their
homes in Poland at the age of ten or twelve,
carried to Archangel, to bring up as soldiers or
sailors, and taught to forget the religion and
customs of their fathers. It was heartrending
to see these poor children, their heads shaved,
driven before the rough soldiers, and dying on
the road of hunger and cold.
Having reached Vytegra, he was accosted on
the shore by a peasant who asked where he was
going. On hearing his story, he said: "You
are the man I want. I am going to St Peters-
burg. My boat is small, and you can assist me
The crafty fellow evidently intended to profit
by the pilgrim's arms without wages; but, after
long debate, he agreed to supply Piotrowski
with food during the transport. It seemed
strange, indeed, to go to the capital-like
running into the jaws of the lion-but he
seized every occasion to pass on, lest his papers
should be asked for. As they coasted down
through Lake Ladoga and the Neva, they took
in some women as passengers, who were servants,
and had been home to see their parents. One
of them, an aged washerwoman, was so teased
by the others, that Piotrowski took her part,
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA. 87
and in return she offered him some very useful
My daughter," she said, "will come to
meet me, and she will find you a suitable
It will be guessed with what joy he accepted
the proposal; and during all the time spent in
the boat, no one came to ask for the passports.
The house she took him to was sufficiently
miserable; as the Russians say: "It was the
bare ground, with the wrist for a pillow." He
asked his hostess if he must see the police to
arrange the business of his passport.
"No," she said; "if you only stay a few
days, it is useless; they have become so exact-
ing, that they would require me to accompany
you, and my time is too precious."
As he passed along the quays, looking for a
ship, his eyes rested on one to sail for Riga on
the following morning. He could scarcely
master his emotion. The pilot on board called
out: "If you want a place to Riga, come
"I certainly want one; but I am too poor a
man to sail in a steamer: it would cost too
He named a very small sum, and said:
"Come; why do you hesitate ?"
"I only arrived yesterday, and the police
have not seen my passport."
"That will occupy three days: go without
88 AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
showing it to the police. Be here at seven
o'clock, and wait for me."
Both were to their time. The sailor said:
"Give me some money," and handed him a
yellow paper; the clock struck; the barrier
/was opened; and, like a dream, he was safely
on the ocean.
The journey 'to Riga, through Courland and
Lithuania, need not be dwelt upon; the diffi-
culty of crossing the Russian frontier into
Prussia was still to be managed. He chose the
daytime; and when the sentinels had each
turned their backs, he jumped over the wall of
the first of the three glacis. No noise was
heard. The second was tried, and the firing
of pistols showed that he was perceived; he
rushed on to the third, and, breathless and
exhausted, gained a little wood, where for
many hours he remained concealed: He was in
Prussia. Wandering on through Memel, Tilsit,
and K6nigsberg, he decided at the last place to
take a ship the next morning to Elbing, where
he would be near to Posen, and among his com-
patriots. Sitting down on a heap of stones, he
intended taking refuge for the night in a corn-
field; but sleep overcame him, and he was
rudely awakened in the darkness by a police-
man. His stammering and confused replies
awakened suspicion, and, to his shame and
grief, he was carried off to prison. He announced
himself as a French cotton-spinner, but return-
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA. 89
ing from Russia, and without passport. Not a
word he said was believed. At length, after a
month's detention, weary of being considered a
concealed malefactor, he asked to speak to M.
Fleury, a French advocate, who assisted at his
trial. To him he confessed the whole truth.
Nothing could equal his advocate's consterna-
tion and astonishment.
"What a misfortune!" he said; "we must
give you up to the Russians; they have just
sent many of your countrymen across the
frontier. There is but one way: write to
Count Eulenberg; tell your story, and trust to
After ten days, he received a vague reply,
desiring him to have patience. The affair got
wind in the town, and a gentleman came to
him, asking if he would accept him as bail.
Efforts had been made in his favour, and the
police were ready to set him free. M. Kamke,
his kind friend, took him home, and entertained
him for a week ; but an order came from Berlin
to send the prisoner back to Russia, and he
received warning in time to escape. Letters to
various friends on the way were given him, to
facilitate his journey; and just four years after
he had left Paris, he reached it in safety again,
after having crossed the Urals, slept for months
in the snow, jumped over the Russian frontier
in the midst of balls, and passed through so
many sufferings and privations.
HILDA was very busy indeed. She sat on her
stool at the window with her French book in
her hand, and a dictionary on her lap, studying
hard. She allowed nothing to distract her
attention. The kitten could not understand
what was the matter. It put up its little paw
and patted her, and mewed, and then scampered
off, and came back again, rubbing its dark face
against her knee; but it was of no use, and
Puss had to roll itself up, and sing its sleepy
song at its young mistress's feet. At last, Hilda
jumped up, and clapping her hands, ran to a
lady who was sitting at the other end of the
room writing. I can say it now, mamma," she
cried. "I have found out every word, and
can't think how it was so difficult yesterday."
The lady, whose name was Mrs Mowbray,
smiled and took the book, whilst Hilda first
repeated a short French fable, and then
HILDA'S SECRET. 91
translated it into English. "You are a dear
good child," said her mamma, when she had
finished. "You do not know how much I love
you when I see you so industrious and anxious
to please me: I, too, am anxious to please my
little, dutiful child. I will take you with me
in the carriage to-day wherever you choose.
Tell me where shall it be ?"
Hilda thought for a little, and then said,
"" Well, mamma, if a fairy were to come and say,
'Hilda, you are a good girl, and I will give
you what you most wish for,' I should answer,
Thank you, Mrs Fairy; take me, if you please,
to the Pantheon Bazaar, and give me whatever
I choose to ask.'"
"Whatever you choose to ask!" said her
mamma, laughing. "Why, then, Miss Hilda,
I suppose you would wish every pretty thing
"0 "No, no, mamma," answered Hilda gravely.
"I am not greedy or covetous; I only meant
one thing-any one thing, you know."
Oh, that is very different: I think I may
manage to afford that. Ring the bell, dear,
and then make haste to get dressed, as you
generally take so long."
Hilda joyfully hurried away, and with the
assistance of her maid was very soon ready.
The day was beautiful, the carriage was
comfortable, mamma was pleased, and Hilda
was happy, so that everything went on well.
92 HILDA'S SECRET.
They first drove round the park, and as it was
in the height of the season, Hilda was very
much amused by seeing so many different
carriages and such a number of beautiful ladies.
Then they left the park, and driving down
Oxford Street, soon reached the bazaar.
Although there were many beautiful things to
choose from, Hilda had no difficulty in fixing.
Her mind had been made up long ago, and she
had been only waiting for an opportunity of
darting upon poor papa some day when he
appeared capable of being melted. She led
her mamma to a stall near the door which
generally attracts the notice of little girls.
It was covered with the most' beautiful wax
dolls of all sizes and descriptions. The one
which Hilda's heart especially warmed to was
the Princess-Royal in a glass case.
"Is it not lovely, mamma ?" she whispered.
"See, it is just like a baby: it has real hair on
its head, and real eyelashes and eyebrows; and
just look at the dimples in its beautiful
"It's a real model, miss," said the person
who kept the stall: "it's the most perfect thing
of its kind that has ever been made." "-'
"What is the price?" said mamma, who
began to be afraid.
"One guinea, ma'am, without its clothes;
twenty-six shillings if dressed."
One guinea was a great deal of money,
HILDA'S SECRET. 93
mamma thought; but Hilda had really been a
very good child lately, and mamma had been
long thinking of giving her a present, so she
decided that Hilda should have it. "I will
have this doll," she said to the stall-keeper,
who had been watching her face as anxiously
as Hilda. "Put it up carefully, and take it to
my carriage if you please." Hilda was inex-
pressibly delighted, and pressed her mamma's
hand gratefully. "I am now going to call
upon Lady Harewood in Cavendish Square,"
Mrs Mowbray said. "You will find, a youth
friend there, for Selina is home from school at
"Oh, that will be delightful, mamma; it is
so long since I have seen Selina, and she is
such a clever, funny girl." To Cavendish
Square they drove. Lady Harewood and Mrs
Mowbray had not seen each other for some
time, so that they had a great deal to talk
about. Selina accordingly drew Hilda away to
her own little boudoir, and they were soon
occupied in talking too.
What book were you reading, Selina, when
we came in ?" asked Hilda.
"Ot. it is such a delightful book," Selina
answered. "I have finished it now, and was
only reading one of the stories over again. It
is called German Mysteries, and is full
of all kinds of horrors-ghost. stories par-
94 HILDA'S SECRET.
Ghost stories How I should like to read
it!" cried Hilda.
"I will lend it to you, dear, if you like."
"But I am not sure, Selina, if mamma would
like me to read it: she never would let my
maid tell me any ghost stories, although I have
always wished to hear them more than I can
"But you need not tell your mamma, you
know, Hilda. If you don't show it, nobody will
"But, Selina, I never have any secrets from
mamma," said Hilda hesitatingly.
"Is it possible you are such a baby ?" cried
Selina, laughing. "Why, you are nearly eleven
years old; but any one would think you were
about three and a half. Oh, my dear girl, you
have no idea of the secrets I have had in my life.
At school, the scrapes I got into when things
were found out-- Oh, you never knew any-
thing like them In my room, where the best
girls slept, we used to have suppers every night
-fires, too, in the winter, and everything
comfortable. We often had books, too, from
the library, and"-
"But were you never found out, Selina-?"
"Oh, yes-once; but we promised never to
do so again; and no more we did, till Helen
Ames persuaded us to begin again. But, one
night, as ill-luck would have it, Helen let a
dish fall, and it made such a noise, that Miss
HILDA'S SECRET. 95
Swift came flying upstairs to see what was the
matter. Helen was very impertinent, and said
she didn't care a bit, and so she was expelled.
Oh, she was a girl indeed! Since she left us,
we have had no fun at all."
Of course Hilda was very anxious to hear
more about school-life; and Selina, who was
delighted to have so interested an auditor, told
her everything she could think of, mixing
plenty of fancy with fact. At last Mrs
Mowbray rose to go away, and Selina stuffed
the book hastily into Hilda's pocket. "We shall
be sure to call next week," she said, "and then
I can get it, you know. In the meantime, be
sure you don't let your mamma see it, as she
would tell my mamma, and then there would
be such a business !" Hilda was rather fright-
ened, but she gave the required promise, and I
am sorry to say she rather liked the business
on the whole. The fact was, she had long
been desiring to have a secret to keep, and one
of her own if possible. She had two cousins,
a good deal older than herself, who generally
spent a few weeks every Christmas with her.
Now when Amy and Agnes came, they were
continually talking together confidentially;
and if their little cousin happened to be in
the room, they retired to another part of it,
and whispered. Of course Hilda did not like
this exclusiveness; but when she used to
ask them what they were speaking about,
96 HILDA'S SECRET.
they used always to answer, "We are talking
secrets, Hilda. We can't tell little girls like
you what we are saying. You could not keep
a secret, you know." Therefore Hilda had
always longed to have a, secret of her own.
She felt it would make her a person of
When Hilda reached home, she immediately
flew to her own little room, and taking the
book from her pocket, began eagerly to read
it. It was a very improper one, indeed, for
her or any other young person, being full
of stories which would have terrified a much
wiser person than Hilda. Hilda had never in
her whole life had an idea of such fearful
things. She was quite paralysed with horror,
and was now of course more afraid than ever
of her mamma seeing the book, knowing how
very much she would disapprove of it. Then
a new fear occurred to her-where should she
conceal it ? She had neither lock nor key to
any of her boxes or drawers, and she knew that
her mamma frequently came to see if all her
things were tidily put away. The only thing to
do was always to keep it about her person ; but
as it was not a very small book, that would be, to
say the least of it, inconvenient. Hilda began
to find out that to have a secret was not so
agreeable after all. For the first time in her
life she was afraid to sleep alone. The moon,
which was shining full upon her bed, was for