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purpose of being spoken.

The letter between her master's fingers is
from Clemence ; it tells in simple words that
Madame de Yos is better, but that she needs
change of air and scene, and that Clemence
wishes to bring her grandmother home to the
'' Ours d'Or."

In his heart, Monsieur de Yos feels the
truth of his old servant's words, that Madame
de Yos has always ill-treated Clemence, and
that there will be strife if she comes back ;
but Auguste de Yos is too dutiful a son to
permit Elodie's tongue this licence, and
he has told her sternly to mind her own
business.

** It is my business," muttered the cook ;
** but it ought to be yours."

He stops at last in his walk, and comes up
to Elodie.

*' They will be here to-morrow," he says :
'* you had better see that their rooms are
ready."

'' Monsieur," Elodie's face looks as wooden
as one of the painted figures in the courtyard
— ** I love you and mam'selle, but I cannot



236 CL^MENCE.

obey a new mistress ; you must then engage
a new cook for the Ours d'Or."

**Elodie," the master's face is as set as
the maid's, **you are good, but you are also
imbecile in what you say. Bo you not
know that you could not live away from
Mam'selle Clemence ? Do you not know
also that any other soup than yours would
give me indigestion ? There, it is ended ; I
will not hear another syllable."

Monsieur de Yos probably thinks it best
not to trust to his cook's self-control, for he
walks quickly up the arched entrance-way,
and stands looking out over the little Place.

Clemence does not complain in her letter
to her father, and yet the tone of it troubles
him. Like many another silent man, seem-
ingly self-absorbed and indifferent, Augustus
de Vos is keenly sensitive to tlie joys and
sorrows of those he loves ; his sympathy with
Clemence is so perfect that he knows already
that her visit to Bruges has been unhappy,
but he is not going to question her.

'^ She will tell me what I ought to know,"
he said. ^' Clemence is good ; but she has a
gift that is rarer among women than goodness



CLEMENCE. lyj

— she knows when to speak, and when to be
silent.'*

But when she came, though Clemence was
silent. Monsieur de Yos was soon informed of
the disunion in the Scherer household.

Madame de Yos had not recovered the use
of her left hand ; but she was no longer bed-
ridden, and her tongue wagged quite as freely
as ever.

She told her son that she was quite sure
Eosalie's ill-temper and jealousy had driven
Clemence away from Bruges.

Monsieur de Yos felt indignant ; that his
good, patient child, after all she had suffered,
should be ill-treated by anyone, was hard to
bear; but unkindness from Eosalie, for whom
Clemence had given up the happiness of her
young life, seemed to the tender father the
highest pitch of ingratitude.

^^And Louis, my mother, how does he
behave ? "

*^ I have no quarrel with Louis ; he is per-
haps not at home so much as he used to be,
but what will you, Auguste ? If a woman is
jealous and finds fault, you cannot expect a
man to be always patient."



238 CLEMENCE.

** When people love each other so madly
that it is necessary to set others aside that just
these two may marry, my mother — it seems
to me," — here Monsieur de Yos became con-
scious of his frowning brows and irate voice,
and smoothed himself into a more dutiful
aspect, — '* it seems to me that such a pair
should be more than usually loving and
happy. But it is true, in this as in other
things, ill-gotten goods never prosper."

Madame de Vos put her handkerchief to
her small round eyes*. She was not crying ;
but it seemed to her that her son's words were
personal, and it behoved her to resent them.

** You forget that I approved of the mar-
riage, Auguste,. andi it is impossible with my
experience that I could mistake. Louis
was much more suited to Kosalie than to
Clemence."

''I agree with you, my mother;" and
this ended the discussion, but not the anger
of Monsieur de Vos.



CL^MENCE. 239



V.

"MEANTIME at Bruges the sad discord had
increased. Till her illness, Madame de
Vos had taken all housekeeping matters off
Rosalie's hands ; and now that she had no
one even to consult, the young wife found her
task too irksome. Her sharp temper made
her servants dissatisfied and unwilling, and
Louis Scherer complained bitterly of the dis-
comfort of his home.

*^ If thou wouldst stay indoors, Eosalie,
and mind the house and the children, instead
of parading like a peacock on the Kauter,
chattering to popinjays, one might get a
dinner or a supper one could eat."

At this Rosalie flew out in rebellion. She
had been brought up to be waited on. She
had never done servants' work, and she was
not going to begin.

*'And about the Kauter," she said, pas-
sionately, "it is too bad. I may speak to
Captain Delabre, or I may not ; but I go to



240 CLEMENCE.

the Kauter to hear the band play, not to
seek him. It is quite different from thee, who
goest out every evening to talk to Eugenie
Legros."

Louis shrugged his shoulders.

'*Ma foi," he said, wearily, '^ I am grow-
ing tired of this, Kosalie. Thou art always
angry when I go to see Legros ; but it has
never occurred to me, when I go to smoke a
pipe with him, that I might also talk to his
daughter. At thy suggestion I will try, per-
haps. Au revoir. I advise thee to cultivate
good temper."

But Louis Scherer did not go as usual to
see his old friend. Eosalie's temper had
never struck him so unfavourably as it did
to-night. She had grumbled incessantly, but
she had never spoken so openly. Eosalie had
parted angrily from her sister, and had told
Clemenee it was her visit that had stirred up
strife ; and, though this was not true in the
sense which the poor jealous girl meant,
it was true that Louis had become more
aware of his wife's ungentleness by means of
the contrast she offered to Clemenee. Kosalie
had grown into a way of upj^raidin^ her hus-



CLE MEN CE. 241

band for everything he did, and yet she felt
aggrieved by his want of tenderness. Louis
Scherer, on this evening, did not even give
himself the enjoyment of his pipe. He was
deeply, thoroughly unhappy.

** And women's tempers do not improve
with age," he thought. " Who could have
guessed a sweet, blooming girl like Kosalie
could change into such fretfulness ? "

He paced up and down beside the canal.
Lights in the distance twinkled among the
trees, and glittered faintly on the water.
Some people had stopped on the nearest
bridge, and were laughing merrily.

**Why do I endure this existence?" he
said, moodily. *' My cousin Jacques, at
Brussels, has often said he would gladly ex-
change his clerkship for mine. I have enough
for myself and for Eosalie. It is hard to
leave the children, but it is better to leave
them for a time ; at least, anything is better
than this constant strife. I will not submit
to it. I will tell Eosalie my intention ; then
the next time she finds fault with me, I will
write to Jacques."

Louis Scherer was good-tempered, and

VOL. I. R



242 CL±MENCE.

soft, and weak ; but he was selfish. It did
not occur to him that in himself lay a means
of softening and helping the irritable temper
his cold, insouciant manner fretted. He only
represented to himself that Eosalie was not
the girl he had married. He had more to
vex him than she had, and yet he never
began a quarrel, though she was so vain in
manner and extravagant in dress.

*' There is no doubt," said Monsieur
Scherer, as he walked slowly back to his
own door, " that I am an exceedingly ill-used
husband." His next remark was not so
true. **But it is my own fault, for taking
things so quietly. I will end the whole
affair."

He went home, and found Eosalie sitting
where he had left her. She had really

been crying bitterly ; but she would not let

Louis guess this, and when he announced

his determination, she listened in silence.

Louis waited, but she did not speak ;

and he turned away, and went to see

Legros.

Eosalie began to cry afresh. There was

a tap at the door, and Captain Delabre came



CLEMENCE. 243

in. He was a fine-looking man, much taller
than Louis Scherer, with a bold, swaggering
air.

He seemed disturbed when he saw Madame
Scherer crymg.

'"• Madame is in sorrow," he said, im-
pressively ; and he sighed.

It appeared to Eosalie that she had not
fully realised her husband's unkindness till
now. Louis, to whom she had given her-
self and her love, had actually threatened
to desert her ; and here was this grand
gentleman — a grade higher in the army than
Louis had ever been — troubled at even the
sight of her grief.

Her heart felt bursting ; it relieved itself
in a fresh flow of sobs and tears.

The captain looked still more tender and
sympathetic. He felt that he should like
to '* punch the head " of Louis Scherer.

*^ Pardon me, madame ; may I not ask
what is your sorrow ? "

Kosalie's sobs grew less frequent.

** No, monsieur, it is not possible to tell
you." A little quivering sob came ; but she
wiped her eyes, and felt ashamed of her wet



244 CLEMENCE.

face. *' Ah, monsieur, I am the most miser-
able woman in the world."

** Ma foi, madame, do not say so ; it
makes me too sad to hear this. But can I
not make you happier ? "

The Captain's voice was very soothing in
its tenderness.

*' Ah ! if Louis would only speak to me
like that," she thought. *' No, monsieur, no
one can make me happy. My husband is
angry with me, and I — I — " here her sobs
began again.

Captain Delabre took Madame Scherer's
hand..

*^ The man who can cause grief to so fair

and angel-like a being " and then he

stopped abruptly. The door had opened.
Louis Scherer stood frowning on the thres-
hold.

Captain Delabre did not let go the hand
he held. He rose with admirable coolness.

'^ Bon soir, madame," he said. '^ I am
so pleased to hear better news of Madame
de Vos. Ah ! Scherer, where did you
spring from ? If I were not pressed for
time, I would stay and smoke a pipe with



CLEMENCE. 245

you; but, as it is, au revoir ; " and he was
gone before Scherer could recover him-
self.

Eosalie's eyes were dry at once. She
looked angrily at her husband, but her heart
was full of fear.

'' So this is the way thou spendest the
lonely evenings I hear so much of." Louis
had come forward, and he stood facing his
wife.

In reality, this was only the second
visit of Captain Delabre ; but Rosalie felt
too much outraged by her husband's sus-
picion to answer him quietly. She got
up and faced him, pale and trembling with
anger.

** Silence, Louis, this is too much. ' For
six months, at least, thou hast left me every
evening ; and am I to have no society or
sympathy ? Even on the day of the fete,
because I spoke to some of my friends,
thou wert angry, and I had to get home as
I could."

Louis had recovered his self-possession.
He spoke in a calm, stern voice, which
frightened his wife.



246 CLEMENCE.

** Thou art unwise to recall that day,
Eosalie. In all this cold estrangement
which has come between us, I have tried
to avoid reproaches, perhaps because I am
so weary of thine ; but I was not blind at
the fete. I saw thy vanity and folly, and
not only with Delabre. If I left the fete
alone, it was not till thou hadst twice refused
to come with me. On that day, Eosalie,
the choice was with thee between me and
thy vanity ; now I choose between thee and
peace. It is not possible to believe that I
am necessary to the happiness of a vain,
inconstant woman."

At first she had softened, but the last
words brought back all her pride.

*'It is too wicked," she said, passionately,
speaking more to herself than to her hus-
band. '' He is to spend all his time with
others, and I am to be mute and meek,
and not even to listen to a word from
another man. No, indeed, it is true ; thou
art not necessary to my happiness. j
cannot well be less happy than I am with
thee."

*^ It is settled then — we separate ; " but



CLEMENCE. 247

Louis lingered, and kept his ej^es fixed on
the head so scornfully turned away.

Eosalie shrugged her shoulders, and then
she went suddenly out of the room, ran
upstairs to Madame de Vos's bed-chamber^
and locked herself in.



248 CL±MENCE.



VI.

rPHE fat, Tosy-cheeked portress tapped at
the door of the nuns' parlour in the con-
vent of the New Jerusalem.

'*A note for the Sister Marie," she said,
when she had been bidden to come in.

'' For the Sister Marie ? " and then a little
chorus of wonder and gentle joking buzzed
round the quiet, sweet -faced sister, who sat
busily employed in repairing a point-lace
petticoat, which would be wanted for the
^* Month of Mary."

'' The Mother is in her parlour," said the
portress ; and she held the door open with
deep respect. The Sister Marie, in spite of
her humble retiring nature, had somehow in-
spired ail those with whom she lived with a
conviction of her saintliness.

She found the head of the convent reading
in a room, whitewashed, like all the rest, but
richer than the rest in pictures and statuettes,
and other objects of religious art, loving



CLEMENCE. 249

gifts from the pupils educated in the convent.
The Superior looked up from her book. She
had a calm, peaceful face, not so sweet as
that of the Sister Marie, but full of intelli-
gence. She took the note from the sister's
hand and read it.

'' Thou must go to her, my daughter."
She smiled, but she looked troubled too.
^' Thou knowest I had always fears about our
poor Eosalie. I fear this Monsieur Scherer
must be worse than unkind to desert his wife
and children."

*' Bien, ma mere ; " and then the Sister put
on the black veil she w^ore out of doors, and
was soon on her way to the house beside the
canal.

Eosalie's note to the Sister Marie had been
written impulsively in a moment of agonised
remorse at having, as she thought, driven her
husband away from her. In that moment all
her love for Louis had come back. But she
had calmed down from this mood ; and when
Sister Marie kissed her niece tenderly on the
forehead, instead of the despairing penitent
she expected, she saw Eosalie smiling, and
seemingly quite indifferent. But the Sister



2SO CLJSMENCE.

had lived too much among young girls to be
easily deceived.

** Thou art sorrowful, Eosalie." Her niece
blushed under the sweet, direct look of her
truthful eyes. '' What help can I give thee?'*

Eosalie twisted her fingers together. She
felt angry with herself, with the Sister Marie,
and with everyone.

** I do not know," she said fretfully. " I
hardly know now why I wrote ; only it seemed
as if I must tell someone of the great wrong
done me, and I could not let my father know.
He would have said it was my fault, and
so would grandmamma : it is always my fault
with some people."

She tossed her head and laughed.

''When thou wrotest to me, it seemed as
if thou wert sorry for something." Here the
Sister waited a little. *' What has happened,
Eosalie, to make thy husband go away ? "

'* Thou had best ask him ; " but there was
such tender pity in the look that met hers,
that a sudden, unexpected sob came in the
girl's throat. Next minute her head was on
the Sister's shoulder, and she was sobbing as
if her heart would break.



CLEMENCE. 251

*' It's not my fault ; Louis is so cold, so
selfish; he is enough to break any woman's
heart with his cool indifi'erent ways ; and
then because I let others talk to me and
admire me — ever so little — just to sting
him into being more loving — he says I am
given up to vanity and folly, and — and —
he has left me."

The words came out in little broken groups
between her deep-drawn sobs, but Sister Marie
did not interrupt ; she knew that the wound
could not close while any poison lingered
there.

Yet her pure soul was deeply troubled. She
had thought of Eosalie as one of the sinless
lambs of the convent flock, and to Sister
Marie it seemed woeful that her young niece
should even wish for the admiration of any
man beside her husband.

^' It is not my fault?" said Eosalie again ;
and the words sounded like a question.

The good sister smiled.

** My child, the hardest thing to bear in
life is our own blame — we are so lazy, we
always try to make some one else carry it ;
and yet, Rosalie," she spoke more gravely,



252 CLEMENCE.

*'tlie nature of love is to bear all for the
sake of the one beloved, is it not ? "

Eosalie did not understand, but she looked
uneasy.

'' Thou seest, my child " — the Sister Marie
spoke in a cheerful, confiding voice, as if she
were only full of quiet gossip — '' we who
call ourselves Christians have all got to bear
our cross ; is it not so ? We have been shown
the way to bear it, and if we will, we may
strive to follow that way in every footstep ;
but it is useless to put our burden on others ;
each has his own."

Rosalie's head moved restlessly.

** 'There is no use, my aunt, in telling me
al^ this. Even when I was at the convent I
did not care for this sort of talk, and I like it
less. now. I can't understand it. I am not
Clemence. She has no burden, I suppose, or
else she would not be so happy. Ah, there
are people who have not feeling enough to
be unhappy."

She spoke bitterly, and Sister Marie
sighed.

'* I think it is because Clemence carries her
burden willingly that she is able to be so



CLEMENCE. 253

bright and happy. If we think of a hardship,
it grows heavier."

*' But I do bear — see how much I have
borne," Rosahe burst forth impetuously, car-
ried out of her sulky reseiwe by her desire to
justify herself. ''Louis has left me evening
after evening, and I have not complained."

*' But have you been loving to him, Rosa-
lie ? — has he been much in your thoughts ? —
have you shown him that his happiness is
your chief care ?"

Rosalie's blue eyes opened widely and
suddenly. That a quiet, staid religieuse like
her Aunt Marie should sit there instructing
her in the art of loving her husband seemed
almost laughable.

*' Of course I love him"^ — here she gave a
little toss of her frizzed head — "but I
should be wanting in self-respect if I were to
go on being just the same when he takes no
care to make me happy. It is my duty to
tell him of his faults."

Sister Marie smiled.

*'If you and Louis saw each other on
opposite sides of the canal, you could not
clasp hands across it, Rosalie. One of you



254 CLEMENCE,

must cross over the bridge and seek the
other, is it not so ?"

Kosalie grew red with anger.

**My aunt, single women cannot judge for
us who are married. I mean no disrespect,
but I told the same to Clemence. Surely
thou woukVst not have me follow Louis to
Brussels and ask his pardon for what is his
own fault ?"

'^ I would have thee first do this : search
thine own heart — thou knowest what I mean,
Rosalie — and see if all blame rests with
Louis ; and if it does, remember those who
are in the right are more ready to be recon-
ciled than those who are in the wrong. Then
if thou dost not write to thy husband, or go
to seek him, I think thou wilt be unhappy,
and sinful also."

** It is too bad — too bad ! " Rosalie stamped
with vexation at the sight of her aunt's
serious face. ^^ Everyone is so unjust. I am
always to blame."

The Sister Marie did not answer; she
asked after the children, and then she got up
to go away.

** I will come again if thou wishest it, my



CLEMENCE. 255

dear child," she said. '^ I fear I have not
given comfort to-day."

'' At least, I am able to make thee sure of
one thing," said Eosalie ; *' I love Louis.
I may not have told him so, but I feel it all
the same, even when I am the most angry."
Sister Marie smiled again.
^* But then how is he to know it ? I do
not think I should believe in the love of a
person who often spoke angrily to me. Love
must show itself in deeds and words, or it
cannot live. Good-bye, my dear child ! "

And then she kissed Eosalie lovingly, and
went back to the convent of the New Jeru-
salem.

*' A good thing she has gone. I shall not
be in a hurry to send for her again, indeed ;"
and Eosalie dressed herself, and went out for
a walk.

She could not help seeing that her neigh-
bours stared at her. She saw two women
put their heads together and whisper, and
then they looked at her with eyes full of
condemnation.

** Let them," she said haughtily ; and just
hen she came face to face with Captain



256 CLEMENCE.

Delabre. A burning flush rose in her face,,
she returned his greeting, and hurried on so
fast that he could not find a pretext for
speaking.

It was strange. Kosahe knew that her
aunt, the Sister Marie, was only a religieuse —
a woman who, as Louis said, lived a shut-up
secluded life, which deprived her of all power
of judgment, and yet the Sister's words stuck
like burs. Eosalie found herself pondering
them even after she went to bed that night.
What was it she had said of love being shown
in deeds and words ?

**Love — what is this^ love she talks of?"
thought Eosalie, sleepily. *' I love Louis —
is not that enough ? but what can tlie Sister
mean by showing love ? "



CLiMENCE. 257



VII.

TT is a pouring wet morning. Louis Sclie-

rer sits in a cafe before his breakfast, listen-
ing to the drip, drip on the verandah out-
side.

He has as much peace as he desires in his
Brussels life, but he is not happy ; there is a
want at his heart which he never felt in his
bachelor days.

He has just been asking himself this ques-
tion over and over again : Would it not have
been better to have spent some of his even-
ings, at least, with Eosalie ?

'' The gi-eat quarrel between us was about
those visits to Legros," he said: "I might
have tried to be more at home. I wonder
how she takes my absence ; " and then he
thought of Captain Delabre, and he felt
very angry.

His cousin Jacques had not been so much
pleased to see him after all. He had found
Louis a temporary employment, but not so

VOL. I. s



258 CLEMENCE.

congenial a post as that which Monsieur
Seherer held at Bruges.

However, it was time to be at office work,
and Monsieur Seherer stretched himself,
yawned, and departed.

^* A lady has been here," the porter said,
as he passed into the office ; '' she seemed in
a great hurry to see Monsieur, and she left
this address."

A strange kind of expectation came to
Louis Seherer, and he looked at the card and
felt disappointed.

It had simply "• Clemence de Vos," and
the name of a hotel close by.

Louis's hand shook as he put the card in
his pocket. Why had Clemence come ?
what tidings had she brought ? He did not
dare to think ; he hurried on to the hotel.

Clemence came forward, and she held his
hand while she spoke.

** I am come to fetch you home, Louis:
I have bad news."

He could not speak — he only looked
eagerly at her ; there was shame as well as
anxiety in his face.

**It is not Eosalie; she has been ill, but



CL^MENCE. 259

she is better. She would have come ; but,
Louis, she cannot leave home. Loulou is
ill— very ill ! "

'* Tell me, he is not dead?" He spoke
hoarsely; her pale sorrowful face had filled
him with the sudden agony of a new fear.
Was this mad freak of his to end in such a
grief ?

^' No, he was living early this morning,
when I started ; but we must hasten, Louis,
for I fear. It was a sudden attack — a kind
of fit, and the doctor said I must be quick."

Louis followed mechanically, while Cle-
mence led the way to the station ; he even let
her take his ticket while he stood absorbed
in his fast-growing dread.

Perhaps he had not known before how the
child had got twined round his heart, but it
seemed as if a mighty cord were tugging
there, hurrying him to Bruges.

'* Oh, that I had never left him! "

Over and over again came the thought, but
no words. He leaned back beside Clemence ;
he seemed to be listening to all she was say-
ing, but at first he scarcely heard a syllable.

** Eosalie has been very ill," said the soft



26o CLEMENCE.

tender voice, ** oh, so ill, Louis ; and they
heard of her illness at the convent, and sent
for me ; she is not strong yet. Louis, do you
know why she wanted to get strong ? "

The direct question roused him ; he looked
at Clemence.

'' She wanted to go to you to ask you to
come back, Louis ; she is very sorry, and she
has been ill I think from grief/'

He did not answer ; his thoughts stayed a
little while with Eosalie, but the strongest
feeling in Louis Scherer's heart was love for
his children.

It seemed to him as if the train would


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