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time to glance at it, for the carriage had already turned into the Rue
Ponthieu. For some distance I ran after it, encountering at every step
excited groups of people, some of whom seemed to me in search of
mischief, while some had apparently come out to gather news. There were
no other carriages in the streets, and that alone enabled me to track
the one I was in chase of, for everybody I met had noticed which way it
had turned. It wound its way most deviously through by-streets to avoid
those in which paving-stones had been torn up or barricades been formed,
and the postilion made all possible speed, fearing the carriage might be
seized and detached from his horses. But the day's work was finished and
the disorders of the night were not begun.

Forced at last to slacken my speed and to take breath, I glanced at the
paper that I still held in my hand. It contained a few words from
Hermione: "Thank you for all the kindness you have tried to show us,
dear sir. My mother has heard that all the English in Paris are to be
massacred at midnight by the mob, and directs me to give you notice,
which is the reason I address this note to you and not to Amy. Mamma is
afraid of being mistaken for an Englishwoman. We have secured
post-horses and are setting out for Argenteuil, where we shall take the
railway. Again, thank you: your kindness will not be forgotten by H.
LEARE."

This note reassured me. I no longer endeavored to overtake the carriage,
but I pushed my way as fast as possible beyond the nearest barrier. Once
outside the wall of Paris, I was in the Banlieu, that zone of rascality
whose inhabitants are all suspected by the police and live under the
ban. Of course on such a gala-day of lawlessness this hive was all
astir. At a village I passed through I tried to hire a conveyance to
Argenteuil. I also tried to get some railway information, but nobody
could tell me anything and all were ravenous for news. I secured,
however, without losing too much time, a seat with a stout young
country-man who drove a little country cart with a powerful gray horse,
and was going in the direction I wanted to travel.

"What will be the result of this affair?" I said to him when he had got
his beast into a steady trot.

He shrugged his shoulders. A French workingman has a far larger
vocabulary at his command than the English laborer. "Bon Dieu!" he
exclaimed: "who knows what will come of it? A land without a master is
no civilized land. We shall fall back into barbarism. What there is
certain is, that we shall all be ruined."

At length, to my great relief, we saw a carriage before us; and we drove
into the railway-station at the same moment as the Leares.

Before the ladies could alight I was beside the window of their
carriage.

"You here, Mr. Farquhar?" cried Hermione. "How good of you! You cannot
guess the relief. Help me to get them out, these helpless ones."

We lifted Mrs. Leare on to the platform of the railway, weeping and
trembling. The old colored nurse could not speak French, and seemed to
think her only duty was to hold the hand of little Claribel and to stand
where her young mistress placed her. All looked to Hermione. She carried
a canvas bag of five-franc pieces and paid right and left. I tried to
interfere, as she was giving the postilion an exorbitant sum.

"No, hush!" she whispered: "we can afford to pay, but in our situation
we cannot afford to dispute."

She then deputed me to see after the "baggage," as she called the
luggage of the party, and went with her mother into the glass cage that
the French call a _salle d'attente_ at a railway-station.

We had come from the seat of war, and every one crowded around us asking
for news. I had little to tell, but replied that I believed the affair
was nearly over. I did not foresee that two hours later a procession
roaring "Mourir pour la Patrie" under the windows of the Hôtel des
Affaires Étrangères would be fired into by accident, and that the
_émeute_ of February, 1848, would be converted into a revolution.

It was nine o'clock in the evening. The lamps were lighted in the
station. The night was cloudy, but far off on the horizon we could see a
gleam of radiance, marking the locality of the great city.

After an hour of very anxious waiting, during which Mrs. Leare was
beside herself with nervous agitation, the locked doors of our prison
were flung open and we were permitted to seat ourselves in a
railway-carriage.

Hermione's tender devotion to her mother, the old servant and the child
was beautiful to witness. Now that Mrs. Leare was helpless on her
daughter's hands, they seemed to have found their natural relations.
Hermione said few words to me, but a glance now and then thanked me for
being with them. The train started. For about three miles all went on
well, although we travelled cautiously, fearing obstructions. Suddenly
the speed of our train was checked, and there was a cry of consternation
as we rounded a sharp curve. The bridge over the Seine at its third bend
was ablaze before us!

All the men upon the train sprang out upon the track as soon as the
carriage-doors were opened, and in a few moments we were surrounded by
ruffians refusing to let us go on.

"Back the train!" cried the railroad official in charge.

No, they were not willing to let us go back to Paris. Conspirators
against the people might be making their escape. They had set fire to
the bridge, they said, to prevent the train from passing over. It must
remain where it was. If we passengers desired to return to Paris, we
must walk there.

"Walk?" I exclaimed: "it is ten miles! Women - delicate
ladies - children!"

My remonstrance was drowned in the confusion. Suddenly the party of
women under my charge stood at my elbow: Mrs. Leare was leaning on
Hermione's arm; Mammy Christine and Claribel cowered close and held her
by her drapery.

"Make no remonstrances," she said in a low voice: "let us not excite
attention. An Englishman never knows when not to complain: an American
accepts his fate more quietly. These people mean to sack the train. We
had better get away as soon as possible."

"But how?" I cried.

"I can walk. We must find some means of transporting mamma, Mammy Chris
and Clary."

As Hermione said this she turned to an official and questioned him upon
the subject. He thought that there was a little cart and horse which
might be hired at a neighboring cottage.

"Let us go and see about it, Mr. Farquhar," said Hermione.

"I will."

"No: I put greater trust in my own powers of persuasion. - Mammy dear,
take good care of mamma: we shall be back directly."

Her _we_ was very sweet to me, and I shared her mistrust of my French
and my diplomacy.

The glare of the burning bridge lighted our steps: the air was full of
falling flakes of fire. The cottage was a quarter of a mile off.
Hermione refused my arm, but, holding her skirts daintily, stepped
bravely at my side. She exhibited no bashfulness, no excitement, no
confusion, no fear: she was simply bent on business. We reached the
peasant's farmyard. He and his family were outside the house. We like to
say a Frenchman has no word for _home_. But the conclusion that the man
of Anglo-Saxon birth deduces from this lack in his vocabulary is false:
no man cares more for the domicile that shelters him. Hermione made her
request with sweet persuasiveness. I saw at once it would have been
refused if I had made it, but to her they made excuses. The old horse,
they said, was very old, the old cart was broken.

"Let me look at it," said Hermione. At this they led us into an
outhouse, where she assisted me to make a careful inspection. I might
have rejected the old trap at once, but she offered a few suggestions,
which she told me in an aside were the fruit of her experiences in
Maryland and Virginia, and the cart was pronounced safe enough to be
driven slowly with a light load.

A half-grown son of the house was put in charge of it. Hermione
suggested he should bring the family clothes-line in case of a
breakdown, and prevailed upon the farmer's wife to put in plenty of
fresh straw, a blanket and a pillow. She made a bargain, less
extravagant than I expected, with the peasant proprietor, promising,
however, a very handsome _pourboire_ to his son in the event of our good
fortune. The farmer stipulated, in his turn, that cart, horse and lad
were not to pass the barrier, that the boy should walk at the horse's
head, and that the cart was to contain only two women and little
Claribel.

It was harnessed up immediately. Hermione and I followed it on foot back
to the little band of travellers waiting beside the railway.

"Can we not get some of your trunks out?" I said to her.

"No," she answered: "leave them to their fate. I dare not overload the
cart, and I doubt whether those men with hungry eyes would let us take
them. Mamma," she whispered, "has her diamonds."

"You will get into the cart, Miss Leare?" I said as I saw her motioning
to the old colored woman to take the place beside her mother.

"No indeed," she replied: "our contract stipulated only for mamma, Mammy
and Clary: Mammy is crippled with rheumatism. If you have no objection I
will walk with you."

"Objection? No. But it is ten miles."

"A long stretch," she said with a half sigh, "but I am young, strong,
and excitement counts for something: besides, there is no remedy. We
must consider them."

There had been about fifteen other persons on the train. A dozen of
these, finding we were going to walk back to Paris, proposed to join us.
The night was growing dark, and we pushed on. There was no woman afoot
but Hermione. "Madame" they called her, evidently taking her for my
wife, but by no word or smile did she notice the blunder. After a while
she accepted my arm, drawing up her skirts by means of loops or pins. We
had one lantern among us, and from time to time its glare permitted me
to see her dainty feet growing heavy with mud and travel.

It was not what could be called a lovers' walk, tramping in the dark
through mud and water, on a French country road, at a cart's tail, and
hardly a word was exchanged between us; yet had it not been for fears
about her safety it would have been the most delightful expedition I had
ever known.

From time to time Mrs. Leare and the old nurse in the cart complained of
their bones. Hermione was always ready with encouragement, but she said
little else to any one. She appeared to be reserving all her energies to
assist her physical endurance and to strengthen her for her task of
taking care of the others.

I had always seen my sisters and other girls protected, sheltered, cared
for: it gave me a sharp pang to see this beautiful and dainty creature
totally unthought of by those dependent on her. Nor did Mrs. Leare seem
to feel any anxiety about my comradeship with her daughter. I could
fully appreciate Hermione's remark about her chaperonage being very
unsatisfactory.

Every now and then we passed through villages along whose straggling
streets the population was aswarm, eager for news and wondering at our
muddy procession. In one of the villages I suggested stopping, but Mrs.
Leare was now as frantic to get home again as she had been to get away.
She said, and truly, that it had been a wild plan to start from
Paris - that if she had seen me and had heard that I thought the émeute
was at an end and that the report about the English was untrue, she
should never have left her apartment. She had been frightened out of her
senses by some men _en blouse_ who had made their way into her rooms and
had carried off her pistol and a little Turkish dagger. Victor's theft
of his own wages had upset her. She had insisted upon setting out.
Hermione had got post-horses somehow: Hermione ought never to have let
her come away.

About three in the morning we reached a larger village than we had
hitherto passed. The inhabitants had been apprised of the events in the
Rue Neuve des Capucines before the ministry of the Affaires Étrangères,
and the revolutionary element had increased in audacity. A crowd of
turbulent-looking working-men dressed in blouses, armed with muskets,
old sabres and all kinds of miscellaneous weapons, stopped our way. Some
seized the head of the old horse, some gathered round the cart and
lifted lanterns into the faces of the ladies. The French workman is a
much more athletic man than the French soldier. I own to a sensation of
deadly terror for a moment when I saw the ladies in the midst of a
lawless rabble whose brawny arms were bared as if prepared for butchery
of any kind. Far off, too, a low rattle of distant musketry warned us
that the tumult in Paris was renewed.

"Mourir pour la Patrie" appeared to come from every throat, and many of
the crowd were the worse for liquor. Indeed, these patriots had
rendezvoused at a cabaret at the entrance of the village, and swarmed
from its tables to intercept us. The ladies, they insisted, must alight
and be examined. Mammy Chris was drawn out of the cart, looking as if
her face had been rubbed in ashes: Mrs. Leare was nervously excited,
Hermione went up to her, supported her and drew her bag of diamonds out
of her hand. I took Claribel in my arms.

"Vos passeports," they demanded.

"Here are our American passports," said Hermione: "we are Americans."

"Yes, Americans, republicans!" cried Mrs. Leare: "we fraternize with all
republicans in France."

"Aristos," said a man between his teeth, glancing at her dress and at
that of Hermione.

"What does he say?" cried Mrs. Leare, who did not catch the word.

"Hush, mother!" said Hermione.

"But what did he say?" she shrieked. "Tell me at once: do not keep it
from me."

Hermione replied (unwilling to use the word "aristocrat") by an American
idiom: "He said we belonged to the Upper Ten."

"But we don't! Oh, Hermie, your father belongs to a good family in
Maryland, but _my_ grandfather made shoes. I was quite poor when he
married me. I was only sixteen."

"What you say?" said a railroad-hand who knew a little English. "You say
you are not some aristos?"

"No, sir," said I: "these ladies claim to be Americans and republicans."

"Vive la République!" cried the man.

"Vive la République!" quickly echoed Hermione.

"C'est bien! c'est bien!" cried another, raising his lantern to her
blanched and beautiful face.

"You will let us all pass, monsieur?" she said persuasively: "you will
even be our escort a little way. We will pay handsomely for your
protection."

Before he could answer her two or three fellows, more drunk than the
rest, burst out with a proposition: "She says they are not aristos, but
republicans. Let her prove it. She cannot, if she be a true republican,
refuse to kiss her fellow-patriots."

I started and was about to knock the rascal down with the bag of
diamonds.

But Hermione laid a restraining hand upon my arm. "Gentlemen," she said
in clear tones and perfect French, "it is quite true that we are
Americans and republicans. We wish you well, and if it be for the good
of France to be free under a republican form of government, no one can
wish her prosperity more than ourselves. But in our free country,
messieurs, a woman is held free to give her kiss to whom she will, and
according to our custom she gives it only to her betrothed or to her
husband." Here stooping she picked up a little boy who had worked
himself into the forefront of the crowd, and before I knew what she was
about to do she had lifted him upon the cart beside her. She looked a
moment steadily at the men around her, holding the boy's hand in both
her own, then turning toward him and pressing her lips upon his face,
she said, "Messieurs, I kiss your representative: I cannot embrace a
multitude;" and placed a piece of money in the gamin's hand.

For a moment there was some doubt what view the crowd might take of
this, but her beauty, her fearlessness, and, above all, the awe inspired
by her womanliness, prevailed. They shouted "Vive la République!"

"With all my heart," replied Hermione. "Now shout for me, gentlemen:
Vive la République des États Unis!"

They were completely won. A French crowd is never dangerous or
unmanageable till it has tasted blood, and besides it has - or at least
in those days it used to have - _sentiments_, to which it was possible
with a little tact to appeal successfully.

The opposition to our progress came to an end. Mrs. Leare and old Mammy
were helped back into the cart, and a man offered them some wine. They
brought some also to Hermione. I pressed her to drink it, which she did
to their good health, and giving back the glass placed in it a napoleon.
"Do me the favor, messieurs," she said, "to drink your next toast to our
American republic."

Cheers rose for her. There was no longer any talk of detaining us: the
old horse was urged forward. Hermione took my arm. We marched on,
escorted by the rabble. At the end of the village-street they all gave
us an unsteady cheer and turned back to their wine-tables. Hermione
proceeded in silence a little farther. Then I felt her slipping from my
arm, and was just in time to catch her.

Without compunction I requested Mammy Chris to get out of the cart and
put her young lady in her place, pillowing her head as carefully as I
could on my own coat, and proceeding in my shirtsleeves.

We were then not half a mile from the Banlieu, which we passed without
adventure, much to my surprise, its inhabitants having taken advantage
of the confusion to pour into Paris and infest its richer quarters.

The ladies were obliged to get out at the barrier and to send back the
cart to its proprietor. Again I had the happiness of supporting Hermione
while I carried little Claribel, and Mrs. Leare and Mammy walked on
ahead.

"I feel humiliated," I said, "that the whole burden of those dreadful
moments should have fallen upon you."

"And to avoid that feeling you were ready to knock down a drunken blouse
in English style?" she said, smiling. "No, Mr. Farquhar, nothing but the
power that a woman finds in her own womanhood could have brought us
through safely. Those men had all had mothers, and each man had some
sort of womanly ideal. I could not have managed a crowd of _poissardes_,
but, thank Heaven, there is yet a chord that a woman may strike in the
hearts of men."

The dawn of Thursday, February 24, 1848, was breaking at the eastward
when I arrived with Mrs. Leare, Hermione, the nurse and child at their
own apartment. I went up stairs with them. All was cold and cheerless in
the rooms. There were no servants. Mrs. Leare sat down; the old nurse
bemoaned her rheumatism and her aching bones; Hermione, with the
assistance of the concierge's wife, lighted a fire, made some tea and
waited on her mother.

For several days afterward she was very ill. She knew nothing of passing
events - of the king's flight, of the triumphal and victorious
processions that passed up the Champs Élysées, of the sudden
impossibility of procuring supplies of change, and of the consequent
difficulty of paying household bills with _billets de mille francs_
without gold or silver.

Each day I went several times to make inquiries, and twice I saw Mrs.
Leare in bed, but Hermione was invisible.

My father, an honorable British officer of the old school, perceived how
things were with me. "My son," he said one clay, "there are two courses
open to you. You have nothing but your profession. Your education and
the premium on your admittance to the office of the great man for whom
you work have been my provision for you: the little property I have to
leave must support your sisters. You cannot under such circumstances
address Miss Leare. You must either go back at once to your work in
England and forget this episode, or you may go out to America and see
her father. You can tell him you have nothing on which to support his
daughter, and ask if he will give you leave to address the young lady.
No son of mine, situated like yourself, shall offer himself in any other
way to an heiress whose father is three thousand miles away, and who is
supposed to have two millions of francs for her dowry."

I saw he was right, but, forlorn as the hope was of any appeal to Mr.
Leare, I would not relinquish it. I resolved to go out to America and
see him, and wrote to England to secure letters of introduction to the
chief engineers in the United States and Canada. Meantime, my father
proposed that we should go together and call upon Mrs. and Miss Leare.

Hermione received us in the boudoir, looking like a bruised lily: her
mother came in afterward.

"We are going right straight home," she said, "the moment we can get
money to get away. I have written to Mr. Leare that he must find some
means to send me some."

"I am glad to hear you say this, madame," said my father. "My son has
just made up his mind to go out to America and seek employment on one of
your railways."

Hermione looked up with a question in her eyes: so did her mother.

"Why, Mr. Farquhar, that will suit us exactly," cried Mrs.
Leare. - "Hermione, won't it be lovely if Mr. Farquhar takes care of us
on the voyage? - You will engage your passage - won't you? - in the same
steamer as we do? - No one was ever so good a squire of dames as your
son, Captain Farquhar. Hermione and I shall never forget our obligations
to him."

"No, madame," said my father; and he got up and walked to the fireplace,
where in his embarrassment he laid his hand upon the ornamented box
which held the cigarettes of the fast lady.

She rose up too and went hastily toward him, anxious he should not
surprise her little frailty.

"The truth is, madame," whispered my father, who never could restrain
his tongue from any kindly indiscretion, "the poor fellow is suffering
too much from the attractions of Miss Leare. He has nothing but his
profession, and I tell him he must not dare to address her in her
father's absence."

"My dear captain, what does that matter? And I believe Hermione would
have him too," said her mother.

"Disparity of means - " began my father.

"Oh, no matter," interrupted Mrs. Leare: "her father always told her
just to please herself. Mr. Farquhar is an Englishman and of good
family. He has his profession to keep him out of mischief, and Hermie
will more than pay her own expenses. Indeed, I dare not go home without
a gentleman to look after us on the passage: my nerves have been too
shattered, and I never again shall trust a courier. Do let your son go
back with us," she implored persuasively; and added, as she saw that he
still hesitated, "Besides, what rich man in America knows how long he
may be rich? 'Spend your money and enjoy yourself' has always been my
motto."

Thus urged, what could my father do but suppose that Mrs. Leare knew Mr.
Leare's views better than he did? He no longer held out on the point of
honor.

In twenty-four hours Hermione and I were engaged to be married.

During the voyage to New York I learned to understand her father's
character, and when he met us on the wharf I was no longer afraid of
him.

Hermione's choice in marriage seemed to be wholly left to herself. Mr.
Leare told me, when I had that formidable talk with him dreaded by all
aspirants to the hand of a man's daughter, that Hermione had too much
good sense, self-respect and womanliness to give herself away to a man
unworthy of her. "That she can love you, sir," he said, "is sufficient
recommendation."

That it might be sufficient in my case I hoped with all my soul, but
felt, as Hermione had expressed it early in our acquaintance, that
society in America must be founded upon very different opinions than our
own in regard to the relations of men and women.

E.W. LATIMER.




THE AUTHORS OF "FROUFROU."


No doubt it will surprise some theatre-goers who are not special
students of the stage to be told that the authors of _Froufrou_ are the
authors also of the _Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein_ and of _La Belle
Hélène_, of _Carmen_ and of _Le Petit Duc_. There are a few, I know, who
think that _Froufrou_ was written by the fertile and ingenious M.
Victorien Sardou, and who, without thinking, credit M. Jacques Offenbach
with the composition of the words as well as the music of the _Grande
Duchesse_; and as for _Carmen_, is it not an _Italian_ opera, and is not
the book, like the music, the work of some Italian? As a matter of fact,
all these plays, unlike as they are to each other, and not only these,
but many more - not a few of them fairly well known to the American
play-goer - are due to the collaboration of M. Henri Meilhac and M.


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Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880 → online text (page 9 of 20)