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Chambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) online

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And taking" up the lug-gage, he proceeded, accompanied by the
g-irl, in the direction of the Rue de Rivoli.

Lizette was almost bewildered with the spectacle of the crowded
streets, the dashing- of carriages, and the great height of the
houses, whose tops, to her imag-ination, seemed to reach the
clouds. She "was also struck with the splendour of the public
buildings ; and when the porter conducted her through the
arcades of the Palais Royal, gay with the most elegant shops)
and picturesque from the spouting- of the jets-d'eau, she thought
she was in a place of enchantment. " How delightful it will be
for me to come often to see these grand scenes," said she to her-
self, " scenes from which I have been so long' kept by an impos-
tor. I shall now soon see this daug-hter of a peasant who has
so long enjoyed my fortune, my name, and my mother's caresses.
How proud the girl must be ! With what a patronising- air she
will receive me ! — but what pleasure it will be to humble her by
giving- her this letter from the cure ! Oh, how mortified she will
be when she reads the dying confession of Dame Margaret ! '^
Indulging such thoughts of bitterness, Lizette followed her
guide out of the Palais Royal into the Rue St Honore, along
which she had to go for some way. The sight of the church of
St Roche arrested her attention, and gave a salutary turn to
her feelings, and the young girl exclaimed, " Oh, what a vile
creature I am ! What bad thoughts I have been cherishing !
What, shall I, who am about to deprive her of everything, shall
I insult her? Will she not have grief enough? Cruel that
I am ; may God forg-ive me ! I must perform my devotions,"
said she, turning quickly to the guide ; " wait here for me one

" And welcome, miss," said the porter. " I am answerable fos '
your luggage," added he, as he showed his badge.

The young girl ascended the steps of the church ; and as she"
knelt before the altar, with eyes fixed upon the letter, which she
still held in both hands, murmured, " Oh, my God, give me
streng-th for this hour ! — teach me words to say to my mother
that she may acknowledg-e me, that she may love me ; for how
can a poor girl brought up in the country know how to speak to
a great lady! And oh, my God, soften my heart, and teach
me to look kindly upon her who has usurped my place, and
give me gentle words to say to her. It Avas not her fault that
she robbed me of everything. Make me kind to her, oh, very
kind to her, for I am about to make her very unhappy. I am
about to deprive her of one mother, and I have not another to
give her — Dame Margaret is dead." This recollection made her
tears flow afresh, and Lizette — for so we shall still call her — re-
mained for some moments as if overwhelmed by the many con-



flicting" feelings that agitated her. At length, relieved hy the
tears which she now freely shed, she left the church, and finding
the porter w^here she had left him, both turned into the Rue de

When Lizette reached the door, when her foot was on the
threshold of her mother's house, that house which she was about
to enter as a stranger, her heart sank within her. But, sum-
moning all her courage, she ascended the steps boldly, and, like
most timid persons, who, having by a violent effort overcome
their natural character, overact their part, she rang until she
broke the bell. The startled footman ran to open the door, and
when he saw only a country girl and a porter with a small trunk,
he said somewhat roughly, "What business have you to ring in
such a way ? "

" I want to see Madame de Pons," answered Lizette, affecting
a confidence which w^as fast forsaking her.

" Who in the world is ringing in such a way ? I am sure it
must wake my lady," said a waiting-maid in a very sharp tone,
who now made her appearance ; when, suddenly perceiving the
costume of Lizette, she added more civilly, " From Marseilles 1
Are you the daughter of Dame Margaret?"

The title of daughter of Dame Margaret seemed to arouse all
the pride which Lizette had struggled so hard to subdue, and
she answered, " I am the foster-sister of her whom you call Made-
moiselle de Pons,"

" Whom we call Mademoiselle de Pons ! Well, that is droll
enough, my little country girl. Wait here, child ; I will go
to Mademoiselle. How delighted she will be to see her little
Lizette ; she is always talking of her ! "

" Do not tell her too suddenly, Gertrude," said the footman ;
" you know how nervous our young lady is."

" Does the man think I am a fool ?" returned the maid rather
angrily ; " do not I know better than you can tell me the state
of Mademoiselle Clotilda's nerves? Make your mind easy, I
will tell her the good news without doing her any harm ; wait
here for me, my good girl."

" How much she is beloved and respected," thought Lizette.
" At length, then, I shall see her and speak to her ! "

After the lapse of five minutes, which appeared as many ages
to the impatience of the young girl, the distant rustle of a silk
dress was heard, and Lizette fixed her eyes with a feeling that
was almost terror on the door through which Gertrude had
disappeared. It opened, and a tall and beautiful creature ran
forward with extended arms, exclaiming, " Lizette, Lizette j
welcome, welcome, my sister" — and taking- both her hands with
the most winning tenderness, she again said, " Welcome, most
welcome ! How thankful I am that God put it into your heart to
come to us ! How is my nurse ? But what is the matter ? Have
you no kiss for me ? Surely you are not afraid of me ?"



Lizette was confounded. She was not prepared for such a
reception, and if her gentle and ing*enuous nature had ever har-
boured one feeling of hatred and resentment against her who
had so innocently usurped her place, it gave way before these
tender manifestations of spontaneous affection.

" Dame Margaret is dead," answered Lizette, She had scarcely
littered the words, when she felt caressing arms around her neck,
and the pressure of soft lips in an affectionate kiss, " Alas, alas !
but together we will weep for her," murmured Clotilda. " My
poor nurse ! And you came off to us at once : you knew you
would find here a mother, and a sister too. Is it not so ? How
I love you for the thought ! Yes, you are my sister, and every-
body here must love, respect, and obey you. Do you hear
me ?" added she, turning to the servants who had been drawn
into the passage by this little scene ; " this is a second Made-
moiselle de Pons : we have shared the same milk ; I deprived
her of the half of her mother's caresses and cares ; surely she
has every right to the half of all that belongs to me. I must
except, however, the half of my mother's love," said she, in-
terrupting herself with somewhat of the air of a sj)oiled child ;
" but I will give you some little portion of it, Lizette, so do not
be uneasy,"

" Oh, if I could but see her ! " said poor Lizette, almost gasp-
ing for breath.

" See my mother ! " said Clotilda ; " you cannot see her yet ;
she is in bed ; but come with me."

Lizette shrank back, and Clotilda now perceived the porter, and
she instantly ordered that he should be paid and dismissed, " Come,
come, dear sister," said she ; " the joy of seeing you is too much
for me, I feel quite faint ; Ibut I care not, it is all delight." And
taking Lizette's hand, she led her through some splendidly-fur-
nished rooms into a small apartment, where wealth had collected
all that could be conceived most luxuriously useful, and most
uselessly luxurious, " Now you are in my quarters," said Clo-
tilda, as with gentle force she made Lizette sit down in a larg*e
arm-chair, and took a seat on a stool at her feet, " This is my
sitting-room, on the right is my bed-room, on the left my study;
at the end of that alcove is a door opening into Gertrude's room ;
but I will send her to sleep elsewhere, and I will give you her
room, so that we shall be together night and day. But perhaps
you may not be a sound sleeper, and I may disturb you ; I am
so often so very ill during the night : I have such bad health,
the slightest exertion brings on fever ; feel my hand now, is it
not burning ? — all from the delight of seeing you. Any painful
emotion must kill me, I am persuaded ; and therefore it is that
every one tries to spare me the least vexation. Everybody tries
to please me, no one contradicts me, so that I am quite spoiled.
But this delicacy I inherit from mamma. My father had a
strong' constitution, at least I have been told so; for, alas! I



never knew him ; he died of a falL^from his horse about two years
after I was born. But how well you are looking-! What fine
rosy cheeks you have got, and your arms so firm, so rounded ! "
added Clotilda, playfully patting" Lizette's cheek. " How happy
you must be ! It is so sad to be ill, and I am always ill. But
you do not answer me. What is the matter ? You are cold, re-
served. Do you not love me ? "

" I am only just arrived," stammered Lizette, " and I do not
yet know you."

" And do I know more of you ? When two children have been
fed with the same milk, and have slept in the same cradle, do
they, when they meet, require ages in order to love each other 1
You are a naug-hty g-irl, Lizette, for that speech. Kiss me. Now
I will have it so ; contradiction always makes me ill."


Lizette was deeply affected by the sweet caresses of Clotilda,
who, as a being* all sentiment and of the most delicate health,
seemed to the country g-irl something" different from ordinary
mortals. There was novelty in every look and expression of
the g-entle creature, and as Lizette yielded to her embrace, she
timidly returned her friendly kiss. Clotilda, now rising, made
Lizette stand up with her, and placed her before a mirror, crying,
" You see you are exactly my size ; my frocks will fit you. Your
style of dress is pretty, but you must change it for my sake. I
should wish so much to see you dressed like me." And at this
moment, in obedience to a feminine instinct, the two young girls
cast at one another a furtive glance of rapid survey.

As Clotilda had remarked, all in Lizette breathed health. Her
polished forehead, her finely-proportioned figure, which, though
tall and robust, was still perfect in its symmetry ; her roseate
cheeks, her large sparkling black eyes; her whole person, in
short, with its young healthful beauty, was a striking* contrast
to the languid and delicate appearance which Clotilda presented.
Of equal height with Lizette, her fragile form seemed bending,
yet gracefully bending, under suffering, which clouded her fair
face, and obscured the brilliancy of her beautiful eyes ; while her
long black hair g'ave to her cheek a pale and sickly hue. Her
voice, which, when she beg'an to speak, had somewhat of feverish
excitement, became by degrees almost inaudible, and her last
words died upon her lips.

The mutual survey caused a momentary silence ; and Lizette,
steeling herself against the emotion with which the sight of the
suffering Clotilda and her touching kindness inspired her, reite-
rated her desire to see Madame de Pons.

" Impossible just now, dear girl," answered Clotilda, as she
leant for support on the shoulder of Lizette ; " we must not go



to mamma's room till noon. Oh, what a simpleton I am ! not to
be able to bear any event, sad or gay. My heart is beating* —
beating- so that I can scarcely breathe. I am sure I shall die
suddenly some day. But here I am chattering- ; I am listening
only to myself, thinking only of myself ; and this poor child, so
grave, so silent, while in my selfishness I am making her get up
and sit down, without ever inquiring if she wants anything.
Are you hungry ? Are you thirsty ? Would you like to undress,
to lie down for a little while ? I believe I am bewildering you,"
resumed she, laughing with charming naivete.

" Oh, I want nothing — only to see Madame de Pons," again,
said Lizette, clasping her hands almost despairingly.

" Well, I will go and try if we can see her. Perhaps you have
some message for her from my poor nurse ? That letter, I sup-
pose, is for mamma ?" said Clotilda, extending her hand for the
document, so important to Lizette ; but perceiving the almost
convulsive grasp with which she still retained it, she resumed — -
" You wish to give it to her yourself? Well, just as you like ; I
will not contradict you. But, as in any case you cannot see
mamma for an hour, take off your hat, let down your hair ; da
here just as you would at home. I will go and see if mamma
be awake. But you will be lonely ; here is a book for you to

Lizette, for the first time in her life, experienced a feeling of
shame. She, who had come to the house so proud of her newly-
discovered birth, so haughtily determined to assert her rig-hts^
and to mortify her who had usurped her place, now suddenly
felt the inferiority resulting from the want of education ; but, too
proud to dissemble, she coldly said, while her cheek crimsoned,
and her eyes sought the ground, " I do not know how to read."

Clotilda suffered an exclamation of surprise to escape her;
then, in generous fear of having wounded Lizette, she took her
in her arms, and, while lavishing- upon her almost infantine
caresses, cried, " Forgive me, forgive me ! Not for worlds would
I have made you blush. But why should you be ashamed, sweet
pet ? It is only because you were not taught to read, that is all,
so never mind. But do not tell it to any one else, I beg of you ;
for there are people who would be stupid enough to laugh at
you, and this would so grieve me. I will teach you myself to
read — would you like it ? — and to write too, and to sing, and tq
draw, and do everything that I can do. Tell me, do tell me, would
you like it ?"

At this fresh instance of disinterested affection and ang-elic
goodness, Lizette felt all the icy barriers give way. Ever since
the extraordinary declaration of Dame Margaret, she had expe-
rienced neither peace nor happiness. Her mind had been in a
constant tumult, her better nature struggling with an ambition
of which she had previously had no experience. It was a war
of Passion and Principle, victory now inclining to one side, and



now to the other, hut principle on the whole maintaining* its
swaj'- in the conflict. The kindness of Clotilda, so unexpected,
and, in a great degree, undeserved, gave new force to Principle.
Had she heen received with the cold indifference she had almost
anticipated, the consciousness of injury would have caused her
unhesitatingly to proclaim the object of her visit, and, in strict
justice, she would have been right. But justice, unblended with
compassion — with the charity which suffereth long, and is kind
— what miseries may not be produced in its name ; how often
may it miscalculate and overshoot the mark ! Lizette was no
casuist. "Without staying- to reckon with what advantage the
blow of justice might be suspended, she felt that it would be
cruel to undeceive and render miserable the sensitive being
who, with a kindness as uncalculating as her own, had offered
to communicate the accomplishments of which she was so defi-
cient. Instead of pronouncing the death warrant of the fragile
creature in the words — " Go, thou who hast hitherto lived in
thy happiness, surrounded by the fond cares of love. Go, thou
who hast had till this moment a mother, wealth, illustrious
name. Go, thou whose tender arms are still entwined around
me : I am come to strip thee of everything — to take from thee
mother, wealth, name" — she gazed once more on the pale face
of Clotilda ; and, abandoning herself to the impulses of her noble
nature, excited to the utmost, she in her turn took her foster-
sister in her arms, and, covering her cheek with kisses and with
tears, exclaimed, " Keep all, keep all ; you are more worthy of
all than I am."

" What am I to keep, dear girl ? " said Clotilda in some sur-
prise. "Have you landly brought me some souvenir from

" I believe that I am mad," said Lizette, hiding her face in her

" Mademoiselle," said Gertrude, gently opening the door, " my
lady is asking for you. She has heard of the arrival of Dame
Margaret's daughter, and wishes to see her."

" Heavenly Father, forsake me not ! " murmured Lizette ; and
her trembling limbs almost refused their office, as she arose to
obey the summons.

" Stay here a moment," said Clotilda, as soon as they reached
the door of her mother's room. " Mamma's first glance, as well
as her first caress, must be mine." And she bounded into the
room, while Lizette, involuntarily obeying the order, remained
near the half-open door, following the movements of the young
girl with a gaze into which her whole soul had passed. Clotilda
approached the bed, drew back the curtains, and Lizette looked
upon the face of her mother. At the same instant a voice fell
upon her ear — the voice of her mother. Oh, if Lizette were not
at that moment at her feet, if she did not avow herself, if she did
not cry, " Mother, mother, I am your child ! " it was because the



mig'hty emotion she experienced left her powerless to speak or

'• Well, dearest, what have you done with Lizette 1 '"' asked
Madame de Pons.

Every pulse of Lizette's heart responded to this name uttered
by her mother. She rushed into the room. At the first glance,
Madame de Pons started, and exclaimed, "Those eyes! those
eyes ! what a wonderful resemblance ! "

" "\ATio is she like?" inquired Clotilda, alternately g-lancing
from her mother's agitated countenance to Lizette's large black

" She has your father's eyes," said Madame de Pons — " your
father's eyes. Oh, why should a stranger have those eyes, and
not my Clotilda, my child, the child of our love ? Come to me,
Lizette; do not cast down your eyes; look up at me — ag'ain —
again — that glance at once revives and kills me. Poor child !
But who is weeping there?" asked Madame de Pons in sudden

Clotilda had thrown herself into a chair, and was weeping

"What is the matter, my child?" cried her mother, as she
caug'ht her hand.

" I am weeping that I have not my father's eyes, which
Heaven has given to Lizette and denied to me," said Clotilda,
with a look of deep sorrow. " You will now love Lizette better
than me, and look at her more often."

" Dearest child," cried Madame de Pons, raising her daughter,
and straining her to her bosom — " dearest child, what strange
notion have you taken up ? Oh, do not weep, I implore of you ;
you will make yourself ill. Remember the physicians have
warned you against giving way to emotion. Clotilda, remember
your health is my health, your life is my life. Do not envy this
young creature her eyes. See how calmly I can gaze upon them

Lizette, who had been throughout this scene like one in a
di^eam, so entirely had the violence and variety of her emotions
overwhelmed her, now awoke to consciousness, and her first
impulse was to conceal the letter which she still held in her

Madame de Pons percei\'ing this movement on the part of
Lizette, asked, " Is it for me, from Dame Margaret?"

" Yes — no — no, madam," stammered out Lizette ; and then, as
if overwrought feeling could no long'er be restrained, she burst
into convulsive sobs, exclaiming, " I have lost my mother ! I
have lost my mother ! " Exclamation how ill understood ! Nor
of all present, the poor child alone knew to what immolation of
self it had doomed her — to what a painful sacrifice it had for
ever pledged her.

Self-denying principle had conquered.



Lizette now took her place in the family of Madame de Pons^
as the humble friend and foster-sister of the accomplished though,
feeble Clotilda : looking for no advantage, immediate or remote,
she felt that her fate was not in her own hand, and calmly
awaited whatever Providence might determine. Faithful to her
noble disinterestedness, from the time that principle had over-
come the turbulent passions in her breast, she uttered not a
word ; suffered not a gesture to escape her which could betray
either what she was or what she suffered. Her intercourse with
Clotilda was the calm, and gentle, and grateful reception of the
lessons, the counsels, the endearments which the generous girl
delighted to lavish upon her friend and sister. Thus assisted,
she rapidly acquired the accomplishments of which she had the
misfortune to be deficient. Clotilda was her constant instructress
until she required tuition from professors of the different branches
of female education. Without any obvious or positive claim on
Madame de Pons, that lady, following the bent of a kind dis-
position, took charge of her with almost maternal affection, and
was delighted to observe the progress she made in her studies,
as well as the improvement in her appearance and manners. No
longer the rustic belle, Lizette was an accomplished young
Parisian ; her heart, however, retaining all its original warmth
and simplicity.

Accustomed to an hourly intercourse with Clotilda, she learned
to subdue all restraint in her company. But with Madame de
Pons she never attained this high degree of self-possession. In
spite of every effort, it was difficult and painful to give to her
trembling voice the tone of mere respect — to school the beam-
ing glance of affection into the look of mere deference. This
was indeed a struggle, and a daily, an hourly struggle ; for
never did she behold the mother of whom she had thus a
second time been deprived, that her heart was not in her eyes,
upon her lips. This perpetual conflict at length undermined
her health, and " fat, rosy Lizette," as Clotilda had laughingly
called her — while with ready tact catching' up the refinement of
habit and manner, and the accomplishments of her foster-sister
— seemed to catch from her also the pale cheek, the bent and
fragile form, and the pensive look of habitual suffering'. Two
years passed in this way. But there was one eye that noted
the secret struggle, one Being upon whom was not lost a single
pa,ng endured by the heroic young creature in her generous self-
sacrifice 5 and that compassionate God, who alone knew how
severe was the trial, ordained that it should be shortened.

The events of the "three days" of July 1830, which caused
such political changes in France, led also to much private and



family distress. The house of Madame de Pons was not imme-
diately within the sphere of commotion, and that lady mig'ht
have escaped any injury had it not been her misfortune to be
returning home from a visit she had been making on the Boule-
vards, when the popular ferment first assumed the appearance
of a revolt. Alarmed with the shouts which were raised, and
the report of distant firing, she requested her coachman to drive
by a little frequented thoroughfare to the Rue Rivoli ; but this
proved an unfortunate movement. The line she had taken con-
ducted her nearly into the heart of a fray, caused by the seizure
of the office of a journalist by the police. The officers and sol-
diers sent to execute this unpleasant duty, thoug-h not opposed
on the spot, were not suffered to escape popular indignation. A
barrier was raised across the street, and in endeavouring to pass
it, they were met by a steady fire of musketry from windows
and other quarters, which obliged them to retreat and seek egress
in another direction.

Into the midst of this uproar, the carriage of Madame de Pons
was almost driven ; and in hurriedly wheeling to return, it was
overset with a crash on the pavement. The disaster drew for a
moment the attention of the crowd, and the poor lady was lifted
with compassion from her perilous situation into a neighbouring
cafe. At first she was thoug'ht to be killed, but she had only
swooned, and every effort was humanely made to restore her to

Meanwhile, the absence of Madame de Pons had caused the
greatest alarm to Clotilda and Lizette. Rumours of the com-
motion and booming reports of musketry reached the Rue
Rivoli, and scarcely could the two g-irls be restrained from rush-
ing" forth, each animated with the same acute feeling's, to seek for
her beloved parent. Prevented by the less fervid domestics from
taking this dangerous and useless step, they stationed themselves
in the balcony to watch her arrival.

" Oh support me in this dreadful moment, dear Lizette," said

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 13 of 59)