And ’twas ever the great work, the good work, the work of fruitfulness spreading, thanks to the earth and thanks to woman, both victorious over destruction, offering fresh means of subsistence each time a fresh child was born, and loving, willing, battling, toiling even amid suffering, and ever tending to increase of life and increase of hope.
AMID the deep mourning life slowly resumed its course at the Beauchene works. One effect of the terrible blow which had fallen on Beauchene was that for some weeks he remained quietly at home. Indeed, he seemed to have profited by the terrible lesson, for he no longer coined lies, no longer invented pressing business journeys as a pretext for dissipation. He even set to work once more, and busied himself about the factory, coming down every morning as in his younger days. And in Blaise he found an active and devoted lieutenant, on whom he each day cast more and more of the heavier work. Intimates were most struck, however, by the manner in which Beauchene and his wife drew together again. Constance was most attentive to her husband; Beauchene no longer left her, and they seemed to agree well together, leading a very retired life in their quiet house, where only relatives were now received.
Constance, on the morrow of Maurice’s sudden death, was like one who has just lost a limb. It seemed to her that she was no longer whole; she felt ashamed of being, as it were, disfigured. Mingled, too, with her loving sorrow for Maurice there was humiliation at the thought that she was no longer a mother, that she no longer had any heir-apparent to her kingdom beside her. To think that she had been so stubbornly determined to have but one son, one child, in order that he might become the sole master of the family fortune, the all-powerful monarch of the future. Death had stolen him from her, and the establishment now seemed to be less her own, particularly since that fellow Blaise and his wife and his child, representing those fruitful and all-invading Froments, were installed there. She could no longer console herself for having welcomed and lodged them, and her one passionate, all-absorbing desire was to have another son, and thereby reconquer her empire.