A Beleaguered City eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 173 pages of information about A Beleaguered City.

‘Dear friend,’ he said, ’compose thyself.  Have you never discovered yet how strong is self-delusion?  There will be no lying of which they are aware.  Figure to yourself what a stimulus to the imagination to know that he was here, actually here.  Even I—­it suggests a hundred things to me.  The Sisters will have said to him (meaning no evil, nay meaning the edification of the people), “But, Pierre, reflect!  You must have seen this and that.  Recall thy recollections a little.”  And by degrees Pierre will have found out that he remembered—­more than could have been hoped.’

Mon Dieu!’ I cried, out of patience, ’and you know all this, yet you will not tell them the truth—­the very truth.’

‘To what good?’ he said.  Perhaps M. le Cure was right:  but, for my part, had I stood up in that pulpit, I should have contradicted their lies and given no quarter.  This, indeed, was what I did both in my private and public capacity; but the people, though they loved me, did not believe me.  They said, ’The best men have their prejudices.  M. le Maire is an excellent man; but what will you?  He is but human after all.’

M. le Cure and I said no more to each other on this subject.  He was a brave man, yet here perhaps he was not quite brave.  And the effect of Pierre Plastron’s revelations in other quarters was to turn the awe that had been in many minds into mockery and laughter. ‘Ma foi,’ said Felix de Bois-Sombre, ’Monseigneur St. Lambert has bad taste, mon ami Martin, to choose Pierre Plastron for his confidant when he might have had thee.’  ‘M. de Bois-Sombre does ill to laugh,’ said my mother (even my mother! she was not on my side), ’when it is known that the foolish are often chosen to confound the wise.’  But Agnes, my wife, it was she who gave me the best consolation.  She turned to me with the tears in her beautiful eyes.

‘Mon ami,’ she said, ’let Monseigneur St. Lambert say what he will.  He is not God that we should put him above all.  There were other saints with other thoughts that came for thee and for me!’

All this contradiction was over when Agnes and I together took our flowers on the jour des morts to the graves we love.  Glimmering among the rest was a new cross which I had not seen before.  This was the inscription upon it:—­

  LE 20 JUILLET, 1875

On it was wrought in the marble a little branch of olive.  I turned to look at my wife as she laid underneath this cross a handful of violets.  She gave me her hand still fragrant with the flowers.  There was none of his family left to put up for him any token of human remembrance.  Who but she should have done it, who had helped him to join that company and army of the beloved?  ‘This was our brother,’ she said; ’he will tell my Marie what use I made of her olive leaves.’


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A Beleaguered City from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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