“Where is my mother?” said Savinien to Tiennette.
“She is waiting for you in your father’s room,” said the old Breton woman.
Savinien could not repress a shudder. He knew his mother’s rigid principles, her worship of honor, her loyalty, her faith in nobility, and he foresaw a scene. He went up to the assault with his heart beating and his face rather pale. In the dim light which filtered through the blinds he saw his mother dressed in black, and with an air of solemnity in keeping with that funereal room.
“Monsieur le vicomte,” she said when she saw him, rising and taking his hand to lead him to his father’s bed, “there died your father,—a man of honor; he died without reproach from his own conscience. His spirit is there. Surely he groaned in heaven when he saw his son degraded by imprisonment for debt. Under the old monarchy that stain could have been spared you by obtaining a lettre de cachet and shutting you up for a few days in a military prison.—But you are here; you stand before your father, who hears you. You know all that you did before you were sent to that ignoble prison. Will you swear to me before your father’s shade, and in presence of God who sees all, that you have done no dishonorable act; that your debts are the result of youthful folly, and that your honor is untarnished? If your blameless father were there, sitting in that armchair, and asking an explanation of your conduct, could he embrace you after having heard it?”
“Yes, mother,” replied the young man, with grave respect.
She opened her arms and pressed him to her heart, shedding a few tears.
“Let us forget it all, my son,” she said; “it is only a little less money. I shall pray God to let us recover it. As you are indeed worthy of your name, kiss me—for I have suffered much.”
“I swear, mother,” he said, laying his hand upon the bed, “to give you no further unhappiness of that kind, and to do all I can to repair these first faults.”
“Come and breakfast, my child,” she said, turning to leave the room.
Obstaclesto young love