On the previous evening Dumiger returned flushed and excited to his house. The moment his friends had left him, he began to regret the confidence he had placed in them, and the frankness with which he had expressed himself. He retained but a very slight recollection of all that he had said, but he thought it was quite sufficient to have aroused the ridicule of those around him. Most painful of all sensations, the vague sense of a folly committed, the extent and the consequences of which are alike unknown to us! As he approached his home it seemed to him that he had profaned his affection for Marguerite by mentioning her name in that rude society, and broken her confidence by alluding to his hopes and his fears. While his secret had been confined to his own breast, or communicated only to Marguerite, his confidence in himself had never for a moment been weakened; but now that others were made acquainted with his convictions and his hopes, they seemed to him exaggerated and unfounded. He had for a moment forgotten that the chief secret of success in all undertakings in life is Silence. Silence in the scheming, silence in the execution, silence in the fulfillment; half the charm that had given him strength was lost now that he had opened his breast and disclosed its secrets to others. And it was with a feeling approaching to disgust that he entered his workroom, and saw all the material of his great enterprise scattered about the floor.
He went to Marguerite’s room. She was sleeping with all the freshness of youthful dreams glowing on her cheek; after the tumult of the day the stillness of that room soothed his spirit. He reflected how little satisfactory were all these pursuits compared to the tranquillity of home, but then, even as he sat by the bedside, and with her hand in his, pondered on the past and future—a pageant as it were, robed in cloth of gold and purple, and laurel-crowned, swept by him; and the glory of being preeminent among his fellow-men flashed upon his soul. If he should fail—. A cold damp settled on his brow at the thought, for in that event all his time had been thrown away, and there was no possibility of his meeting his various engagements. It was not one Hoffman but many that beset him, although Hoffman was truly the most avaricious of his tribe, where all were greedy. And then, as he gazed on the lovely countenance by his side, he thought of the affection which had resigned all luxury, and, far above all luxury, that consideration which women so prize, for him, and that he had brought her to a home where she had to deny herself many of those comforts to which she had been accustomed. He regretted the deed. Still more did he regret the time that he had that night wasted, and the money that he had squandered; but it was too late for repentance. All that he could now do was to nerve his energies for the toil of the morrow—that morrow which comes to all men, the faith of the procrastinator, the hope of the sufferer, the mercy of the unbeliever.