Your highness may imagine, that I ought to have been pretty well tired of going to sea, after so many mishaps; but there is a restlessness attending a person who has once been a rover, that drives him from comfort and affluence in possession, to seek variety through danger and difficulty in perspective. Yet I cannot say that it was my case in the present instance, for I was forced to embark against my inclination. I had travelled through France to Marseilles, with a small sum of money presented me by the captain of the ship who gave me a passage home, for I could no longer bear the idea of not again seeing my father, if he was alive; and I felt no apprehensions from the circumstance of the lady abbess, as I knew how soon every thing in this world is forgotten, and that I was so altered from time and hardship, that I was not likely to be recognised.
On my arrival at my native city, I proceeded to the well-known shop, where I had been accustomed to exercise my talents, under my father’s superintendence. The pole was extended from the door, the basin still turned round in obedience to the wind; but when I entered the shop, which was crowded with people (for it was Saturday afternoon), I perceived that all the operators were unknown to me, and that my father was not there. One of the expectants, who waited his turn, politely made room for me beside him on the bench, and I had time to look about me before I made any interrogations.
The shop had been newly painted, a looking-glass of considerable dimensions had been added, and the whole wore the appearance of a more thriving establishment.
“You are a stranger, Monsieur?” observed my neighbour.
“I am,” replied I; “but I have been at Marseilles before, and when I was last here I used to frequent this shop. There was a short stout man who was at the head of it, but I do not recollect his name.”
“Oh—Monsieur Maurepas. He is dead; he died about two months since.”
“And what has become of his family?”
“He had but one son, who had an intrigue with the daughter of an old officer in this town, and was obliged to leave it. No one has heard of him since: he is supposed to have been lost at sea, as the vessel in which he embarked never arrived at the port to which she was bound. The old man died worth money, and there is a law-suit for his property now carried on between two distant relations.”
“What became of the lady you were speaking of?”
“She retired to a convent, not three miles off, and is since dead. There was some mystery about the abbess, and she was supposed to be able to explain it. I believe she was pronounced ‘contumacious’ by the Inquisition, and put into prison, where she died from the severity of her treatment.”
My heart smote me when I heard this. The poor girl had endured all this severity on my account, and was faithful even to the last. I fell into a reverie of most painful feelings. Cerise, too, whose fate I had before ascertained when I was at Toulouse—Dear, dear Cerise!