What made him reel, what made him leap at length with such an insane cry, over the ghastly obstacle? He will go mad. This not quite balanced brain might coldly enough commit even some kinds of murder, but fright can unhinge it. Is he not mad, to flee so wildly? He runs—he runs—he gropes, under his black thundercloud and load of fright and agony, towards the glimmer that he must fly to those he has wronged. To her first—to Josephte, his cruelly-treated daughter—the hour tells him where she is! Flying, stumbling, pained, groaning, out of breath, fearing the lone hedges of the road, in wild struggle throwing his vain lust of appearances for once to the winds, and having behind and above him as he fled, the sky filled with vast pursuing shapes, with shrieks and curses, and before all the pursuers the CORPSE, he reaches at last the Manoir, and stops before it crying out. It seems as if the instinct failed him here, and the Mansion’s imposing front forbade.
She hears though. The maiden’s heart, and the world’s indefinite voices, beats sharply at certain sounds before the ear has caught them, for they strike the inner strings of its being. First a pang of great alarm,—and then she heard. Rushing forth, she clasps the sobbing wretch in her arms and cries, “My father, what say’st thou! My God, what is it?—what has befallen Francois?—O my dear father!”
“He is dead, he is dead!—thy loved one,—at La Misericorde.”
“O Holy Virgin!”
Josephte did not fall in a swoon: she darted towards the gate.
Chrysler took the man and made him sit down on a bench,—a wild spectacle of reason in the course of dethronement. The household stood about: the two visitors looked on curiously and made useless suggestions. Haviland and Zotique, driving past to make sure of Misericorde, heard a commotion and turned their horses in. Benoit threw himself on his knees to Chamilly, violently begging his forgiveness, and incoherently confessing the evil work of himself and Spoon, whereat Zotique attacked him with maledictions.
Chamilly restrained his companion. Soul of man was never seen to soar more easily over injury.
“My dear friend, calm yourself. If there has been bad work, what should be done now is to try and rectify it. Repeat what you were saying of Francois.”
“The poor young man! The poor young man! I have seen him dead on the road.”
The impulse to act was that which came naturally to Haviland. “Not a moment, Zotique!” and almost immediately the rattle of the wheels was dying into the distance.
THE PASSING OF THE HOST.
They found Francois, Chamilly said, with Josephte kneeling over him loosening his collar, and tenderly binding her neckerchief over his head with neatness and gentleness quite enough indeed for any Heaven-selected Sister of Charity.