Jacqueline — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 307 pages of information about Jacqueline — Complete.

“Poor fellow!  Why can’t he amuse himself for some time longer and let me do the same?  Men seem to me so strange!  Now, Fred is one who, just because he is good and serious by nature, fancies that everybody else should be the same; he wishes me to be tethered in the flowery meads of Lizerolles, and browse where he would place me.  Such a life would be an end of everything—­an end to my life, and I should not like it at all.  I should prefer to grow old in Paris, or some other capital, if my husband happened to be engaged in diplomacy.  Even supposing I marry—­which I do not think an absolute necessity, unless I can not get rid otherwise of an inconvenient chaperon—­and to do my stepmother justice, she knows well enough that I will not submit to too much of her dictation!”

“Jacqueline, they say you see too much of the Odinskas.”

“There! that’s another fault you find in me.  I go there because Madame Strahlberg is so kind as to give me some singing-lessons.  If you only knew how much progress I am making, thanks to her.  Music is a thousand times more interesting, I can tell you, than all that you can do as mistress of a household.  You don’t think so?  Oh!  I know Enguerrand’s first tooth, his first steps, his first gleams of intelligence, and all that.  Such things are not in my line, you know.  Of course I think your boy very funny, very cunning, very—­anything you like to fancy him, but forgive me if I am glad he does not belong to me.  There, don’t you see now that marriage is not my vocation, so please give up speaking to me about matrimony.”

“As you will,” said Giselle, sadly, “but you will give great pain to a good man whose heart is wholly yours.”

“I did not ask for his heart.  Such gifts are exasperating.  One does not know what to do with them.  Can’t he—­poor Fred—­love me as I love him, and leave me my liberty?”

“Your liberty!” exclaimed Giselle; “liberty to ruin your life, that’s what it will be.”

“Really, one would suppose there was only one kind of existence in your eyes—­this life of your own, Giselle.  To leave one cage to be shut up in another—­that is the fate of many birds, I know, but there are others who like to use their wings to soar into the air.  I like that expression.  Come, little mother, tell me right out, plainly, that your lot is the only one in this world that ought to be envied by a woman.”

Giselle answered with a strange smile: 

“You seem astonished that I adore my baby; but since he came great things seem to have been revealed to me.  When I hold him to my breast I seem to understand, as I never did before, duty and marriage, family ties and sorrows, life itself, in short, its griefs and joys.  You can not understand that now, but you will some day.  You, too, will gaze upon the horizon as I do.  I am ready to suffer; I am ready for self-sacrifice.  I know now whither my life leads me.  I am led, as it were, by this little being, who seemed to me at first only a doll, for whom I was embroidering caps and dresses.  You ask whether I am satisfied with my lot in life.  Yes, I am, thanks to this guide, this guardian angel, thanks to my precious Enguerrand.”

Project Gutenberg
Jacqueline — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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