THE HERO OF THE BARRICADES.
The page slew the boar,
The peer had the gloire.
Great uneasiness was excited at Dynevor Terrace by the tidings of the insurrection at Paris. After extracting all possible alarm from her third-hand newspaper, Mrs. Frost put on her bonnet to set off on a quest for a sight of the last day’s Times. James had offered to go, but she was too restless to remain at home; and when he had demonstrated that the rumour must be exaggerated, and that there was no need for alarm, he let her depart, and as soon as she was out of sight, caught up the paper to recur to the terrible reports of the first day’s warfare. He paced about the little parlour, reviling himself for not having joined the party, to infuse a little common sense; Fitzjocelyn, no more fit to take care of himself than a baby, probably running into the fray from mere rash indifference! Isabel exposed to every peril and terror! Why had he refused to join them? The answer was maddening. He hated himself, as he found his love for his cousin melting under the influence of jealousy, and of indignation that his own vehement passion must be sacrificed to the tardy, uncertain love which seemed almost an insult to such charms.
‘What needs dwelling on it?’ he muttered; ’doubtless they are engaged by this time! I shall surely do something desperate if they come here, under my very eye. Would that I could go to the Antipodes, ere I forfeit Louis’s love! But my grandmother, Clara! Was ever man so miserably circumstanced?’
A hand was on the door; and he strove to compose his face lest he should shock his grandmother.
It was not Mrs. Frost.
‘Louis! for Heaven’s sake, where are they!’
‘In the House Beautiful.’
James breathed—’And you! what makes you so pale? What have you done to your arm?
’A little affair of the barricades. I have been watering the French Republic with my blood.’
‘Rushing into the thickest of the row, of course.’
’Only escorting Miss Conway through an assault of the Garde Nationale said Louis, in a tone as if he had been saying ’walking up the High Street.’ How could he help teasing, when he could make such amends?
James began to pace up and down again, muttering something about madness and frenzy.
‘It was not voluntary,’ said Louis. ’When the carriage was confiscated for the service of the nation, what could we do?—I can tell you, Jem,’ he added, fervently, ’what a gallant being she is! It was the glorious perfection of gentle, lofty feminine courage, walking through the raging multitude—through shots, through dreadful sights, like Una through the forest, in Christian maidenly fearlessness.’
James had flung himself into a chair, hiding his face, and steadying his whole person, by resting his elbow on his knee and his brow on his hand, as he put a strong force on himself that he might hear Louis out without betraying himself. Louis paused in ardent contemplation of the image he had called up, and poor James gruffly whispered, ‘Go on: you were happy.’