“Do not be so inconsiderate as to ask Reason for reasons,” said Marie.
“I will tell you why, Henri. I would never consent to make myself a burden to a man at a moment when I could not make myself a comfort to him; besides, the time of marriage should be a time of joy, and this is no time for joy. Again, there is a stronger and sadder reason still. Did you ever see a young widow, who had not reached her twentieth year? if so, did you ever see a sadder sight? Would you unnecessarily doom our dear Marie to that fate! I know you so well, my dear brother, that I do not fear to speak to you of the too probable lot of a brave soldier!”
“That is enough!” said Henri, “I am convinced.”
“Do not say that, Agatha, do not say that,” said Marie, springing up and throwing herself into her lover’s arms. “Indeed, indeed, it was not of that I thought. Though we should never marry, yet were you to fall, your memory should be the same to me as that of a husband. I could never forget your love—your disinterested love—there is no treasure on this side the grave which I so value. It is the pride of my solitary hours, and the happiness of the few happy thoughts I have. The world would be nothing to me without you. When you are away, I pray to God to bring you back to me. When you are with us I am dreading the moment that you will go. Oh, Agatha, Agatha! why did you say those last fearful words!”
“You asked me for the truth, Marie, and it was right that I should tell it you; it was on my tongue to say the same to Henri, before you appealed to me at all.”
“You were right, dearest Agatha,” said Henri; “and now, God bless you, Marie. I value such love as yours highly as it is worth. I trust the day may come when I can again ask you for your hand.”
“I will never refuse it again. You shall have it now, tomorrow, next day, any day that you will ask it. Oh, Agatha! my brain is so turned by what you have said, that I could almost go on my knees to beg him to accept it.”
“Come, Henri, leave us,” said Agatha, “and prevent such a scandal as that would be; there are but a few hours for us to be in bed.”
Henri kissed his sister, and when he gave his hand to Marie, she did not turn her lips away from him; and as he threw himself on his bed, he hardly knew whether, if he could have his own way, he would marry her at once or not.
THE CHAPEL OF GENET
About ten days after the departure of the Larochejaquelins from Durbelliere, three persons were making the best of their way, on horseback, through one of the deepest and dirtiest of the byeways, which in those days, served the inhabitants of Poitou for roads, and along which the farmers of the country contrived with infinite pains and delay, to drag the produce of their fields to the market towns. The lane, through which they were endeavouring to hurry the jaded animals