Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

4 articles on this Page



ALL RiIGHTS RESERVED. OLD BABETTE. By C. M. HAWKSFORD. CHAPTER IV. MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. Just as the Paris season was drawing to cl°se Monsieur Leon requested another Interview with the Baroness, and laid himself •th fortune at her daughter's feet, and Baroness undertook to plead his cause Gabrielle. Too''6 S8n^ ^or ^abrielle ^ier morning- Mtif' an<^ Gabrielle answered the summons facft a Sh&ht exPression (>f surprise on her shown bv the arching of Iter eyebrows, fcnta rU'e' no one except Abbe had the jjs °f her mother's room till after the twelve o'clock breakfast. jwl have sent for you, Gabrielle," her "er said, "to tell you I have received an *of marriage for you." flu °r me?" Gabrielle replied, a crimson v, dying her usually pale cheeks and a coming in her voice. h0n Monsieur Leon has done me the la",v°'Ul' wishing to become my son-in- chfe!|e co^our tbbed back from Gabrielle's 'in(l a cold, uninterested expression ?,y its place.. y,tiC^ne^ ^le honour intended for me, as \r° 110^' Gabrielle. Such an offer ^sed',US^eUr "^eon s no^ raslily to be re- Ga/ '"hall never marry anvone but my cousin *3?ard," Gabrielle said "firmly. motuOU are talking nonsense, "Gabrielle," her has >1'- rePVed, impatiently. "Monsieur Leon \y0rri m his power to give you everything a "I^l Wan^s—Gaspard nothing." "a? *°ve not to be taken into account?" En 1° well-brought-up girl, except in the t> sPea^s °f l°ve before marriage," nrp, ar°ness said, severely. Itiar.^fcn' I w"ish to be English. I shall never "M a man lin^es? care ^or him." have ^ear Gabrielle, you are young; you these ni°- exPerience; you can't understand iriirr' *o'" -• hut, believe me, if a woman tnari les a man who treats her as a gentle- an,j ,u|d—«'ho can give her the comforts liora llXur'es her heart desires—she will get U^t" °ut of life than if she made a love- It ^'ith a poor man. Love does not last, ^ati human nature that it should. A a v quickly grows tired of the wife who is tirej 11 to him. whilst a woman never gets ''A sP^nfling her husband's money." 4 i Carriage like that would be like making "a °f one's heart," Gabrielle said— He,„a.roaln in which even the chance of liappi- "STjs destroyed." the |>ere hs 110 real romance in marriage," to r„ droness said, with a sigh. "It is best in (Jgj0?11^6 this fact, and not to waste time itiye ,US10ns' woman who marries for love Bevei,s a man with a thousand qualities he disjji l?°ssessed. When the awakening—the idol hSlon-comes, as come it must—when the iftore as fallen to the ground, a woman is far P'^te ^hfppy, the bankruptcy is more com- late | ,ln if she had started with mode- l']u ?fs and moderate desires." aHi • ?nsieur Leon is so much older than I .e is getting bald." is in 15 never old, child. The years he triQrp ? rance of you will only make him youtK ,ev°ted to you. He will find his lost *t-v- "Yoi.eVer'' Gabrielle exclaimed, quickly. hiiH f1113^ Monsieur Leon that I thank ttie in°r the honour he has—done—us—done luteW i.'n8 me an offer, but that I abso- ^oui i lne marry him. Tell him that jf1], l,011er go into a convent." interx-'o aro,ness reported the failure of her -ieiv it-itli her daughter to the Abbe. into a rielle," she said, "has threatened to go cans ki corivent. and, moreover, she is quite "y e °f carrying out the threat." heay'?11 for--et' said the Abbe, frowning takg1^' that the Church is not anxious to aoaj y°"ng girls away from their homes they ^le. ""i^hes of their parents, unless Ga|Jr; ^,re richly dowered. Mademoiselle The* r> ^as D0 mnn,'y-" grasnir, ^fmess smiled. "Is the Church so "Our^oi S^ie as^ed- "nust ha lurch/' the Abbe said, reprovingly, tnemiea .Ve money- Its great power over its Mil sr>p..u e, power its wealth gives it. I tinned "T ieur Leon," the Abbe con- drop^r. f t the question of marriage be exactlv 01T *10 Present. Do in. all things orders 9S tell you, and wait my future ^hureh ?" efIfr a disobedient daughter of the to rerAi' i asked, as she knelt "No ,e Abbe's blessing. SeVerit'v 111 ?.daughter," he said leniently, the ?%htlv i'10'1 had hitherto marked his t-one '^discreet^' *D°' "bl't—you are sometimes MODn CHAPTER V. ^0^ PL0TTIXG bY THE ABBE. J-tid Gabr^tei* t'1'9 interview the Baroness 6n adv/r ? {.e^ Paris, the Baroness having c°urse „{ p her doctor to go through a Sai'1 to 0nVerrn haths. Xothing more was MuralC >rieYe about Monsieur Leon, and she re-(mcnC2jncthe subject would never °?Ce or hri i ,le saw her cousin Gaspard aW. tr before leaving Paris, but never had ?r m"t er was al-ways present, so ^sienr T° °PPurtunity of telling him of ««er. Whilst they were h'id bf J news reached her that Gaspard tt;ike fVe" an appointment which was to t^o t" AI^«s and keep him there for B a rone«? appointment, he wrote to ?r<ier to had been so unexpected—the ltla" to i„.S° sudden that it left him no S°od-bVeJlrr^ge anything. or even to say ^uld' hp' two future years| %e he m--> a £ ? .e' hnt that at the same C^ance of n°t Justified in refusing such a frf)ul(l r omotion. In two years' time he J^der ''n a better position than i eXpert Vry ClricllInstanceH he had a right e to Pal ,n,ienfling this letter he sent his ,VT°uld not'/18 e' with a message desiring she The n forget him. ° i^e tliorr^.i'lnefs showed Gabrielle the letter—j r^trayg,) 't best to do so—but she never 0 the A u'e, act that Gaspard owed his exile Her « )e lnfluenCe. !° GabrlejLm'f^eP,arture_ was a dreadful blow a Self-cnnte'- she made no sign. She was Mother thaine^ girl. Between her and her I>atliy. 6r.e had never been any real sym- ^eQce.' yhow, not enough to invite confi- t^ghter^ r autUmn the Baroness and lier ir arriv 1 ■^ariS' an(l soon after e scene rpV' ns'eur l"6011 re-appeared upon ^gard 1- baroness professed a personal St t aQ(l he still visited in the ^ab ,an- Ple Abbe'e Vs y°ung; the united wills of to «+a j t'he Baroness made her power- e 'winte an UP against them, and before ^Ur Leon over the engagement of Mon- ^Ughter 'f wealthy banker, to the only ritiallTT ° Baroness de Courcelles was \W! enounced. f ^briei]fUr ,^eon was never allowed to see fOr a unless her mother was present, and ^<jfc strik^t the coldness of her manner did tlie e ''fer lover as being anything l>eyond diffidence of a well-brought-up At fi looij7^, 'JQ wa.<? so happy tliat he refused ^I'ties f anything but the brightest possi- i^bts p,.01, ^ie future: then, by degrees, r^Pperifvi -i '.n" One or two small incidents not Uch suggested to him Gabrielle in accepting him have been quite as free an agent as lie had been led to sup- pose, and lie was greatly troubled. Monsieur Leon thought very little of him- self or the value his money gave him. He exaggerated the drawback of the twenty years that separated him from Gabrielle. The charm of her youth 'was like a halo about her. He had a chivalrous belief in women that almost amounted to reverence. That the Baroness might have forced her daughter to acquiesce in entering on a distasteful mar- riage for the sake of the settlements he could make was so abhorrent to Mm that he deter- mined to see her and put the question point- blank. ^lonsieur Leon was a man of scrupulous honour, and he did not allow the strong attachment he felt for Gabrielle to prevent him from taking a step that might separate them. Once more lie asked the Baroness to grant him a private interview. The Baroness was very much annoyed, for she rightly guessed what might be the drift of the confidence Monsieur Leon desired to make. She had not dared reproach Gabrielle for her behaviour, fearing an open rupture might follow, for she recognised how delicate the ground was on which they stood. Her daughter s marriage to a rich man, who was more than willing to dispense with anv dowry, placed her mother in better circum- stances than she ha-d ever anticipated. It enabled the Baroness to keep on her house in Paris, and also to travel. She determined, whatever happened, the desired marriage should take place and Gabrielle's opposition be overcome. Monsieur Leon's desperate infatuation, and her mother's and the Abbe's strong wills, were set against Gabrielle's opposition. The game, though an unequal one, was full of diSeuIties but, in spite of that, the Baroness never relinquished her purpose, though she was well aware that a false move might bring checkmate. She received Monsieur Leon with a pleasant, unconcerned smile and a friendly pressure of the hand. "Sit down," she said, drawing an easy arm- chair opposite her own in front of the fire. "1 prefer standing," Monsieur Leon said. "The question I want to ask you won't detain you five minutes, but it is one of great importance to me. Has Gabrielle, to your knowledge, formed any attachment—had" she any love affair before I became acquainted with her? I need not say I love Gabrielle. My whole soul is bound up in her. I love her so dearly that I am determined that litr marriage to me must be without coercion and of her own free will." The Baroness glanced uneasily at Monsieur Leon. Yes Gabrielle was right. The hair was beginning to recede from his temples, and there were lines on his forehead and about his mouth. He 'was square-built and rather thick-set; but, as a compensation for a certain amount of ruggedness, his grey eyes were full of kindliness. He looked like a man who might be trusted. The Baroness drew herself together. "Yon seem to forget," she said, with an air of severity, "that Gabrielle is almost a child, that she only left the convent a few weeks before you first made her acquaintance, and that Gabrielle has been most carefully brought up." "I am quite aware of that," Monsieur Leon said, apologetically "but you ought to under- stand the feeling that prompts me. I have almost determined to speak to Gabrielle to offer to release her, too." "Pray, don't do that," the Baroness inter- rupted quickly. "You would only shock Gabrielle's sensitive feelings. You must take my assurance that Gabrielle's heart is yet to be won, and that it will be your task to teach her the sweet mysteries of love." A relieved expression stole over Monsieur Leon's face—a smile parted his lips. "If I can only succeed in making her happy," lie said, with genuine emotion. "I have the most perfect faith in your being able to do so," the Baroness replied. "Gabrielle is reserved. You must not expect this reserve to pass away before marriage, or misunderstand it. When you are husband and wife you will ^et to know each other as you will never do till you live in those intimate and close relations, which I trust will bring happiness to both." Monsieur Leon held out his hand and grasped that of the Baroness, urging, aa he did so, that the marriage might take place as snon as possible; and the Baroness very willingly promised to accede to his wishes. CHAPTER VI. A LUVEJLESS UNION. Tiie bridal preparations were hastened on. Gabrielle was made to live in a whirl of dressmakers and milliners, and just after Christmas there 'was a civil marriage at the Mairie, followed by a grand ceremonial at the Madeleine. Monsieur Leon took his bride on a foreign tour, and in the early spring they returned to Villeroi. Monsieur Leon had spared no expense in re-fitting the Chateau, and in the manner he considered suitable for the lovelv chate- laine who was to rule over his kingdom. The walls of her rooms were lined with delicate silks or chintzes. Artists had come from Paris to paint the ceilings, and most of the furniture had been selected by Monsieur Leon himself during his visits there. The quaint old gardens were put in perfect order—new conservatories built and statuary and foun- tains placed in the wooded glades that sur- rounded the Chateau. It had all been a labour of love, with the one thought of Gabrielle's approbation. The people of Villeroi went up to watch the preparations for Monsieur Leon's bride. There was 'great talk and much excitement about the fine things that were being done at the Chateau. Babette was only a child then, but the grandam took her up to see the inside of the house, which, by Monsieur Leon's orders, was thrown open. His. desire was that all the people of Villeroi should participate in his happiness. Gabrielle, on her arrival, expressed her gratitude, and gave the proper amount of praise, but the manner in which she did so disappointed Monsieur Leon. The reserve the Baroness had assured him would melt away after marriage still remained, and this in spite of all his efforts to come to a. closer understanding. Gabrielle never failed in her duty, but it was plain to see it was never anything but duty. At first Monsieur Leon hoped that time would make the difference, but he 'was mistaken. Gabrielle moved about her lovely surroundings without any enthu- siasm. She appeared to take no especial pleasure in any of her possessions. She. made very few friends, and, the society of Father Ambrose was the only thing she cared for. Under his direction she did a great deal for the poor, and' found comfort in the confes- sional or kneeling in prayer on the steps of the altar at St. Louis. Just at first Monsieur Leon was inclined to neglect his work at the bank, where hitherto he had been so unremitting in his attendance. He wanted leisure to cultivate Gabrielle, to make her life happy. He wanted to be with her. He adored his young wife. Though he was middle-aged, she was his first love. After a time he gradually re- sumed the usual office routine that had been broken in upon by his marriage, for he dis- covered his presence was rather a restraint on Gabrielle than otherwise. He watched her sometimes when she thought she was alone, and saw her face had a relieved expression on it—a happier look than it wore when they were together. What surprised liim most was that Gabrielle never expressed any wish to invite her mother to Villeroi or to re-visit Paris. Madame de Courcelles had gone abroad soon after her daughter's marriage, and her return was uncertain. Monsieur Leon was obliged to co to Paris at intervals, but Gabrielle always asked to be Irft behind at Villeroi, and it was not till she had been married over two years that, in compliance with her hus- band's urgent request, she consented to accom- pany him. Her cousin Gaspard was in Paris, and they met again. Monsieur Leon was most friendly to his wife's cousin, and quite unsuspicious of any feeling beyond cousinly regard ever having existed between them. He invited Gaspard to his hotel, and asked him to join them when they went to the theatre, opera, or drives in the country. The old intimacy between Gabrielle and her cousin was resumed, the dropped threads gathered up. Monsieur Leon saw his wife's faoe grow brighter, a light come into her eyes, a smile on her lips. He thought her youth was asserting itself in the congenial surroundings of the gay capital. He reproached himself for having kept her so long secluded and dull at Villeroi. It was Gabrielle herself who asked to return home. "I hoped you were enjoying Paris," Mon- sieur Leon said, with a disappointed air. "I have enjoyed it," she said, blushing; "but there are many things we like that are not good for us. Paris is not good for me." "Villeroi is too quiet for you," Monsieur Leon replied, with conviction. "We will come to Paris oftener." But, all the same, next time he went there Gabrielle did not accompany him. CHAPTER Vn. FLIGHT OF GABRIELLE. The evening before he left the Chateau, he and Gabrielle went out into the garden. It ■w as a lovely summer's night; not a sound broke the stillness except the splashing of the water in the fountains. The stars were just beginning to come out; the white moon- light lay on everything; the air was full of perfumes. As they walked slowly up and down the terrace walk that ran down from the Chateau, Monsieur Leon took Gabrielle's hand and drew it gently through his arm. Assuredly there was something in lie,, manner that made him believe they were drawing nearer to each other. He thought the time was coming when, of her own accord, she would put her arms round him and lay her head upon his breast. His heart beat with the rapture this con- viction gave him. What had the waiting mattered when the reward would be so great? Gabrielle was unusually silent, but still she lingered, as if loth to go in. Was it only because the night was so perfect? or was it some other feeling he might never know ? When Monsieur Leon returned from Paris, Gabrielle was gone. She had left his home for ever. Some men working in the woods declared that the day after Monsieur Xeon had left they had seen an officer in the light blue and silver uniform of the Chasseurs D'Afrique hanging about, as though waiting for some- one, and they further insisted that Madame Leon had been seen talking with him. Monsieur Leon took no steps to follow his wife or bring her back. Report said lie had found in his room a letter directed to himself. It was closely sealed and written at great length, but its contents were never disclosed. The Chateau gradually resumed the neglected appearance it had 'worn before Mon- sieur Leon's young wife had come to live in it. Very few flowers bloomed in the gar- dens, the fountains never played, and the especial wing of the building in which her pretty rooms had been fitted up with such care was shut up, and the jalousies kept closed. Monsieur Leon suddenly seemed to age ten years. Gradually he resumed his old habits, and went about his work as usual. Though, to a certain extent, the brief episode of his married life was apparently wiped oT.t and forgotten, it was a subject no one dared mention, and Gabrielle's name never parsed his lips. (To be continued. J

---------'--_.0.:...--A SECRET…


[No title]