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.G AT LAST; OR, THE FELON'S…

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CHAPTER X.

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.G AT LAST; OR, THE FELON'S…

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1 he reasoned upon tlTe utterly hopeless nature of the sentiment he felt. Passion and nature dominated j over reason, and left him powerless to resist the desire to call Louise his ow n. Madame Dumont was ill—sc. ill as to be unable to leave her bed. For weeks nothing but a little broth had passed her lips. She refused all medical aid, upon the plea that no doctor upon earth could do her good. She felt herself slowly fading—fading out of existence, and her only sorrow was for the unprotected girl she must leave behind. Morning and night Jean Parlandet knocked at his neighbour's door, to ask if he could be of any service, and to inquire after Madame Dumont's health. On the particular evening to which I now refer he was startled by a message from Louise that her mother wishes to speak with him. His faint remonstrances upon the unfitness of his appearance-he was in his working dress—were promptly overruled, and he was soon standing at the sick woman's bedside. In obedience to a sign from her mother, Louise hastily quitted the room. k Jean," said the widow Dumont, look in my .'ac# and tell me what you see." She was lying back in the bed, half supported by pillows. A flickering oil-lamp gave out scanty light, rendered more dubious by the draughts from door and window which waved the flame. Wondering what the invalid could mean, Parlandet gazed upon her features. Large gloomy eyes, giittermg with a feverish radiance from out the yellow skin, drawn tightly over the skeleton of the face as parchment on a drum, looked eagerly, hungrily into his. The lips of Madame Dumont were parted; her strong, even teeth, set firm and close together in a massive jaw, shone as the fitful gleam of the lamp fell on her figure. The close, white cap around her ghastly face, framed in her countenance as if she lay already in her shroud. Parlandet gazed at the visage, and, soldier as he was, he shuddered. To his practised eye, that had seen the Destroyer in a hundred different forms upon a hundred different plains, the expression written there was as clearly legible as if upon the pages of a book. "Tell me, Jean," repeated the widow "what you see in my face ?" "Madame," said the soldier, I see- Death. Good returned the widow. You save me ex- planations, for which the time is short.. You see De&th, Jean I feel his icy touch. For me, 8t8 my own self, he has no terrors. Death is rest. Save for my girl, atence the care and blessing of my life, I sbouklbave rejojeed'to meet it when I lost Eugene. But it is baxa, Jean Parlandet, it is very hard, to quit thi» earth knowing that I leave her to battle with the world without a friend." Painfully raising herself upon the piUowr she laid her wasted hand upon the soldier's large and horny fingers. Her eyes seemed to dart vivid rays of fire into his soul. If ever human being strove with all the power of a resolute, though failing sense, to read another's heart, that being was here. I leave my girl without a friend." she repeated. Say, Jean Parlandet, as you will one day have to answer God, do I, or do I not ?" Madame, no returned Parlandet, sturdily. So long as it is in my power to raise but one finger to Frotect, to succour, to work for Mademoiselle Louise, will not falter in the trust. I swear it by all that men hold sacred or holy! I swear it by him whom I have served with fidelity and honour! I swear it by my mother's grave I" He raised his hand solemnly as he spoke, then lifted to his lips the fingers of the frail human relic before him, fast returning to its pristine dust, and kissed them respectfully. It is well," murmured the widow. So far I am satisfied. But it is not enough, Jean, that you should do this. It is not enough that my girl should always have an honourable man to watch over her footsteps. The world is evil and censorious, and attributes bad motives to the purest deeds. I would have my girl respected and happy. She is young, she will soon recover from my loss. You are a man of honour, and have been a soldier of Napoleon. Nobler title none can have. My Eugene rose from the ranks to be an officer. The fortune of war be- friended him, though it has not done the same for you. No matter; you are our equal in all that makes truly great. Honest man to honest woman. If you will have Louise to wife, she will be yours. I have said." Upon his knees by the death-bed's side, large tears of grateful emotion streaming down his rugged visage, the workings of his simple soul were shown in tbe heavings of his breast. 11 It is enough," faintly muttered the widow. My prayers are answered, and I can die in peace. Call in Louise; my hour is near at hand/' Six,inonths later Louise Dumont, the captain's orphan-daughter, was the wife of ex-grenadier Jean, Parlandet, humble compositor in the printing office of Monsieur Pith.

.G AT LAST; OR, THE FELON'S…