Chapter 160105241

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160105241
Full Date1884-12-27
Page Number6
Corrections33
Word Count1842
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-03-11
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleSowing the Wind
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CHAPTER VI.

Everything had gone smoothly with Helen in regard to Monsieur and Madame. The in- variable kindness she had met with from them could not fail to win a full response from so loving a nature, therefore an amiable and self-forgetful bearing was the natural ex- pression of her grateful heart. As for Mon- sieur, Helen could scarcely believe that the irritable temper and inconsiderate treatment of his wife could have existed anywhere but in her own fancy, unless it were caused by temporary indisposition. To Madame now he was invariably gentle and even affectionate,

and to Helen his conversation was most fascinating in its brilliance, while his manner was always courteous.

Monsieur having the entrée into the first society by right of hie own family, Helen reaped the advantage, for wherever Monsieur and Madame went, there also was she intro- duced, and distinguished by a cordial recep- tion as an English lady of good birth.

The next morning was spent in long hours

of arduous practising with Monsieur. Madame

sat in the deep recess of the window with her embroidery, where she fell asleep, startling the musicians with a loud snore, and waking herself at the same time. Monsieur shrugged his shoulders, and then in the blandest tones

said—

"Allez vous rester, ma chère, in your own apartment. You must be bright this evening at Versailles. The Empress distinguishes you by her notice, and you will have also the ex- quisite pleasure of presenting our charming

friend."

While speaking, he politely opened the door for his wife, and returned to the piano with a gloomy expression and a profound sigh.

"Mistake, mistake," he muttered.

"Mistake! Monsieur," said Helen, ap- plying his words to her music. But he sat down with a weary air, not heeding her, and repeating as if half to himself—

"Yes, we make mistakes that alter the whole course of our lives—must we always abide by the consequences? Is there no redress? I beg your pardon; I was lost in thought recalling the past. Something brought it to my mind—perhaps that strain of music. Play it for me again."

"What think you, Miss Montaine! Can we never alter the past? Are we to suffer the whole of our lives for one foolish action, or for another's fault?"

"I think not, Monsieur. We may do much to remedy evils from which we suffer."

"Ah, you think so—you console me!"

Helen felt slightly astonished at this out- burst, but supposed that some trouble op- pressed him, and thought she could now account for his former fits of irritability.

"Yes, yes," he resumed after a pause, "you are right. I feel you are right. We

may do all in our power to free ourselves, from the evils that beset us."

"I think so indeed,"said Helen, remem- bering how she had escaped from her aunt's tyranny.

*' Yes, yes" said he, "it is but want of courage which prevents our acting with

decision. It is the brave who take fate into their own hands, and accomplish that at which the coward might look aghast and the cautious hesitate."

"It is foolish," replied Helen, still think- ing of her own case, "to sit idly enduring evils from which we might escape with a little courageous effort."

"Ah! you are a consoling angel! Your goodness and your wisdom will guide me to happiness."

"I am grieved that you are troubled Monsieur, but dear Madame would console you best, as she makes your life her study, and would understand how to offer you con- solation."

"Hèlas, hèlas!" he cried, throwing up his hands with a despairing gesture." Madame

cannot understand. Madame is good, is amiable, but has no impassioned soul!"

Helen coloured and felt uncomfortable, and, looking at her watch, asked if they had finished practising.

"Ay, yes; I am thinking but of myself. I weary you. Are you going to drive with Madame?"

"Yes, Mrs.Newbury and the Major will call to take us up. I expect them here soon."

Again that fierce glitter of the eye, and as he turned away Helen fancied she heard the word "stélérat" muttered through his teeth. Then Monsieur fussed about the room osten-

sibly looking for something, but evidently

fuming, whilst Helen was quietly replacing her pieces in the portfolio.

As she advanced to the door to leave the

room he strode towards it, holding the handle as if to open it for her, but laying his other

hand on hers he said—" My child, it is an

intense interest, a fatherly interest that I take in your. I would guard you against the Major—it is not well that you should be seen so much with him. His leave of absence is a

good excuse for leaving England, but he was

obliged to fly."

"I am astonished," replied Helen, "they visit everywhere and are visited by every one."

"Ah well, it is not good for you to be so

much with him. You must not think of him."

Oh, Monsieur, you are quite in error; I have no thought for the Major, and he is only polite to me. I do but regard him as the brother of my kind friend, Mrs. Newbury."

"Eh bien! eh bien! You care not for him?

Is that really so? You have no thought for him? Tell me that again, ma chère, ma chère!'' and his face brightened with plea-

sure and exultation while Helen assured him again that she had not any regard for the Major nor ever could have.

"Ah well, you must not mention that I have told you of him. You English people are so

fond of the law."

The information which Monsieur had given Helen rather spoilt her pleasure in the society of Mrs. Newbury and her brother for a time. Simple-minded and unsuspecting she did not for an instant suppose that he could fabricate such a report, or that he would assert such a thing if it were not true. Little as it con- cerned or affected her, and convinced that re- ceived in society as they were their acquaintance could do her no harm, she could not help a feeling of regret at having to place the Major a step lower in her esteem. Mrs. Newbury she regarded as a self-devoted

sister attached to her brother's fortunes

through evil or good report.

At Versailles that evening the brilliance of the scene, the splendour that surrounded her, would have turned many so young a head were the heart set only on vanity or pleasure. Not so with Helen, before whose mental vision the image of her idol had never dimmed, nor once had her allegiance faltered; but all beauty, grandeur, and magnificence but awoke in her heart the more intense and painful yearning for the one companion from which she had severed herself.

Monsieur had rightly said that the Empress Eugenie distinguished Madame by her notice.

She sent for her—she desired her to sit by her while she talked and enquired about all she had seen in England. She also received Helen most graciously after requesting that she might be presented, expressed herself enchanted by her music, and appeared greatly pleased with her.

"And you are leaving Paris?" she said, addressing Monsieur; "we no sooner welcome your return than you vanish again from our sight."

To which very gracious words Monsieur bowed and returned an answer which in the elegance of its framing, its delicate and in- sinuating flattery, was only worthy of Mon- sieur himself.

Returning home by train Madame fell asleep. Helen seldom knew fatigue; bright and fresh, her spirits buoyed with the hope of success in her cherished scheme, her face lighted with animation as she listened to the interesting conversation with which Monsieur beguiled the time, as they sped along; she would have felt perfectly happy but for that aching at her heart. She felt Monsieur's evi- dent pleasure, nay pride, in the reception she had met with at the palace, and while he pictured to her imagination scenes he had passed through, or pictures and other works of art he had seen, she could but remark to herself the impassioned fire in his eye so totally different from that hard glitter she had sometimes seen there.

They were to leave Paris in a few days; those intervening were occupied in making adieux to Madame's numerous friends.

Helen much regretted leaving Mrs. New- bury. "Your departure will hasten our movements," said the latter, "and though we travel by a different route we shall meet again at Milan. I hope you will write often. I cannot bear to lose sight of you, my dear Helen—yes, I am glad you wish me to call you so; a more distant address would be painful to me."

"Your affection is more than returned, dear Mrs. Newbury. Would that I had a mother like yourself."

"Regard me in the light of one then, dear, if ever you should be in any difficulty or trouble and I can help you in any way. But," she added, laughing, "can you not become my dear younger sister?"

Helen looked up puzzled for a moment, then catching the other's meaning said in a distressed tone, "Oh, please don't, Mrs. Newbury."

"Ah, well, it may be better for me to hold my tongue, we may or may not meet to-morrow at the large garden party, and perhaps shall have but little opportunity to speak for the last time for some months, so if you are really going now we must say good-by here," and with reiterated regrets the friends parted.

A day or two afterwards Helen, with Madame and Monsieur, had flown, sometimes by train, sometimes by carriage, into the beautiful country.

They were approaching a vast forest, intersected by lovely patches of cultivation; in the distance the turrets of an ancient

castle were seen, calling up to the mind visions of scenes gone by. About half a mile from the castle Monsieur pointed out the

entrance to an underground passage leading (he told the ladies) to the interior of the castle as a provision against siege, and as they came nearer the remains of an old draw-bridge and a moat suggested much to Helen's imagination and inspired her with the greatest interest. To this castle they

were bound.

"The possession of my husband's ancestors for many generations, said Madame with pride. "He himself is the next heir of all this vast domain, undiminished by one field, curtailed not by one rood; it has been the glory of each possessor to keep the lands of Dubois intact, suffering any other privation rather than despoil the heritage.

They approached through a long avenue of trees opening into a well-kept pleasaunce, leading up to a handsome, stately, but modernized porch. Here they were received by a bevy of servants, all anxious to welcome the man who might soon be their master.