Chapter 160105244

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Chapter NumberXI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160105244
Full Date1884-12-27
Page Number7
Corrections19
Word Count1349
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-03-12
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleSowing the Wind
article text

CHAPTER XL

The simple, but sad funeral over—the gentle martyr laid to rest in an obscure

Churchyard—the distressing anxiety ended —Helen felt so weary that she feared an illness; but it was merely the relaxing of heart and nerve after the great tension sus-

tained by them. Rest was all she needed— perfect rest and quiet; and this the good woman ("Old Susette" as the villagers called her) insisted upon, preventing all sound from disturbing her as she and Marguerite went about the little cottage.

The long hours of undisturbed sleep thus afforded her soon began to restore Helen to her usual health.

The letter Madame had given into Helen's

charge she had dispatched, and was now looking for the answer, as the poor lady had

wished.

The time hung heavily upon Helen's hands;

she felt restless and impatient as to her future. Monsieur had been most kind and attentive, showing how much he had felt her loving devotion to his wife; while she was

suffering from the result of her weary nursing he was most anxious about her, con- stantly making enquiries, sending fruit and flowers, and now that she was recovering he would bring her books or entertain her by his

fascinating conversation. Such a power of

conversation had he that when he chose to

exert it he invariably carried away with him the imagination and sympathy of his listeners. Helen always felt annoyed when unin-

fluenced by the charm of his presence that such irresistible influence had swayed her at the time. The scene, too, in the picture gallery now returned vividly to her memory, and a certain misgiving, not to say dislike, grew in her mind regarding him. In a few days Monsieur Deslandes, the notary to whom Madame had written, arrived at the hotel, and walked down to the cottage with Monsieur.

"You have been expecting some communi- cation from me," said the notary to Monsieur, who bowed in answer, "You are aware that your wife had certain properties settled upon her which she had absolute power to will away."

"I was not aware that my wife made any will," said Monsieur coldly.

"Ah oui; she had made no will until she honoured me with a visit about six weeks

since in passing through Berne; it was then that she left this, the last and only document, with me."

Helen had wished to leave the gentlemen alone to their business at the commencement

of this visit, but had been detained by special request; and now Monsieur Deslandes turned to her and said, "You are interested in this will, Mademoiselle, and if you will permit me I will read it," which he accordingly did, and when he had finished Helen was so much astonished that she could not speak for some minutes; for in few words that will pur- ported to leave all that pertained to Madame Dubois to her "bien aimé, Mademoiselle Montaine." The value of the property was about £5,000.

"I congratulate you, Mademoiselle," said the notary. Monsieur had arisen and had taken her hand and was pressing it warmly saying, "The last act of my dear wife has been one which now gives me the greatest pleasure."

Monsieur Deslandes afterwards presented a note to Helen from his wife, inviting her most cordially to take up her abode with them for as long as she should choose to stay. After advising and arranging as to the best way to invest the property for Helen's benefit they separated for the evening.

The day after the next they were to start for Berne, taking the nearest route by train. Monsieur Dubois expressed his intention of accompanying them so far, from thence re- turning to Castle Dubois. The poor old Marquis having taken to his bed, feeling that his days were numbered, desired the presence of his nephew, his next heir.

Helen rose early the next morning for a long walk, to take her last farewell and plant a few flowers on dear Madame's grave. It was a peaceful spot, where a simple cross marked the name and date, with a prayer for the rest of her soul.

Helen sat by the side of the grave over- whelmed by recollections of that devoted life and sadly premature death, as also of the unvaried kindness she had received from the time of their first acquaintance, until Madame had consummated it by this her last proof of anxious care and loving pro-

vision for Helen's future life.

She recalled all that Madame had requested or advised. Marguerite should never want a home she thought to herself. Marguerite was becoming as much friend as servant, and great mutual affection had sprung up between them.

Then that caution regarding Monsieur recurred to her mind with surprise that Madame should have considered it necessary. In what way could Monsieur make it proper for her to remain with him? Yet she felt relieved and glad at having received the in- vitation to Berne.

She was now busily cutting and planting the flowers she had brought from Lusette's garden. So much engaged was she that she did not hear a step behind her, nor see Mon- sieur until he himself stood beside her, look ing sadly down upon her as he rested his arm upon the headstone.

"You are engaged in a labour of love," he said, "flowers are a fitting offering at her grave. Her's was a pure and simple life. Ah! yes, dear child, you were two devoted friends I know. Do not weep so. She would wish us not to grieve; she would have us be consoled and happy. For myself, I am in- deed now a lone and miserable man; yet I have one gleam of hope left, only one—should that fail, should that be denied me, I dare not think what my fate may be. Will you grant it? Will you grant it, my love, my life? Will you not respond, at least in part, to my passionate love? I should wait, I know, until a greater interval of time divided me from her death; but I dare not wait. I would not let another snatch my prize. You leave me for a time, and the ray of light from my soul goes out.

No rest, no peace is mine when you are absent, unless you give me some hope to rest upon. Oh, speak, speak, but not a denial. At least by your silence let me hope."

At last Helen found her voice. "Mousieur! Monsieur! do not—do not—I beseech you stop—I cannot listen—I cannot"—

Just at this moment a footstep attested their attention, and the priest passed with

a bow of recognition. Helen, with trowel in hand, flew to his side; her manner was some- what confused, but with an effort she re- gained composure and simply asked him if he would give orders to keep that grave well supplied with flowers, for which she would

leave the means.

Monsieur by this time joined them, and the three walked together, while his conversa- tion flowed unconstrainedly—as composed in

manner as though no emotion could ever stir one pulse of his being.

Father Andre walked with them quite into the village, when Helen left them both at Susette's gate, glad and thankful for the timely rescue the priest's sudden presence had brought her.

She kept indoors for the rest of that day, and did not see Monsieur again until they were setting out for the journey, when it would have been impossible for him to renew his suit; neither did he appear to seek opportunity for doing so, but addressed Helen only when occasion required, and then with most deferential courtesy, and with quite an air dégagé; during the journey he did not speak at all.

When they arrived at Berne he took his leave to proceed further, clasping Helen's hand and retaining it while he said sotto voce and impressively the two words "Au revoir."