Chapter 174512747

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Chapter NumberXL
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1892-05-28
Page Number1
Word Count2220
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Devil's Own. An Australian Story
article text


CHAPTER XL (Continued.)


It had, boon snowing, all day. The scene was a crystal landscape; the trees almost iavisible by the weight of snow that covered up the branches A cold

wind sent the feathery flakes fall force in the face of the passengers as . the rumb ling old,vehicle struggled along, plunging in and through the many saovr drifts* It was too cojd to talk, pi; oven open your mouth; unloafe , you wished to get a mouthful of the snow and sleet‘that' whittled Jd your. .face. Not*a 'souhd to break the weird silence, cot a living object, .not even a small bird to tell there was anydifo about. ty; ' : ‘‘ The country must bb'dullj enough in wjhter; every body and everything seems asleep.” “No; I couldn’t stand ,it;*’,,.said Gus tave, with chattering teeth, as , darkness sot in and, dim,, lights like., sparks here and there told them they woro passing habitations, last, not, least, of which was the" little village—his destination. Shouts from the driver brought people to'the doors, us the dilapidated, old,, top* heavy conveyance pulled up short at the one Aoberge of the place, and two faces appeared, hplding glittering candles aloft, putting to shame the dim light of a dusky lamp that hung over the Aaberge en trance. /. t , “Irens; halo I Hoi at at asst,” and other loud interjections, were shouted by the Aubergist right and left, and two lanterns appeared as if in mid air, the owners being invisible from the darkness, as ’they to the horses*'heads whilsttho passengers alighted. “Par ice Monsieur,” said a shrill voice, holding a candle Gustave, who, with knees, knocking and teeth chattering stood waiting for his luggage to be taken from the coach.' It was only a small inn, little frequented except in summer when fishing became the order of the day at the small picturesque hamlet; then Eng lish anglers and tourists would enliven the place and improve the pockets of the innkeeper. . “ Adele ! Marie on est in tions veuz ici vite,” squeaked the landlady, putting her •head up some--book-stairs to far'away nocturnal , regions, from which came.- a responsive squeak, as Gustave entered the saloon. “The stove is warm, Monsieur must be cold. Dinner was over, but supper would be ready in no time for monsieur.” He knew the voice, it was that of an old love ofhis in the years gone by, when she'(Hor tense Eerier) was the belle of the'village, a thin, sylph-like beauty in those' days.'' ‘Now much resembling a feather bed-as-to'shape and dimensions. He was too cold to welcome his old love. He deliberately walked past her down a'-passage till ho found himself in the kitchen ho know so well, of the inn. There rushing up to the immense fire place, wherb a fire was blazing that would ?have roasted'a sheep whole. - **‘The night is' cold,” said Monsieur Tousard, a jolly looking man; the landlord, of the inn. “ Obld my friend ! Oold.' is not the the wordifor it,” said Gustavo, ' “ and I come from a warm climate.”. , " His voice betrayed him at once to his friends,.os he stood there still muffled up, his hands too. cramped and a* iff to feel .the way to undo his wraps. “ Its Gustave ! Legrange ! QusUve 1 and he never told us.; never lot us know,” said the landlord, rushing across the Jdtohen snd kissing Gustave on both cheeks with a hug that any Frenchman would have been proud of, but any Eng lishman would have boon disgusted with. . The news' was of too exciting a nature for Victor Toussard to keep to him self/though he couldn’t waste time and the' company of his old schoolfellow by hd’htiog tip his wife, so ho merely opened ttid.dborand shouted, “Madame Mimi— Hortonso—tiens—Mimi—vite Gustave— fea belle/’,and other loving epithets, that that' soon brought his wife on the scene. - Then commenced hugging and kissing The Jiusband in his gladness, his> innocence .having no feelings of the green-eyed monster. ‘{,Is it,,possible, and to think 1 never looked at you, Imujthavo been.stupid; rite blind; and you are coming to stay a, long time; ail the winter. Hah! wo will make you so comfortable, everyone Will be'So glad, Thero’a Jean and”— good Httlo woman, I have conj siderod the subject for some hours, and nothing would tempt me to live in a quiet country place like this, to say nothing the, cold, , I don’t think I ! ever .get warm-itilUthe -summer sun arrives;” 1 said Gustavo, shuddering at his ho&e&es’ idea, I> would like to go to ted ; it is the only, way I shall get warm, if you have room that can bo heated thoroughly-- np-luke warm stoves mind. I think the cold of torday has knocked mo over.' If I could only get warm I should be all right.** 1 1 "-But youi must have supper first; there is a large fine capon and some jilted; potatoes. X had a presentiment t’hat ttie coach would bring some hungry passenger this bitterly cold night. It will soon be ready, and there is some Spup—good soup—it would do Gustave good,”’ ; “ Yes; I*J1 have some hot soup and a glass of good punch—hot and strong English punch. Ah, they can make punch, and then to bed*- bub if there is no warm room I’ll stay here.” .‘.•Yea; wo have a warm room. Just the thing milord; Engleesh had come to the Inn two summers, but had growled and fgrumblbd. and made such a noise and objection to the pretty porcelain stoves that'Victor had been obliged to jiuf in 'veritable English fire place in one of the rooms. Ab,'it had ebat a lot of money/bat their old friend had come back and liked it.' ; Yes ; she would go and sce about it,, and tbo bed and the punch; . Old Mere - Gabot' wotfld watch thepodlob'and tjie potatoes/*'.the wife said/as hurried away on good deeds in tent:-t* “ I^k f hore, ; my child,; J’Jl start the punch now; U will Varin.ydu, up a bit,” said-the landlord,,noticing that the' new corner still looked the picture.‘of'Shivering misery. “ Night for anything ; this snow'weathor does pinch the warm life outof;U8. I know lfcclit myself.'* ’. , TKo punch had its effect, arousing Gustavo toaoiuethiiig like cheerfulness, but far short oft-his- old' naturally lively Solf. - Sorae soup and a slice of bhtokon Tqussards was. all that-vhb ooulcT manage; so he said good-night, and following ,iiis old dove—the feather bedr— ao.on found himself ip a .comfortable room with a iqrge open fire place, where two handsome ,doga ,,,supported a Jiugo blaming pine, spluttering-and crack

... - , , . //' ' Iing to its hearts content, ds it thrown a bright and vivid glare around. Gustave had forgotten the leather case uritiUie .caught sight of it in tHe glare of- the firelight. Ho had forgot his plans, everything, except to get warm. He Was note;man to.give in, naturally strong and healthy, it took a great , deal to upset him, but to-night he was forced to own to himself-that the cold had been too. much for him. He felt really ill/ A lap at the door interrupted his thoughts as. he lay rejoicing in -the sight of such a glorious fire—M. Victor Toussard entered . “ Tiotis mon ami, I came to see ybu before you turned over to sleep, the cold has nipped you, you niust be carefu[;jwe wilt laokafteryou if 'y6u are hot Better, I’ll go over and get something from old Noisette, she knows what to give.” , ? / Is old Noisette still alive? wonder fall” said, Gustave, over whom the in> fluehco'of rest and warmth in a comfort able bed hod already had effect. ' 1 “ Yes, she is well and strong.' Sob X have ‘ brought 'you something for, the night, you niav get thirsty, a feverish cold only, depend on it. ; .1 - wouldn’t got up in the morning, that log will last most of the night, and I’ll be in now and then to have a look at tlio fire,7 and the kind host put a tray ,down, near the bed on a small table containing lemons, a small bottle of brandy and Some sugar, ond a small saucepan' of water, and saying good-night, left the traveller to his own reflections or sleep. He was awoke the next morning by the noise of a huge bell twanging away, the tocsin for the hotel breakfast which afc this .time of the year was but poorly attended, a few officials being the only representatives- Gustave was about to rise, but found himself al most helpless, his very bones ached as he tried to stir, .whilst alternate fits of heat and cold followed each other.: “ I am in for it sure enough—fever, I verily believe, what’s to be done ? trust to warmth and Noisette. I half regret I did‘nt go to Paris to stay, it would have been better than my present predicament. If I don’t get better in a day or. two I'll aencT for Oherie. I’ll see what Noisette says. If I -could only get a good hot bath—I fancy it would do me the world of good—however, what cannot be cured must be ehduredj” said the Bangalore steward ono night. “3o I must patiently trust to the bon Dieu and wait, though if I could only manage to see the inside of that box it woald give .me something to think , . i It was useless to move; every turn or movement was painful, so ho > resigned himself to circumstances. Molsette, the female M.D. of the district, a -quaint little body with short petticoats, and a nutcracker face puckered with wrinkles, came to his bedside—overwhelming her 5‘pauvre gatcon,” os. she palled Gustave with exclamations of delight at seeing him, and exclamations of sorrow at seeing him ill—all expressed in the same breath. Then opening some small cilico bags of a dingy much-worn white, she brought forth her sovereign remedies in the shape of very crumbly looking dry dead leaves and chips, almost reduced to powder by the constant wear and tear of carrying them about with her, and com menced concocting a warm medicinal draught for the pauvregaroon. During. which process the screwy little body swished her - .petticoats, about r in the endeavor to talk to the invalid "and"watch the boiling of the herb tea'at the same time. “ Hadn’t she given him many . a * dose as a baby, and his mother before him. Ho bad always been troublesome os a child,” she said; “always a pickle getting into scrapes with himself, damaging his himself, his hands, or bis feet or some thing, and then coming to old Noisette to be mended. Even now when he was a man, getting on in years, fate had brought him to her again. It was good luck, for wasn’t the sight of him good for an old souty eye added the old crone, stirring awiy busily at the pot on the fire, whilst Gustave, lying still and watohing his medical prac titioner, cracked little jokes at the dame’s expense, and paid such absurd compliments that the little short petti coated individual at last loft the pot -to take caro of itself, and with ' one arm akimbo, and the other holding, a largo iron spoon, eh? shook it at him, rooking herself with laughter at.his humor. “ Oh, he couldn’t be so very bad, not he,” sho said, nevertheless it was some days before Gustavo bad recover d him self, for his violent chill had left him in a low, listless state, too apathethic to care to move in or out of his room, where his old village friends cacao to visit him and cheer him up at odd times. The first day he felt strong enough to to dress and move about ? his ' room,' die begged to bo left to himself for an hour or two, “ quite to himself—undisturbed,” he said, and the good people did as he requested, never questioning the object of bis wish for quietness, they pot it down to his desire for prayer and thanksgiving after his late illness. The weather was too ! cold for him to venture out to the little chapel to the virgin down by the river r what could bo more sensible than offering up his prayers in the stillness of his own warm so they left him for t a time. Gustave was a good mao, said they; the world had not changed him much; be was the Same as of old, attending his church, helping the poor, saying his doily prayers—ah 1 if his poor young mother had but lived, how proud she would have been of such a son, but she was with the bon adieu,and perhaps look ing down upon her son whilst he knelt in prayer and thanksgiving that day. nob a eiound broke (he stillness of the house as he uncovered his coveted treasure, sitting on the ground beside it to save stooping over it.