|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||Constance Duchesne: Is Life Worth the Living?|
Const unce JIuclicsnc: is Life
Worth til« Living ?
ßüF NTt the long weary evening that followed ti a d'ï ot her fathei's iuue-\l Constaace Btood
i the window of her own room piasiag aud re 'tTUE iu ^er mln^ ^e ni.serable «cenes of the ! H week She thought of tho day (so recent, 'ul ïot '^at now s<-eme^ so f"ru^) ^ heu she
J stood watching j- Vee and Cyril on tho t ,rraoe It « is the firs* day of the qu irrel w ith i,cr fitber, tho last on which he-ever entered bel
oom Whether, if bin could hue hied that diy ovei »glin, she would baie acted differently she , 15 do "ine In the first daj " after her father's deitb "he would heve given all tint she p ís'-essed to recall that time-neither pude nor dignity should have como between her and bet fathers 1^,.- but utter the reaamgot the «ill a ievul~iou
[ fe ling hid come If e-a his very deathbed for fioni all she chilli prettier she felt sine that h tbJiiH-it 'tis illness vwuld b° f ital-he could
mi her fj he hal dope, he was not worthy «f ,L ja^ ehj had lavished so abundantly upon hnn I" r?s ''ö wor-1' ot all her misery, this fee lae, of resentment r gauist bei de id f ithcr
¿he cvemug light was railing fisc, al ret fly j]!» o leets iu the loetn were gray aud liidistmC
S ie 'hu ei ed as she turuocl frou tho wmcow It collei hive been a rel e£ to have had a fire 1UJ ciudl s, but she hal desired that no one
IiotU in e-iupt her, and sie had not -energy tnough 11 nug for thora She 'et he-self fall tuto ker fu ounce chair, and theu begau again Le wear) uiising It was i e-y unlike the usual den ion of her ehaiactoi She used to quote hei favounte liuo3 of Longfellow-" Let us bo up iud domv, -" Let the dead past bu>-y its dead,
till Cjnl vowed that he wished the hne3 were buried ta j befoio e\er they appeared in jrlllt-for he kueiv wUl enough to whom they were meant to apply, but on this night Cou stEiice seecucd to be enacting Cyril s part-she could nou act, sin could not decide on anything , 1er mini íefused to obey her will, and went weaiily back-vards and forwards cor tho »ame ground-a mont ii treadmill At 1 ist, thoroughly worn out, she fell asl ep, and it was nearly day break when she woke, cold and numb with the uncomfortible po-utiau iu which she had fallen, to fiud th it she uad not boen in bed at all
She roused herself at last, and criwled to her
No wonder Mr White thought her looking very ill when ho came early the ni st morning to mike somo of tho'-o errangemonts which must be mude no ma* ter how the aching heart recoils from the intrusion on its grief Never in all his loue, expenenco had he felt so inclined to break his trust He liked Constance, and respected her for her truly noble character, which in his capacity of confidential man of busine s to her father he h id h id so many opportunities of ob serving He kuew well enough where tho stab hy Ho did not mimic her by thinking that it it his regret for tbu lo3t foi tune which was the cause of the haggard look and weary air Tho loss of esteem foi odo so dearly loved-the rough tearing asunder of the belief in hiB love for her-this w is tho wound, us ho well knew He did not attempt to aympithise-be went b raiDht to business , and it «as the kindest thing ht could do Constance wa" interested 111 her possessions, not for tho wealth s sake, but for the sake of the human boings who lived on them, aud for vLose velfara she thought and planned continu illy
"lam ¡Aid I shall not have to give np the Manor Houso," she said as they came to tho conclusion of then busine»s It was the only illusion she had made to the new destination of th property,
"bo am I, ' eaid Mr Whito heartily, "it would have been bad for your tenants '
"Oh, Cyr 1 would have been good to them,' the end, more eagerly than she had spoken r-t
11 during their interview " I know Cyril would ¡nie earned out my wishes in every respect "
Mr White shiugL,ed his shoulders without re] lime,, ho could not think well of Cvnl >lonfgomery, au I he wa3 not quite pleased to bco he interest Couatauco showed in the man who hil supplanted her Then Mr White took ins hue, ind Constance went down Btans She dreaded this mteiview as much as Cvnl, but it hil *o ha gone thiough, and with rotuiuing day lii,ht so 1 0 of her usual energy and decision had
Cyril mot her at tho library door and they II eut in togothei Ho was fal moie agitated and t ufuocd thin sho was, of couise, for in ]iist this ouo thiug women are supcnoi to men-at the most cnücl moments they can look as un concerned as poe»iblo, while tho pool masculino
>ni of humanity is stammering and fidgeting, md shov inj¡ by his tea face and his pulling of 1 ia \vh =1 eis that all is not iigat within
" Can v. ou f îrgiv 0 me, Constance ' ' he said, liol hu b h her hands in his, and looking down on her n ¿ h cbo3e de^p gi a y eves which all his jo 1 il 11 Iv frieuds felt so mcaistiblo
lu e is uni lung to f >rgi\t,' said Coustauce, I okinf in fnmkly 111 his face "I feel qnte ure 1111 a iu knew noth og ubout it '
Cynlstirtcd 1 little He fo ¡,ot that Constouce di 1 not kno * what had passed between hsi lithe- ud himself Of course sho believed that li like hei elf, heard of (he disposition of tho II j erty tor the first time when the will was ital He was too confused to say anything, and fo he let the oj portuuity pass, aud left Coustanco u the bellet tint he fas uttany passiv a in the uit er, and irnoranh of it It was jU3t Ilka Cvnl-this wea v icceptanca of any chanco of
caping au unpleasant tiuth He was glad that li« should tluuk is she did, for the more ho reflected 111 the po "ion 11 which he was placed
the more ho h ^ed it
' It is 11 str inge and ci ucl thing ! ' he added ji lonately aftei au awkvvud pause, 111 which all these tuoubhta had beeon passing through
Constance withdrew oje of the hands which
he still held and lmd it gently to his lip*, fiyiug " We will uover speak of it, please,
The di awn pained look which Cynl'a warm g-eetmg bul foi a moment dispelled now "itliered on bet faco igaiu, and he saw now li w woru uni ill sho looked Ho kissed the nmd tint touched Inn so lightly-how could h do le -,' Ho wished Constance was not so e Id mci j touil, then he cou'd have taken her in li-¡arms an 1 kissed bei It would baie been he ea« t aud most natural thing to do , thon he could hive told hei oveiything, and it would b"ve solve I all theso difficulties But Constance wa, uou hko 0 her women, and, cousins though thfj w r , she had al ways kept him on his go id belmiou though she w as much gentler to Cyril than to any othci living boing Hmdsome md me 1 admired as Cyril was, ho was not a bit of a coxcomb and Le never suspected for a moment thit Constance cared foi him more than he did t 1 her, or indeed half so much If he had been 1 ked he wonl 1 h wo saul that Constance was utterly col i aid lnaiff rent to nil tho world,
ni that be would be a bold mau who would a tempt to make love to her And so wo mis ] id(,e others, and act to-virds them on our own nlse conci tiona of their character CojBtanco 1 s nutted Lim to kiss hei baud without any sign of plea ure or \esation , if it had been brushed by her own du «a she could not ba-e shown more l" cr mJiQ r(Mca j hen she withdrew a little
from him, aud they began to speak on other
u< J cts [int tu re waa an arkwud constraint .* v-een them, -nd Cyril was glad vhen Cou
-anco Suid s e mu t leave him to write letters
ae», Ihne some letters too to get through," ?»1 Cyril, bif)i-r arnott"
'Off' repeated Constance , "where are you feongJ '
I am p0 ng ba k to Pans to night, unless ïoj wnt me to stay here Is there anything I ein do to hdp vou " ho ad led quickly as he saw "? li ide of du ipi oiutireut on her face
., ^°> lit thing, said Constance quietly "Mi u bite wi'l attend to everything foi me
i ruV1'6 fe'L hart Cv-il-the ore friend she a p ,-"''e(' Eot *nve f'e'erted her so quickly
t-yru su friui her inanucr that she was vexed abojt so L *h ng and thought Ehe desired to be "lou H was a little hurt on his part that she aad n 1 , .v.ord nbout 4j,ce a ^e H t00 jaucli s ed with her own affair»," he said to
i-n c t £ lln test away ' And so Constance Cler n. th it Cj ni had been to see Alice in l"e raid o, aii thla trouble, and that the
"Tel ba 1 been parti illy patched un
L-rattince came dorn to luncheon for the first Je t nee her fathers death M> Wmte was 1 / s°° A worse a «orted tno, or one les3
'" d to talk with each other, it would have 1 impic,ibl0 to find The con' e-«ahon went - iu! s irts ">Ir. Wh te bore the bnmt of
it, and turned it on the subject of the responsi- bilities of large landholders towards their tenants. It was not a well-chosen subject for the present company ; it struck harshly on the ear of Cyril, and Constance felt the subject painful. But Mr. White never troubled much about con gruities ; ho wa^ n plain straightforward mau wbo gave all th« powers of his mind, to one subject at .1 time, and whether those tallied with collateral considerations he never stayed to inquiro. At, that time he was greatly exercised about ill'. Ducheäne's will, aud was nuxious above all thiugs that during the four years of Cyril's 'tsnuro nothing bhould be done to ch.augo the enccRent order in which the estates were.
" Yeis have a great responsibility," he said in conclusion to a long speech on the subject-"a great trust," he reiterated, us though the words struck him, and he looked significantly at Cyril.
Cyril frowned ; the matter and the manner were alike distasteful. To his uncle's pleading tones ho might respond, but as for this lawyer ?he would soon let him know that he was not to interfere, lu fact the thought crossed his mind that lie would shunt Mr. Whice altogether and employ another mau.
Coustauce took little notice of what was passing: the knowledge that would laavo given the key to the by-play was hidden from her. Sho saw that Cyril was nncoyed at the lecturing manner assumed by Mr. While ; so she rose from the table to put au eud co the con- versation as soon as possible. *
Soou after Mr. White went away, and then Cyril looked at his watch aud s:iid ho must go
too, and Constance was left alone.
Coustauce felt her heart sink a little as she watched them drive off. She felt as if she were deserted indeed, mid when Rruce, who had stolen iuto the room, and had on not being poromptorily ordered out walked noiselessly up to his mistress and put his cold nose under her hand, she felt quite grateful to him. " You aro the most faithful of them all, old dog," she said, as she laid her white face on his black curly head. Bruce WRgged his tail geutly as if in mule confirmation of his mistress's speech, and looked so eloquently iuto her face that his dumb sym- pathy did what all the rest had failed to do-he broke down the hard stem mask that she had compelled herself to wear, and for tho first time since her father's funeral she bowed down her head aud wept bitterly.
Bruco had his rowaid ; from that day he was free to roam the house 11c will-a thing he had never been permitted to do before. Into drawing room, library, boudoir, he followed his mistress like her shadow, and wherever Constance waa
there was Bruce also.
Three years had passed since Mr. Duchesnu's death. Nothing had changed greatly in that timo. Constance was Coustauce Ducheaue still in spite of many offers to make her Constance somebody elsa. Alico Yiuer w.ib still unmarried. The breach between her ¡md Cyril had been partly healed, as was said before, aud 11 kind of half-and-half engagement still existed between them. Alico would willingly have had it other- wise, but Cyril was thoioughly enjoying his cxi-leuce as a free and rich mau, and had no in- clination to enter into bonds of any kind. Con- stance had never heard or seen anything of Alico since her lather's death, and she rarely heard from Cyril, and then only short uotes passed on matters of business. Sho was ignorant as to whether they had been reconciled or not. Only once bad Cyril gone to tho Mauor House again' after his uncle's death, and then ho thought
Constance's manner towards him colder than it
had over been before. Ho felt pained aud hurt, and resolved not to go again ; and gradually the thought of Constance had come only to be asso- ciated with unpleasant thoughts-the wrong he had done her by his weak yieldiug to his uucle's will, and the disagreeable remombrnnca that the time of restitution was drawing near. Cyril scowled when he thought of it. Tho pleasures of wealth aro great, and he had druuk freely of them. There was scarcely au Art Gallery in Europe that he had not visited, or a classic scene that he had not gnueel on. Ho had scoured the Old World and tho New, and the picture-house of his memory was stored with visions of the immensity of the Andes and the pictutesque beauties of the Pyrenees. He had not, as too many young men do, prostrated his intellect to sensual pleasures ; he had enjoyed freely and largely, but it was in a mauuer to which ho could never be ashamed lo own ; aud now at tho age of threo-aud-thirty Cyril found hiuisolf at tho pinnacle of enjoyment. A magnificent physique ; a face whose more appearance in a drawiug-rooni caused a flutter among the ladies; perfect tasto and thorough knowledge of art such as it is givcu to few mon to possess ; a keon enjoyment of popularity, and tho gratification of it to its highest point ; a favourite aliko among his peera and dependants ; with tho reputation of immeuso wealth, and the knowledge that ho had but to throw tho handkerchief at the fairest
of the fuir girls who gathered round him to be accepted ; the feeling that ho had but to desiro a thing to procure it ; and-that in a year from that time ho would bo-a beggar : it was no wonder ho had not liked to think of Constance, and that as tho evil time dine near and more
near the more intolerable tile thought of her and
of laira trust became.
These thoughts had been brought into more promineuco than usual by a letter from Alice, who wrote pressingly for him to put an end to the uncertainty in which she lived. Cyril had thrown the letter ou the fire, and would willingly havo dismissed the unpleasaut subject from his mind, but it had struck a chord that vibratod incessantly. Marry her while he was in the enjoyment of this wealth ho would not-ha was much too selfish for that ; besides, the first flush of his passion had died off, and though he tacitly accepted Alice as his fate ho was by no means ardent about it. He would nob marry her during the next year of his good luck, and
after that-that " after that" was the Ute noir of Cyril's existence-tho rose-crowned skeleton at the feast. What waB to como after that he
could not picture. He would havo liked to have taken counsel, but he dared not-he must not give another possession of his secret, in case-in case he dared not own to himself what.
But that night it had flished across his mind
that trusta were sometimes broken. He wondered who kuevv the secret besides Mr. White. Was
there any other document besides that in his own possession ?
He had never ausvvered these questions to him Eelf-scarcely, in fact, had they shaped them- selves in his mind-they only floated in his brain-vague shadowy phantoms ; things pos Eiblo, bul not to be glanced at even. Let be what would bo ; it waa no use diving into tho futuro. Fate would bhape itself in her own way ; batter live on and wait and see. And so, as usual, Cyril took no definite action, nor did he even decide on any futuro plan ; ho enjoyed the pre:eut. And perhaps he was wiso after all. What ia the use of blackeuing the present with the thought of what may come ? There is much to be said iu favour of the small boy who plucked the plums out of the pie and ate them first of all ; probably ho knew that discovery or even stomach-ache raight intervene before the time carne to get through all that heavy paste. When good and bad are present, by all means secure the good, and then wndo through the paste afterward if strength nnd opportunity permit. So Cyril determined to oat all the plums out of bia pudding, and set about doing it methodically till that letter of Alico carno aud would not let him get it out of his head.
He walked up and down the garden of the Palais Royal- for he had drifted back to Paris, his most frequent anchorage ; and, for a wonder, did not join any o£ his numerous acquaintances. He was moody-a most unusual thing for him. It was just 6 o'clock, and the restaurants were in full swing preparing for the grand business of the day. Streams of people filed up the Arcade and vanished through the different portals : thoy sorted themselves out unerringly-the deux franc and trois-franc people each went their several ways, while the upper ten sauntered languidly towards Les Trois Fières.
The band had taken possession of the gardons, the windows were all flung open wide, while soul inspiring sounds and hunger-inspiring vapours contended for mastery in the dinner-eating mueic-loving animal called man.
Cyril passed all these enticing doorways with- out entering, though ho wa3 generally very par- ticular about tho dinner hour, He did not glance at the Trois Freres, but made his way deftly and almost unconsciously amidat the myriad little marble tables, which were then but sparsely occupied, but in another hour would be thronged by the viand-devouring mob above, wbo would comb here to take the café and petit verre which 17Ü5 lo put order in the medley of their inside3
and help them to digest it. The daszling étalage in the jewellers' shops he never glanced at, but walked blindly on impervious to the bright and merry influence of the Freuch dinner hour, thinking seriously, for once, how ho was to set about eating that paste.
By merest chance-for he had uot the slight- est intention of going home at that hour-be passed by his hotel, and mechanically went in.
" Another letter for monsieur," exclaimed the concierge as he saw Cyril enter, aud forthwith began a voluble explanation and apology for the
fact that the latter had not been taken to his appartement with the rest.
"No matter," said Cyril carelessly. He turned it over. How strange that it should fallow the tenour of his thoughts I On the envelope was the stamp of Mr. White's firm, ''lie let'tir was from Mr. Rogers, the junior partner, informing
him of the Budden death of Mr. White.
"I wonder if Rogers knows I"-the thought carne unbidden, and Cyril flushed with, sliauie, although he was alone. The news the letter con- tained was not unwelcome. Cyril had never overcome his dislike for Mr. White. Ho flung himself on au easy chair and brooded for more thau au hour. Then he roused himself and began to feel hungry, and recollected that it was past his usual timo for diuner. Ho went out and
dined, and after that itnportaut business was concluded he felt better. Tho fact that a good dinner has tbo effect of giviug a very silvery lining to every cloud h.a3 been remarked on too ofteu to need repetition, aud Cyril was another man j and as ho had dined very well-for Cyril was as well versed in the art of dilling as in any other he felt very much better, and then thoughts of Alice and Constance, of Mr. White aud trust money, all retired to the innermost recesses of
hi9 brain, to be kept there as louç .as possible. \ But this day, or this night rather, fate waa against him. After his dinner, and after bia cafó, and after his cigar, ho strolled with some friends along the Boulevards. It was a repeti- tion of tho samo gaiety and the same brightness; tho same flutter of enjoyment that the Palais Royal had displayed a few hours before, only the shops were mora imposing, and the coup d'ml more magnificent ; far away, as far as the Arch of the Star, tho lamps of a Etreum of vehicles formed an ever-moving coruscation of stars, as thoy drovo up aud down tho Champs Ely*óas, till across the broad swoop of the Place de la Concord they reached the long line of boule- vards, whoso glitter of gas and mirrors made tho scene as blight and light as day. There were the same groups at the lit-lo marble tables, tho same gazers into the splendour of the unigazins, the same wanderers seated on tho thickly pro- vided benches near the road side, Iho same hum of voices, and the same exaltation of spirit which
seems to make the mere fact of existence a bleE3
iug and a privilege which one finds no where so vividly as in Paris.
Cyril aud his friends had just reached that most aristocratic of the long line of boulevard?, the Boulevard des Italiens, when his eye was caught by a group standing before a. window in which some magnificent vases of porphyry were displayed. Ho almost started-every event ran into the same groove this night. Yes, theie was no mistaking that figure at once so graceful and so haughty. No ouo but Constance Duchesno could pose like that. Tho lady moved slightly, turning her fuco towards Cyril, and a (lush rose to his cheek. The next moment he recognised in the gentleman who escorted the two Indies John Poynton. The elderly lady who completed the trio was Mrs. Foxton, who had been living with Constance ever since her father's death.
For » moment Cyril was undetermined what to do. Should ho avoid thom ! But the oppor- tunity to do so was no longer his ; Mr. Poyntou'B eye had mot bia in that momentary glauco, and had recognised him, and Cyril could tell by his manner that ho was telling Constance. So, making a virtue of necessity, Cyril quitted his companions and advanced towards Ihe group. Ho had been in a bad temper since the receipt of Alice's letter, and the discovery lhat John Poynton was on such intimate terms with his cousin did not improve it.
Constance carne forward to meet him with out- stretched hand and a bright smile on hor face, and Cyril saw instantly how wonderfully her beauty had improved since ho last saw her. The worn haggarcl look had passed away, and the amooth round check, with the exquisitely bright' colour that tho pleasure of moetiug him had called up, shouo uko polished ivory, lier tall lillie figure seemed scarcely to tread tho earth. She waa buoyant with youth and health and happiness.
Whatever dark clouds had descended on Con-
stance Duchcsne's life beforo this had parsed away. To her at this time, though it had no very decided objocl, life seemed well worth the living. It was tho happiness that perfect health combined with absoluto freedom from caro give? to a finely-balanced mind. That she had no one dependent on her, no one to cling closely to, no ono to whom fho was first in all the world, did not weigh very heavily on Constance yet. Ouce for n Jittlo timo she hud repined at her lot and felt it barren ; that waa when Cyril and Alico were engaged-it was part of a dark cruel limo, and tho remembrance und the repining had buen banished together. Now Constance waa living in tho present aud enjoying it. If the soul had not como lo Undina yet, neither had tho great yearning for it-it had givou some preliminary throes once, but they had only boen the fore-
runners of the now birth.
" Why it is quite a vvondcryou condescended to recognise us at all, Cyril," sho said half laughing. " I feel quite flattered at the unexpected atten- tion, though certainly you did not havo very
far to come-not so far as Thames Ditton."
Cyril frowned, and muttered something about engagemeuts and travelling. He felt nihamod of tho way in which ho had held aloof, nnd Con- stance's light way of taking his desertion piqued him considerably.
" You have plonty of people to take caro of you it seems," he replied in n tone that bo tokenod annoyance, though ho still held hor band in his. " I did not flatter myself you would oven
notice whether I carno or not."
Constance looked at him for a second, and there was the faintest elevation of her eyebrows na she withdrew her hand, whether in disgust or sur- prise Cyril did not fcol sure. At any rato tho pleasant chatty mood in which she had greeted bim vanished, and Hie conversation took a matter-of-fact form, in which Mr. Foxton took .a large share. Mi. Poynton said very little. Cyril's appearance on the scone waa quite as unwelcome to him as his was to Cyril. It spoiled the plea- sure of his evening, and while tho rest were talk- ing for talking's sake he withdrew a littlo and entered into a bot discussion with himself.
(to be cokti.yckd.)
I HAVE the same feeling as Samuel Johnson concerning a good hater : I like him. It is this sentiment which perhaps causes me to linger in admiration over the para in some of tho northern papers. When the editors of cer- tain of these journals conceive a down upon a man they go for him straight, sparing neither his physical infirmities nor such peculiarities aB nature may hare fa-tencd on him. Hore is a northern Eketck of an alderman who has apparently not cultivated amicable relations with the local paper:-"Mr. Dash us an orator is a study. The ratepayers should go and see him when he is next on exhi- bition. He reminds ono forcibly of There-ites as photographed by Homer. A conical head, with hairs thinly scattered on top, a hatchet faco, eyes close together in murderous proi>inquity, a low Whitechapel forehead, pigeon-breasted, the ' basest man that ever came to Ilium,' who knew many scurrilous words. Like Thersites, this Dash delights in filthy words and in reviling his betters. He stands up with a curve in bia back like a sick rat, his spindleshanks twisted nfc an ang'.e of 45°, his hands sprawling on the table, and in a voice liko a ravou's, a high-pitched treble, a eunuch's faleotto, such as Robespierre, that other bulcher, had, be croakB out his ob- scene filth : n worthy member of tho council. The town ought to be proud of him-the san- guinary butcher who delights iu blood and slaughter." Dishes havo to be highly seasoned to suit the palates of divellers in the tropics.
TlIE wife of the historian Grote must havo been an extraordinary woman. She redo with- out a raddle ; she was not afraid to put off in a boat without a mau ; and she was plucky enoush to marry her lover without permission and return home without saying a word about it.- Syduoy Smith described this lady and her lord in bia happy fashion-"I do like them both so much, for he ia ladylike, and she is aperfect gentleman."