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fall ere I cound find a few branches of acacia, for 'tis but a common kind of flower and but little is brought to market. I at last by good fortune, remembered that an acacia grew in the yard of the house of an old crony of mine, and although I was already weary and footsore, yet so great was my desire to content the poor lady's wish, that I again set forth with the hope that my old commère would give me some of its branches for friendship's sake. Alas, 'tis but a bitter world, and for a few meagre scentless blossoms, I was compelled to give my beautiful yellow Madras handkerchief, although the owner of them was my friend, but then I had unfortunately betrayed too great an anxiety to possess them. But at the moment I cared not, for I would have given all I was worth but to show my attachment to the countess.

"It was late when I returned to the prison laden with my treasure. I could scarcely breathe for thinking of what would be the poor captive's joy on beholding it, and as I drew near to that dismal gate I seemed to tread upon air. I rushed through the door as soon as opened, for I was well known of the concierge, and was rapidly passing down the dark gallery which led to the cell wherein the countess was confined, when I felt myself stopped by a rude arm, and a rough voice called out,Hallo, bonne femme, whither are you hurrying so fast, and what have you there beneath your apron?'

"Linstantly recognised, with a shudder, the voice of the inspector of the prison, whose hard-hearted tyranny rendered him the terror of the poor captives under his charge.

"He uncovered the flowers as he spoke, and tearing them from my grasp, he burst into a paroxysm of rage, and pushing me by the shoulders with a savage violence, forced me beneath the window where the consigne was posted, and pointing to where among the things forbidden to be brought into the prisoners were written the words Neither any plant nor herb of any sort, neither gathered nor yet growing in pot or tub or any earthern vessel.' He opened the casement above his head and hurled the dear-bought bunch of blossoms far out into the court-yard beneath.

"There was no use in resisting, and supplication was too late. I felt my spirit sunk and gone, and I could do nought but weep and moan most bitterly, and stretch out my hands towards the place where I had seen the flowers disappear. Such violent grief, and for a cause so apparently trifling in itself, seemed to provoke the mirth of the cruel wretch, for he exclaimed with a savage sneer, 'Now the Lord be merciful to us! why here is a woman almost as old as my wife, crying and sobbing about a paltry bunch of flowers just like my little Marianne. Come, move off, 'tis time for all strangers to leave the prison. Dry your tears, my pretty dear, and to-morrow you shall have a bunch of buttercups to comfort you.'

"As he said this he pushed me through the door and closed it after me, and when I stood on the other side I felt as if I should no more behold the countess.

"Georgette, I have seen much pain and trouble in my life. When my boy Jean was brought home a hopeless cripple, and then when my daughter Melanie was given over by the doctor, and when, too, I returned from mass and found the shop burst open and the till emptied of all our earnings for many a long day; but I verily believe that I never felt a moment of such grief and bitterness as when I lost sight of the

acacia blossoms, and saw the white leaves separate and scatter as they fell.

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"I afterwards learnt the cause of this renewal of severity, and this enforcement of an ancient regulation which had for some time been disregarded. It was in consequence of the famous proclamation which had found its way into one of the prisons of the provinces enclosed within the folded petals of a bunch of rosebuds.

"I could not close my eyes the whole of that night. The remembrance of the unhappy young countess, as I had left her on the day before, haunted my imagination. It was with a heavy heart that I departed on the morrow again to seek the prison, I dreaded to encounter the first glance of the countess, and the more so when upon entering, I was told by one of the inspectors, that the citoyenne whom I wished to see, had moaned and sobbed so piteously all night, that every one had thought that there would have been a prisonnier de plus before the morning.

"When I entered the cell, she was, as usual, seated on the little pallet with her arms folded over her bosom, and her head resting against the wall. She started forward when I entered, and eagerly stretching forth both her hands towards me, exclaimed, Give it me, give it me, dearest Françoise, thou hast made me wait so very long, that I should have thought, only that I knew thee too well, that thou hadst forgotten me.'

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"I could not answer. I was too much overcome by the dread of the effect which her cruel disappointment might have upon her; but she at once perceived it ere I could speak, and turned sullenly away without uttering another word.

"I sat myself down beside her, and took her hand in mine. Her face was pale, very pale, while the large tears were rolling down her cheeks, and her low suppressed moanings would have melted a heart of stone. Towards the middle of the day she got worse, and deeming it expedient to send for assistance, I went to seek the wife of the concierge, who upon occasion, officiated as nurse to the female prisoners.

"The little room which the good woman occupied, looked out upon a square enclosure, a quadrangle, surrounded by high walls, into which the sun never shone. There were no trees in the space, but still it was green, although with long rank grass, and now and then a stray sparrow from the neighbouring roofs would come and perch among the tall weeds, seemingly beguiled into recollections of green hedges, and of liberty. I could not help thinking, with a sigh, of what would have been the joy of the poor dear countess could she but have had the enjoyment of this dark little plot of grass before her window, and then fancied that it might, perhaps, be some consolation to her to breathe the freshness even of that scanty herbage, so I stepped out and gathered as much as I could bring away of the long green grass, and the daisies which grew among it, and brought them into the countess's chamber. Poor thing! had you seen her on beholding the rude attempt at a nosegay which I bore in my hand on entering, you would never have forgotten it. She sang over the wild flowers in rapture, and pressed them with childish fondness, forgetful of pain and misery, while she inhaled their faint and scarcely perceptible fragrance.

"When her child was born, she covered it with the white blossom, and it was a touching sight to behold them as they slept, mother and babe, pale and motionless, and decked with those cold and starry flowers as if already in the grave.

"That very night I watched by her side. I had dismissed the nurse, for the countess had slept long and calmly, and her state gave me no uneasiness. The doctor had, indeed, talked a great deal about weariness and exhaustion, but I could not imagine as I now and then stooped over the dear lady and felt her breathe as she slept, calm and softly as the babe whose silken cheek rested against her own, that there could possibly be cause for alarm.

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"Towards midnight, I who had undergone much anxiety and fatigue during the previous day, perceiving that she still slumbered, sank myself down in the large arm-chair, which stood by the bed-side, and sought for little repose. I did not go to sleep, this I ever will deny, for my gaze was never once averted from the bed where the young countess lay with her sleeping infant at her side; but I know not-I never could account for the feeling which overcame me at that hour: it was a kind of awe, a creeping of the flesh which I had never felt before. I fancied that the countess was, indeed, buried beneath the earth, and that the grass and wild flowers were growing above her grave. All at once, I thought that the earth seemed to move with a hollow sound, and the form of the lady, with the same mild ashy countenance as in life, was revealed to me. Slowly she arose, and presently extending her arms to the borders of the pit, began to pluck, with cold and ghastly fingers, the flowers that grew among the grass, and as she twined within her clammy grasp, spoke in a low and hollow voice.

"Come with me, sweet sisters,' said she, mournfully, as well to share my darksome narrow bed, as fade and wither here while others, bright and fresh, are growing up around ye. There-lie upon my bosom, next my heart, for well ye know how, while in life, I loved ye.

"Rude and churlish hands they were that laid me here, and hearts that loved me not, or ye would have found me wrapped in flowers; for those to whom I once was dear, knew that I could not rest unless my shroud were decked with ye, ye beautiful and scented gems! Know ye not that I have ofttimes held communion with your fair sisters of Fontenay. I would converse with them as I lay beneath the cypress trees of the old graveyard upon the hill side. I would tell them how I should love to lay my head among them at some future day, and they would answer with a low soft murmur from amid the tall grass, which sighed as the wind bent its long blades like the waves of a troubled sea.

"Come hither,' would they say, 'come hither to thy rest. Where will thy sleep be so still and calm as amid those who love thee? We will shed our brightest blossoms and our sweetest odours around the place of thy repose. In the morning we will refresh thee with the dew from our fairy cups, and at even we will soothe thee with the murmur of our folding leaves. Fear not thine hour of dread, thou wilt rest as peacefully and undisturbed as thou now liest beneath the tall cypress tree. Come to us now while the sun shines bright and the birds sing gaily, nor tarry till the storms of winter have passed over thy young head. See, we live but to rejoice in the sunlight, and to laugh upwards at the clear blue sky; we flee before the first chill blast that sweeps along the plain. Then come and be of us ere yet we fade and scatter, and are lost to sight, for those who soon will follow us say, can they love so well and truly as we have done?'

"While she had been speaking, I had gradually aroused myself from the torpor which had seized upon my whole frame; and as I arose from the

chair the vision disappeared, but the lips of the invalid still murmured low confused sounds, which, strange to say, now that I was awake I did not understand!

"I drew near to her side; she was seated upright, and her trembling hands had formed a rude kind of chaplet of the poor withered flowers, which were strewn all over the bed. I spoke to her and called her by her name, but she answered not, and when I drew the lamp near to her face I perceived with terror, that it was cold and blue, and that her eyes were wandering vacantly around the chamber, I raised her in my arms. She gazed at me wildly, there was horror in that stricken look, the consciousness of death was upon her. She sank by the side of the babe, who uttered a low and feeble moan.

"Bless thee, bless thee, my child, my darling, my heart's best treasure, my life, my paquerette,' she said, as she imprinted a faint kiss on the pale forehead of the babe, and sank from within my grasp, while a few faint breathings came like ice against my cheek and then ceased for ever. She

was no more.

"Poor dear lady! She was buried amid the sand heaps, and chalk pits of ——. I laid the faded chaplet, which she had woven at her death hour upon her bosom, but I sometimes think she cannot rest in peace, for neither tree nor flower grow near her grave.

"I took the babe under my care, and whatever may have been said of my good man as far as regards his loyalty to his king, none can reproach his memory with one single act of unkindness, or even a harsh word towards the poor royalist orphan.

"She has grown up a wild and melancholy being, and singular in her tastes and habits, loving to spend the bright days of her youth in sadness and in solitude, with no other diversion than the contemplating of her beloved flowers. I have been blamed for suffering her to indulge in this strange and singular passion, but I, who know 'tis no fault of hers, have not the heart to thwart her in this, the only one pursuit in which she takes delight.

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"I have brought her up, as you may see, in every respect as well as my own danghter, and if she has not grown up so striking and elegant in person as my Melanie,' concluded the good woman, bridling up, or so clever in the art in which it has been our good fortune, through the kindness of monseigneur, to have her instructed, why that is no fault of mine?'

"There was certainly no harm in the little ebullition of vanity with which the good woman concluded her melancholy tale, aud perhaps at any other time it might have provoked a smile, but at that moment a feeling of sickness crept over me as I gazed upon the frail and statue-like form and delicate features of Paquerette, and then turned to the vivid colour and high cheek bones of the gaunt Melanie. I almost felt incensed at the decree of fate which had preserved the gentle maiden to link through life with beings so utterly uncongenial as those by whom she was surrounded."

CHAPTER IV.

THE WONDROUS BOUQUET.

"AFTER I had heard this story I felt even more attachment than before towards Paquerette. With the love which I had borne her even from

the very first hour of our acquaintance, now mingled a kind of respect, which made me feel as if it were almost a condescension on her part to suffer me to associate with her, and that I had no just right to intrude myself upon her friendship.

"But she seemed with me unconscious of her gentle origin, and would love to pass in my society all the time which could be spared from her music, in order to converse and gain information concerning her beloved flowers. The truth must be told: had Paquerette been living alone in a wilderness she could not have been more solitary, in as far as regards all human friendship and sympathy, than she was in the midst of this kindhearted, but rude, uncultivated family. And as I grew further acquainted with the maiden, I discovered, too, that poor and dependent as she was, she possessed much of the old leaven of aristocratic pride, which must have been born with her, even in the cold damp cell of the Conciergerie. Thus, she felt grateful to Françoise for the care which she had taken of her childhood, and yet looked upon the service as a debt which she had incurred, and which at some future time she would doubtless have an opportunity to discharge. Her intercourse with Melanie, too, partook of much of the same character. Although brought up together, and living the same life, yet no one could have mistaken them for sisters, or even for relations. In the most ordinary actions of every day life, there was as much distinction to be drawn between the daughter of the countess and the daughter of the portress, as if they had never held any further intercourse than would have been the case, had events followed their ordinary course, and the one remained content to open the gate while the other, richly attired, and followed by a train of liveried vassals, might pass through.

"Melanie was, notwithstanding all this, a good-natured girl, and, I verily believe, felt all the love and admiration for Paquerette which could be spared from herself. There was, in truth, no envy, no jealousy on her part. She had, by far, too exalted an opinion of herself, to feel jealousy of any one, and she might rather be said to experience a kind of pity towards the poor orphan for her imagined deficiency in those perfections in which she fancied she herself so much excelled. In general, the worthy gossips of the neighbourhood favoured this idea, for Paquerette, with her pale features and slight and elegant form, could not, in their opinion, stand a moment's comparison with the ruddy complexion, the tall and comely figure, and laughing black eyes of Melanie. Sometimes, when the girls would sing together in the summer evenings by way of giving us a little concert after our supper, taken in the open air, the wise commères would be loud and strenuous in their admiration of the powerful voice and long roulades of Melanie, leaving the sweet touching tones of Paquerette without praise or comment. And these were, perhaps, the only occasions wherein I ever observed any thing like an expression of pleasantry pass across the otherwise immovable features of Paquerette. The good Françoise had never to feel any kind of maternal bitterness towards Paquerette, for it is certain that her daughter absorbed all the beaux of the neighbourhood.

"Hundreds of bouquets did I use to sell on her fête day to the lads of the quartier in which she lived, and I always chose them on purpose, large showy things with some few staring flowers all round the outside, filled in the middle with grass and moss, and thought, as I saw them

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