Enfin, chère Sibylle,’ said Madame de Frontignac when Mary came out of the room with her cheeks glowing and her eyes flashing with a still unsubdued light. ‘Te voilà encore! What did he say, mimi? did he ask for me?’

‘Yes,’ said Mary, ‘he asked for you.’

‘What did you tell him?’

‘I told him that you wished me to excuse you.’

‘How did he look then? Did he look surprised?’

‘A good deal so, I thought,’ said Mary.

Allons, mimi, tell me all you said and all he said.’

‘Oh,’ said Mary, ‘I am the worst person in the world; in fact, I cannot remember anything that I have said; but I told him that he must leave you and never see you any more.’

‘Oh, mimi! never!’

Madame de Frontignac sat down on the side of the bed with such a look of utter despair as went to Mary’s heart.

‘You know that that is best, Verginie, do you not?’

‘Oh! yes, I know it; but it is like death to me! Ah, well, what shall Verginie do now?’

‘You have your husband,’ said Mary.

‘I do not love him,’ said Madame de Frontignac.

‘Yes; but he is a good and honourable man, and you should love him.’

‘Love is not in our power,’ said Madame de Frontignac.

‘Not every kind of love,’ said Mary, ‘but some kinds. If you have an indulgent friend who protects you, and cares for you, you can be grateful to him; you can try to make him happy, and in time you may come to love him very much. He is a thousand times nobler man, if what you say is true, than the one who has injured you so.’

‘Oh, Mary,’ said Madame de Frontignac, ‘there are some cases where we find it too easy to love our enemies.’

‘More than that,’ said Mary; ‘I believe that if you were to go on patiently in the way of duty, and pray daily to God, that at last He will take out of your heart this painful love, and give you a true and healthy one. As you say, such feelings are very sweet and noble; but they are not the only ones we have to live by. We can find happiness in duty, in self-sacrifice, in calm, sincere, honest friendship. That is what you can feel for your husband.’

‘Your words cool me,’ said Madame de Frontignac. ‘Thou art a sweet snow-maiden, and my heart is hot and tired. I like to feel thee in my arms,’ she said, putting her arms around Mary, and resting her head upon her shoulder. ‘Talk to me so every day, and read me good, cool verses out of that beautiful book, and perhaps by-and-by I shall grow still and quiet like you.’

Thus Mary soothed her friend; but every few days this soothing had to be done over, as long as Burr remained in Newport. When he was finally gone, she grew more calm. The simple, homely ways of the cottage, the healthful routine of daily domestic toils, into which she delighted to enter, brought refreshment to her spirits. That fine tact and exquisite social sympathy which distinguishes the French above other nations, caused her at once to enter into the spirit of the life in which she moved; so that she no longer shocked any one’s religious feelings by acts forbidden to the Puritan idea of the sabbath, or failed in any of the exterior proprieties of religious life.

She also read and studied with avidity the English Bible, which came to her with the novelty of a wholly new book, and in a new language; nor was she without a certain artistic valuation of the austere precision and gravity of the religious life by which she was surrounded.

‘It is sublime, but a little “glaciale,” like the Alps,’ she sometimes said to Mary and Mrs. Marvyn, when speaking of it; ‘but then,’ she added, playfully, ‘there are the flowers—les roses des Alpes; and the air is very strengthening, and it is near to heaven—il faut avouer.’

We have shown how she appeared to the eye of New England life; it may not be uninteresting to give a letter to one of her friends, which showed how the same appeared to her.

It was not a friend with whom she felt on such terms that her intimacy with Burr would furnish any allusions to her correspondence.

‘You behold me, my charming Gabrielle, quite pastoral; recruiting from the dissipations of my Philadelphia life in a lovely, quiet cottage, with most worthy, excellent people, whom I have learnt to love very much. They are good and true, as pious as the saints themselves, although they do not belong to the true Church, a thing which I am sorry for; but then let us hope that if the world is wide, heaven is wider, and that all worthy and religious people will find room at last. This is Verginie’s own little pet private heresy, and when I tell it to the Abbé, he only smiles; and so I think, somehow, that it is not so very bad as it might be.

‘We have had a very gay life in Philadelphia, and now I am growing tired of the world, and think I shall retire to my cheese, like La Fontaine’s rat. These people in the country here in America have a character quite their own; very different from the life of cities, where one sees, for the most part, only a continuation of the forms of good society which exist in the old world.

‘In the country these people seem simple, grave, severe; always industrious; cold and reserved in their manners towards each other, but with great warmth of heart. They are all obedient to the word of their priest, whom they call a minister, and who lives among them just like any other man, and marries and has children. Everything in their worship is plain and austere. Their churches are perfectly desolate; they have no chants, no pictures, no carvings; only a most disconsolate, bare building, where they meet together and sing one or two hymns, and the minister makes one or two prayers all out of his own thoughts; and then gives them a long, long discourse about things which I cannot understand English enough to comprehend.

‘There is a very beautiful, charming young girl here, the daughter of my hostess, who is as lovely and as saintly as St. Catharine, and has such a genius for religion that if she had been in our Church she would certainly have made a saint. Her mother is a respectable and worthy matron, and the good priest lives in the family. I think he is a man of very sublime religion, as much above this world as a great mountain; but he has the true sense of liberty and fraternity, for he has dared to oppose with all his might this detestable and cruel trade in poor negroes; which makes us, who are so proud of the example of America in asserting the rights of man, so ashamed for her inconsistencies.

‘Well, now, there is a little romance getting up in the cottage; for the good priest has fixed his eyes on the pretty saint, and has discovered, what he must be blind not to see, that she is very lovely. And so, as he can marry, he wants to make her his wife; and her mamma, who adores him as if he were God, is quite set upon it. The sweet Marie, however, has had a lover of her own in her little heart, a beautiful young man who went to sea, as heroes always do, to seek his fortune. And the cruel sea has drowned him, and the poor little saint has wept and prayed her very life out on his grave; till she is so thin, and sweet, and mournful, that it makes one’s heart ache to see her smile. In our Church, Gabrielle, she would have gone into a convent; but she makes a vocation of her daily life, and goes round the house so sweetly, doing all the little work that is to be done, as sacredly as the nuns pray at the altar. For you must know, here in New England the people for the most part keep no servants, but perform all the household work themselves, with no end of spinning and sewing besides. It is the true Arcadia, where you find refined and cultivated natures busying themselves with the simplest toils. For these people are well-read and well-bred, and truly ladies in all things. And so, my little Marie and I, we feed the hens and chickens together, and we search for eggs in the hay in the barn; and they have taught me to spin at their great wheel, and a little one, too, which makes a noise like the humming of a bee. But where am I? Oh, I was telling about the romance. Well, so the good priest has proposed for my Marie, and the dear soul has accepted him, as the nun accepts the veil; for she only loves him filially and religiously. And now they are going on, in their way, with preparations for the wedding. They had what they call “a quilting” here the other night, to prepare the bride’s quilt, and all the friends in the neighbourhood came—it was very amusing to see. The morals of this people are so austere that young men and girls are allowed the greatest freedom. They associate and talk freely together, and the young men walk home alone with the girls after evening parties. And most generally the young people, I am told, arrange their marriages among themselves before the consent of the parents is asked. This is very strange to us. I must not weary you, however, with the details. I watch my little romance daily, and will let you hear further as it progresses.

‘With a thousand kisses, I am ever your loving


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