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place to look after and chat with the pretty peasant-girls, but his eye had caught sight of the radishes which were laid out for sale in large square masses, red and white, with their green leaves between each kind, and he immediately conceived the notion that they were the tricoloured drapeau. He had to bear joking about his mistake for a long time afterwards, but he never changed his ideas, and always believed that the revolution was only kept under by his activity and presence of mind. With a commanding officer so notoriously gallant, though certainly past the prime of life, it may easily be supposed that his juniors were well inclined to follow his example. We were all young, gay-hearted, fond of pleasure, as was natural at our age, and some of us were also exceedingly sentimental; so the majority of us were in love, or we fancied ourselves so. We frequented the opera perpetually, and when we were invited to balls we waltzed with a dexterity, a devotion, and a perseverance to which few but Austrians ever attain.
Outside the walls of Crema was the residence of an Italian Count Mwho was said to have married the loveliest woman in all Lombardy, where beauty is by no means rare. According to report he was furiously jealous of his wife, and it was quite certain that they lived in the utmost seclusion. No gentlemen of any kind were admitted into the house, certainly no Austrian Hussars were. The countess never appeared at the opera, and very rarely at mass, and when there was closely shrouded. But two of our number had caught a glimpse of her eyes in the church from behind her veil, and the effect was overwhelming; and another had seen her at a great distance walking in the grounds, and declared that her graceful undulating figure was perfection. Some poor peasants, too, told the same tale, and nothing was lost in the narration, until we were half wild to behold this beauty, were it but for an instant, and formed many plots to bring it about, which, however, all ended in failures. At length we concocted a fresh scheme. We determined to ride out all together, and when near the house one of us was to make his horse rear over, and fall off the animal, and then lie on the ground as if senseless. The remainder were to consult together as though in trouble and perplexity, and then to take the injured man up, and carry him to the house, and demand some temporary assistance which one felt could hardly be refused, and take our chance for the rest. We selected the hour when, as we were told, the count and his servants would be taking the midday siesta; and at the proper place the officer who had the duty assigned to him, fell off his horse with right good-will, and lay on the road like a log of wood. We could hardly retain our gravity, but remembering that we might meanwhile be watched, we proceeded to do what we had previously rehearsed. Finding, in spite of our endeavours, that our comrade did not open his eyes, we lifted him up, and carried him slowly towards the château. He was a great heavy fellow, and certainly made no effort to lighten himself or our task, but lay so slack and limp that it was with great difficulty we could keep our hold on him, or prevent his slipping through our hands on to the ground. We were admitted by a
servant, to whom we explained the state of affairs. He preceded us upstairs, and we followed, bearing our freight in secret triumph, and taking care to step as noiselessly as possible. We deposited the injured man on a couch, and stood around in silence like so many mourners. He opened his eyes (the servant had retired), gave us one expressive glance, and relapsed into insensibility. I remember the scene as if it were but yesterday. The jalousies were carefully closed to exclude the midday sun, which even at that season of the year had a certain power; but the windows were open, and admitted a delicious perfume of flowers, while the room was decorated with pictures, and hung with heavy tapestried curtains of some sombre colour. I suppose the oldest among us had not seen three-and-twenty summers, the youngest perhaps about seventeen; and while we were waiting in some embarrassment as to our next proceedings, the door opened noiselessly, and the countess herself stood among us, followed by a major-domo bearing wine and other restoratives. The lady was perhaps a year or two older than any of us, and advanced quite with an air of protection and authority, but certainly a more radiantly lovely woman our eyes had never yet looked on. She was dressed in a white muslin gossamer kind of robe, and with her large lambent gleaming eyes and slight fragile figure, she seemed like a vision of brightness suddenly raised up among us. We hastily stated our case, and expressed
our fears, omitting all mention of the one which most beset us, i.e. the entrance of the count, and then under her directions we busied ourselves in various ways about the injured man, taking especial precautions, as we did so, to keep our swords and spurs from clanking. I armed myself with a pair of scissors, but it was our fashion to wear our heads so closely shorn, that unless I had snipped off my friend's moustaches there was little or nothing to do in that direction, so I laid them down again and waited. Animation was still suspended, and the major-domo rather officiously proposed to bleed from the arm. We did not dare to look at each other, or to negative the proposition, though we were very uncertain how the invalid would stand the test. We felt that the eyes of the countess were watching us curiously, and when I stole a glance I detected an expression of mirthful humour on her lips as she desired me to turn back his coat-sleeve. He submitted with a stolid courage for which we felt really grateful, but just before the incision was actually made the count entered hastily, and with a clouded brow. The countess instantly vanished. Thereupon, our comrade showed signs of returning vitality, and in a few minutes he was on his legs and able to walk downstairs leaning on my arm. We expressed our best acknowledgments to the count for his hospitality, lifted our friend into his saddle, and, as soon as we were out of sight, we set spurs to our horses and gallopped to the barracks-every one of us, from the eldest to the youngest, madly in love with the Countess M - We kept our own counsel, or thought we did; but the story somehow got abroad, and a few days afterwards the count left that part of the country, taking his wife with him, and the château remained empty and desolate.
A Week in a French Country-House.
ERE'S a letter that concerns you, Bessy," said my mother one morning a week or two ago, as I came into our little breakfast-room at Linton.
"And we say you're to go," said aunt Emily.
"Oh, aunt Emily! go where?" I exclaimed in utter despair, and feeling ready to cry with fatigue at the bare idea of a move in any direction.
"Olympe has written," began my mother, holding up a thin letter with a yellow stamp upon it.
"Yes, and you are to go," once more broke in my impetuous old aunt Emily. The letter was from the Comtesse de Caradec, in answer to one from my poor dear mother,
who it seems had been writing all her alarms about my health to her old friend and pupil; and now, as soon as I could get aunt Emily to promise silence, the letter was read out to me. It was cordial and affectionate, as all her letters are, and contained the kind proposal that I should go over to Marny-les-Monts, and try what a fortnight's entire change would do towards toning me up, and shaking me out of the languor, mental and physical, which had invaded me of late, and against which, for the first time in my life, I felt quite powerless to do battle.
The fact is, that my dear mother's illness, coming as it did, after a most exhausting term of hard work, had quite knocked me down. I had had a good many pupils and one or two schools also to attend during the last season; and the confinement of the life, together with the painful strain upon the nerves, which I suppose teaching music will always be to me, to the end of time, had already left me feeble and in want of rest, when mother was seized, first with bronchitis, then with inflammation of the lungs; and the terrible anxiety about her, combined with all those days spent in her hot room, and all those nights passed by her sick-bed,