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not satisfied. The standard by which they judged of human guilt and innocence was very different from mine. They estimated people according to their amount of religious zeal, without regard to their moral conducts
On a certain occasion a couple of friends came to my uncle's, and in the afternoon I found one of them in the garden lying in an arbor in a state of intoxication. As I had seen my uncle throw a bucket of water upon the gardener when he was in a similar condition, I thought it an act of mercy to do so to bring the priest to his senses. But soon after I had done it, I found the difference, and was doomed to a severe penance, till the evil one should be driven out of me. I was placed in a rude part of the building, and left much exposed to the chill of the night air, without bed or bedding. However, weariness soon overcame me, and I fell asleep on the floor.
When I awoke at daylight, I was surprised to find that some person had visited me during the night. I was completely covered from the cold by several clothes, and liniment had been applied to the bruises I had received. A cup of wine stood near my head. I had scarcely drank the reviving liquid, when my uncle and aunt came into my rude apartment to see if I was able to endure farther punishment. They started upon sceing the way in which I had been provided for, and angrily demanded who had supplied me with those things. I told them I knew as little about it as they did. They then hastily examined the robes which had been thrown over me, the drinking cup, and the ointment which had been applied to my bruises. After they had done this, they looked at each other with wondering admiration. They agreed that no one living in the neighborhood could have done the things which had been done for me: the clothes were not such as were used by the peasants, and the drinking cup was of a fashion entirely different from those used by the natives. They walked quietly away and left me. In about an hour they returned again, with the intemperate father, the other having gone alone to a neighboring town. The priest examined the articles which had been left with me, and questioned me closely on the subject. I could give him no satisfaction. He then assumed å mysterious look, and, crossing himself, told my uncle and aunt that I had been visited by my guardian angel; and he insinuated that this was not the first miracle which had been performed through his agency!
“Yes,” cried my aunt, "if the holy father had not been in our house, this wonderful miracle would never have been performed.” I was then commanded to get upon my knees and thank Father Pierre for the interposition of my guardian angel, in my behalf. Having an eye to my own interest and safety, I did as I was commanded. The priest, who appeared sincere, in the opinion which he had expressed, was now much softened toward me, and having just swallowed his morning bitters, he talked very benevolently.
He told my uncle that it would be sufficient to inflict some slight penance upon me, as I was but a child, and had probably offended through ignorance. My good aunt held up her hands with admiration at the lenity of the priest, and declared that he was altogether too merciful.
The priest went away after dinner, and I was then conveyed to a bed in a room at the end of the house next the mountain, and which was conse
quently dark and gloomy. On the succeeding day, I awoke with a burning fever. I begged for drink which was denied me except in very small quantities. I suffered intolerably from thirst all that day; but I was awaked at midnight by some noise near me, and perceived that a pitcher of water had been placed on a chair at the head of my bed. I seized it and drank; after which I fell into a sound sleep from which I did not awake until morning
Upon opening my eyes, I saw my aunt standing in the door, with her hands raised at some new wonder that she had discovered. “Where did that pitcher come from?” cried she. I told her that I was aroused at midnight by a noise near the head of my bed, and found the pitcher on a chair filled with water. She shook her head mysteriously and ran to call my uncle. He examined the pitcher, and then declared that my guardian angel had been on the premises again. He and my aunt crossed themselves most devoutly and retired. In a few moments a servant came for the pitcher, which was placed in the chapel, by the side of the cup and the celestial robes.
These visits of my guardian angel-as they were called—had a tendency to ameliorate my condition; although my aunt was evidently jealous of the favors which I received from so high a source. She, good woman, had gone through with all the exercises prescribed by her creed, had been constant at her devotions, and drilled her countenance into an expression of severity and rigid self-denial; yet no miracle had remunerated her for her trouble: while I, sinner that I was, and the son of heretics, had been taken care of by an angel, even at the moment that I was undergoing punishment for ducking a holy priest.
After my recovery, I learned that many of the neighboring gentry had called to examine my supernatural presents, and some had prostrated themselves before them in the chapel. The poor peasants were not permitted to have a glimpse of the miraculous robes and utensils, lest their presence should desecrate the temple, in which hung naked and bleeding, the God of the worshippers, on a cross like a common malefactor. But when a priest had been into the temple and touched the sacred things, the poor were permitted to kiss his hand as he came out. Oh! admirable condescension ! Oh! unexampled humility!
For several days some time after these occurrences, I lay ill with a fever, but I was now attended by a nurse and a physician; since persons of quality who came to the chapel had spoken of me in very reverent terms, and had prophecied that I should yet be a saint. From a regard to their own reputation, therefore, my relatives sufiered me to be properly attended. But the nocturnal visitant ceased coming as soon as others bestowed upon me proper attention.
At length I was able to leave my room; and with the help of a cane, I went out into the open air. As I made my appearance in the garden, I was surprised at the conduct of the laborers. Instead of addressing me with rude familiarity, as they had been wont to do, they stepped aside as I walked along the paths, and stood gazing upon me with as much reverence and timidity as if I had been a holy pilgrim just from Jerusalem.
My strength now began rapidly to return, and I grew fond of rambling about my uncle's grounds. Sometimes I went as far as the foot of the mountain. On one of these occasions, I met a little girl, near my own age, with a basket in her hand. I was about to pass the girl with a slight bow, when she suddenly stopped, and looking fixedly at me, said with a plaintive air, “Are you the little boy who has been so sick, and who was beaten so severely by his uncle?"
“I am the same one,” replied I.
"I am not so strong as formerly," said I, “but I am, every day, regaining my health."
“I am glad of that,” cried she with much feeling, “ for I cried all day when I heard how you had been abused. What a wicked man your uncle must be !"
“ Nay,” said I, “but he is called very devout.”
“I know that very well,” replied the little girl, casting her eyes toward the ground; “ but many people are very devout, who are very wicked.”
I had never before heard this sentiment expressed. People who had visited at the house of my uncle had seemed to believe that it was of little consequence what was the moral character of an individual, so that he was observant of religious forms and ceremonies, and treated ecclesiastics with reverence. I was both surprised and pleased to tind one whose sentiments appeared to be so just, and yet so uncommon.
We parted, and as there were indications of a storm, I pursued my way homeward. I much wondered who the little girl could be, and where she had been with her basket. I had remarked that her complexion was more fair than that of the peasant girls, and her features were of a higher and more noble cast. She had also said that she wept when she heard of my misfortunes. This was new language to me. It was the first time that the tones of genuine sympathy had reached my ears. In my subsequent rambles, I frequently caught myself wandering toward the foot of the mountain, and coming to a stand on the spot where I had met the unknown. But several weeks elapsed before I again saw the little girl. By this time I had fairly recovered my health and strength. I was walking in a wood near the base of the mountain, when I heard cries as of some person in distress. I hastened to the spot from which the noise proceeded, and I saw my little friend standing on the top of a rock, while a wolf greedily surveyed her from the ground, and appeared to be on the point of ascending to her. I caught up a large stone which I threw with all the force of which I was capable. It struck him in the side and knocked him over, but he quickly regained his feet. I then attacked him with a club and drove him off. I assisted the little girl in her descent from the rock. She appeared very grateful for this deliverance; yet her gratitude was expressed more by looks than by words. Her basket was on her arm, and I wondered to what purpose it had been applied, but I forbore to inquire. We walked along together through the wood, conversing freely on a variety of topics. She was glad to see me look so well, and seemed to sympathize with all my joys and sorrows. I was surprised at some of her observations, which evinced a degree of intelligence not generally found in one of her years. When we were about to part, I begged to know her name. She told me it was Antoinette Cimbrede. I then re.. collected that I had heard my aunt speak of a family by the name of Cimbrede; and she had spoken of them with disrespect. She had spoken of them as persons who neglected their religious duties, and who were seldom seen at church. But I had little respect for my aunt's opinion of character. After this second interview, I frequently fell in with Antoinette, and became so well pleased with her that I made her the confidant of all my affairs. She was also communicative, but there were some subjects on which she gave me no light. She never told me why the basket was always on her arm when I met her. I once mentioned that my aunt did not appear to be on good terms with her parents. She immediately became silent and thoughtful. I frequently waited upon her home. I did not enter the house, but parted from her at the garden gate. I judg. ed from the appearance of their domain that her parents were in good circumstances. But she always mentioned them with evident reluctance. Occasionally she would make an observation which evinced a minute knowledge of my history. These things kept my curiosity awake, and added to the deep interest which I felt for her.
Thus passed my life until I had attained my fifteenth year. Antoinette was now a young woman of surpassing beauty, and uncommon intelligence. Our interviews had become more interesting. The childish intimacy which had subsisted between us ripened into love. She was to me like a fountain in the desert. She had been the only true friend whom I had known, and the tie of gratitude had bound me to her indissolubly; and when to this was added the most ardent admiration of her feminine graces, the result could not be any thing else but love. Although I spent much of my time in the society of this interesting maiden, yet I learned but little of her parents. We met in groves; on the grassy hill-side; or on the craggy heights, where we listened to the roar of the waterfall, and romance added interest to our interviews.
On one of these occasions, I ventured to ask Antoinette if her parents would be likely to approve our intimacy, if they knew of it.
" They do know it," was her reply.
“You surprise me, Antoinette!" I returned: "I am a stranger to them"
Here she suddenly looked up, and with an expression in her countenance which checked my words; for I thought she was about to say thing respecting them. But she seemed to recollect herself. She slightly blushed, and her eyes fell beneath my own. I went on—"As I am a perfect stranger to your parents, is it not somewhat singular that they should not have prohibited these interviews? Also, you will recollect that I am an orphan-for I learn from my uncle that my parents died in Holland--and I have no expectations beyond those which my uncle's stinted generosity will allow me: and you know how much I may hope from him."
“Well, Edouard, I shall have enough for both of us."
"Ah! my dear girl, do your parents reason in that manner? Do they say?'
""Indeed! you must not ask me what they say!"
"Surely there is much mystery in this," I replied. “Can you suppose me otherwise than anxious on this particular point? I have never seen them. They have never spoken to me”
"Is it not sufficient that they are perfectly well acquainted with all that
has passed between us, and are satisfied with the part I have acted:” returned Antoinette.
“It ought to satisfy me,” I returned thoughtfully; but with a cloud of disappointment on my brow; as I had hoped to penetrate the mystery in which her parents were shrouded.
"Yes, Edouard, you must be satisfied; for I tell you that there will be no difficulty on their part.”
" But my uncle and aunt,” said I. "They know nothing of the affair, and they cannot object to our union.”
Antoinette was silent. She cast down her eyes, and a paleness gradu, ally stole over her features. After a few moments' silence, I added :" There is one other subject, Antoinette, upon which I have long desired to question you. When we first met, at the foot of the mountain, I observed a well filled basket on your arm; and I saw you carrying it frequently afterward: but when our acquaintance had begun to—t— to be more particular—then I saw that the basket was transferred from you to an old servant”
Antoinette fixed her large black eyes upon my countenance, as if she would read my very soul. I paused an instant, and continued: “Yes, I have observed an old servant lingering about the foot of the mountain with that same basket; and sometimes I have thought his conduct strange, for he would walk backward and forward, and keep his eyes fixed upon me, as if he mistook me for a robber."
“That is strange,” said Antoinette, twirling a bunch of grapes in her hand, and avoiding my eyes.
“I thought his conduct strange," said I, “and when I mentioned”— Antoinette suddenly grasped my arm, and looked anxiously in my face. “To whom?” cried she. “To whom did you mention it?"
"Not to my uncle or my aunt,” said I with a smile, "for they are not in my confidence. I was going to say that when I mentioned it to you, I had hoped that some explanation would be given.”
Antoinette relinquished my arm, and once more she relapsed into a musing mood. At length she said carelessly, “Then you have not mentioned it to any person except myself?”
“I have not, Antoinette. I feel a peculiar disrelish to talking about you, or any of your family, to those bigoted creatures with whom I daily associate.”
Antoinette looked up with a lively smile—"Now tell me, dear Edouard, are they really so very bigoted?"
"Yes," said I. “With them bigotry is the sublimest of virtues. My parents are regarded by them, as the worst of sinners, for having belonged to that party who called themselves Hugenots: but I fancy that one might have belonged to that party without becoming guilty of the excesses of which many of them were guilty.”
“What excesses were those, my Edouard ?"
“Such as fighting against the government, and endeavoring to overthrow religion,” said I.
They never tried to overthrow what they conceived to be true religion,” replied Antoinette; “and when they fought, it was in their own defence-in defence of the right to worship God in their own way. They believe that government has no right over their religion.”