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    Madame de Fleury

    by Maria Edgeworth
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    CHAPTER I

    "There oft are heard the notes of infant woe,
    The short thick sob, loud scream, and shriller squall--
    How can you, mothers, vex your infants so?"--POPE

    "D'abord, madame, c'est impossible!--Madame ne descendra pas ici?" said
    Francois, the footman of Madame de Fleury, with a half expostulatory,
    half indignant look, as he let down the step of her carriage at the
    entrance of a dirty passage, that led to one of the most
    miserable-looking houses in Paris.

    "But what can be the cause of the cries which I hear in this house?" said
    Madame de Fleury.

    "'Tis only some child who is crying," replied Francois; and he would have
    put up the step, but his lady was not satisfied.

    "'Tis nothing in the world," continued he, with a look of appeal to the
    coachman, "it _can_ be nothing, but some children who are locked up there
    above. The mother, the workwoman my lady wants, is not at home: that's
    certain."

    "I must know the cause of these cries; I must see these children" said
    Madame de Fleury, getting out of her carriage.

    Francois held his arm for his lady as she got out.

    "Bon!" cried he, with an air of vexation. "Si madame la vent absolument,
    a la bonne heure!--Mais madame sera abimee. Madame verra que j'ai
    raison. Madame ne montera jamais ce vilain escalier. D'ailleurs c'est
    au cinquieme. Mais, madame, c'est impossible."

    Notwithstanding the impossibility, Madame de Fleury proceeded; and
    bidding her talkative footman wait in the entry, made her way up the
    dark, dirty, broken staircase, the sound of the cries increasing every
    instant, till, as she reached the fifth storey, she heard the shrieks of
    one in violent pain. She hastened to the door of the room from which the
    cries proceeded; the door was fastened, and the noise was so great that,
    though she knocked as loud as she was able, she could not immediately
    make herself heard. At last the voice of a child from within answered,
    "The door is locked--mamma has the key in her pocket, and won't be home
    till night; and here's Victoire has tumbled from the top of the big
    press, and it is she that is shrieking so."

    Madame de Fleury ran down the stairs which she had ascended with so much
    difficulty, called to her footman, who was waiting in the entry,
    despatched him for a surgeon, and then she returned to obtain from some
    people who lodged in the house assistance to force open the door of the
    room in which the children were confined.

    On the next floor there was a smith at work, filing so earnestly that he
    did not hear the screams of the children. When his door was pushed open,
    and the bright vision of Madame de Fleury appeared to him, his
    astonishment was so great that he seemed incapable of comprehending what
    she said. In a strong provincial accent he repeated, "_Plait-il_?" and
    stood aghast till she had explained herself three times; then suddenly
    exclaiming, "Ah! c'est ca;"--he collected his tools precipitately, and
    followed to obey her orders. The door of the room was at last forced
    half open, for a press that had been overturned prevented its opening
    entirely. The horrible smells that issued did not overcome Madame de
    Fleury's humanity: she squeezed her way into the room, and behind the
    fallen press saw three little children: the youngest, almost an infant,
    ceased roaring, and ran to a corner; the eldest, a boy of about eight
    years old, whose face and clothes were covered with blood, held on his
    knee a girl younger than himself, whom he was trying to pacify, but who
    struggled most violently and screamed incessantly, regardless of Madame
    de Fleury, to whose questions she made no answer.

    "Where are you hurt, my dear?" repeated Madame de Fleury in a soothing
    voice. "Only tell me where you feel pain?"

    The boy, showing his sister's arm, said, in a surly tone--"It is this
    that is hurt--but it was not I did it."

    "It was, it _was_!" cried the girl as loud as she could vociferate: "it
    was Maurice threw me down from the top of the press."

    "No--it was you that were pushing me, Victoire, and you fell
    backwards.--Have done screeching, and show your arm to the lady."

    "I can't," said the girl.

    "She won't," said the boy.

    "She cannot," said Madame de Fleury, kneeling down to examine it. "She
    cannot move it; I am afraid that it is broken."

    "Don't touch it! don't touch it!" cried the girl, screaming more
    violently.

    "Ma'am, she screams that way for nothing often," said the boy. "Her arm
    is no more broke than mine, I'm sure; she'll move it well enough when
    she's not cross."

    "I am afraid," said Madame de Fleury, "that her arm is broken."

    "Is it indeed?" said the boy, with a look of terror.

    "Oh! don't touch it--you'll kill me; you are killing me," screamed the
    poor girl, whilst Madame de Fleury with the greatest care endeavoured to
    join the bones in their proper place, and resolved to hold the arm till
    the arrival of the surgeon.

    From the feminine appearance of this lady, no stranger would have
    expected such resolution; but with all the natural sensibility and
    graceful delicacy of her sex, she had none of that weakness or affection
    which incapacitates from being useful in real distress. In most sudden
    accidents, and in all domestic misfortunes, female resolution and
    presence of mind are indispensably requisite: safety, health, and life
    often depend upon the fortitude of women. Happy they who, like Madame de
    Fleury, possess strength of mind united with the utmost gentleness of
    manner and tenderness of disposition!

    Soothed by this lady's sweet voice, the child's rage subsided; and no
    longer struggling, the poor little girl sat quietly on her lap, sometimes
    writhing and moaning with pain.

    The surgeon at length arrived: her arm was set: and he said "that she had
    probably been saved much future pain by Madame de Fleury's presence of
    mind."

    "Sir,--will it soon be well?" said Maurice to the surgeon.

    "Oh yes, very soon, I dare say," said the little girl. "To-morrow,
    perhaps; for now that it is tied up it does not hurt me to signify--and
    after all, I do believe, Maurice, it was not you threw me down."

    As she spoke, she held up her face to kiss her brother.--"That is right,"
    said Madame de Fleury; "there is a good sister."

    The little girl put out her lips, offering a second kiss, but the boy
    turned hastily away to rub the tears from his eyes with the back of his
    hand.

    "I am not cross now: am I, Maurice?"

    "No, Victoire; I was cross myself when I said _that_."

    As Victoire was going to speak again, the surgeon imposed silence,
    observing that she must be put to bed, and should be kept quiet. Madame
    de Fleury laid her upon the bed, as soon as Maurice had cleared it of the
    things with which it was covered; and as they were spreading the ragged
    blanket over the little girl, she whispered a request to Madame de Fleury
    that she would "stay till her mamma came home, to beg Maurice off from
    being whipped, if mamma should be angry."

    Touched by this instance of goodness, and compassionating the desolate
    condition of these children, Madame de Fleury complied with Victoire's
    request; resolving to remonstrate with their mother for leaving them
    locked up in this manner. They did not know to what part of the town
    their mother was gone; they could tell only "that she was to go to a
    great many different places to carry back work, and to bring home more,
    and that she expected to be in by five." It was now half after four.

    Whilst Madame de Fleury waited, she asked the boy to give her a full
    account of the manner in which the accident had happened.

    "Why, ma'am," said Maurice, twisting and untwisting a ragged handkerchief
    as he spoke, "the first beginning of all the mischief was, we had nothing
    to do, so we went to the ashes to make dirt pies; but Babet would go so
    close that she burnt her petticoat, and threw about all our ashes, and
    plagued us, and we whipped her. But all would not do, she would not be
    quiet; so to get out of her reach, we climbed up by this chair on the
    table to the top of the press, and there we were well enough for a little
    while, till somehow we began to quarrel about the old scissors, and we
    struggled hard for them till I got this cut."

    Here he unwound the handkerchief, and for the first time showed the
    wound, which he had never mentioned before.

    "Then," continued he, "when I got the cut, I shoved Victoire, and she
    pushed at me again, and I was keeping her off, and her foot slipped, and
    down she fell, and caught by the press-door, and pulled it and me after
    her, and that's all I know."

    "It is well that you were not both killed," said Madame de Fleury. "Are
    you often left locked up in this manner by yourselves, and without
    anything to do?"

    "Yes, always, when mamma is abroad, except sometimes we are let out upon
    the stairs or in the street; but mamma says we get into mischief there."

    This dialogue was interrupted by the return of the mother. She came
    upstairs slowly, much fatigued, and with a heavy bundle under her arm.

    "How now! Maurice, how comes my door open? What's all this?" cried she,
    in an angry voice; but seeing a lady sitting upon her child's bed, she
    stopped short in great astonishment. Madame de Fleury related what had
    happened, and averted her anger from Maurice by gently expostulating upon
    the hardship and hazard of leaving her young children in this manner
    during so many hours of the day.

    "Why, my lady," replied the poor woman, wiping her forehead, "every hard-
    working woman in Paris does the same with her children; and what can I do
    else? I must earn bread for these helpless ones, and to do that I must
    be out backwards and forwards, and to the furthest parts of the town,
    often from morning till night, with those that employ me; and I cannot
    afford to send the children to school, or to keep any kind of a servant
    to look after them; and when I'm away, if I let them run about these
    stairs and entries, or go into the sheets, they do get a little exercise
    and air, to be sure, such as it is on which account I do let them out
    sometimes; but then a deal of mischief comes of that, too: they learn all
    kinds of wickedness, and would grow up to be no better than pickpockets,
    if they were let often to consort with the little vagabonds they find in
    the streets. So what to do better for them I don't know."

    The poor mother sat down upon the fallen press, looked at Victoire, and
    wept bitterly. Madame de Fleury was struck with compassion; but she did
    not satisfy her feelings merely by words or comfort or by the easy
    donation of some money--she resolved to do something more, and something
    better.

    CHAPTER II

    "Come often, then; for haply in my bower
    Amusement, knowledge, wisdom, thou may'st gain:
    If I one soul improve, I have not lived in vain."--BEATTIE.

    It is not so easy to do good as those who have never attempted it may
    imagine; and they who without consideration follow the mere instinct of
    pity, often by their imprudent generosity create evils more pernicious to
    society than any which they partially remedy. "Warm Charity, the general
    friend," may become the general enemy, unless she consults her head as
    well as her heart. Whilst she pleases herself with the idea that she
    daily feeds hundreds of the poor, she is perhaps preparing want and
    famine for thousands. Whilst she delights herself with the anticipation
    of gratitude for her bounties, she is often exciting only unreasonable
    expectations, inducing habits of dependence and submission to slavery.

    Those who wish to do good should attend to experience, from whom they may
    receive lessons upon the largest scale that time and numbers can afford.

    Madame de Fleury was aware that neither a benevolent disposition nor a
    large fortune were sufficient to enable her to be of real service,
    without the constant exercise of her judgment. She had, therefore,
    listened with deference to the conversation of well-informed men upon
    those subjects on which ladies have not always the means or the wish to
    acquire extensive and accurate knowledge. Though a Parisian belle, she
    had read with attention some of those books which are generally thought
    too dry or too deep for her sex. Consequently, her benevolence was
    neither wild in theory nor precipitate nor ostentatious in practice.

    Touched with compassion for a little girl whose arm had been accidentally
    broken, and shocked by the discovery of the confinement and the dangers
    to which numbers of children in Paris were doomed, she did not make a
    parade of her sensibility. She did not talk of her feelings in fine
    sentences to a circle of opulent admirers, nor did she project for the
    relief of the little sufferers some magnificent establishment which she
    could not execute or superintend. She was contented with attempting only
    what she had reasonable hopes of accomplishing.

    The gift of education she believed to be more advantageous than the gift
    of money to the poor, as it ensures the means both of future subsistence
    and happiness. But the application even of this incontrovertible
    principle requires caution and judgment. To crowd numbers of children
    into a place called a school, to abandon them to the management of any
    person called a schoolmaster or a schoolmistress, is not sufficient to
    secure the blessings of a good education. Madame de Fleury was sensible
    that the greatest care is necessary in the choice of the person to whom
    young children are to be entrusted; she knew that only a certain number
    can be properly directed by one superintendent, and that, by attempting
    to do too much, she might do nothing, or worse than nothing. Her school
    was formed, therefore, on a small scale, which she could enlarge to any
    extent, if it should be found to succeed. From some of the families of
    poor people, who, in earning their bread, are obliged to spend most of
    the day from home, she selected twelve little girls, of whom Victoire was
    the eldest, and she was between six and seven.

    The person under whose care Madame de Fleury wished to place these
    children was a nun of the _Soeurs de la Charite_, with whose simplicity
    of character, benevolence, and mild, steady temper she was thoroughly
    acquainted. Sister Frances was delighted with the plan. Any scheme that
    promised to be of service to her follow-creatures was sure of meeting
    with her approbation; but this suited her taste peculiarly, because she
    was extremely fond of children. No young person had ever boarded six
    months at her convent without becoming attached to good Sister Frances.

    The period of which we are writing was some years before convents were
    abolished; but the strictness of their rules had in many instances been
    considerably relaxed. Without much difficulty, permission was obtained
    from the abbess for our nun to devote her time during the day to the care
    of these poor children, upon condition that she should regularly return
    to her convent every night before evening prayers. The house which
    Madame de Fleury chose for her little school was in an airy part of the
    town; it did not face the street, but was separated from other buildings
    at the back of a court, retired from noise and bustle. The two rooms
    intended for the occupation of the children were neat and clean, but
    perfectly simple, with whitewashed walls, furnished only with wooden
    stools and benches, and plain deal tables. The kitchen was well lighted
    (for light is essential to cleanliness), and it was provided with
    utensils; and for these appropriate places were allotted, to give the
    habit and the taste of order. The schoolroom opened into a garden larger
    than is usually seen in towns. The nun, who had been accustomed to
    purchase provisions for her convent, undertook to prepare daily for the
    children breakfast and dinner; they were to sup and sleep at their
    respective homes. Their parents were to take them to Sister Frances
    every morning when they went out to work, and to call for them upon their
    return home every evening. By this arrangement, the natural ties of
    affection and intimacy between the children and their parents would not
    be loosened; they would be separate only at the time when their absence
    must be inevitable. Madame de Fleury thought that any education which
    estranges children entirely from their parents must be fundamentally
    erroneous; that such a separation must tend to destroy that sense of
    filial affection and duty, and those principles of domestic
    subordination, on which so many of the interests and much of the virtue
    and happiness of society depend. The parents of these poor children were
    eager to trust them to her care, and they strenuously endeavoured to
    promote what they perceived to be entirely to their advantage. They
    promised to take their daughters to school punctually every morning--a
    promise which was likely to be kept, as a good breakfast was to be ready
    at a certain hour, and not to wait for anybody. The parents looked
    forward with pleasure, also, to the idea of calling for their little
    girls at the end of their day's labour, and of taking them home to their
    family supper. During the intermediate hours the children were
    constantly to be employed, or in exercise. It was difficult to provide
    suitable employments for their early age; but even the youngest of those
    admitted could be taught to wind balls of cotton, thread, and silk for
    haberdashers; or they could shell peas and beans, &c., for a neighbouring
    _traiteur_; or they could weed in a garden. The next in age could learn
    knitting and plain work, reading, writing, and arithmetic. As the girls
    should grow up, they were to be made useful in the care of the house.
    Sister Frances said she could teach them to wash and iron, and that she
    would make them as skilful in cookery as she was herself. This last was
    doubtless a rash promise; for in most of the mysteries of the culinary
    art, especially in the medical branches of it, in making savoury messes
    palatable to the sick, few could hope to equal the neat-handed Sister
    Frances. She had a variety of other accomplishments; but her humility
    and good sense forbade her upon the present occasion to mention these.
    She said nothing of embroidery, or of painting, or of cutting out paper,
    or of carving in ivory, though in all these she excelled: her cuttings-
    out in paper were exquisite as the finest lace; her embroidered
    housewives, and her painted boxes, and her fan-mounts, and her curiously-
    wrought ivory toys, had obtained for her the highest reputation in the
    convent amongst the best judges in the world. Those only who have
    philosophically studied and thoroughly understand the nature of fame and
    vanity can justly appreciate the self-denial or magnanimity of Sister
    Frances, in forbearing to enumerate or boast of these things. She
    alluded to them but once, and in the slightest and most humble manner.

    "These little creatures are too young for us to think of teaching them
    anything but plain work at present; but if hereafter any of them should
    show a superior genius we can cultivate it properly. Heaven has been
    pleased to endow me with the means--at least, our convent says so."

    The actions of Sister Frances showed as much moderation as her words; for
    though she was strongly tempted to adorn her new dwelling with those
    specimens of her skill which had long been the glory of her apartment in
    the convent, yet she resisted the impulse, and contented herself with
    hanging over the chimney-piece of her schoolroom a Madonna of her own
    painting.

    The day arrived when she was to receive her pupils in their new
    habitation. When the children entered the room for the first time, they
    paid the Madonna the homage of their unfeigned admiration. Involuntarily
    the little crowd stopped short at the sight of the picture. Some dormant
    emotions of human vanity were now awakened--played for a moment about the
    heart of Sister Frances--and may be forgiven. Her vanity was innocent
    and transient, her benevolence permanent and useful. Repressing the vain-
    glory of an artist, as she fixed her eyes upon the Madonna, her thoughts
    rose to higher objects, and she seized this happy moment to impress upon
    the minds of her young pupils their first religious ideas and feelings.
    There was such unaffected piety in her manner, such goodness in her
    countenance, such persuasion in her voice, and simplicity in her words,
    that the impression she made was at once serious, pleasing, and not to be
    effaced. Much depends upon the moment and the manner in which the first
    notions of religion are communicated to children; if these ideas be
    connected with terror, and produced when the mind is sullen or in a state
    of dejection, the future religious feelings are sometimes of a gloomy,
    dispiriting sort; but if the first impression be made when the heart is
    expanded by hope or touched by affection, these emotions are happily and
    permanently associated with religion. This should be particularly
    attended to by those who undertake the instruction of the children of the
    poor, who must lead a life of labour, and can seldom have leisure or
    inclination, when arrived at years of discretion, to re-examine the
    principles early infused into their minds. They cannot in their riper
    age conquer by reason those superstitions terrors, or bigoted prejudices,
    which render their victims miserable, or perhaps criminal. To attempt to
    rectify any errors in the foundation after an edifice has been
    constructed is dangerous: the foundation, therefore, should be laid with
    care. The religious opinions of Sister Frances were strictly united with
    just rules of morality, strongly enforcing, as the essential means of
    obtaining present and future happiness, the practice of the social
    virtues, so that no good or wise persons, however they might differ from
    her in modes of faith, could doubt the beneficial influence of her
    general principles, or disapprove of the manner in which they were
    inculcated.

    Detached from every other worldly interest, this benevolent nun devoted
    all her earthly thoughts to the children of whom she had undertaken the
    charge. She watched over them with unceasing vigilance, whilst
    diffidence of her own abilities was happily supported by her high opinion
    of Madame de Fleury's judgment. This lady constantly visited her pupils
    every week; not in the hasty, negligent manner in which fine ladies
    sometimes visit charitable institutions, imagining that the honour of
    their presence is to work miracles, and that everything will go on
    rightly when they have said, "_Let it be so_," or, "_I must have it so_."
    Madame de Fleury's visits were not of this dictatorial or cursory nature.
    Not minutes, but hours, she devoted to these children--she who could
    charm by the grace of her manners, and delight by the elegance of her
    conversation, the most polished circles and the best-informed societies
    of Paris, preferred to the glory of being admired the pleasure of being
    useful:--

    "Her life, as lovely as her face,
    Each duty mark'd with every grace;
    Her native sense improved by reading,
    Her native sweetness by good breeding."

    CHAPTER III

    "Ah me! how much I fear lest pride it be;
    But if that pride it be which thus inspires,
    Beware, ye dames! with nice discernment see
    Ye quench not too the sparks of nobler fires."

    SHENSTONE.

    By repeated observation, and by attending to the minute reports of Sister
    Frances, Madame de Fleury soon became acquainted with the habits and
    temper of each individual in this little society. The most intelligent
    and the most amiable of these children was Victoire. Whence her
    superiority arose, whether her abilities were naturally more vivacious
    than those of her companions, or whether they had been more early
    developed by accidental excitation, we cannot pretend to determine, lest
    we should involve ourselves in the intricate question respecting natural
    genius--a metaphysical point, which we shall not in this place stop to
    discuss. Till the world has an accurate philosophical dictionary (a work
    not to be expected in less than half a dozen centuries), this question
    will never be decided to general satisfaction. In the meantime we may
    proceed with our story.

    Deep was the impression made on Victoire's heart by the kindness that
    Madame de Fleury showed her at the time her arm was broken; and her
    gratitude was expressed with all the enthusiastic fondness of childhood.
    Whenever she spoke or heard of Madame de Fleury her countenance became
    interested and animated in a degree that would have astonished a cool
    English spectator. Every morning her first question to Sister Frances
    was: "Will _she_ come to-day?" If Madame de Fleury was expected, the
    hours and the minutes were counted, and the sand in the hour-glass that
    stood on the schoolroom table was frequently shaken. The moment she
    appeared Victoire ran to her, and was silent; satisfied with standing
    close beside her, holding her gown when unperceived, and watching, as she
    spoke and moved, every turn of her countenance. Delighted by these marks
    of sensibility, Sister Frances would have praised the child, but was
    warned by Madame de Fleury to refrain from injudicious eulogiums, lest
    she should teach her affectation.

    "If I must not praise, you will permit me at least to love her," said
    Sister Frances.

    Her affection for Victoire was increased by compassion: during two months
    the poor child's arm hung in a sling, so that she could not venture to
    play with her companions. At their hours of recreation she used to sit
    on the schoolroom steps, looking down into the garden at the scene of
    merriment in which she could not partake.

    For those who know how to find it, there is good in everything. Sister
    Frances used to take her seat on the steps, sometimes with her work and
    sometimes with a book; and Victoire, tired of being quite idle, listened
    with eagerness to the stories which Sister Frances read, or watched with
    interest the progress of her work; soon she longed to imitate what she
    saw done with so much pleasure, and begged to be taught to work and read.
    By degrees she learned her alphabet, and could soon, to the amazement of
    her schoolfellows, read the names of all the animals in Sister Frances'
    picture-book. No matter how trifling the thing done, or the knowledge
    acquired, a great point is gained by giving the desire for employment.
    Children frequently become industrious from impatience of the pains and
    penalties of idleness. Count Rumford showed that he understood childish
    nature perfectly well when, in his House of Industry at Munich, he
    compelled the young children to sit for some time idle in a gallery round
    the hall, where others a little older than themselves were busied at
    work. During Victoire's state of idle convalescence she acquired the
    desire to be employed, and she consequently soon became more industrious
    than her neighbours. Succeeding in her first efforts, she was
    praised--was pleased, and persevered till she became an example of
    activity to her companions. But Victoire, though now nearly seven years
    old, was not quite perfect. Naturally, or accidentally, she was very
    passionate, and not a little self-willed.

    One day being mounted, horsemanlike, with whip in hand, upon the banister
    of the flight of stairs leading from the schoolroom to the garden, she
    called in a tone of triumph to her playfellows, desiring them to stand
    out of the way, and see her slide from top to bottom. At this moment
    Sister Frances came to the schoolroom door and forbade the feat; but
    Victoire, regardless of all prohibition, slid down instantly, and
    moreover was going to repeat the glorious operation, when Sister Frances,
    catching hold of her arm, pointed to a heap of sharp stones that lay on
    the ground upon the other side of the banisters.

    "I am not afraid," said Victoire.

    "But if you fall there, you may break your arm again."

    "And if I do, I can bear it," said Victoire. "Let me go, pray let me go:
    I must do it."

    "No; I forbid you, Victoire, to slide down again. Babet and all the
    little ones would follow your example, and perhaps break their necks."

    The nun, as she spoke, attempted to compel Victoire to dismount; but she
    was so much of a heroine, that she would do nothing upon compulsion.
    Clinging fast to the banisters, she resisted with all her might; she
    kicked and screamed, and screamed and kicked, but at last her feet were
    taken prisoners; then grasping the railway with one hand, with the other
    she brandished high the little whip.

    "What!" said the mild nun, "would you strike me with that _arm_?"

    The arm dropped instantly--Victoire recollected Madame de Fleury's
    kindness the day when the arm was broken; dismounting immediately, she
    threw herself upon her knees in the midst of the crowd of young
    spectators, and begged pardon of Sister Frances. For the rest of the day
    she was as gentle as a lamb; nay, some assert that the effects of her
    contrition were visible during the remainder of the week.

    Having thus found the secret of reducing the little rebel to obedience by
    touching her on the tender point of gratitude, the nun had recourse to
    this expedient in all perilous cases; but one day, when she was boasting
    of the infallible operation of her charm, Madame de Fleury advised her to
    forbear recurring to it frequently, lest she should wear out the
    sensibility she so much loved. In consequence of this counsel,
    Victoire's violence of temper was sometimes reduced by force and
    sometimes corrected by reason; but the principle and the feeling of
    gratitude were not exhausted or weakened in the struggle. The hope of
    reward operated upon her generous mind more powerfully than the fear of
    punishment; and Madame de Fleury devised rewards with as much ability as
    some legislators invent punishments.

    Victoire's brother Maurice, who was now of an age to earn his own bread,
    had a strong desire to be bound apprentice to the smith who worked in the
    house where his mother lodged. This most ardent wish of his soul he had
    imparted to his sister; and she consulted her benefactress, whom she
    considered as all-powerful in this, as in every other affair.

    "Your brother's wish shall be gratified," replied Madame de Fleury, "if
    you can keep your temper one month. If you are never in a passion for a
    whole month, I will undertake that your brother shall be bound apprentice
    to his friend the smith. To your companions, to Sister Frances, and
    above all to yourself, I trust, to make me a just report this day month."

    CHAPTER IV

    "You she preferred to all the gay resorts,
    Where female vanity might wish to shine,
    The pomp of cities, and the pride of courts."

    LYTTELTON.

    At the end of the time prescribed, the judges, including Victoire
    herself, who was the most severe of them all, agreed she had justly
    deserved her reward. Maurice obtained his wish; and Victoire's temper
    never relapsed into its former bad habits--so powerful is the effect of a
    well-chosen motive! Perhaps the historian may be blamed for dwelling on
    such trivial anecdotes; yet a lady, who was accustomed to the
    conversation of deep philosophers and polished courtiers, listened
    without disdain to these simple annals. Nothing appeared to her a trifle
    that could tend to form the habits of temper, truth, honesty, order, and
    industry: habits which are to be early induced, not by solemn precepts,
    but by practical lessons. A few more examples of these shall be
    recorded, notwithstanding the fear of being tiresome.

    One day little Babet, who was now five years old, saw, as she was coming
    to school, an old woman sitting at a corner of the street beside a large
    black brazier full of roasted chestnuts. Babet thought that the
    chestnuts looked and smelled very good; the old woman was talking
    earnestly to some people, who were on her other side; Babet filled her
    work-bag with chestnuts, and then ran after her mother and sister, who,
    having turned the corner of the street, had not seen what passed. When
    Babet came to the schoolroom, she opened her bag with triumph, displayed
    her treasure, and offered to divide it with her companions. "Here,
    Victoire," said she, "here is the largest chestnut for you."

    But Victoire would not take it; for she staid that Babet had no money,
    and that she could not have come honestly by these chestnuts. She spoke
    so forcibly upon this point that even those who had the tempting morsel
    actually at their lips forbore to bite; those who had bitten laid down
    their half-eaten prize; and those who had their hands full of chestnuts
    rolled them back again towards the bag. Babet cried with vexation.

    "I burned my fingers in getting them for you, and now you won't eat
    them!--And I must not eat them!" said she: then curbing her passion, she
    added, "But at any rate, I won't be a thief. I am sure I did not think
    it was being a thief just to take a few chestnuts from an old woman who
    had such heaps and heaps; but Victoire says it is wrong, and I would not
    be a thief for all the chestnuts in the world--I'll throw them all into
    the fire this minute!"

    "No; give them back again to the old woman," said Victoire.

    "But, may be, she would scold me for having taken them," said Babet; "or
    who knows but she might whip me?"

    "And if she did, could you not bear it?" said Victoire. "I am sure I
    would rather bear twenty whippings than be a thief."

    "Twenty, whippings! that's a great many," said Babet; "and I am so
    little, consider--and that woman has such a monstrous arm!--Now, if it
    was Sister Frances, it would be another thing. But come! if you will go
    with me, Victoire, you shall see how I will behave."

    "We will all go with you," said Victoire.

    "Yes, all!" said the children; "And Sister Frances, I dare say, would go,
    if you asked her."

    Babet ran and told her, and she readily consented to accompany the little
    penitent to make restitution. The chestnut woman did not whip Babet, nor
    even scold her, but said she was sure that since the child was so honest
    as to return what she had taken, she would never steal again. This was
    the most glorious day of Babet's life, and the happiest. When the
    circumstance was told to Madame de Fleury, she gave the little girl a bag
    of the best chestnuts the old women could select, and Babet with great
    delight shared her reward with her companions.

    "But, alas! these chestnuts are not roasted. Oh, if we could but roast
    them!" said the children.

    Sister Frances placed in the middle of the table on which the chestnuts
    were spread a small earthenware furnace--a delightful toy, commonly used
    by children in Paris to cook their little feasts.

    "This can be bought for sixpence," said she: "and if each of you twelve
    earn one halfpenny apiece to-day, you can purchase it to-night, and I
    will put a little fire into it, and you will then be able to roast your
    chestnuts."

    The children ran eagerly to their work--some to wind worsted for a woman
    who paid them a _liard_ for each ball, others to shell peas for a
    neighbouring _traiteur_--all rejoicing that they were able to earn
    something. The older girls, under the directions and with the assistance
    of Sister Frances, completed making, washing, and ironing, half a dozen
    little caps, to supply a baby-linen warehouse. At the end of the day,
    when the sum of the produce of their labours was added together, they
    were surprised to find that, instead of one, they could purchase two
    furnaces. They received and enjoyed the reward of their united industry.
    The success of their first efforts was fixed in their memory: for they
    were very happy roasting the chestnuts, and they were all (Sister Frances
    inclusive) unanimous in opinion that no chestnuts ever were so good, or
    so well roasted. Sister Frances always partook in their little innocent
    amusements; and it was her great delight to be the dispenser of rewards
    which at once conferred present pleasure and cherished future virtue.

    CHAPTER V

    "To virtue wake the pulses of the heart,
    And bid the tear of emulation start."

    ROGERS.

    Victoire, who gave constant exercise to the benevolent feelings of the
    amiable nun, became every day more dear to her. Far from having the
    selfishness of a favourite, Victoire loved to bring into public notice
    the good actions of her companions. "Stoop down your ear to me, Sister
    Frances," said she, "and I will tell you a secret--I will tell you why my
    friend Annette is growing so thin--I found it out this morning--she does
    not eat above half her soup every day. Look, there's her porringer
    covered up in the corner--she carries it home to her mother, who is sick,
    and who has not bread to eat."

    Madame de Fleury came in whilst Sister Frances was yet bending down to
    hear this secret; it was repeated to her, and she immediately ordered
    that a certain allowance of bread should be given to Annette every day to
    carry to her mother during her illness.

    "I give it in charge to you, Victoire, to remember this, and I am sure it
    will never be forgotten. Here is an order for you upon my baker: run and
    show it to Annette. This is a pleasure you deserve; I am glad that you
    have chosen for your friend a girl who is so good a daughter. Good
    daughters make good friends."

    By similar instances of goodness Victoire obtained the love and
    confidence of her companions, notwithstanding her manifest superiority.
    In their turn, they were eager to proclaim her merits; and, as Sister
    Frances and Madame de Fleury administered justice with invariable
    impartiality, the hateful passions of envy and jealousy were never
    excited in this little society. No servile sycophant, no malicious
    detractor, could rob or defraud their little virtues of their due reward.

    "Whom shall I trust to take this to Madame de Fleury?" said Sister
    Frances, carrying into the garden where the children were playing a pot
    of fine jonquils, which she had brought from her convent.--"These are the
    first jonquils I have seen this year, and finer I never beheld! Whom
    shall I trust to take them to Madame de Fleury this evening?--It must be
    some one who will not stop to stare about on the way, but who will be
    very, very careful--some one in whom I can place perfect dependence."

    "It must be Victoire, then," cried every voice.

    "Yes, she deserves it to-day particularly," said Annette eagerly;
    "because she was not angry with Babet when she did what was enough to put
    anybody in a passion. Sister Frances, you know this cherry-tree which
    you grafted for Victoire last year, and that was yesterday so full of
    blossoms--now you see, there is not a blossom left!--Babet plucked them
    all this morning to make a nosegay."

    "But she did not know," said Victoire, "that pulling off the blossoms
    would prevent my having any cherries."

    "Oh, I am very sorry I was so foolish," said Babet; "Victoire did not
    even say a cross word to me."

    "Though she was excessively anxious about the cherries," pursued Annette,
    "because she intended to have given the first she had to Madame de
    Fleury."

    "Victoire, take the jonquils--it is but just," said Sister Frances. "How
    I do love to hear them all praise her!--I knew what she would be from the
    first."

    With a joyful heart Victoire took the jonquils, promised to carry them
    with the utmost care, and not to stop to stare on the way. She set out
    to Madame de Fleury's hotel, which was in _La Place de Louis Quinze_. It
    was late in the evening, the lamps were lighting, and as Victoire crossed
    the Pont de Louis Seize, she stopped to look at the reflection of the
    lamps in the water, which appeared in succession, as they were lighted,
    spreading as if by magic along the river. While Victoire leaned over the
    battlements of the bridge, watching the rising of these stars of fire, a
    sudden push from the elbow of some rude passenger precipitated her pot of
    jonquils into the Seine. The sound it made in the water was thunder to
    the ear of Victoire; she stood for an instant vainly hoping it would rise
    again, but the waters had closed over it for ever.

    "Dans cet etat affreux, que faire?
    . . . Mon devoir."

    Victoire courageously proceeded to Madame de Fleury's, and desired to see
    her.

    "D'abord c'est impossible--madame is dressing to go to a concert," said
    Francois. "Cannot you leave your message?"

    "Oh no," said Victoire; "it is of great consequence--I must see her
    myself; and she is so good, and you too, Monsieur Francois, that I am
    sure you will not refuse."

    "Well, I remember one day you found the seal of my watch, which I dropped
    at your schoolroom door--one good turn deserves another. If it is
    possible it shall be done--I will inquire of madame's woman."--"Follow me
    upstairs," said he, returning in a few minutes; "madame will see you."

    She followed him up the large staircase, and through a suite of
    apartments sufficiently grand to intimidate her young imagination.

    "Madame est dans son cabinet. Entrez--mais entrez donc, entrez
    toujours."

    Madame de Fleury was more richly dressed than usual; and her image was
    reflected in the large looking-glass, so that at the first moment
    Victoire thought she saw many fine ladies, but not one of them the lady
    she wanted.

    "Well, Victoire, my child, what is the matter?"

    "Oh, it is her voice!--I know you now, madame, and I am not afraid--not
    afraid even to tell you how foolish I have been. Sister Frances trusted
    me to carry for you, madame, a beautiful pot of jonquils, and she desired
    me not to stop on the way to stare; but I did stop to look at the lamps
    on the bridge, and I forgot the jonquils, and somebody brushed by me and
    threw them into the river--and I am very sorry I was so foolish."

    "And I am very glad that you are so wise as to tell the truth, without
    attempting to make any paltry excuses. Go home to Sister Frances, and
    assure her that I am more obliged to her for making you such an honest
    girl than I could be for a whole bed of jonquils."

    Victoire's heart was so full that she could not speak--she kissed Madame
    de Fleury's hand in silence, and then seemed to be lost in contemplation
    of her bracelet.

    "Are you thinking, Victoire, that you should be much happier if you had
    such bracelets as these? Believe me, you are mistaken if you think so;
    many people are unhappy who wear fine bracelets; so, my child, content
    yourself."

    "Myself! Oh, madame, I was not thinking of myself--I was not wishing for
    bracelets; I was only thinking that--"

    "That what?"

    "That it is a pity you are so very rich; you have everything in this
    world that you want, and I can never be of the least use to _you_--all my
    life I shall never be able to do _you_ any good--and what," said
    Victoire, turning away to hide her tears, "what signifies the gratitude
    of such a poor little creature as I am?"

    "Did you never hear the fable of the lion and the mouse, Victoire?"

    "No, madame--never!"

    "Then I will tell it to you."

    Victoire looked up with eyes of eager expectation--Francois opened the
    door to announce that the Marquis de M--- and the Comte de S--- were in
    the saloon; but Madame de Fleury stayed to tell Victoire her fable--she
    would not lose the opportunity of making an impression upon this child's
    heart.

    It is whilst the mind is warm that the deepest impressions can be made.
    Seizing the happy moment sometimes decides the character and the fate of
    a child. In this respect, what advantages have the rich and great in
    educating the children of the poor! they have the power which their rank
    and all its decorations obtain over the imagination. Their smiles are
    favours; their words are listened to as oracular; they are looked up to
    as beings of a superior order. Their powers of working good are almost
    as great, though not quite so wonderful, as those formerly attributed to
    beneficent, fairies.

    CHAPTER VI

    "Knowledge for them unlocks her _useful_ page,
    And virtue blossoms for a better age."--BARBAULD.

    A few days after Madame de Fleury had told Victoire the fable of the lion
    and the mouse, she was informed by Sister Frances that Victoire had put
    the fable into verse. It was wonderfully well done for a child of nine
    years old, and Madame de Fleury was tempted to praise the lines; but,
    checking the enthusiasm of the moment, she considered whether it would be
    advantageous to cultivate her pupil's talent for poetry. Excellence in
    the poetic art cannot be obtained without a degree of application for
    which a girl in her situation could not have leisure. To encourage her
    to become a mere rhyming scribbler, without any chance of obtaining
    celebrity or securing subsistence, would be folly and cruelty. Early
    prodigies in the lower ranks of life are seldom permanently successful;
    they are cried up one day, and cried down the next. Their productions
    rarely have that superiority which secures a fair preference in the great
    literary market. Their performances are, perhaps, said to be _wonderful,
    all things considered_, &c. Charitable allowances are made; the books
    are purchased by associations of complaisant friends or opulent patrons;
    a kind of forced demand is raised, but this can be only temporary and
    delusive. In spite of bounties and of all the arts of protection,
    nothing but what is intrinsically good will long be preferred, when it
    must be purchased. But granting that positive excellence is attained,
    there is always danger that for works of fancy the taste of the public
    may suddenly vary: there is a fashion in these things; and when the mode
    changes, the mere literary manufacturer is thrown out of employment; he
    is unable to turn his hand to another trade, or to any but his own
    peculiar branch of the business. The powers of the mind are often
    partially cultivated in these self-taught geniuses. We often see that
    one part of their understanding is nourished to the prejudice of the
    rest--the imagination, for instance, at the expense of the judgment: so
    that whilst they have acquired talents for show they have none for use.
    In the affairs of common life they are utterly ignorant and imbecile--or
    worse than imbecile. Early called into public notice, probably before
    their moral habits are formed, they are extolled for some play of fancy
    or of wit, as Bacon calls it, some juggler's trick of the intellect; they
    immediately take an aversion to plodding labour, they feel raised above
    their situation; possessed by the notion that genius exempts them not
    only from labour, but from vulgar rules of prudence, they soon disgrace
    themselves by their conduct, are deserted by their patrons, and sink into
    despair or plunge into profligacy.

    Convinced of these melancholy truths, Madame de Fleury was determined not
    to add to the number of those imprudent or ostentatious patrons, who
    sacrifice to their own amusement and vanity the future happiness of their
    favourites. Victoire's verses were not handed about in fashionable
    circles, nor was she called upon to recite them before a brilliant
    audience, nor was she produced in public as a prodigy; she was educated
    in private, and by slow and sure degrees, to be a good, useful, and happy
    member of society. Upon the same principles which decided Madame de
    Fleury against encouraging Victoire to be a poetess, she refrained from
    giving any of her little pupils accomplishments unsuited to their
    situation. Some had a fine ear for music, others showed powers of
    dancing; but they were taught neither dancing nor music--talents which in
    their station were more likely to be dangerous than serviceable. They
    were not intended for actresses or opera-girls, but for shop-girls,
    mantua-makers, work-women, and servants of different sorts; consequently
    they were instructed in things which would be most necessary and useful
    to young women in their rank of life. Before they were ten years old
    they could do all kinds of plain needlework, they could read and write
    well, and they were mistresses of the common rules of arithmetic. After
    this age they were practised by a writing-master in drawing out bills
    neatly, keeping accounts, and applying to every-day use their knowledge
    of arithmetic. Some were taught by a laundress to wash and get up fine
    linen and lace; others were instructed by a neighbouring traiteur in
    those culinary mysteries with which Sister Frances was unacquainted. In
    sweetmeats and confectioneries she yielded to no one; and she made her
    pupils as expert as herself. Those who were intended for ladies' maids
    were taught mantua-making, and had lessons from Madame de Fleury's own
    woman in hairdressing.

    Amongst her numerous friends and acquaintances, and amongst the
    shopkeepers whom she was in the habit of employing, Madame de Fleury had
    means of placing and establishing her pupils suitably and advantageously:
    of this, both they and their parents were aware, so that there was a
    constant and great motive operating continually to induce them to exert
    themselves, and to behave well. This reasonable hope of reaping the
    fruits of their education, and of being immediately rewarded for their
    good conduct; this perception of the connection between what they are
    taught and what they are to become, is necessary to make young people
    assiduous; for want of attending to these principles many splendid
    establishments have failed to produce pupils answerable to the
    expectations which had been formed of them.

    During seven years that Madame de Fleury persevered uniformly on the same
    plan, only one girl forfeited her protection--a girl of the name of
    Manon; she was Victoire's cousin, but totally unlike her in character.

    When very young, her beautiful eyes and hair caught the fancy of a rich
    lady, who took her into her family as a sort of humble playfellow for her
    children. She was taught to dance and to sing: she soon excelled in
    these accomplishments, and was admired, and produced as a prodigy of
    talent. The lady of the house gave herself great credit for having
    discerned, and having brought forward, such talents. Manon's moral
    character was in the meantime neglected. In this house, where there was
    a constant scene of hurry and dissipation, the child had frequent
    opportunities and temptations to be dishonest. For some time she was not
    detected; her caressing manners pleased her patroness, and servile
    compliance with the humours of the children of the family secured their
    goodwill. Encouraged by daily petty successes in the art of deceit, she
    became a complete hypocrite. With culpable negligence, her mistress
    trusted implicitly to appearances; and without examining whether she were
    really honest, she suffered her to have free access to unlocked drawers
    and valuable cabinets. Several articles of dress were missed from time
    to time; but Manon managed so artfully, that she averted from herself all
    suspicion. Emboldened by this fatal impunity, she at last attempted
    depredations of more importance. She purloined a valuable snuff-box--was
    detected in disposing of the broken parts of it at a pawnbroker's, and
    was immediately discarded in disgrace; but by her tears and vehement
    expressions of remorse she so far worked upon the weakness of the lady of
    the house as to prevail upon her to conceal the circumstance that
    occasioned her dismissal. Some months afterwards, Manon, pleading that
    she was thoroughly reformed, obtained from this lady a recommendation to
    Madame de Fleury's school. It is wonderful that, people, who in other
    respects profess and practise integrity, can be so culpably weak as to
    give good characters to those who do not deserve them: this is really one
    of the worst species of forgery. Imposed upon by this treacherous
    recommendation, Madame de Fleury received into the midst of her innocent
    young pupils one who might have corrupted their minds secretly and
    irrecoverably. Fortunately a discovery was made in time of Manon's real
    disposition. A mere trifle led to the detection of her habits of
    falsehood. As she could not do any kind of needlework, she was employed
    in winding cotton; she was negligent, and did not in the course of the
    week wind the same number of balls as her companions; and to conceal
    this, she pretended that she had delivered the proper number to the
    woman, who regularly called at the end of the week for the cotton. The
    woman persisted in her account, and the children in theirs; and Manon
    would not retract her assertion. The poor woman gave up the point; but
    she declared that she would the next time send her brother to make up the
    account, because he was sharper than herself, and would not be imposed
    upon so easily. The ensuing week the brother came, and he proved to be
    the very pawnbroker to whom Manon formerly offered the stolen box: he
    knew her immediately; it was in vain that she attempted to puzzle him,
    and to persuade him that she was not the same person. The man was clear
    and firm. Sister Frances could scarcely believe what she heard. Struck
    with horror, the children shrank back from Manon, and stood in silence.
    Madame de Fleury immediately wrote to the lady who had recommended this
    girl, and inquired into the truth of the pawnbroker's assertions. The
    lady, who had given Manon a false character, could not deny the facts,
    and could apologise for herself only by saying that "she believed the
    girl to be partly reformed, and that she hoped, under Madame de Fleury's
    judicious care, she would become an amiable and respectable woman."

    Madame de Fleury, however, wisely judged that the hazard of corrupting
    all her pupils should not be incurred for the slight chance of correcting
    one, whose bad habits wore of such long standing. Manon was expelled
    from this happy little community--even Sister Frances, the most mild of
    human beings, could never think of the danger to which they had been
    exposed without expressing indignation against the lady who recommended
    such a girl as a fit companion for her blameless and beloved pupils.

    CHAPTER VII

    "Alas! regardless of their doom,
    The little victims play:
    No sense have they of ills to come,
    No care beyond to-day."--GRAY.

    Good legislators always attend to the habits, and what is called the
    genius, of the people they have to govern. From youth to age, the taste
    for whatever is called _une fete_ pervades the whole French nation.
    Madame de Fleury availed herself judiciously of this powerful motive, and
    connected it with the feelings of affection more than with the passion
    for show. For instance, when any of her little people had done anything
    particularly worthy of reward, she gave them leave to invite their
    parents to a _fete_ prepared for them by their children, assisted by the
    kindness of Sister Frances.

    One day--it was a holiday obtained by Victoire's good conduct--all the
    children prepared in their garden a little feast for their parents.
    Sister Frances spread the table with a bountiful hand, the happy fathers
    and mothers were waited upon by their children, and each in their turn
    heard with delight from the benevolent nun some instance of their
    daughter's improvement. Full of hope for the future and of gratitude for
    the past, these honest people ate and talked, whilst in imagination they
    saw their children all prosperously and usefully settled in the world.
    They blessed Madame de Fleury in her absence, and they wished ardently
    for her presence.

    "The sun is setting, and Madame de Fleury is not yet come," cried
    Victoire; "she said she would be here this evening--What can be the
    matter?"

    "Nothing is the matter, you may be sure," said Babet; "but that she has
    forgotten us--she has so many things to think of."

    "Yes; but I know she never forgets us," said Victoire; "and she loves so
    much to see us all happy together, that I am sure it must be something
    very extraordinary that detains her."

    Babet laughed at Victoire's fears; but presently even she began to grow
    impatient; for they waited long after sunset, expecting every moment that
    Madame de Fleury would arrive. At last she appeared, but with a dejected
    countenance, which seemed to justify Victoire's foreboding. When she saw
    this festive company, each child sitting between her parents, and all at
    her entrance looking up with affectionate pleasure, a faint smile
    enlivened her countenance for a moment; but she did not speak to them
    with her usual ease. Her mind seemed preoccupied by some disagreeable
    business of importance. It appeared that it had some connection with
    them; for as she walked round the table with Sister Frances, she said,
    with a voice and look of great tenderness, "Poor children! how happy they
    are at this moment!--Heaven only knows how soon they may be rendered, or
    may render themselves, miserable!"

    None of the children could imagine what this meant; but their parents
    guessed that it had some allusion to the state of public affairs. About
    this time some of those discontents had broken out which preceded the
    terrible days of the Revolution. As yet, most of the common people, who
    were honestly employed in earning their own living, neither understood
    what was going on nor foresaw what was to happen. Many of their
    superiors were not in such happy ignorance--they had information of the
    intrigues that were forming; and the more penetration they possessed, the
    more they feared the consequences of events which they could not control.
    At the house of a great man, with whom she had dined this day, Madame de
    Fleury had heard alarming news. Dreadful public disturbances, she saw,
    were inevitable; and whilst she trembled for the fate of all who were
    dear to her, these poor children had a share in her anxiety. She foresaw
    the temptations, the dangers, to which they must be exposed, whether they
    abandoned, or whether they abided by the principles their education had
    instilled. She feared that the labour of years would perhaps be lost in
    an instant, or that her innocent pupils would fall victims even to their
    virtues.

    Many of these young people were now of an age to understand and to govern
    themselves by reason; and with these she determined to use those
    preventive measures which reason affords. Without meddling with
    politics, in which no amiable or sensible woman can wish to interfere,
    the influence of ladies in the higher ranks of life may always be exerted
    with perfect propriety, and with essential advantage to the public, in
    conciliating the inferior classes of society, explaining to them their
    duties and their interests, and impressing upon the minds of the children
    of the poor sentiments of just subordination and honest independence. How
    happy would it have been for France if women of fortune and abilities had
    always exerted their talents and activity in this manner, instead of
    wasting their powers in futile declamations, or in the intrigues of
    party!

    CHAPTER VIII

    "E'en now the devastation is begun,
    And half the business of destruction done."

    GOLDSMITH.

    Madame de Fleury was not disappointed in her pupils. When the public
    disturbances began, these children were shocked by the horrible actions
    they saw. Instead of being seduced by bad example, they only showed
    anxiety to avoid companions of their own age who were dishonest, idle, or
    profligate. Victoire's cousin Manon ridiculed these absurd principles,
    as she called them, and endeavoured to persuade Victoire that she would
    be much happier if she followed the fashion.

    "What! Victoire, still with your work-bag on your arm, and still going
    to school with your little sister, though you are but a year younger than
    I am, I believe!--thirteen last birthday, were not you?--Mon Dieu! Why,
    how long do you intend to be a child? and why don't you leave that old
    nun, who keeps you in leading-strings?--I assure you, nuns, and school-
    mistresses, and schools, and all that sort of thing, are out of fashion
    now--we have abolished all that--we are to live a life of reason now--and
    all soon to be equal, I can tell you; let your Madame de Fleury look to
    that, and look to it yourself; for with all your wisdom, you might find
    yourself in the wrong box by sticking to her, and that side of the
    question.--Disengage yourself from her, I advise you, as soon as you
    can.--My dear Victoire! believe me, you may spell very well--but you know
    nothing of the rights of man, or the rights of woman."

    "I do not pretend to know anything of the rights of men, or the rights of
    women," cried Victoire; "but this I know: that I never can or will be
    ungrateful to Madame de Fleury. Disengage myself from her! I am bound
    to her for ever, and I will abide by her till the last hour I breathe."

    "Well, well! there is no occasion to be in a passion--I only speak as a
    friend, and I have no more time to reason with you; for I must go home,
    and get ready my dress for the ball to-night."

    "Manon, how can you afford to buy a dress for a ball?"

    "As you might, if you had common sense, Victoire--only by being a good
    citizen. I and a party of us denounced a milliner and a confectioner in
    our neighbourhood, who were horrible aristocrats; and of their goods
    forfeited to the nation we had, as was our just share, such delicious
    _marangues_ and charming ribands!--Oh, Victoire, believe me, you will
    never get such things by going to school, or saying your prayers either.
    You may look with as much scorn and indignation as you please, but I
    advise you to let it alone, for all that is out of fashion, and may,
    moreover, bring you into difficulties. Believe me, my dear Victoire,
    your head is not deep enough to understand these things--you know nothing
    of politics."

    "But I know the difference between right and wrong, Manon: politics can
    never alter that, you know."

    "Never alter that! there you are quite mistaken," said Manon. "I cannot
    stay to convince you now--but this I can tell you: that I know secrets
    that you don't suspect."

    "I do not wish to know any of your secrets, Manon," said Victoire,
    proudly.

    "Your pride may be humbled, Citoyenne Victoire, sooner than you expect,"
    exclaimed Manon, who was now so provoked by her cousin's contempt that
    she could not refrain from boasting of her political knowledge. "I can
    tell you that your fine friends will in a few days not be able to protect
    you. The Abbe Tracassier is in love with a dear friend of mine, and I
    know all the secrets of state from her--and I know what I know. Be as
    incredulous as you please, but you will see that, before this week is at
    end, Monsieur de Fleury will be guillotined, and then what will become of
    you? Good morning, my proud cousin."

    Shocked by what she had just heard, Victoire could scarcely believe that
    Manon was in earnest; she resolved, however, to go immediately and
    communicate this intelligence, whether true or false, to Madame de
    Fleury. It agreed but too well with other circumstances, which alarmed
    this lady for the safety of her husband. A man of his abilities,
    integrity, and fortune, could not in such times hope to escape
    persecution. He was inclined to brave the danger; but his lady
    represented that it would not be courage, but rashness and folly, to
    sacrifice his life to the villainy of others, without probability or
    possibility of serving his country by his fall.

    Monsieur de Fleury, in consequence of these representations, and of
    Victoire's intelligence, made his escape from Paris; and the very next
    day placards were put up in every street, offering a price for the head
    of Citoyen Fleury, _suspected of incivisme_.

    Struck with terror and astonishment at the sight of these placards, the
    children read them as they returned in the evening from school; and
    little Babet in the vehemence of her indignation mounted a lamplighter's
    ladder, and tore down one of the papers. This imprudent action did not
    pass unobserved: it was seen by one of the spies of Citoyen Tracassier, a
    man who, under the pretence of zeal _pour la chose publique_, gratified
    without scruple his private resentments and his malevolent passions. In
    his former character of an abbe, and a man of wit, he had gained
    admittance into Madame de Fleury's society. There he attempted to
    dictate both as a literary and religious despot. Accidentally
    discovering that Madame de Fleury had a little school for poor children,
    he thought proper to be offended, because he had not been consulted
    respecting the regulations, and because he was not permitted, as he said,
    to take the charge of this little flock. He made many objections to
    Sister Frances, as being an improper person to have the spiritual
    guidance of these young people; but as he was unable to give any just
    reason for his dislike, Madame de Fleury persisted in her choice, and was
    at last obliged to assert, in opposition to the domineering abbe, her
    right to judge and decide in her own affairs. With seeming politeness,
    he begged ten thousand pardons for his conscientious interference. No
    more was said upon the subject; and as he did not totally withdraw from
    her society till the revolution broke out, she did not suspect that she
    had anything to fear from his resentment. His manners and opinions
    changed suddenly with the times; the mask of religion was thrown off; and
    now, instead of objecting to Sister Frances as not being sufficiently
    strict and orthodox in her tenets, he boldly declared that a nun was not
    a fit person to be intrusted with the education of any of the young
    citizens--they should all be _des eleves de la patrie_. The abbe, become
    a member of the Committee of Public Safety, denounced Madame de Fleury,
    in the strange jargon of the day, as "_the fosterer of a swarm of bad
    citizens, who were nourished in the anticivic prejudices_ de l'ancien
    regime, _and fostered in the most detestable superstitions, in defiance
    of the law_." He further observed, that he had good reason to believe
    that some of these little enemies to the constitution had contrived and
    abetted Monsieur de Fleury's escape. Of their having rejoiced at it in a
    most indecent manner, he said he could produce irrefragable proof. The
    boy who saw Babet tear down the placard was produced and solemnly
    examined; and the thoughtless action of this poor little girl was
    construed into a state crime of the most horrible nature. In a
    declamatory tone, Tracassier reminded his fellow-citizens, that in the
    ancient Grecian times of virtuous republicanism (times of which France
    ought to show herself emulous), an Athenian child was condemned to death
    for having made a plaything of a fragment of the gilding that had fallen
    from a public statue. The orator, for the reward of his eloquence,
    obtained an order to seize everything in Madame de Fleury's school-house,
    and to throw the nun into prison.

    CHAPTER IX

    "Who now will guard bewildered youth
    Safe from the fierce assault of hostile rage?--
    Such war can Virtue wage?"

    At the very moment when this order was going to be put in execution,
    Madame de Fleury was sitting in the midst of the children, listening to
    Babet, who was reading AEsop's fable of _The old man and his sons_.
    Whilst her sister was reading, Victoire collected a number of twigs from
    the garden: she had just tied them together; and was going, by Sister
    Frances' desire, to let her companions try if they could break the
    bundle, when the attention to the moral of the fable was interrupted by
    the entrance of an old woman, whose countenance expressed the utmost
    terror and haste, to tell what she had not breath to utter. To Madame de
    Fleury she was a stranger; but the children immediately recollected her
    to be the chestnut woman to whom Babet had some years ago restored
    certain purloined chestnuts.

    "Fly!" said she, the moment she had breath to speak: "Fly!--they are
    coming to seize everything here--carry off what you can--make haste--make
    haste!--I came through a by-street. A man was eating chestnuts at my
    stall, and I saw him show one that was with him the order from Citoyen
    Tracassier. They'll be here in five minutes--quick!--quick!--You, in
    particular," continued she, turning to the nun, "else you'll be in
    prison."

    At these words, the children, who had clung round Sister Frances, loosed
    their hold, exclaiming, "Go! go quick: but where? where?--we will go with
    her."

    "No, no!" said Madame de Fleury, "she shall come home with me--my
    carriage is at the door."

    "Ma belle dame!" cried the chestnut woman, "your house is the worst place
    she can go to--let her come to my cellar--the poorest cellar in these
    days is safer than the grandest palace."

    So saying, she seized the nun with honest roughness, and hurried her
    away. As soon as she was gone, the children ran different ways, each to
    collect some favourite thing, which they thought they could not leave
    behind. Victoire alone stood motionless beside Madame de Fleury; her
    whole thoughts absorbed by the fear that her benefactress would be
    imprisoned. "Oh, madame! dear, dear Madame de Fleury, don't stay! don't
    stay!"

    "Oh, children, never mind these things."

    "Don't stay, madame, don't stay! I will stay with them--I will stay--do
    you go."

    The children hearing these words, and recollecting Madame de Fleury's
    danger, abandoned all their little property, and instantly obeyed her
    orders to go home to their parents. Victoire at last saw Madame de
    Fleury safe in her carriage. The coachman drove off at a great rate; and
    a few minutes afterwards Tracassier's myrmidons arrived at the school-
    house. Great was their surprise when they found only the poor children's
    little books, unfinished samplers, and half-hemmed handkerchiefs. They
    ran into the garden to search for the nun. They were men of brutal
    habits, yet as they looked at everything round them, which bespoke peace,
    innocence, and childish happiness, they could not help thinking it was a
    pity to destroy what could do the nation no great harm after all. They
    were even glad that the nun had made her escape, since they were not
    answerable for it; and they returned to their employer satisfied for once
    without doing any mischief; but Citizen Tracassier was of too vindictive
    a temper to suffer the objects of his hatred thus to elude his vengeance.
    The next day Madame de Fleury was summoned before his tribunal and
    ordered to give up the nun, against whom, as a suspected person, a decree
    of the law had been obtained.

    Madame de Fleury refused to betray the innocent woman; the gentle
    firmness of this lady's answers to a brutal interrogatory was termed
    insolence--she was pronounced a refractory aristocrat, dangerous to the
    state; and an order was made out to seal up her goods, and to keep her a
    prisoner in her own house.

    CHAPTER X

    "Alas! full oft on Guilt's victorious car
    The spoils of Virtue are in triumph borne,
    While the fair captive, marked with many a scar,
    In lone obscurity, oppressed, forlorn,
    Resigns to tears her angel form."--BEATTIE.

    A close prisoner in her own house, Madame de Fleury was now guarded by
    men suddenly become soldiers, and sprung from the dregs of the people;
    men of brutal manners, ferocious countenances, and more ferocious minds.
    They seemed to delight in the insolent display of their newly-acquired
    power. One of those men had formerly been convicted of some horrible
    crime, and had been sent to the galleys by M. de Fleury. Revenge
    actuated this wretch under the mask of patriotism, and he rejoiced in
    seeing the wife of the man he hated a prisoner in his custody. Ignorant
    of the facts, his associates were ready to believe him in the right, and
    to join in the senseless cry against all who were their superiors in
    fortune, birth, and education. This unfortunate lady was forbidden all
    intercourse with her friends, and it was in vain she attempted to obtain
    from her gaolers intelligence of what was passing in Paris.

    "Tu verras--Tout va bien--Ca ira," were the only answers they deigned to
    make; frequently they continued smoking their pipes in obdurate silence.
    She occupied the back rooms of her house, because her guards apprehended
    that she might from the front windows receive intelligence from her
    friends. One morning she was awakened by an unusual noise in the
    streets; and, upon her inquiring the occasion of it, her guards told her
    she was welcome to go to the front windows and satisfy her curiosity. She
    went, and saw an immense crowd of people surrounding a guillotine that
    had been erected the preceding night. Madame de Fleury started back with
    horror--her guards burst into an inhuman laugh, and asked whether her
    curiosity was satisfied. She would have left the room; but it was now
    their pleasure to detain her, and to force her to continue the whole day
    in this apartment. When the guillotine began its work, they had even the
    barbarity to drag her to the window, repeating, "It is there you ought to
    be!--It is there your husband ought to be!--You are too happy, that your
    husband is not there this moment. But he will be there--the law will
    overtake him--he will be there in time--and you too!"

    The mild fortitude of this innocent, benevolent woman made no impression
    upon these cruel men. When at night they saw her kneeling at her
    prayers, they taunted her with gross and impious mockery; and when she
    sank to sleep, they would waken her by their loud and drunken orgies--if
    she remonstrated, they answered, "The enemies of the constitution should
    have no rest."

    Madame de Fleury was not an enemy to any human being; she had never
    interfered in politics; her life had been passed in domestic pleasures,
    or employed for the good of her fellow-creatures. Even in this hour of
    personal danger she thought of others more than of herself: she thought
    of her husband, an exile in a foreign country, who might be reduced to
    the utmost distress now that she was deprived of all means of remitting
    him money. She thought of her friends, who, she knew, would exert
    themselves to obtain her liberty, and whose zeal in her cause might
    involve them and their families in distress. She thought of the good
    Sister Frances, who had been exposed by her means to the unrelenting
    persecution of the malignant and powerful Tracassier. She thought of her
    poor little pupils, now thrown upon the world without a protector. Whilst
    these ideas were revolving in her mind one night as she lay awake, she
    heard the door of her chamber open softly, and a soldier, one of her
    guards, with a light in his hand, entered; he came to the foot of her
    bed, and, as she started up, laid his finger upon his lips.

    "Don't make the least noise," said he in a whisper; "those without are
    drunk, and asleep. Don't you know me?--don't you remember my face?"

    "Not in the least; yet I have some recollection of your voice."

    The man took off the bonnet-rouge--still she could not guess who he was.
    "You never saw me in a uniform before nor without a black face."

    She looked again, and recollected the smith to whom Maurice was bound
    apprentice, and remembered his _patois_ accent.

    "I remember you," said he, "at any rate; and your goodness to that poor
    girl the day her arm was broken, and all your goodness to Maurice. But
    I've no time for talking of that now--get up, wrap this great coat round
    you--don't be in a hurry, but make no noise--and follow me."

    She followed him; and he led her past the sleeping sentinels, opened a
    back door into the garden, hurried her (almost carried her) across the
    garden to a door at the furthest end of it, which opened into Les Champs
    Elysees--"La voila!" cried he, pushing her through the half-opened door.
    "God be praised!" answered a voice, which Madame de Fleury knew to be
    Victoire's, whose arms were thrown round her with a transport of joy.

    "Softly; she is not safe yet--wait till we get her home, Victoire," said
    another voice, which she knew to be that of Maurice. He produced a dark
    lantern, and guided Madame de Fleury across the Champs Elysees, and
    across the bridge, and then through various by-streets, in perfect
    silence, till they arrived safely at the house where Victoire's mother
    lodged, and went up those very stairs which she had ascended in such
    different circumstances several years before. The mother, who was
    sitting up waiting most anxiously for the return of her children, clasped
    her hands in an ecstasy when she saw them return with Madame de Fleury.

    "Welcome, madame! Welcome, dear madame! but who would have thought of
    seeing you here in such a way? Let her rest herself--let her rest; she
    is quite overcome. Here, madame, can you sleep on this poor bed?"

    "The very same bed you laid me upon the day my arm was broken," said
    Victoire.

    "Ay, Lord bless her!" said the mother; "and though it's seven good years
    ago, it seemed but yesterday that I saw her sitting on that bed beside my
    poor child looking like an angel. But let her rest, let her rest--we'll
    not say a word more, only God bless her; thank Heaven, she's safe with us
    at last!"

    Madame de Fleury expressed unwillingness to stay with these good people,
    lest she should expose them to danger; but they begged most earnestly
    that she would remain with them without scruple.

    "Surely, madame," said the mother, "you must think that we have some
    remembrance of all you have done for us, and some touch of gratitude."

    "And surely, madame, you can trust us, I hope," said Maurice.

    "And surely you are not too proud to let us do something for you. The
    lion was not too proud to be served by the poor little mouse," said
    Victoire. "As to danger for us," continued she, "there can be none; for
    Maurice and I have contrived a hiding-place for you, madame, that can
    never be found out--let them come spying here as often as they please,
    they will never find her out, will they, Maurice? Look, madame, into
    this lumber-room; you see it seems to be quite full of wood for firing;
    well, if you creep in behind, you can hide yourself quite sung in the
    loft above, and here's a trap-door into the loft that nobody ever would
    think of, for we have hung these old things from the top of it, and who
    could guess it was a trap-door? So you see, dear madame, you may sleep
    in peace here, and never fear for us."

    Though but a girl of fourteen, Victoire showed at this time all the sense
    and prudence of a woman of thirty. Gratitude seemed at once to develop
    all the powers of her mind. It was she and Maurice who had prevailed
    upon the smith to effect Madame de Fleury's escape from her own house.
    She had invented, she had foreseen, she had arranged everything; she had
    scarcely rested night or day since the imprisonment of her benefactress,
    and now that her exertions had fully succeeded, her joy seemed to raise
    her above all feeling of fatigue; she looked as fresh and moved as
    briskly, her mother said, as if she were preparing to go to a ball.

    "Ah! my child," said she, "your cousin Manon, who goes to those balls
    every night, was never so happy as you are this minute."

    But Victoire's happiness was not of long continuance; for the next day
    they were alarmed by intelligence that Tracassier was enraged beyond
    measure at Madame de Fleury's escape, that all his emissaries were at
    work to discover her present hiding-place, that the houses of all the
    parents and relations of her pupils were to be searched, and that the
    most severe denunciations were issued against all by whom she should be
    harboured. Manon was the person who gave this intelligence, but not with
    any benevolent design; she first came to Victoire, to display her own
    consequence; and to terrify her, she related all she knew from a
    soldier's wife, who was M. Tracassier's mistress. Victoire had
    sufficient command over herself to conceal from the inquisitive eyes of
    Manon the agitation of her heart; she had also the prudence not to let
    any one of her companions into her secret, though, when she saw their
    anxiety, she was much tempted to relieve them, by the assurance that
    Madame de Fleury was in safety. All the day was passed in apprehension.
    Madame de Fleury never stirred from her place of concealment: as the
    evening and the hour of the domiciliary visits approached, Victoire and
    Maurice were alarmed by an unforeseen difficulty. Their mother, whose
    health had been broken by hard work, in vain endeavoured to suppress her
    terror at the thoughts of this domiciliary visit; she repeated
    incessantly that she knew they should all be discovered, and that her
    children would be dragged to the guillotine before her face. She was in
    such a distracted state, that they dreaded she would, the moment she saw
    the soldiers, reveal all she knew.

    "If they question me, I shall not know what to answer," cried the
    terrified woman. "What can I say?--What can I do?"

    Reasoning, entreaties, all were vain; she was not in a condition to
    understand, or even to listen to, anything that was said. In this
    situation they were when the domiciliary visitors arrived--they heard the
    noise of the soldiers' feet on the stairs--the poor woman sprang from the
    arms of her children; but at the moment the door was opened, and she saw
    the glittering of the bayonets, she fell at full length in a swoon on the
    floor--fortunately before she had power to utter a syllable. The people
    of the house knew, and said, that she was subject to fits on any sudden
    alarm; so that her being affected in this manner did not appear
    surprising. They threw her on a bed, whilst they proceeded to search the
    house: her children stayed with her; and, wholly occupied in attending to
    her, they were not exposed to the danger of betraying their anxiety about
    Madame de Fleury. They trembled, however, from head to foot when they
    heard one of the soldiers swear that all the wood in the lumber-room must
    be pulled out, and that he would not leave the house till every stick was
    moved; the sound of each log, as it was thrown out, was heard by
    Victoire; her brother was now summoned to assist. How great was his
    terror when one of the searchers looked up to the roof, as if expecting
    to find a trap door; fortunately, however, he did not discover it.
    Maurice, who had seized the light, contrived to throw the shadows so as
    to deceive the eye. The soldiers at length retreated; and with
    inexpressible satisfaction Maurice lighted them down stairs, and saw them
    fairly out of the house. For some minutes after they were in safety, the
    terrified mother, who had recovered her senses, could scarcely believe
    that the danger was over. She embraced her children by turns with wild
    transport; and with tears begged Madame de Fleury to forgive her
    cowardice, and not to attribute it to ingratitude, or to suspect that she
    had a bad heart. She protested that she was now become so courageous,
    since she found that she had gone through this trial successfully, and
    since she was sure that the hiding-place was really so secure, that she
    should never be alarmed at any domiciliary visit in future. Madame de
    Fleury, however, did not think it either just or expedient to put her
    resolution to the trial. She determined to leave Paris; and, if
    possible, to make her escape from France. The master of one of the Paris
    diligences was brother to Francois, her footman: he was ready to assist
    her at all hazards, and to convey her safely to Bourdeaux, if she could
    disguise herself properly; and if she could obtain a pass from any friend
    under a feigned name.

    Victoire--the indefatigable Victoire--recollected that her friend Annette
    had an aunt, who was nearly of Madame de Fleury's size, and who had just
    obtained a pass to go to Bourdeaux, to visit some of her relations. The
    pass was willingly given up to Madame de Fleury; and upon reading it over
    it was found to answer tolerably well--the colour of the eyes and hair at
    least would do; though the words _un nez gros_ were not precisely
    descriptive of this lady's. Annette's mother, who had always worn the
    provincial dress of Auvergne, furnished the high _cornette_, stiff stays,
    bodice, &c.; and equipped in these, Madame de Fleury was so admirably
    well disguised, that even Victoire declared she should scarcely have
    known her. Money, that most necessary passport in all countries, was
    still wanting: as seals had been put upon all Madame de Fleury's effects
    the day she had been first imprisoned in her own house, she could not
    save even her jewels. She had, however, one ring on her finger of some
    value. How to dispose of it without exciting suspicion was the
    difficulty. Babet, who was resolved to have her share in assisting her
    benefactress, proposed to carry the ring to a _colporteur_--a pedlar, or
    sort of travelling jeweller--who had come to lay in a stock of hardware
    at Paris: he was related to one of Madame de Fleury's little pupils, and
    readily disposed of the ring for her: she obtained at least two-thirds of
    its value--a great deal in those times.

    The proofs of integrity, attachment, and gratitude which she received in
    these days of peril, from those whom she had obliged in her prosperity,
    touched her generous heart so much, that she has often since declared she
    could not regret having been reduced to distress. Before she quitted
    Paris she wrote letters to her friends, recommending her pupils to their
    protection; she left these letters in the care of Victoire, who to the
    last moment followed her with anxious affection. She would have followed
    her benefactress into exile, but that she was prevented by duty and
    affection from leaving her mother, who was in declining health.

    Madame de Fleury successfully made her escape from Paris. Some of the
    municipal officers in the towns through which she passed on her road were
    as severe as their ignorance would permit in scrutinising her passport.
    It seldom happened that more than one of these petty committees of public
    safety could read. One usually spelled out the passport as well as he
    could, whilst the others smoked their pipes, and from time to time held a
    light up to the lady's face to examine whether it agreed with the
    description.

    "Mais toi! tu n'as pas le nez gros!" said one of her judges to her. "Son
    nez est assez gros, et c'est moi qui le dit," said another. The question
    was put to the vote; and the man who had asserted what was contrary to
    the evidence of his senses was so vehement in supporting his opinion,
    that it was carried in spite of all that could be said against it. Madame
    de Fleury was suffered to proceed on her journey. She reached Bordeaux
    in safety. Her husband's friends--the good have always friends in
    adversity--her husband's friends exerted themselves for her with the most
    prudent zeal. She was soon provided with a sum of money sufficient for
    her support for some time in England; and she safely reached that free
    and happy country, which has been the refuge of so many illustrious
    exiles.

    CHAPTER XI

    "Cosi rozzo diamante appena splende
    Dalla rupe natia quand' esce fuora,
    E a poco a poco lucido se rende
    Sotto l'attenta che lo lavora."

    Madame de Fleury joined her husband, who was in London, and they both
    lived in the most retired and frugal manner. They had too much of the
    pride of independence to become burthensome to their generous English
    friends. Notwithstanding the variety of difficulties they had to
    encounter, and the number of daily privations to which they were forced
    to submit, yet they were happy--in a tranquil conscience, in their mutual
    affection, and the attachment of many poor but grateful friends. A few
    months after she came to England, Madame de Fleury received, by a private
    hand, a packet of letters from her little pupils. Each of them, even the
    youngest, who had but just begun to learn joining-hand, would write a few
    lines in this packet.

    In various hands, of various sizes, the changes were rung upon these
    simple words:--

    "MY DEAR MADAME DE FLEURY,

    "I love you--I wish you were here again--I will be _very very_ good
    whilst you are away. If you stay away ever so long, I shall never
    forget you, nor your goodness; but I hope you will soon be able to
    come back, and this is what I pray for every night. Sister Frances
    says I may tell you that I am very good, and Victoire thinks so too."

    This was the substance of several of their little letters. Victoire's
    contained rather more information:--

    "You will be glad to learn that dear Sister Frances is safe, and that
    the good chestnut-woman, in whose cellar she took refuge, did not get
    into any difficulty. After you were gone, M. T--- said that he did
    not think it worth while to pursue her, as it was only you he wanted
    to humble. Manon, who has, I do not know how, means of knowing, told
    me this. Sister Frances is now with her abbess, who, as well as
    everybody else that knows her, is very fond of her. What was a
    convent is no longer a convent--the nuns are turned out of it. Sister
    Frances' health is not so good as it used to be, though she never
    complains. I am sure she suffers much; she has never been the same
    person since that day when we were driven from our happy schoolroom.
    It is all destroyed--the garden and everything. It is now a dismal
    sight. Your absence also afflicts Sister Frances much, and she is in
    great anxiety about all of us. She has the six little ones with her
    every day in her own apartment, and goes on teaching them as she used
    to do. We six eldest go to see her as often as we can. I should have
    begun, my dear Madame de Fleury, by telling you, that, the day after
    you left Paris, I went to deliver all the letters you were so very
    kind to write for us in the midst of your hurry. Your friends have
    been exceedingly good to us, and have got places for us all. Rose is
    with Madame la Grace, your mantua-maker, who says she is more handy
    and more expert at cutting out than girls she has had these three
    years. Marianne is in the service of Madame de V---, who has lost a
    great part of her large fortune, and cannot afford to keep her former
    waiting-maid. Madame de V--- is well pleased with Marianne, and bids
    me tell you that she thanks you for her. Indeed, Marianne, though she
    is only fourteen, can do everything her lady wants. Susanne is with a
    confectioner. She gave Sister Frances a box of _bonbons_ of her own
    making this morning; and Sister Frances, who is a judge, says they are
    excellent--she only wishes you could taste them. Annette and I
    (thanks to your kindness!) are in the same service with Madame
    Feuillot, the _brodeuse_, to whom you recommended us. She is not
    discontented with our work, and, indeed, sent a very civil message
    yesterday to Sister Frances on this subject; but believe it is too
    flattering for me to repeat in this letter. We shall do our best to
    give her satisfaction. She is glad to find that we can write
    tolerably, and that we can make out bills and keep accounts, this
    being particularly convenient to her at present, as the young man she
    had in the shop is become an orator, and good for nothing but _la
    chose publique_; her son, who could have supplied his place, is ill;
    and Madame Feuillot herself, not having had, as she says, the
    advantage of such a good education as we have been blessed with,
    writes but badly, and knows nothing of arithmetic. Dear Madame de
    Fleury, how much, how very much we are obliged to you! We feel it
    every day more and more; in these times what would have become of us
    if we could do nothing useful? Who would, who could be burdened with
    us? Dear madame, we owe everything to you--and we can do nothing, not
    the least thing for you! My mother is still in bad health, and I fear
    will never recover; Babet is with her always, and Sister Frances is
    very good to her. My brother Maurice is now so good a workman that he
    earns a louis a week. He is very steady to his business, and never
    goes to the revolutionary meetings, though once he had a great mind to
    be an orator of the people, but never since the day that you explained
    to him that he knew nothing about equality and the rights of men, &c.
    How could I forget to tell you, that his master the smith, who was one
    of your guards, and who assisted you to escape, has returned without
    suspicion to his former trade? and he declares that he will never more
    meddle with public affairs. I gave him the money you left with me for
    him. He is very kind to my brother. Yesterday Maurice mended for
    Annette's mistress the lock of an English writing-desk, and he mended
    it so astonishingly well, that an English gentleman, who saw it, could
    not believe the work was done by a Frenchman; so my brother was sent
    for, to prove it, and they were forced to believe it. To-day he has
    more work than he can finish this twelve-month--all this we owe to
    you. I shall never forget the day when you promised that you would
    grant my brother's wish to be apprenticed to the smith, if I was not
    in a passion for a month; that cured me of being so passionate.

    "Dear Madame de Fleury, I have written you too long a letter, and not
    so well as I can write when I am not in a hurry; but I wanted to tell
    you everything at once, because, may be, I shall not for a long time
    have so safe an opportunity of sending a letter to you.

    "VICTOIRE."

    Several months elapsed before Madame do Fleury received another letter
    from Victoire; it was short and evidently written in great distress of
    mind. It contained an account of her mother's death. She was now left
    at the early age of sixteen an orphan. Madame Feuillot, the _brodeuse_,
    with whom she lived, added few lines to her letter, penned with
    difficulty and strangely spelled, but, expressive of her being highly
    pleased with both the girls recommended to her by Madame de Fleury,
    especially Victoire, who she said was such a treasure to her, that she
    would not part with her on any account, and should consider her as a
    daughter. "I tell her not to grieve so much; for though she has lost one
    mother she has gained another for herself, who will always love her; and
    besides she is so useful, and in so many ways, with her pen and her
    needle, in accounts, and everything that is wanted in a family or a shop;
    she can never want employment or friends in the worst times, and none can
    be worse than these, especially for such pretty girls as she is, who have
    all their heads turned, and are taught to consider nothing a sin that
    used to be sins. Many gentlemen, who come to our shop, have found out
    that Victoire is very handsome, and tell her so; but she is so modest and
    prudent that I am not afraid for her. I could tell you, madame, a good
    anecdote on this subject, but my paper will not allow, and, besides, my
    writing is so difficult."

    Above a year elapsed before Madame de Fleury received another letter from
    Victoire: this was in a parcel, of which an emigrant took charge; it
    contained a variety of little offerings from her pupils, instances of
    their ingenuity, their industry, and their affection; the last thing in
    the packet was a small purse labelled in this manner--

    "_Savings from our wages and earnings for her who taught us all we
    know_."

    CHAPTER XII

    "Dans sa pompe elegante, admirez Chantilly,
    De heros en heros, d'age en age, embelli."--DE LILLE.

    The health of the good Sister Frances, which had suffered much from the
    shock her mind received at the commencement of the revolution, declined
    so rapidly in the course of the two succeeding years, that she was
    obliged to leave Paris, and she retired to a little village in the
    neighbourhood of Chantilly. She chose this situation because here she
    was within a morning's walk of Madame de Fleury's country-seat. The
    Chateau de Fleury had not yet been seized as national property, nor had
    it suffered from the attacks of the mob, though it was in a perilous
    situation, within view of the high road to Paris. The Parisian populace
    had not yet extended their outrages to this distance from the city, and
    the poor people who lived on the estate of Fleury, attached from habit,
    principle, and gratitude, to their lord, were not disposed to take
    advantage of the disorder of the times, to injure the property of those
    from whom they had all their lives received favours and protection. A
    faithful old steward had the care of the castle and the grounds. Sister
    Frances was impatient to talk to him and to visit the chateau, which she
    had never seen; but for some days after her arrival in the village she
    was so much fatigued and so weak that she could not attempt so long a
    walk. Victoire had obtained permission from her mistress to accompany
    the nun for a few days to the country, as Annette undertook to do all the
    business of the shop during the absence of her companion. Victoire was
    fully as eager as Sister Frances to see the faithful steward and the
    Chateau de Fleury, and the morning was now fixed for their walk; but in
    the middle of the night they were awakened by the shouts of a mob, who
    had just entered the village fresh from the destruction of a neighbouring
    castle. The nun and Victoire listened; but in the midst of the horrid
    yells of joy no human voice, no intelligible word could be distinguished;
    they looked through a chink in the window-shutter and they saw the street
    below filled with a crowd of men, whose countenances were by turns
    illuminated by the glare of the torches which they brandished.

    "Good Heavens!" whispered the nun to Victoire: "I should know the face of
    that man who is loading his musket--the very man whom I nursed ten years
    ago when he was ill with a gaol fever!"

    This man, who stood in the midst of the crowd, taller by the head than
    the others, seemed to be the leader of the party; they were disputing
    whether they should proceed further, spend the remainder of the night in
    the village ale-house, or return to Paris. Their leader ordered spirits
    to be distributed to his associates, and exhorted them in a loud voice to
    proceed in their glorious work. Tossing his firebrand over his head he
    declared that he would never return to Paris till he had razed to the
    ground the Chateau de Fleury. At these words, Victoire, forgetful of all
    personal danger, ran out into the midst of the mob, pressed her way up to
    the leader of these ruffians, caught him by the arm, exclaiming, "You
    will not touch a stone in the Chateau de Fleury--I have my reasons--I say
    you will not suffer a stone in the Chateau de Fleury to be touched."

    "And why not?" cried the man, turning astonished; "and who are you that I
    should listen to you?"

    "No matter who I am," said Victoire; "follow me and I will show you one
    to whom you will not refuse to listen. Here!--here she is," continued
    Victoire, pointing to the nun, who had followed her in amazement; "here
    is one to whom you will listen--yes, look at her well: hold the light to
    her face."

    The nun, in a supplicating attitude, stood in speechless expectation.

    "Ay, I see you have gratitude, I know you will have mercy," cried
    Victoire, watching the workings in the countenance of the man; "you will
    save the Chateau de Fleury for her sake--who saved your life."

    "I will," cried this astonished chief of a mob, fired with sudden
    generosity. "By my faith you are a brave girl, and a fine girl, and know
    how to speak to the heart, and in the right moment. Friends, citizens,
    this nun, though she is a nun, is good for something. When I lay ill
    with a fever, and not a soul else to help me, she came and gave me
    medicines and food--in short, I owe my life to her. 'Tis ten years ago,
    but I remember it well, and now it is our turn to rule, and she shall be
    paid as she deserves. Not a stone of the Chateau de Fleury shall be
    touched!"

    With loud acclamations the mob joined in the generous enthusiasm of the
    moment and followed their leader peaceably out of the village. All this
    passed with such rapidity as scarcely to leave the impression of reality
    upon the mind. As soon as the sun rose in the morning Victoire looked
    out for the turrets of the Chateau de Fleury, and she saw that they were
    safe--safe in the midst of the surrounding devastation. Nothing remained
    of the superb palace of Chantilly but the white arches of its foundation.

    CHAPTER XIII

    "When thy last breath, ere Nature sank to rest
    Thy meek submission to thy God expressed;
    When thy last look, ere thought and feeling fled,
    A mingled gleam of hope and triumph shed;
    What to thy soul its glad assurance gave--
    Its hope in death, its triumph o'er the grave?
    The sweet remembrance of unblemished youth,
    Th' inspiring voice of innocence and truth!"--ROGERS.

    The good Sister Frances, though she had scarcely recovered from the shock
    of the preceding night, accompanied Victoire to the Chateau de Fleury.
    The gates were opened for them by the old steward and his son Basile, who
    welcomed them with all the eagerness with which people welcome friends in
    time of adversity. The old man showed them the place; and through every
    apartment of the castle went on talking of former times, and with
    narrative fondness told anecdotes of his dear master and mistress. Here
    his lady used to sit and read--here was the table at which she wrote--this
    was the sofa on which she and the ladies sat the very last day she was at
    the castle, at the open windows of the hall, whilst all the tenants and
    people of the village were dancing on the green.

    "Ay, those were happy times," said the old man; "but they will never
    return."

    "Never! Oh do not say so," cried Victoire.

    "Never during my life, at least," said the nun in a low voice, and with a
    look of resignation.

    Basile, as he wiped the tears from his eyes, happened to strike his arm
    against the chord of Madame de Fleury's harp, and the sound echoed
    through the room.

    "Before this year is at an end," cried Victoire, "perhaps that harp will
    be struck again in this Chateau by Madame de Fleury herself. Last night
    we could hardly have hoped to see these walls standing this morning, and
    yet it is safe--not a stone touched! Oh, we shall all live, I hope, to
    see better times!"

    Sister Frances smiled, for she would not depress Victoire's enthusiastic
    hope: to please her, the good nun added, that she felt better this
    morning than she had felt for months, and Victoire was happier than she
    had been since Madame de Fleury left France. But, alas! it was only a
    transient gleam. Sister Frances relapsed and declined so rapidly, that
    even Victoire, whose mind was almost always disposed to hope, despaired
    of her recovery. With placid resignation, or rather with mild
    confidence, this innocent and benevolent creature met the approach of
    death. She seemed attached to earth only by affection for those whom she
    was to leave in this world. Two of the youngest of the children who had
    formerly been placed under her care, and who were not yet able to earn
    their own subsistence, she kept with her, and in the last days of her
    life she continued her instructions to them with the fond solicitude of a
    parent. Her father confessor, an excellent man, who never even in these
    dangerous times shrank from his duty, came to Sister Frances in her last
    moments, and relieved her mind from all anxiety, by promising to place
    the two little children with the lady who had been abbess of her convent,
    who would to the utmost of her power protect and provide for them
    suitably. Satisfied by this promise, the good Sister Frances smiled upon
    Victoire, who stood beside her bed, and with that smile upon her
    countenance expired.--It was some time before the little children seemed
    to comprehend, or to believe, that Sister Frances was dead: they had
    never before seen any one die; they had no idea what it was to die, and
    their first feeling was astonishment; they did not seem to understand why
    Victoire wept. But the next day when no Sister Frances spoke to them,
    when every hour they missed some accustomed kindness from her,--when
    presently they saw the preparations for her funeral,--when they heard
    that she was to be buried in the earth, and that they should never see
    her more,--they could neither play nor eat, but sat in a corner holding
    each other's hands, and watching everything that was done for the dead by
    Victoire.

    In those times, the funeral of a nun, with a priest attending, would not
    have been permitted by the populace. It was therefore performed as
    secretly as possible: in the middle of the night the coffin was carried
    to the burial-place of the Fleury family; the old steward, his son
    Basile, Victoire, and the good father confessor, were the only persons
    present. It is necessary to mention this, because the facts were
    afterwards misrepresented.

    CHAPTER XIV

    "The character is lost!
    Her head adorned with lappets, pinned aloft,
    And ribands streaming gay, superbly raised,
    Indebted to some smart wig-weaver's hand
    For more than half the tresses it sustains."--COWPER.

    Upon her return to Paris, Victoire felt melancholy; but she exerted
    herself as much as possible in her usual occupation; finding that
    employment and the consciousness of doing her duty were the best remedies
    for sorrow.

    One day as she was busy settling Madame Feuillot's accounts a servant
    came into the shop and inquired for Mademoiselle Victoire: he presented
    her a note, which she found rather difficult to decipher. It was signed
    by her cousin Manon, who desired to see Victoire at her hotel. "_Her
    hotel_!" repeated Victoire with astonishment. The servant assured her
    that one of the finest hotels in Paris belonged to his lady, and that he
    was commissioned to show her the way to it. Victoire found her cousin in
    a magnificent house, which had formerly belonged to the Prince de Salms.
    Manon, dressed in the disgusting, indecent extreme of the mode, was
    seated under a richly-fringed canopy. She burst into a loud laugh as
    Victoire entered.

    "You look just as much astonished as I expected," cried she. "Great
    changes have happened since I saw you last--I always told you, Victoire,
    I knew the world better than you did. What has come of all your
    schooling, and your mighty goodness, and your gratitude truly? Your
    patroness is banished and a beggar, and you a drudge in the shop of a
    _brodeuse_, who makes you work your fingers to the bone, no doubt. Now
    you shall see the difference. Let me show you my house; you know it was
    formerly the hotel of the Prince de Salms, he that was guillotined the
    other day; but you know nothing, for you have been out of Paris this
    month, I understand. Then I must tell you that my friend Villeneuf has
    acquired an immense fortune! by assignats made in the course of a
    fortnight. I say an immense fortune! and has bought this fine house. Now
    do you begin to understand?"

    "I do not clearly know whom you mean by 'your friend Villeneuf,'" said
    Victoire.

    "The hairdresser who lived in our street," said Manon; "he became a great
    patriot, you know, and orator; and, what with his eloquence and his luck
    in dealing in assignats, he has made his fortune and mine."

    "And yours! then he is your husband?"

    "That does not follow--that is not necessary--but do not look so
    shocked--everybody goes on the sane way now; besides, I had no other
    resource--I must have starved--I could not earn my bread as you do.
    Besides, I was too delicate for hard work of any sort--and besides--but
    come, let me show you my house--you have no idea how fine it is."

    With anxious ostentation Manon displayed all her riches to excite
    Victoire's envy.

    "Confess, Victoire," said she at last, "that you think me the happiest
    person you have ever known.--You do not answer; whom did you ever know
    that was happier?"

    "Sister Frances, who died last week, appeared to be much happier," said
    Victoire.

    "The poor nun!" said Manon, disdainfully. "Well, and whom do you think
    the next happiest?"

    "Madame de Fleury."

    "An exile and a beggar!--Oh, you are jesting now, Victoire--or--envious.
    With that sanctified face, citoyenne--perhaps I should say
    Mademoiselle--Victoire you would be delighted to change places with me
    this instant. Come, you shall stay with me a week to try how you like
    it."

    "Excuse me," said Victoire, firmly; "I cannot stay with you, Manon; you
    have chosen one way of life and I another--quite another. I do not
    repent my choice--may you never repent yours!--Farewell!"

    "Bless me! what airs! and with what dignity she looks! Repent of my
    choice!--a likely thing, truly. Am not I at the top of the wheel?"

    "And may not the wheel turn?" said Victoire.

    "Perhaps it may," said Manon; "but till it does I will enjoy myself.
    Since you are of a different humour, return to Madame Feuillot, and
    figure upon cambric and muslin, and make out bills, and nurse old nuns
    all the days of your life. You will never persuade me, however, that you
    would not change places with me if you could. Stay till you are tried,
    Mademoiselle Victoire. Who was ever in love with you or your
    virtues?--Stay till you are tried."

    CHAPTER XV

    "But beauty, like the fair Hesperian tree,
    Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard
    Of dragon watch with unenchanted eye
    To save her blossoms, or defend her fruit."--MILTON.

    The trial was nearer than either Manon or Victoire expected. Manon had
    scarcely pronounced the last words when the ci-devant hairdresser burst
    into the room, accompanied by several of his political associates, who
    met to consult measures for the good of the nation. Among these patriots
    was the Abbe Tracassier.

    "Who is that pretty girl who is with you, Manon?" whispered he; "a friend
    of yours, I hope?"

    Victoire left the room immediately, but not before the profligate abbe
    had seen enough to make him wish to see more. The next day he went to
    Madame Feuillot's under pretence of buying some embroidered
    handkerchiefs; he paid Victoire a profusion of extravagant compliments,
    which made no impression upon her innocent heart, and which appeared
    ridiculous to her plain good sense. She did not know who he was, nor did
    Madame Feuillot; for though she had often heard of the abbe, yet she had
    never seen him. Several succeeding days he returned, and addressed
    himself to Victoire, each time with increasing freedom. Madame Feuillot,
    who had the greatest confidence in her, left her entirely to her own
    discretion. Victoire begged her friend Annette to do the business of the
    shop, and stayed at work in the back parlour. Tracassier was much
    disappointed by her absence; but as he thought no great ceremony
    necessary in his proceedings, he made his name known in a haughty manner
    to Madame de Feuillot, and desired that he might be admitted into the
    back parlour, as he had something of consequence to say to Mademoiselle
    Victoire in private. Our readers will not require to have a detailed
    account of this _tete-a-tete_; it is sufficient to say that the
    disappointed and exasperated abbe left the house muttering imprecations.
    The next morning a note came to Victoire apparently from Manon: it was
    directed by her, but the inside was written by an unknown hand, and
    continued these words:--

    "You are a charming, but incomprehensible girl--since you do not like
    compliments, you shall not be addressed with empty flattery. It is in
    the power of the person who dictates this, not only to make you as rich
    and great as your cousin Manon, but also to restore to fortune and to
    their country the friends for whom, you are most interested. Their fate
    as well as your own is in your power: if you send a favourable answer to
    this note, the persons alluded to will, to-morrow, be struck from the
    list of emigrants, and reinstated in their former possessions. If your
    answer is decidedly unfavourable, the return of your friends to France
    will be thenceforward impracticable, and their chateau, as well as their
    house in Paris, will be declared national property, and sold without
    delay to the highest bidder. To you, who have as much understanding as
    beauty, it is unnecessary to say more. Consult your heart, charming
    Victoire! be happy, and make others happy. This moment is decisive of
    your fate and of theirs, for you have to answer a man of a most decided
    character."

    Victoire's answer was as follows:--

    "My friends would not, I am sure, accept of their fortune, or consent to
    return to their country, upon the conditions proposed; therefore I have
    no merit in rejecting them."

    Victoire had early acquired good principles, and that plain steady good
    sense, which goes straight to its object, without being dazzled or
    imposed upon by sophistry. She was unacquainted with the refinements of
    sentiment, but she distinctly knew right from wrong, and had sufficient
    resolution to abide by the right. Perhaps many romantic heroines might
    have thought it a generous self-devotion to have become in similar
    circumstances the mistress of Tracassier; and those who are skilled "to
    make the worst appear the better cause" might have made such an act of
    heroism the foundation of an interesting, or at least a fashionable
    novel. Poor Victoire had not received an education sufficiently refined
    to enable her to understand these mysteries of sentiment. She was even
    simple enough to flatter herself that this libertine patriot would not
    fulfil his threats, and that these had been made only with a view to
    terrify her into compliance. In this opinion, however, she found herself
    mistaken. M. Tracassier was indeed a man of the most decided character,
    if this form may properly be applied to those who act uniformly in
    consequence of their ruling passion. The Chateau de Fleury was seized as
    national property. Victoire heard this bad news from the old steward,
    who was turned out of the castle, along with his son, the very day after
    her rejection of the proposed conditions.

    "I could not have believed that any human creature could be so wicked!"
    exclaimed Victoire, glowing with indignation: but indignation gave way to
    sorrow.

    "And the Chateau de Fleury is really seized?--and you, good old man, are
    turned out of the place where you were born?--and you too, Basile?--and
    Madame de Fleury will never come back again!--and perhaps she may be put
    into prison in a foreign country, and may die for want--and I might have
    prevented all this!"

    Unable to shed a tear, Victoire stood in silent consternation, whilst
    Annette explained to the good steward and his son the whole transaction.
    Basile, who was naturally of an impetuous temper, was so transported with
    indignation, that he would have gone instantly with the note from
    Tracassier to denounce him before the whole National Convention, if he
    had not been restrained by his more prudent father. The old steward
    represented to him, that as the note was neither signed nor written by
    the hand of Tracassier, no proof could be brought home to him, and the
    attempt to convict one of so powerful a party would only bring certain
    destruction upon the accusers. Besides, such was at this time the
    general depravity of manners, that numbers would keep the guilty in
    countenance. There was no crime which the mask of patriotism could not
    cover. "There is one comfort we have in our misfortunes, which these men
    can never have," said the old man; "when their downfall comes, and come
    it will most certainly, they will not feel as we do, INNOCENT. Victoire,
    look up! and do not give way to despair--all will yet be well."

    "At all events, you have done what is right--so do not reproach
    yourself," said Basile. "Everybody--I mean everybody who is good for
    anything--must respect, admire, and love you, Victoire."

    CHAPTER XVI

    "Ne mal cio che v'annoja,
    Quello e vero gioire
    Che nasce da virtude dopo il soffrire."

    Basile had not seen without emotion the various instances of goodness
    which Victoire showed during the illness of Sister Frances. Her conduct
    towards M. Tracassier increased his esteem and attachment; but he forbore
    to declare his affection, because he could not, consistently with
    prudence, or with gratitude to his father, think of marrying, now that he
    was not able to maintain a wife and family. The honest earnings of many
    years of service had been wrested from the old steward at the time the
    Chateau de Fleury was seized, and he now depended on the industry of his
    son for the daily support of his age. His dependence was just, and not
    likely to be disappointed; for he had given his son an education suitable
    to his condition in life. Basile was an exact arithmetician, could write
    an excellent hand, and was a ready draughtsman and surveyor. To bring
    these useful talents into action, and to find employment for them with
    men by whom they would be honestly rewarded, was the only difficulty--a
    difficulty which Victoire's brother Maurice soon removed. His reputation
    as a smith had introduced him, among his many customers, to a gentleman
    of worth and scientific knowledge, who was at this time employed to make
    models and plans of all the fortified places in Europe; he was in want of
    a good clerk and draughtsman, of whose integrity he could be secure.
    Maurice mentioned his friend Basile; and upon inquiry into his character,
    and upon trial of his abilities, he was found suited to the place, and
    was accepted. By his well-earned salary he supported himself and his
    father; and began, with the sanguine hopes of a young man, to flatter
    himself that he should soon be rich enough to marry, and that then he
    might declare his attachment to Victoire. Notwithstanding all his
    boasted prudence, he had betrayed sufficient symptoms of his passion to
    have rendered a declaration unnecessary to any clear-sighted observer:
    but Victoire was not thinking of conquests; she was wholly occupied with
    a scheme of earning a certain sum of money for her benefactress, who was
    now, as she feared, in want. All Madame de Fleury's former pupils
    contributed their share to the common stock; and the mantua-maker, the
    confectioner, the servants of different sorts, who had been educated at
    her school, had laid by, during the years of her banishment, an annual
    portion of their wages and savings: with the sum which Victoire now added
    to the fund, it amounted to ten thousand livres. The person who
    undertook to carry this money to Madame de Fleury, was Francois, her
    former footman, who had procured a pass to go to England as a
    hairdresser. The night before he set out was a happy night for Victoire,
    as all her companions met, by Madame Feuillot's invitation, at her house;
    and after tea they had the pleasure of packing up the little box, in
    which each, besides the money, sent some token their gratitude, and some
    proof of their ingenuity. They would with all their hearts have sent
    twice as many _souvenirs_ as Francois could carry.

    "D'abord c'est impossible!" cried he, when he saw the box that was
    prepared for him to carry to England: but his good nature was unable to
    resist the entreaties of each to have her offering carried, "which would
    take up no room."

    He departed--arrived safe in England--found out Madame de Fleury, who was
    in real distress, in obscure lodgings at Richmond. He delivered the
    money, and all the presents of which he had taken charge: but the person
    to whom she entrusted a letter, in answer to Victoire, was not so
    punctual, or was more unlucky: for the letter never reached her, and she
    and her companions were long uncertain whether their little treasure had
    been received. They still continued, however, with indefatigable
    gratitude, to lay by a portion of their earnings for their benefactress;
    and the pleasure they had in this perseverance made them more than amends
    for the loss of some little amusements, and for privations to which they
    submitted in consequence of their resolution.

    In the meantime, Basile, going on steadily with his employments, advanced
    every day in the favour of his master, and his salary was increased in
    proportion to his abilities and industry; so that he thought he could
    now, without any imprudence, marry. He consulted his father, who
    approved of his choice; he consulted Maurice as to the probability of his
    being accepted by Victoire; and encouraged by both his father and his
    friend, he was upon the eve of addressing himself to Victoire, when he
    was prevented by a new and unforeseen misfortune. His father was taken
    up, by an emissary of Tracassier's, and brought before one of their
    revolutionary committees, where he was accused of various acts of
    _incivisme_. Among other things equally criminal, it was proved that one
    Sunday, when he went to see Le Petit Trianon, then a public-house, he
    exclaimed, "C'est ici que le canaille danse, et que les honnetes gens
    pleurent!"

    Basile was present at this mock examination of his father--he saw him on
    the point of being dragged to prison--when a hint was given that he might
    save his father by enlisting immediately, and going with the army out of
    France. Victoire was full in Basile's recollection; but there was no
    other means of saving his father. He enlisted, and in twenty-four hours
    left Paris.

    What appear to be the most unfortunate circumstances of life often prove
    ultimately the most advantageous--indeed, those who have knowledge,
    activity, and integrity, can convert the apparent blanks in the lottery
    of fortune into prizes. Basile was recommended to his commanding officer
    by the gentleman who had lately employed him as a clerk; his skill in
    drawing plans, and in taking rapid surveys of the country through which
    they passed, was extremely useful to his general, and his integrity made
    it safe to trust him as a secretary. His commanding officer, though a
    brave man, was illiterate, and a secretary was to him a necessary of
    life. Basile was not only useful, but agreeable; without any mean arts,
    or servile adulation, he pleased by simply showing the desire to oblige
    and the ability to serve.

    "Diable!" exclaimed the general one day, as he looked at Basile's plan of
    a town which the army was besieging. "How comes it that you are able to
    do all these things? But you have a genius for this sort of work,
    apparently."

    "No, sir," said Basile, "these things were taught to me when I was a
    child by a good friend."

    "A good friend he was, indeed! he did more for you than if he had given
    you a fortune; for, in these times, that might have been soon taken from
    you; but now you have the means of making a fortune for yourself."

    This observation of the general's, obvious as it may seem, is deserving
    of the serious consideration of those who have children of their own to
    educate, or who have the disposal of money for public charities. In
    these times no sensible person will venture to pronounce that a change of
    fortune and station may not await the highest and the lowest; whether we
    rise or fall in the scale of society, personal qualities and knowledge
    will be valuable. Those who fall cannot be destitute, and those who rise
    cannot be ridiculous or contemptible, if they have been prepared for
    their fortune by proper education. In shipwreck those who carry their
    all in their minds are the most secure.

    But to return to Basile. He had sense enough not to make his general
    jealous of him by any unseasonable display of his talents, or any
    officious intrusion of advice, even upon subjects which he best
    understood.

    The talents of the warrior and the secretary were in such different
    lines, that there was no danger of competition; and the general, finding
    in his secretary the soul of all the arts, good sense, gradually acquired
    the habit of asking his opinion on every subject that came within his
    department. It happened that the general received orders from the
    Directory at Paris to take a certain town, let it cost what it would,
    within a given time: in his perplexity he exclaimed before Basile against
    the unreasonableness of these orders, and declared his belief that it was
    impossible he should succeed, and that this was only a scheme of his
    enemies to prepare his ruin. Basile had attended to the operations of
    the engineer who acted under the general, and perfectly recollected the
    model of the mines of this town, which he had seen when he was employed
    as draughtsman by his Parisian friend. He remembered that there was
    formerly an old mine that had been stopped up somewhere near the place
    where the engineer was at work; he mentioned in private his suspicions to
    the general, who gave orders in consequence. The old mine was
    discovered, cleared out, and by these means the town was taken the day
    before the time appointed. Basile did not arrogate to himself any of the
    glory of this success; he kept his general's secret and his confidence.
    Upon their return to Paris, after a fortunate campaign, the general was
    more grateful than some others have been, perhaps because more room was
    given by Basile's prudence for the exercise of this virtue.

    "My friend," said he to Basile, "you have done me a great service by your
    counsel, and a greater still by holding your tongue. Speak now, and tell
    me freely if there is anything I can do for you. You see, as a
    victorious general, I have the upper hand amongst these
    fellows--Tracassier's scheme to ruin me missed--whatever I ask will at
    this moment be granted; speak freely, therefore."

    Basile asked what he knew Victoire most desired--that Monsieur and Madame
    de Fleury should be struck from the list of emigrants, and that their
    property now in the hands of the nation should be restored to them. The
    general promised that this should be done. A warm contest ensued upon
    the subject between him and Tracassier, but the general stood firm; and
    Tracassier, enraged, forgot his usual cunning, and quarrelling
    irrevocably with a party now more powerful than his own, he and his
    adherents were driven from that station in which they had so long
    tyrannised. From being the rulers of France, they in a few hours became
    banished men, or, in the phrase of the times, _des deportes_.

    We must not omit to mention the wretched end of Manon. The man with whom
    she lived perished by the guillotine. From his splendid house she went
    upon the stage, did not succeed, sank from one degree of profligacy to
    another, and at last died in an hospital.

    In the meantime, the order for the restoration of the Fleury property,
    and for permission for the Fleury family to return to France, was made
    out in due form, and Maurice begged to be the messenger of these good
    tidings--he set out for England with the order.

    Victoire immediately went down to the Chateau de Fleury, to get
    everything in readiness for the reception of the family.

    Exiles are expeditious in their return to their native country. Victoire
    had but just time to complete her preparations, when Monsieur and Madame
    de Fleury arrived at Calais. Victoire had assembled all her companions,
    all Madame de Fleury's former pupils; and the hour when she was expected
    home, they, with the peasants of the neighbourhood, were all in their
    holiday clothes, and, according to the custom of the country, singing and
    dancing. Without music and dancing there is no perfect joy in France.
    Never was _fete du village_ or _fete du Seigneur_ more joyful than this.

    The old steward opened the gate, the carriage drove in. Madame de Fleury
    saw that home which she had little expected evermore to behold, but all
    other thoughts were lost in the pleasure of meeting her beloved pupils.

    "My children!" cried she, as they crowded round her the moment she got
    out of her carriage--"my dear, _good_ children!"

    It was all she could say. She leaned on Victoire's arm as she went into
    the house, and by degrees recovering from the almost painful excess of
    pleasure, began to enjoy what she yet only confusedly felt.

    Several of her pupils were so much grown and altered in their external
    appearance, that she could scarcely recollect them till they spoke, and
    then their voices and the expression of their countenances brought their
    childhood fully to her memory. Victoire, she thought, was changed the
    least, and at this she rejoiced.

    The feeling and intelligent reader will imagine all the pleasure that
    Madame de Fleury enjoyed this day; nor was it merely the pleasure of a
    day. She heard from all her friends, with prolonged satisfaction,
    repeated accounts of the good conduct of these young people during her
    absence. She learned with delight how her restoration to her country and
    her fortune had been effected; and is it necessary to add, that Victoire
    consented to marry Basile, and that she was suitably portioned, and, what
    is better still, that she was perfectly happy? Monsieur de Fleury
    rewarded the attachment and good conduct of Maurice by taking him into
    his service, and making him his manager under the old steward at the
    Chateau de Fleury.

    On Victoire's wedding-day Madame de Fleury produced all the little
    offerings of gratitude which she had received from her and her companions
    during her exile. It was now her turn to confer favours, and she knew
    how to confer them both with grace and judgment.

    "No gratitude in human nature! No gratitude in the lower classes of the
    people!" cried she; "how much those are mistaken who think so! I wish
    they could know my history, and the history of these my children, and
    they would acknowledge their error."

    FOOTNOTES

    {1} "Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first deprive of
    understanding."
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