Page images


[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small]

THE MARRIAGE PORTION. and your solfeggio, and leave off playing (Translated from the French.) with that rusty old musket, there is no

fear of your not becoming a first-rate I was brought up in the village of Mon- musician.” This

gave me courage, and treuil, by the good old curé himself; and I thumped away, harder than ever, upon the little I know of music was gained the keys of the spinet, of which about frow him in the happiest part of my life— half the wires were broken. the time when I sang in the choir of his Sometimes I was allowed to go out and chapel, and had round red cheeks, which play, but my first pleasure was to go, with people used to tap when I passed through a lump of bread in my hand, and sit down the streets, a sweet, clear voice, long curl. at the end of the park of Montreuil, close ing locks, loaded with powder, wooden to a party of masons and other workmen, shoes, and a blue frock. I do not look in who were building a little pavilion for the the glass very often, but I think, some.. queen. Thither I led by the hand a little times, that my appearance is somewhat girl, of nearly my own age, whom the different now. One of my greatest de- curé also instructed in music, because she lights was an old spinet, not in very good had a very fine voice. Her name was tune, which the curé had in his parlour, Pierrette, and her mother was the old and on which I was never weary of pound gentleman's housekeeper. She was about ing; my ear was not bad, and the good thirteen years old, and already so beautiold man took pains to teach me the gamut ful that people used to stop her as she and to make me practise solfeggio. When went along, to admire her bright eyes and he was pleased with me, he used to pinch her exquisite shape, and I have more than my cheeks till they were purple, and say once seen great ladies get out of their carto me, “ Maturin, my boy, your father riages to kiss her and talk to her. But and mother were only poor peasants, but she thought nothing of her own sweet if you become perfect in your catechism face, and loved me like a brother,

Our custom of gưing to look at the on a rich dress of rose-coloured silk; she workmen, led us to make acquaintance was almost running, and her companion with a young stone-cutter, some eight or found it difficult to keep up with her. ten years older than ourselves. He made Like a little fool of a peasant as I was,

I us sit near him upon the grass or a piece felt terribly alarmed, and said to Pierof timber, and when he had a very large rette, “Let us run away.” But there stone to cut through, Pierrette threw was no longer time; and my terror was water upon the saw, and I laid hold of redoubled at seeing the rose lady make a one end and helped him as much as I sign to Pierrette, who blushed scarlet and could; thus we became the best friends in stood motionless, holding me fast by the the world. His disposition was gentle hand as if for protection. As for myself, and kind, always good-humoured, and I took off my cap and leaned against a sometimes gay, but not often. His tree, trembling like a leaf. When the father, an architect, had been so thorough- lady had reached the spot where we were ly ruined, that the young man was standing, she went direct to Pierrette, obliged to work hard for his living, and, and taking her gently by the chin, lifted he had resigned himself to his fate very up her head and exclaimed to her compacheerfully; but nature had made him a nion, “ Well, did I not tell you that the poet. He always sang at his work, dress was beautiful ?" Just the thing making the poetry as he went along, and for my masquerade on Tuesday! And every new block of stone that he took in is she not lovely too? My little angel, hand was sure to give birth to a new series you will give your clothes to the people of couplets. Sometimes he would make who will come for them from me, will Pierrette and me sing his verses, and you not ? You shall have mine in exsometimes amuse himself by composing change. little dialogues, which he made us repeat “Oh madame,' -was all that Pierrette with appropriate gestures, as though we could utter. The other lady began to were acting scenes in a play. But with smile, but with a gentle, tender, and meall this, he was a good workman, and lancholy expression, which I have never minded his business, as the event proved, forgotten, and advancing towards us, she for in less than a year he became a master took the hand of Pierrette, and bade her

He had to support by his labour approach, telling her at the same time that his old widowed mother, and two little nobody disputed the wishes of the lady brothers, who often came to see him at who had addressed her. work, and then he sang more gaily than “ Make no change whatever in your

We used to call him plain Michael, dress,” resumed the lady in the rosebut his full name was Michael-Jean coloured silk, menacing her playfully Sedaine, afterwards so well known as that with a little gold-handled riding-whip of a distinguished dramatist.

which she carried in her hand ; and then The good curè of Montreuil loved me turning to me she said, “ And here is a very much, and treated me so kindly that, fine lad, too; he must become a soldier, I should have utterly forgotten, if he had and then you shall be married to each not constantly reminded me, that I was

other.” the offspring of two poor peasants, whom She spoke laughingly and quickly, and the small-pox had carried off, almost then giving the cheek of Pierrette a before I had time even to see them. At gentle tap, she left us utterly amazed and sixteen I was wild and ignorant enough, dumb with admiration and astonishment. but I knew a little Latin, a great deal of When they were gone we looked at each music, and was remarkably skilful in all other without saying a word, and, as if sorts of garden labour. My life was hap- by mutual impulse, turned our faces py, for Pierrette was always with me, and toward the house of the curé, where we I could look at her as I worked, even soon arrived, holding each other by the though I had nothing to say. One day hand as usual, and very silent, but not a as I was lopping the branches of an elm little delighted with our adventure. The in the park of Montreuil, and binding good old man soon perceived that somethem up in little fagots, Pierrette said to thing had happened, for Pierrette's face

“Oh Maturin, here are two grand was glowing with blushes, and I hung and beautiful ladies coming towards us my head as if ashamed to meet his eye. along the alley ; what shall we do ?” He asked what was the matter, and I

I looked, and beheld, sure enough, two replied very gravely, “ Monsieur le curé, young and lovely women advancing I want to be a soldier.” I thought he rapidly, one a little behind the other. The would have fallen the ground. first was the tallest of the two, and had “ What ?” he exclaimed “ do you wish





[ocr errors]

to leave me? For heaven's sake, Pierette, mutter in reply, “ I cannot help it, monwhat has happened to him, that he wants sieur; I want to be a soldier." to be a soldier ? Do you love me no The good curé had nothing more to longer, Maturin; have you lost all your say ; so he opened the door, and with a affection for Pierrette ? What have we sorrowful look, pointed toward Versailles done to you? And what will become and left me. I understood his gesture, of the fine education I have given you ? and marched out without a word. I Time finely lost, indeed! But speak, should have done exactly as he did, had speak, ungrateful boy,” he added, shaking I been in his place, but I did not think me by the shoulder. I hung my head so then. I stuck my cap on one side of still lower, and looked steadfastly at my my head, pulled up the collar of my blue wooden shoes, but answered firmly, “I frock, took my stick in my hand, and want to be a soldier.” The old house- set out at once for Versailles, without keeper brought a glass of water to the bidding adieu to any one. Stopping at curé, and began to cry; Pierrette cried a little pot-house on the road, I found too, and said not a word, but she was three dashing fellows in cocked hats, not angry at my wishing to be a soldier, edged with gold, white uniforms turned for she knew that it was for the sake of up with rose-coloured facings, their long marrying her, as the lady in the park had mustaches stiff with pomatum, and their said.

heads covered with powder ; they were Just at this moment two tall powdered recruiting sergeants of the royal regiment laqueys entered, with a waiting-maid of Auvergne. They told me that I had who looked like a great lady, and in- only to seat myself at table with them, quired whether Pierrette had packed up to form a just notion of the perfect her dress for the queen and the Princesse felicity perpetually enjoyed by the solde Lamballe. The poor old curè was diers of that regiment. They made me struck dumb, and Pierrette and her eat roasted chicken, potted hare, and mother were so frightened that they partridge, and drink superb claret and had not courage to open a little casket champagne ; and they swore to me upon which the waiting-maid had brought in their honour that in the Auvergne exchange for Pierrette's clothes ; and Royale, I should eat and drink nothing they went up stairs to their dressing- worse from one year's end to another. room, very much as one might go to the Afterward I found out how closely they scaffold. As soon as they were gone, adhered to truth in their eulogiums. the curé questioned me as to the mean- They swore to me also (for they did ing of all

this, and I told him the whole swear like troopers) that in their regiment story as briefly as I could. “ And it is the soldier's life was one of perfect liberty; for this that you wish to leave us ?" he that the common soldiers were better off said, taking me by both hands; "you do than the officers in any other, enjoying a not perceive that the greatest lady in most agreeable society of gay fellows and Europe only spoke to a little peasant pretty women; that the music was sulike you from the impulse of the moment, perb, and that above all

, they made every and has already forgotten you and all thing in the world of those who could your concerns. If any one should tell play on the piano. This last circumher that you had taken her word for a stance decided me. positive command, she would say that The next day, then, I had the honour you were a great blockhead, and that of belonging to the royal regiment of for any thing she cared, you might re Auvergne. It was a fine corps, no doubt, main a gardener to the end of your life. but then I could see neither Pierrette Besides, what will you gain by enlisting nor the curé. I asked for roasted chicken as a soldier ? You may earn six times for my dinner, and they gave me that as much by gardening and teaching delicious compound of bread, tough music; you will lose the good principles mutton, and potatoes, known all over I have taught you, and instead of con- the world by the name of ratatouille. tinuing modest, gentle, and well-behaved, Moreover, they taught me to hold up my become rude, vicious, and insolent. head and to perform the manual exercise Pierrette will never be the wife of a with remarkable precision—to march in rough and dissipated soldier, and her ordinary time, quick time and doublemother would forbid it, were she herself quick : they made me wear a long thick ever so willing."

queue, that dangled half way down my I still kept my eyes fixed upon the back; and they did me the honour to straps of my wooden shoes, pouting and promise that in time, if I behaved well, scratching my head, and could only I should be admitted into the first com


pany of grenadiers. But I saw nothing charged, if some one would buy a subof Pierrette or the cure, and I had no stitute for you, and come and marry time for music.

Pierrette at once?” One fine day, when I had committed “Michael,” I answered, “ your condisome trifling error at drill, they made me tion seems to be changed, as well as, kneel upon the pavement perfectly mo- your character; you no longer seem to tionless; having directly in front of me be a mason, for you wear a velvet doua blazing July sun, upon which I was blet instead of a jacket and an apron. forced to gaze without even winking, But I remember what you used to say; with my musket at my shoulder in the every one must fulfil his destiny.' I attitude of firing ; and I was encouraged would not marry with other people's, to maintain my luxurious position by money, and I am fulfilling my destiny, the presence of an honest corporal, who

as you see. Besides, it was the queen raised the muzzle of my piece from time who put this notion into my head, and to time, if I allowed it to descend an what the queen says must be right. She inch or two from fatigue, by rapping told me to become a soldier, and that me over the knuckles with his cane. It then we should be married.”

a newly-invented punishment, of “ But tell me," said Michael, “if the which the colonel had taken it into his queen would give you the money, would head to make trial. I had been some you take it and marry Pierrette ?! twenty minutes in this attitude, doing “No, Michael, I would not take her my best to enact the part of a statue or a money, even were she disposed to give petrifaction, when I saw at the end of it?" my gun, the quiet, slender figure of my “ But suppose Pierrette herself should good friend Michael, the stone-cutter. gain a dowry ?"

“ You have come at a lucky moment," “ Yes, Michael, in that case I would said I, “and you will oblige me very marry her at once. particularly, if you will just place your « Well,” said he, “I will tell this to cane for an instant under my bayonet, the queen.” without letting anybody see you; the “ Are you mad," said I, “or are cane will be none the worse, and my you a servant in the palace ?". arms will feel a great deal better.”

“ Neither one nor the other, Matu. Ah, Maturin my friend,” he replied, rin, although I no longer work in you are well punished for leaving stone." Montreuil; you are in a fair way to lose “ And what do you work in then ?” all the music you used to love so much, said I. and I suspect that what you hear at the • Pen, ink, and paper.” parade, is hardly worth the exchange." “ Bah !" said I, “is this possible?”

“ It is all the same," I answered, rais- Indeed, it is, my friend; I construct ing my gun from the support of his cane, little pieces that are not always bad. with a feeling of pride; “it is all the You shall see. same; every one has his notion."

"I am very glad to hear it," I answer“ You will never again raise those fine ed; or rather I would have answered, peaches of Montreuil, with Pierrette for had it not been for the corporal who just your assistant; and her lips are fresher then came up, and gave Michael's cane and riper than they."

such a bang with his stick, that it flew a “ It is all the same," I repeated: dozen yards into the air ; and at the every one to his notion.”

same time he ordered the sentinel to You will have to kneel a long time the black hole, for allowing a citizen to upon these hard stones, taking aim at come upon the parade ground. nothing, before you get to be even a Michael saw that it was time for him simple corporal.”

to go; he picked up his cane very It is all the same," I answered once quietly and walked away, saying, “I more; “if I get on but slowly, still I assure you, Maturin, that I will relate shall get on; success is sure, to him who all this to the queen.” can afford to wait with patience; and when I get to be a sergeant, I shall be My little Pierrette was a good girl, of something, and then I will marry Pier- a firm and decided character. rette.

the curé and her mother to understand Michael sighed. “ Ah, Maturin," that she was resolved to have Maturin said he, “ you are any thing but wise; for her husband, and sat up late at night you are too ambitious and too proud, my to work upon her wedding-dresses, just friend. Would you not like to be dis- as though I had not been turned out of

She gave

the house for years, if not for ever. you.

That is not much, is it, my good One day as she was sitting at the door and pretty girl ?” of the curé, working and singing as if Pierrette made no answer, save with nothing had happened, she saw a splen- a blush ; but she felt so happy that she did carriage with six horses come quickly could have kissed the beautiful little up the avenue, driven by four postil- queen as though she had been her schoollions in rose-coloured livery, and with fellow. Her instructions were scarcely powdered hair, very handsome, and so finished when two men came in, one tall little that at a distance nothing could be and thin, the other short and fat. When seen of them but their great jack-boots. Pierrette saw the tall one, she could not But what will you think when I tell help exclaiming, “Goodness! It is—.” you that the footmen who rode before, But she remembered her lesson, and bit drew up precisely at the door of the her lip to prevent herself from speaking. curé's house, where the carriage was “ Well," said the queen, “what do polite enough to stop also, and its door you think of her, gentlemen?” to open ? There was nobody within. “ Is she not Rose herself?” said Mi. As Pierrette was staring with all her chael Sedaine. eyes, the footman took off his hat with “ A single note, madame," said the a superb bow, and begged her to have short, stout gentleman, and I shall the goodness to take a seat in the car- know whether she is the Rose for Monriage. You will think, perhaps, that signy, as well as for Sedaine. « Come, Pierrette made objections; not a bit! my child,” added Gretry, turning to she had too much good sense for that. Pierrette, “let me hear you try the gaShe merely took off her wooden shoes, mut;' and he sounded the ut, re, mi, put on a pair of morocco, with silver fa, sol. buckles, folded and laid away her work, Pierrette repeated it after him. and then walked to the carriage leaning “ She has a superb voice,” added upon the arm of the footman, just as Gretry though she had done so all her life : The queen clapped her hands with desince she had exchanged dresses with the light, and exclaimed, “She will gain her queen, she was not to be astonished by marriage portion.” anything.

The carriage was driven to Trianon, In the meantime, my regiment was and Pierrette was led by the obsequious ordered to Orleans, and I was dreadfootman through gilded rooms with floors fully home-sick. Three months had of rose-wood and mahogany, till at last passed away, and I had heard nothing of she heard from an adjoining apartment Michael, or the curé, or Pierrette. I a joyous and musical laugh which fright- grew thin, and pale, and weak, and my ened her a little; but as soon as the door comrades laughed at me; some because was opened her courage returned, for they thought me really ill, and others she beheld her friend the queen and the because they believed that I was only Princesse de Lamballe.

pretending There was nothing left for “ Ah, here she is,” exclaimed the me but to die, in order to convince them queen, with a gay and happy smile; and of their error, and yet I was not altogeshe ran to her and took both her hands. ther tired of living. “ Is she not fresh and blooming? The One day, an officer of my company very creature for our little project. And came to me, and said, “ Maturin, you she has talent too, never fear. Listen can read ; come, and look at this plato me,' my girl," continued Marie An- card.” And he led me to a wall, upon toinette; two gentlemen are coming which was posted the following playhere directly; whether you know thein bill:or not, say nothing and do nothing but

« BY THE ROYAL COMMAND. what they bid you. I know that you “ On Monday next will be performed can sing, and they will wish to hear you; the new tragedy of Irene, by M. de if they tell you to rise, to sit, to walk, to Voltaire, and the operetta of Rose et go and come; you will rise, sit, walk, go Colas; the words by M. de Sedaine, and out and return, just as they desire you. the music by M. Monsigny; being for Do you understand? All this is for your the benefit of the celebrated Mademoigood. Madame and I will teach you selle Colombe, who will appear as Rose something that you must learn, and all in the operetta. Her Majesty, the queen, that we shall require in return will be has condescended to promise that, on that you come to us every day for an this night, she will honour the theatre bour, and do exactly what we require of with her presence."

« PreviousContinue »