"Although I could not but feel that I deserved, in some degree, these reproaches, yet he appeared to me to carry them beyond all reason. I thought I might be permitted to explain my feelings.
"'I assure you, sir,' said I to him, 'that the modesty which you ridicule is by no means affected; it is the natural feeling of a son who entertains sincere respect for his father, and above all, a father irritated as you justly are by his faults. Neither have I, sir, the slightest wish to pass for the most respectable member of my family. I know that I have merited your reproaches, but I conjure you to temper them with mercy, and not to look upon me as the most infamous of mankind. I do not deserve such harsh names. It is love, you know it, that has caused all my errors. Fatal passion! Have you yourself never felt its force? Is it possible that you, with the same blood in your veins that flows in mine, should have passed through life unscathed by the same excitements? Love has rendered me perhaps foolishly tender—too easily excited— too impassioned—too faithful, and probably too indulgent to the desires and caprices, or, if you will, the faults of an adored mistress. These are my crimes; are they such as to reflect dishonour upon you? Come, my dear father,' said I tenderly, 'show some pity for a son, who has never ceased to feel respect and affection for you—who has not renounced, as you say, all feelings of honour and of duty, and who is himself a thousand times more an object of pity than you imagine.' I could not help shedding a tear as I concluded this appeal.
"A father's heart is a chef-d'oeuvre of creation. There nature rules in undisturbed dominion, and regulates at will its most secret springs. He was a man of high feeling and good taste, and was so sensibly affected by the turn I had given to my defence, that he could no longer hide from me the change I had wrought.
"'Come to me, my poor chevalier,' said he; 'come and embrace me. I do pity you!'
"I embraced him: he pressed me to him in such a manner, that I guessed what was passing in his heart.
"'But how are we,' said he, 'to extricate you from this place? Explain to me the real situation of your affairs.'
"As there really was not anything in my conduct so grossly improper as to reflect dishonour upon me; at least, in comparison with the conduct of other young men of a certain station in the world; and as a mistress is not considered a disgrace, any more than a little dexterity in drawing some advantage from play, I gave my father a candid detail of the life I had been leading. As I recounted each transgression, I took care to cite some illustrious example in my justification, in order to palliate my own faults.
"'I lived,' said I, 'with a mistress without the solemnity of marriage. The Duke of —— keeps two before the eyes of all Paris. M—— D—— has had one now for ten years, and loves her with a fidelity which he has never shown to his wife. Two-thirds of the men of fashion in Paris keep mistresses.
"'I certainly have on one or two occasions cheated at play. Well, the Marquis of —— and the Count —— have no other source of revenue. The Prince of —— and the Duke of —— are at the head of a gang of the same industrious order.' As for the designs I had upon the pockets of the two G—— M——s, I might just as easily have proved that I had abundant models for that also; but I had too much pride to plead guilty to this charge, and rest on the justification of example; so that I begged of my father to ascribe my weakness on this occasion to the violence of the two passions which agitated me—Revenge and Love.
"He asked me whether I could suggest any means of obtaining my liberty, and in such a way as to avoid publicity as much as possible. I told him of the kind feelings which the lieutenant-general of police had expressed towards me. 'If you encounter any obstacles,' said I, 'they will be offered only by the two G—— M——s; so that I think it would be advisable to call upon them.'
"He promised to do so.
"I did not dare ask him to solicit Manon's liberation; this was not from want of courage, but from the apprehension of exasperating him by such a proposition, and perhaps driving him to form some design fatal to the future happiness of us both. It remains to this hour a problem whether this fear on my part was not the immediate cause of all my most terrible misfortunes, by preventing me from ascertaining my father's disposition, and endeavouring to inspire him with favourable feelings towards my poor mistress: I might have perhaps once more succeeded in exciting his commiseration; I might have put him on his guard against the impression which he was sure of receiving from a visit to old G—— M——. But how can I tell what the consequences would have been! My unhappy fate would have most probably counteracted all my efforts; but it would have been a consolation to have had nothing else but that, and the cruelty of my enemies, to blame for my afflictions.
"On quitting me, my father went to pay a visit to M. G—— M——. He found him with his son, whom the guardsman had safely restored to liberty. I never learned the particulars of their conversation; but I could easily infer them from the disastrous results. They went together (the two old gentlemen) to the lieutenant-general of police, from whom they requested one favour each: the first was to have me at once liberated from Le Chatelet; the second to condemn Manon to perpetual imprisonment, or to transport her for life to America. They happened, at that very period, to be sending out a number of convicts to the Mississippi. The lieutenant-general promised to have her embarked on board the first vessel that sailed.
"M. G—— M—— and my father came together to bring me the news of my liberation. M. G—— M—— said something civil with reference to what had passed; and having congratulated me upon my happiness in having such a father, he exhorted me to profit henceforward by his instruction and example. My father desired me to express my sorrow for the injustice I had even contemplated against his family, and my gratitude for his having assisted in procuring my liberation.
"We all left the prison together, without the mention of Manon's name. I dared not in their presence speak of her to the turnkeys. Alas! all my entreaties in her favour would have been useless. The cruel sentence upon Manon had arrived at the same time as the warrant for my discharge. The unfortunate girl was conducted in an hour after to the Hospital, to be there classed with some other wretched women, who had been condemned to the same punishment.
"My father having forced me to accompany him to the house where he was residing, it was near six o'clock before I had an opportunity of escaping his vigilance. In returning to Le Chatelet, my only wish was to convey some refreshments to Manon, and to recommend her to the attention of the porter; for I had no hope of being permitted to see her; nor had I, as yet, had time to reflect on the best means of rescuing her.
"I asked for the porter. I had won his heart, as much by my liberality to him, as by the mildness of my manner; so that, having a disposition to serve me, he spoke of Manon's sentence as a calamity which he sincerely regretted, since it was calculated to mortify me. I was at first unable to comprehend his meaning. We conversed for some minutes without my understanding him. At length perceiving that an explanation was necessary, he gave me such a one, as on a former occasion I wanted courage to relate to you, and which, even now, makes my blood curdle in my veins to remember."
 Who has e'er been at Paris must needs know the Greve, The fatal retreat of th' unfortunate brave, Where honour and justice most oddly contribute, To ease heroes' pains by the halter and gibbet.—PRIOR.
Alack! it is not when we sleep soft and wake merrily that we think on other people's sufferings; but when the hour of trouble comes, said Jeanie Deans.—WALTER SCOTT.
"Never did apoplexy produce on mortal a more sudden or terrific effect than did the announcement of Manon's sentence upon me. I fell prostrate, with so intense a palpitation of the heart, that as I swooned I thought that death itself was come upon me. This idea continued even after I had been restored to my senses. I gazed around me upon every part of the room, then upon my own paralysed limbs, doubting, in my delirium, whether I still bore about me the attributes of a living man. It is quite certain that, in obedience to the desire I felt of terminating my sufferings, even by my own hand, nothing could have been to me more welcome than death at that moment of anguish and despair. Religion itself could depict nothing more insupportable after death than the racking agony with which I was then convulsed. Yet, by a miracle, only within the power of omnipotent love, I soon regained strength enough to express my gratitude to Heaven for restoring me to sense and reason. My death could have only been a relief and blessing to myself; whereas Manon had occasion for my prolonged existence, in order to deliver her—to succour her—to avenge her wrongs: I swore to devote that existence unremittingly to these objects.
"The porter gave me every assistance that I could have expected at the hands of my oldest friend: I accepted his services with the liveliest gratitude. 'Alas!' said I to him, 'you then are affected by my sufferings! The whole world abandons me; my own father proves one of the very cruellest of my persecutors; no person feels pity for me! You alone, in this abode of suffering and shame—you alone exhibit compassion for the most wretched of mankind!' He advised me not to appear in the street until I had recovered a little from my affliction. 'Do not stop me,' said I, as I went out; 'we shall meet again sooner than you imagine: get ready your darkest dungeon, for I shall shortly become its tenant.'
"In fact, my first idea was nothing less than to make away with the two G—— M——s, and the lieutenant-general of police; and then to attack the Hospital, sword in hand, assisted by all whom I could enlist in my cause. Even my father's life was hardly respected, so just appeared my feelings of vengeance; for the porter had informed me that he and G—— M—— were jointly the authors of my ruin.
"But when I had advanced some paces into the street, and the fresh air had cooled my excitement, I gradually viewed matters in a more rational mood. The death of our enemies could be of little use to Manon; and the obvious effect of such violence would be to deprive me of all other chance of serving her. Besides, could I ever bring myself to be a cowardly assassin? By what other means could I accomplish my revenge? I set all my ingenuity and all my efforts at work to procure the deliverance of Manon, leaving everything else to be considered hereafter when I had succeeded in this first and paramount object.
"I had very little money left; money, however, was an indispensable basis for all my operations. I only knew three persons from whom I had any right to ask pecuniary assistance—M. de T——, Tiberge, and my father. There appeared little chance of obtaining any from the two latter, and I was really ashamed again to importune M. de T——. But it is not in desperate emergencies that one stands upon points of ceremony. I went first to the seminary of St. Sulpice, without considering whether I should be recognised. I asked for Tiberge. His first words showed me that he knew nothing of my latest adventure: this made me change the design I had originally formed of appealing at once to his compassion. I spoke generally of the pleasure it had given me to see my father again; and I then begged of him to lend me some money, under the pretext of being anxious before I left Paris to pay a few little debts, which I wished to keep secret. He handed me his purse, without a single remark. I took twenty or twenty-five pounds, which it contained. I offered him my note of hand, but he was too generous to accept it.
"I then went to M. de T——: I had no reserve with him. I plainly told him my misfortunes and distress: he already knew everything, and had informed himself even of the most trifling circumstance, on account of the interest he naturally took in young G—— M——'s adventure. He, however, listened to me, and seemed sincerely to lament what had occurred. When I consulted him as to the best means of rescuing Manon, he answered that he saw such little ground for hope, that, without some extraordinary interposition of Providence, it would be folly to expect relief; that he had paid a visit expressly to the Hospital since Manon had been transferred from the Chatelet, but that he could not even obtain permission to see her, as the lieutenant-general of police had given the strictest orders to the contrary; and that, to complete the catastrophe, the unfortunate train of convicts, in which she was to be included, was to take its departure from Paris the day but one after.
"I was so confounded by what he said, that if he had gone on speaking for another hour, I should not have interrupted him. He continued to tell me, that the reason of his not calling to see me at the Chatelet was, that he hoped to be of more use by appearing to be unknown to me; that for the last few hours, since I had been set at liberty, he had in vain looked for me, in order to suggest the only plan through which he could see a hope of averting Manon's fate. He told me it was dangerous counsel to give, and implored me never to mention the part he took in it; it was to find some enterprising fellows gallant enough to attack Manon's guard on getting outside the barriere. Nor did he wait for me to urge a plea of poverty. 'Here is fifty pounds,' he said, presenting me his purse; 'it may be of use to you; you can repay me when you are in better circumstances.' He added, that if the fear of losing his character did not prevent him from embarking in such an enterprise, he would have willingly put his sword and his life at my service.
"This unlooked-for generosity affected me to tears. I expressed my gratitude with as much warmth as my depressed spirits left at my command. I asked him if there were nothing to be expected from interceding with the lieutenant-general of police: he said that he had considered that point; but that he looked upon it as a hopeless attempt, because a favour of that nature was never accorded without some strong motive, and he did not see what inducement could be held out for engaging the intercession of any person of power on her behalf; that if any hope could possibly be entertained upon the point, it must be by working a change in the feelings of old G—— M—— and my father, and by prevailing on them to solicit from the lieutenant-general of police the revocation of Manon's sentence. He offered to do everything in his power to gain over the younger G—— M——, although he fancied a coldness in that gentleman's manner towards him, probably from some suspicions he might entertain of his being concerned in the late affair; and he entreated me to lose no opportunity of effecting the desired change in my father's mind.
"This was no easy undertaking for me; not only on account of the difficulty I should naturally meet in overcoming his opinion, but for another reason which made me fear even to approach him; I had quitted his lodgings contrary to his express orders, and was resolved, since I had learned the sad fate of my poor Manon, never again to return thither. I was not without apprehensions indeed of his now retaining me against my will, and perhaps taking me at once back with him into the country. My elder brother had formerly had recourse to this violent measure. True, I was now somewhat older; but age is a feeble argument against force. I hit upon a mode, however, of avoiding this danger, which was to get him by contrivance to some public place, and there announce myself to him under an assumed name: I immediately resolved on this method. M. de T—— went to G—— M——'s, and I to the Luxembourg, whence I sent my father word, that a gentleman waited there to speak with him. I hardly thought he would come, as the night was advancing. He, however, soon made his appearance, followed by a servant: I begged of him to choose a walk where we could be alone. We walked at least a hundred paces without speaking. He doubtless imagined that so much precaution could not be taken without some important object. He waited for my opening speech, and I was meditating how to commence it.
"At length I began.
"'Sir,' said I, trembling, 'you are a good and affectionate parent; you have loaded me with favours, and have forgiven me an infinite number of faults; I also, in my turn, call Heaven to witness the sincere, and tender, and respectful sentiments I entertain towards you. But it does seem to me, that your inexorable severity——'
"'Well, sir, my severity!' interrupted my father, who no doubt found my hesitation little suited to his impatience.
"'Ah, sir,' I replied, 'it does seem to me that your severity is excessive in the penalty you inflict upon the unfortunate Manon. You have taken only M. G—— M——'s report of her. His hatred has made him represent her to you in the most odious colours: you have formed a frightful idea of her. She is, on the contrary, the mildest and most amiable of living creatures; would that Heaven had but inspired you at any one moment with the desire of seeing her! I am convinced that you would be not less sensible of her perfections than your unhappy son. You would then have been her advocate; you would have abhorred the foul artifices of G—— M——; you would have had pity on both her and me. Alas! I am persuaded of it; your heart is not insensible; it must ere now have melted with compassion.'
"He interrupted me again, perceiving that I spoke with a warmth which would not allow me to finish very briefly. He begged to know with what request I intended to wind up so fervent an harangue.
"'To ask my life at your hands,' said I, 'which I never can retain if Manon once embark for America.'
"'No! no!' replied he, in the severest tone; 'I would rather see you lifeless, than infamous and depraved.'
"'We have gone far enough, then,' said I, catching hold of his arm; 'take from me, in common mercy, my life! weary and odious and insupportable as it henceforward must be; for in the state of despair into which you now plunge me, death would be the greatest favour you could bestow—a favour worthy of a father's hand.'
"'I should only give you what you deserve,' replied he; 'I know fathers who would not have shown as much patience as I have, but would themselves have executed speedy justice; but it is my foolish and excessive forbearance that has been your ruin.'
"I threw myself at his feet: 'Ah!' exclaimed I, 'if you have still any remains of mercy, do not harden your heart against my distress and sorrow. Remember that I am your child! Alas! think of my poor mother! you loved her tenderly! would you have suffered her to be torn from your arms? You would have defended her to the death! May not the same feeling then be pardoned in others? Can persons become barbarous and cruel, after having themselves experienced the softening influence of tenderness and grief?'
"'Breathe not again the sacred name of your mother,' he exclaimed, in a voice of thunder; 'the very allusion to her memory rouses my indignation. Had she lived to witness the unredeemed profligacy of your life, it would have brought her in pain and sorrow to her grave.—Let us put an end to this discussion' he added; 'it distresses me, and makes not the slightest change in my determination: I am going back to my lodgings, and I desire you to follow me.'
"The cool and resolute tone in which he uttered this command, convinced me that he was inexorable. I stepped some paces aside, for fear he should think fit to lay hands upon me.
"'Do not increase my misery and despair,' said I to him, 'by forcing me to disobey you. It is impossible for me to follow you; and equally so that I should continue to live, after the unkind treatment I have experienced from you. I, therefore, bid you an eternal adieu. When you know that I am dead, as I shall soon be, the paternal affection which you once entertained for me may be perhaps revived.'
"As I was about to turn away from him: 'You refuse then to follow me,' cried he, in a tone of excessive anger. 'Go! go on to your ruin. Adieu! ungrateful and disobedient boy.'
"'Adieu!' exclaimed I to him, in a burst of grief, 'adieu, cruel and unnatural father!'
"I left the Luxembourg, and rushed like a madman through the streets to M. de T——'s house. I raised my hands and eyes as I went along, invoking the Almighty Powers: 'O Heaven,' cried I, 'will you not prove more merciful than man! The only hope that remains to me is from above!'
"M. de T—— had not yet returned home; but he arrived before many minutes had elapsed. His negotiation had been as unsuccessful as my own. He told me so with the most sorrowful countenance. Young G—— M——, although less irritated than his father against Manon and me, would not undertake to petition in our favour. He was, in great measure, deterred by the fear which he himself had of the vindictive old lecher, who had already vented his anger against him for his design of forming a connection with Manon.
"There only remained to me, therefore, the violent measures which M. T—— had suggested. I now confined all my hopes to them. They were questionless most uncertain; but they held out to me, at least, a substantial consolation, in the certainty of meeting death in the attempt, if unsuccessful. I left him, begging that he would offer up his best wishes for my triumph; and I thought only of finding some companions, to whom I might communicate a portion of my own courage and determination.
"The first that occurred to me was the same guardsman whom I had employed to arrest G—— M——. I had intended indeed to pass the night at his rooms, not having had a moment of leisure during the afternoon to procure myself a lodging. I found him alone. He was glad to see me out of the Chatelet. He made me an offer of his services. I explained to him in what way he might now do me the greatest kindness. He had good sense enough to perceive all the difficulties; but he was also generous enough to undertake to surmount them.
"We spent part of the night in considering how the plot was to be executed. He spoke of the three soldiers whom he had made use of on the last occasion, as men whose courage had been proved. M. de T—— had told me the exact number of archers that would escort Manon; they were but six. Five strong and determined men could not fail to strike terror into these fellows, who would never think of defending themselves bravely, when they were to be allowed the alternative of avoiding danger by surrendering; and of that they would no doubt avail themselves. As I was not without money, the guardsman advised me to spare no pains or expense to ensure success. 'We must be mounted,' he said, 'and each man must have his carbine and pistols; I will take care to prepare everything requisite by tomorrow. We shall also want three new suits of regimentals for the soldiers, who dare not appear in an affray of this kind in the uniform of their regiment. I handed him the hundred pistoles which I had got from M. de T——; it was all expended the next morning, to the very last sou. I inspected the three soldiers; I animated them with the most liberal promises; and to confirm their confidence in me, I began by making each man a present of ten pistoles.
"The momentous day having arrived, I sent one of them at an early hour to the Hospital, to ascertain the exact time when the police were to start with their prisoners. Although I merely took this precaution from my excessive anxiety, it turned out to have been a prudent step. I had formed my plans upon false information, which I had received as to their destination; and believing that it was at Rochelle this unhappy group was to embark, all my trouble would have been thrown away in waiting for them on the Orleans road. However, I learned, by the soldier's report, that they would go out towards Rouen, and that it was from Havre-de-Grace they were to sail for America.
"We at once went to the gate of St. Honore, taking care to go by different streets. We assembled at the end of the faubourg. Our horses were fresh. In a little time we observed before us the six archers and the two wretched caravans, which you saw at Passy two years ago. The sight alone almost deprived me of my strength and senses. 'Oh fate!' said I to myself, 'cruel fate! grant me now either death or victory.'
"We hastily consulted as to the mode of making the attack. The cavalcade was only four hundred paces in advance, and we might intercept them by cutting across a small field, round which the high road led. The guardsman was for this course, in order to fall suddenly upon them while unprepared. I approved of the plan, and was the first to spur my horse forward—but fate once again relentlessly blasted all my hopes.
"The escort, seeing five horsemen riding towards them, inferred that it was for the purpose of attacking them. They put themselves in a position of defence, preparing their bayonets and guns with an air of resolution.
"This demonstration, which in the guardsman and myself only inspired fresh courage, had a very different effect upon our three cowardly companions. They stopped simultaneously, and having muttered to each other some words which I could not hear, they turned their horses' heads, threw the bridles on their necks, and galloped back towards Paris.
"'Good heavens!' said the guardsman, who appeared as much annoyed as I was by this infamous desertion, 'what is to be done? we are but two now.'
"From rage and consternation I had lost all power of speech. I doubted whether my first revenge should not be in pursuing the cowards who had abandoned me. I saw them flying, and looked in the other direction at the escort: if it had been possible to divide myself, I should at once have fallen upon both these objects of my fury; I should have destroyed all at the same moment.
"The guardsman, who saw my irresolution by my wandering gaze, begged of me to hear his advice. 'Being but two,' he said, 'it would be madness to attack six men as well armed as ourselves, and who seem determined to receive us firmly. Let us return to Paris, and endeavour to succeed better in the choice of our comrades. The police cannot make very rapid progress with two heavy vans; we may overtake them tomorrow without difficulty.'
"I reflected a moment on this suggestion; but seeing nothing around me but despair, I took a final and indeed desperate resolution: this was to thank my companion for his services, and, far from attacking the police, to go up with submission and implore them to receive me among them, that I might accompany Manon to Havre-de-Grace, and afterwards, if possible, cross the Atlantic with her. 'The whole world is either persecuting or betraying me,' said I to the guardsman; 'I have no longer the power of interesting anyone in my favour; I expect nothing more either from fortune or the friendship of man; my misery is at its height; it only remains for me to submit, so that I close my eyes henceforward against every gleam of hope. May Heaven,' I continued, 'reward you for your generosity! Adieu! I shall go and aid my wretched destiny in filling up the full measure of my ruin!' He, in vain, endeavoured to persuade me to return with him to Paris. I entreated him to leave me at once, lest the police should still suspect us of an intention to attack them."
The pauses and intermissions of pain become positive pleasures; and have thus a power of shedding a satisfaction over the intervals of ease, which few enjoyments exceed.—PALEY.
"Riding towards the cortege at a slow pace, and with a sorrowful countenance, the guards could hardly see anything very terrific in my approach. They seemed, however, to expect an attack. 'Be persuaded, gentlemen,' said I to them, 'that I come not to wage war, but rather to ask favours.' I then begged of them to continue their progress without any distrust, and as we went along I made my solicitations. They consulted together to ascertain in what way they should entertain my request. The chief of them spoke for the rest. He said that the orders they had received to watch the prisoners vigilantly were of the strictest kind; that, however, I seemed so interesting a young man, that they might be induced to relax a little in their duty; but that I must know, of course, that this would cost me something. I had about sixteen pistoles left, and candidly told them what my purse contained. 'Well,' said the gendarme, 'we will act generously. It shall only cost you a crown an hour for conversing with any of our girls that you may prefer— that is the ordinary price in Paris.'
"I said not a word of Manon, because I did not wish to let them know of my passion. They at first supposed it was merely a boyish whim, that made me think of amusing myself with these creatures but when they discovered that I was in love, they increased their demands in such a way, that my purse was completely empty on leaving Mantes, where we had slept the night before our arrival at Passy.
"Shall I describe to you my heart-rending interviews with Manon during this journey, and what my sensations were when I obtained from the guards permission to approach her caravan? Oh! language never can adequately express the sentiments of the heart; but picture to yourself my poor mistress, with a chain round her waist, seated upon a handful of straw, her head resting languidly against the panel of the carriage, her face pale and bathed with tears, which forced a passage between her eyelids, although she kept them continually closed. She had not even the curiosity to open her eyes on hearing the bustle of the guards when they expected our attack. Her clothes were soiled, and in disorder; her delicate hands exposed to the rough air; in fine, her whole angelic form, that face, lovely enough to carry back the world to idolatry, presented a spectacle of distress and anguish utterly indescribable.
"I spent some moments gazing at her as I rode alongside the carriage. I had so lost my self-possession, that I was several times on the point of falling from my horse. My sighs and frequent exclamations at length attracted her attention. She looked at and recognised me, and I remarked that on the first impulse, she unconsciously tried to leap from the carriage towards me, but being checked by her chain, she fell into her former attitude.
"I begged of the guards to stop one moment for the sake of mercy; they consented for the sake of avarice. I dismounted to go and sit near her. She was so languid and feeble, that she was for some time without the power of speech, and could not raise her hands: I bathed them with my tears; and being myself unable to utter a word, we formed together as deplorable a picture of distress as could well be seen. When at length we were able to speak, our conversation was not less sorrowful. Manon said little: shame and grief appeared to have altered the character of her voice; its tone was feeble and tremulous.
"She thanked me for not having forgotten her, and for the comfort I gave her in allowing her to see me once more, and she then bade me a long and last farewell. But when I assured her that no power on earth could ever separate me from her, and that I was resolved to follow her to the extremity of the world—to watch over her—to guard her—to love her—and inseparably to unite my wretched destiny with hers, the poor girl gave way to such feelings of tenderness and grief, that I almost dreaded danger to her life from the violence of her emotion: the agitation of her whole soul seemed intensely concentrated in her eyes; she fixed them steadfastly upon me. She more than once opened her lips without the power of giving utterance to her thoughts. I could, however, catch some expressions that dropped from her, of admiration and wonder at my excessive love—of doubt that she could have been fortunate enough to inspire me with a passion so perfect—of earnest entreaty that I would abandon my intention of following her, and seek elsewhere a lot more worthy of me, and which, she said, I could never hope to find with her.
"In spite of the cruellest inflictions of Fate, I derived comfort from her looks, and from the conviction that I now possessed her undivided affection. I had in truth lost all that other men value; but I was the master of Manon's heart, the only possession that I prized. Whether in Europe or in America, of what moment to me was the place of my abode, provided I might live happy in the society of my mistress? Is not the universe the residence of two fond and faithful lovers? Does not each find in the other, father, mother, friends, relations, riches, felicity?
"If anything caused me uneasiness, it was the fear of seeing Manon exposed to want. I fancied myself already with her in a barbarous country, inhabited by savages. 'I am quite certain,' said I, 'there will be none there more cruel than G—— M—— and my father. They will, at least, allow us to live in peace. If the accounts we read of savages be true, they obey the laws of nature: they neither know the mean rapacity of avarice, nor the false and fantastic notions of dignity, which have raised me up an enemy in my own father. They will not harass and persecute two lovers, when they see us adopt their own simple habits.' I was therefore at ease upon that point.
"But my romantic ideas were not formed with a proper view to the ordinary wants of life. I had too often found that there were necessaries which could not be dispensed with, particularly by a young and delicate woman, accustomed to comfort and abundance. I was in despair at having so fruitlessly emptied my purse, and the little money that now remained was about being forced from me by the rascally imposition of the gendarmes. I imagined that a very trifling sum would suffice for our support for some time in America, where money was scarce, and might also enable me to form some undertaking there for our permanent establishment.
"This idea made me resolve on writing to Tiberge, whom I had ever found ready to hold out the generous hand of friendship. I wrote from the first town we passed through. I only alluded to the destitute condition in which I foresaw that I should find myself on arriving at Havre-de-Grace, to which place I acknowledged that I was accompanying Manon. I asked him for only fifty pistoles. 'You can remit it to me,' said I to him, 'through the hands of the postmaster. You must perceive that it is the last time I can by possibility trespass on your friendly kindness; and my poor unhappy mistress being about to be exiled from her country for ever, I cannot let her depart without supplying her with some few comforts, to soften the sufferings of her lot, as well as to assuage my own sorrows.'
"The gendarmes became so rapacious when they saw the violence of my passion, continually increasing their demands for the slightest favours, that they soon left me penniless. Love did not permit me to put any bounds to my liberality. At Manon's side I was not master of myself; and it was no longer by the hour that time was measured; rather by the duration of whole days. At length, my funds being completely exhausted, I found myself exposed to the brutal caprice of these six wretches who treated me with intolerable rudeness—you yourself witnessed it at Passy. My meeting with you was a momentary relaxation accorded me by fate. Your compassion at the sight of my sufferings was my only recommendation to your generous nature. The assistance which you so liberally extended, enabled me to reach Havre, and the guards kept their promise more faithfully than I had ventured to hope.
"We arrived at Havre. I went to the post-office: Tiberge had not yet had time to answer my letter. I ascertained the earliest day I might reckon upon his answer: it could not possibly arrive for two days longer; and by an extraordinary fatality, our vessel was to sail on the very morning of the day when the letter might be expected. I cannot give you an idea of my despair. 'Alas!' cried I, 'even amongst the unfortunate, I am to be ever the most wretched!'
"Manon replied: 'Alas! does a life so thoroughly miserable deserve the care we bestow on ours? Let us die at Havre, dearest chevalier! Let death at once put an end to our afflictions! Shall we persevere, and go to drag on this hopeless existence in an unknown land, where we shall, no doubt, have to encounter the most horrible pains, since it has been their object to punish me by exile? Let us die,' she repeated, 'or do at least in mercy rid me of life, and then you can seek another lot in the arms of some happier lover.'
"'No, no, Manon,' said I; 'it is but too enviable a lot, in my estimation, to be allowed to share your misfortunes.'
"Her observations made me tremble. I saw that she was overpowered by her afflictions. I tried to assume a more tranquil air, in order to dissipate such melancholy thoughts of death and despair.
"I resolved to adopt the same course in future; and I learned by the results, that nothing is more calculated to inspire a woman with courage than the demonstration of intrepidity in the man she loves.
"When I lost all hope of receiving the expected assistance from Tiberge, I sold my horse; the money it brought, joined to what remained of your generous gift, amounted to the small sum of forty pistoles; I expended eight in the purchase of some necessary articles for Manon; and I put the remainder by, as the capital upon which we were to rest our hopes and raise our fortunes in America. I had no difficulty in getting admitted on board the vessel. They were at the time looking for young men as voluntary emigrants to the colony. The passage and provisions were supplied gratis. I left a letter for Tiberge, which was to go by the post next morning to Paris. It was no doubt written in a tone calculated to affect him deeply, since it induced him to form a resolution, which could only be carried into execution by the tenderest and most generous sympathy for his unhappy friend.
Sunt hie etiam sua proemia laudi, Sunt lachrymae rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt. VIRGIL.
E'en the mute walls relate the victim's fame. And sinner's tears the good man's pity claim. DRYDEN.
"We set sail; the wind continued favourable during the entire passage. I obtained from the captain's kindness a separate cabin for the use of Manon and myself. He was so good as to distinguish us from the herd of our miserable associates. I took an opportunity, on the second day, of conciliating his attentions, by telling him part of our unfortunate history. I did not feel that I was guilty of any very culpable falsehood in saying that I was the husband of Manon. He appeared to believe it, and promised me his protection; and indeed we experienced, during the whole passage, the most flattering evidences of his sincerity. He took care that our table was comfortably provided; and his attentions procured us the marked respect of our companions in misery. The unwearied object of my solicitude was to save Manon from every inconvenience. She felt this, and her gratitude, together with a lively sense of the singular position in which I had placed myself solely for her sake, rendered the dear creature so tender and impassioned, so attentive also to my most trifling wants, that it was between us a continual emulation of attentions and of love. I felt no regret at quitting Europe; on the contrary, the nearer we approached America, the more did I feel my heart expand and become tranquil. If I had not felt a dread of our perhaps wanting, by and by, the absolute necessaries of life, I should have been grateful to fate for having at length given so favourable a turn to our affairs.
"'After a passage of two months, we at length reached the banks of the desired river. The country offered at first sight nothing agreeable. We saw only sterile and uninhabited plains, covered with rushes, and some trees rooted up by the wind. No trace either of men or animals. However, the captain having discharged some pieces of artillery, we presently observed a group of the inhabitants of New Orleans, who approached us with evident signs of joy. We had not perceived the town: it is concealed upon the side on which we approached it by a hill. We were received as persons dropped from the clouds.
"The poor inhabitants hastened to put a thousand questions to us upon the state of France, and of the different provinces in which they were born. They embraced us as brothers, and as beloved companions, who had come to share their pains and their solitude.
"We turned towards the town with them; but we were astonished to perceive, as we advanced, that what we had hitherto heard spoken of as a respectable town, was nothing more than a collection of miserable huts. They were inhabited by five or six hundred persons. The governor's house was a little distinguished from the rest by its height and its position. It was surrounded by some earthen ramparts, and a deep ditch.
"We were first presented to him. He continued for some time in conversation with the captain; and then advancing towards us, he looked attentively at the women one after another: there were thirty of them, for another troop of convicts had joined us at Havre. After having thus inspected them, he sent for several young men of the colony who were desirous to marry. He assigned the handsomest women to the principal of these, and the remainder were disposed of by lot. He had not yet addressed Manon; but having ordered the others to depart, he made us remain. 'I learn from the captain,' said he, 'that you are married, and he is convinced by your conduct on the passage that you are both persons of merit and of education. I have nothing to do with the cause of your misfortunes; but if it be true that you are as conversant with the world and society as your appearance would indicate, I shall spare no pains to soften the severity of your lot, and you may on your part contribute towards rendering this savage and desert abode less disagreeable to me.' I replied in the manner which I thought best calculated to confirm the opinion he had formed of us. He gave orders to have a habitation prepared for us in the town, and detained us to supper. I was really surprised to find so much politeness in a governor of transported convicts. In the presence of others he abstained from enquiring about our past adventures. The conversation was general; and in spite of our degradation, Manon and I exerted ourselves to make it lively and agreeable.
"At night we were conducted to the lodging prepared for us. We found a wretched hovel composed of planks and mud, containing three rooms on the ground, and a loft overhead. He had sent there six chairs, and some few necessaries of life.
"Manon appeared frightened by the first view of this melancholy dwelling. It was on my account much more than upon her own, that she distressed herself. When we were left to ourselves, she sat down and wept bitterly. I attempted at first to console her; but when she enabled me to understand that it was for my sake she deplored our privations, and that in our common afflictions she only considered me as the sufferer, I put on an air of resolution, and even of content, sufficient to encourage her.
"'What is there in my lot to lament?' said I; 'I possess all that I have ever desired. You love me, Manon, do you not? What happiness beyond this have I ever longed for? Let us leave to Providence the direction of our destiny; it by no means appears to me so desperate. The governor is civil and obliging; he has already given us marks of his consideration; he will not allow us to want for necessaries. As to our rude hut and the squalidness of our furniture, you might have noticed that there are few persons in the colony better lodged or more comfortably furnished than we are: and then you are an admirable chemist,' added I, embracing her; 'you transform everything into gold.'
"'In that case,' she answered, 'you shall be the richest man in the universe; for, as there never was love surpassing yours, so it is impossible for man to be loved more tenderly than you are by me. I well know,' she continued, 'that I have never merited the almost incredible fidelity and attachment which you have shown for me. I have often caused you annoyances, which nothing but excessive fondness could have induced you to pardon. I have been thoughtless and volatile; and even while loving you as I have always done to distraction, I was never free from a consciousness of ingratitude. But you cannot believe how much my nature is altered; those tears which you have so frequently seen me shed since quitting the French shore, have not been caused by my own misfortunes. Since you began to share them with me, I have been a stranger to selfishness: I only wept from tenderness and compassion for you. I am inconsolable at the thought of having given you one instant's pain during my past life. I never cease upbraiding myself with my former inconstancy, and wondering at the sacrifices which love has induced you to make for a miserable and unworthy wretch, who could not, with the last drop of her blood, compensate for half the torments she has caused you.'
"Her grief, the language, and the tone in which she expressed herself, made such an impression, that I felt my heart ready to break in me. 'Take care,' said I to her, 'take care, dear Manon; I have not strength to endure such exciting marks of your affection; I am little accustomed to the rapturous sensations which you now kindle in my heart. Oh Heaven!' cried I, 'I have now nothing further to ask of you. I am sure of Manon's love. That has been alone wanting to complete my happiness; I can now never cease to be happy: my felicity is well secured.'
"'It is indeed,' she replied, 'if it depends upon me, and I well know where I can be ever certain of finding my own happiness centred.'
"With these ideas, capable of turning my hut into a palace worthy of earth's proudest monarch, I lay down to rest. America appeared to my view the true land of milk and honey, the abode of contentment and delight. 'People should come to New Orleans,' I often said to Manon, 'who wish to enjoy the real rapture of love! It is here that love is divested of all selfishness, all jealousy, all inconstancy. Our countrymen come here in search of gold; they little think that we have discovered treasures of inestimably greater value.'
"We carefully cultivated the governor's friendship. He bestowed upon me, a few weeks after our arrival, a small appointment which became vacant in the fort. Although not one of any distinction, I gratefully accepted it as a gift of Providence, as it enabled me to live independently of others' aid. I took a servant for myself, and a woman for Manon. Our little establishment became settled: nothing could surpass the regularity of my conduct, or that of Manon; we lost no opportunity of serving or doing an act of kindness to our neighbours. This friendly disposition, and the mildness of our manners, secured us the confidence and affection of the whole colony. We soon became so respected, that we ranked as the principal persons in the town after the governor.
"The simplicity of our habits and occupations, and the perfect innocence in which we lived, revived insensibly our early feelings of devotion. Manon had never been an irreligious girl, and I was far from being one of those reckless libertines who delight in adding impiety and sacrilege to moral depravity: all the disorders of our lives might be fairly ascribed to the natural influences of youth and love. Experience had now begun with us to do the office of age; it produced the same effect upon us as years must have done. Our conversation, which was generally of a serious turn, by degrees engendered a longing for virtuous love. I first proposed this change to Manon. I knew the principles of her heart; she was frank and natural in all her sentiments, qualities which invariably predispose to virtue. I said to her that there was but one thing wanting to complete our happiness: 'it is,' said I, 'to invoke upon our union the benediction of Heaven. We have both of us hearts too sensitive and minds too refined, to continue voluntarily in the wilful violation of so sacred a duty. It signifies nothing our having lived while in France in such a manner, because there it was as impossible for us not to love, as to be united by a legitimate tie: but in America, where we are under no restraint, where we owe no allegiance to the arbitrary distinctions of birth and aristocratic prejudice, where besides we are already supposed to be married, why should we not actually become so—why should we not sanctify our love by the holy ordinances of religion? As for me,' I added, 'I offer nothing new in offering you my hand and my heart; but I am ready to ratify it at the foot of the altar.'
"This speech seemed to inspire her with joy. 'Would you believe it,' she replied, 'I have thought of this a thousand times since our arrival in America? The fear of annoying you has kept it shut up in my breast. I felt that I had no pretensions to aspire to the character of your wife.'
"'Ah! Manon,' said I, 'you should very soon be a sovereign's consort, if I had been born to the inheritance of a crown. Let us not hesitate; we have no obstacle to impede us: I will this day speak to the governor on the subject, and acknowledge that we have in this particular hitherto deceived him. Let us leave,' added I, 'to vulgar lovers the dread of the indissoluble bonds of marriage; they would not fear them if they were assured, as we are, of the continuance of those of love.' I left Manon enchanted by this resolution.
"I am persuaded that no honest man could disapprove of this intention in my present situation; that is to say, fatally enslaved as I was by a passion which I could not subdue, and visited by compunction and remorse which I ought not to stifle. But will any man charge me with injustice or impiety if I complain of the rigour of Heaven in defeating a design that I could only have formed with the view of conciliating its favour and complying with its decrees? Alas I do I say defeated? nay punished as a new crime. I was patiently permitted to go blindly along the high road of vice; and the cruellest chastisements were reserved for the period when I was returning to the paths of virtue. I now fear that I shall have hardly fortitude enough left to recount the most disastrous circumstances that ever occurred to any man.
"I waited upon the governor, as I had settled with Manon, to procure his consent to the ceremony of our marriage. I should have avoided speaking to him or to any other person upon the subject, if I had imagined that his chaplain, who was the only minister in the town, would have performed the office for me without his knowledge; but not daring to hope that he would do so privately, I determined to act ingenuously in the matter.
"The governor had a nephew named Synnelet, of whom he was particularly fond. He was about thirty; brave, but of a headstrong and violent disposition. He was not married. Manon's beauty had struck him on the first day of our arrival; and the numberless opportunities he had of seeing her during the last nine or ten months, had so inflamed his passion, that he was absolutely pining for her in secret. However, as he was convinced in common with his uncle and the whole colony that I was married, he put such a restraint upon his feelings, that they remained generally unnoticed; and he lost no opportunity of showing the most disinterested friendship for me.
"He happened to be with his uncle when I arrived at the government house. I had no reason for keeping my intention a secret from him, so that I explained myself without hesitation in his presence. The governor heard me with his usual kindness. I related to him a part of my history, to which he listened with evident interest; and when I requested his presence at the intended ceremony, he was so generous as to say, that he must be permitted to defray the expenses of the succeeding entertainment. I retired perfectly satisfied.
"In an hour after, the chaplain paid me a visit. I thought he was come to prepare me by religious instruction for the sacred ceremony; but, after a cold salutation, he announced to me in two words, that the governor desired I would relinquish all thoughts of such a thing, for that he had other views for Manon.
"'Other views for Manon!' said I, as I felt my heart sink within me; 'what views then can they be, chaplain?'
"He replied, that I must be, of course, aware that the governor was absolute master here; that Manon, having been transported from France to the colony, was entirely at his disposal; that, hitherto he had not exercised his right, believing that she was a married woman; but that now, having learned from my own lips that it was not so, he had resolved to assign her to M. Synnelet, who was passionately in love with her.
"My indignation overcame my prudence. Irritated as I was, I desired the chaplain instantly to quit my house, swearing at the same time that neither governor, Synnelet, nor the whole colony together, should lay hands upon my wife, or mistress, if they chose so to call her.
"I immediately told Manon of the distressing message I had just received. We conjectured that Synnelet had warped his uncle's mind after my departure, and that it was all the effect of a premeditated design. They were, questionless, the stronger party. We found ourselves in New Orleans, as in the midst of the ocean, separated from the rest of the world by an immense interval of space. In a country perfectly unknown, a desert, or inhabited, if not by brutes, at least by savages quite as ferocious, to what corner could we fly? I was respected in the town, but I could not hope to excite the people in my favour to such a degree as to derive assistance from them proportioned to the impending danger: money was requisite for that purpose, and I was poor. Besides, the success of a popular commotion was uncertain; and if we failed in the attempt, our doom would be inevitably sealed.
"I revolved these thoughts in my mind; I mentioned them in part to Manon; I found new ones, without waiting for her replies; I determined upon one course, and then abandoned that to adopt another; I talked to myself, and answered my own thoughts aloud; at length I sank into a kind of hysterical stupor that I can compare to nothing, because nothing ever equalled it. Manon observed my emotion, and from its violence, judged how imminent was our danger; and, apprehensive more on my account than on her own, the dear girl could not even venture to give expression to her fears.
"After a multitude of reflections, I resolved to call upon the governor, and appeal to his feelings of honour, to the recollection of my unvarying respect for him, and the marks he had given of his own affection for us both. Manon endeavoured to dissuade me from this attempt: she said, with tears in her eyes, 'You are rushing into the jaws of death; they will murder you—I shall never again see you—I am determined to die before you.' I had great difficulty in persuading her that it was absolutely necessary that I should go, and that she should remain at home. I promised that she should see me again in a few moments. She did not foresee, nor did I, that it was against herself the whole anger of Heaven, and the rabid fury of our enemies, was about to be concentrated.
"I went to the fort: the governor was there with his chaplain. I supplicated him in a tone of humble submission that I could have ill brooked under other circumstances. I invoked his clemency by every argument calculated to soften any heart less ferocious and cruel than a tiger's.
"The barbarian made to all my prayers but two short answers, which he repeated over and over again. 'Manon,' he said, 'was at his disposal: and he had given a promise to his nephew.' I was resolved to command my feelings to the last: I merely replied, that I had imagined he was too sincerely my friend to desire my death, to which I would infinitely rather consent than to the loss of my mistress.
"I felt persuaded, on quitting him, that it was folly to expect anything from the obstinate tyrant, who would have damned himself a hundred times over to please his nephew. However, I persevered in restraining my temper to the end; deeply resolved, if they persisted in such flagrant injustice, to make America the scene of one of the most horrible and bloody murders that even love had ever led to.
"I was, on my return home, meditating upon this design, when fate, as if impatient to expedite my ruin, threw Synnelet in my way. He read in my countenance a portion of my thoughts. I before said, he was brave. He approached me.
"'Are you not seeking me?' he enquired. 'I know that my intentions have given you mortal offence, and that the death of one of us is indispensable: let us see who is to be the happy man.'
"I replied, that such was unquestionably the fact, and that nothing but death could end the difference between us.
"We retired about one hundred paces out of the town. We drew: I wounded and disarmed him at the first onset. He was so enraged, that he peremptorily refused either to ask his life or renounce his claims to Manon. I might have been perhaps justified in ending both by a single blow; but noble blood ever vindicates its origin. I threw him back his sword. 'Let us renew the struggle,' said I to him, 'and remember that there shall be now no quarter.' He attacked me with redoubled fury. I must confess that I was not an accomplished swordsman, having had but three months' tuition in Paris. Love, however, guided my weapon. Synnelet pierced me through and through the left arm; but I caught him whilst thus engaged, and made so vigorous a thrust that I stretched him senseless at my feet.
"In spite of the triumphant feeling that victory, after a mortal conflict, inspires, I was immediately horrified by the certain consequences of his death. There could not be the slightest hope of either pardon or respite from the vengeance I had thus incurred. Aware, as I was, of the affection of the governor for his nephew, I felt perfectly sure that my death would not be delayed a single hour after his should become known. 'Urgent as this apprehension was, it still was by no means the principal source of my uneasiness. Manon, the welfare of Manon, the peril that impended over her, and the certainty of my being now at length separated from her, afflicted me to such a degree, that I was incapable of recognising the place in which I stood. I regretted Synnelet's death: instant suicide seemed the only remedy for my woes.
"However, it was this very thought that quickly restored me to my reason, and enabled me to form a resolution. 'What,' said I to myself, 'die, in order to end my pain! Then there is something I dread more than the loss of all I love! No, let me suffer the cruellest extremities in order to aid her; and when these prove of no avail, fly to death as a last resource!'
"I returned towards the town; on my arrival at home, I found Manon half dead with fright and anxiety: my presence restored her. I could not conceal from her the terrible accident that had happened. On my mentioning the death of Synnelet and my own wound, she fell in a state of insensibility into my arms. It was a quarter of an hour before I could bring her again to her senses.
"I was myself in a most deplorable state of mind; I could not discern the slightest prospect of safety for either of us. 'Manon,' said I to her, when she had recovered a little, 'what shall we do? Alas, what hope remains to us? I must necessarily fly. Will you remain in the town? Yes dearest Manon, do remain; you may possibly still be happy here; while I, far away from you, may seek death and find it amongst the savages, or the wild beasts.'
"She raised herself in spite of her weakness, and taking hold of my hand to lead me towards the door: 'Let us,' said she, 'fly together, we have not a moment to lose; Synnelet's body may be found by chance, and we shall then have no time to escape.' 'But, dear Manon,' replied I, 'to what place can we fly? Do you perceive any resource? Would it not be better that you should endeavour to live on without me; and that I should go and voluntarily place my life in the governor's hands?'
"This proposal had only the effect of making her more impatient for our departure. I had presence of mind enough, on going out, to take with me some strong liquors which I had in my chamber, and as much food as I could carry in my pockets. We told our servants, who were in the adjoining room, that we were going to take our evening walk, as was our invariable habit; and we left the town behind us more rapidly than I had thought possible from Manon's delicate state of health.
"Although I had not formed any resolve as to our future destination, I still cherished a hope, without which I should have infinitely preferred death to my suspense about Manon's safety. I had acquired a sufficient knowledge of the country, during nearly ten months which I had now passed in America, to know in what manner the natives should be approached. Death was not the necessary consequence of falling into their hands. I had learned a few words of their language, and some of their customs, having had many opportunities of seeing them.
"Besides this sad resource, I derived some hopes from the fact, that the English had, like ourselves, established colonies in this part of the New World. But the distance was terrific. In order to reach them, we should have to traverse deserts of many days' journey, and more than one range of mountains so steep and vast as to seem almost impassable to the strongest man. I nevertheless flattered myself that we might derive partial relief from one or other of these sources: the savages might serve us as guides, and the English receive us in their settlements.
"We journeyed on as long as Manon's strength would permit, that is to say, about six miles; for this incomparable creature, with her usual absence of selfishness, refused my repeated entreaties to stop. Overpowered at length by fatigue, she acknowledged the utter impossibility of proceeding farther. It was already night: we sat down in the midst of an extensive plain, where we could not even find a tree to shelter us. Her first care was to dress my wound, which she had bandaged before our departure. I, in vain, entreated her to desist from exertion: it would have only added to her distress if I had refused her the satisfaction of seeing me at ease and out of danger, before her own wants were attended to. I allowed her therefore to gratify herself, and in shame and silence submitted to her delicate attentions.
"But when she had completed her tender task, with what ardour did I not enter upon mine! I took off my clothes and stretched them under her, to render more endurable the hard and rugged ground on which she lay. I protected her delicate hands from the cold by my burning kisses and the warmth of my sighs. I passed the livelong night in watching over her as she slept, and praying Heaven to refresh her with soft and undisturbed repose. 'You can bear witness, just and all-seeing God! to the fervour and sincerity of those prayers, and Thou alone knowest with what awful rigour they were rejected.'
"You will excuse me, if I now cut short a story which it distresses me beyond endurance to relate. It is, I believe, a calamity without parallel. I can never cease to deplore it. But although it continues, of course, deeply and indelibly impressed on my memory, yet my heart seems to shrink within me each time that I attempt the recital.
"We had thus tranquilly passed the night. I had fondly imagined that my beloved mistress was in a profound sleep, and I hardly dared to breathe lest I should disturb her. As day broke, I observed that her hands were cold and trembling; I pressed them to my bosom in the hope of restoring animation. This movement roused her attention, and making an effort to grasp my hand, she said, in a feeble voice, that she thought her last moments had arrived.
"I, at first, took this for a passing weakness, or the ordinary language of distress; and I answered with the usual consolations that love prompted. But her incessant sighs, her silence, and inattention to my enquiries, the convulsed grasp of her hands, in which she retained mine, soon convinced me that the crowning end of all my miseries was approaching.
"Do not now expect me to attempt a description of my feelings, or to repeat her dying expressions. I lost her—I received the purest assurances of her love even at the very instant that her spirit fled. I have not nerve to say more upon this fatal and disastrous event.
"My spirit was not destined to accompany Manon's. Doubtless, Heaven did not as yet consider me sufficiently punished, and therefore ordained that I should continue to drag on a languid and joyless existence. I willingly renounced every hope of leading a happy one.
"I remained for twenty-four hours without taking my lips from the still beauteous countenance and hands of my adored Manon. My intention was to await my own death in that position; but at the beginning of the second day, I reflected that, after I was gone, she must of necessity become the prey of wild beasts. I then determined to bury her, and wait my own doom upon her grave. I was already, indeed, so near my end from the combined effect of long fasting and grief, that it was with the greatest difficulty I could support myself standing. I was obliged to have recourse to the liquors which I had brought with me, and these restored sufficient strength to enable me to set about my last sad office. From the sandy nature of the soil there was little trouble in opening the ground. I broke my sword and used it for the purpose; but my bare hands were of greater service. I dug a deep grave, and there deposited the idol of my heart, after having wrapt around her my clothes to prevent the sand from touching her. I kissed her ten thousand times with all the ardour of the most glowing love, before I laid her in this melancholy bed. I sat for some time upon the bank intently gazing on her, and could not command fortitude enough to close the grave over her. At length, feeling that my strength was giving way, and apprehensive of its being entirely exhausted before the completion of my task, I committed to the earth all that it had ever contained most perfect and peerless. I then lay myself with my face down upon the grave, and closing my eyes with the determination never again to open them, I invoked the mercy of Heaven, and ardently prayed for death.
"You will find it difficult to believe that, during the whole time of this protracted and distressing ceremony, not a tear or a sigh escaped to relieve my agony. The state of profound affliction in which I was, and the deep settled resolution I had taken to die, had silenced the sighs of despair, and effectually dried up the ordinary channels of grief. It was thus impossible for me, in this posture upon the grave, to continue for any time in possession of my faculties.
"After what you have listened to, the remainder of my own history would ill repay the attention you seem inclined to bestow upon it. Synnelet having been carried into the town and skilfully examined, it was found that, so far from being dead, he was not even dangerously wounded. He informed his uncle of the manner in which the affray had occurred between us, and he generously did justice to my conduct on the occasion. I was sent for; and as neither of us could be found, our flight was immediately suspected. It was then too late to attempt to trace me, but the next day and the following one were employed in the pursuit.
"I was found, without any appearance of life, upon the grave of Manon: and the persons who discovered me in this situation, seeing that I was almost naked and bleeding from my wounds, naturally supposed that I had been robbed and assassinated. They carried me into the town. The motion restored me to my senses. The sighs I heaved on opening my eyes and finding myself still amongst the living, showed that I was not beyond the reach of art: they were but too successful in its application.
"I was immediately confined as a close prisoner. My trial was ordered; and as Manon was not forthcoming, I was accused of having murdered her from rage and jealousy. I naturally related all that had occurred. Synnelet, though bitterly grieved and disappointed by what he heard, had the generosity to solicit my pardon: he obtained it.
"I was so reduced, that they were obliged to carry me from the prison to my bed, and there I suffered for three long months under severe illness. My aversion from life knew no diminution. I continually prayed for death, and obstinately for some time refused every remedy. But Providence, after having punished me with atoning rigour, saw fit to turn to my own use its chastisements and the memory of my multiplied sorrows. It at length deigned to shed upon me its redeeming light, and revived in my mind ideas worthy of my birth and my early education.
"My tranquillity of mind being again restored, my cure speedily followed. I began only to feel the highest aspirations of honour, and diligently performed the duties of my appointment, whilst expecting the arrival of the vessels from France, which were always due at this period of the year. I resolved to return to my native country, there to expiate the scandal of my former life by my future good conduct. Synnelet had the remains of my dear mistress removed into a more hallowed spot.
"It was six weeks after my recovery that, one day walking alone upon the banks of the river, I saw a vessel arrive, which some mercantile speculation had directed to New Orleans. I stood by whilst the passengers landed. Judge my surprise on recognising Tiberge amongst those who proceeded towards the town. This ever-faithful friend knew me at a distance, in spite of the ravages which care and sorrow had worked upon my countenance. He told me that the sole object of his voyage had been to see me once more, and to induce me to return with him to France; that on receipt of the last letter which I had written to him from Havre, he started for that place, and was himself the bearer of the succour which I solicited; that he had been sensibly affected on learning my departure, and that he would have instantly followed me, if there had been a vessel bound for the same destination; that he had been for several months endeavouring to hear of one in the various seaport towns, and that, having at length found one at St. Malo which was weighing anchor for Martinique, he embarked, in the expectation of easily passing from thence to New Orleans; that the St. Malo vessel having been captured by Spanish pirates and taken to one of their islands, he had contrived to escape; and that, in short, after many adventures, he had got on board the vessel which had just arrived, and at length happily attained his object.
"I was totally unable adequately to express my feelings of gratitude to this generous and unshaken friend. I conducted him to my house, and placed all I possessed at his service. I related to him every circumstance that had occurred to me since I left France: and in order to gladden him with tidings which I knew he did not expect, I assured him that the seeds of virtue which he had in former days implanted in my heart, were now about to produce fruit, of which even he should be proud. He declared to me, that this gladdening announcement more than repaid him for all the fatigue and trouble he had endured.
"We passed two months together at New Orleans whilst waiting the departure of a vessel direct to France; and having at length sailed, we landed only a fortnight since at Havre-de-Grace. On my arrival I wrote to my family. By a letter from my elder brother, I there learned my father's death, which, I dread to think, the disorders of my youth might have hastened. The wind being favourable for Calais, I embarked for this port, and am now going to the house of one of my relations who lives a few miles off, where my brother said that he should anxiously await my arrival."
 Some say that Love, at sight of human ties, Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies.