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day she was walking in the woods, in a pensive manner, observing how affectionate the little birds were to each other, and thinking what a blessing it was, to have an agreeable lover—when, leaning against an elm tree, she perceived a young man, habited in a most handsome dress that seemed a little too large for him, and of that peculiar complexion—half white, half yellow—which custom has dedicated to romance. He wore his long, dark locks sweeping over his forehead—and fixing his eyes intently on the ground, he muttered thus to himself—
"Singular destiny!—fearful thought! Shall I resist it ?—shall I fly? No! that were unworthy of the name I bear! For four hundred years my forefathers have enjoyed their honours—not a break in their lineage—shall I be the first to forfeit this hereditary distinction? Away the thought!"
The young gentleman walked haughtily from the tree, and just before him he saw Miss Laura, fixing her delighted eyes upon his countenance, and pleasing herself with the thought that she saw before her an Earl Marshall, or a Grand Falconer at the least. The young gentleman stood still, so also did the young lady—the young gentleman stared, the young lady sighed. "Fair creature!" quoth the youth, throwing out his arm, but in a somewhat violent and abrupt manner, as if rather striking a blow than attempting a courteous gesture.
Full of the becoming terror of a damsel of romance, Laura drew herself up, and uttered a little scream. "What!" said the youth, mournfully, " do you, too, fear me?" Laura was affected almost to tears—the youth took her hand.
I shall not pursue this interview further—the young people were in love at first sight—a curious event, that has happened to all of us in our day, but which we never believe happens to other people. What man allows another man to have had any bonnes fortunes? Yet, when we see how the saloons of the theatres are filled by what must once have been bonnes fortunes, the honour must be confessed to be of rather a vulgar description! But what am I doing? Not implying a word against the virtue of Miss Laura. No, the attachment between her and the unknown was of the most Platonic description. "They met again and oft;" and oh, how devoutly Laura loved the young cavalier! She was passionately fond of rank:—it seldom happens in the novels liked by young ladies that a lover is permitted to be of less rank than a peer's son—smaller people are only brought in to be laughed at—odd characters—white-stockinged quidnuncs— fathers who are to be cheated—brothers to be insulted: in short, the great majority of human creatures are Russell-squared into a becom'-*if degree of ludicrous insignificance. Accordingly, to Miss Laura, -'er must necessarily be nothing of a Calicot—and she reflected with indescribable rapture on the certainty of having a gallant whose forefathers had enjoyed something four hundred years in the family! But what was that something? She was curious—she interrogated her lover as to his name and rank. He changed colour—he bit his lip—he thrust both hands into his breeches-pockets. "I cannot tell you what I am," said he: " No! charming Laura, forgive me—one day you will know all."
"Can he be the King's eldest son?" said Laura to herself. After all, this mystery was very delightful. She introduced the young gentleman to her father. "Ah!" quoth the former, squeezing the Attorney's hand, "your family have been good friends to mine." "How!" cried the Attorney—" Are we then acquainted! May I crave your name, Sir?"
The lover looked confused—he mumbled out some excuse—just at present, he had reasons for wishing it concealed. Our unknown had a long military nose—he looked like a man who might have shot another in a duel. "Aha!" said the attorney winking; and lowering his voice—" I smell you, Sir—you have killed your man—eh !'* "Ha!" cried the stranger; and slapping his forehead wildly, he rushed out of the room.
CHAPTER. Ill THE LAWYER MATCHED.
•• But let us change the theme."'—Harino FALlgno.
It was now clear:—the stranger had evidently been a brave transgressor of the law; perhaps an assassin, certainly a victorious single combater. This redoubled in Laura's bosom the interest she had conceived for him. There is nothing renders a young lady more ardent in her attachment than the supposition that her lover has committed some enormous crime. Her father thought he might make a good thing out of his new acquaintance. He resolved to find out if he was rich—if rich, he could marry him to his daughter; if poor, he might as well inform against him, and get the reward. An attorney is a bow,—a crooked thing with two strings to it. It was in the wood that the lawyer met the stranger. The stranger was examining a tree. "Strong, strong," muttered he; "yes, it is worth buying." "Are you a judge of trees, Sir?" quoth the attorney. "Hum—yes, of a peculiar sort of tree." "Have you much timber of your own?" "A great deal," replied the stranger coolly. "Of the best kind?" "It is generally used for scaffolding." "Oh, good deal!" The lawyer paused. "You cannot," said he, archly, "you cannot conceal yourself; your rank is sufficiently apparent." "Good heavens!" "Yes, my daughter says she heard you boasting of your hereditary distinctions—four hundred years it has existed in III. 2 A
your family," "It has indeed!" "And does the property—the cash part of the business, go with it?'' "Yes ! the Government provide for us.'' "Oh, a pension !•—hereditary too?" "You say it.'' "Ah, 'tis the way with your great families," said the lawyer to himself, "always quartered on the public." "What's that he mutters about quartered!" inly exclaimed the stranger with emotion. "It is from our taxes that their support is drawn," continued the lawyer. "Drawn, Sir!" cried the stranger aloud. "And if it be not the best way of living, hang me.'" concluded the lawyer. "You," faltered the stranger, clasping his hands: " horrible supposition!!!"
CHAPTER IV.—ENLIGHTENED SENTIMENTS.
"Joy was not always absent from his fare,
"You will really marry me then, beautiful Laura," said the stranger kneeling on his pocket-handkerchief. Laura blushed. "You are so—so bewitching—and—and you will always love me— and you will tell me who you are." "After our marriage, yes,"— said the stranger somewhat discomposed. "No! now—now,".—cried Laura, coaxingly. He was silent . "Come, I will get it out of you. You are an eldest son." "Indeed I am," sighed the stranger. "You have an hereditary title?" "Alas! yes!" "It descends to you?" "It does!"—" You have a—a—the means to support it?" "Assuredly." "Convince me of that,'' said the Lawyer, who had been listening unobserved," and my daughter is yours—let you have killed your man a hundred times over!" "Wonderful liberality!" cried the stranger, enthusiastically, and throwing himself at the lawyer's feet.
CHAPTER V.—CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE."The soul wears out her clothes."—Plato.—Apparently not i
The stranger wore a splendid suit of clothes. The mystery about him attracted the admiration and marvel of the people at the little inn at which he had taken up his lodging. They were talking about him in the kitchen one morning when the boots was brushing his coat. A tailor from the capital, who was travelling to his country seat, came into the kitchen to ask why his breakfast was not ready. "It is a beautiful coat 1" cried the boots, holding it up. "What a cut!" cried the chambermaid. "It is lined with white silk," said the scullion, and she placed her thumb on the skirts. "Ha!" said •ie tailor,—" what do I see! it is the coat of the Marquis de Tet» Perdu: I made it myself." "It is out—it is out!" cried the waiter. "The gentleman is a Marquis. Gemini, how pleased Miss Laura will be!" "What's that, Sir? so the strange gentleman is really the Marquis de Tete Perdu!" asked the landlady. "John, take the fresh eggs to his Lordship." "Impossible 1" said the tailor, who had fixed on the fresh eggs for himself. "Impossible!" and while he laid his hand on the egg-stand, he lifted his eyes to heaven. "Impossible! the Marquis has been hanged this twelvemonth!"
CHAPTER VI.—THE DEPARTURE.
"They have their exit! and their entrances.
"Good heavens! how strange," said the lawyer, as he dismissed the landlord of the little inn. "I am very much obliged to you— only think—I was just going to marry my daughter to a gentleman who had been hanged!" Laura burst into tears. "What if he should be a Vampire!" said she: "it is very odd that a man should live twelve months after hanging." Meanwhile the stranger descended the stairs to his parlour; a group of idlers in the passage gave hastily way on both sides. Nay, the housemaid, whom he was about, as usual, to chuck under the chin, uttered a loud shriek and fell into a swoon. "The Devil!" said the stranger, glancing suspiciously round; "am I known, then?" "Known! yes, you are known I" cried the boots. "The Marquis de Tete Perdu.'' "Sacre bleu t" said the stranger, flinging into the parlour in a violent rage. He locked the door. He walked up and down with uneven strides. "Curse on these painful distinctions—these hereditary customs!" cried he vehemently, " they are the poison of my existence. I shall lose Laura; I shall lose her fortune; I am discovered. No, not yet; I will fly to her, before the boots spreads the intelligence. I will force her to go offwith me —go oil'!—how many people have I forced to go off before!"
To avoid the people in the passage, the stranger dropped from the window. He hastened to the lawyer's house—he found Miss Laura in the garden—she was crying violently, and had forgotten her pocket-handkerchief; the stranger offered her his own. Her eyes fell on a Marquis's coronet, worked in the corner, with the initials "T. P." "Ah! it is too true, then," said she sobbing; "the— the Marquis de Tete Perdu—" Here her voice was choked by her emotion. "Damnation! what—what of him?" With great difficulty Laura sobbed out the word " H—a—ng—e—d!" "It is all up with me!" said the stranger, with a terrible grimace, and ho disappeared. "Oh! he is certainly a Vampire," wept the mifortiuiate Laura; "at all events, after having been hanged for twelve months, he cannot be worth much as a husband!"
CHAPTER VII.—THE PHILOSOPHER.
"• Tbi teiMkncj of lie If! it tftlatt ill !„ ,. .lit;,,, ,'.•,.. ,, ,•• lion.."
JI. ROTKK DK COLLARn
It was a melancholy dreary day, and about an hour after the above interview, it began to rain cats and dogs. The mysterious stranger was walking on the high road that led from the country town; he hoped to catch one of the public vehicles that passed that way towards the capital. He buttoned up the fatal coat, and took particular care of the silk skirts. "In vain," said he, bitterly, is all this finery; in vain have I attempted to redeem my lot . Fate pursues me everywhere. I)——n it! the silk will be all spotted; I may not get another such coat soon: seldom that a man of similar rank," here the rain set full in his teeth and drowned the rest of his soliloquy. He began to look round for a shelter, when suddenly he beheld a pretty little inn, standing by the road-side: he quickened his pace, and was presently in the traveller's room drying himself by the fire. There was a bald gentleman, past his grand climacteric, sitting at a little table by the window, and reading " Glumenborchiusisiculorum on the propriety of living in a parallelogram, and moving only in a right angle." Absorbed in his own griefs, the stranger did not notice his companion—he continued to dry his shirt sleeves, and mutter to himself. "Ah!" said he, "no love for me; never shall I marry some sweet, amiable, rich young lady; the social distinctions confine me to myself. Odious law of primogeniture! hateful privileges of hereditary descent!"
The bald gentleman, who was a great philosopher, and had himself written a large book in which he had clearly proved that " Man was not a Monkey," started up in delight at these expressions—" Sir,'' said he, warmly, holding out his hand to the stranger, " your sentiments do credit to your understanding—you are one of the enlightened few whose opinions precede the age. Hereditary distinctions! they are indeed one of the curses of civilization." "You speak truly, venerable Sir," said the stranger sighing. "Doubtless," continued the sage, " you are some younger son deprived of your just rights by the absurd monopoly of an elder brother." "No, I am myself the elder son; I myself exercise, and therefore, deplore that monopoly." "Noble young man!—what generosity !—see what it is to be wise!" said the philosopher- "knowledge will not even allow us to be selfish."