tambourines in a corner and protrude shadowy limbs through，
"I promised to think it over; and this is how I went to work. Instead of taking my walks as usual in the direction of the woods, I paid a visit every day to the small holdings. It cost me a great effort; I like to be alone; and everywhere I had shunned my fellow-men for so many years that I had lost touch with them. However, this was a duty and I did it. I went to various houses, and by way of conversation, first of all over hedges, and then inside the houses themselves, I made inquiries as to those points which I wanted to learn. At first they gave me a welcome such as they would give to a lost dog in time of drought; and with a vexation I could scarce conceal I noticed the hatred and distrust on all their faces. Though I had not cared to live among other men, I still had an affection for them; I knew that they were unfortunate rather than vicious; I had spent all my time in lamenting their woes and railing against those that caused them; and when for the first time I saw a possibility of doing something for some of them, these very men shut their doors the very moment they caught sight of me in the distance, and their children (those pretty children that I love so much!) would hide themselves in ditches so as to escape the fever which, it was said, I could give with a glance. However, as Edmee's friendship for me was well known, they did not dare to repulse me openly, and I succeeded in getting the information we wanted. Whenever I told her of any distress she at once supplied a remedy. One house was full of cracks; and while the daughter was wearing an apron of cotton-cloth at four francs an ell, the rain was falling on the grandmother's bed and the little children's cradles. The roof and walls were repaired; we supplied the materials and paid the workmen; but no more money for gaudy aprons. In another case, an old woman had been reduced to beggary because she had listened too well to her heart, and given all she had to her children, who had turned her out of doors, or made her life so unbearable that she preferred to be a tramp. We took up the old woman's cause, and threatened that we would bring the matter before the courts at our own expense. Thus we obtained for her a pension, to which we added when it was not sufficient. We induced several old persons who were in a similar position to combine and live together under the same roof. We chose one as head, and gave him a little capital, and as he was an industrious and methodical man, he turned it to such profit that his children came and made their peace with him, and asked to be allowed to help in his establishment.
"We did many other things besides; I need not give you details, as you will see them yourself. I say 'we,' because, though I did not wish to be concerned in anything beyond what I had already done, I was gradually drawn on and obliged to do more and more, to concern myself with many things, and finally with everything. In short, it is I who make the investigations, superintend the works, and conduct all negotiations. Mademoiselle Edmee wished me to keep a sum of money by me, so that I might dispose of it without consulting her first. This I have never allowed myself to do; and, moreover, she has never once opposed any of my ideas. But all this, you know, has meant much work and many worries. Ever since the people realized that I was a little Turgot they have grovelled before me, and that has pained me not a little. And so I have various friends that I don't care for, and various enemies that I could well do without. The sham poor owe me a grudge because I do not let myself be duped by them; and there are perverse and worthless people who think one is always doing too much for others, and never enough for them. With all this bustle and all these bickerings, I can no longer take my walk during the night, and my sleep during the day. I am now Monsieur Patience, and no longer the sorcerer of Gazeau Tower; but alas! I am a hermit no more; and, believe me, I would wish with all my heart that I could have been born selfish, so that I might throw off my harness, and return to my savage life and my liberty."
When Patience had given us this account of his work we complimented him on it; but we ventured to express a doubt about his pretended self-sacrifice; this magnificent garden seemed to indicate a compromise with "those superfluous necessities," the use of which by others he had always deplored.
"That?" he said, waving his arm in the direction of his inclosure. "That does not concern me; they made it against my wishes; but, as they were worthy folk and my refusal would have grieved them, I was obliged to allow it. You must know that, if I have stirred ingratitude in many hearts, I have also made a few happy ones grateful. So, two or three families to whom I had done some service, tried all possible means to give me pleasure in return; and, as I refused everything, they thought they would give me a surprise. Once I had to pay a visit to Berthenoux for several days, on some confidential business which had been entrusted to me; for people have come to imagine me a very clever man, so easy is it to pass from one extreme to another. On my return I found this garden, marked out, planted and inclosed as you see it. In vain did I get angry, and explain that I did not want to work, that I was too old, and that the pleasure of eating a little more fruit was not worth the trouble that this garden was going to cost me; they finished it without heeding what I said, and declared that I need not trouble in the least, because they would undertake to cultivate it for me. And, indeed, for the last two years the good folk have not failed to come, now one and now another, and give such time in each season as was necessary to keep it in perfect order. Besides, though I have altered nothing in my own ways of living, the produce of this garden has been very useful; during the winter I was able to feed several poor people with my vegetables; while my fruit has served to win the affection of the little children, who no longer cry out 'wolf' when they see me, but have grown bold enough to come and kiss the sorcerer. Other people have forced me to accept presents of wine, and now and then of white bread, and cheeses of cow's milk. All these things, however, only enable me to be polite to the village elders when they come and report the deserving cases of the place, so that I may make them known at the castle. These honours have not turned my head, as you see; nay, more, I may say that when I have done about all that I have to do, I shall leave the cares of greatness behind me, and return to my philosopher's life, perhaps to Gazeau Tower--who knows?"
We were now at the end of our walk. As I set foot on the steps of the chateau, I was suddenly filled with a feeling of devoutness; I clasped my hands and called upon Heaven in a sort of terror. A vague, indefinable fear arose in me; I imagined all manner of things that might hinder my happiness. I hesitated to cross the threshold of the house; then I rushed forward. A mist came over my eyes, a buzzing filled my ears. I met Saint-Jean, who, not recognising me, gave a loud cry and threw himself in my path to prevent me from entering without being announced. I pushed him aside, and he sank down astounded on one of the hall chairs while I hastened to the door of the drawing-room. But, just as I was about to throw it open, I was seized with a new fear and checked myself; then I opened it so timidly that Edmee, who was occupied at some embroidery on a frame, did not raise her eyes, thinking that in this slight noise she recognised the respectful Saint-Jean. The chevalier was asleep and did not wake. This old man, tall and thin like all the Mauprats, was sitting with his head sunk on his breast; and his pale, wrinkled face, which seemed already wrapped in the torpor of the grave, resembled one of those angular heads in carved oak which adorned the back of his big arm-chair. His feet were stretched out in front of a fire of dried vine-branches, although the sun was warm and a bright ray was falling on his white head and making it shine like silver. And how could I describe to you my feelings on beholding Edmee? She was bending over her tapestry and glancing from time to time at her father to notice his slightest movements. But what patience and resignation were revealed in her whole attitude! Edmee was not fond of needlework; her mind was too vigorous to attach much importance to the effect of one shade by the side of another shade, and to the regularity of one stitch laid against another stitch. Besides, the blood flowed swiftly in her veins, and when her mind was not absorbed in intellectual work she needed exercise in the open air. But ever since her father, a prey to the infirmities of old age, had been almost unable to leave his arm-chair, she had refused to leave him for a single moment; and, since she could not always be reading and working her mind, she had felt the necessity of taking up some of those feminine occupations which, as she said, "are the amusements of captivity." She had conquered her nature then in truly heroic fashion. In one of those secret struggles which often take place under our eyes without our suspecting the issue involved, she had done more than subdue her nature, she had even changed the circulation of her blood. I found her thinner; and her complexion had lost that first freshness of youth which, like the bloom that the breath of morning spreads over fruit, disappears at the slightest shock from without, although it may have been respected by the heat of the sun. Yet in this premature paleness and in this somewhat unhealthy thinness there seemed to be an indefinable charm; her eyes, more sunken, but inscrutable as ever, showed less pride and more melancholy than of old; her mouth had become more mobile, and her smile was more delicate and less contemptuous. When she spoke to me, I seemed to behold two persons in her, the old and the new; and I found that, so far from having lost her beauty, she had attained ideal perfection. Still, I remember several persons at that time used to declare that she had "changed very much," which with them meant that she had greatly deteriorated. Beauty, however, is like a temple in which the profane see naught but the external magnificence. The divine mystery of the artist's thought reveals itself only to profound sympathy, and the inspiration in each detail of the sublime work remains unseen by the eyes of the vulgar. One of your modern authors, I fancy, has said this in other words and much better. As for myself, at no moment in her life did I find Edmee less beautiful than at any other. Even in the hours of suffering, when beauty in its material sense seems obliterated, hers but assumed a divine form in my eyes, and in her face I beheld the splendour of a new moral beauty. However, I am but indifferently endowed with artistic feeling, and had I been a painter, I could not have created more than a single type, that which filled my whole soul; for in the course of my long life only one woman has seemed to me really beautiful; and that woman was Edmee.
For a few seconds I stood looking at her, so touchingly pale, sad yet calm, a living image of filial piety, of power in thrall to affection. Then I rushed forward and fell at her feet without being able to say a word. She uttered no cry, no exclamation of surprise, but took my head in her two arms and held it for some time pressed to her bosom. In this strong pressure, in this silent joy I recognised the blood of my race, I felt the touch of a sister. The good chevalier, who had waked with a start, stared at us in astonishment, his body bent forward and his elbow resting on his knee; then he said:
"Well, well! What is the meaning of this?"
He could not see my face, hidden as it was in Edmee's breast. She pushed me towards him; and the old man clasped me in his feeble arms with a burst of generous affection that gave him back for a moment the vigour of youth.
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