Bettesworth Book and Memoirs of a Surrey Labourer, the，
The chevalier burst into tears, and in a moment all the sorrows of the unfortunate family were revealed to me.
"Enough, enough!" I cried, falling at their feet. "All this is too cruel. I should be the meanest wretch on earth if I had need to be reminded of my misdeeds and my duties. Let me weep at your knees; let me atone for the wrong I have done you by eternal grief, by eternal renunciation. Why not have driven me away when I did the wrong? Why not, uncle, have blown out my brains with your pistol, as if I had been a wild beast? What have I done to be spared, I who repaid your kindness with the ruin of your honour? No, no; I can see that Edmee ought not to marry me; that would be accepting the shame of the insult I have drawn upon her. All I ask is to be allowed to remain here; I will never see her face, if she makes this a condition; but I will lie at her door like a faithful dog and tear to pieces the first man who dares to present himself otherwise than on his knees; and if some day an honest man, more fortunate than myself, shows himself worthy of her love, far from opposing him, I will intrust to him the dear and sacred task of protecting and vindicating her. I will be but a friend, a brother to her, and when I see that they are happy together, I will go far away from them and die in peace."
My sobs choked me; the chevalier pressed his daughter and myself to his heart, and we mingled our tears, swearing to him that we would never leave each other, either during his life or after his death.
"Still, do not give up all hope of marrying her," whispered the chevalier to me a few moments later, when we were somewhat calmer. "She has strange whims; but nothing will persuade me to believe that she does not love you. She does not want to explain matters yet. Woman's will is God's will."
"And Edmee's will is my will," I replied.
A few days after this scene, which brought the calmness of death into my soul in place of the tumult of life, I was strolling in the park with the abbe.
"I must tell you," he said, "of an adventure which befell me yesterday. There is a touch of romance in it. I had been for a walk in the woods of Briantes, and had made my way down to the spring of Fougeres. It was as warm, you remember, as in the middle of summer; and our beautiful plants, in their autumn red, seemed more beautiful than ever as they stretched their delicate tracery over the stream. The trees have very little foliage left; but the carpet of dried leaves one walks upon gives forth a sound which to me is full of charm. The satiny trunks of the birches and young oaks are covered with moss and creepers of all shades of brown, and tender green, and red and fawn, which spread out into delicate stars and rosettes, and maps of all countries, wherein the imagination can behold new worlds in miniature. I kept gazing lovingly on these marvels of grace and delicacy, these arabesques in which infinite variety is combined with unfailing regularity, and as I remembered with pleasure that you are not, like the vulgar, blind to these adorable coquetries of nature, I gathered a few with the greatest care, even bringing away the bark of the tree on which they had taken root, in order not to destroy the perfection of their designs. I made a little collection, which I left at Patience's as I passed; we will go and see them, if you like. But, on our way, I must tell you what happened to me as I approached the spring. I was walking upon the wet stones with my head down, guided by the slight noise of the clear little jet of water which bursts from the heart of the mossy rock. I was about to sit down on the stone which forms a natural seat at the side of it, when I saw that the place was already occupied by a good friar whose pale, haggard face was half-hidden by his cowl of coarse cloth. He seemed much frightened at my arrival; I did my best to reassure him by declaring that my intention was not to disturb him, but merely to put my lips to the little bark channel which the woodcutters have fixed to the rock to enable one to drink more easily.
" 'Oh, holy priest,' he said to me in the humblest tone, 'why are you not the prophet whose rod could smite the founts of grace? and why cannot my soul, like this rock, give forth a stream of tears?'
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