In his new volume, Mr. Hugh Clifford, at the beginning，
"That last reproach is delicately put, dear friend," she replied; "but allow me to justify myself. Your astonishment arises from the fact that you do not know the Mauprat race. It is a tameless, incorrigible race, from which naught but Headbreakers and Hamstringers may issue. Even in those who have been most polished by education there remains many a stubborn knot--a sovereign pride, a will of iron, a profound contempt for life. Look at my father. In spite of his adorable goodness, you see that he is sometimes so quick-tempered that he will smash his snuff-box on the table, when you get the better of him in some political argument, or when you win a game of chess. For myself, I am conscious that my veins are as full-blooded as if I had been born in the noble ranks of the people; and I do not believe that any Mauprat has ever shone at court for the charm of his manners. Since I was born brave, how would you have me set much store by life? And yet there are weak moments in which I get discouraged more than enough, and bemoan my fate like the true woman that I am. But, let some one offend me, or threaten me, and the blood of the strong surges through me again; and then, as I cannot crush my enemy, I fold my arms and smile with compassion at the idea that he should ever have hoped to frighten me. And do not look upon this as mere bombast, abbe. To-morrow, this evening perhaps, my words may turn to deeds. This little pearl-handled knife does not look like deeds of blood; still, it will be able to do its work, and ever since Don Marcasse (who knows what he is about) sharpened it, I have had it by me night and day, and my mind is made up. I have not a very strong fist, but it will no doubt manage to give myself a good stab with this knife, even as it manages to give my horse a cut with the whip. Well, that being so, my honour is safe; it is only my life, which hangs by a thread, which is at the mercy of a glass of wine, more or less, that M. Bernard may happen to drink one of these evenings; of some change meeting, or some exchange of looks between De la Marche and myself that he may fancy he has detected; a breath of air perhaps! What is to be done? Were I to grieve, would my tears wash away the past? We cannot tear out a single page of our lives; but we can throw the book into the fire. Though I should weep from night till morn, would that prevent Destiny from having, in a fit of ill-humour, taken me out hunting, sent me astray in the woods, and made me stumble across a Mauprat, who led me to his den, where I escaped dishonour and perhaps death only by binding my life forever to that of a savage who had none of my principles, and who probably (and who undoubtedly, I should say) never will have them? All this is a misfortune. I was in the full sunlight of a happy destiny; I was the pride and joy of my old father; I was about to marry a man I esteem and like; no sorrows, no fears had come near my path; I knew neither days fraught with danger nor nights bereft of sleep. Well, God did not wish such a beautiful life to continue; His will be done. There are days when the ruin of all my hopes seems to me so inevitable that I look upon myself as dead and my /fiance/ as a widower. If it were not for my poor father, I should really laugh at it all; for I am so ill built for vexation and fears that during the short time I have known them they have already tired me of life."
"This courage is heroic, but it is also terrible," cried the abbe, in a broken voice. "It is almost a resolve to commit suicide, Edmee."
"Oh, I shall fight for my life," she answered, with warmth; "but I shall not stand haggling with it a moment if my honour does not come forth safe and sound from all these risks. No; I am not pious enough ever to accept a soiled life by way of penance for sins of which I never had a thought. If God deals so harshly with me that I have to choose between shame and death . . ."
"There can never be any shame for you, Edmee; a soul so chaste, so pure in intention . . ."
"Oh, don't talk of that, dear abbe! Perhaps I am not as good as you think; I am not very orthodox in religion--nor are you, abbe! I give little heed to the world; I have no love for it. I neither fear nor despise public opinion; it will never enter into my life. I am not very sure what principle of virtue would be strong enough to prevent me from falling, if the spirit of evil took me in hand. I have read /La Nouvelle Heloise/, and I shed many tears over it. But, because I am a Mauprat and have an unbending pride, I will never endure the tyranny of any man--the violence of a lover no more than a husband's blow; only a servile soul and a craven character may yield to force that which it refuses to entreaty. Sainte Solange, the beautiful shepherdess, let her head be cut off rather than submit to the seigneur's rights. And you know that from mother to daughter the Mauprats have been consecrated in baptism to the protection of the patron saint of Berry."
"Yes; I know that you are proud and resolute," said the abbe, "and because I respect you more than any woman in the world I want you to live, and be free, and make a marriage worthy of you, so that in the human family you may fill the part which beautiful souls still know how to make noble. Besides, you are necessary to your father; your death would hurry him to his grave, hearty and robust as the Mauprat still is. Put away these gloomy thoughts, then, and these violent resolutions. It is impossible. This adventure of Roche-Mauprat must be looked upon only as an evil dream. We both had a nightmare in those hours of horror; but it is time for us to awake; we cannot remain paralyzed with fear like children. You have only one course open to you, and that I have already pointed out."
"But, abbe, it is the one which I hold the most impossible of all. I have sworn by everything that is most sacred in the universe and the human heart."
"An oath extorted by threats and violence is binding on none; even human laws decree this. Divine laws, especially in a case of this nature, absolve the human conscience beyond a doubt. If you were orthodox, I would go to Rome--yes, I would go on foot--to get you absolved from so rash a vow; but you are not a submissive child of the Pope, Edmee--nor am I."
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