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PROMETHEUS.

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CHAPTER V.

forehead and radiant eyes. Then her simple frankness had a wonderful and never ceasing charm. It was new to him to see a

woman without coquetry or affectation, and AURICE Valazé was so much pleas- he felt a pleasant sense of rest and tranquil

ed with his visit to Marguerite and lity in watching her serene and candid counher father that, from that evening, he seldom tenance, and the quiet simplicity of her delet a day pass without spending part of it meanour, and in comparing them with the with his new friends; and very soon they restless glances and petty affectations which, learnt to expect these daily visits, and to wel- in the women he was accustomed to meet, come him as if he had been all his life one of betrayed the effort after admiration and apthe family. Though his nature was somewhat plause. Her opinions and taste very nearly restless and changeable, with an intense love coincided with his own. They had similar of pleasure and excitement, and his feelings ideas about the grandeur and glory of art easily swayed by every impulse, there was so and the noble aims to which genius ought to much that was good, gentle and affectionate be devoted. Though Maurice had had many in his disposition, that he found a sweet and good friends and faithful comrades, he had tranquillizing charm in the simple domestic never before found anyone who could life into which he had been so frankly ad- thoroughly sympathize with those highest mitted. The homely good sense and bene- and deepest thoughts and emotions which it volence of Christian Kneller, the lively chat- is impossible to reveal except to one who ter of Claire, even the harmless gossip of can truly understand and respond to them. Mère Monica, were a relief to him after the It was a delight greater than he had ever felt hackneyed cant and factitious enthusiasm of before to pour forth all his hopes and amateurs full of silly pretension, and artists dreams to a listener from whom no superwho had no higher aims than wealth and cilious coldness, no vapid commonplaces, or praise ; or the reckless mirth and revelry flippant mockery ever checked his enthuwhich filled up his fellow-students' hours of siasm, whose answering sympathy was alrelaxation ; and of such the only society to ways ready, and from whom no shadow of which he had access in Paris was composed. jealousy or possible rivalry was to be appreBut the chief charm which drew him to the hended. And he found it almost as pleasant house of Christian Kneller lay in Marguerite. to read the hidden leaves in the fair volume He had recognized genius in her work even of Marguerite's mind which had never been before it had been stamped with the ap- opened to mortal till they were unclosed for proval of the great master, from whose him. He showed her his sketches and judgment few in Paris would have been dar- described to her the pictures he intended to ing enough to dissent ; but on being ad- paint, and the studies he meant to pursue in mitted to her atelier, and seeing her draw- Italy, while she listened with eager and deings, sketches and designs, all of the highest lighted attention, entered into all his projects, merit, his enthusiasm of admiration was un- shared all his hopes, and strengthened his. bounded. Her utter freedom from vanity high resolves with eloquent words flowing and pretension, joined to so much genius from a heart rich in impassioned feeling, and and artistic power, puzzled and excited his an imagination filled with visions of the curiosity and interest; and still more, her beautiful and good. Every day Maurice's calm, gentle, undemonstrative manner, con- affection for this young girl grew stronger, trasted with the depths of thought and feel till at last he ceased to remember or regret ing that seemed to lie behind her noble that one so richly gifted in every other way,

was not endowed with the crowning charm Hermes and towards Prometheus, but that of beauty

her fear was for Prometheus and not for One evening, coming to the house at his herself, was marked by the way her form was usual hour, Maurice found Christian Kneller thrown as if to shield the object of her desitting in his favourite seat by the ivy-wreath- votion; the third nymph, kneeling close ed window, and looking at a sketch in one beside the tortured Titan, was gazing on him of Marguerite's portfolios.

with a passionate intensity of love and ad" Come here, Maurice,” he said, on seeing miration which seemed to absorb her whole the young man, “here is the last thing Mar- being in his. guerite has done." And he showed him a “ That is not much like woman's work, is design from the Prometheus which Maurice it ?" asked Christian Kneller, watching had not seen before. It represented the Maurice's looks. hero vainly exhorted by Hermes to make “ It is admirable, wonderful !” exclaimed peace with Zeus, while the Oceanides were Maurice warmly. mournfully grouped around and the vulture “Yes, in the design, but there are plenty hovered behind, as if waiting to resume his of faults in the execution.” And Christian horrid feast when the mission of Hermes Kneller, who was an excellent critic, pointshould be ended. The drear and barren ed out some of them. rocks of Mount Caucasus, without any liv- “ All these can be remedied,” said Mauing tree or plant to soften their austerity, rice. “ The sublime power and majesty of were forcibly drawn ; the figure of Prome- Prometheus, the cowering meanness of theus, though half prostrate and manacled, Hermes, the grace and beauty of the was full of grandeur and majesty ; his brow nymphs are perfect. I know nothing superhad all the power and might of a god, and ior to them.” Hemes appeared to shrink abashed from the “ Softly, softly," my good friend,” said lightning flash of his large, indignant eyes, Christian Kneller, “rein in those swift and the withering scorn of his lip, which steeds which are always so ready to run seemed uttering the sublime words the poet away with your imagination. Marguerite is has given him : “Wherefore let the doubly not quite equal to Michael Angelo in power pointed wrath of his fire be hurled at me, yet, or to Raphael in grace ! Yet she is a and Ether be torn piecemeal by thunder wonderful girl. My friends tell me it is and

spasm of savage blasts, and let the wind time for me to get her well married, but I rock earth from her base, roots and all and, doubt if there is any man in Paris she would with stormy surge, mingle in rough tide the accept as a husband. Pierre Lacoste, the billows of the deep and the paths of the picture-dealer, wished to have her for a stars, and Aling my body into black Tartarus, daughter-in-law, and his son is neither ugly with a whirl in the stern eddies of necessity, nor stupid, I can tell you, but she would not -yet by no possible means shall he visit me hear of such a thing. She says she will with Death."

never leave me, and when I asked her what At the feet of Prometheus reclined the she will do when I am gone, she says her Oceanides, three beautiful nymphs, and in art will be her best friend then, and she will their forms, attitudes and faces, the young ar- not want any other.” tist had shown as much tenderness and grace “Is she like her mother?" asked Maurice, as she had displayed strength and power in trying to make the old man talk more of Prometheus. One nymph, her hand sup- Marguerite. porting her head, was weeping quietly and No,-her mother was an angel of goodsoftly; another was shrinking back from ness, but Marguerite has a stronger and

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66

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more heroic mind. She is like one of her mother's image, and I think she is beSchiller's heroines, or the noble women of ginning to grow like her again.” Shakespeare. Perhaps it was from her Claire--the pale, ugly Claire—like that mother's father she inherited her genius, but vision of grace and perfect loveliness! Such she has courage, and strength which he an idea seemed ridiculous to Maurice, and never possessed, and depths of thought and as the door opened the next instant and she feeling which lie beyond common reach ; entered the room, she had never seemed so yet at the same time, she is simple, unselfish plain in his eyes. and free from vanity or display as a saint. “ Oh, is that mamma ?” cried Claire, runNo ; she is not like her mother. Her ning up to her father and kissing the miniamother was beautiful, and Marguerite is far ture he held in his hand. from that.”

66 Dear beautiful mamma ! I wish I were “Yes, sometimes she is beautiful,” said half as pretty.” Maurice ; “ when some noble or tender “ Or half as good either, little one; that emotion stirs the hidden power of the soul would be a better wish. But you never will, within and makes it flash forth in all its so don't hope it." brightness: then she is more than beautiful Claire tossed her head, with a glance of --she is divine."

coquettish defiance at Maurice. “ Well, well—I will not quarrel with thee “I shall never be as good, that is certain,' for praising my Marguerite, but if thou hadst she said, “but I am not so

sure about seen her mother. See here ; this is what she never being as pretty. You know, papa, was like.” And taking a miniature from his you sometimes tell me I am like her.” breast, Christian Kneller handed it to “ So I do, little vanity,” and pulling her Maurice.

towards him, her father took off the green It was the portrait of a most lovely girl. net which confined her hair, and let the The face was a pure oval in shape, every long silky masses fall on her shoulders. feature exquisitely formed, the skin of a “ Now there is a little likeness,” he said. snowy fairness, a faint, delicate bloom warm- For the first time, Maurice noticed what ing it into life, tinting the cheeks with the a quantity of hair she had, and how beautisoftest hue of the rose and deepening into ful its texture was. He thought she looked a richer red on the tender sensitive mouth ; all the better for the loss of her net, but he the eyes were of the deepest and purest could not see the likeness her father discovblue, half-veiled by long dark lashes ; the ered, and he said so. hair of a rich golden brown, hanging in curls “ Maurice thinks me so ugly,” said Claire, on her neck and shoulders; the whole face putting up her lip with an air of disdain," expressive of the most enchanting sweet- “ but it is just because my hair is fair. He ness, purity and ideal grace.

likes black hair better." And she shot “It is beautiful indeed,” exclaimed another saucy glance at Maurice. Maurice, with all an artist's delight in loveli- “ You are quite right, Mademoiselle

,

Claire," said Maurice, laughing. “ Hadst thou seen her living thou might- “ That depends,” said Christian Kneller, est well have said so. That picture is only “black to-day, brown to-morrow, golden the the poorest shadow of what she was.” day after-is it not so, Maurice, my friend?

Taking it from Maurice, Christian Knel. Now, Claire, I will go into the garden. Call ler gazed at it steadfastly for a minute or Marguerite." two. “Claire looks like her sometimes," Claire called her sister, and then coming he said. 66 When she was an infant she was back, and looking at Maurice, while she

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UNDER THE RED AND WHITE ROSES.

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gathered her rich tresses into the net from “Oh, she said she thought it was very which they had seemed so ready to escape, likely." she said, “ There's one thing I know, and " Marguerite, how could you ?” he exthat is that I shall be handsome by the time claimed, quickly turning towards her. Maurice comes back from Italy. Mère But Marguerite's candid eyes answered

I am at the ugly age now, and him even before she could reply in words that I shall be sure to improve, and I mean that Claire was only in jest, and he ought to to grow handsome if it were only to astonish have known it; while Claire's mocking laugh Monsieur Maurice. Do you hear me, Mar- rang gaily through the garden. guerite?” she asked as her sister entered.

“What is it, Claire ?"

“I am determined that Maurice shall find me beautiful when he returns from Italy.”

CHAPTER VI. "Nothing will seem beautiful to Maurice after he comes from the Land of Beauty,” said Marguerite, with rather a forced smile.

“On the contrary,” said Maurice, “ I LITTLE later the same evening, when know I shall find nothing there as worthy of

Christian Kneller sat smoking his pipe in admiration as I have found here."

front of the summer-house, and Claire, seatHe spoke with some agitation and looked ed on the grass at his feet, was stringing at Marguerite, but she was helping her beads for a neck-chain, Maurice stood father to put on his cloak, and he was not watching Marguerite somewhat impatiently, sure that she had heard him. He hoped as she tied up some flowers which a rain she had not taken his words as one of those shower that morning had broken down. commonplace gallantries, which he had soon "Marguerite," he said, when she had finlearned to feel were unworthy of her ; but ished her task, “let us go down the long her quiet manner gave no indication, and walk and sit in the alcove. I want to talk her face was hidden.

to you." "There, Marguerite," said her father, This long walk was bounded on one side " that cloak will do admirably. You are as by the garden wall, and on the other by a careful in arranging the folds as if you were hedge of clipped laurels, and at the end was going to pose me for a tableau. Now, an alcove, with an antique, carved stone Maurice, I am ready; come and wheel me bench, over which the most luxuriant white along. Children, you ought to make much and red roses hung their blossoms. of Maurice while you have him, for I don't The sun was near his setting when Maurice know what we shall all do when he is and Marguerite seated themselves on the gone.

old stone bench; the garden was flooded “ But I mean to come back again,” said with rosy light, the shadows of the peachMaurice.

trees trained against the wall lay on the "Like a prince in a fairy tale,” said Claire. gravel walk, and two or three soft wavy “ But sometimes the princes do not come crimson cloudlets floated so high above the

know. They make new friends, western horizon, that they could see them and forget the old ones; and I dare say that's from where they sat. what you will do. I said so to Marguerite “I wonder if the sky of Italy can have a

richer or softer light than that we are look" And what did she say?"

ing at now," said Maurice. “I am sure her

back, you

last night.”

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after a pause.

roses cannot be sweeter than these.” And spite of Claire's nonsense,” she added, smilshaking the graceful canopy above their ing a little wistfully, “ that you will not forget heads, the white and crimson rose leaves us while you are away, and that when you came showering down about them.

come back, a great painter, you will not dis"Perhaps some time I shall see an Italian dain your old friends." sunset on your canvass,” said Marguerite ; “How quietly you say it, Marguerite ; “Sunset on the Val d'Arno, or in the Cam- how calm and indifferent you are. But I pagna, or on the Bay of Naples will be some- am not so indifferent; I am not so calm. It thing very different from sunset in this little is agony, it is death to me to think of leavgarden."

ing you--because I love you.” He bent The words, “It will be a sunset without the eagerly towards her, but she was silent, and sun if you are not there,” rose to Maurice's her head drooped lower than before. lips, but the gentle quietude of Marguerite's “Marguerite, Marguerite," hc repeated, manner checked him, and gathering up the passionately, “don't you know that I love you? rose leaves he crushed them between his Speak to me, look at me, my Marguerite !" fingers.

She was still silent and trembling from “ Perhaps I shall not go to Italy,” he said, surprise and agitation, but she raised her

“At least not just yet—I face to meet his eager glance. It was hope not.”

enough, and drawing her towards him, “Not go to Italy!” exclaimed Marguerite. Maurice said, softly, “ Marguerite loves me, “You hope not? Why, Maurice, I thought too, a little ; does she not ?" it was the most cherished hope you had in And though Marguerite could only murmur the world."

one or two words, Maurice knew that her “ Once it was. It used to be my thought heart was all his own. by day and my dream by night. But I At that moment Claire came running think of something else now ;—now I have towards them. “Marguerite, Marguerite," other dreams, other hopes."

she called out, “I want you to get me a “What hope, what dream can be as dear clasp for my necklace.” to a painter as Italy? Maurice, tell me “Go away, Claire,” said Maurice ; " Marwhat you mean.”

guerite cannot go with you now.” She looked anxiously up at him as she “I

suppose

she

may come if she chooses spoke. He was looking as anxiously down without asking your permission, Monsieur at her, and, bright as his eyes always were, Maurice,” cried Claire. “Come along, Mar

“ she had never seen them flash as bright a guerite. Why can't you come? What are light as shone in them now.

you doing?" “ Marguerite, has it never occurred to you Talking about Italy," said Maurice. that if I go to Italy I must leave you? Is “You are always talking about Italy, or it nothing to you that we shall be parted for something just as stupid,” said Claire. "I years, perhaps never see each other again?” wonder you are not tired of each other ; but

She did not immediately answer, but bent I daresay you often are, if the truth were her head among the roses, so that he could known.” And with a vague consciousness not see her face.

that she had suddenly intruded on an atmos“ Is it nothing to you, Marguerite ?” he re- phere filled with some emotion, intense, but to peated.

her incomprehensible---half-frightened, too, Oh, yes, Maurice,” she said, with an like one who had stepped unwittingly within effort, “I shall be very sorry, we shall all be some charmed circle, she ran back to her very sorry to lose you, but I will hope, in father.

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