"Except to the Italiens," remarked a low voice. (This was an elderly parasite, one of those persons who show their independence--as they think--by riddling their friends with epigrams.) "Except to the Italiens. And if the dowager cares for anything on this earth but her daughter--it is music. Such a good performer she was in her time! But the Countess' box is always full of young butterflies, and the Countess' mother would be in the way; the young lady is talked about already as a great flirt. So the poor mother never goes to the Italiens."
"Mme. de Saint-Hereen has delightful 'At Homes' for her mother," said a rosebud. "All Paris goes to her salon.
"And no one pays any attention to the Marquise," returned the parasite.
"The fact is that Mme. d'Aiglemont is never alone," remarked a coxcomb, siding with the young women.
"In the morning," the old observer continued in a discreet voice, "in the morning dear Moina is asleep. At four o'clock dear Moina drives in the Bois. In the evening dear Moina goes to a ball or to the Bouffes. --Still, it is certainly true that Mme. d'Aiglemont has the privilege of seeing her dear daughter while she dresses, and again at dinner, if dear Moina happens to dine with her mother. Not a week ago, sir," continued the elderly person, laying his hand on the arm of the shy tutor, a new arrival in the house, "not a week ago, I saw the poor mother, solitary and sad, by her own fireside.--'What is the matter?' I asked. The Marquise looked up smiling, but I am quite sure that she had been crying.--'I was thinking that it is a strange thing that I should be left alone when I have had five children,' she said, 'but that is our destiny! And besides, I am happy when I know that Moina is enjoying herself.'--She could say that to me, for I knew her husband when he was alive. A poor stick he was, and uncommonly lucky to have such a wife; it was certainly owing to her that he was made a peer of France, and had a place at Court under Charles X."
Yet such mistaken ideas get about in social gossip, and such mischief is done by it, that the historian of manners is bound to exercise his discretion, and weigh the assertions so recklessly made. After all, who is to say that either mother or daughter was right or wrong? There is but One who can read and judge their hearts! And how often does He wreak His vengeance in the family circle, using throughout all time children as His instruments against their mothers, and fathers against their sons, raising up peoples against kings, and princes against peoples, sowing strife and division everywhere? And in the world of ideas, are not opinions and feelings expelled by new feelings and opinions, much as withered leaves are thrust forth by the young leaf- buds in the spring?--all in obedience to the immutable Scheme; all to some end which God alone knows. Yet, surely, all things proceed to Him, or rather, to Him all things return.
Such thoughts of religion, the natural thoughts of age, floated up now and again on the current of Mme. d'Aiglemont's thoughts; they were always dimly present in her mind, but sometimes they shone out clearly, sometimes they were carried under, like flowers tossed on the vexed surface of a stormy sea.
She sat on a garden-seat, tired with walking, exhausted with much thinking--with the long thoughts in which a whole lifetime rises up before the mind, and is spread out like a scroll before the eyes of those who feel that Death is near.
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- 1freedom from doubt and questioning. Baynes had urged her
- 2out over that affair and the division of the treasure,
- 3into the jungle. But for that Virginia would still be in
- 4a native long-house, and the girl could not help but wonder
- 5his boys had deserted, for a hunting party from the bungalow
- 6mouth of the river up which those they sought had passed
- 7natives have been telling of his ferocity, but it was soon
- 8should they be successful in overhauling Bulan and his
- 9the leadership of each to men whom he believed that he
- 10in the man's hands so long as he could hold out promises
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