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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Parisians - Book 9 - Chapter 15
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The Parisians - Book 9 - Chapter 15 Post by :Marta Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :2284

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The Parisians - Book 9 - Chapter 15

BOOK IX CHAPTER XV

It needs no length of words to inform thee, my intelligent reader, be thou man or woman--but more especially woman--of the consequences following each other, as wave follows wave in a tide, that resulted from the interview with which my last chapter closed. Gustave is removed to his parents' house; he remains for weeks confined within doors, or, on sunny days, takes an hour or so in his own carriage, drawn by the horse bought from Rochebriant, into by-roads remote from the fashionable world; Isaura visits his mother, liking, respecting, influenced by her more and more; in those visits she sits beside the sofa on which Rameau reclines. Gradually, gently--more and more by his mother's lips--is impressed on her the belief that it is in her power to save a human life, and to animate its career towards those goals which are never based wholly upon earth in the earnest eyes of genius, or perhaps in the yet more upward vision of pure-souled believing woman.

And Gustave himself, as he passes through the slow stages of convalescence, seems so gratefully to ascribe to her every step in his progress--seems so gently softened in character--seems so refined from the old affectations, so ennobled above the old cynicism--and, above all, so needing her presence, so sunless without it, that--well, need I finish the sentence?--the reader will complete what I leave unsaid.

Enough, that one day Isaura returned home from a visit at Madame Rameau's with the knowledge that her hand was pledged--her future life disposed of; and that, escaping from the Venosta, whom she so fondly, and in her hunger for a mother's love, called Madre, the girl shut herself up in her own room with locked doors.

Ah, poor child! ah, sweet-voiced Isaura! whose delicate image I feel myself too rude and too hard to transfer to this page in the purity of its outlines, and the blended softnesses of its hues--thou who, when saying things serious in the words men use, saidst them with a seriousness so charming, and with looks so feminine--thou, of whom no man I ever knew was quite worthy--ah, poor, simple, miserable girl, as I see thee now in the solitude of that white-curtained virginal room; hast thou, then, merged at last thy peculiar star into the cluster of all these commonplace girls whose lips have said "Ay," when their hearts said "No"?--thou, O brilliant Isaura! thou, O motherless child!

She had sunk into her chair--her own favourite chair, the covering of it had been embroidered by Madame de Grantmesnil, and bestowed on her as a birthday present last year--the year in which she had first learned what it is to love--the year in which she had first learned what it is to strive for fame. And somehow uniting, as many young people do, love and fame in dreams of the future, that silken seat had been to her as the Tripod of Delphi was to the Pythian: she had taken to it, as it were intuitively, in all those hours, whether of joy or sorrow, when youth seeks to prophesy, and does but dream.

There she sat now, in a sort of stupor--a sort of dreary bewilderment--the illusion of the Pythian gone--desire of dream and of prophecy alike extinct--pressing her hands together, and muttering to herself, "What has happened?--what have I done?"

Three hours later you would not have recognised the same face that you see now. For then the bravery, the honour, the loyalty of the girl's nature had asserted their command. Her promise had been given to one man--it could not be recalled. Thought itself of any other man must be banished. On her hearth lay ashes and tinder--the last remains of every treasured note from Graham Vane; of the hoarded newspaper extracts that contained his name; of the dry treatise he had published, and which had made the lovely romance-writer first desire "to know something about politics." Ay, if the treatise had been upon fox-hunting, she would have desired "to know something about" that! Above all, yet distinguishable from the rest--as the sparks still upon stem and leaf here and there faintly glowed and twinkled--the withered flowers which recorded that happy hour in the arbour, and the walks of the forsaken garden--the hour in which she had so blissfully pledged herself to renounce that career in art wherein fame would have been secured, but which would not have united Fame with Love--in dreams evermore over now.

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BOOK IX CHAPTER XIVWhen they were alone, Madame Rameau took Isaura's hand in both her own, and, gazing wistfully into her face, said, "No wonder you are so loved--yours is the beauty that sinks into the hearts and rests there. I prize my boy more, now that I have seen you. But, oh, Mademoiselle! pardon me--do not withdraw your hand--pardon the mother who comes from the sick-bed of her only son and asks if you will assist to save him! A word from you is life or death to him!" "Nay, nay, do not speak thus, Madame; your son knows how
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