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unusual emotion was the agitated and rapid
way in which he drew his breath. Then,
after the lapse of two or three minutes, he
laid the paper down, uttering in an undertone
the single monosyllable "Strange!" and
looking very hard, first at me and then at
M. Regnier. He promptly resumed the
paper, but soon stopped, saying, "The heat of
the room has dimmed my glassesI cannot
see through them." He removed them, and
it was visible that his eyes were suffused with
tears. "Will you be kind enough to read it
to me?" he asked, "and to begin at the
beginning. I wish to hear the whole of the

I took up the journal and said, "If you will
excuse my English accent, I shall have great
pleasure in reading the feuilleton as
distinctly as I can. I repeat, it is nothing but
a mere anecdote founded on fact."

The printed narrative ran as follows:

"In place of our usual Feuilleton to-day,
we propose to give the simple relation of a
happy event which has occurred to a respectable
family in a distant department.

"Towards the close of the last century, a
farmer and small landed proprietor of the
name of Douriez resided at Belleclé. His
family consisted of four sons and a daughter;
Penelope, the girl, being three years younger
than her elder brother. The eldest, Jerome
Douriez, received a better education than the
rest, owing to the accidental favour of the
Curé, who believed that he had discovered a
certain latent talent in his rustic pupil. The
pursuits of all the younger brethren were
entirely limited to the usual routine of a small
French farm. Jerome, however, found time
to impart a considerable amount of information
to his sister, who, besides himself, was
the only member of the family able to
read and write. A jealous feeling was
the consequence on the part of the juniors,
while the elders looked, contemptuously and
even disapprovingly, on what they considered
as little better than idleness and waste of
time. When they saw him drawing circles
and triangles on the dusty ground, which he
had smoothed with the palm of his hand,
they regarded him as an idiot who amused
himself with the chance crossings of sticks
and straws. When they found that he
devoted whole days to rambling from hill to
plain, from forest to stream, mapping out the
country on scraps of paper which he carried
about with him for the purpose, they not
unreasonably complained: telling him that he
would be much better employed in ploughing
in the colza or sowing the wheat.

"Jerome was both idle and indolent. By
the former epithet, I denote his perpetually
playing at soldiers with the village boys,
storming imaginary fortifications, and building
temporary bridges over dry ditches and
fordable brooks; by the second, his long-
continued indulgence in undeveloped schemes
and day-dreams, imagining a future career
utterly inconsistent with his present position.
The estrangement of his family became more
and more decided. He was treated as a
burden and a good-for-nothing sluggard, of
whom it was prophesied no good could come.
It is a long lane which has no turning;
and at last this uncomfortable state of things
was stopped, in his eighteenth year, by a
sudden summons to serve as a soldier. He
left home with but one regret, and that was,
that he must part from his sister, probably
for ever. Early in the year eighteen hundred
and one, Jerome bade adieu to his native

The General rocked in his chair uneasily,
but we took no notice.

"Years passed away, and, as far as his
family was concerned, Jerome might have
been reckoned with the dead. He never
wrote; why write to people who cannot read,
and who parted from you in a way which
makes you believe they would not care to read
a letter from you if they could! Now and
then, some trifling but significant token did
reach Penelope by unexpected hands; for
instance, one day there was delivered to her
the half of an old story-book which she and
her absent brother had often conned together
in childhood. She kept these friendly
intimations to herself, rejoicing in the thought
that her favourite brother at least had
escaped the dangers of war, was surviving, and
had not forgotten her. Years, I say, passed
away; the mother died, and was soon followed
by one of the younger sons. Douriez, the
father, had grown weak-minded, drivelling,
and more miserly than ever. The two sons
remained unmarried, and still resided under
the paternal roof, working hard and faring
frugally, to increase their goods more and
more abundantly. Their farm was a sort of
common storehouse, whose treasures, it was
felt and understood, would pass to the lot of
the last surviving member. It was a mass of
unenjoyed wealth, without the least prospect
of being better employed at any future time,
except perhaps through Penelope's means,
who was now fully recognised as the mistress
of the household.

"In the year eighteen hundred and
thirteen, a letter addressed to the elder Douriez
arrived. Penelope was deputed to open and
read it. It came from Jerome. It was short,
straightforward, and not without affection.
It stated that after so many years of absence
and silence, he wished to see his relations
again. That he had been harassed in mind
and severely wounded in body, and that he
would be glad to enjoy a little repose at
home; indeed, both private and public
circumstances made a short furlough indispensably
necessary. That if they would send
word at once to his temporary address that
he would be welcome, he would visit them
immediately; but that they must not delay
their communication, if they wished it to
reach him.