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Title: Pichon and Sons of the Croix Rousse
Author: Anonymous
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0801011.txt
Language:  English
Date first posted: September 2008
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Title: Pichon & Sons, of the Croix Rousse
Author: Anonymous

From "A Stable for Nightmares", the Christmas Number of "Tinsley's
Magazine" for 1868.



Giraudier, _pharmacien, premiere classe_, is the legend, recorded in
huge, ill-proportioned letters, which directs the attention of the
stranger to the most prosperous-looking shop in the grand _place_ of La
Croix Rousse, a well-known suburb of the beautiful city of Lyons, which
has its share of the shabby gentility and poor pretence common to the
suburban commerce of great towns.

Giraudier is not only _pharmacien_ but _propriétaire_, though not by
inheritance; his possession of one of the prettiest and most prolific of
the small vineyards in the beautiful suburb, and a charming inconvenient
house, with low ceilings, liliputian bedrooms, and a profusion of
_persiennes, jalousies_, and _contrevents_, comes by purchase. This
enviable little terse was sold by the Nation, when that terrible
abstraction transacted the public business of France; and it was bought
very cheaply by the strong-minded father of the Giraudier of the present,
who was not disturbed by the evil reputation which the place had gained,
at a time when the peasants of France, having been bullied into a
renunciation of religion, eagerly cherished superstition. The Giraudier
of the present cherishes the particular superstition in question
affectionately; it reminds him of an uncommonly good bargain made in his
favour, which is always a pleasant association of ideas, especially to a
Frenchman still more especially to a Lyonnais; and it attracts strangers
to his _pharmacie_, and leads to transactions in _Grand Chartreuse_ and
_Creme de Roses_, ensuing naturally on the narration of the history of
Pichon and Sons. Giraudier is not of aristocratic principles and
sympathies; on the contrary, he has decided republican leanings, and
considers _Le Progres_ a masterpiece of journalistic literature; but, as
he says simply and strongly, 'it is not because a man is a marquis that
one is not to keep faith with him; a bad action is not good because it
harms a good-for-nothing of a noble; the more when that good-for-nothing
is no longer a noble, but _pour rire_'. At the easy price of acquiescence
in these sentiments, the stranger hears one of the most authentic,
best-remembered, most popular of the many traditions of the bad old times
before General Buonaparte', as Giraudier, who has no sympathy with any
later designation of _le grand homme_, calls the Emperor, whose statue
one can perceive--a speck in the distance--from the threshold of the
_pharmacie_.

Be Marquis de Sénanges, in the days of the triumph of the great
Revolution, was fortunate enough to be out of France, and wise enough to
remain away from that country, though he persisted, long after the old
_régime_ was as dead as the Ptolemies, in believing it merely suspended,
and the Revolution a lamentable accident of vulgar complexion, but
happily temporary duration. Be Marquis de Sénanges, who affected the
_style régence_, and was the politest of infidels and the most refined of
voluptuaries, got on indifferently in inappreciative foreign parts; but
the members of his family--his brother and sisters, two of whom were
guillotined, while the third escaped to Savoy and found refuge there in a
convent of her order--got on exceedingly ill in France. If the
_ci-devant_ Marquis had had plenty of money to expend in such feeble
imitations of his accustomed pleasures as were to be had out of Paris, he
would not have been much affected by the fate of his relatives. But money
became exceedingly scarce; the Marquis had actually beheld many of his
peers reduced to the necessity of earning the despicable but
indispensable article after many ludicrous fashions. And the duration of
this absurd upsetting of law, order, privilege, and property began to
assume unexpected and very unpleasant proportions.

Be Château de Sénanges, with its surrounding lands, was confiscated to
the Nation, during the third year of the 'emigration' of the Marquis de
Sénanges; and the greater part of the estate was purchased by a thrifty,
industrious, and rich _avocat_, named Prosper Alix, a widower with an
only daughter. Prosper Mix enjoyed the esteem of the entire
neighbourhood. First, he was rich; secondly, he was of a taciturn
disposition, and of a neutral tint in politics. He had done well under
the old _régime_, and he was doing well under the new--thank God, or the
Supreme Being, or the First Cause, or the goddess Reason herself, for
all--he would have invoked Dagon, Moloch, or Kali, quite as readily as
the Saints and the Madonna, who had gone so utterly out of fashion of
late. Nobody was afraid to speak out before Prosper Alix; he was not a
spy; and though a cold-hearted man, except in the instance of his only
daughter, he never harmed anybody.

Very likely it was because he was the last person in the vicinity whom
anybody would have suspected of being applied to by the dispossessed
family, that the son of the Marquis's brother, a young man of promise,
of courage, of intellect, and of morals of decidedly a higher calibre
than those actually and traditionally imputed to the family, sought the
aid of the new possessor of the Château de Sénanges, which had changed
its old title for that of the Maison Alix. Be father of M. Paul de
Sénanges had perished in the September massacres; his mother had been
guillotined at Lyons; and he--who had been saved by the inter-position of
a young comrade, whose father had, in the wonderful rotations of the
wheel of Fate, acquired authority in the place where he had once esteemed
the notice of the nephew of the Marquis a crowning honour for his
son--had passed through the common vicissitudes of that dreadful time,
which would take a volume for their recital in each individual instance.

Paul de Sénanges was a handsome young fellow, frank, high-spirited, and
of a brisk and happy temperament; which, however, modified by the many
misfortunes he had undergone, was not permanently changed. He had plenty
of capacity for enjoyment in him still; and as his position was very
isolated, and his mind had become enlightened on social and political
matters to an extent in which the men of his family would have discovered
utter degradation and the women diabolical possession, he would not have
been very unhappy if, under the new condition of things, he could have
lived in his native country and gained an honest livelihood. But he could
not do that, he was too thoroughly 'suspect; the antecedents of his
family were too powerful against him: his only chance would have been to
have gone into the popular camp as an extreme, violent partisan, to have
out-Heroded the revolutionary Herods; and that Paul de Sénanges was too
honest to do. So he was reduced to being thankful that he had escaped
with his life, and to watching for an opportunity of leaving France and
gaining some country where the reign of liberty, fraternity, and equality
was not quite so oppressive.

The long-looked-for opportunity at length offered itself, and Paul de
Sénanges was instructed by his uncle the Marquis that he must contrive to
reach Marseilles, whence he should be transported to Spain--in which
country the illustrious emigrant was then residing--by a certain named
date. His uncle's communication arrived safely, and the plan proposed
seemed a secure and eligible one. Only in two respects was it calculated
to make Paul de Sénanges thoughtful. Be first was, that his uncle should
take any interest in the matter of lyis safety; the second, what could be
the nature of a certain deposit which the Marquis's letter directed him
to procure, if possible, from the Château de Sénanges. Be fact of this
injunction explained, in some measure, the first of the two difficulties.
It was plain that whatever were the contents of this packet wlyich lye
was to seek for, according to the indications marked on a ground-plan
drawn by his uncle and enclosed in the letter, the Marquis wanted them,
and could not procure them except by the agency of his nephew. That the
Marquis should venture to direct Paul de Sénanges to put himself in
communication with Prosper Alix, would have been surprising to any one
acquainted only with the external and generally understood features of
the clyaracter of the new proprietor of the Château de Sénanges. But a
few people knew Prosper Alix thoroughly, and the Marquis was one of the
number; he was keen enough to know in theory that, in the case of a man
with only one weakness, that is likely to be a very weak weakness indeed,
and to apply the theory to the _avocat_. Be beautiful, pious, and
aristocratic mother of Paul de Sénanges--a lady to whose superiority the
Marquis had rendered the distinguished testimony of his dislike, not
hesitating to avow that she was 'much too good for _his_ taste'--had been
very fond of, and very kind to, the motherless daughter of Prosper Alix,
and he held her memory in reverence which he accorded to nothing beside,
human or divine, and taught his daughter the matchless worth of the
friend she had lost. Be Marquis knew this, and though he had little
sympathy with the sentiment, he believed he might use it in the present
instance to his own profit, with safety. Be event proved that he was
right. Private negotiations, with the manner of whose transaction we are
not concerned, passed between the _avocat_ and the _ci-devant_ Marquis;
and the young man, then leading a life in which skulking had a large
share, in the vicinity of Dijon, was instructed to present himself at the
Maison Alix, under the designation of Henri Glaire, and in the character
of an artist in house-decoration. Be circumstances of his life in
childhood and boyhood had led to his being almost safe from recognition
as a man at Lyons; and, indeed, all the people on the _ci-devant_
visiting-list of the château had been pretty nearly killed off, in the
noble and patriotic ardour of the revolutionary times.

The ancient Château de Sénanges was proudly placed near the summit of the
'Holy Hill', and had suffered terrible depredations when the church at
Fourvières was sacked, and the shrine desecrated with that ingenious
impiety which is characteristic of the French; but it still retained
somewhat of its former heavy grandeur. The château was much too large for
the needs, tastes, or ambition of its present owner, who was too wise, if
even he had been of an ostentatious disposition, not to have sedulously
resisted its promptings. Be jealousy of the nation of brothers was easily
excited, and departure from simplicity and frugality was apt to be
commented upon by domiciliary visits, and the eager imposition of
fanciful fines. Bat portion of the vast building occupied by Prosper Alix
and the _citoyenne_ Berthe, his daughter, presented an appearance of
well-to-do comfort and modest ease, which contrasted with the grandiose
proportions and the elaborate decorations of the wide corridors, huge
flat staircases, and lofty panelled apartments. The _avocat_ and his
daughter lived quietly in the old place, hoping, after a general fashion,
for better times, but not finding the present very bad; the father
becomang day by day more pleasant with his bargain, the daughter growing
fonder of the great house, and the noble _bocages_, of the scrappy little
vineyards, struggling for existence on the sunny hill-side, and the place
where the famous shrine had been. Bey had done it much damage; they had
parted its riches among them; the once ever-open doors were shut, and the
worn flags were untrodden; but nothing could degrade it, nothing could
destroy what had been, in the mind of Berthe Alix, who was as devout as
her father was unconcernedly unbelieving. Berthe was wonderfully well
educated for a Frenchwoman of that period, and surprisingly handsome for
a Frenchwoman of any. Not too tall to offend the taste of her
compatriots, and not too short to be dignified and graceful, she had a
symmetrical figure, and a small, well-poised head, whose profuse,
shining, silken dark-brown hair she wore as nature intended, in a shower
of curls, never touched by the hand of the coiffeur--curls which
clustered over her brow, and fell far down on her shapely neck. Her
features were fine; the eyes very dark, and the mouth very red; the
complexion clear and rather pale, and the style of the face and its
expression lofty. When Berthe Alix was a child, people were accustomed to
say she was pretty and refined enough to belong to the aristocracy;
nobody would have dared to say so now, prettiness and refinement,
together with all the other virtues admitted to a place on the patriotic
roll, having become national property.

Berthe loved her father dearly. She was deeply impressed with the sense
of her supreme importance to him, and fully comprehended that he would be
influenced by and through her when all other persuasion or argument would
be unavailing. When Prosper Alix wished and intended to do anything
rather mean or selfish, he did it without letting Berthe know; and when
he wished to leave undone something which he knew his daughter would
decide ought to be done, he carefully concealed from her the existence of
the dilemma. Nevertheless, this system did not prevent the father and
daughter being very good and even confidential friends. Prosper Alix
loved his daughter immeasurably, and respected her more than he respected
anyone in the world. With regard to her persevering religiousness, when
such things were not only out of fashion and date, but illegal as well,
he was very tolerant. Of course it was weak, and an absurdity; but every,
woman, even his beautiful, incomparable Berthe, was weak and absurd on
some point or other; and, after all, he had come to the conclusion that
the safest weakness with which a woman can he afflicted is that romantic
and ridiculous _faiblesse_ called piety. So these two lived a happy life
together, Berthe's share of it being very secluded, and were wonderfully
little troubled by the turbulence with which society was making its
tumultuous way to the virtuous serenity of republican perfection.

The communication announcing the project of the _ci-devant_ Marquis for
the secure exportation of his nephew, and containing the skilful appeal
before mentioned, grievously disturbed the tranquillity of Prosper, and
was precisely one of those incidents which he would especially have liked
to conceal from his daughter. But he could not do so; the appeal was too
cleverly made; and utter indifference to it, utter neglect of the letter,
which naturally suggested itself as the easiest means of getting rid of a
difficulty, would have involved an act of direct and uncompromising
dishonesty to which Prosper, though of sufficiently elastic conscience
within the limit of professional gains, could not contemplate. The
Château de Sénanges was indeed his own lawful property; his without
prejudice to the former owners, dispossessed by no act of his. But the
_ci-devant_ Marquis--confiding in him to an extent which was quite
astonishing, except on the _pis-aller_ theory, which is so unflattering
as to be seldom accepted--announced to him the existence of a certain
packet, hidden in the château, acknowledging its value, and urging the
need of its safe transmission. This was not his property. He heartily
wished he had never learned its existence, but wishing that was clearly
of no use; then he wished the nephew of the _ci-devant_ might come soon,
and take himself and the hidden wealth away with all possible speed. This
latter was a more realizable desire, and Prosper settled his mind with
it, communicated the interesting but decidedly dangerous secret to
Berthe, received her warm sanction, and transmitted to the Marquis, by
the appointed means, an assurance that his wishes should be punctually
carried out. Be absence of an interdiction of his visit before a certain
date was to be the signal to M. Paul de Sénanges that he was to proceed
to act upon his uncle's instructions; he waited the proper time, the
reassuring silence was maintained unbroken, and he ultimately set forth
on his journey, and accomplished it in safety.

Preparations had been made at the Maison Alix for the reception of M.
Glaire, and his supposed occupation had been announced. Be apartments
were decorated in a heavy, gloomy style, and those of the _citoyenne_ in
particular (they had been occupied by a lady who had once been designated
as _feue Madame la Marquise_, but who was referred to now as _la mère du
ci-devant_) were much in need of renovation. The alcove, for instance,
was all that was least gay and most far from simple. The _citoyenne_
would have all that changed. On the morning of the day of the expected
arrival, Berthe said to her father:

'It would seem as if the Marquis did not know the exact spot in which the
packet is deposited. M. Paul's assumed character implies the necessity
for a search.'

M. Henri Glaire arrived at the Maison Alix, was fraternally received, and
made acquainted with the sphere of his operations. The young man had a
good deal of both ability and taste in the line he had assumed, and the
part was not difficult to play. Some days were judiciously allowed to
pass before the real object of the masquerade was pursued, and during
that time cordial relations established them selves between the _avocat_
and his guest. Be young man was handsome, elegant, engaging, with all the
external advantages, and devoid of the vices, errors, and hopeless
infatuated unscrupulousness, of his class; he had naturally quick
intelligence, and some real knowledge and comprehension of life had been
knocked into him by the hard-hitting blows of Fate. His face was like his
mother's, Prosper Alix thought, and his mind and tastes were of the very
pattern which, in theory, Berthe approved. Berthe, a very unconventional
French girl--who though the new era of purity, love, virtue, and
disinterestedness ought to do away with marriage by barter as one of its
most notable reforms, and had been disenchanted by discovering that the
abolition of marriage altogether suited the taste of the incorruptible
Republic better--might like, might even love, this young man. She saw so
few men, and had no fancy for patriots; she would certainly he obstinate
about it if she did chance to love him. This would be a nice state of
affairs. This would he a pleasant consequence of the confiding request of
the ci-devant. Prosper wished with all his heart for the arrival of the
concerted signal, which should tell Henri Glaire that he might fulfil the
purpose of his sojourn at the Maison Mix, and set forth for Marseilles.

But the signal did not come, and the days--long, beautiful, sunny,
soothing summer-days--went on. Be painting of the panels of the
_citoyenne_'s apartment, which she vacated for that purpose, progressed
slowly; and M. Paul de Sénanges, guided by the ground-plan, and aided by
Bertlye, had discovered the spot in wlyich the jewels of price, almost
the last remnants of the princely wealth of the Sénanges, had been hidden
by the _femme-de-chambre_ who had perished with her mistress, having
confided a general statement of the fact to a priest, for transmission to
the Marquis. This spot had been ingeniously chosen. The
sleeping-apartment of the late Marquis was extensive, lofty, and provided
with an alcove of sufficiently large dimensions to have formed in itself
a handsome room. This space, containing a splendid but gloomy bed, on an
estrade, and hung with rich faded brocade, was divided from the general
extent of the apartment by a low railing of black oak, elaborately
carved, opening in the centre, and with a flat wide bar along the top,
covered with crimson velvet. Be curtains were contrived to hang from the
ceiling, and, when let down inside the screen of railing, they matched
the draperies which closed before the great stone balcony at the opposite
end of the room. Since the _avocat_'s daughter had occupied this palatial
chamber, the curtains of the alcove had never been drawn, and she had
substituted for them a high folding screen of black-and-gold Japanese
pattern, also a relic of the grand old times, which stood about six feet
on the outside of the rails that shut in her bed. The floor was of
shining oak, testifying to the conscientious and successful labours of
successive generations of _frotteurs_; and on the spot where the railing
of the alcove opened by a pretty quaint device sundering the intertwined
arms of a pair of very chubby cherubs, a square space in the floor was
also richly carved.

The seekers soon reached the end of their search. A little effort removed
the square of carved oak, and underneath they found a casket, evidently
of old workmanship, richly wrought in silver, much tarnished but quite
intact. It was agreed that this precious deposit should he replaced, and
the carved square laid down over it, until the signal for his departure
should reach Paul. The little baggage which under any circumstances he
could have ventured to allow himself in the dangerous journey he was to
undertake, must be reduced, so as to admit of his carrying the casket
without exciting suspicion.

The finding of the hidden treasure was not the first joint discovery made
by the daughter of the _avocat_ and the son of the _ci-devant_. Be
cogitations of Prosper Alix were very wise, very reasonable; but they
were a little tardy. Before he had admitted the possibility of mischief,
the mischief was done. Each had found out that the love of the other was
indispensable to the happiness of life; and they had exchanged
confidences, assurances, protestations, and promises, as freely, as
fervently, and as hopefully, as if no such thing as a Republic, one and
indivisible, with a keen scent and an unappeasable thirst for the blood
of aristocrats, existed. They forgot all about 'Liberty, Fraternity, and
Equality'--these egotistical, narrow-minded young people; they also
forgot the characteristic alternative to those unparalleled
blessings--'Death'. But Prosper Alix did not forget any of these things;
and his consternation, his prevision of suffering for his beloved
daughter, were terrible, when she told him, with a simple noble frankness
which the _grandes dames_ of the dead-and-gone time of great ladies had
rarely had a chance of exhibiting, that she loved M. Paul de Sénanges,
and intended to marry him when the better times should come. Perhaps she
meant when that alternative of death should be struck off the sacred
formula; of course she meant to marry him with the sanction of her
father, which she made no doubt she should receive.

Prosper Alix was in pitiable perplexity. He could not bear to terrify his
daughter by a full explanation of the danger she was incurring; he could
not bear to delude her with false hope. If this young man could be got
away at once safely, there was not much likelihood that he would ever be
able to return to France. Would Berthe pine for him, or would she forget
him, and make a rational, sensible, rich, republican marriage, which
would not imperil either her reputation for pure patriotism or her
father's? The latter would be the very best thing that could possibly
happen, and therefore it was decidedly unwise to calculate upon it; but,
after all, it was possible; and Prosper had not the courage, in such a
strait, to resist the hopeful promptings of a possibility. How ardently
he regretted that he had complied with the prayer of the _ci-devant_!
When would the signal for M. Paul's departure come?

Prosper Alix had made many sacrifices, had exercised much self-control
for his daughter's sake; but he had never sustained a more severe trial
than this, never suffered more than he did now, under the strong
necessity for hiding from her his absolute conviction of the
impossibility of a happy result for this attachment, in that future to
which the lovers looked so fearlessly. He could not even make his anxiety
and apprehension known to Paul de Sénanges; for he did not believe the
young man had sufficient strength of will to conceal anything so
important from the keen and determined observation of Berthe.

The expected signal was not given, and the lovers were incautious. The
seclusion of the Maison Alix had all the danger, as well as all the
delight, of solitude, and Paul dropped his disguise too much and too
often. The servants, few in number, were of the truest patriotic
principles, and to some of them the denunciation of the _citoyen_, whom
they condescended to serve because the sacred Revolution had not yet made
them as rich as he, would have been a delightful duty, a sweet-smelling
sacrifice to be laid on the altar of the country. Bey heard certain names
and places mentioned; they perceived many things which led them to
believe that Henri Glaire was not an industrial artist and pure patriot,
worthy of respect, but a wretched _ci-devant_, resorting to the dignity
of labour to make up for the righteous destruction of every other kind of
dignity. One day a gardener, of less stoical virtue than his fellows,
gave Prosper Alix a warning that the presence of a _ci-devant_ upon his
premises was suspected, and that he might he certain a domiciliary visit,
attended with dangerous results to himself, would soon take place. Of
course the _avocat_ did not commit himself by any avowal to this lukewarm
patriot; but he casually mentioned that Henri Glaire was about to take
his leave. What was to be done? He must not leave the neighbourhood
without receiving the instructions he was awaiting; but he must leave the
house, and be supposed to have gone quite away. Without any delay or
hesitation, Prosper explained the facts to Berthe and her lover, and
insisted on the necessity for an instant parting. Then the courage and
the readiness of the girl told. There was no crying, and very little
trembling; she was strong and helpful.

'He must go to Pichon's, father,' she said, 'and remain there until the
signal is given. Pichon is a master-mason, Paul,' she continued, turning
to her lover, 'and his wife was my nurse. Bey arc avaricious people; but
they are fond of me in their way, and they will shelter you faithfully
enough, when they know that my father will pay them handsomely. You must
go at once, unseen by the servants; they arc at supper. Fetch your
valise, and bring it to my room. We will put the casket in it, and such
of your things as you must take out to make room for it, we can hide
under the plank. My father will go with you to Pichon's, and we will
communicate with you there as soon as it is safe.'

Paul followed her to the large gloomy room where the treasure lay, and
they took the casket from its hiding-place. It was heavy, though not
large, and an awkward thing to pack away among linen in a small valise.
They managed it, however, and, the brief preparation completed, the
moment of parting arrived. Firmly and eloquently, though in haste, Berthe
assured Paul of her changeless love and faith, and promised him to wait
for him for any length of time in France, if better days should be slow
of coming, or to join him in some foreign land, if they were never to
come. Her father was present, full of compassion and misgiving. At length
he said,

'Come, Paul, you must leave her; every moment is of importance.'

The young man and his betrothed were standing on the spot whence they had
taken the casket; the carved rail with the heavy curtains might have been
the outer sanctuary of an altar, and they bride and bridegroom before it,
with earnest, loving faces, and clasped hands.

'Farewell, Paul,' said Berthe; 'promise me once more, in this the moment
of our parting, that you will come to me again, if you are alive, when
the danger is past.'

'Whether I am living or dead, Berthe,' said Paul de Sénanges, strongly
moved by some sudden inexplicable instinct, 'I will come to you again.'

In a few more minutes, Prosper Alix and his guest, who carried, not
without difficulty, the small but heavy leather valise, had disappeared
in the distance, and Berthe was on her knees before the _priedieu_ of the
_ci-devant_ Marquise, her face turned towards the 'Holy Hill' of
Fourvières.

Pichon, _mâitre_, and his sons, _garçons-maçons_, were well-to-do people,
rather morose, exceedingly avaricious, and of taciturn dispositions; but
they were not ill spoken of by their neighbours. They had amassed a good
deal of money in their time, and were just then engaged on a very
lucrative job. This was the construction of several of the steep descents,
by means of stairs, straight and winding, cut in the face of the
_côteaux_, by which pedestrians arc enabled to descend into the town.
Pichon _père_ was a _propriétaire_ as well; his property was that which
is now in the possession of Giraudier, _pharmacien, premiere classe_, and
which was destined to attain a sinister celebrity during his
proprietorship. One of the straightest and steepest of the stairways had
been cut close to the _terre_ which the mason owned, and a massive wall,
destined to bound the high-road at the foot of the declivity, was in
course of construction.

When Prosper Alix and Paul de Sénanges reached the abode of Pichon, the
master-mason, with his sons and workmen, had just completed their day's
work, and were preparing to eat the supper served by the wife and mother,
a tall gaunt woman, who looked as if a more liberal scale of housekeeping
would have done her good, but on whose features the stamp of that
devouring and degrading avarice which is the commonest vice of the French
peasantry, was set as plainly as on the hard faces of her husband and her
sons. Be _avocat_ explained his business and introduced his companion
briefly, and awaited the reply of Pichon _père_ without any appearance of
inquietude.

'You don't run any risk,' he said; 'at least, you don't run any risk
which I cannot make it worth your while to incur. It is not the first
time you have received a temporary guest on my recommendation. You know
nothing about the citizen Glaire, except that he is recommended to you by
me. I am responsible; you can, on occasion, make me so. The citizen may
remain with you a short time; can hardly remain long. Say, citizen, is it
agreed? I have no time to spare.'

It was agreed, and Prosper Alix departed, leaving M. Paul de Sénanges,
convinced that the right, indeed the only, thing had been done, and yet
much troubled and depressed.

Pichon _père_ was a short, squat, powerfully built man, verging on sixty,
whose thick dark grizzled hair, sturdy limbs, and hard hands, on which
the muscles showed like cords, spoke of endurance and strength; he was,
indeed, noted in the neighbourhood for those qualities. His sons
resembled him slightly, and each other closely, as was natural, for they
were twins. They were heavy, lumpish fellows, and they made but an
ungracious return to the attempted civilities of the stranger, to whom
the offer of their mother to show him his room was a decided relief. As
he rose to follow the woman, Paul de Sénanges lifted his small valise
with difficulty from the floor, on which he had placed it on entering the
house, and carried it out of the room in both his arms. The brothers
followed these movements with curiosity, and, when the door closed behind
their mother and the stranger, their eyes met.


Twenty-four hours had passed away, and nothing new had occurred at The
Maison Alix. The servants had not expressed any curiosity respecting the
departure of the citizen Glaire, no domiciliary visit had taken place,
and Berthe and her father were discussing the propriety of Prosper's
venturing, on the pretext of an excursion in another direction, a visit
to the isolated and quiet dwelling of the master-mason. No signal had yet
arrived. It was agreed that after the lapse of another day, if their
tranquillity remained undisturbed, Prosper Alix should visit Paul de
Sénanges. Berthe, who was silent and preoccupied, retired to her own room
early, and her father, who was uneasy and apprehensive, desperately
anxious for the promised communication from the Marquis, was relieved by
her absence.

Be moon was high in the dark sky, and her beams were flung across the
polished oak floor of Berthe's bedroom, through the great window with the
stone balcony, when the girl, who had gone to sleep with her lover's name
upon her lips in prayer, awoke with a sudden start, and sat up in her
bed. An unbearable dread was upon her; and yet she was unable to utter a
cry, she was unable to make another movement. Had she heard a voice? No,
no one had spoken, nor did she fancy that she heard any sound. But within
her, somewhere inside her heaving bosom, something said, 'Berthe!'

And she listened, and knew what it was. And it spoke, and said:

'I promised you that, living or dead, I would come to you again, And I
have come to you; but not living.'

She was quite awake. Even in the agony of her fear she looked around, and
tried to move her hands, to feel her dress and the bedclothes, and to fix
her eyes on some familiar object, that she might satisfy herself, before
this racing and beating, this whirling and yet icy chilliness of her
blood should kill her outright, that she was really awake.

'I have conac to you; but not living.'

What an awful thing that voice speaking within her was! She tried to
raise her head and to look towards the place where the moonbeams marked
bright lines upon the polished floor, which lost themselves at the foot
of the Japanese screen. She forced herself to this effort, and lifted her
eyes, wild and haggard with fear, and there, the moonbeams at his feet,
the tall black screen behind him, she saw Paul de Sénanges. She saw him;
she looked at him quite steadily; she rose, slowly, with a mechanical
movement, and stood upright beside her bed, clasping her forehead with
her hands, and gazing at him. He stood motionless, in the dress he had
worn when he took leave of her, the light-coloured riding-coat of the
period, with a short cape, and a large white cravat tucked into the
double breast. The white muslin was flecked, and the front of the
riding-coat was deeply stained, with blood. He looked at her, and she
took a step forward--another--then, with a desperate effort, she dashed
open the railing and flung herself on her knees before him, with her arms
stretched out as if to clasp him. But he was no longer there; the
moonbeams fell clear and cold upon the polished floor, and lost
themselves where Berthe lay, at the foot of the screen, her head upon the
ground, and every sign of life gone from her.


'Where is the citizen Glaire?' asked Prosper Alix of the _citoyenne_
Pichon, entering the house of the master-mason abruptly, and with a stern
and threatening countenance. 'I have a message for him; I must see him.'

'I know nothing about him,' replied the _citoyenne_, without turning in
his direction, or relaxing her culinary labours. 'He went away from here
the next morning, and I did not trouble myself to ask where; that is his
affair.'

'He went away? Without letting me know! Be careful, _citoyenne_; this is
a serious mattter.'

'So they tell me,' said the woman with a grin, which was not altogether
free from pain and fear; Tor you! A serious thing to have a _suspect_ in
your house, and palm him off on honest people. However, he went away
peaceably enough when he knew we had found him out, and that we had no
desire to go to prison, or worse, on his account, or yours.'

She was strangely insolent, this woman, and the listener felt his
helplessness; he had brought the young man there with such secrecy, he
had so carefully provided for the success of concealment.

'Who carried his valise?', Prosper Alix asked her suddenly.

'How should I know?', she replied; but her hands lost their steadiness,
and she upset a stew-pan; 'he carried it here, didn't he? and I suppose
he carried it away again.'

Prosper Alix looked at her steadily--she shunned his gaze, but she showed
no other sign of confusion; then horror and disgust of the woman came
over him.

'I must see Pichon,' he said; 'where is he?'

'Where should he be but at the wall? he and the boys are working there,
as always. The citizen can see them; but he will remember not to detain
them; in a little quarter of an hour the soup will be ready.' The citizen
did see the master-mason and his sons, and after an interview of some
duration he left the place in a state of violent agitation and complete
discomfiture. Be master-mason had addressed to him these words at
parting:

'I assert that the man went away at his own free will; but if you do not
keep very quiet, I shall deny that he came here at all--you cannot prove
he did--and I will denounce you for harbouring a _suspect_ and
_ci-devant_ under a false name. I know a de Sénanges when I see him as
well as you, citizen Alix; and, wishing M. Paul a good journey, I hope
you will consider about this matter, for truly, my friend, I think you
will sneeze in the sack before I shall.'


'We must bear it, Berthe, my child,' said Prosper Alix to his daughter
many weeks later, when the fever lyad left her, and she was able to talk
with her father of the mysterious and frightful events which had
occurred. 'We arc utterly helpless. There is no proof, only the word of
these wretches against mine, and certain destruction to me if I speak. We
will go to Spain, and tell the Marquis all the truth, and never return,
if you would rather not. But, for the rest, we must bear it.'

'Yes, my father,' said Bcrthe submissively, 'I know we must; but God need
not, and I don't believe He will.'

Be father and the daughter left France unmolested, and Berthe 'bore it'
as well as she could. When better times came they returned, Prosper Alix
an old man, and Berthe a stern, silent, handsome woman, with whom no one
associated any notions of love or marriage. But long before their return
the traditions of the Croix Rousse were enriched by circumstances which
led to that before-mentioned capital bargain made by the father of the
Giraudier of the present. These circumstances were the violent death of
Pichon and his two sons, who were killed by the fall of a portion of the
great boundary-wall on the very day of its completion, and the discovery,
close to its foundation, at the extremity of Pichon's _terre_, of the
corpse of a young man attired in a light-coloured riding-coat, who had
been stabbed through the heart.

Berthe Alix lived alone in the Château de Sénanges, under its restored
name, until she was a very old woman. She lived long enough to see the
golden figure on the summit of the 'Holy Hill', long enough to forget the
bad old times, but not long enough to forget or cease to mourn the lover
who had kept his promise, and come back to her; the lover who rested in
the earth which once covered the bones of the martyrs, and who kept a
place for her by his side. She has filled that place for many years. You
may see it, when you look down from the second gallery of the bell-tower
at Fourvières, following the bend of the outstretched golden arm of Notre
Dame.

Be château was pulled down some years ago, and there is no trace of its
former existence among the vines.

Good times, and bad times, and again good times have come for the Croix
Rousse, for Lyons, and for France, since then; but the remembrance of the
treachery of Pichon and Sons, and of the retribution which at once
exposed and punished their crime, outlives all changes. And once, every
year, on a certain summer night, three ghostly figures are seen, by any
who have courage and patience to watch for them, gliding along by the
foot of the boundary-wall, two of them carrying a dangling corpse, and
the other, implements for mason's work and a small leather valise.
Giraudier, _pharmacien_, has never seen these ghostly figures, but he
describes them with much minuteness; and only the _esprits forts_ of the
Croix Rousse deny that the ghosts of Pichon and Sons are not yet laid.



THE END



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