The steam-packet : a tale of the river and the ocean

By George W. M. Reynolds / Reynolds, George W. M. 1814-1879. / Published: London : W. Emans, 1844

It was probably this species of superstitious feeling—a sentiment for which they often blamed themselves, but of which they could not divest their minds—that induced Henri to propose a new plan for the solution of the mystery which enveloped the fates of Pierre and Albert Michel. At the epoch of which we are now writing—and which, the reader will remember, was that when France stood upon the eve of her first revolution—the name of Mademoiselle Lenormand began to be famous in Paris. This remarkable female—who was at that period only seventeen or eighteen years of age—had just commenced that profession of soothsaying which she has since prosecuted with such unrivalled success. During her youth, several remarkable prophecies which met with an exact fulfilment attracted the attention of the public towards her; and the moment she publicly announced her determination to devote to the general benefit a gift which she deemed to have been conferred upon her by heaven, her residence was crowded with the fashion, the nobility, the wealth, and the learning of Paris. Implicit faith was placed in her predictions; and as she was a woman of remarkable penetration, she was often enabled to deduce correct opinions from the combination of certain antecedent circumstances. Thus, by making herself previously acquainted with the characters and deeds of those who consulted her, she was emboldened to predict the future according to the past; and as men, as well as nations, prepare their own destinies by their own conduct and passions, it was not very difficult for a woman of profound observation, infinite tact, and acute judgment, to foresee the paths into which the natures of individuals were certain to conduct their footsteps. She was, moreover, an excellent politician, well versed in the history of all nations, and skilled in reading the depths of the human mind beneath the outward polish, hypocritical gloss, or conventional bearing which those who visited her were accustomed to assume. Then, again, she had another circumstance in her favour: the minds of those upon whom her predictions made an impression like that of a religious awe, subsequently viewed everything through the mirror of the new light opened to it, and shaped its thoughts according to the destiny to which it believed itself to be tending. These thoughts modelled the actions of man in their turn; and thus the very presages which issued from the lips of the sorceress, became in numerous instances the very springs of action that conducted individuals onwards to the goal to which it was predicted that they should arrive.

The more gloom became the face of political affairs, the more confidently did Mademoiselle Lenormand utter her prophecies concerning the coming revolution—the destruction of the existing organisation of society—the ruin of altars, and the horrors of the guillotine. She knew that the day of popular supremacy would be that of retribution; and that the proud oligarchy which had so long trampled upon the most sacred rights and holy privileges of the people, would be at once the objects of vengeance and fury. She accordingly prophesied of streams of blood—and crowded prisons—and exiled nobles—and slaughtered priests,—ruined thrones, and dismantled churches,—and the levelling of all ancient superstitions along with all ancient abuses. In a short time she was looked upon as a Pythoness, on whose tongue truth alone might dwell; and wealth poured in upon her from all sides. Such was the person whom Henri felt inclined to consult; and Pauline immediately assented to the proposition. It will bei’ecollected that in her childhood, at the little cottage near Calais, she had not approved of the freak of the volatile Josephine Tascher, who allowed her fortune to be told to her by an old gipsy ; but she was now so far altered by the superstitious influence exercised upon her mind by the mysterious presentiment of a family danger which she constantly entertained, that she felt something- akin to her own feelings in the religious awe which accompanied the consultation of Mademoiselle Lenormand. The proposal was therefore no sooner made by her husband than she conjured him to carry it into execution; and that same evening did they proceed to the dwelling of the sorceress. They were admitted into an anteroom by an old woman, whose back was so bent with the weight of years, that they could scarcely obtain a glimpse of her countenance. She did not, however, fail to scrutinise the visitors from beneath her shaggy eye-brows ; and to the features of Pauline her glances were upraised for some moments. The anteroom was only dimly lighted ; and \ipon shelves around were placed skulls, stuffed alligators, lizards, and snakes, and glass jars containing reptiles of all kinds preserved in spirits of wine. All the walls were hung with black; and a coffin stood upon a table in the middle. The faint lustre of a silver Lamp did little more than render this horrible spectacle just visible to the eyes ; and the old hag with her crooked back and her sable garments, seemed the presiding genius of one of the chambers of the Palace of Death. Pauline felt alarmed, and clung to her husband’s arm for support ; but he implored her in a whisper to take courage, and nerve herself to arrive at the issue of the adventure.

Meantime the old hag left the visitors in the antechamber of horrors, and glided into an adjoining apartment, the door of which, also covered with black cloth, moved noiselessly upon its hinges. The very silence of that place seemed to be that of the tomb ; and Pauline and Henri, apparently under the influence of some deep but undefinable awe, spoke to each other in the lowest whispers. At length the old woman returned with a message that Mademoiselle Lenormand was at present engaged with the Viscountess de Beauharnais, but that she would receive the new visitors, in a few minutes. This interval was passed in silence ; and at length a silver bell tinkled behind the black drapery. The old hag now beckoned Henri and Pauline to follow her into the next apartment ; and in another moment they found themselves in the presence of the sorceress.

This second chamber was hung around with sable drapery, like the first. At the further end stood a table, covered with a cloth of the same sombre hue, and upon which globes, old black-letter volumes, a small orrery, an hour-glass, a large sheet of parchment covered with hieroglyphics, a basin full of eggs, and a small coffee-pot boiling over a spirit-lamp, were placed. The room was as dimly lighted as the other ; but there were no symbols of death piled around. Upon a stage behind the table stood Mademoiselle Lenormand, dressed in deep black, wearing a huge sable turban upon her head, and with her long, jetty, luxuriant hair flowing wildly over her shoulders. Her command ing figure was drawn up to its full height ; and her large dark eyes beamed with unnatural lustre. In her right hand she waved a long black wand, and her left held a small volume open, to which she from time to time referred. ‘

Two chairs were placed by the old hag, who served as attendant, near the table, and she then withdrew. Henri and Pauline seated themselves, upon a sign from the sorceress ; and ten minutes then passed without a word being spoken, Mademoiselle Lenormand continuing to wave her hand and refer to her book, upon the raised dais. At length she looked earnestly towards the visitors, and exclaimed — “ Henri Alvimar, what would’st thou with me ? Pauline, speak—fear not ! “ The two visitors were rendered speechless by hearing themselves thus addressed by a person whom they had never seen before ; and they made no reply. “Wherefore are ye silent?” continued the sorceress. “Are ye surprised that I should name ye by your names ? What faith would ye accord to my predictions, were I unable to penetrate into all your family secrets—to tell ye all that has already happened to you—and thus the more appropriately connect the chain of the past with that of the future ? And first let me speak of the pledges of friendship, given to ratify vows never redeemed—a chain to the neck of Mademoiselle Michel, a bracelet to the arm of Mademoiselle Tascher— a ring on the finger of the lost Albert ! “ “ True— God ! it is all true ! “ murmured Pauline. “ But Albert —oh ! what of Albert? and my father—my dear father ? “ “ They are alive ! “ solemnly answered the sorceress. “ Alive ! then heaven be thanked ! “ ejaculated Pauline. “But tell me more—say, shall I see them again ?—will they ever be restored to me?—are they in health, in happiness?—and why, oh! why this long separation—this fearful and mysterious disappearance ? “ “ The hand of Providence will, by his wise means, restore you to each other,” said Mademoiselle Lenormand. “ Hark! hear you not that cry for vengeance ? listen to those distant murmurs which are approaching nearer and more near every instant ! They grow louder, more distinct—they change into intelligible sounds—they grow into loud voices—and now, now those dread shouts proclaim vengeance, and death, and liberty ! Hark again ! hear ye not the din of the artillery, and the sharp crack of the musket ! falls not the roll of yon drum on your ear ? is your soul unmoved by the braying of those war-trumpets ? Hark once more ! the battering-ram is striking the wall : there—now again—there—there, with each stroke the huge stones shake and totter. And now the conflict begins—it is hand to hand, and foot to foot: on, on go the assailants, like a whirlwind ! Tis done :—see yon crowd of trembling and pallid beings—amongst them are faces that are familiar to you—there, there is your father, and there also is your brother ! “ The sorceress had commenced this harangue in a low tone, which imitated the distant murmurs of a multitude : then, as she seemed to witness each progressive incident to which she alluded, her voice grew louder—and her utterance more rapid ; her eyes rolled, and she waved her wand more and more rapidly, pacing the dais at the same time with steps increasing in speed in unison with the exaltation of her voice ; until at length she strode backwards and forwards like a tigress in her den, while her manner grew wild, her eyes dilated with apparent frenzy, her bosom heaved convulsively, and her naked white arms waved over her head, brandishing the book and the wand, and giving her the air of an inspired Druidess, or of Cassandra raving. Henri and Pauline gazed and listened with breathless attention ; and when the sorceress concluded her remarkable address, accompanying each sentence with the befitting gesticulation, and pointing towards the further end of the room, as she exclaimed “ There is your father ! and there also is your brother ! “ Pauline turned round to see if they were not really there. But the eyes of the sorceress appeared to be glaring upon vacancy ; and Pauline, whose nerves were worked up to the highest pitch, experienced a sudden reaction which threw her fainting into her husband’s arms. Mademoiselle Lenormand instantly threw aside her wand and her book, and hurried forward to administer aid to Madame Alvimar. Taking a bottle of some powerful essence from the table, she applied it to Pauline’s nostrils, and immediate signs of life were the result. In a few moments Pauline was perfectly restored ; and the sorceress then seated herself at the table covered with the implements of her art. Mademoiselle Lenormand took an egg and broke it into a wineglass : she then cut the yolk with a penknife, and watched the yellow commingling with the white for some minutes. She next filled a large cup with coffee from the silver urn over the spirit-lamp ; and then again she poured the reeking liquid into a flat silver dish. There she watched the motion of the bubbles, the course which the current took in turning round and round, and the shape of the white foam upon the surface. “ Pauline,” she exclaimed, when these preparations were complete, “ in what month were you born ? “ The question was answered ; and the sorceress then inquired — “ What is your age ? What colour do you prefer in regard to dress ? What is your favourite animal ? To which animal have you the greatest antipathy ? Which flower do you love best ? “ To all these inquiries Pauline replied in a trembling tone ; and when she had answered them, she said, “ But if you are about to tell me my future fate, I would rather not listen to the narrative. If it be happy, I shall be restless until the period of felicity arrive ; if miserable, I should be anxious to quit this world in time to avoid the inauspicious epoch.” Mademoiselle Lenormand seemed annoyed by this observation, for she pushed the glass containing the egg away from her with impatience. “ But,” continued Pauline, after a moment’s pause, and willing to efface any cause of displeasure, “ should your art extend to the power of giving me some information more precise “ “Concerning your father and brother?” hastily ejaculated the sorceress : “ no—no ! I have said enough ! that inspiration has left me. Have you no other friend—none in whom you feel the slightest interest—concerning whose fortunes you may be anxious to make inquiry ? “ “ Ah ! .” said Pauline, a sudden reminiscence flashing through her mind, “ you spoke ere now of one who vowed eternal friendship to me, in our days of girlhood. I feel an interest in Mademoiselle Tascher — a curiosity “ “That interest and that curiosity shall be satisfied,” said Mademoiselle Lenormand. “ You shall see the lady of whom you speak, and be thus convinced that she is happy, and in health.” Mademoiselle Lenormand directed Pauline and her husband to withdraw to the further end of the apartment, so as to be as distant as possible from the extremity where the table and dais stood. They obeyed her commands, their breasts being the prey of the most lively * suspense, and fraught with the most profound awe. Vainly did Henri struggle against the superstitious feeling which was gradually gaining a more complete ascendancy over him. Meantime the sorceress ascended thecfom, waving her wand mysteriously, and muttering words whose import the anxious spectators could not understand. Suddenly a portion of the black drapery overhanging the stage gave way, and revealed what appeared to be a small chamber, about twelve feet square, and yet more nearly resembled a picture seen in a mirror. Upon the sofa in that mysterious boudoir was seated a lady—elegantly attired, with a coronet upon her brow : she raised her head the moment the drapery fell, and Pauline immediately recognised the countenance of her from whom she had received the chain in pledge of friendship. And upon that lady’s wrist was the bracelet which had been given in exchange. The vision—if such it were—lasted only for a moment r the drapery was as suddenly expanded again over that bright and luminous picture—or reality (whichever it might have been);— and Pauline, uttering a scream of terror, threw herself into her husband’s arms. “ Depart—depart ! “ ejaculated Mademoiselle Lenormand : “ my art can do no more !” Henri threw his purse upon the seat which he had just abandoned, for he knew that the sorceress accepted payment for her services ; and with his own mind a prey to* the most conflicting opinions, he bore his wife from that abode of mystery and wonder. When Alvimar and his wife sate down next day, coolly and quietly to discuss the events of the preceding evening, their marvel and bewilderment increased only with conjecture. Henri possessed a strong mind ; and he was unwilling to admit the powers of the sorceress to their full extent ; but still there was no room for placing faith in a pfart, and rejecting the remainder. She certainly was acquainted with them, and their history ; and had declared that the venerable Pierre and Albert were still alive. This statement he was inclined to believe, because she was evidently well informed with regard to the past events of the Michel family :—but how reconcile with all preconceived opinions the affair of the apparition ? To convey information in respect to the life or death of persons was within the attributes of mortal power : but to summon to a certain spot the effigy—all animated, warm, and smiling—of a being dwelling elsewhere, at the option of any particular individual, was a proceeding calculated to disturb even those minds which were prepared by previous education or experience, to place reliance upon any wonders, however superstitious—however unnatural. As is usual in such cases, all the discussion and conjecture in the world led to no satisfactory result : at one moment both Henri and Pauline were inclined to believe in the association of the sorceress with invisible powers, while at another they looked upon the whole proceeding as a well-combined fraud and imposture. Time, however, wore away, and the dangerous aspect of political affairs would have driven Alvimar and his wife away from Paris, back to their abode in the Basse- Ville of Calais, had not a secret and indestructible hope that Mademoiselle Lenormand’s prophecies would be in some way oranother fulfilled, retained them in a city which was about to be the scene of the most extraordinary popular ebullition the world has ever yet beheld. The measure of regal iniquity had arrived at its full : the people could no longer tolerate the state of bondage in which they lived ; and the Revolution commenced with the storming of the Bastille. It was upon that eventful day when this terrible fortress was attacked •by the Parisians, that Henri Alvimar was returning from the Faubourg Saint Antoine, whither he had been upon business of some import*- ance. On that day the adamantine bars of the most formidable prison in the world were rent by the popular will, as Samson snapped asunder the cords of the Phoenicians ;—the secrets of that dread castle were displayed ;—the dark dungeon of slavery was illuminated by the torch of popular vengeance ; and then emanated from that dismal abode young Liberty clad in all her gayest colours. Thewords of the prophetess were fulfilled to the letter : the drum beat—the trumpet brayed—and the cannon roared ;—the royal troops fought like demons against the incensed people ; but the citizens prevailed then, as they have prevailed since in Prance, and as they will prevail ever, because they possess the true courage inspired by the noblest feelings—feelings of honour, of patriotism, and of glory, which are unknown to the patient and enduring Englishman. Yes—the words of Mademoiselle Lenormand were fulfilled. Alvimar, entangled amidst the crowds pressing onward to aid in the attack upon the Bastille, and aware that all endeavours to extricate himself would be useless, became resigned to the necessity which forced him to witness, if not to take a part in the glorious achievement ; and he was hurried on towards the principal gate, just at the moment when the popular banner waved upon the wall—a symbol of Freedom’s victory. The gate was forced, and in a short time the captives obtained their release. Some of them rushed into the streets with the looks of madmen, anxious once more to gaze upon the houses, the people, and the vehicles —and yet doubting whether they were not in a state of somnambulism and dream, in their own dreary cells ;—others came forward timidly to the gate, and then drew back, alarmed at the appearance of a great crowd; — here one danced for joy—there another seated himself upon a stone and wept :—never was seen such a strange display of various feelings and emotions, all produced by a common cause. Captives of twenty, thirty, forty years—aye, even of half a century, and prisoners of only a year or a few days—came forth from their dread abode, scarcely daring to believe that they were really free. But suddenly amidst the crowd of captives, two men have recognised each other—an old one with a long white beard covering his breast, and a younger man with a black beard curling short upon his chin ;—they have uttered cries of surprise and joy—the people have formed a circle around them—they exclaim, the one, “ My father ! “ the other, “ My son ! “—and they have fallen into each other’s arms. And then, almost at the same moment, another individual darts like lightning from the ranks of the spectators of this affecting scene, and claims a share in the old man’s embraces, and the younger one’s joy. Thus was it that Henri Alvimar met Pierre Michel and Albert once more ;—thus was it that the father and son suddenly found that they had languished for years in the same prison-house, without knowing that one was near the other;—and thus, in a word, was it that the prophecy of the sorceress was fulfilled ! Oh ! who shall describe the joy and delight which prevailed in the dwelling where the entire family were soon united once more? Pauline ran from father to brother to embrace them again and again ; and Henri was never wearied in demonstrating his affection towards the old man and his sincere friendship for his brother-in-law. But at length the fervour of awakened and renewed passions became mellowed down to tranquil happiness and ineffable contentment ; and then commenced questions and explanations on all sides. It appeared that on the day when Albert was to have returned with Henri Alvimar to Calais, he made the necessary preparations for his departure, and finding that he had a leisure half-hour still to dispose of, walked out to take a parting survey of the magnificent palace and the beauteous gardens of the Tuileries. While he was on his way thither, he was stopped by two men dressed in plain clothes, who inquired if his name were Albert Michel, and whether he had not accosted a lady on several occasions in her barouche. He immediately replied in the affirmative : they stated that the lady in question desired an interview with him, and that they were to conduct him to the spot where she was waiting for him. He suffered himself to be persuaded to step into a carriage, although he at the moment could not help entertaining a distant suspicion that some treachery was intended ; and in this manner was he conveyed to the Bastille. There he had languished until the day of its destruction in the year 1789—unaware that his father shortly afterwards became an inmate of the same horrible prison —ignorant of the crime for which he was incarcerated, unless, indeed, it were connected with the lady, whom he had known as Mademoiselle Tascher—and left in a most terrible state of incertitude with respect to his family and his own future fate. The narrative of the old man recorded the preliminary circumstances which led to his own incarceration, and with which it will be remembered Alvimar and his wife were hitherto unacquainted. The history of Father Pierre corroborated the idea that some motive connected with M. Tascher’s daughter had led to the confinement of father and son in the most horrible of prisons ; but in what way they could have committed an offence calculated to draw down upon them siich a dread penalty, they were at a loss to determine. The years of their captivity had been passed in privation and misery, mental and bodily; the vigour of Albert’s mind was destroyed—the strength of his constitution undermined—and the generosity of his disposition perverted. His cheek wore the mark of disease—and his brows lowered with hatred upon mankind. To his family, it was true, he was affectionate and tender; but when he spoke of the world, his lip compressed, his hand was_clenched, and his forehead darkened. His heart was, however, the same towards one being—unchanged in its love for her—unaltered in respect to that maddening passion which had devoured him in secret, and preyed upon his vitals ! He breathed not a word relative to the existence of that undying flame : it was his secret—he conceived that he had suffered on account of it—and again he determined to recommence his search after the object of his love. He determined to throw himslf at her feet and implore her hand, if she were still unwedded ; or to seek an explanation of the past, and then take leave of her for ever, if her heart were no longer at her own disposal. The old man had suffered much less by his long incarceration than even his son. The feelings of old men are not so acute, nor so violent as those of the young, and produce less effect upon the physical constitution. He was now verging onwards towards four-score years ; but he was still hale and hearty ; and restoration to his family speedily wiped away from his mind the most poignant impressions created by his painful captivity. All were unanimously of opinion that the late misfortunes had arisen from some secret cause connected with those whom Albert rescued from the waves, at the risk of his life, and who had received the hospitality of the cottage in the Basse-Ville ; and all—save Albert—expressed their conviction that the wisest and most prudent course was to return to that tranquil home—afar from a metropolis which teemed with so many perils. Albert declared his intention of remaining in Paris to take part in the great struggle which he saw approaching : in vain did his father command, Henri remonstrate, and Pauline implore,—the young man was unmoved, and pertinaciously refused to sacrifice his own wishes to the will of his friends. It was therefore determined that the entire family should prolong its sojourn in Paris, and a convenient house was taken in the neighbourhood of the Temple.

Although many incidents be crowded into this narrative, it is necessarily hurried and condensed ; and with the rapidity of the changes of the magic lantern, or the shifting of the scenes on the stage, do we skip from scene to scene, and date to date. We must now again solicit our readers to suppose a short interval of four years passed away; and in that time the contemplated changes have been all effected. The house of the Bourbons has been plunged into mourning —a king and a queen have perished upon the scaffold—and the Reign of Terror has succeeded the regime of the monarchy. Father Michel’s family is still in Paris—Albert bent constantly on his vain and fruitless search after Josephine ; and Henri and his wife living contented and happy in each other’s society.

One morning Albert was wandering along that quay of the Seine which is overlooked by the terrace of the Tuileries, when the condemned cart approached, on its way to the guillotine in the Place de la Concorde close by. Urged by a natural feeling of curiosity, Albert stood aside to mark the fatal vehicle proceed on its melancholy journey; but his interest was speedily enlisted in the freight which the cart bore —for amongst the condemned ones he recognised, to his unfeigned wonder, the stern-looking gentleman who had accompanied M. Tascher’s daughter on former occasions, and who had uttered those memorable words, “ Back, fellow-—back ! “ He was also the same, be it remembered, who was with that lady on the day when Pierre Michel encountered her in the gardens of the palace, and when the restoration of Albert was promised but as the snare to entrap him into captivity. Albert followed the cart, but could not catch the prisoner’s look. The unhappy man never raised his eyes off the missal which he held in his hand ; and when he suffered himself to be bound to the fatal plank^ he glanced neither to the right nor to the left. In a few moments after that portion of the ceremony, he had ceased to exist. Albert inquired the name of the individual who had just suffered. “ Alexander Viscount de Beauharnais,” was the answer. “Was he married *? “ “ Yes—and has left a widow and two children. The viscountess is in the prison of the Magdelonettes, and is most probably reserved for the same fate.” “ Do you know the maiden name of his wife ? “ demanded Albert the of his informant. “ Mademoiselle Tascher,” was the reply. “ I thought as much—I thought as much ! “ murmured Albert to himself; and dashing through the crowd, he hurried onward as quickly as possible, to the hospital or prison of the Magdelonettes. He inquired of the turnkey if the Viscountess de Beauharnais were confined there, and learnt that she was. He essayed to obtain access to her, but failed. Day after day, however, did he walk beneath the windows, and endeavour to obtain a glimpse of her countenance through the dark bars of iron which fenced them. But no—his hopes remained unsatisfied ; though his perseverance continued the same* At length the constancy of his visits to the vicinity of the prison became noticed by the gaolers ; and information was sent to the Committee of Public Safety. In those times the most trifling act was sufficient to create alarm ; and Albert’s pertinacity in endeavouring to obtain a means of communication with the Royalists was sufficient to effect not only his own ruin but that of all his family. One night the house in which they dwelt was surrounded and entered by the soldiers of the Republic, and all were arrested. Pauline was immediately dispatched to the hospital of the Magdelonettes, that being the receptacle for female prisoners in those times ; while her father, husband, and brother were consigned to the Luxembourg. Thus in one moment did misfortune again enter upon the domestic hearth of that unfortunate family, and sweep away all those hopes of peace and happiness in which the inmates had indulged.

Albert had informed bis relatives that Visount de Beauharnais had perished upon the scaffold, that his wife was the daughter of M. Tascher, and that she was a prisoner in the Magdelonettes. Pauline was therefore prepared to meet her on her arrival at that place of detention ; and the moment she entered the room to which female prisoners were consigned, she recognised the viscountess amongst four or five ladies who were also captives there. Madame de Beauharnais threw herself into the arms of Madame Alvimar ; and the two friends, thus so singularly united again, wept copiously upon each other’s bosoms. When the first effusion of passion was somewhat passed, Pauline narrated all that had occurred since the day when they parted upwards of fifteen or sixteen years previously, at the white cottage in the Basse-Ville ; and the tears of the kind-hearted Josephine fell fast, when she heard all that the family of the Michels had endured.

“ It is now my turn to give you certain explanations,” said she, “ which will fill up some of the gaps in your narrative, and account for much which as yet remains dark and mysterious to you. My name, as you well know, was Marie Francoise Josephine Rose Tascher de la Pagerie ; and I was born at St. Pierre, in the island of Martinique. My mother died when I was young ; and I accompanied my father to France in 1776, my hand having been previously betrothed to Viscount Alexander de Beauharnais. It was upon the occasion of my arrival in France that I had the pleasure to form your acquaintance, and should have been overjoyed to cultivate your friendship, as promised, but for the reasons which I will now explain. I found my husband—for you must know that I had no time allowed to obtain an insight into his character during a period of courtship—a man of stern but honourable character, attached to all the prejudices of rank and birth, and so jealous of his fair fame that he considered every one he met inclined to filch him of it, or injure it in some shape or way. Thus was he the most miserable husband upon the face of- the earth — and he would have rendered me the most wretched wife, had not the natural volatility of my character prevented me from taking his behaviour on all occasions in a serious light. He was the most jealous man in existence ;—alas ! he is now gone to a better world—and God knows he had many virtues and brilliant talents to counterbalance his defects. His jealousy would not permit him to allow me to be out of his sight. He had heard of the circumstance of your brother Albert having so nobly saved my life at the risk of his own, and of the interchange of gifts which took place between us all ; and he immediately conceived the idea that Albert was chivalrous enough to assert a claim to my heart. Pardon me for mentioning this fact—it may argue vanity on my part ; but it is necessary to my narrative. Indeed it explains the motives of my silence—the reason that I was never enabled to write a line to you to renew my gratitude for the hospitality I experienced at your hands. My father stayed not in Paris, and I was without a friend whom I could instruct to communicate with you. The viscount insisted upon all correspondence being broken off in that quarter ;—and what could I do ? I was compelled to submit to the decree, however unjust, especially as almost immediately after our marriage he conceived certain fears prejudicial to his honour, but as false and unfounded as calumny could be. He appealed to the tribunals, and a reconciliation was effected between us. It was immediately after this circumstance that your brother met us in Paris. My husband’s fears all returned with renewed strength ; I will not insult you by even alluding to the accusations he made against your brother in regard to myself;—suffice it to say he used his influence with the king to obtain a lettre de cachet, and your brother was consigned to the Bastille. Of this I was unaware, until some time afterwards I met your father in Paris, and he mentioned the extraordinary disappearance of his son. The truth instantly flashed to my brain ; and my suspicions were corroborated by the changing brow and quivering lip of my husband. I boldly desired him to restore the old man his son. He promised to do that act of justice ; and, as God is my judge ! I believed that he had fulfilled his word. Oh, Pauline ! could I have supposed that he would have accomplished such a deed of black and horrible treachery ! Alarmed that the hints already given to your father relative to the viscount’s knowledge of the place where Albert was confined would lead to an investigation that would set the youth, of whom he was so absurdly jealous, once more at liberty, and give occasion, if the tale got abroad, to his friends to laugh at him for his ridiculous fears, he preferred to condemn that poor old man to an endless imprisonment rather than make him happy by the restoration of his son ! ! Oh, Pauline—you must hate me for having been connected with such a man ! “ “ Hate you ! “ ejaculated Madame Alvimar; “oh! say not that word ! Rather let me commiserate your unhappy position. But he of whom you speak is now no more—let his faults be buried with him. I freely forgive him, for my part, for all the anguish he has been the means of producing to me and those who are dear to me.” “ Amiable disposition ! “ exclaimed Josephine, pressing her friend’s hand. “ But let me clear up the next mystery which occurs in your own narrative ;—I allude to that of Mademoiselle Lenormand.” “ The apparition of yourself ! “ cried Pauline. “ Can you explain that also ? “ “ I can—and most satisfactorily, too,” answered Josephine, with a smile. “You must know that I and Mademoiselle Lenormand have been excellent friends ever since she first appeared in the world as a soothsayer. You will probably remember that on the morning of my departure with my dear lamented father from your hospitable abode at Calais, a gipsy told my fortune over the garden railings ? “ “I remember the incident well,” said Pauline. “She prophesied that you would be queen of France.” “ And she prophesied truly,” returned Josephine, with solemnity, while she drew herself up to her full height, as if she were already invested with regal authority. “ But to the point. Conceive my astonishment when I found that same gipsy in the service of Mademoiselle Lenormand, but with a stoop, real or affected—I know not which—that did not allow me immediately to recognise her.” “ Oh ! a light breaks in upon me ! “ cried Pauline. “The day you and your husband called to consult her,” proceeded Josephine, “ the old hag whispered in her ear who you were ; and she had already heard from me the whole tale of the rescue from shipwreck, and the interchange of the presents. I was with her at the time you and M. Alvimar called ; but it was not until after you were gone that I was aware you were the visitors to whom I allowed myself to be shown in the little magic boudoir which Mademoiselle Lenormand has had secretly built, with a thick plate-glass in front, in communication with her mystic apartment.” “ Then it was no apparition !” exclaimed Pauline. “Oh! how foolish, how blind have not I and my husband been ! ““ Not at all,” said the viscountess. “ The delusion was excellent, —and your own fears and the superstitious awe you experienced in such a place helped to complete it. Doubtless you fancied you saw ray form reflected in some magical mirror, as Lord Surrey beheld that of his beauteous and absent Geraldine ? “ “ But what motive could have induced Mademoiselle Lenormand to practise such a deception ? “ inquired Pauline. “ Several motives,” answered Josephine. “ In the first place, she is fond of being deemed skilful in the black art, and will always step out of her way to produce that impression: the opportunity on that occasion—the coincidence of you and me being there at the same moment—was too good to be lost. She doubtless thought that next day the news would have been all over Paris. Then, again, she is fond of money, and she expected that such a grand display of power would elicit a noble donation. Lastly, I was well dressed on that day, looked pretty, and was more than ever in her good graces : so I suppose she felt proud in displaying me. Then as for her prophecy about your father and brother, which seems to have been fulfilled, she most probably guessed where they were—or, at all events, imagined that they were in captivity in some royal fortress. Nevertheless, she is a wonderful woman; and,” added Josephine, sinking her voice to a solemn and mysterious whisper, “ has confirmed the prophecy uttered by her old sybil attendant, that I shall be queen of France ! “ Scarcely were these words uttered when the gaoler entered the room and proceeded to remove the flock bed and bedding allotted to Madame de Beauharnais. “ What is the meaning of this ? “ demanded the Duchess d’Aiguillon, who was one of the prisoners present. “ I am only going to give the bedding to another captive,” answered the gaoler brutally. “ How to another ? “ asked the duchess. “ Is Madame de Beauharnais to have a better?” “ Oh ! ah—a better indeed ! “ said the gaoler with a laugh. “ No, no—she won’t want another : she is going to another place to-day, and to the guillotine to-morrow.” “ The guillotine ! “ ejaculated Pauline, throwing herself into her friend’s arms. “ Oh ! no—impossible—impossible ! “ The other ladies gathered around the viscountess in deep and solemn silence ; but the tears that trickled down their cheeks, and their hands clasped in prayer showed how sincerely they felt for their companion. “ No—I shall not die to-morrow ! “ suddenly exclaimed Josephine : “ I shall not die yet—it is impossible. The prediction must be fulfilled— I am to be queen of France ! “ “ Your ladyship had better then appoint your household at once,” said the Duchess d’Aiguillon, somewhat impatiently. “ True ! I had forgotten to do so,” returned Josephine mildly ; and, without appearing to entertain the least apprehension that her fate was indeed already sealed, as her companions feared, nor yet in a tone of bravado or banter, she proceeded thus :—” You, my lady of Aiguillon, will take the situation of Mistress of the Eobes ; you, Madame Alvimar, will become First Lady Of the Bedchamber.” Thus did she continue to distribute situations amongst her fellowprisoners, who all prayed the more earnestly and wept the more copiously, under the impression that fear had turned her brain. The gaoler tied up the bedding in a bundle, and was about to leave the apartment with it upon his shoulder, when the door was suddenly flung violently open, and Albert and Henri Alvimar made their appearance, exclaiming, “ Robespierre has fallen—the tyrant is arrested—and France is saved ! “ “ There ! “ exclaimed Josephine ; “ I shall yet be queen of France !” And Robespierre had fallen ; for this was the 9th of Tbermidor — and all the prisons of the capital were thrown open. A week after this incident Pierre Michel, Albert, and Monsieur and Madame Alvimar dined with the Viscountess de Beauharnais, at her temporary residence in the Rue de Lille, Faubourg St. Honore. It was a happy party ; and even upon Albert’s countenance there was a smile of hope and of contentment. In the course of that evening he contrived to have a few moments’ conversation with Josephine alone ; and to her profound astonishment he revealed his passion. He spoke of the fervour of that love, which had alone sustained his mental courage during his long imprisonment, and which, nevertheless, had undermined his health simultaneously :—he pleaded his cause with an energy and an eloquence which at one time appeared to make a deep impression upon the lady ;—but at length he heard his doom pronounced —the fiat was declared—she did not love him,—and where she loved not, she would not wed. She, however, expressed the most lively interest in all his prospects and proceedings, and the most sincere friendship for his sister. For the rest of the evening Albert remained gloomy and thoughtful ; and when he took leave of her in the evening, he pressed her hand with convulsive force, whispering in a hoarse and guttural tone at the same time, “ Farewell, madam—you will never see me more ! “ Josephine had been too much accustomed to the dissipation, the gallantry, and the empty compliments of the court of Louis XVI., to attach any very great deal of importance to this species of menace on che part of Albert ; she considered it rather the “ words of course” which every polite and well-bred man uttered to a lady whose love he had not succeeded in gaining, or from whose lips no avowal had been wrested ;—and she only smiled—but sweetly as Josephine alone could smile—as she bade him farewell. Her parting words with Pauline upon that occasion were, “ Remember, my dear friend, in a short time I shall call upon you to enter on your functions of my chief Lady of the Bedchamber.” “ Father,” said Albert to Pierre Michel, that evening, as they walked away from the hospitable mansion where they had been entertained, “ I have no longer any inclination to remain in Paris : let us return home without delay. I long for my boat and sea exercise once more.” “ It shall be as you say, my dear son,” replied the old man ;—and accordingly on the following morning they all commenced their journey back again to the Basse-Ville. The remainder of this narrative may be summed up in a few words. The father and son returned to the white cottage—and Henri Alvimar, with his amiable wife, to his own abode close by. But Albert never launched his boat from the shore of Calais again ;—never more was it given to him to tempt the dangers of the deep—never more to push his frail bark over the curling waves. A deep, an inconsolable melancholy took possession of his soul, and defied all the powers of man to eradicate it—because inaccessible to all sympathies : and in a few months it hurried its victim to the tomb. He died at the white cottage ; and on his death-bed he acknowledged that he was the victim of his attachment to her whom he had first seen within its walls ; and his remains lie in the suburban cemetery. His father was interred by his side a few weeks afterwards. Pauline communicated the fatal news to her friend the Viscountess of Beauharnais, who terminated her reply in the following manner :—” I admired your brother, Pauline, for his noble and generous heart—his truly manly nature ; and I felt grateful to him as the saviour of my life. But I knew that he was not destined to be the king of France—and I am to be the queen. Pardon this observation do not set it down to levity on my part : I have shed tears at your brother’s death—and am incapable of either ingratitude or indifference.” How accurately were all the prophecies and the presentiments relative to the exaltation of Josephine fulfilled—or more than fulfilled — for she became not queen, but empress ; not the wife of a king—but the wife of the Emperor Napoleon! In 1804, the imperial purple adorned the shoulders of herself and her heroic husband ; and the principal lady in attendance upon Josephine was Pauline, then Baroness d’Alvimar.