Pearl-Fishing; Choice Stories from Dickens' Household Words; Second Series
Some typographical errors have been corrected;a list follows the text.
(etext transcriber's note)
P E A R L - F I S H I N G.
ALDEN, BEARDSLEY & CO.
WANZER, BEARDSLEY & CO.
|Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by|
ALDEN, BEARDSLEY & CO.,
In the Clerk’s Office of the Northern District of New York.
THOMAS B. SMITH,
STEREOTYPER AND ELECTROTYPER,
216 William Street, N. Y.
The Publisher’s Notice.
THE large demand for the First Series of this publication, hasconfirmed the publishers in their opinion of its worth and itsadaptability to meet the wants and tastes of the reading public, andinduced them to issue, in rapid succession, the present volume, whichwill be found not less interesting and worthy of attention.
The publishers also announce their intention of continuing this series,which has been received with so much public favor.
|I.||—The Young Advocate||7|
|II.||—The Last of a Long Line||33|
|III.||—The Gentleman Beggar||107|
|IV.||—Evil is Wrought by Want of Thought||130|
|VI.||—The Home of Woodruffe the Gardener||184|
|VIII.||—An Excellent Opportunity||325|
ANTOINE DE CHAULIEU was the son of a poor gentleman of Normandy, with along genealogy, a short rent-roll, and a large family. Jacques Rolletwas the son of a brewer, who did not know who his grandfather was; buthe had a long purse and only two children. As these youths flourished inthe early days of liberty, equality, and fraternity, and were nearneighbors, they naturally hated each other. Their enmity commenced atschool, where the delicate and refined De Chaulieu being the onlygentilhomme among the scholars, was the favorite of the master (who wasa bit of an aristocrat in his heart) although he was about the worstdressed boy in the establishment, and never had a sou to spend; whileJacques Rollet, sturdy and rough, with smart clothes and plenty ofmoney, got flogged six days in the week, ostensibly for being stupid andnot learning his lessons—which, indeed, he did not—but, in reality,for constantly quarrelling with and insulting De Chaulieu, who had notstrength to cope with him. When they left the academy, the feudcontinued in all its vigor, and was fostered by a thousand littlecircumstances arising out of the state of the times, till a separationensued in consequence of an aunt of Antoine de Chaulieu’s undertakingthe expense of sending him to Paris to study the law, and of maintaininghim there during the necessary period.
With the progress of events came some degree of reaction in favor ofbirth and nobility, and then Antoine, who had passed for the bar, beganto hold up his head and endeavored to push his fortunes; but fate seemedagainst him. He felt certain that if he possessed any gift in the worldit was that of eloquence, but he could get no cause to plead; and hisaunt dying inopportunely, first his resources failed, and then hishealth. He had no sooner returned to his home, than, to complicate hisdifficulties completely, he fell in love with Mademoiselle Natalie deBellefonds, who had just returned from Paris, where she had beencompleting her education. To expiate on the perfections of MademoiselleNatalie, would be a waste of ink and paper; it is sufficient to say thatshe really was a very charming girl, with a fortune which, though notlarge, would have been a most desirable acquisition to De Chaulieu, whohad nothing. Neither was the fair Natalie indisposed to listen to hisaddresses; but her father could not be expected to countenance the suitof a gentleman, however well-born, who had not a ten-sous piece in theworld, and whose prospects were a blank.
While the ambitious and love-sick young barrister was thus pining inunwelcome obscurity, his old acquaintance, Jacques Rollet, had beenacquiring an undesirable notoriety. There was nothing really bad inJacques’ disposition, but having been bred up a democrat, with a hatredof the nobility, he could not easily accommodate his rough humor totreat them with civility when it was no longer safe to insult them. Theliberties he allowed himself whenever circumstances brought him intocontact with the higher classes of society, had led him into manyscrapes, out of which his father’s money had one way or another releasedhim; but that source of safety had now failed. Old Rollet having beentoo busy with the affairs of the nation to attend to his business, haddied insolvent, leaving his son with nothing but his own wits to helphim out of future difficulties, and it was not long before theirexercise was called for. Claudine Rollet, his sister, who was a verypretty girl, had attracted the attention of Mademoiselle de Bellefonds’brother, Alphonso; and as he paid her more attention than from such aquarter was agreeable to Jacques, the young men had more than onequarrel on the subject, on which occasions they had each,characteristically, given vent to their enmity, the one in contemptuousmonosyllables, and the other in a volley of insulting words. ButClaudine had another lover more nearly of her own condition of life;this was Claperon, the deputy-governor of the Rouen jail, with whom shemade acquaintance during one or two compulsory visits paid by herbrother to that functionary; but Claudine, who was a bit of a coquette,though she did not altogether reject his suit, gave him littleencouragement, so that betwixt hopes, and fears, and doubts, andjealousies, poor Claperon led a very uneasy kind of life.
Affairs had been for some time in this position, when, one fine morning,Alphonse de Bellefonds was not to be found in his chamber when hisservant went to call him; neither had his bed been slept in. He had beenobserved to go out rather late on the preceding evening, but whether ornot he had returned, nobody could tell. He had not appeared at supper,but that was too ordinary an event to awaken suspicion; and little alarmwas excited till several hours had elapsed, when inquiries wereinstituted and a search commenced, which terminated in the discovery ofhis body, a good deal mangled, lying at the bottom of a pond which hadbelonged to the old brewery. Before any investigations had been made,every person had jumped to the conclusion that the young man had beenmurdered, and that Jacques Rollet was the assassin. There was a strongpresumption in favor of that opinion, which further perquisitions tendedto confirm. Only the day before, Jacques had been heard to threaten M.de Bellefonds with speedy vengeance. On the fatal evening, Alphonse andClaudine had been seen together in the neighborhood of the nowdismantled brewery; and as Jacques, betwixt poverty and democracy, wasin bad odor with the prudent and respectable part of society, it was noteasy for him to bring witnesses to character, or prove anunexceptionable alibi. As for the Bellefonds and De Chaulieus, and thearistocracy in general, they entertained no doubt of his guilt; andfinally, the magistrates coming to the same opinion, Jacques Rollet wascommitted for trial, and as a testimony of good will Antoine deChaulieu was selected by the injured family to conduct the prosecution.
Here, at last, was the opportunity he had sighed for! So interesting acase, too, furnishing such ample occasion for passion, pathos,indignation! And how eminently fortunate that the speech which he sethimself with ardor to prepare, would be delivered in the presence of thefather and brother of his mistress, and perhaps of the lady herself! Theevidence against Jacques, it is true, was altogether presumptive; therewas no proof whatever that he had committed the crime; and for his ownpart he stoutly denied it. But Antoine de Chaulieu entertained no doubtof his guilt, and his speech was certainly well calculated to carryconviction into the bosom of others. It was of the highest importance tohis own reputation that he should procure a verdict, and he confidentlyassured the afflicted and enraged family of the victim that theirvengeance should be satisfied. Under these circumstances could anythingbe more unwelcome than a piece of intelligence that was privatelyconveyed to him late on the evening before the trial was to come on,which tended strongly to exculpate the prisoner, without indicating anyother person as the criminal. Here was an opportunity lost. The firststep of the ladder on which he was to rise to fame, fortune, and a wife,was slipping from under his feet!
Of course, so interesting a trial was anticipated with great eagernessby the public, and the court was crowded with all the beauty and fashionof Rouen. Though Jacques Rollet persisted in asserting his innocence,founding his defence chiefly on circumstances which were stronglycorroborated by the information that had reached De Chaulieu thepreceding evening,—he was convicted.
In spite of the very strong doubts he privately entertained respectingthe justice of the verdict, even De Chaulieu himself, in the first flushof success, amid a crowd of congratulating friends, and the approvingsmiles of his mistress, felt gratified and happy; his speech had, forthe time being, not only convinced others, but himself; warmed with hisown eloquence, he believed what he said. But when the glow was over, andhe found himself alone, he did not feel so comfortable. A latent doubtof Rollet’s guilt now burnt strongly in his mind, and he felt that theblood of the innocent would be on his head. It is true there was yettime to save the life of the prisoner, but to admit Jacques innocent,was to take the glory out of his own speech, and turn the sting of hisargument against himself. Besides, if he produced the witness who hadsecretly given him the information, he should be self-condemned, for hecould not conceal that he had been aware of the circumstance before thetrial.
Matters having gone so far, therefore, it was necessary that JacquesRollet should die; so the affair took its course; and early one morningthe guillotine was erected in the court-yard of the jail, threecriminals ascended the scaffold, and three heads fell into the basket,which were presently afterwards, with the trunks that had been attachedto them, buried in a corner of the cemetery.
Antoine de Chaulieu was now fairly started in his career, and hissuccess was as rapid as the first step towards it had been tardy. Hetook a pretty apartment in the Hôtel de Marbœuf, RueGrange-Batelière, and in a short time was looked upon as one of the mostrising young advocates in Paris. His success in one line brought himsuccess in another; he was soon a favorite in society, and an object ofinterest to speculating mothers; but his affections still adhered to hisold love Natalie de Bellefonds, whose family now gave their assent tothe match—at least, prospectively—a circumstance which furnished suchan additional incentive to his exertions, that in about two years fromthe date of his first brilliant speech, he was in a sufficientlyflourishing condition to offer the young lady a suitable home. Inanticipation of the happy event, he engaged and furnished a suite ofapartments in the Rue du Helder; and as it was necessary that the brideshould come to Paris to provide her trousseau, it was agreed that thewedding should take place there, instead of at Bellefonds, as had beenfirst projected; an arrangement the more desirable, that a press ofbusiness rendered M. de Chaulieu’s absence from Paris inconvenient.
Brides and bridegrooms in France, except of the very high classes, arenot much in the habit of making those honeymoon excursions so universalin this country. A day spent in visiting