A ROMANCE OF THE FOREST
“Danger, whose limbs of giant mold
The Marquis was punctual to the hour. La Motte received him at the gate, but he declined entering, and said he preferred a walk in the forest. Thither, therefore, La Motte attended him. After some general conversation, “Well,” said the Marquis, “have you considered what I said, and are you prepared to decide?”
“I have, my Lord, and will quickly decide, when you shall farther explain yourself. Till then I can form no resolution.” The Marquis appeared dissatisfied, and was a moment silent. “Is it then possible,” he at length resumed, “that you do not understand? This ignorance is surely affected. La Motte, I expect sincerity. Tell me, therefore, is it necessary I should say more?”
“It is, my Lord,” said La Motte immediately. “If you fear to confide in me freely, how can I fully accomplish your purpose?”
“Before I proceed farther,” said the Marquis, “let me administer some oath which shall bind you to secrecy. But this is scarcely necessary; for, could I even doubt your word of honour, the remembrance of a certain transaction would point out to you the necessity of being as silent yourself as you must wish me to be.” There was now a pause of silence, during which both the Marquis and La Motte betrayed some confusion. “I think, La Motte,” said he, “I have given you sufficient proof that I can be grateful: the services you have already rendered me with respect to Adeline have not been unrewarded.”
“True, my Lord, I am ever willing to acknowledge this, and am sorry it has not been in my power to serve you more effectually. Your farther views respecting her I am ready to assist.”
“I thank you. — Adeline” — the Marquis hesitated. — “Adeline,” rejoined La Motte, eager to anticipate his wishes, “has beauty worthy of your pursuit. She has inspired a passion of which she ought to be proud, and, at any rate, she shall soon be yours. Her charms are worthy of” —
“Yes, yes,” interrupted the Marquis; “but” — he paused. — “But they have given you too much trouble in the pursuit,” said La Motte; “and to be sure, my Lord, it must be confessed they have; but this trouble is all over — you may now consider her as your own.”
“I would do so,” said the Marquis, fixing an eye of earnest regard upon La Motte — “I would do so.”
“Name your hour, my Lord; you shall not be interrupted. — Beauty such as Adeline’s” —
“Watch her closely,” interrupted the Marquis, “and on no account suffer her to leave her apartment. Where is she now?”
“Confined in her chamber.”
“Very well. But I am impatient.”
“Name your time, my Lord — to-morrow night.”
“To-morrow night,” said the Marquis — “to-morrow night. Do you understand me now?”
“Yes, my Lord, this night, if you wish it so. But had you not better dismiss your servants, and remain yourself in the forest. You know the door that opens upon the woods from the west tower. Come thither about twelve — I will be there to conduct you to her chamber. Remember, then, my Lord, that to-night” —
“Adeline dies!” interrupted the Marquis, in a low voice scarcely human. “Do you understand me now?” — La Motte shrunk aghast — “My Lord!”
“La Motte!” said the Marquis. — There was a silence of several minutes, in which La Motte endeavoured to recover himself. — “Let me ask, my Lord, the meaning of this?” said he, when he had breath to speak. “Why should you wish the death of Adeline — of Adeline whom so lately you loved?”
“Make no inquiries for my motive,” said the Marquis; “but it is as certain as that I live that she you name must die. This is sufficient.” The surprise of La Motte equalled his horror. “The means are various,” resumed the Marquis. “I could have wished that no blood might be spilt; and there are drugs sure and speedy in their effect, but they cannot be soon or safely procured. I also with it over
— it must be done quickly — this night.”
“This night, my Lord!”
“Aye, this night, La Motte; if it is to be, why not soon. Have you no convenient drug at hand?”
“None, my Lord.”
“I feared to trust a third person, or I should have been provided,” said the Marquis. “As it is, take this poignard; use it as occasion offers, but be resolute.” La Motte received the poignard with a trembling hand, and continued to gaze upon it for some time, scarcely knowing what he did. “Put it up,” said the Marquis,” and “endeavour to recollect yourself.” La Motte obeyed, but continued to muse in silence.
He saw himself entangled in the web which his own crimes had woven. Being in the power of the Marquis, he knew he must either consent to the commission of a deed, from the enormity of which, depraved as he was, he shrunk in horror, or sacrifice fortune, freedom, probably life itself, to the refusal. He had been led on by slow gradations from folly to vice, till he now saw before him an abyss of guilt which startled even the conscience that so long had slumbered. The means of retreating were desperate — to proceed was equally so.
When he considered the innocence and the helplessness of Adeline, her orphan state, her former affectionate conduct, and her confidence in his protection, his heart melted with compassion for the distress he had already occasioned her, and shrunk in terror from the deed he was urged to commit. But when, on the other hand, he contemplated the destruction that threatened him from the vengeance of the Marquis, and then considered the advantages that were offered him of favour, freedom, and probably fortune, terror and temptation contributed to overcome the pleadings of humanity, and silence the voice of conscience. In this state of tumultuous uncertainty he continued for some time silent, until the voice of the Marquis roused him to a conviction of the necessity of at least appearing to acquiesce in his designs.
“Do you hesitate?” said the Marquis. — “No, my Lord, my resolution is fixed — I will obey you. But methinks it would be better to avoid bloodshed. Strange secrets have been revealed by” —
“Aye, but how avoid it?” interrupted the Marquis. — “Poison I will not venture to procure. I have given you one sure instrument of death. You also may find it dangerous to inquire for a drug.” La Motte perceived that he could not purchase poison without incurring a discovery much greater than that he wished to avoid. “You are right, my Lord, and I will follow your orders implicitly” The Marquis now proceeded, in broken sentences, to give farther directions concerning this dreadful scheme.
“In her sleep,” said he, “at mid-night; the family will then be at rest.” Afterwards they planned a story, which was to account for her disappearance, and by which it was to seem that she had sought an escape in consequence of her aversion to the addresses of the Marquis. The doors of her chamber and of the west tower were to be left open to corroborate this account, and many other circumstances were to be contrived to confirm the suspicion. They farther consulted how the Marquis was to be informed of the event; and it was agreed that he should come as usual to the Abbey on the following day. “To-night, then,” said the Marquis, “I may rely upon your resolution.”
“You may, my Lord.”
“Farewell, then. When we meet again” —
“When we meet again,” said La Motte, “it will be done.” He followed the Marquis to the Abbey, and having seen him mount his horse and wished him a good night, he retired to his chamber, where he shut himself up.
Adeline, mean while, in the solitude of her prison, gave way to the despair which her condition inspired. She tried to arrange her thoughts, and to argue herself into some degree of resignation; but reflection, by representing the past, and reason, by anticipating the future, brought before her mind the full picture of her misfortunes, and she sunk in despondency. Of Theodore, who, by a conduct so noble, had testified his attachment and involved himself in ruin, she thought with a degree of anguish infinitely superior to any she had felt upon any other occasion.
That the very exertions which had deserved all her gratitude, and awakened all her tenderness, should be the cause of his destruction, was a circumstance so much beyond the ordinary bounds of misery, that her fortitude sunk at once before it. The idea of Theodore suffering
— Theodore dying — was for ever present to her
Against such an enemy what could Theodore oppose? Conscious rectitude would not avail him to ward off the blow which disappointed passion and powerful pride directed. Her distress was considerably heightened by reflecting that no intelligence of him could reach her at the Abbey, and that she must remain she knew not how long in the most dreadful suspence concerning his fate. From the Abbey she saw no possibility of escaping. She was a prisoner in a chamber inclosed at every avenue: she had no opportunity of conversing with any person who could afford her even a chance of relief; and she saw herself condemned to await in passive silence the impending destiny, infinitely more dreadful to her imagination than death itself.
Thus circumstanced, she yielded to the pressure of her misfortunes, and would sit for hours motionless and given up to thought. “Theodore!” she would frequently exclaim, “you cannot hear my voice, you cannot fly to help me; yourself a prisoner and in chains.” The picture was too horrid. The swelling anguish of her heart would subdue her utterance — tears bathed her cheeks — and she became insensible to every thing but the misery of Theodore.
On this evening her mind had been remarkably tranquil; and as she watched from her window, with a still and melancholy pleasure, the setting sun, the fading splendour of the western horizon, and the gradual approach of twilight, her thoughts bore her back to the time when, in happier circumstances, she had watched the same appearances. She recollected also the evening of her temporary escape from the Abbey, when from this same window she had viewed the declining sun — how anxiously she had awaited the fall of twilight — how much she had endeavoured to anticipate the events of her future life — with what trembling fear she had descended from the tower and ventured into the forest. These reflections produced others that filled her heart with anguish and her eyes with tears.
While she was lost in her melancholy reverie she saw the Marquis mount his horse and depart from the gates. The sight of him revived, in all its force, a sense of the misery he inflicted on her beloved Theodore, and a consciousness of the evils which more immediately threatened herself. She withdrew from the window in an agony of tears, which continuing for a considerable time, her frame was, at length, quite exhausted, and she retired early to rest.
La Motte remained in his chamber till supper obliged him to descend. At table his wild and haggard countenance, which, in spite of all his endeavours, betrayed the disorder of his mind, and his long and frequent fits of abstraction surprised as well as alarmed Madame La Motte. When Peter left the room she tenderly inquired what had disturbed him, and he with a distorted smile tried to be gay, but the effort was beyond his art, and he quickly relapsed into silence; or when Madame La Motte spoke, and he strove to conceal the absence of his thoughts, he answered so entirely from the purpose, that his abstraction became still more apparent. Observing this, Madame La Motte appeared to take no notice of his present temper; and they continued to sit in uninterrupted silence till the hour of rest, when they retired to their chamber.
La Motte lay in a state of disturbed watchfulness for some time, and his frequent starts awoke Madame, who, however, being pacified by some trifling excuse, soon went to sleep again. This agitation continued till near midnight, when, recollecting that the time was now passing in idle reflection which ought to be devoted to action, he stole silently from his bed, wrapped himself in his night gown, and, taking the lamp which burned nightly in his chamber, passed up the spiral staircase. As he went he frequently looked back and often started and listened to the hollow sighings of the blast.
His hand shook so violently, when he attempted to unlock the door of Adeline’s chamber, that he was obliged to set the lamp on the ground, and apply both his hands. The noise he made with the key induced him to suppose he must have awakened her; but when he opened the door, and perceived the stillness that reigned within, he was convinced she was asleep. When he approached the bed he heard her gently breathe, and soon after sigh — and he stopped; but silence returning, he again advanced, and then heard her sing in her sleep. As he listened he distinguished some notes of a melancholy little air which, in her happier days, she had often sung to him. The low and mournful accent in which she now uttered them expressed too well the tone of her mind.
La Motte now stepped hastily towards the bed, when, breathing a deep sigh, she was again silent. He undrew the curtain, and saw her laying in a profound sleep, her cheek yet wet with tears, resting upon her arm. He stood a moment looking at her; and as he viewed her innocent and lovely countenance, pale in grief, the light of the lamp, which shone strong upon her eyes, awoke her, and, perceiving a man, she uttered a scream. Her recollection returning, she knew him to be La Motte, and it instantly recurring to her that the Marquis was at hand, she raised herself in bed, and implored pity and protection. La Motte stood looking eagerly at her, but without replying.
The wildness of his looks and the gloomy silence he preserved increased her alarm, and with tears of terror she renewed her supplication. “You once saved me from destruction,” cried she; “O save me now! Have pity upon me — I have no protector but you.”
“What is it you fear?” said La Motte in a tone scarcely articulate. — “O save me — save me from the Marquis!”
“Rise then,” said he, “and dress yourself quickly — I shall be back again in a few minutes.” He lighted a candle that stood on the table, and left the chamber. Adeline immediately arose and endeavoured to dress, but her thoughts were so bewildered that she scarcely knew what she did, and her whole frame so violently agitated that it was with the utmost difficulty she preserved herself from fainting. She threw her clothes hastily on, and then sat down to await the return of La Motte. A considerable time elapsed, yet he did not appear, and, having in vain endeavoured to compose her spirits, the pain of suspence at length became so insupportable, that she opened the door of her chamber, and went to the top of the staircase to listen. She thought she heard voices below; but, considering that if the Marquis was there her appearance could only increase her danger, she checked the step she had almost involuntarily taken to descend. Still she listened, and still thought she distinguished voices. Soon after she heard a door shut, and then footsteps, and she hastened back to her chamber.
Near a quarter of an hour elapsed and La Motte did not appear. When again she thought she heard a murmur of voices below, and also passing steps, and at length her anxiety not suffering her to remain in her room, she moved through the passage that communicated with the spiral staircase; but all was now still. In a few moments, however, a light flashed across the hall, and La Motte appeared at the door of the vaulted room. He looked up, and seeing Adeline in the gallery, beckoned her to descend.
She hesitated and looked towards her chamber; but La Motte now approached the stairs, and, with faultering steps, she went to meet him. “I fear the Marquis may see me,” said she, whispering; “where is he?” La Motte took her hand, and led her on, assuring her she had nothing to fear from the Marquis. The wildness of his looks, however, and the trembling of his hand, seemed to contradict this assurance, and she inquired whither he was leading her. “To the forest,” said La Motte, “that you may escape from the Abbey — a horse waits for you without. I can save you by no other means.” New terror seized her. She could scarcely believe that La Motte, who had hitherto conspired with the Marquis, and had so closely confined her, should now himself undertake her escape, and she at this moment felt a dreadful presentiment, which it was impossible to account for, that he was leading her out to murder her in the forest. Again shrinking back, she supplicated his mercy. He assured her he meant only to protect her, and desired she would not waste time.
There was something in his manner that spoke sincerity, and she suffered him to conduct her to a side door that opened into the forest, where she could just distinguish through the gloom a man on horseback. This brought to her remembrance the night in which she had quitted the tomb, when trusting to the person who appeared she had been carried to the Marquis’s villa. La Motte called, and was answered by Peter, whose voice somewhat re-assured Adeline.
He then told her that the Marquis would return to the Abbey on the following morning, and that this could be her only opportunity of escaping his designs; that she might rely upon his (La Motte’s) word, that Peter had orders to carry her wherever she chose; but as he knew the Marquis would be indefatigable in search of her, he advised her by all means to leave the kingdom, which she might do with Peter, who was a native of Savoy, and would convey her to the house of his sister. There she might remain till La Motte himself, who did not now think it would be safe to continue much longer in France, should join her. He intreated her whatever might happen, never to mention the events which had passed at the Abbey. “To save you, Adeline, I have risked my life; do not increase my danger and your own by any unnecessary discoveries. We may never meet again, but I hope you will be happy; and remember, when you think of me, that I am not quite so bad as I have been tempted to be.”
Having said this, he gave her some money, which he told her would be necessary to defray the expences of her journey. Adeline could no longer doubt his sincerity, and her transports of joy and gratitude would scarcely permit her to thank him. She wished to have bid Madame La Motte farewell, and indeed earnestly requested it; but he again told her she had no time to lose, and, having wrapped her in a large cloak, he lifted her upon the horse. She bade him adieu with tears of gratitude, and Peter set off as fast as the darkness would permit.
When they were got some way, “I am glad with all my heart, Ma’amselle,” said he, “to see you again. Who would have thought, after all, that my master himself would have bid me take you away! — Well, to be sure, strange things come to pass; but I hope we shall have better luck this time.” Adeline, not chusing to reproach him with the treachery of which she feared he had been formerly guilty, thanked him for his good wishes, and said she hoped they should be more fortunate; but Peter, in his usual strain of eloquence, proceeded to undeceive her in this point, and to acquaint her with every circumstance which his memory, and it was naturally a strong one, could furnish.
Peter expressed such an artless interest in her welfare, and such a concern for her disappointment, that she could no longer doubt his faithfulness; and this conviction not only strengthened her confidence in the present undertaking, but made her listen to his conversation with kindness and pleasure. “I should never have staid at the Abbey till this time,” said he, “if I could have got away; but my master frighted me so about the Marquis, and I had not money enough to carry me into my own country, so that I was forced to stay. It’s well we have got some solid louisd’ors now; for I question, Ma’amselle, whether the people on the road would have taken those trinkets you formerly talked of for money.”
“Possibly not,” said Adeline: “I am thankful to Monsieur La Motte that we have more certain means of procuring conveniences. What route shall you take when we leave the forest, Peter?” — Peter mentioned very correctly a great part of the road to Lyons: “and then,” said he, “we can easily get to Savoy, and that will be nothing. My sister, God bless her! I hope is living; I have not seen her many a year; but if she is not, all the people will be glad to see me, and you will easily get a lodging, Ma’amselle, and every thing you want.”
Adeline resolved to go with him to Savoy. La Motte, who knew the character and designs of the Marquis, had advised her to leave the kingdom, and had told her, what her fears would have suggested, that the Marquis would be indefatigable in search of her. His motive for this advice must be a desire of serving her; why else, when she was already in his power, should he remove her to another place, and even furnish her with money for the expences of a journey?
At Leloncourt, where Peter said he was well known, she would be most likely to meet with protection and comfort, even should his sister be dead; and its distance and solitary situation were circumstances that pleased her. These reflections would have pointed out to her the prudence of proceeding to Savoy, had she been less destitute of resources in France; in her present situation they proved it to be necessary.
She inquired farther concerning the route they were to take, and whether Peter was sufficiently acquainted with the road. “When once I get to Thiers, I know it well enough,” said Peter, “for I have gone it many a time in my younger days, and any body will tell us the way there.” They travelled for several hours in darkness and silence, and it was not till they emerged from the forest that Adeline saw the morning light streak the eastern clouds. The sight cheered and revived her; and as she travelled silently along her mind revolved the events of the past night, and meditated plans for the future. The present kindness of La Motte appeared so very different from his former conduct that it astonished and perplexed her, and she could only account for it by attributing it to one of those sudden impulses of humanity which sometimes operate even upon the most depraved hearts.
But when she recollected his former words, “that he was not master of himself,” she could scarcely believe that mere pity could induce him to break the bonds which had hitherto so strongly held him, and then, considering the altered conduct of the Marquis, she was inclined to think that she owed her liberty to some change in his sentiments towards her; yet the advice La Motte had given her to quit the kingdom, and the money with which he had supplied her for that purpose, seemed to contradict this opinion, and involved her again in doubt.
Peter now got directions to Thiers, which place they reached without any accident, and there stopped to refresh themselves. As soon as Peter thought the horse sufficiently rested, they again set forward, and from the rich plains of the Lyonnois Adeline, for the first time, caught a view of the distant alps, whose majestic heads, seeming to prop the vault of heaven, filled her mind with sublime emotions.
In a few hours they reached the vale, in which stands the city of Lyons, whose beautiful environs, studded with villas, and rich with cultivation, withdrew Adeline from the melancholy contemplation of her own circumstances, and her more painful anxiety for Theodore.
When they reached that busy city, her first care was to inquire concerning the passage of the Rhone; but she forbore to make these inquiries of the people of the inn, considering that if the Marquis should trace her thither they might enable him to pursue her route. She, therefore, sent Peter to the quays to hire a boat, while she herself took a slight repast, it being her intention to embark immediately. Peter presently returned, having engaged a boat and men to take them up the Rhone to the nearest part of Savoy, from whence they were to proceed by land to the village of Leloncourt.
Having taken some refreshment, she ordered him to conduct her to the vessel. A new and striking scene presented itself to Adeline, who looked with surprise upon the river gay with vessels, and the quay crowded with busy faces, and felt the contrast which the cheerful objects around bore to herself — to her an orphan, desolate, helpless, and flying from persecution and her country. She spoke with the master of the boat, and having sent Peter back to the inn for the horse, (La Motte’s gift to Peter in lieu of some arrears of wages) they embarked.
As they slowly passed up the Rhone, whose steep banks, crowned with mountains, exhibited the most various, wild, and romantic scenery, Adeline sat in pensive reverie. The novelty of the scene through which she floated, now frowning with savage grandeur, and now smiling in fertility, and gay with towns and villages, soothed her mind, and her sorrow gradually softened into a gentle and not unpleasing melancholy. She had seated herself at the head of the boat, where she watched its sides cleave the swift stream, and listened to the dashing of the waters.
The boat, slowly opposing the current, passed along for some hours, and at length the veil of evening was stretched over the landscape. The weather was fine, and Adeline, regardless of the dews that now fell, remained in the open air, observing the objects darken round her, the gay tints of the horizon fade away, and the stars gradually appear, trembling upon the lucid mirror of the waters. The scene was now sunk in deep shadow, and the silence of the hour was broken only by the measured dashing of the oars, and now and then by the voice of Peter speaking to the boatmen. Adeline sat lost in thought: the forlornness of her circumstances came heightened to her imagination.
She saw herself surrounded by the darkness and stillness of night, in a strange place, far distant from any friends, going she scarcely knew whither, under the guidance of strangers, and pursued, perhaps, by an inveterate enemy. She pictured to herself the rage of the Marquis now that he had discovered her flight, and though she knew it very unlikely he should follow her by water, for which reason she had chosen that manner of travelling, she trembled at the portrait her fancy drew. Her thoughts then wandered to the plan she should adopt after reaching Savoy; and much as her experience had prejudiced her against the manners of a convent, she saw no place more likely to afford her a proper asylum. At length she retired to the little cabin for a few hours repose.
She awoke with the dawn, and her mind being too much disturbed to sleep again, she rose and watched the gradual approach of day. As she mused, she expressed the feelings of the moment in the following
Morn’s beaming eyes at length unclose, And wake the blushes of the rose, That all night long oppress’d with dews, And veil’d in chilling shade its hues, Reclin’d, forlorn, the languid head, And sadly sought its parent bed; Warmth from her ray the trembling flow’r derives, And, sweetly blushing through its tears, revives.
“Morn’s beaming eyes at length unclose,” And melt the tears that bend the rose; But can their charms suppress the sigh, Or chace the tear from Sorrow’s eye? Can all their lustrous light impart One ray of peace to Sorrow’s heart? Ah! no; their fires her fainting soul oppress — Eve’s pensive shades more soothe her meek distress!
When Adeline left the Abbey, La Motte had remained for some time at the gate, listening to the steps of the horse that carried her, till the sound was lost in distance; he then turned into the hall with a lightness of heart to which he had long been a stranger. The satisfaction of having thus preserved her, as he hoped, from the designs of the Marquis, overcame for a while all sense of the danger in which this step must involve him. But when he returned entirely to his own situation, the terrors of the Marquis’s resentment struck their full force upon his mind, and he considered how he might best escape it.
It was now past midnight — the Marquis was expected early on the following day; and in this interval it at first appeared probable to him that he might quit the forest. There was only one horse; but he considered whether it would be best to set off immediately for Auboine, where a carriage might be procured to convey his family and his moveables from the Abbey, or quietly to await the arrival of the Marquis, and endeavour to impose upon him by a forged story of Adeline’s escape.
The time which must elapse before a carriage could reach the Abbey would leave him scarcely sufficient to escape from the forest; what money he had remaining from the Marquis’s bounty would not carry him far; and when it was expended he must probably be at a loss for subsistence, should he not before then be detected. By remaining at the Abbey it would appear that he was unconscious of deserving the Marquis’s resentment, and though he could not expect to impress a belief upon him that his orders had been executed, he might make it appear that Peter only had been accessary to the escape of Adeline; an account which would seem the more probable from Peter’s having been formerly detected in a similar scheme. He believed also that if the Marquis should threaten to deliver him into the hands of justice, he might save himself by a menace of disclosing the crime he had commissioned him to perpetrate.
Thus arguing, La Motte resolved to remain at the Abbey and await the event of the Marquis’s disappointment.
When the Marquis did arrive, and was informed of Adeline’s flight, the strong workings of his soul, which appeared in his countenance, for a while alarmed and terrified La Motte. He cursed himself and her in terms of such coarseness and vehemence as La Motte was astonished to hear from a man whose manners were generally amiable, whatever might be the violence and criminality of his passions. To invent and express these terms seemed to give him not only relief, but delight; yet he appeared more shocked at the circumstance of her escape than exasperated at the carelessness of La Motte and recollecting at length that he wasted time, he left the Abbey, and dispatched several of his servants in pursuit of her.
When he was gone, La Motte, believing his story had succeeded, returned to the pleasure of considering that he had done his duty, and to the hope that Adeline was now beyond the reach of pursuit. This calm was of short continuance. In a few hours the Marquis returned, accompanied by the officers of justice. The affrighted La Motte, perceiving him approach, endeavoured to conceal himself but was seized and carried to the Marquis, who drew him aside.
“I am not to be imposed upon,” said he, “by such a superficial story as you have invented; you know your life is in my hands; tell me instantly where you have secreted Adeline, or I will charge you with the crime you have committed against me; but, upon your disclosing the place of her concealment, I will dismiss the officers, and, if you wish it, assist you to leave the kingdom. You have no time to hesitate, and may know that I will not be trifled with.” La Motte attempted to appease the Marquis, and affirmed that Adeline was really fled he knew not whither. “You will remember, my Lord, that your character is also in my power; and that, if you proceed to extremities, you will compel me to reveal in the face of day that you would have made me a murderer.”
“And who will believe you?” said the Marquis. “The crimes that banished you from society will be no testimony of your veracity, and that with which I now charge you will bring with it a sufficient presumption that your accusation is malicious. Officers, do your duty.”
They entered the room and seized La Motte, whom terror now deprived of all power of resistance, could resistance have availed him, and in the perturbation of his mind he informed the Marquis that Adeline had taken the road to Lyons. This discovery, however, was made too late to serve himself; the Marquis seized the advantage it offered, but the charge had been given, and, with the anguish of knowing that he had exposed Adeline to danger, without benefiting himself, La Motte submitted in silence to his fate. Scarcely allowing him time to collect what little effects might easily be carried with him, the officers conveyed him from the Abbey; but the Marquis, in consideration of the extreme distress of Madame La Motte, directed one of his servants to procure a carriage from Auboine that she might follow her husband.
The Marquis, in the mean time, now acquainted with the route Adeline had taken, sent forward his faithful valet to trace her to her place of concealment, and return immediately with inteligence to the villa.
Abandoned to despair, La Motte and his wife quitted the forest of Fontangville, which had for so many months afforded them an asylum, and embarked once more upon the tumultuous world, where justice would meet La Motte in the form of destruction. They had entered the forest as a refuge, rendered necessary by the former crimes of La Motte, and for some time found in it the security they sought; but other offences, for even in that sequestered spot there happened to be temptation, soon succeeded, and his life, already sufficiently marked by the punishment of vice, now afforded him another instance of this great truth, “That where guilt is, there peace cannot enter.”