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life and mine depends. Answer me, then, as you would answer before the Almighty. Blanche, do you love me?"
“Is this the time and place to ask and answer such a question ? Do you think that these walls are accustomed to echo words of love ?"
“Yes, this is the time, this is the place; for we stand between life and death, between time and eternity! Blanche, answer me quickly ; every moment robs us of a day, every hour of a year. Blanche, do you love me ?"
“Yes, yes !" These words came from the maiden's heart, who, forgetting that her blushes could not here be seen, concealed her face upon
“Well, then, Blanche, you must at once accept me for your husband." “The maiden's whole frame trembled. “ What can be your purpose ?"
“My purpose is to snatch you from death ; we will see if they will send the wife of a republican general to the scaffold !" Blanche now comprehended him; she shuddered at the danger to which he exposed himself in her behalf. Her love burned higher within her bosom ; but collecting all her firmness, she said, in a resolute tone, “It is impossible !"
“Impossible !" cried Marceau, interrupting her; "impossible! That is folly! What obstacle can stand between us and our happiness, now that you have acknowledged that you love me? Do you imagine, then, that all is but a jest? Think of the death that awaits you; and what a death !"
“ Mercy! mercy! it is frightful! But if the title of your wife does not save me, it will destroy you with me.”
“It is this, then, that impels you to reject the only way of safety which remains open to us? Well, then, hear me, Blanche : When I first saw you, I felt the influence of your beauty; this feeling grew to love, and this love has ripened into passion; my being, my fate hangs upon yours; happiness or the scaffold- I will share all with you; I will not leave you, for no human power can separate us; I need but to call out, • Long live the king ! this would open the door of your dungeon to me again, and only together would we leave it. If you wish this, be it so. A night with you in the same prison, the passage in the same cart, and death beneath the same axe. All this has its worth in my eyes.”
“Oh, no, no! Ay! leave me, for heaven's sake! leave me !"
“I Aly! reflect upon what you say and do. If I go hence without calling you my wife, without the right to protect you, I will seek out your father, whom you have forgotten, and will say to him: Old man, thy daughter could have saved her life, but she would not. She has chosen that thy last days should pass away in grief, and that her blood should fall upon thy gray hairs; weep, old man, not at the death of thy daughter, but that she did not love thee well enough to live.'” After a pause, which was broken by Blanche's sobs alone, he continued—“Oh, for compassion's sake, listen to me; by everything which is sacred to thee, by thy mother's grave, I conjure thee to become mine! Thou must! thou must !"
“Yes, maiden, thou must!" exclaimed a strange voice, which startled them both ; "thou must, for it is the only means to preserve thy scarce budding life ; religion enjoins it, and I am ready to bless your union.”
Marceau looked around him in wonder ; and recognised the priest of the parish of Sainte Marie de Rhé, who had read mass in the assembly of the Vendeans on that night in which Blanche was made prisoner. “Oh, reverend father !" he exclaimed, clasping his hand, " join your prayers to mine; tell her that she must live !"
“ Blanche de Beaulieu !" said the priest, with a solemn voice, " in the name of thy father, in whose place my years and the friendship which has
united us entitle me to stand, I bid thee yield to the entreaties of this youth, as would thy father, were he now here.
Blanche appeared disturbed by a thousand contending emotions. last she threw herself into Marceau's arms. :-"Oh, my friend, I can no longer refuse !-- I love thee-I am thine !" Their lips joined in a kiss.Marceau was bewildered with joy. He seemed to have forgotten every thing around him. The voice of the priest recalled him to himself. Hasten, my children,” said the latter, my
hours here below are numbered. Let but a few moments pass, and I can bless you only from heaven.”
Blanche started, and glanced around in terror. “ What a moment," she said, “ to unite our destinies! What a temple for such a ceremony! Do you think that a union blessed within these dark and gloomy walls will be productive of joy?" At these words a feeling of superstitious fear thrilled the bosom of the young general; yet he soon collected himself, and led Blanche to a portion of the dungeon where the light of day penetrated between the iron bars of a narrow loop-hole, faintly illuminating the thick darkness; then sinking upon their knees, they awaited the blessing of the priest. The latter raised his arms and uttered the hallowed words. At this moment the clash of weapons was heard in the passage way. Blanche fell upon Marceau's bosom. It is I ?" she exclaimed in terror_" It is I whom they have come to take. Oh, my friend, how bitter would death be to me at this moment !"
The general had placed himself in front of the door, holding a pistol in each hand. It was opened. The astonished soldiers retreated. “Be calm," said the old man, stepping forward; “I am the one whom they seek-I am the destined victim.” The soldiers gathered round himn. "My children," he cried, in loud tones, as he turned towards the newly-married pair, “kneel down ! With one foot in the grave, I give you my last blessing-and the blessing of a dying man is sacred !” The soldiers stood in silent wonder. The priest had taken from his bosom a crucifix, which he had concealed from the search of his captors; he held it over them; on the verge of death he blessed them and prayed for them. A solemn stillness prevailed for a moment. Come," said the priest. The soldiers surrounded him—the door closed upon them-all disappeared like a vision of the night. Blanche threw herself into Marceau's arms. “Oh, if you
and they should come for me thus! If I have not you then to support me as I cross that threshold! Oh, Marceau! I, far from you-weeping, calling upon you, and hearing no answer! I-do not leave me! I will cast myself at the feet of yonder barbarians; I will tell them that I am innocent beg them to leave me with you in prison for my whole life, and say that then I will bless them."
" Blanche, I am sure of saving you—I will answer for your life; in less than two days I will bring you freedom, and then it will not be a whole life in this dungeon, but a life of love and liberty.”
The door was now opened, and the jailor entered. Blanche held Marceau more closely in her arms ; she could not part with him, and still every moment was precious. He extricated himself gently from her embrace, and promised to return before the evening of the second day. “ Preserve your love for me !" he cried, and hurried from the dungeon.
“Forever !" stammered Blanche, sinking to the ground, as she pointed to the red rose in her hair. The door was closed.
Marceau found General Dumas waiting for him with a carriage. A few persons were collected around it. “ If the evening were misty," said a voice, “I do not know what could hinder some twenty resolute men fram making
their way into the city and carrying off the prisoner." Marceau started.--. He recognised Tinguy, exchanged a glance with him full of meaning, and then sprang with his friend into the carriage.“ To Paris !” he cried to the postilion, as he dropped a few pieces of gold into his hand, and the horses darted forward with the speed of the wind. Throughout the journey they travelled with the same rapidity; he lavished money at every station, and received the promise that horses should be ready for the following day, and that nothing should hinder his swift return. About eight in the evening they reached Paris. Marceau left his friend, and went without delay to Robespierre's dwelling. He ascended three pair of stairs, and was admitted to the presence of the dictator. A bust of Rousseau, a table with a few books, and a chest of drawers, were the only ornaments of the neat chamber. Robespierre saw the impression which this produced upon the general. “This is the Cæsar's palace," he said, smiling ;—"what would'st thou of the dictator ?!'
“The liberation of my wife, condemned to death by Carrier."
“ Thy wife condemned to death by Carrier ?—the wife of Marceau, the true republican—the Spartan soldier! What then is he about in Nantes ?"
“Committing atrocities !" Marceau then sketched a picture of his deeds in that city. Robespierre moved restlessly upon his chair, but did not interrupt his narration.
“ Thus I am ever misinterpreted, then !" cried the latter, with a harsh voice, when Marceau had ended; "everywhere, where my eyes cannot see
and my hands reach, useless bloodshed ! Much blood, indeed, must inevitably now, for we are not yet at the end."
"Well, then, the liberation of my wife?" Robespierre took a sheet of paper.-"Her family name ?” “Why do you wish it ?" “ It is necessary, in order to establish her personal identity.” “ Blanche de Beaulieu." Robespierre dropped the pen which he held in his hand. “The daughter of the Marquis de Beaulieu !-the leader of those banditti ?”
“ Blanche de Beaulieu, the daughter of the Marquis de Beaulieu."
“And how comes it that she is your wife?" Marceau related all that had occurred.
“ Young fool!” said Robespierre, "durst thou"
Marceau interrupted him. “I desire neither reproaches nor counsel, but barely my wife's freedom.-Will you grant it ?"
“ Marceau, will family ties—will love, never lead you to betray the republic ?"
“ Never !"
“ If you should find yourself, weapon in hand, face to face with the Marquis de Beaulieu ?
“I would fight against him, as I have done hiiherto." “ And should he fall into your hands ?"
Marceau reflected for a moment. “ I would send him to you, and you would decide upon his fate.”
Will you swear this ?” " By my honor."
Robespierre took up the pen again. “Marceau," he said, "you have had the good fortune to keep yourself, thus far, pure in the eyes of all. I have watched you for a long while; for a long while I have wished to see you. Should I one day fall, let me not curse you in my last hour. Here is your wife's pardon. You must now hasten, for there is no time to be lost. Adieu !”
Marceau pressed his hand in silence, for his voice was stifled by emo tion, and then hurried down the stairs. In descending, he met General Dumas. “I have her pardon !” he exclaimed, embracing him—“I have her pardon! Blanche is saved !"
“Wish me joy also," said his friend. “I am appointed to the command of the army of the Pyrenees, and I am on my way to tender Robespierre my thanks." They embraced again, and Marceau hastened to the carriage, which was waiting for him.
What a burden was removed from his heart! What happiness awaited him after so many moments of anguish! His fancy pictured the futurethe moment when, at the threshold of her dungeon, he should exclaim" Blanche, thou art rescued by me! Come, Blanche, and pay the debt of thy life with thy love !" But, from time to time he was seized with an indescribable anxiety; a chill of terror thrilled his very heart. He urges on the postillion by promises—by gold. The carriage flies—the horses' hoofs scarcely touch the ground, and still to his impatience their speed is slow. At every station horses stand in readiness ; nowhere does he meet with the least delay. In a few hours he has passed Versailles, Chartres, Le Mans, La Fleche. He comes in sight of Angers, and suddenly he feels a fearful shock; the carriage is overturned and broken. He rises, half-senseless and bleeding; with a stroke of his sabre he cuts the traces of one of the horses, mounts it, reaches the next post-house, takes a fresh steed, and pursues his journey with increased rapidity. He dashes through Angers, Varades, Ancenis. His horse is covered with blood and foam. At last he sees Nantes, -Nantes, which contains his soul-his life-his all. Yet a few moments and he will have reached the city. Before the door of the prison his horse falls dead. What matters it to him ?—the goal is reached !
“ Blanche! Blanche !” he cries.
“Two carts have just left the prison," answered the jailor,—"she is in the first.
“Death and hell !” exclaimed Marceau, and hurried on foot towards the crowd, which was thronging to the place of execution. He reached the hindmost car; one of the condemned turned and recognised him. eral, save her! save her !- I could not-I was arrested. Long live the king and the good cause !" It was Tinguy.
Marceau forced his way onward; the crowd pressed-pushed—but he hurried forward with them. He reached the fatal spot, and found himself in front of the scaffold. “Pardon ! pardon !” he exclaimed, waving the paper in the air.
But scarcely had the cry sounded from his lips, when the executioner held up to the multitude the fair-haired head of a young maiden. The startled crowd turned shuddering from the spectacle, for it seemed to them as if a stream of blood issued from the mouth of that beautiful head. From the midst of that silent throng a sudden cry was heard a cry of fury, in which all the strength of despair seemed concentrated. Marceau had recognised the red rose which that bead held between its teeth. It was the head of his Blanche!
THE PRINCIPLE OF LIFE.
Is it a thing to be desired, to understand on what principle we live, and move, and have our being? As each soul alights upon the shores of time, is it worth stopping to enquire whence it came and whither it goeth? Is the passing and repassing of beings at the rate of thousands in an hour, from and to the earth, a subject of sufficient interest and importance to cause us to pause, for a single hour, to learn aught concerning it! Is it after all worth the trouble of investigation? The merchant may see in it no prospect of gain, and the mechanic no increase of hire; but not so with the eagle eye of wisdom-No, not so. It looks, it wonders, it investigates; and from the shores of Times' mighty ocean, it looks backward and forward into the long vista of the past, and its longing gaze strives to penetrate the shadowy future; it would pause, and it would search for years to learn the principle of our being, before it would fold its weary lids in repose. The enquiry-whence comes all this life and all this death ? breaks upon it with startling earnestness. It knows this globe is emptied and filled every thirty years—that hundreds and thousands of millions have gone hence; it knows thousands of billions are yet to tread upon it, and with a voice of thunder the cry goes forth, whence and whither go ye-ye mighty hosts? A parent has spread his sail on the unknown ocean ; a sister has followed in his wake; a wife has drifted out upon the billows, her child is in her arms. On the shore stands gazing the tearful husband, the weeping and broken-hearted father ; his heart is bowed down by weight of wo. He knows that it is written that “God does not willingly afflict the children of men;" he cannot understand it,—to him it is a hard saying. His home is desolate-his hearth is bare; and his soul cries out, “Oh, give me back my wife-my child !" Grief and despair have met together, and they play upon the unstrung chords of his aching heart, as the wind upon the strings of the Æolean harp. Time rolls on, and while the earth is filled with mourners, there are a thousand minds bent on investigating the secret causes of our state of being here. Man as yet walks the earth in the dim twilight; the shades of evening obscure his longing gaze; and as the shadows fall around him, he knows and feels that he but “ sees through a glass darkly." But he sees, and he knows he sees, more than his fellows who have lived before him. He looks beyond, through the dark vista of the misty night, for the breaking of a glorious dawn; and still farther, when the dawn shall have passed into the morning, the morning into the noon-day; when, from the zenith of the heavens, there shall come a flood of light, unfolding to him the secrets of his material being—he knows that the labors of the wise are so many streams flowing into the mighty ocean of science, and that the time has come when he would turn all these streams of light towards himself, and by their application learn the nature of his being, and on what it is depending. The iron horse has done his work, and man is borne by it as on the wings of the wind, both on the land and on the sea,
while his thoughts pass through space with double the rapidity of light. But this is not enough; the grand secret of his being remains undiscovered. In the earliest period of time of which any history has come down to us, we find man investigating the principle of life. Theories innumerable have been started, and even the names of their authors would fill volumes. An eminent writer VOL, XXI. NO. CIX.