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BELLE ANASTASIE; OR, THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER.

Respectfully dedicated to my dear Friends, the Fashionable Novelists of England.

BY THE AUTHOR OF THE “COOKERY SCHOOL S'” PAPERS.

Chap. I.

| for a painter's model. Her long shining golden

hair was crowned, on a certain June evening, by Jean Papillon, Comte Choufleur, was a very l a little capote of blonde lace, elegantly trimmed ugly man; his stature did not exceed five feet, at each side by a fashionable chou of blue his back was bent, his face dark and wrinkled ; | ruban. Large hoop earrings, set with costly a long black grizzled beard hung down over diamans, gleamed like thousands of rainbows linen whose appearance did not suggest the idea in each pearly, white ear. Her features were of a careful blanchisseuse. His dark blue eyes very, very delicate, and perfectly beautiful. Her had a cat-like gleam belonging to them ; his soft eyes were blue as the handsomne turquoises large aquiline nose and wide loose mouth added with which her ivory fan was adorned. Elegant no charm to his ferocious countenance. His bracelets embraced her round, white arms; and hands were large and bony, his toilette the re- l her dress (of tulle illusion) flowed in brigh verse of soignée, his gait shambling and awk- folds to the elegant tapis that covered the ward. His temper was abominable; the ser- ground. Three deep volants of handsome black vants of Château Papillon led a dreadful life ; if | dentelle added grace to her slender form. any of them happened to displease his master, Her petits pieds were enclosed in tiny pantoufles in a fit of ungovernable rage the wretched old / of white satin. Her gilded and painted harp man would personally chastise the offenders. was silent; her Italian greyhound, with step He amused his leisure by making dreadful light as the rose-leaf's fall, was dejectedly cawhips for this purpose, and he lost no opportu- ressed by the sorrowful lady. nity of using them.

“ Alas, my Zaire !” ejaculated Anastasie, with Immense as was his wealth, he was avaricious la deep sigh, “ thy mistress is utterly desolée." and penurious; he scarcely allowed himself suf- ! The little dog, as if en réponse, lay down on ficient food to sustain his life ; he kept no horses, an embroidered tabouret, and whined piteously. no dogs but a great mastiff as gaunt and re | And la belle Anastasie gave way to a burst of volting-looking as himself. He was the terror of tears, as she leaned her lily cheek on a beautiful all his neighbourhood; the simple paysans looked velvet cushion. Finesse, her maid and confiupon him as a supernatural monstrosity. Chil- dante, entered. dren hurried out of his path, like frightened “In tears, madam!” cried the faithful dohares in the heat of la chasse ; and the mis- | mestic ; “ have you lost your fan, or spilt eau creant was flattered by every mark of aversion, sucrée over those little slippers that fit so well, fear, and terror. He visited very little ; only I or has Zaïre got her foot ecrasé under the door, people who borrowed money of him would tole- / or ?rate his presence, and these trembled as they! Hélas, ma bonne Finesse; you have not offered him their reluctant hospitality. He surmised the cause of my inexpressible grief," would ramble, accompanied only by his dog, for sobbed the unhappy girl, with a fresh burst of hours together in the dreary woods that sur- sorrow. Mon père vient de m'apprendre that round Château Papillon, recreating himself by Comte Choufleur, the terrible, méchant, covetous making hideous faces, and growling and shriek- | Comte Choufleur, loves your poor little mis. ing like a madman. He was tremendously rich tress.and covetous, and yearly made large sums by Finesse burst into tears as she vigorously lending money at exorbitant interest to the rubbed with gomme élastique the half-soiled glove noblesse around, who had become distressed in her hand." during the awful days of the Revolution. It was « Hélas ! La pauvre Anastasie !" by lending money that he became acquainted with the aged Comte de Concombre, who, with one lovely daughter, a secretary, and three or

Chap. III. four faithful servants, resided at the noble and ancient Château Concombre, the nearest large M. le Secrétaire was a most handsome and house to Papillon's own domain.

gallant young man. Agé de vingtans, with a thick, silky moustache, soft rolling dark eyes, and a certain air de bon ton, so agreeable to le

beau sexe; he was sure to be a friend of our CHAP. II.

belle Anastasie. Secluded in a great measure The lovely, aimable, and accomplished Anas- from the world by political changes which had tasie Irma Celestine Claudine Sophie Amelie thrown the Comte de Concombre into retirement Elizabeth Térèse de Concombre was indeed fit and poverty, she had grown up like a lovely violet

Belle Anastasie ; or, the Mysterious Stranger.

47

among its shadowy native green leaves. Sweet | Le Secrétaire felt he was a dead man; yet he Anastasie ! 'Twas in her sixteenth year the resolved to fight for his life. handsome Secrétaire came to Château Concom. | “ You are hired by Choufleur to assassinate bre. At the very first the horrid Choufleur had | me,” he cried. taken a dislike to the meek, yet courageous Pardon, monsieur, je suis votre ami ; Choufleur Secrétaire, whose cool politeness threw the is by right your own title, and that yon renegade ruffian Choufleur into passionate rage.

knows too well !” It was natural that Anastasie should take “Am I dreaming ?" shrieked the Secrétaire. pleasure in the agreeable and witty converse of “Non, Monsieur le Comte,replied the mask. le jeune Secrétaire. His sweet smile, his hand-“You shall regain your title, your riches, and some rolling dark eyes, the flossy down that your bride. Adieu !” shaded his well-cut lip, had taken by storm the The Secrétaire looked round with his soft, little citadel du ecur de la belle Anastasie. rolling dark eyes-the figure had disappeared !

In return, he adored her tiny foot-prints; the musky handkerchief which had pressed her lips was dearer to him than all the riches of Araby That night the pretended Comte de Choufleur the Blest! Oh! how softly rolled his dark eyes | lay in horrid torture; dreadful visions scared as, with her silk on his hands, she wound the sleep from his eyes; his mastiff growled savagely glittering thread on ivory reels, delicately carven at the foot of the bed. The cold sweat sat on by a Chinese hand. Oh! those happy moments his brow. His ferocious face glared fearfully. when his rich round voice, mingling with her The frightened servants sent for a priest. In bell-like soprano, the triste musique floated on agony the wretch confessed and died. the summer air.

But now, alas ! where were those visions of bliss ? Anastasie wept constantly; and M. le Ere many weeks had passed, the true Comte Secrétaire was frequently observed pressing to de Choufleur, the handsome and witty Theodore bis soft rolling dark eyes a richly-embroidered Gantjaune, was reinstated in his ancestral cambric handkerchief. The agony of the loverschüleau with great honour. may be better imagined than described ; the “Will he still think of Anastasie?” murwretchedness of long years seemed crowded into mured the demoiselle pensively, yet cheerfully, for the experience of a few short days. M. de she had escaped a terrible fate. Choufleur was anxious that the marriage should Fine furniture and horses were bought; the take place; he taunted Anastasie with her love cellars were stocked, the pictures cleaned ; but for le Secrétaire, and le Secrétaire with his pas. M. le Comte kept himself as yet in close retiresion for Anastasie. He gloated over their sighs ment. The fearful mastiff was shot by the and tears; he took pleasure in the stormy sor- young man, and no trace remained in the château row of two riven hearts.

of its late unrighteous possessor. Anastasie and son père were completely in the Still, as her slender fingers strayed over the wretch's hands ; Concombre was too deeply in- strings of her gilded and painted harp, gentle debted to him to object, and the fatal day was sighs raised the elegant chemisette of Anastasie, appointed.

as she softly asked herself, “ Will he still think The trousseau was ordered in Paris contrary of Anastasie po to the advice of Choufleur, who wished la belle Anastasie to be married in a plain grey taffeta ! Her spirit, though depressed, was not quite ex

CHAP. V. tinguished, and she resolutely insisted on a toilette à la mode. A long voile of dentelle de

Yes, truly, he still thought of his belle AnasBruxelles was to flow to her feet: a quirlande of tasie. Nothing but severe cold in the head white roses and myrtle would bind her golden

kept him in his château those three weary weeks. tresses; a robe of the most delicate brocade was

He was better; his Spanish jennet was saddled to envelop her lovely form; the corsage à la

and waiting; he flung his manly person on to Grecque would heighten her native elegance.

the beautiful animal, whose silver adornments But ah! the wretchedness, amid all this gilded

gleamed like little mirrors in the sun. He was pomp, of la belle Anastasie, as her fearful fiancé truly dressed comme il faut. Not even the disdanced and yelled in frantic joy before her!

cerning Finesse saw a fault in his appointments as he put a guinea into her honest hand. He made his entrée into the beautiful boudoir ; there

reclined la belle Anastasie, on rose-covered CHAP. IV.

velvet cushions. Her fair cheek was lily pale

with pensive wonderings concerning her young M. le Secrétaire was walking alone in the Comte, the ci-devant Secrétaire. forét; his soft, rolling dark eyes were overflow- The robe of the lady was of the richest point ing; and where his tears fell, the grass was ever d'Angleterre : her tiny feet were clasped in the after more green and beautiful! Ah! le pauvre embrace of dark green velvet slippers; the palest Secrétaire! Suddenly, a Dark Form met his of straw-coloured gants enveloped her little soft, rolling dark eye. 'Twas a man, wrapped hands; her swan-like neck was surrounded by in a long, full cloak, masked, and with a sword. a velours, clasped by a valuable amethyst brooch. Her masses of sunshiny curls were carelessly become obsolete in fashion, was replaced by a knotted beneath a Valenciennes lace capote, newer and more splendid one from Paris. Her adorned by a rose panache at each ear. A cir- jewels were envied by duchesses, her dresses cassienne of green velvet, like her slippers, came the best in France. Who now so happy as la a little below her fairy-like ceinture; from the belle Anastasie? breast-pocket of her circassienne she drew ever Le jour des noces arrived : Anastasie and and anon a slight thing of lace and cambric, Théodore are united ; the lovely girl, in her fresh, which she pressed to her beautiful blue orbs. costly toilette, was indeed belle comme une ange;

She wore one more ornament; 'twas a locket and Finesse, the faithful Finesse, she too looked with hair.

pretty and saucy in her piquante toilette de femme He entered: with a shrill cry she rushed to de chambre. his arms; all was right--the day was fixed; the Adieu ! adieu! Heureuse Anastasie. Et tu! trousseau, which by the lapse of a month had Comte de Choufleur, le brave et gentil.

DE B T.

“ Let it be your first care not to be in any man's debt.”-Johnson.

The state of existence familiarly known as be traced in the scion of an ancient house who being over head and ears in debt, is not by any upholds the dignity of his family by making means exclusive ;-on the contrary, it seems over to the Jews the acres that are his only in open to men of every rank and character, is en-expectancy, in exchange for the means of supjoyed by communities as well as individuals, and porting a reckless extravagance; or in the upin its most enlarged form takes the name of start who establishes himself as a man of ton, national. Debt indeed is a kind of social disease, by squandering the hoards he has lately inhewide-spreading in its ravages, but of no specific rited in the hells of St. James's or at Newtype; it springs from an endless variety of market. He gets involved in debt, and is causes, and is marked by symptoms the most haunted by duns; writ follows writ, and he is dissimilar. In the incipient stages it imper- hunted by bailiffs, till at length he is forced ceptibly undermines the constitution, but it soon altogether off the stage, or at least has to festers into a gnawing ulcer, or “gangrenes to change the scene;-his choice lies between black inortification.” It may be hidden from Queen's Bench and “beyond Dover," unless other eyes for a time, but it is a cancer “rank- / indeed in a lucky hour St. Stephen's open its ling in the riven breast," which often grows in- doors. In the end he becomes a “man on curable from concealment. It is at once a town,” a roué and a blackleg; or if he has been consumption of the stamina of the body, and a taught wisdom, it is too late, and it is better to paralysis of the powers of the mind. But be a fool than go to his school to learn it. though the patient becomes emaciated, the ap. | Poverty and debt are nearly allied, but their proved practice is to treat his disorder like a l influences are not alike baneful. The poor man plethora; an abstemious regimen is prescribed, may look his fellows boldly in the face, and which, by subduing the quickened pulse and “with virtue conquer extremities;" the man in calming the fevered brain of dissolute excess, debt feels lessened in his own eyes, and prefers may reinvigorate the shattered frame of an im- living by his wits rather than his industry. paired fortune.

| Poverty may stimulate to exertion, and is someThe malady is contagious, and the benevolent times the nurse of greatness; debt cramps the often endanger themselves by their kindness to energies of the soul and saps the independence its victims. Honour and worth are not proof of character. The gay may affect to view the against it, and genius too frequently pines and evil lightly, but the wise man will agree with the sinks under its attacks; but the most malignant moralist, and “not accustom hiinself to consider case is that of the spendthrift, in which the dis- debt merely as an inconvenience, knowing that ease quickly runs to its crisis. Its progress may | he may find it a calamity.”

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TRAVERS TEMPLETON TO HORACE Sey- | think I hear you say; and you fancy that our old MOUR, Esq.

friend Shakspere has been wrong for once, and that in Clarence Evelyn's case, at all events,

“ the course of true love did indeed run smooth." “ I will drop in his way soine obscure epistles of If you do say so, Horace, you are jumping to a love." TWELFTH NIGHT. conclusion and are quite mistaken-there never

was a vessel more nearly wrecked within sight of harbour, than was the Colonel's wooing

within a week before his marriage. Evelyn was ll'oodlands, 23rd August, 183–

an ardent and impassioned lover—"never man My deaR SEYMOUR,

sighed truer breath.” Louisa Somerset was You tell me, and I rejoice to hear it, that both rich and beautiful, and Clarence had many Colonel Evelyn has become your neighbour ; rivals; and before his marriage, though never you also ask if I was acquainted with him be afterwards, he was now and then a wee bit fore his marriage, and how long I have known jealous. There was his turn-out with Captain his lady? Some eighteen years ago, my friend, Sinclair, in which he received a bullet in the I was introduced for the first time to Mrs. arm, and then discovered that his rival had never Evelyn; she was then Louisa Somerset, and as seen Louisa, and had been engaged for upwards lovely as a girl of seventeen as she is handsome of a twelvemonth to the daughter of Sir Arthur as a matron of five-and-thirty. Clarence Evelyn Egerton ;-of course Miss Somerset was exwas my earliest friend; we were together both at cessively displeased, but Clarence pleaded hard Harrow and in Italy, and were in our boyhood for pardon, and his wounded arm, although a what the boarding-school young ladies' term speechless orator, did more than all his "inseparables ;” and as Evelyn was all for love, eloquence-his mistress forgave him on his proand I (the more shame for me) was at that time mise to offend no more. Things went on prosa contented bachelor,-as he preferred “the perously, and the wedding day was fixed; but sword and all the artillery of war," and my one unlucky morning, the week before his nupdelight was in my library, our pursuits and tials, while Clarence was as usual at my apartpleasures never interfered. Clarence Evelyn ments endeavouring to while away the time by was a soldier,

expaliating on the beauty and accomplishments

of his bride, a note from Louisa's guardian was “ He had not been to college, sir-for books, delivered, requesting me to accompany Evelyn

He'd passed his time in reading ladies' eyes, to dinner in Berkeley Square; my worthy cor

Which he could construe marvellously well,”— respondent concluded his invitation thus: “I and while I was reading for a fellowship at Ox enclose a letter of Louisa's, which I picked up in ford, enamoured with the phantom of a double my library this morning-show it to Major first, Clarence,

Evelyn, for I think he oughi to see it.” As the “A dashing captain of hussars,

hour of appointment was approaching, I tossed Dressed in the livery of Mars,

the note and its enclosure to my companion, and Mustachio, lace and sabre,”

retired to my apartment, which I had, however,

scarcely entered when he rushed into the room, fell in love with Louisa Somerset at the Good- and almost choking with passion, threw the letter wood races,-danced with her, dangled with her, I had given him upon my dressing-table. flirted with her, fought for her, quarelled with her “Templeton," he exclaimed, “read that, (bad that, Horace), was ordered abroad with his aye, read it over, and then tell me truly if in all regiment, and called upon her guardian to bid his the annals of female perfidy you ever met with love farewell;—went in snivelling like a sentenced treachery like hers !" criminal, and came out smirking, an accepted “For heaven's sake, dear Evelyn, what has lover ;-flew to the horseguards for a three happened? You are surely raving ; I implore weeks' furlough, sent me to Doctors' Commons you be composed and listen to me; think what for a special licence, sailed with his bride in the you have been saying, and of whom of Louisa Endymion for Flanders, saved his colonel at Le Somerset, your own affianced bride, the faithful, Quatre Bras, fought at Waterloo, brought generous, open-hearted—' despatches home to Brighton, was presented at “Faithful, generous, open-hearted-aye, gene. St. James's, and succeeded to Castle-Evelyn rous and open-hearted truly! Read that letter," and seven thousand a year within eighteen he continued furiously, “and say if ever doating months after he had first become enamoured of lover was betrayed as I have been! You think the bright blue eyes of Miss Louisa Somerset. me mad, my friend and I almost wish I were “Quick work was that, friend Templeton," I | 80. Louisa ! cruel and deceitful woman! may all no, no !” he muttered as he sank upon , was violently agitated ; and regardless of my a couch and hid his face in his hands, “un- presence she clung to him in terror, and implored grateful as she is, I cannot curse her.”

that she might hear the worst. “I have,” she Evelyn was in agony. I hastity perused the said, “ no relatives to weep for ; but you, dear letter, and in truth, when I had completed it, my Clarence, are more fortunate-you are not an indignation was well nigh equal to his own. It orphan; has any sudden stroke of Providence ran as follows:

| bereft you of a parent or a friend? The loss of Berkeley Square, Tuesday Evening.

fortune only could never thus have moved you.

Still silent! then can I, dear Evelyn, have done MY DEAREST HARRY, “Your prophecy is fulfilled-my hand is pledged i

ed anything unconsciously to offend you?” She laid

ó her hand affectionately on his shoulder as she to Evelyn, and another week will see me wedded to your rival. Do not, however, be uneasy, dearest

Dearest – spoke, and looked so innocently on her lover

spoke, ang looked so innocentiy on her marry whom I may, I can never cease to love you. that I could restrain myself no longer. “Evelyn, Evelyn is very amiable, and I believe he adores me let appearances be what they may, Louisa Somer--he is generous, noble-spirited, affectionate and set is blameless- I will pledge my life and honour confiding; if he has a fault it is a little, very little for her truth.” jealousy, though of that I think he is completely “Evelyn! Clarence Evelynı !” cried Miss cured since his duel with Fitzherbert Sinclair. Somerset, “what can this mean? you cannot, Come to me very early, Harry, for I have much to dare not yet again suspect me. Dear Clarence,” say to you. Lucy will conduct you to my dressing-|

dressing, she continued in a milder tone, “you cannot room at once, and you will meet with Clarence and

doubt of the attachment of your own Louisa ?” Mr. Templeton at dinner-meanwhile farewell! “Unalterably yours,

“I do not, by Heaven ?" answered Evelyn ; “LOUISA”

“ you are right, Templeton, there must be some

mistake. No, no, Louisa! I can never look “ The chain I send you was the gift of Evelyn. ;

upon that countenance, and doubt one instant I told him that I never wore such ornaments, and )

of thy purity and faith.” he begged me to present it to some valued friend-I promised, and I keep my word.”

í He took her hand beseechingly, but she

shrank from his caresses. “I had thought that I read the letter again in silence, for I durst Major Evelyn had been above this groundless not trust myself to speak. The address was jealousy, I grieve to find I was mistaken. How wanting it had apparently been sent under a I have offended him, I cannot even guess; but cover, but I was well acquainted with the hand- ; this I know,” she added, with an air of dignity writing of Louisa, and felt confident that the that gave fresh lustre to her beauty, “my feelcharacters were her own. I knew, moreover, ings, my affections may be trifled with, but my that she was an orphan, and had no male character and my conduct shall be above suspirelative surviving. Oh, how that letter had cion; farewell ! there can be no hope of happiruined her in my esteem! I turned to Evelyn- ness in our union without mutual confidence." he was deadly pale ; his furious anger had sub- She burst into tears, and turned to leave the sided into a more frightful calmness; he pressed room as Sir Richard Meadows entered with a my hand, motioned me to take up the paper, bright-eyed laughing Hebe of some eighteen and spoke with an affected firmness and an effort years of age, whom he introduced as Miss to appear composed.

| Harriet Howard. “My friend, this is very hard to bear, but it is “Welcome, gentlemen," cried the Baronetbetter to be undeceived in time. I shall join my hey, tears, Louisa! what, a lover's quarrel company this evening, but I will see her before three days before the bridal! Evelyn-Mr. I go, and I ask it of your friendship to accom- Templeton, can you explain?” pany me. I will not upbraid her, for I could! As my companion would not break the silence not endure her tears; and for her guardian's the task devolved upon me, and presenting to sake, and the love that I must ever bear her, I Sir Richard the letters I had received from him will not expose her perfidy. But this morning that morning, I recounted as briefly as possible -but an hour ago, I thanked Heaven for my the unfortunate misapprehensions they had ochappiness, and had not another wish; and now | casioned. I have but one-it is for a soldier's grave.” I “Major Evelyn," exclaimed the Baronet

His carriage was in waiting, and we drove warmly, “your conduct, I must tell you, is hastily to Berkeley Square. We arrived, and both cruel and ungentlemanly, and evinces were shown into the library, where in a few neither the feelings nor affections of a man of moments Louisa Somerset joined us, beautiful honour; you have insulted Miss Louisa Someras an angel, and her countenance flushed with set, and have disgraced yourself.” pleasure on beholding Evelyn. “My dear Evelyn was aroused: “Sir Richard, I should Clarence! Mr. Templeton! Evelyn, how kind be indeed a scoundrel if I deserved your accuof you to come so early-I so wished to see you sations; I do not, sir. Your note to Mr. Temthat I might introduce- Good heavens! Cla- pleton contained a letterrence, how you look at me! your hand is burn “Which the owner dropped by accident in my ing, and you tremble, Clarence! dearest library, and I enclosed to Mr. Templeton, Clarence! Mr: Templeton, in mercy tell me what because I thought you would be pleased to misfortune I must now encounter !”

see " Evelyn turned away from her; she saw that he “ That I have a rival in the affections of my

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