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The Young Lord and Other Tales by Crosland

Whilst moving Caliste seemed more easy


As

D'Elsac watched the speaking countenances of the two sisters, he could have wept for very grief. Here were two girls whose beauty was pre-eminent, highly gifted by Providence, and possessing in reality all that could make life desirable; but, instead of being happy and content, the love of admiration had rendered the one miserable till her bodily health had suffered, and the other even in her success was envious of that beauty which illness bestowed upon her rival. Then did his thoughts wander to Victorine, and he turned towards the cottage, but she was not in sight, and he could not but recollect how she had refused the offer of the Rosiere's crown because she knew it would drive all love and peace from her mind. Yes, you are right, Victorine, he thought; true, most true, are your words; this distinction is indeed a root of bitterness, and, unless you can point out a method of extraction, much I fear has its influence taken an immovable hold upon the minds of your unhappy sisters.

The procession had now reached the church, and, Lisette being led to the centre of the aisles, she was visible to all around. A Prie Dieu or kneeling stool was then placed for her use, and the service of vespers commenced, being led by Monsieur le Prieur, the same priest who pronounced her the Rosiere. The maidens and the youths surrounded her, but she was distinguished from amongst her young companions by being all in white, for she wore no scarf, such being

the wonted custom at Salency.

Whilst the service continued D'Elsac anxiously watched the countenance of Caliste, and more than once he was half tempted to step forwards and lead her from the church; every eager gaze, every look cast upon Lisette was a source of jealousy to Caliste. She could not forget that as the elder she ought to have been in her sister's stead; she could not either forget that Victorine too had refused that crown which Lisette would soon obtain, and which she herself so ardently desired, and as the service was chaunted in a tongue she knew but imperfectly, she attended not to the words, her whole thoughts being engrossed in comparing Lisette to Victorine. Like Dorsain she was led to acknowledge the superiority of the one sister's principles over the other. The one had refused to strive with her lest she should make her miserable, the other had striven and made her miserable.

Bitterly did Caliste rue this strife; but, through the blessing of God upon the words of Victorine, this poor girl for the first time loathed herself, and her own vile nature which made her envious of a sister's prosperity. Caliste was alarmed at this insight she had obtained of her own heart, and she was troubled so much within herself, that she rose suddenly clasping her hands; and, had not those near her restrained her, she would have fled from the church to seek her sister--that sister who had told her with tears of the depravity of the human heart. "Oh, Victorine!" she inwardly exclaimed, "what would I give to be like you; to possess feelings like yours, which are at peace with God and man; for me, wretch that I am, I am jealous of my own sister; and I tremble before a God who knows my inmost thoughts."

Impatiently did she wait the concluding service, her countenance changing every instant with the workings of her mind, whilst D'Elsac, as he watched her, became in a short time almost as excited as herself.

But the service was concluded, and again the Seigneur took the hand of the Rosiere to lead her from the church, and this time the priests headed the procession. Whilst moving Caliste seemed more easy, she felt the affair would soon be concluded; but though she could not urge on the party, yet still in hopes of soon being at liberty to converse with her beloved Victorine, she was certainly more composed. They had now reached the chapel of St. Medard where the Rosiere was to be crowned, and gradually did the procession enter the ready open doors. The Seigneur led Lisette to the high altar, where Monsieur le Prieur was ready to receive her. Here she was bid to kneel before the priest, and, for the first time that day did the cheek of Lisette turn paler than heretofore. She bent her beautiful head upon her bosom, whilst her suppliant attitude and her extreme youth made D'Elsac for awhile forget her selfish conduct, and to feel with Margoton there was cause to triumph in being so nearly connected to that fair young creature. All the villagers stood round; the Rosiere's crown, being then taken from the high altar, was presented to Monsieur le Prieur by a priest.


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