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Widow And Steward

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Monsieur Renaud Dechamps was a achelor in every sense of tbe word. He was thirty-five, vain, coneeited and selish. He had not the least excuse í'or mitv, as he could not claim the most istant relationship to Apollo. Now, with all his faults, in character nd personal appearance M. Renaud Deïamps was possessed of something which very mcmbcr of his club cuvied him - vhich the few ladks he had ever known iad striven to be mistress of; namely, ie most magnificent chatcau in the enirc empire. It was indescribably fuultle s, extemally, intenially, aud in its surroimdings. Twiee a week M. Dechanips visitod Paris, end thus did he pass his life year in and year out ; absorbed in himself, and never imasjining theie would come a day when he would wish ho had done otherwise. The tiowers had just displayed their colore, and the trees were looking down upon theiu with their green eyed jealonsv in the gurdons of the chata tu, when M. Dechamps ooinmencedhis morning walk. wliich üo ahvays took at that season of the year. Se had wulked until li' wis tired, ene morning in the niiddie of May, and he seated himself by the side ot a tiny artificial lake, so clear that it reflectcd pverytiling around it. Aftcr gaziug into it for some time Dechamps llarted as he saw another figure reflected in the water beide his own. He tumed quickly, and close behiud him saw, not a g&rdener, nor one of the stray terne mimáis about his parks, but a young ghl, scarcely less fresh-looking thun the surrounding flowers, very petite but i.-xquisitc form w;ls attired in a habit of jrecii, so bright that it made the traes íook Caded. She was soated on a pony, which held its head up erect, disd;iinhig to avail itself of the freedom the loose ivin entttled it to; for the rider had Iroppod the rein taken her foot from the itírrup, turned herself completely round ui her saddle, and was occupied in sketching. il. Dechcitps Kist gazed m amazement, then coughed, and finally rose, at wliich point the lady, not u bit disconccitcd or surprised, raised her head quickly and exclaimed : ' Oh '. picase don't'move, I am making a sketch of the chateau and its surroundLngs." "If mademoiselle will not givc me horns or bigears, I will oblige her by remainiag quirt." replied M. Dechamps, not knowing whethor he had received a complimeDt or not. His vanity fod him to Sttppose h had ; th;it the i.wly knew liini itnd wished to have his picture. Still he was a little doubtful, and with that doubt e.ivssel " his face he sat down, turni7ig liis face, however, and not his báck, tO the fair artist. " Don't look so uncomfortable, and don't, I beg, scowl so, or I shall draw you as a weed among this shrubbery." ' I assure you I feel' " " Frightened, as every one does when they have their picture taken for the first time. I presumo you never sat for your pottrait beforc. I cin assure you you dou't enhance the beauty of my sketch, but I can easily rul' you out," continucd the intrusive artist, without raising her eyes to ïl. Decliamps, and as unconcernedly as though she were ttilking to the trees. " When you have done with me I will retire, as I have other occupation for my time." " You surely have a holiday to day, or does your master set you all tasks betore he Leavaa iVir Paris? " queried the young lady, putting her pencil to her Ups, so red that one would fanoy tho pencil would be stained with blood. M. Dechamps was thunderstruck. His vanity had received a fearful shock, whicli gent it bounding against his oonceit, the ettect bcing to completely rulHe him. He forgot his stately bearing, disregarded what was duo to a lady, and springing to hi feet, be said : " By what right do you intrude here '(" " Good gracious, is that in imitation of vour master? If so, I will play mistress and teach you that rospect to a lady is expected from tho lowost iuenial." M. Dechamps was at a loss for words, but as the lady ghowed no signs of going, hc had time to recover himselt. He glanced at tho iretty picture before him, and if he did not admire it, he certainly did not admire himself. He had nover apoloiïized in his life to any one, but he contrived now to give utteranco to something intciidod for an apology. " Don't mention it. I have made you aware of your rudeness. I don't want any apology. I detest too much humilit'v in a man. There, Ihavealmostfinished for to-day. Now, teil mo who I must tbank for tho pleasuro of this poep at the chateau f " " I am tho steward of M. Dcehampg, and it will give me pleasuro to let you seo more of tho chateau," replied M. DcchampB, prouipted by hc did not know what. " I have, indeed, been unpawlonably rude, but I did not know M. Dechamps was civilized pnough to have a Rteward." " You do .not entertain a very high opinión of 11. Dechamps t " 'l No one doos that I ever heard of." " Indeed ; and why not ? " " Becausü he is a selíish, tnorbid baehelor, who does not know how toappreciate thu blcssings fortuno has hoaped upon hini." " You have odd ideas for a young lady." " 1 mu not ;i young lady, I ara a widow. Were I a young ludy do you suppose I would be here alone, and conversing with the steward of M4 Dechamps ? The idea is preposterous." Uonaieni Deohampe was pleased, ho knew not why ; but he was glad the lady before him was not a bold young dumoisolle, but an independent little widow. "Iamthoonly person in the world from whom M. Deóhampa takes advice, and if you teil me what you think hte ought to do to mako himself more popul:u-, 1 will adviso him, und tliink ho will lisien to me." " I detest u popular man. But if you wish to advise M. UechaTiips, teil him as his oháteau is surrounded by many poot, to throw open his gardons to them once a week, próvido a dinner, and make it a gala day ; bendes this, hfi could relieve the wants of ïiüiny. It is for a chitrit:ible purpose thut I am stoaling a sketch of this chateau. I intend to make a painting of it, and to sell it, expeeting that the priK-eeds will make comfoatable a t'uinily of six. Were I riüh I would not do this, but, alas, my uiransarcnotgrcat ; but I do more than your employer, with all his wealth, and 1 was determinad he should in some way do something." ' Ho may object to this public sale of his private property." "I expect liim to object, and I hope his objoctions will be great." " And why so f " " Because I shall teil him that the only means by wliich he can prevent the public sale is to buy the picture hiinself, and belitive me, I shall name a high prioe for it." " A very clever idea; but I foar you will fail." " And whcrefore ? " " B(!causo M. Dechamps will bc forced into nothing." " Ho will not refuse tho request of a lady 't " " That is a different thing," replied M. Dcchamps, blushing at the thought of his nwii galiantry. "Then that is preeisely the way in wliich I slnill make my request, and I ara confidcnt of KUOOess. Kow I must go, and I trust you will r.ot betia v me, or if you do, you shall " share in the purshase." " I give you my word, I shall sny nothing, and as proof pf my sincority I will, it yon wish it, let you sec the interior of the chatenu. M. Deehamps will bo toinorrow where he is to-day - you will see no one but mo, and I shall feel proud to conduot so estimable a lady throngh the ihateau." " DoïigbtfaL If I find M. Deohamps lialf as polite when I see him as his Rteward, I shall becomc hischampion, and begin to think that envy has painted hiiu worso than he is. What time shail 1 conie to-monow f " " Your own convenience raust decide that." " Thon I would suggest the morniag - uvcrything is go bright and eajoyable in tha moining. AViii eleven be too eariy 't" " Not at all." " ïhen I shall bu hero at that hour. It is but just that yuu should know who I am. My husband was M. Paul Jerrolt, brother to the Marquis of C ; he was, as you havo h arJ, of course, killed in a duel, which uriginated in a fancicd insult to me. It is just two yuars ago, and ever since I have livud in the only spot in the worid I can cali my own, the pretty littlo villa, scarcely a mile trom here. You will, of course, teil M. Deehainps of my visit - you may also teil him wlo I im - as I do not caro to cater to his vanity by having him suppose I was gome aoor creatura who viewod his eleganee as lomething new to me." "Al! shall be as yon wish, madame." "You are most kind, monsieur, atid I appreciate your civility. Bon jour." M, Deohamps raised his hat, the little widow gave a bowitchiug bow and galoped out of siüht, Laving the bachelor jcwildered but fully sensible to her jhaimSi and thoroughly ashamed of himself, not as she knew him, but as he was The followiug morning was, if anyïhing. brighter than the proceding one, ind the little widow prettier and Etappier. She had paid great attention to her ippearazice, though she wore the same liabit ; it WM 'unied over iii front, and displayed a spotless chemisetti:, ünished off at the oeok by a jauuty green bow ; lier hair was in light, gracoful ringlete, all of v-hich had the effect of making her I ok still moro ehildish, still more piqaant. Any difficulty Mme. Jerrolt had anbioipated in finding the steward was rnmoveil byseeing that individual standing actually at the gatos. Yes, it was an ictual facti M. DeohampB had arisen at nine, and without ringing lus bell, so that the chsteau still maintained its morning tranquility, and so well trained wero the servants that had the bell not sounded for a week, no one would have ventured to intrudu upon M. Dechamps, who, . after risinr, went through his ohatoau to asrertaiu if all lookod as it shoukl to reoeive a visitor. Preeisely at eleven he was waiting at the gates, and preeisely two minutes after that hour the little widow arrived. " Are you hero to receive me, or to teil me I must not enter P " was Mme. Jerrolt's greoting. " I am here to conduct you through botli grounds and ch'atiau by permission - r.ay, I may say request - of M. Dechamps. who expressed hiinself as honored by your givinjj his chateau a moiuent's consideration," An hour's ride, sido by side, brought them to the chateau, and there the admiration of Madame Jerrolt knew no bounds, nor did the admiration of M. Deehamps for his fair, bowitching visitor, i One, two and three hours had passed, and still both lingered to examine and reexamine the wondrous painlings, the rare books, the antique funiiture, and, in faot everything that feil within reauh of their eyes. By this time Mme. Jerrolt signifled her wish to depart M. Deehamps assisted her to her horse, mounted his own and rode to th: gate with her ; little or no oonversation passing bytween them. At parting, Mme Jerrolt, without knowing why, held her hand out. M, Deohampa took ;.t, knowing full well why he did mj. He watohed the widow out of sight, and th.Ti on the winga of dehght and hunger he flow back to tlic chateau, raus his bell, set his household in motion, and late as it was, sat down to his broakfa&t. The vald wonden il, the cook grumbled, the butler was indifferent, and the ooaohman imjjatieiit. Doohainps was intcn8cly happy, and from that day he never lost the sensation. One week passcd, then two weeks, and no widow ; but on the third week thero was widow every day in the week, the steward pretending to guard her from il. Dechamiis. llidts through the park, sketches of the chateau, and sprightly conversation made the hourg ny, and ftnally Mme. Jerrolt announoed that slie, armcd with her pieture, wus going. to imikc hur attack on the followiug Monday. " Tho soonor the botter, I assuro you inadamr." " Antl whereforo ? " " It will decide the peouniary affairs of the poór family for whom you work." "Trac," replied Mme. Jerrolt, somewhat diaappointed, m alle had expeoted a oompliment. She only roinained a short timo loscer, and then lct't. without a word moro in rèferenoe to the picture or tho hour at which she WOnld bring it. The consequence oí' which was that M. Deihain]is gat in state in his library the entire of Monday moraing, and was just about to ring 'or his lunoheon, when the servant announced : " Mme. Jerrolt on business of importance." Mme. Jerrolt and ber important business wero instantly admitted by tho servant, who said : " M. Doehamps, madame " "You Monsieur T)ecliamps ; you tho selfish, broas oíd bachelor ' " almost shrieked the little widow. " I am M. Renaud Dechamps. But I trust you have fouud that I aui not as black as painted." Mme. Jerrolt was dumbfounded, and oould only uxtend her hand and tho piuture. " I accept both, madame, and lay at your feet tlie original of tho park and ehatoau, with tliu very humble owm r." At this june ture Mine. Jerrolt sunk into a chair and looked speechless at M. De ohampa, who, timid and blushing as a maiden, awaited his answer " You are silunt, mad ame," he at last said. " Wliat can I say ?" " Yes or no." " Then - then, I say - yes." stammored the little widow. 'Tis fivo years sinco tho obscuro little widow became Mme. Deohamps. She is complete mistress of the chateau, as sho is of her husband's hoart. She has transfornxed him into a beiievolent, esteBtned gentleman, whose purso is ever open to the poor, as woll as his garden gatos. His own children - two in number, and both girls - have more to say in the chateau than lic; lias; but hu boWB in all-love and humility to the little tyrants, and is rewarded by the evcr-incroasing lovo of his little w'fe, who is tho happiest of little wonien.


Old News
Michigan Argus