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Chapter I.6
At last Mme. Favoral found herself alone with her children and free to give herself
up to the most frightful despair.
She dropped heavily upon a seat; and, drawing to her bosom Maxence and
Gilberte,
"O my children!" she sobbed, covering them with her kisses and her tears,--"my
children, we are most unfortunate."
Not less distressed than herself, they strove, nevertheless, to mitigate her
anguish, to inspire her with sufficient courage to bear this crushing trial; and
kneeling at her feet, and kissing her hands,
"Are we not with you still, mother?" they kept repeating.
But she seemed not to hear them.
"It is not for myself that I weep," she went on. "I! what had I still to wait or hope
for in life? Whilst you, Maxence, you, my poor Gilberte!--If, at least, I could feel
myself free from blame! But no. It is my weakness and my want of courage that
have brought on this catastrophe. I shrank from the struggle. I purchased my
domestic peace at the cost of your future in the world. I forgot that a mother has
sacred duties towards her children."
Mme. Favoral was at this time a woman of some forty-three years, with delicate
and mild features, a countenance overflowing with kindness, and whose whole
being exhaled, as it were, an exquisite perfume of _noblesse_ and distinction.
Happy, she might have been beautiful still,--of that autumnal beauty whose
maturity has the splendors of the luscious fruits of the later season.
 
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