Within an Inch of His LifeWithin an Inch of His Life
We cannot do violence to our natural feelings without paying for it. The marchioness had
nearly fainted when she could at last take refuge in the carriage: she was utterly
overcome by the great effort she had made to present to the curious people of Sauveterre
a smiling face and calm features.
"What a horrible comedy!" she murmured, as she sank back on the cushions.
"Admit, at least, madam," said the lawyer, "that it was necessary. You have won over,
perhaps, a hundred persons to your son's side."
She made no reply. Her tears stifled her. What would she not have given for a few
moments' solitude, to give way to all the grief of her heart, to all the anxiety of a mother!
The time till she reached the house seemed to her an eternity; and, although the horse was
driven at a furious rate, she felt as if they were making no progress. At last the carriage
The little servant had jumped down, and opened the door, saying,--
"Here we are."
The marchioness got out with M. Folgat's assistance; and her foot was hardly on the
ground, when the house-door opened, and Dionysia threw herself into her arms, too
deeply moved to speak. At last she broke forth,--
"Oh, my mother, my mother! what a terrible misfortune!"
In the passage M. de Chandore was coming forward. He had not been able to follow his
granddaughter's rapid steps.
"Let us go in," he said to the two ladies: "don't stand there!"
For at all the windows curious eyes were peeping through the blinds.
He drew them into the sitting-room. Poor M. Folgat was sorely embarrassed what to do
with himself. No one seemed to be aware of his existence. He followed them, however.
He entered the room, and standing by the door, sharing the general excitement, he was
watching by turns, Dionysia, M. de Chandore, and the two spinsters.
Dionysia was then twenty years old. It could not be said that she was uncommonly
beautiful; but no one could ever forget her again who had once seen her. Small in form,
she was grace personified; and all her movements betrayed a rare and exquisite
perfection. Her black hair fell in marvellous masses over her head, and contrasted
strangely with her blue eyes and her fair complexion. Her skin was of dazzling whiteness.