The Honor of the Name
A gently ascending road, more than two miles in length, shaded by a quadruple row of
venerable elms, led from the village to the Chateau de Sairmeuse.
Nothing could be more beautiful than this avenue, a fit approach to a palace; and the
stranger who beheld it could understand the naively vain proverb of the country: "He
does not know the real beauty of France, who has never seen Sairmeuse nor the Oiselle."
The Oiselle is the little river which one crosses by means of a wooden bridge on leaving
the village, and whose clear and rapid waters give a delicious freshness to the valley.
At every step, as one ascends, the view changes. It is as if an enchanting panorama were
being slowly unrolled before one.
On the right you can see the saw-mills of Fereol. On the left, like an ocean of verdure, the
forest of Dolomien trembles in the breeze. Those imposing ruins on the other side of the
river are all that remain of the feudal manor of the house of Breulh. That red brick
mansion, with granite trimmings, half concealed by a bend in the river, belongs to the
And, if the day is clear, one can easily distinguish the spires of Montaignac in the
This was the path traversed by M. Lacheneur after Chupin had delivered his message.
But what did he care for the beauties of the landscape!
Upon the church porch he had received his death-wound; and now, with a tottering and
dragging step, he dragged himself along like one of those poor soldiers, mortally
wounded upon the field of battle, who go back, seeking a ditch or quiet spot where they
can lie down and die.
He seemed to have lost all thought of his surroundings--all consciousness of previous
events. He pursued his way, lost in his reflections, guided only by force of habit.
Two or three times his daughter, Marie-Anne, who was walking by his side, addressed
him; but an "Ah! let me alone!" uttered in a harsh tone, was the only response she could
draw from him.
Evidently he had received a terrible blow; and undoubtedly, as often happens under such
circumstances, the unfortunate man was reviewing all the different phases of his life.
At twenty Lacheneur was only a poor ploughboy in the service of the Sairmeuse family.