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morning the church path was lined with inhabitants of the village thronging to sympathise with the happy girl, who, though declining to yield to any one the honour of drawing her brother-a task which she accomplished with a skill and gentleness none other could have shewn—was yet astonished and bewildered by the admiring looks and congratulations pressed on her by her kind-hearted neighbours.
The part, however, of the whole scene which went straight to her heart, and touched it most deeply, was the distinction publicly conferred on her by the worthy curé himself, who, pointing her out to his parishioners as a pattern of Christian charity and sisterly affection, and bestowing on the interesting pair his warmest benediction, said to her in a voice of paternal kindness : ‘Take courage, my daughter; God approves of and protects you.'
It was agreeable to poor Genevieve to have these words of commendation and hope addressed to her ; not that she required such prompting to do her duty, but because they assured her that her conduct was worthy of esteem. Her sisterly affection was therefore strengthened by the sympathy expressed by the cure, and she felt herself repaid for her days and nights of toil and anxiety. How much more, however, was she repaid by the tearful glance of the brother for whom she had suffered so much ; and by his fervent prayers that she might be rewarded by Him who had put it into her heart so to befriend him! One result only she felt could fulfil such a petition, and something whispered to her it would not be denied. But spring had passed away without any marked amendment in the patient's condition. May had come, and well-nigh gone, and with it the hope that fine weather might do something for the invalid ; and, resigned at length to his fate, the young paralytic bade adieu for life to all idea of regaining the use of his limbs.
One evening when, as usual, his indefatigable sister had drawn him to the scene of rural festivity beneath the old elms at the entrance of the village, he was accosted by an old soldier lately, come on a visit to a relation in the place, who, after closely questioning Maurice regarding his infirmity, gave him in return the important information, that, in consequence of a splinter from a shell at the battle of Eylau, he had himself been two years entirely deprived of the use of his limbs, and subject to spasms in the head, which had nearly bereft him of reason. Of the various remedies prescribed, none, he added, had the slightest success, till sea-bathing, persevered in for a whole summer-plunging in head foremost, and allowing the natural douche afforded by the successive waves to play freely, as long as strength permitted, on the affected part—had at length effected a cure. "I was carried to the sea-side in a halfdying state,' said the old corporal, 'in a litter lent me by my colonel. At the end of a fortnight, strength and appetite began to return, and with them my spirits and hopes of a complete recovery, which took place in the course of three months after. At first I could only
walk on two crutches, then I threw one away, and on the 3d of September (a day I shall never forget) I walked, without so much as a stick, a good half mile from the town to visit a couple of old friends. Back I came, still on foot, to finish my course of the baths ; and within three weeks after, I was on the top of a coach for my own country as hale and hearty as you see me before you at this moment.'
And where, on earth, are these precious baths to be had?' asked the cripple with eager interest.
'At a place called Boulogne, a seaport town, some two hundred and fifty miles from hence.'
'Two hundred and fifty miles! If I must go so far to be cured, I am pretty sure of remaining ill to my dying day.'
'Try and get conveyed there, my good fellow,' said the kindly veteran, 'and I'll be answerable for your entire recovery.'
What ! to get back my poor legs and return to my trade, and be able to gain my own bread and help my sister! No, no !-such happiness is not for me !' exclaimed the desponding lad.
There, now, my young friend, you are losing hope. You are like many people who cannot believe in any cure till they see it performed. Why be so confident in disbelieving the efficacy of seabathing? I have known many a poor sickly being braced up by it besides myself. I am no doctor; but you are young, and I can see no reason why you may not get rid of this feebleness, which is perhaps only a sort of disorder of the nerves—a thing bad enough, no doubt. Come, come, cheer up, Maurice ; I was, I tell you, radically cured at fifty. Why give way to despair?'
But you don't consider the impossibility of my going in any sort of carriage, even the smoothest voiture, when I faint dead away, or go into fits at the slightest jolt. No, no !—it is the will of God that I should remain a cripple to my life's end, and I only pray He may be pleased to shorten it for my own sake and that of others.'
During this conversation Genevieve was an attentive listener; and had the speakers been less engrossed, they must have read on her countenance the lines of deep determination. She took aside the old soldier, to obtain from him the minutest particulars about the wonder-working baths, their proper season, and precise distance, and the easiest and least expensive route by which they might be reached; and no sooner was her plan matured, than she hastened to put it in execution.
The affectionate girl, overlooking all possible difficulties, had actually resolved to draw her brother in his little cart all the way from the centre of France to Boulogne. It was while sitting beside Maurice, and beholding his infirmities, that she had come to this resolution; and her emotions found vent in tears. Having explained her plans, Maurice was satisfied. Both hearts were full, and a long embrace gave vent to feelings unutterable in words.
Genevieve, as may be observed from these traits of character, was
not a girl to be turned from her purpose.
Possessed of a strong and decisive mind-despising all thoughts of self in a case of such emergency, trusting in God and her own good intentions—she hastened, as we have said, to put her plans in practice.
Genevieve had made up her mind to start on her toilsome pilgrimage on the 3d of June, the birthday of the twins, on which they had never missed visiting for religious exercises the little chapel of St Genevieve, situated a league from where they lived, on the road to Tours. Early on the morning of this anniversary--the sun already shining out cheerily on the plain of Beauce, and the road lined on each side with shady trees—the heroic Genevieve drew her brother along with the apparatus she had prepared for the purpose.
Let us pause a moment to describe this remarkable means of conveyance. It was not without such precautions as her simple wisdom could suggest, or her slender purse afford, that Genevieve had arranged her paraphernalia for the journey. The low carriage, somewhat rude in construction, and mounted on four wheels, was sheltered overhead by a species of canopy, under which Maurice, helpless in his lameness, could recline as on a bed. A leathern strap, a gift from the village saddler, was provided as a harness of draught, when the difficulties of the road rendered such an addition to the ordinary hand-rope necessary. A change of light easy shoes replaced on her feet the clumsy sabôts, or wooden shoes of the country, and a gleaner's ample straw-hat served to ward off the scorching rays of the sun. While Maurice was dressed in his Sunday suit, Genevieve prudently retained her working attire; but a small bundle, which otherwise would have told tales, containing her holiday dress, to be assumed on arriving at their place of destination, was disposed as a pillow in the carriage.
Thus provided for the journey, they proceeded along the road towards the chapel, Genevieve, in her speed at the outset, finding vent for her highly-excited feelings.
‘Dear Genevieve, not so fast! not so fast! You'll be out of breath before we reach the chapel; you 'll kill yourself with the exertion.'
'True, dear brother! I was forgetting that we have some way to go. I will be more cautious in future, and you must tell me when you would like to rest.'
Suiting her pace to the words, and looking ever round to inquire if her brother felt the least inconvenience, the twins arrived about seven o'clock in the chapel, Maurice nowise fatigued, and Genevieve, heated and tired as she was, but too happy to find herself thus far on her road. Having drawn her brother's vehicle under the porch of the little rustic shrine, and listened devoutly to the matin service performed by a gray-headed chaplain, Maurice observed his sister to remain prostrate, engaged in praying with extraordinary fervour, while big tears coursed each other down her cheeks. Her feelings being relieved, and her resolution strengthened by these acts of
devotion, she addressed herself to her task. The road northwards across the plain of Beauce was taken. The journey was begun.
Fain would we follow in all its interesting details the itinerary (unexampled perhaps in the world's history) of the twin travellers, from the very centre of France to one of its furthest extremities; but a few only of its leading incidents must suffice to give an idea of the whole.
Along the planted sides of the great high-roads and the level plains, their progress, though slow, was steady: halting for the heat of the day under the trees at the entrance of some hamlet, which afforded the needful supplies; while at nightfall, the humblest decent shelter their
slender means could command was sought and generally obtained. To avoid large paved villages, and yet more formidable populous towns, was often a tax on the maiden's ingenuity; yet never, save once (at Etampes), was she compelled-by the impossibility of elsewhere crossing two intersecting streams—to consign to strangers' hands her precious charge, and have her brother carried on a handbarrow from one end to the other of the town.
From hence her forward path was beset with new and unforeseen obstacles. The district is now opened up by a railway between Paris and Orleans; but there was no such conveniency at this time, and if there had, how should the poor twins have been able to pay for its use? They were therefore compelled to take the ordinary route, which abounds in steep hills, up which the strongest horses find difficulty in dragging their customary loads. No wonder, then, if Genevieve well-nigh sunk under hers. Her feet had become so blistered that she was forced to leave off shoes; and being constantly obliged to stop and take breath, she made but little way: yet, after every such halt, the agony of her brother in witnessing her distress would make her resume her task with a cheerful smile.
It was not till after twelve days' weary march, during which she had to climb the hills of Arpajou, Long Jumeau, and Bourg la Reine, that they arrived at the village of petit Mont Rouge, near Paris, where they found in the hostess, the widow of an artillery officer killed at Waterloo, an almost maternal friend. The good woman burst into tears on witnessing one of her own sex so dutifully yet painfully employed—lavished on both travellers the kindest attentions -procured for poor Genevieve (whose chest the strap had begun cruelly to lacerate) a new and more comfortable one-and insisted on her taking a few days' rest; while the misgivings of her brother regarding a delay, the cause of which was carefully concealed from him, were obviated by the kind landlady's positive refusal to make the slightest inroad on their slender stock of coin. On parting, she embraced, with mingled admiration and regard, the recruited wayfarer, and assured her of the ultimate success of her enterprise, which could only she said, have been dictated by express suggestion from on high.
Cheered by this friendly farewell, Genevieve once more donned her harness—avoided, as directed, the city of Paris, by keeping the line of the new boulevard and Champ de Mars-crossed the Seine in a boat, and, late at night, arrived at St Denis, where a less hospitable reception, alas ! awaited the poor travellers. A party of gay young sporting men from town, dining in the hotel, chose to consider Genevieve as an adventuress, and her brother as an impostor, and insulted them accordingly; and while the innocent girl, choking with indignant surprise, was equally unwilling and unable to reply, Maurice, writhing on his seat from inability to chastise such insolence, exclaimed : ‘Miscreants that you are! the best proof that I am a cripple is my not having the power to punish you as you deserve.'
This burst of honest feeling only provoked fresh insults from the giddy crew, to escape from whom Genevieve, in spite of her fatigue, insisted on removing her dear invalid from the inhospitable shelter of the inn to one beneath the canopy of heaven, where the tired girl laid herself down at her brother's feet, her head resting on his knees, and their hands twined together like the branches of the old planetree above them; and the fine serene midsummer night was passed by both in peace and safety.
The only other untoward incident which marked the remaining journey was a thunder-storm in the forest of L'Isle Adam, which brought back on the poor sufferer from a similar visitation a return of his frightful convulsion fits. During its continuance, the poor girl-holding her brother's head on her bosom, her hand fast held over his eyes to shield them from the lightning, sheltering him from the rain, as best she might, with her own body-put up the most piteous prayers to Heaven that she might not thus far have led him only to fall a victim to a second catastrophe-adding the natural, and in her case almost pardonable wish, that if the blow were again to fall, it might in death unite them !
Her fears were not, happily, realised; the storm passed off, leaving the wayfarers unscathed. A three days' fever, however, occasioned by alarm and neglect of her own soaked garments, detained them at their evening's quarters ; and Beauvais, the half-way house of their arduous journey, lay yet a good way beyond.
It was reached at last after twenty-two days' march, during which three of the five gold pieces so carefully husbanded had melted away. Fresh courage and economy then became necessary to save the high-minded twins from the humiliation of asking alms; and volumes might be written on the hardships, and difficulties, and privations of the remaining half of the pilgrimage. The country in the neighbourhood of Boulogne being hilly, Genevieve found the draught of the carriage more toilsome than it had been for a week before. In England, probably, under such circumstances, she would have received some assistance from empty return vehicles, but in France there is little general traffic on the public roads. A heavy diligence