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to collect or disperse the sun's rays according to the wants of the flower. Now he perceives that these bright and glossy particles are unquestionably a glandulous mass of the absorbing vessels, endowed with a mysterious power to respire air, light, and moisture for the nourishment of the seed; for without light there would be no colour; without air and heat, no life! Moisture, heat, and light ! of these the vegetable world is composed, and to these must its atoms return when they die !
During these hours of study and delight, Charney, unknown to himself
, had two spectators of his actions; these were Girhardi and his daughter, who watched him with intense and kindly interest.
The daughter was one of those rare beings presented now and then to the world, as if to shew that nature can surpass a poet's dreams. Educated entirely by her father, the motherless girl was devoted to him ; for though her beauty, her virtue, and her acquirements had won for her many lovers, her heart, however tender, had never been deeply touched. She seemed to have no thought, but her one grief–her father's imprisonment. She felt that her place was not among the happy, but where she could dry a tear or call up a smile ; and to do this was her pride and triumph. Until recently, such had been her only thoughts; but since she had seen Charney, she had learned to take an interest in, and feel compassion for, him. Like her father, he was a prisoner, which alone was enough to awaken her sympathy; but the love he bore to his plant—the only thing to which his heart clung-gave birth to feelings of the deepest pity. It is true that the commanding person of the count might have had some weight in prepossessing her in his favour; though assuredly, had she met him in the hour of his prosperity, she would not have distinguished him for such qualities. "In her ignorance of human life, she classed misfortune among the virtues ; and this was the charm which had kindled her heart's warm sympathy.
One morning Girhardi, not content with waving his hand from the window by way of salutation, beckoned Charney to approach as near as possible, and modulating his voice, as if in great fear that some one else would hear him, exclaimed, 'I have good news for you, sir.' 'And I, replied Charney, “ have my best thanks to offer for your goodness in lending me the microscope ;' and, perhaps, in his life Charney had never before felt so deep a sense of obligation.
Do not give me any thanks,' returned Girhardi ; "the thought was Teresa's, my daughter's.'
You have a daughter, then ; and they permit you to see her?' * Yes; and I thank God that they do, for my poor child is an angel of goodness. Do you know, my dear sir, she has taken a great interest in you ; first when you were ill, and ever since in watching the attention you bestow on your flower. Surely you must have seen her sometimes at the window ?'
• Is it possible ; was it your daughter ??
Yes indeed ; but in speaking of her I forget the news I have to give you. The emperor is going to Milan, where he will be crowned king of Italy.'
•What emperor ??
"Why, General Bonaparte to be sure. Did you not know that the first consul has assumed the title of Emperor-the Emperor Napoleon-and having conquered Italy, he is going to Milan to be crowned king of that country?'
'King of Italy !' exclaimed Charney ; 'but what then; he will be more than ever your master and mine. As for the microscope,' continued Charney, who thought much more of his Picciola than this great event, and who knew not what was to follow—as for the microscope, I am afraid I have already kept it too long; you are depriving yourself of it. Perhaps at some future time you will lend it to me again?'
'I can do without it; I have others,' replied the kind old man, guessing from Charney's tone how unwilling he was to part with it. * Keep it, keep it as a remembrancer of your fellow-captive, who, believe me, feels a deep interest in you.'
Charney strove for words to express his gratitude ; but the other interrupted him, saying, 'Let me finish what I had to tell. They say that at the approaching coronation many pardons will be granted. Have you any friends who now can speak for you?'
Charney shook his head mournfully as he replied, “I have no friends.'
No friends !' echoed the old man with a look of compassion; have you, then, doubted and suspected your fellow-creatures, for friendship surely exists for those who believe in it? Well, well, if you have not, I have friends whom adversity even has not shaken; and peinaps they may succeed for you, though they have failed for me.'
'I will ask nothing of General Bonaparte,' replied the count in a tone which betrayed his rooted hate and rancour.
Hush !-speak lower-I think some one is coming—but no ;' and after a moment's silence, the Italian continued in a manner so touching, that reproach was softened as if falling from the lips of a father. 'Dear friend, you are still angry, though I should have thought that the studies you have now for months pursued, would have extinguished in your heart the hatred which God condemns, and which causes so much misery in the world. The perfume of your flower should have taught you charity. I have more cause to complain of Bonaparte than you have, for my son died in his service.'
And it was his death you strove to revenge?' replied Charney. 'I see that you, too, have heard that falsehood,' said the old man, raising his eyes to heaven, as if appealing to the Almighty. It is
true that in my first moments of agony, when the people were rending, the air with their acclamations of joy for victory, my cries of despair were heard in an interval. I was arrested, and unfortunately a knife was found upon me. Informers, who lived by perjury, made it appear that I had designs on the life of Bonaparte; and he who was only a bereaved father, mourning in his first agony, they treated as an assassin. I can believe that the emperor was deceived ; and were he so very bad a man, remember he might have put us both to death. Should he restore me to liberty, he will but repair an error, though I shall bless him for his mercy. For myself, I can endure captivity, for I have faith in Providence, and resign myself to the will of God; but my misfortune weighs heavily on Teresa—though we both suffer less from being together—and for her sake I would indeed wish to be free. Surely you, too, have some being who loves you, who suffers for you, and for whose happiness, if not for your own, you will sacrifice this false pride? Come, let my friends do what they can for you.'
Charney smiled bitterly. No wife, nor daughter, nor friend, weeps for me!' said he; no human being sighs for my return, for I have no longer gold to bestow. What should I do in the world, where really I was no happier than I am here? But could I find there friends and happiness, and recover fortune, I would still repeat“No” a thousand times, if I must first humble myself to the power I struggled to overthrow!'
* Think again.'
'I implore you not to sacrifice the future to this false pride, which is vanity, not patriotism. But hark ! now some one is indeed coming-adieu !' and Girhardi moved from the window.
‘Thanks, thanks for the microscope !' cried Charney, before the other had quite disappeared.
At that moment the hinges of the gate creaked, and Ludovic entered the courtyard. He brought with him the provisions for the day; but perceiving that Charney was deep in thought, he did not address him, though he slightly rattled the plates, as if to remind him that dinner was ready; while he silently saluted my lord and my lady, as he was accustomed to call the man and the plant !
“The microscope is mine !' thought Charney; but how have I deserved the kindness of this benevolent stranger?' Then seeing Ludovic cross the yard, his thoughts turned to him, as he mentally exclaimed : ‘Even this man has won my esteem ; under his rough exterior, what a noble and generous heart there beats!' But while he pondered, he thought another voice replied: 'It is misfortune which has taught you to estimate a kindness. What have these two men done? One has watered your plant unknown to you; the other has procured you the means of examining. it more narrowly.'
* But,' returned Charney, still arguing with himself, 'the dictates of the heart are more true than those of the reason; and my heart tells me that theirs has been no common generosity.' 'Yes,' replied the voice, but it is because this generosity has been exercised towards you that you do it justice. If Picciola had not existed, these two men would still have been despised. One would have remained in your eyes an old fool, given up to the most contemptible trifling ; and the other a coarse, and sordid, and vulgar creature. Encased in your own selfishness, you never loved before ; and now it is because you love Picciola that you understand the love of others; it is through her they have been drawn to you !'
And Charney looked by turns at his plant and his microscope. Napoleon, emperor of France, and king of Italy! The one half of this terrible title had formerly induced him to become a furious conspirator, but now its magnificence scarcely dwelt in his mind for a moment. He thought less of the triumphs of an emperor and a king, than of an insect which wheeled with threatening buzz around his flower!
Provided with the microscope, now his own, Charney pursued his. examinations with avidity; and were we writing a botanical work, instead of a narrative, we should be tempted to follow his discoveries step by step. But this may not be ; though our story illustrates a truth. It is enough that, like one who stumbles in the dark, and consequently has often to retrace his steps, one theory was often overthrown by another in the mind of Count Charney.' Yet nature was his teacher—the plant, and the bird, and the bee; the sun, and the wind, and the shower! His present enthusiasm compensated for his past ignorance; and though he called to mind but vaguely the system of Linnæus, it was after the careful and soul-thrilling examinations which revealed to him the nuptials of the flowers, that he first perceived, however dimly, the chain which binds the universe. His eyes wandered, the microscope was laid aside, and the philosopher sunk on his rustic bench overpowered by his emotions.
'Picciola,' he exclaimed, “I had once the whole world in which to wander; I had friends without number, or at least such as usurped that title; and, above all, I was surrounded by men of science in every department; but none of these instructed me as thou hast done; and none of the self-styled friends conferred on me the good offices which I have received from thee; and in this narrow courtyard, studying only thee, I have thought, and felt, and observed more than in all my previous life. Thou hast been a light in the darkness, a companion to relieve my solitude, a book which has seemed to me more wondrous than every other, for it has convinced me of my ignorance, and humbled my pride : it has convinced me that science, like virtue, can only be acquired by humility; and that to rise we must first descend : it has shewn me that the first rail of this mighty ladder is buried in the earth, and that by this we must begin to climb. It is a book written in characters of light, though in a language so mysterious, that we should be lost in awe and wonder were not every word a consolation. The world thou hast opened to my view is that of thought-of the Creator, of Heaven, of the Eternal. It is the law of love which rules the universe ; which regulates the attraction of an atom, and the path of the planets; which links a flower to the stars, and binds in one chain the insect which burrows in the earth, to haughty man who raises his brow to heaven, seeking there-his Creator !' The agitation of Charney increased as the struggle in his heart continued ; but he murmured again, 'Oh God! oh God! prejudice has dulled my reason, and sophistry has hardened my heart! I cannot hear THEE yet, but I will call upon THEE; I cannot see, but I will seek THEE!'
Returned to his chamber, he read upon the wall, 'God is but a word. He added, 'Is not this word the one which explains the enigma of the universe ?'
Alas! there was still doubt in the expression ; but for this proud spirit to doubt, was to know itself half-conquered; and to Picciola he still turned to teach him a creed, and convince him of a God !
In contemplating and questioning the page of nature which was opened to him, time passed quickly away; and when exhausted by deep thought, he indulged in those reveries in which the fair girl floated before his eyes, linked in a mysterious manner with his beloved Picciola. Not only the outward events, the changes and progress of his plant, were chronicled on the cambric, but the inner world of poesy, the life of his day-dreams, was interpreted there, though perchance vaguely; for language has its limits, and cannot always reach to thought.
Once, however, his vision was painful ; for suddenly the young girl became pale, as if by the finger of death. She stretched her arms towards him, but he was chained to the spot; an unseen obstacle interposed, and the dreamer awoke with a cry of agony. Strange, that another cry echoed his own, and that in the voice of a woman! Happy was he to find his anguish but a dream ; himself upon the rustic bench, and Picciola blooming beside him ; yet he felt that the shadow of evil was upon him. Honest Ludovic came running to the spot. 'Oh, count, said he, you are taken ill again, I fear; but never mind, Madame Picciola and I will cure you.'
'I am not ill,' replied Charney, scarcely yet recovered from his emotion. 'Who told you so?'
Why Mademoiselle Teresa, the fly-catcher's daughter ; she saw you from the window, heard you scream, and ran to send me to your assistance.'
Charney was touched; he remembered the interest the young Italian had taken in his illness, and it was to her thoughtfulness