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legs with all my heart ; but this must happen according to order. If you were to try to escape
“What would you do?'
'Do! Why, it should be over my body; I would shoot you myself, or tell the sentinel to fire, with as little remorse as if you were a rabbit. But touch a leaf of your wallflower! No, I have not a heart for that. I have always considered that man unworthy of the dignity of being a jailer, who would crush a spider that a prisoner had become attached to; it is a wicked action—a crime. Talking of spiders, continued Ludovic, ' I'll tell you a story about a prisoner who was let out at last by the help of the spiders.'
• By the help of the spiders !' 'exclaimed Charney with astonishment.
Yes,' replied the jailer ; 'it is about ten years ago ; Quatremer Disjonval was his name. He was a Frenchman, like you, though he had employment in Holland, and sided with the Dutch when they revolted. For this he was put into prison, where he stayed eight years, without having even then a prospect of being released --for 'I heard all about him, count, from a prisoner we had here before you cameand who formed an acquaintance with the spiders ; though, luckily, Bonaparte gave him the use of his legs again, without waiting so long for it as his friend had done. Well, this poor Disjonval having nothing to amuse himself with during these eight long years, took to watching the spiders; and at last, from their actions, he could tell what the weather would be for ten, twelve, or fourteen days to come. Above all, he noticed that they only spun their large wheel-like webs in fine weather, or when fine clear weather was setting in; whereas, when wet and cold were coming, they retreated clean out of sight. Now, when the troops of the Republic were in Holland, in December 1794, a sudden and unexpected thaw so altered the plans of the generals, that they seriously thought of withdrawing the army, and accepting the money that the Dutch would have willingly paid to be free of them. But Disjonval, who thought any masters would be better than his present ones, hoped, beyond all things, that the French would be victorious; and knowing that only the weather was against them, watched his friendly spiders with redoubled interest. To his joy, he discovered that a frost was coming; a frost which would render the rivers and canals able to bear the weight of the baggage and artillery. He contrived to have a letter conveyed to the commander-in-chief, assuring him that a frost would set in within fourteen days; he, either believing what he wished, or really putting faith in a prisoner's experience, maintained his ground; and when, at the end of twelve days, every river was frozen over, Disjonval no doubt felt that, if the French gained the day, he deserved his freedom at their hands. And he had it too; for when they entered Utrecht in triumph, one of the first orders issued was for the liberation of Quatremer
Disjonval. This is a fact, count; though I heard it said that afterwards he continued his affection for the spiders, and wrote about them too. Ah, it is a curious thing how much such insects know, or at least how much they do, that we can't at all understand! They must be Heaven-taught, too, for they do not even seem to teach one another.'
Charney was touched by this recital, for well could he enter into every feeling of Disjonval; and his heart was softened by Ludovic's attention to his plant. Yet, now that he began to respect his jailer, his vanity urged him the more to give some reason for the interest he took in such a trifle My dear, good Ludovic,' said he, I thank you for your kind consideration ; but I must repeat to you that this little plant is to me more than an amusement. I am studying its physiology;' and as he saw that the man listened without understanding, he added, besides, the species to which it belongs possesses, I think, medicinal properties which are most valuable in certain attacks of illness to which I am subject !' He had descended to a species of falsehood. But, alas ! this had seemed to him less humiliating than to acknowledge himself pleased with a trifle.
"Well, count,' said Ludovic, preparing to leave the room, 'if your plant, or its kind, has rendered you so much service, I think you might have shewn your gratitude by watering it sometimes. Poor PICCIOLA !* poor little thing ! it would have perished of thirst if I had not taken care of it. But adieu, adieu.'
One instant, my kind Ludovic,' exclaimed Charney, more and more surprised at discovering the character of the man; 'is it possible that you have been thus thoughtful of my pleasures, and yet never mentioned your goodness to me? I entreat you accept this little present as an earnest of my gratitude, though it is impossible I can ever repay you;' and he presented a little silver-gilt cup which belonged to his dressing-case. Ludovic took it in his hand, examining it with some curiosity,
Repay me for what, Signor Count? Flowers only ask a little water, so we can let them drink without being ruined at a tavern,' and he replaced the cup in the dressing-case.
The count moved nearer, and extended his hand; but Ludovic drew back in a respectful manner, exclaiming : 'No, no; a man only gives his hand to a friend and an equal.'
“Then, Ludovic, be you my friend.'
'No, no; that would not do,' replied the jailer ; 'one should have a little foresight in this world. If we were to be friends, and you were to try to escape, how should I have the heart to cry “ Fire !” to the soldiers ? No; I am your keeper, your jailer, and most humble servant.'
* Picciola-pronounced Pitchiola—is an Italian word signifying poor little thing,
And now that Charney has learned another lesson-the lesson that good as well as evil is woven in that strange tangled texture, human nature-we must hurry over some of the succeeding events, and relate but briefly how he was attacked by illness, and how his rough friend Ludovic tended him through it. The reader must, however, remember, that in making his urgent, but, as it proved, most unnecessary supplications for his plant, the count had even descended to something like a falsehood; for he had said that he thought the plant possessed medicinal properties, a declaration which the honest jailer called to mind when he beheld his charge suffering from the delirium of fever. It is true the medical attendant of the prison had been called in ; but whatever his judgment might be, his skill seemed unavailing. Charney was apparently in extreme danger, when, amidst the wildest ravings, he passionately exclaimed: Picciola-Picciola!' In an instant Ludovic concluded that it was for curing this disorder the plant was famed; but how to apply it was the question. Yet the thing must be tried ; so, after a consultation with his wife, it was determined to cut some of the leaves, and make a decoction of them. Bitter-nauseous was the draught (probably a great recommendation in Ludovic's opinion); but, administered at the crisis by means of which nature was working her cure, it had all the credit. Yet to describe Charney's horror at the discovery of the mutilation to which his Picciola had been subjected, is impossible ; but he felt it was the punishment of his falsehood; and so, as a medicine, it worked a moral change, if not a physical one! Neither may we describe very accurately how, before his attack of illness, Charney erected what he called the palace of his mistress.' He had been frightened one day by beholding the house-dog pass through the yard, for he feared that a lash of his tail might injure the beloved Picciola. Yes, Picciola was now her name, the title bestowed on her by the kind-hearted Ludovic, who was called her godfather. Although the nights were cold, and his allowance of firewood at times insufficient, yet Charney cheerfully robbed himself day by day of some portion of his little store, till, with the aid of cords which he carefully spun from his linen, he erected a defence around the plant.
By the physician's orders the count had now permission to walk in the courtyard whenever he pleased, though he was still too weak to take much advantage of the favour. Perhaps, however, there was something in his convalescent state favourable to contemplation; certain it is that he revelled in it more than ever. There was little to break in upon his reveries ; the only event the solitary could bring to mind was, that he had once seen a second figure at the window where he had before noticed the entomologist. As for Ludovic, he might be a little more communicative ; but he was in no degree more complying than his office lawfully permitted. Charney was anxious to procure pens and paper, that he might note
down the observations he was daily making on his plant; but these were obstinately refused, as against orders.
"Why not write to the superintendent for permission ?' said Ludovic. 'I dare not, and will not give them you.'
Never,' exclaimed the count, will I ask him to grant me a favour.'
"As you please,' returned Ludovic coldly, singing one of his native Italian airs as he left the chamber of his prisoner.
Too proud to humble himself to the governor, Charney was still unwilling to abandon his design. With the aid of his razor, he formed a pen of a toothpick; his ink was made from soot dissolved in water, and mixed in a gilt scent-bottle ; and instead of paper, he wrote on his cambric handkerchief. Picciola was now in flower, and among the phenomena she revealed to him, he observed that the flower turned towards the sun, following the orb in its course, the better to absorb its rays; or when, veiled by clouds which threatened rain, the sun was no longer visible, Picciola bent down her petals, as mariners fold their sails, to prepare for the coming storm. “Is heat so necessary to her?' thought Charney; "and why? Does she fear even the passing shadow which seems so refreshing ? But why do I ask? I know she will explain her reasons.' He who had almost denied a God began to have faith in a flower !
Picciola had already proved a physician; and on an emergency she might serve for a barometer. Now she fulfilled the uses of a watch !
By dint of watching and observing, Charney remarked that her perfume varied at different periods of the day. At first he thought that such a notion must be a delusion of the imagination ; but repeated trials proved to him its reality. At last he could declare the hour of the day with certainty, simply from inhaling the odour of his plant. Picciola was now in full blossom ; and, thanks to Ludovic, who assisted the prisoner to construct a seat in the courtyard, the invalid could enjoy the society of his favourite for hours at a time. It sometimes happened that, towards the close of day, he sunk into a waking dream-a reverie-in which the imagination, triumphing over the body, carried him to distant and most different
Once he thought himself in his old mansion ; it was the night of a festival—the noise of a hundred carriages rattled in his ear, and the gleam of torches flashed in his eye. Presently the orchestra sounded, and the fête began. The brilliant light of chandeliers flooded the ball-room, where jewels gleamed and feathers waved upon the fairest forms. There was the haughty Tallien and the beautiful Recamier ; and Josephine the consul's wife, who, from her goodness and grace, often passed for the loveliest of the three. Others were, beside them, adorned with every aid which taste and dress could lend to youth and beauty. But it was not one of these that, in Charney's reverie, riveted his attention. He distinguished a
young girl simply attired in white ; her native grace and faint blush were her only ornaments; and as he gazed upon her the other figures faded from his view. Presently they were alone, and as in thought he approached her more nearly, he observed that in her dark hair she wore a flower-the flower of his prison! Involuntarily he extended his arms to clasp her, but in an instant she faded from his view—the flower and the girl losing themselves in one another. The walls of his mansion grew dim; the lights were gradually extinguished ; till, reason dethroning fancy, the prisoner opened his eyes! Behold, he was still on his bench, the sun was setting, and Picciola before him.
Often he dreamed thus; but always the young girl with the flower --Picciola personified—was the prominent figure of his charming vision. He knew it was no memory of the past ; could it be a revelation of the future? He cared not to inquire ; he only felt that it was happiness to cherish the beloved image. It was something to occupy his heart as well as his mind; a being to understand and answer him, to smile with and love him, to exist but in the breath of his life-his love. He spoke to her in imagination, and closed his eyes to behold her. The two were one-the one was double !
Thus the captive of Fénestrelle, after his graver studies, tasted the richest elixir; entering more and more into that region of poesy, from which man returns, like the bee from the bosom of flowers, perfumed and loaded with honey. He had now a double existence, the real and the ideal, the one the remainder of the other; without which, man tastes but half the blessings lavished on him by the Creator! Now Charney's time was divided between Picciola the flower and Picciola the fair girl. After reason and labour came joy and love!
Charney became daily more and more absorbed in the contemplation of his flower, his silent teacher and companion. But his eyes were unable to follow the regular but minute and mysterious changes of its nature. He was one day more than commonly depressed in spirits, and at the same time angry with himself for yielding to his feelings, when Ludovic brought him a powerful microscope, the loan of the stranger at the window, with which the latter had been accustomed to examine his insects, and by the aid of which he had numbered eight thousand divisions in the cornea of a fly! Charney trembled with joy: The most minute particles of his plant were now revealed to his sight, magnified a hundredfold. Now did he believe himself on the high road to the most wonderful discoveries. He had before examined the outer covering of his flower, and he is prepared to find that the brilliant colour of the petals, their graceful form and purple spots, and the bands, as soft to the eye as velvet, which complete the outline, are not there only to gladden the sight with their beauty, but that they also serve