I see very plainly that I can only hope to obtain you from your
godfather; and your respect for him makes you still dearer to me.
Before replying to the admiral, I must have an interview with the
doctor; on his reply my whole future will depend. Whatever comes
of it, know this, that rich or poor, the daughter of a band master
or the daughter of a king, you are the woman whom the voice of my
heart points out to me. Dear Ursula, we live in times when
prejudices which might once have separated us have no power to
prevent our marriage. To you, then, I offer the feelings of my
heart, to your uncle the guarantees which secure to him your
happiness. He has not seen that I, in a few hours, came to love
you more than he has loved you in fifteen years.
Until this evening.
"Here, godfather," said Ursula, holding the letter out to him with a
"Ah, my child!" cried the doctor when he had read it, "I am happier
than even you. He repairs all his faults by this resolution."
After dinner Savinien presented himself, and found the doctor walking
with Ursula by the balustrade of the terrace overlooking the river.
The viscount had received his clothes from Paris, and had not missed
heightening his natural advantages by a careful toilet, as elegant as
though he were striving to please the proud and beautiful Comtesse de
Kergarouet. Seeing him approach her from the portico, the poor girl
clung to her uncle's arm as though she were saving herself from a fall
over a precipice, and the doctor heard the beating of her heart, which
made him shudder.
"Leave us, my child," he said to the girl, who went to the pagoda and
sat upon the steps, after allowing Savinien to take her hand and kiss
"Monsieur, will you give this dear hand to a naval captain?" he said
to the doctor in a low voice.
"No," said Minoret, smiling; "we might have to wait too long, but--I
will give her to a lieutenant."
Tears of joy filled the young man's eyes as he pressed the doctor's
"I am about to leave," he said, "to study hard and try to learn in six
months what the pupils of the Naval School take six years to acquire."
"You are going?" said Ursula, springing towards them from the
"Yes, mademoiselle, to deserve you. Therefore the more eager I am to
go, the more I prove to you my affection."
"This is the 3rd of October," she said, looking at him with infinite
tenderness; "do not go till after the 19th."
"Yes," said the old man, "we will celebrate Saint-Savinien's day."
"Good-by, then," cried the young man. "I must spend this week in
Paris, to take the preliminary steps, buy books and mathematical
instruments, and try to conciliate the minister and get the best terms
that I can for myself."
Ursula and her godfather accompanied Savinien to the gate. Soon after
he entered his mother's house they saw him come out again, followed by
Tiennette carrying his valise.
"If you are rich," said Ursula to her uncle, "why do you make him
serve in the navy?"
"Presently it will be I who incurred his debts," said the doctor,
smiling. "I don't oblige him to do anything; but the uniform, my dear,
and the cross of the Legion of honor, won in battle, will wipe out
many stains. Before six years are over he may be in command of a ship,
and that's all I ask of him."
"But he may be killed," she said, turning a pale face upon the doctor.
"Lovers, like drunkards, have a providence of their own," he said,
That night the poor child, with La Bougival's help, cut off a
sufficient quantity of her long and beautiful blond hair to make a
chain; and the next day she persuaded old Schmucke, the music-master,
to take it to Paris and have the chain made and returned by the
following Sunday. When Savinien got back he informed the doctor and
Ursula that he had signed his articles and was to be at Brest on the
25th. The doctor asked him to dinner on the 18th, and he passed nearly
two whole days in the old man's house. Notwithstanding much sage
advice and many resolutions, the lovers could not help betraying their
secret understanding to the watchful eyes of the abbe, Monsieur
Bongrand, the Nemours doctor, and La Bougival.
"Children," said the old man, "you are risking your happiness by not
keeping it to yourselves."
On the fete-day, after mass, during which several glances had been
exchanged, Savinien, watched by Ursula, crossed the road and entered
the little garden where the pair were practically alone; for the kind
old man, by way of indulgence, was reading his newspapers in the
"Dear Ursula," said Savinien; "will you make a gift greater than my
mother could make me even if--"
"I know what you wish to ask me," she said, interrupting him. "See,
here is my answer," she added, taking from the pocket of her apron the
box containing the chain made of her hair, and offering it to him with
a nervous tremor which testified to her illimitable happiness. "Wear
it," she said, "for love of me. May it shield you from all dangers by
reminding you that my life depends on yours."
"Naughty little thing! she is giving him a chain of her hair," said
the doctor to himself. "How did she manage to get it? what a pity to
cut those beautiful fair tresses; she will be giving him my life's
"You will not blame me if I ask you to give me, now that I am leaving
you, a formal promise to have no other husband than me," said
Savinien, kissing the chain and looking at Ursula with tears in his
"Have I not said so too often--I who went to see the walls of Sainte-
Pelagie when you were behind them?--" she replied, blushing. "I repeat
it, Savinien; I shall never love any one but you, and I will be yours
Seeing that Ursula was half-hidden by the creepers, the young man
could not deny himself the happiness of pressing her to his heart and
kissing her forehead; but she gave a feeble cry and dropped upon the
bench, and when Savinien sat beside her, entreating pardon, he saw the
doctor standing before them.
"My friend," said the old man, "Ursula is a born sensitive; too rough
a word might kill her. For her sake you must moderate the enthusiasm
of your love--Ah! if you had loved her for sixteen years as I have,
you would have been satisfied with her word of promise," he added, to
revenge himself for the last sentence in Savinien's second letter.
Two days later the young man departed. In spite of the letters which
he wrote regularly to Ursula, she fell a prey to an illness without
apparent cause. Like a fine fruit with a worm at the core, a single
thought gnawed her heart. She lost both appetite and color. The first
time her godfather asked her what she felt, she replied:--
"I want to see the ocean."
"It is difficult to take you to a sea-port in the depth of winter,"
answered the old man.
"Shall I really go?" she said.
If the wind was high, Ursula was inwardly convulsed, certain, in spite
of the learned assurances of the doctor and the abbe, that Savinien
was being tossed about in a whirlwind. Monsieur Bongrand made her
happy for days with the gift of an engraving representing a midshipman
in uniform. She read the newspapers, imagining that they would give
news of the cruiser on which her lover sailed. She devoured Cooper's
sea-tales and learned to use sea-terms. Such proofs of concentration
of feeling, often assumed by other women, were so genuine in Ursula
that she saw in dreams the coming of Savinien's letters, and never
failed to announce them, relating the dream as a forerunner.
"Now," she said to the doctor the fourth time that this happened, "I
am easy; wherever Savinien may be, if he is wounded I shall know it
The old doctor thought over this remark so anxiously that the abbe and
Monsieur Bongrand were troubled by the sorrowful expression of his
"What pains you?" they said, when Ursula had left them.
"Will she live?" replied the doctor. "Can so tender and delicate a
flower endure the trials of the heart?"
Nevertheless, the "little dreamer," as the abbe called her, was
working hard. She understood the importance of a fine education to a
woman of the world, and all the time she did not give to her singing
and to the study of harmony and composition she spent in reading the
books chosen for her by the abbe from her godfather's rich library.
And yet while leading this busy life she suffered, though without
complaint. Sometimes she would sit for hours looking at Savinien's
window. On Sundays she would leave the church behind Madame de
Portenduere and watch her tenderly; for, in spite of the old lady's
harshness, she loved her as Savinien's mother. Her piety increased;
she went to mass every morning, for she firmly believed that her
dreams were the gift of God.
At last her godfather, frightened by the effects produced by this
nostalgia of love, promised on her birthday to take her to Toulon to
see the departure of the fleet for Algiers. Savinien's ship formed
part of it, but he was not to be informed beforehand of their
intention. The abbe and Monsieur Bongrand kept secret the object of
this journey, said to be for Ursula's health, which disturbed and
greatly puzzled the relations. After beholding Savinien in his naval
uniform, and going on board the fine flag-ship of the admiral, to whom
the minister had given young Portenduere a special recommendation,
Ursula, at her lover's entreaty, went with her godfather to Nice, and
along the shores of the Mediterranean to Genoa, where she heard of the
safe arrival of the fleet at Algiers and the landing of the troops.
The doctor would have liked to continue the journey through Italy, as
much to distract Ursula's mind as to finish, in some sense, her
education, by enlarging her ideas through comparison with other
manners and customs and countries, and by the fascination of a land
where the masterpieces of art can still be seen, and where so many
civilizations have left their brilliant traces. But the tidings of the
opposition by the throne to the newly elected Chamber of 1830 obliged
the doctor to return to France, bringing back his treasure in a
flourishing state of health and possessed of a charming little model
of the ship on which Savinien was serving.