"I have not got them."
"But suppose I give them to you, on condition of your buying an estate
in Brittany near Madame de Portenduere,--you could then marry her
"Monsieur Minoret," said Ursula, "I have no claim to that money, and I
cannot accept it from you. We are scarcely relations, still less are
we friends. I have suffered too much from calumny to give a handle for
evil-speaking. What have I done to deserve that money? What reason
have you to make me such a present? These questions, which I have a
right to ask, persons will answer as they see fit; some would consider
your gift the reparation of a wrong, and, as such, I choose not to
accept it. Your uncle did not bring me up to ignoble feelings. I can
accept nothing except from friends, and I have no friendship for you."
"Then you refuse?" cried the colossus, into whose head the idea had
never entered that a fortune could be rejected.
"I refuse," said Ursula.
"But what grounds have you for offering Mademoiselle Ursula such a
fortune?" asked Bongrand, looking fixedly at Minoret. "You have an
idea--have you an idea?--"
"Well, yes, the idea of getting her out of Nemours, so that my son
will leave me in peace; he is in love with her and wants to marry
"Well, we'll see about it," said Bongrand, settling his spectacles.
"Give us time to think it over."
He walked home with Minoret, applauding the solicitude shown by the
father for his son's interests, and slightly blaming Ursula for her
hasty decision. As soon as Minoret was within his own gate, Bongrand
went to the post house, borrowed a horse and cabriolet, and started
for Fontainebleau, where he went to see the deputy procureur, and was
told that he was spending the evening at the house of the sub-prefect.
Bongrand, delighted, followed him there. Desire was playing whist with
the wife of the procureur du roi, the wife of the sub-prefect, and the
colonel of the regiment in garrison.
"I come to bring you some good news," said Bongrand to Desire; "you
love your cousin Ursula, and the marriage can be arranged."
"I love Ursula Mirouet!" cried Desire, laughing. "Where did you get
that idea? I do remember seeing her sometimes at the late Doctor
Minoret's; she certainly is a beauty; but she is dreadfully pious. I
certainly took notice of her charms, but I must say I never troubled
my head seriously for that rather insipid little blonde," he added,
smiling at the sub-prefect's wife (who was a piquante brunette--to use
a term of the last century). "You are dreaming, my dear Monsieur
Bongrand; I thought every one knew that my father was a lord of a
manor, with a rent roll of forty-five thousand francs a year from
lands around his chateau at Rouvre,--good reasons why I should not
love the goddaughter of my late great-uncle. If I were to marry a girl
without a penny these ladies would consider me a fool."
"Have you never tormented your father to let you marry Ursula?"
"You hear that, monsieur?" said the justice to the procureur du roi,
who had been listening to the conversation, leading him aside into the
recess of a window, where they remained in conversation for a quarter
of an hour.
An hour later Bongrand was back in Nemours, at Ursula's house, whence
he sent La Bougival to Minoret to beg his attendance. The colossus
came at once.
"Mademoiselle--" began Bongrand, addressing Minoret as he entered the
"Accepts?" cried Minoret, interrupting him.
"No, not yet," replied Bongrand, fingering his glasses. "I had
scruples as to your son's feelings; for Ursula has been much tried
lately about a supposed lover. We know the importance of tranquillity.
Can you swear to me that your son truly loves her and that you have no
other intention than to preserve our dear Ursula from any further
"Oh, I'll swear to that," cried Minoret.
"Stop, papa Minoret," said the justice, taking one hand from the
pocket of his trousers to slap Minoret on the shoulder (the colossus
trembled); "Don't swear falsely."
"Yes, either you or your son, who has just sworn at Fontainebleau, in
presence of four persons and the procureur du roi, that he has never
even thought of his cousin Ursula. You have other reasons for offering
this fortune. I saw you were inventing that tale, and went myself to
Fontainebleau to question your son."
Minoret was dumbfounded at his own folly.
"But where's the harm, Monsieur Bongrand, in proposing to a young
relative to help on a marriage which seems to be for her happiness,
and to invent pretexts to conquer her reluctance to accept the money."
Minoret, whose danger suggested to him an excuse which was almost
admissible, wiped his forehead, wet with perspiration.
"You know the cause of my refusal," said Ursula; "and I request you
never to come here again. Though Monsieur de Portenduere has not told
me his reason, I know that he feels such contempt for you, such
dislike even, that I cannot receive you into my house. My happiness is
my only fortune,--I do not blush to say so; I shall not risk it.
Monsieur de Portenduere is only waiting for my majority to marry me."
"Then the old saw that 'Money does all' is a lie," said Minoret,
looking at the justice of peace, whose observing eyes annoyed him so
He rose and left the house, but, once outside, he found the air as
oppressive as in the little salon.
"There must be an end put to this," he said to himself as he re-
entered his own home.
When Ursula came down, bring her certificates and those of La
Bougival, she found Monsieur Bongrand walking up and down the salon
with great strides.
"Have you no idea what the conduct of that huge idiot means?" he said.
"None that I can tell," she replied.
Bongrand looked at her with inquiring surprise.
"Then we have the same idea," he said. "Here, keep the number of your
certificates, in case I lose them; you should always take that
Bongrand himself wrote the number of the two certificates, hers and
that of La Bougival, and gave them to her.
"Adieu, my child, I shall be gone two days, but you will see me on the
That night the apparition appeared to Ursula in a singular manner. She
thought her bed was in the cemetery of Nemours, and that her uncle's
grave was at the foot of it. The white stone, on which she read the
inscription, opened, like the cover of an oblong album. She uttered a
piercing cry, but the doctor's spectre slowly rose. First she saw his
yellow head, with its fringe of white hair, which shone as if
surmounted by a halo. Beneath the bald forehead the eyes were like two
gleams of light; the dead man rose as if impelled by some superior
force or will. Ursula's body trembled; her flesh was like a burning
garment, and there was (as she subsequently said) another self moving
within her bodily presence. "Mercy!" she cried, "mercy, godfather!"
"It is too late," he said, in the voice of death,--to use the poor
girl's own expression when she related this new dream to the abbe. "He
has been warned; he has paid no heed to the warning. The days of his
son are numbered. If he does not confess all and restore what he has
taken within a certain time he must lose his son, who will die a
violent and horrible death. Let him know this." The spectre pointed to
a line of figures which gleamed upon the side of the tomb as if
written with fire, and said, "There is his doom." When her uncle lay
down again in his grave Ursula heard the sound of the stone falling
back into its place, and immediately after, in the distance, a strange
sound of horses and the cries of men.
The next day Ursula was prostrate. She could not rise, so terribly had
the dream overcome her. She begged her nurse to find the Abbe Chaperon
and bring him to her. The good priest came as soon as he had said
mass, but he was not surprised at Ursula's revelation. He believed the
robbery had been committed, and no longer tried to explain to himself
the abnormal condition of his "little dreamer." He left Ursula at once
and went directly to Minoret's.
"Monsieur l'abbe," said Zelie, "my husband's temper is so soured I
don't know what he mightn't do. Until now he's been a child; but for
the last two months he's not the same man. To get angry enough to
strike me--me, so gentle! There must be something dreadful the matter
to change him like that. You'll find him among the rocks; he spends
all his time there,--doing what, I'd like to know?"
In spite of the heat (it was then September, 1836), the abbe crossed
the canal and took a path which led to the base of one of the rocks,
where he saw Minoret.
"You are greatly troubled, Monsieur Minoret," said the priest going up
to him. "You belong to me because you suffer. Unhappily, I come to
increase your pain. Ursula had a terrible dream last night. Your uncle
lifted the stone from his grave and came forth to prophecy a great
disaster in your family. I certainly am not here to frighten you; but
you ought to know what he said--"
"I can't be easy anywhere, Monsieur Chaperon, not even among these
rocks, and I'm sure I don't want to know anything that is going on in