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   Chapter 28 A WOMAN WRITES A LETTER

Carnac's Folly, Complete By Gilbert Parker Characters: 6096

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04


The whole country rang with the defeat and death of Barode Barouche, and the triumph of the disinherited son of John Grier. Newspapers drew differing lessons from the event, but all admitted that Carnac, as a great fighter, was entitled to success. The Press were friendly to the memory of Barode Barouche, and some unduly praised his work, and only a few disparaged his career.

When news of the tragedy came to Mrs. Grier, she was reading in the papers of Carnac's victory, and in her mind was an agonizing triumph, pride in a stern blow struck for punishment. The event was like none she could have imagined.

It was at this moment the note came from Carnac telling of Barouche's death, and it dropped from her hand to the floor. The horror of it smote her being, and, like one struck by lightning, she sank to the floor unconscious. The thing had hit her where soul and body were closely knit; and she had realized for the first time how we all must pay to the last penny for every offence we commit against the laws of life and nature. Barode Barouche had paid and she must pay-she also who had sinned with him must pay. But had she not paid?

For long she lay unconscious, but at last the servant, unknowing why she was not called to remove the breakfast things, found her huddled on the floor, her face like that of death. The servant felt her heart, saw she was alive, and worked with her till consciousness came back.

"That's right, ma'am, keep up heart. I'll send for M'sieu' Carnac at once, and we'll have you all right pretty quick."

But Mrs. Grier forbade Carnac to be sent for, and presently in her bed, declined to have the doctor brought. "It's no use," she said. "A doctor can do no good. I need rest, that's all."

Then she asked for notepaper and pen and ink, and so she was left alone. She must tell her beloved son why it was there never had been, and never could be, understanding between John Grier and himself. She had arrived at that point where naught was to be gained by further concealment. So through long hours she struggled with her problem, and she was glad Carnac did not come during the vexing day. He had said when he sent her word of his victory, that he feared he would not be able to see her the next day at all, as he had so much to do. She even declined to see Junia when she came, sending word that she was in bed, indisposed.

The letter she wrote ran thus:

MY BELOVED CARNAC,

Your news of the death of Barode Barouche has shocked me. You will

understand when I tell you I have lived a life of agony ever since

you became a candidate. This is why: you were fighting the man who

gave you to the world.

Let me tell you how. I loved John Grier when I married him, and

longed to make my life fit in with his. But that could not easily

be, for his life was wedded to his business, and he did not believe

in women. To him they were incapable of the real business of life,

and were only meant to be housekeepers to men who make the world go

round. So, unintentiona

lly, he neglected me, and I was young and

comely then, so the world said, and I was unwise and thoughtless.

Else, I should not have listened to Barode Barouche, who, one summer

in camp on the St. Lawrence River near our camp, opened up for me

new ways of thought, and springs of feeling. He had the gifts that

have made you what you are, a figure that all turn twice to see. He

had eloquence, he was thoughtful in all the little things which John

Grier despised. In the solitude of the camp he wound himself about

my life, and roused an emotion for him false to duty. And so one

day-one single day, for never but the once was I weak, yet that was

enough, God knows.... He went away because I would not see

him again; because I would not repeat the offence which gave me

years of sorrow and remorse.

After you became a candidate, he came and offered to marry me, tried

to reopen the old emotion; but I would have none of it. He was

convinced he would defeat you, and he wanted to avoid fighting you.

But when I said, 'Give up the seat to him,' he froze. Of course,

his seat belonged to his party and not alone to himself; but that

was the test I put him to, and the answer he gave was, 'You want me

to destroy my career in politics! That is your proposal, is it?'

He was not honest either in life or conduct. I don't think he ever

was sorry for me or for you, until perhaps these last few weeks; but

I have sorrowed ever since the day you came to me very day, every

hour, every minute; and the more because I could not tell John Grier

the truth.

Perhaps I ought to have told the truth long ago, and faced the

consequences. It might seem now that I would have ruined my home

life, and yours, and Barode Barouche's, and John Grier's life if I

had told the truth; but who knows! There are many outcomes to

life's tragedies, and none might have been what I fancied. It is

little comfort that Barode Barouche has now given all for payment of

his debt. It gives no peace of mind. And it may be you will think

I ought not to tell you the truth. I don't know, but I feel you

will not misunderstand. I tell you my story, so that you may again

consider if it is not better to face the world with the truth about

Luzanne. We can live but once, and it is to our good if we refuse

the secret way. It is right you should know the truth about your

birth, but it is not right you should declare it to all the world

now. That was my duty long ago, and I did not do it. It is not

your duty, and you must not do it. Barode Barouche is gone; John

Grier has gone; and it would only hurt Fabian and his wife and you

to tell it now. You inherit Barode Barouche's gifts, and you have

his seat, you represent his people-and they are your people too.

You have French blood in your veins, and you have a chance to carry

on with honour what he did with skill. Forgive me, if you can.

Your loving

MOTHER.

P.S. Do nothing till you see me.

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