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Beauty and The Beast(Chapter9)

2006-08-22 23:03

  Chapter IX.

  The young Prince had, in reality, become the happy husband of Helena. His love for her had grown to be a shaping and organizing influence, without which his nature would have fallen into its former confusion. If a thought of a less honorable relation had ever entered his mind, it was presently banished by the respect which a nearer intimacy inspired; and thus Helena, magnetically drawing to the surface only his best qualities, loved, unconsciously to herself, her own work in him. Ere long, she saw that she might balance the advantages he had conferred upon her in their marriage by the support and encouragement which she was able to impart to him; and this knowledge, removing all painful sense of obligation, made her both happy and secure in her new position.

  The Princess Martha, under some presentiment of her approaching death, had intrusted one of the ladies in attendance upon her with the secret of her son's marriage, in addition to a tender maternal message, and such presents of money and jewelry as she was able to procure without her husband's knowledge. These presents reached Boris very opportunely; for, although Helena developed a wonderful skill in regulating his expenses, the spring was approaching, and even the limited circle of society in which they had moved during the gay season had made heavy demands upon his purse. He became restless and abstracted, until his wife, who by this time clearly comprehended the nature of his trouble, had secretly decided how it must be met.

  The slender hoard of the old music-master, with a few thousand rubles from Prince Boris, sufficed for his modest maintenance. Being now free from the charge of his daughter, he determined to visit Germany, and, if circumstances were propitious, to secure a refuge for his old age in his favorite Leipsic. Summer was at hand, and the court had already removed to Oranienbaum. In a few weeks the capital would be deserted.

  "Shall we go to Germany with your father?" asked Boris, as he sat at a window with Helena, enjoying the long twilight.

  "No, my Boris," she answered; "we will go to Kinesma."

  "But——Helena,——golubchik, mon ange,——are you in earnest?"

  "Yes, my Boris. The last letter from your——our cousin Nadejda convinces me that the step must be taken. Prince Alexis has grown much older since your mother's death; he is lonely and unhappy. He may not welcome us, but he will surely suffer us to come to him; and we must then begin the work of reconciliation. Reflect, my Boris, that you have keenly wounded him in the tenderest part,——his pride,——and you must therefore cast away your own pride, and humbly and respectfully, as becomes a son, solicit his pardon."

  "Yes," said he, hesitatingly, "you are right. But I know his violence and recklessness, as you do not. For myself, alone, I am willing to meet him; yet I fear for your sake. Would you not tremble to encounter a maddened and brutal mujik?——then how much more to meet Alexis Pavlovitch of Kinesma!"

  "I do not and shall not tremble," she replied. "It is not your marriage that has estranged your father, but your marriage with me. Having been, unconsciously, the cause of the trouble, I shall deliberately, and as a sacred duty, attempt to remove it. Let us go to Kinesma, as humble, penitent children, and cast ourselves upon your father's mercy. At the worst, he can but reject us; and you will have given me the consolation of knowing that I have tried, as your wife, to annul the sacrifice you have made for my sake."

  "Be it so, then!" cried Boris, with a mingled feeling of relief and anxiety.

  He was not unwilling that the attempt should be made, especially since it was his wife's desire; but he knew his father too well to anticipate immediate success. All threatening possibilities suggested themselves to his mind; all forms of insult and outrage which he had seen perpetrated at Kinesma filled his memory. The suspense became at last worse than any probable reality. He wrote to his father, announcing a speedy visit from himself and his wife; and two days afterwards the pair left St. Petersburg in a large travelling kibitka.

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