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Lady, that in the prime of earliest youth
:: A YOUNG FRENCH PROTESTANT.
PART THE FIRST:
A 'YOUNG girl stood alone. upon the broad terrace, looking down the long chesnut avenue which led to the high road, after extending for miles through the dark and venerable forest of Montlaur. The morning had scarcely dawned, and she listened, not with that look of eager hope which tells that the approach of some beloved object is expected, but with the calm, moveless attention of one who wishes to catch, yet grieves to hear, the last faint sound of the departing steps. She has heard that last, almost inaudible sound, and her repressed sorrow rises at once from her bosom, as if permitted at last to betray itself in her face, in the sighs that escape from her lips, in the tears that gush out from the eyes they had before filled almost to falling.
Gabrielle de Montlaur wept for her father and her two brothers; they had departed for the field of battle. Her brothers were mere children, and they had never left their mother till then ; but in those days boys were wont to go forth with their fathers to the war. Gabrielle was but a year younger than her brothers, and they were twins.
The Count de Montlaur had delayed his departure for a few days, waiting for the accouchement of his wife: a daughter was born to him, and the happy husband left his wife in safety..' : The campaign was short; and Gabrielle thought it a glorious sight when she saw her father, followed by his troops, galloping up the long avenue, with his brave boys riding on each side of him. Gaston and Olivier had been in the hottest of the fight, but they had returned'unhurt; and Gabrielle, as she looked upon them, and saw how young, and fair, and beautiful they still were, could scarcely believe that they had been so lately amid the horrid confusion of blood and carnage, and violent death. Olivier was, however, altered in character; he was no longer a thoughtless laughing boy-he had become silent and abstracted; a shade of thought had contracted his brow; his lip and cheek were paler; a feeling of his own dignity, a consciousness of the glory he had gained, filled his young heart. But Gaston was as carelessly happy as ever ; he came back delighted to resume his old habits, and the manly exercises of his childhood: his brow was still clear and open; the red colour still bright upon his cheek; his laugh as hearty, as thoughtlessly loud as ever.
They were a happy family; and Gabrielle often, in her after-life of trials, thought upon the evening when her brothers returned home from their first campaign. They were assembled in the long gallery, where the portraits of their forefathers half covered the faded tapestry, worked by the ladies of Montlaur in the reign of Francis the First. Gabrielle and her mother sate at the same embroidery-frame, but the work proceeded slowly beneath their fingers. Either their eyes met for a moment with looks of untroubled delight after regarding their beloved companions, or they laid down their needles to gaze on them without interruption. The Count lay along upon the floor, laughing and playing with his little girl, almost as much a child as the infant herself; and Gaston stood beside him, all heated and flushed with the joyful sport, clapping his hands, and singing, and making the whole gallery ring with his laughter. At a little distance apart from them all sate Olivier, his head resting upon his hand, and his heart as fixed as his eyes on a huge Chronicle of Froissart which lay before him.
A year passed on quietly at the old Château, till the Chevalier was called away again, and with him went the brothers. They were absent many tedious months, and no tidings came about them. Madame de Montlaur and her daughter became anxious, wretched - At last they returned. - It was a fine summer day, the weather was oppressively hot, but the walks in the forest of Montlaur were cool and shaded in the most sultry weather; and, taking a small volume in her hand, the Countess, ac