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The Guardian Angel by Paul de Kock


The Guardian Angel 

A Chapter from "Zizine" 


Paul de Kock

Edward never passed a day without going to Madame Dolbert's; 

the good lady received him as a man to whom she hoped one day to 

give the name of son, and Stephanie with that sweet smile which 

betrayed to all eyes the inmost secret of her heart.

But it was not thus that the lover of Stephanie desired to be 

loved. Conducting himself before the world with an extreme 

reserve, it was only in private, and in low whispers, and when 

removed from the vigilance of her grandmother, that Edward spoke 

to the young girl of love; but then his words were burning, and 

his eyes had an expression which compelled Stephanie to avert her 

own; his caressing hands sought always to approach her -- to touch 

the robe, the arm, or the knee of the young girl, who sometimes 

found herself suddenly embraced, and pressed warmly to a heart 

that was beating rapidly with the most ardent desires.

Stephanie responded with an undisguised affection to the 

transports of the man who seemed so happy by her side. But when 

Edward, profiting by an unobserved interview, pressed her tenderly 

to his arms, she suffered an embarrassment, an agitation, which 

resembled alarm; and she disengaged herself from the embrace which 

would retain her, with the question -- "But since, my friend, you 

love me so fondly, why don't you tell me so before my mother? When 

we are in society, you hardly look at me; you seem to fear that 

our love should be suspected. Why is this? There is no harm in 

our loving -- you have yourself told me so;-- why then should it 

be a secret?"

To these questions Edward replied --"I cannot yet avow my 

love -- family reasons prevent me; but, my dear Stephanie, they 

need not prevent us from indulging our love. The world is a wicked 

world, and as it always puts a wrong construction on the conduct 

of its members, we need not admit it to the confidence of our 

secret sentiments. Believe me, mystery is one of the great charms 

of love. Are we not an hundred times better pleased with a good 

fortune of which others know nothing? My dear Stephanie, still let 

me see you in secret,-- permit me still to have with you those 

sweet interviews, in which we can at least exchange the tender 

caresses which the world would blame, and which make me so happy."

Stephanie sighed, and whispered: "in secret -- how? I do not 

understand." But whenever Delaberge undertook to explain, her 

grandmother or Zizine appeared to interrupt the conversation.

A residence of many months with the ladies Dolbert had 

already produced a great change in the manners and language of 

Zizine. She had always been a delicate little girl, pale and 

thoughtful; but she no longer appeared the daughter of a water- 

carrier. Apt to learn whatever pleased her benefactors, Zizine had 

soon lost all the outward signs of her humble origin; but her 

heart still remained the same -- she never forgot Jerome, and when 

a month intervened between his visits, the little girl became 

uneasy, and would hide herself to weep.

Without understanding the cause, Zizine perceived very 

plainly that Stephanie had ceased to be to her what she once was. 

Her young protectress still caressed her, but she did not speak to 

her so frequently. The little games -- the dolls were entirely 

thrown aside. Stephanie was almost always absent and dreaming, and 

sometimes did not hear the questions of her little companion, who 

often asked her, "What, then, are you thinking about?"

At length, one day, when Stephanie was even more absent than 

usual, the little girl burst into tears. This sight roused 

Stephanie, who ran to her, caught her in her arms, and asked --

"Why do you weep Zizine? what have they been doing to you? 

"They have been doing nothing to me; it is because you no longer 

love me." "I don't love you, Zizine! And why do you think so?" 

Because I see very well you never speak to me -- you never play 

with me -- you are always sad. I see that I weary you -- and I 

wish to return to my father, the water-carrier." "What, leave me, 

Zizine! oh no, no, I cannot think of it; I love you still -- 

always love you. But you see that -- when one grows up, one has 

many things to think of -- one has ideas which -- in short, I 

cannot explain it all to you now, because you are too young -- but 

that shall not prevent me from loving you. Pardon me if I am 

sometimes sad -- but do not leave me. Oh! never desert me; for at

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