Led Astray and The Sphinx by Octave Feuillet

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Led Astray and The Sphinx, by Octave Feuillet

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: Led Astray and The Sphinx
Two Novellas In One Volume

Author: Octave Feuillet

Release Date: July 31, 2005 [EBook #16403]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe, Kylie and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net


_By_ OCTAVE FEUILLET, _author of "Romance of a
Poor Young Man," etc._




Copyright, 1891






ROZEL, _15th September_.

It's nine o'clock in the evening, my dear friend, and you have just
arrived from Germany. They hand you my letter, the post-mark of which
informs you at once that I am absent from Paris. You indulge in a gesture
of annoyance, and call me a vagabond. Nevertheless, you settle down in
your best arm-chair, you open my letter, and you hear that I have been for
the past five days domesticated in a flour-mill in Lower Normandy. In a
flour-mill! What the duse can he be doing in a mill? A wrinkle appears on
your forehead, your eyebrows are drawn together; you lay down my letter
for a moment; you attempt to penetrate this mystery by the unaided power
of your imagination. Suddenly a playful expression beams upon your
countenance; your mouth expresses the irony of a wise man tempered by the
indulgence of a friend; you have caught a glimpse, through an
opera-comique cloud, of a miller's pretty wife with powdered hair, a waist
all trimmed with gay ribbons, a light and short skirt, and stockings with
gilded clocks; in short, one of those fair young millers' wives whose
heart goes pit-a-pat with hautboy accompaniment. But the graces who are
ever sporting in your mind sometimes lead it astray; my fair miller is as
much like the creature of your imagination as I am like a youthful Colin;
her head is adorned with a towering cotton night-cap to which the thickest
possible coating of flour fails to restore its primitive color; she wears
a coarse woolen petticoat which would abrade the hide of an elephant; in
short, it frequently happens to me to confound the miller's wife with the
miller himself, after which it is sufficient to add that I am not the
least curious to know whether or not her heart goes pit-a-pat. The truth
is, that, not knowing how to kill time in your absence, and having no
reason to expect you to return before another month; (it's your own
fault!), I solicited a mission. The council-general of the department of
---- had lately, and quite opportunely, expressed officially the wish that
a certain ruined abbey, called Rozel Abbey, should be classed among
historical monuments. I have been commissioned to investigate closely the
candidate's titles. I hastened with all possible speed to the chief town
of this artistic department, where I effected my entrance with the
important gravity of a man who holds within his hands the life or the
death of a monument dear to the country. I made some inquiries at the
hotel; great was my mortification when I discovered that no one seemed to
suspect that such a thing as Rozel Abbey existed within a circuit of a
hundred leagues. I called at the prefecture while still laboring under the
effect of this disappointment; the prefect, Valton, whom you know very
well, received me with his usual affability; but to the questions I
addressed him on the subject of the condition of the ruins which the
council seemed so desirous of preserving for the admiration of its
constituents, he replied with an absent smile, that his wife, who had
visited these ruins on the occasion of an excursion into the country,
while she was sojourning on the sea shore, could tell me a great deal more
about the ruins than he possibly could himself.

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