La Maréchale d’Aubemer, Nouvelle du XVIIIème Siècle, or The Widow of Field Marshal d’Aubemer: A Novella of the 18th Century, posthumously published in 1867, is a novel by the author and memoirist Madame de Boigne, born Adélaïde d’Osmond (1781-1866). Mine is the first English translation, available here for the first time anywhere.
In Chapter 13, a catastrophe befalls the Aubemer-Saveuse household.
THE WIDOW OF FIELD MARSHAL D’AUBEMER: A NOVELLA OF THE 18TH CENTURY
M de Saveuse did not return to the Hôtel d’Aubemer until after everyone had retired, and he left in the morning before the breakfast hour. That used to happen often, but this time the Maréchale took note of it with unease; not Gudule, however, who had much else to think about. She had passed the rest of the previous day in febrile agitation, and she wanted to appear at supper to learn the result of M Chevreux’s visit to the Hôtel d’Estouteville. Reassured by an accurate and truthful account of Henri’s condition, she retired early and, alone in the solitude of her rooms, gave herself over to a serious examination of her own heart. If that cruel morning had bared her secret to the public, it had been by way of revealing it to herself, as well; she had to admit the illusion that she had been labouring under for a long time and was forced to recognize that Henri reigned despotically over her soul. The more she plumbed its depths, the more she found it filled with him, to the point of forgetting the pain it gave her for a few moments and abandoning herself to the ineffable sweetness of a love that she felt to be returned. Gudule was not, however, the sort of woman to delight in such languors. Once she had recognized the ailment, she sincerely and courageously desired to apply an effective remedy. Drying her tears and composing her face, she entered the Maréchale’s room the next morning just at the moment when, dressed and ready, she was about to leave it.
“Aunt,” she said in a firm tone, “I must go and I wish to go to Saveuse. At breakfast, let us speak of my journey as an agreed upon thing.”
The Maréchale contemplated her for a moment, and then said with the most tender understanding, “My poor Gudule, how guilty I am for having exposed you to a danger that with my experience I should have foreseen.” So saying, she opened her arms to the young woman, who threw herself into them, and, renouncing the artificial composure she had arranged for herself, dissolved into tears.