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The Red and the Black

The Red and the Black

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Published by romanzahan

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Published by: romanzahan on Dec 08, 2010
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12/31/2012

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Page 1 , Red And the Black, The - Stendhal
THE RED AND THE BLACKby Stendhaltranslated by Charles TergieBOOK ONETruth, bitter truthDANTONBOOK_ONE|CHAPTER_1CHAPTER 1A Small TownPut thousands togetherLess bad,But the cage less gay.HOBBESTHE LITTLE TOWN of Verrieres can pass for one of the prettiest inFranche-Comte. Its white houses, with their gable roofs of red tiling,spread over the slope of a hill, where clumps of chestnut trees markevery indentation. The Doube flows some hundred feet below thefortifications which the Spaniards built, now lying in ruins.Verrieres is sheltered on the north by a high mountain, a spur ofthe Jura range. The irregular peaks of Verra are covered with snowfrom the earliest frosts in October. A brook falls precipitatelyfrom the mountain, and takes its course through Verrieres beforeemptying into the Doube, supplying power to numerous saw-mills.These form the common industry, affording to the greater portion ofthe inhabitants, who are mostly of the peasant class, a certain degreeof affluence. It is not, however, the saw-mills that have enrichedthis little town. It is the manufacture of print cloth called"Mulhouse"; from that has come the general prosperity which hasrebuilt nearly every house in Verrieres since the fall of Napoleon.On entering the town one is deafened by the din of a crashing,formidable-looking machine. Twenty heavy hammers, raised by means of awheel rotated by the stream, fall with a noise that shakes thepavement. Each one of these hammers makes many thousands of nails aday. To the stroke of these enormous hammers pretty little girls areholding bits of iron which are quickly transformed into nails. Thispretentious establishment is among the things that most astonish thetraveller who comes for the first time among the mountains lyingbetween France and Switzerland. If the traveller asked to whom thisgreat nail factory belonged that is deafening the people walking inRue Grande, he would be answered, rather indifferently: "Oh, 'tisthe Mayor's." A hundred to one, too, if he stopped for a few momentsin this Rue Grande, which rises steeply from the banks of the Doube to
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Page 2 , Red And the Black, The - Stendhal
the top of the hill, he would see a tall man appear, walking with anair of great importance. At sight of him all hats are hastilyraised. His hair is gray, and the suit he wears is gray. With his highforehead and aquiline nose, his face altogether is not without someregularity. He is a Knight in several Orders. One sees, too, atfirst glance, that there is mingled with the dignity of mayor a sortof solid contentment natural to a man of forty-eight or fifty. Butthis contended self-complaisance, in which is seen an element ofsomething hard and prosaic, soon grates upon the Parisian traveller.The impression is gathered that the sole genius of the man lies inexacting prompt payment from his debtors, and in demurring paymentto the very last to his creditors.This is the Mayor of Verrieres, M. de Renal. He walks across thestreet with much deliberation, and enters the Town Hall,disappearing then from the traveller's eyes. But a hundred stepsfarther, if the latter continued his walk, he would see a verypretty house and, beyond an iron railing leading from it, abeautiful garden. Beyond it the line of the horizon is made up ofthe hills of Bourgogne, formed apparently just to please the eye. Thisview is somewhat of a relief to the traveller depressed by theatmosphere of insatiable greed surrounding him.He is informed that the house belongs to M. de Renal. It is from theprofits he made in his great nail factory that the Mayor ofVerrieres has built this beautiful stone residence, just latelyfinished. The report goes that the Mayor is of an old Spanishfamily; according to his own declaration, his family had beenestablished in the neighborhood long before the time of Louis XIV.Ever since 1815 he has blushed at being a manufacturer; that yearhad made him Mayor of Verrieres. The terrace walls, retainingvarious portions of this magnificent garden, which slopes sobeautifully from plane to plane down to the Doube, are the reward ofM. de Renal's knowledge of the iron trade. Of course, one must notexpect to find those picturesque gardens in France which surroundthe manufacturing cities of Germany, like Leipzig, Frankfort, orNuremberg. In Franche-Comte the more walls one builds, stone on stone,on property, the higher does he rise in the estimation of hisneighbors. M. de Renal's gardens, therefore, are a network of walls,and these are the more admired because the ground over which theystretch was not bought at a bargain. That saw-mill, for instance,which, with the name Sorel in gigantic letters on a roof-board,attracted your attention upon entering Verrieres, was six years agolocated on the very spot on which the wall of the fourth terrace isbeing built in M. de Renal's gardens.Notwithstanding his pride, his honor the Mayor had been forced tomake many a concession to this obstinate, hard-headed peasant Sorel.He had to pay him a pretty penny for having him move his mill away.The public stream by which the mill was turned, M. de Renal, thanks tostrong influence in Paris, was then able to turn off in anotherdirection. That privilege he obtained after the elections in 182_.
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Page 3 , Red And the Black, The - Stendhal
He gave Sorel four acres for one a hundred feet lower down along theDoube. And, though the new location was far better for his fir-plankconcern, Father Sorel- so he is called since he has become rich-knew how to extract six thousand francs in addition from theimpatience and property mania which possessed his neighbor.True, this transaction was criticized by the good people of theplace. Only four years afterwards, one Sunday, while M. de Renal,adorned with the insignia of office, was returning from church, he sawSorel from a distance, accompanied by his three sons, smilingblandly at him. That smile came like a stab to him, for it vividlyrecalled the time when he might have driven a much better bargain.No one that builds a wall, if he wishes to receive publicconsideration at Verrieres, will adopt the plans the masons bring fromItaly when, in the spring of the year, they cross the Jura Mountainson their way to Paris. Such an innovation would bring to the imprudentbuilder the reputation of "a bad head," and he would forever be lostwith the sage and prudent folk who dispense good opinion inFranche-Comte.In truth, these wise people exercise a most annoying tyranny. Forthat reason is life in the small towns insupportable for one who haslived in that great republic which we call Paris. The tyranny ofpublic opinion- and such opinion- is as stupid in the small towns inFrance as in the United States of America.BOOK_ONE|CHAPTER_2CHAPTER 2A MayorSir, is importance of no account? The respect of drunkards, theastonishment of children, the envy of the rich, the contempt of thewise man.BARNAVEFORTUNATELY for the administrative reputation of M. de Renal, abig sustaining wall was needed for the public thoroughfare. The streetwas up grade to a height of nearly a hundred feet above the banks ofthe Doube. This made it one of the most picturesque views in France.But the street was flooded every spring by the heavy rains, and thenthe gulleys made it impassable. This state of affairs brought M. deRenal to the happy necessity of immortalizing his administration bya wall twenty feet high and between sixty and eighty fathoms long.The parapet of this wall, on account of which M. de Renal had tomake three trips to Paris- the former Minister of the Interiorhaving declared himself a mortal enemy of this promenade in Verrieres-is four feet above the ground, and, as if to defy all ministers,present and future, it is lined with blocks of cut stone.How often have my eyes gazed down the Doube valley, leaning on thosemassive bluish-gray blocks of granite, with my thoughts far off indreams of Paris balls! There on the right bank stretch five or sixlittle vales through which the eye perceives winding, thread-likestreams. These, then, falling over cascades, rush into the Doube.
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