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22248613 Honore de Balzac Short Works

22248613 Honore de Balzac Short Works

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  • The Hated Son
  • The Hidden Masterpiece
  • Honorine
  • Juana
  • Maitre Cornelius
  • Louis Lambert
  • Madame Firmiani
  • A Man of Business
  • Massimilla Doni

Short Works

Honoré de Balzac
Translated by Ellen Marriage

Contents The Girl with the Golden Eyes ..................................3 The Hated Son ........................................................ 77 The Hidden Masterpiece ....................................... 171 Honorine ................................................................ 201 Juana ...................................................................... 281 Maitre Cornelius .................................................... 341 Louis Lambert ........................................................ 403 Madame Firmiani .................................................. 507 A Man of Business ................................................. 531 The Marriage Contract .......................................... 559 Massimilla Doni ..................................................... 687

The Girl with the Golden Eyes

Honoré de Balzac
Translated by Ellen Marriage

DISCLAIMER The Girl with the Golden Eyes by Honoré de Balzac, Translated by Ellen Marriage is a publication of ECONaRCH Institute. This Portable Document File is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Any person using this document file, for any purpose, and in any way does so at his or her own risk. Neither ECONARCH Institute, the Editor, nor anyone associated with ECONARCH Institute assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission, in any way. The Girl with the Golden Eyes by Honoré de Balzac, ECONARCH Institute, Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series, the Editor, Indonesia is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classics literature, in English, to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics


The Girl with the Golden Eyes

Honoré de Balzac
Translated by Ellen Marriage Dedication To Eugene Delacroix, Painter.

NOTE: The Girl with the Golden Eyes is the third part of a trilogy. Part one is entitled Ferragus and part two is The Duchesse de Langeais. The three stories are frequently combined under the title The Thirteen. 5

ONE OF THOSE SIGHTS in which most horror is to be encountered is, surely, the general aspect of the Parisian populace—a people fearful to behold, gaunt, yellow, tawny. Is not Paris a vast field in perpetual turmoil from a storm of interests beneath which are whirled along a crop of human beings, who are, more often than not, reaped by death, only to be born again as pinched as ever, men whose twisted and contorted faces give out at every pore the instinct, the desire, the poisons with which their brains are pregnant; not faces so much as masks; masks of weakness, masks of strength, masks of misery, masks of joy, masks of hypocrisy; all alike worn and stamped with the indelible signs of a panting cupidity? What is it they want? Gold or pleasure? A few observations upon the soul of Paris may explain the causes of its cadaverous physiognomy, which has but two ages—youth and decay: youth, wan and colorless; decay, painted to seem young. In looking at this excavated people, foreigners, who are not prone to reflection, experience at first a movement of disgust towards the capital, that vast workshop of delights, from which, in a short time, they cannot even extricate themselves, and where they stay willingly to be corrupted. A few words will suffice to justify physiologically the almost infernal hue of Parisian faces, for it is not in mere sport that Paris has been called a hell. Take the phrase for truth. There all is smoke and fire, everything gleams, crackles, flames, evaporates, dies out, then lights up again, with shooting sparks, and is consumed. In no other country has life ever been more ardent or acute. The social nature, even in fusion, seems to say after each completed work: “Pass on to another!” just as Nature says herself. Like Nature herself, this social nature is busied with insects and flowers of a day—ephemeral trifles; and so, too, it throws up fire and 6


flame from its eternal crater. Perhaps, before analyzing the causes which lend a special physiognomy to each tribe of this intelligent and mobile nation, the general cause should be pointed out which bleaches and discolors, tints with blue or brown individuals in more or less degree. By dint of taking interest in everything, the Parisian ends by being interested in nothing. No emotion dominating his face, which friction has rubbed away, it turns gray like the faces of those houses upon which all kinds of dust and smoke have blown. In effect, the Parisian, with his indifference on the day for what the morrow will bring forth, lives like a child, whatever may be his age. He grumbles at everything, consoles himself for everything, jests at everything, forgets, desires, and tastes everything, seizes all with passion, quits all with indifference— his kings, his conquests, his glory, his idols of bronze or glass—as he throws away his stockings, his hats, and his fortune. In Paris no sentiment can withstand the drift of things, and their current compels a struggle in which the passions are relaxed: there love is a desire, and hatred a whim; there’s no true kinsman but the thousand-franc note, no better friend than the pawnbroker. This universal toleration bears its fruits, and in the salon, as in the street, there is no one de trop, there is no one absolutely useful, or absolutely harmful—knaves or fools, men of wit or integrity. There everything is tolerated: the government and the guillotine, religion and the cholera. You are always acceptable to this world, you will never be missed by it. What, then, is the dominating impulse in this country without morals, without faith, without any sentiment, wherein, however, every sentiment, belief, and moral has its origin and end? It is gold and pleasure. Take those two words for a lantern, and explore that great stucco cage, that hive with its black gutters, and follow the windings of that thought which agitates, sustains, and occupies it! Consider! And, in the first place, examine the world which possesses nothing. The artisan, the man of the proletariat, who uses his hands, his tongue, his back, his right arm, his five fingers, to live—well, this very man, who should be the first to economize his vital principle, outruns his strength, yokes his wife to some machine, wears out his child, and ties him to the wheel. The manufacturer—or I know not what secondary thread which sets in motion all these folk who with their foul hands mould and gild porcelain, sew coats and dresses, 7

beat out iron, turn wood and steel, weave hemp, festoon crystal, imitate flowers, work woolen things, break in horses, dress harness, carve in copper, paint carriages, blow glass, corrode the diamond, polish metals, turn marble into leaves, labor on pebbles, deck out thought, tinge, bleach, or blacken everything—well, this middleman has come to that world of sweat and good-will, of study and patience, with promises of lavish wages, either in the name of the town’s caprices or with the voice of the monster dubbed speculation. Thus, these quadrumanes set themselves to watch, work, and suffer, to fast, sweat, and bestir them. Then, careless of the future, greedy of pleasure, counting on their right arm as the painter on his palette, lords for one day, they throw their money on Mondays to the cabarets which gird the town like a belt of mud, haunts of the most shameless of the daughters of Venus, in which the periodical money of this people, as ferocious in their pleasures as they are calm at work, is squandered as it had been at play. For five days, then, there is no repose for this laborious portion of Paris! It is given up to actions which make it warped and rough, lean and pale, gush forth with a thousand fits of creative energy. And then its pleasure, its repose, are an exhausting debauch, swarthy and black with blows, white with intoxication, or yellow with indigestion. It lasts but two days, but it steals to-morrow’s bread, the week’s soup, the wife’s dress, the child’s wretched rags. Men, born doubtless to be beautiful—for all creatures have a relative beauty—are enrolled from their childhood beneath the yoke of force, beneath the rule of the hammer, the chisel, the loom, and have been promptly vulcanized. Is not Vulcan, with his hideousness and his strength, the emblem of this strong and hideous nation—sublime in its mechanical intelligence, patient in its season, and once in a century terrible, inflammable as gunpowder, and ripe with brandy for the madness of revolution, with wits enough, in fine, to take fire at a captious word, which signifies to it always: Gold and Pleasure! If we comprise in it all those who hold out their hands for an alms, for lawful wages, or the five francs that are granted to every kind of Parisian prostitution, in short, for all the money well or ill earned, this people numbers three hundred thousand individuals. Were it not for the cabarets, would not the Government be overturned every Tuesday? Happily, by Tuesday, this people is glutted, 8


sleeps off its pleasure, is penniless, and returns to its labor, to dry bread, stimulated by a need of material procreation, which has become a habit to it. None the less, this people has its phenomenal virtues, its complete men, unknown Napoleons, who are the type of its strength carried to its highest expression, and sum up its social capacity in an existence wherein thought and movement combine less to bring joy into it than to neutralize the action of sorrow. Chance has made an artisan economical, chance has favored him with forethought, he has been able to look forward, has met with a wife and found himself a father, and, after some years of hard privation, he embarks in some little draper’s business, hires a shop. If neither sickness nor vice blocks his way—if he has prospered—there is the sketch of this normal life. And, in the first place, hail to that king of Parisian activity, to whom time and space give way. Yes, hail to that being, composed of saltpetre and gas, who makes children for France during his laborious nights, and in the day multiplies his personality for the service, glory, and pleasure of his fellow-citizens. This man solves the problem of sufficing at once to his amiable wife, to his hearth, to the Constitutionnel, to his office, to the National Guard, to the opera, and to God; but, only in order that the Constitutionnel, his office, the National Guard, the opera, his wife, and God may be changed into coin. In fine, hail to an irreproachable pluralist. Up every day at five o’clock, he traverses like a bird the space which separates his dwelling from the Rue Montmartre. Let it blow or thunder, rain or snow, he is at the Constitutionnel, and waits there for the load of newspapers which he has undertaken to distribute. He receives this political bread with eagerness, takes it, bears it away. At nine o’clock he is in the bosom of his family, flings a jest to his wife, snatches a loud kiss from her, gulps down a cup of coffee, or scolds his children. At a quarter to ten he puts in an appearance at the Mairie. There, stuck upon a stool, like a parrot on its perch, warmed by Paris town, he registers until four o’clock, with never a tear or a smile, the deaths and births of an entire district. The sorrow, the happiness, of the parish flow beneath his pen—as the essence of the Constitutionnel traveled before upon his shoulders. Nothing weighs upon him! He goes always straight before him, takes his patriotism ready made from 9

the newspaper, contradicts no one, shouts or applauds with the world, and lives like a bird. Two yards from his parish, in the event of an important ceremony, he can yield his place to an assistant, and betake himself to chant a requiem from a stall in the church of which on Sundays he is the fairest ornament, where his is the most imposing voice, where he distorts his huge mouth with energy to thunder out a joyous Amen. So is he chorister. At four o’clock, freed from his official servitude, he reappears to shed joy and gaiety upon the most famous shop in the city. Happy is his wife, he has no time to be jealous: he is a man of action rather than of sentiment. His mere arrival spurs the young ladies at the counter; their bright eyes storm the customers; he expands in the midst of all the finery, the lace and muslin kerchiefs, that their cunning hands have wrought. Or, again, more often still, before his dinner he waits on a client, copies the page of a newspaper, or carries to the doorkeeper some goods that have been delayed. Every other day, at six, he is faithful to his post. A permanent bass for the chorus, he betakes himself to the opera, prepared to become a soldier or an arab, prisoner, savage, peasant, spirit, camel’s leg or lion, a devil or a genie, a slave or a eunuch, black or white; always ready to feign joy or sorrow, pity or astonishment, to utter cries that never vary, to hold his tongue, to hunt, or fight for Rome or Egypt, but always at heart—a huckster still. At midnight he returns—a man, the good husband, the tender father; he slips into the conjugal bed, his imagination still afire with the illusive forms of the operatic nymphs, and so turns to the profit of conjugal love the world’s depravities, the voluptuous curves of Taglioni’s leg. And finally, if he sleeps, he sleeps apace, and hurries through his slumber as he does his life. This man sums up all things—history, literature, politics, government, religion, military science. Is he not a living encyclopaedia, a grotesque Atlas; ceaselessly in motion, like Paris itself, and knowing not repose? He is all legs. No physiognomy could preserve its purity amid such toils. Perhaps the artisan who dies at thirty, an old man, his stomach tanned by repeated doses of brandy, will be held, according to certain leisured philosophers, to be happier than the huckster is. The one perishes in a breath, and the other by degrees. From his eight industries, from the labor of his shoulders, his throat, his hands, 10


from his wife and his business, the one derives—as from so many farms—children, some thousands of francs, and the most laborious happiness that has ever diverted the heart of man. This fortune and these children, or the children who sum up everything for him, become the prey of the world above, to which he brings his ducats and his daughter or his son, reared at college, who, with more education than his father, raises higher his ambitious gaze. Often the son of a retail tradesman would fain be something in the State. Ambition of that sort carries on our thought to the second Parisian sphere. Go up one story, then, and descend to the entresol: or climb down from the attic and remain on the fourth floor; in fine, penetrate into the world which has possessions: the same result! Wholesale merchants, and their men—people with small banking accounts and much integrity—rogues and catspaws, clerks old and young, sheriffs’ clerks, barristers’ clerks, solicitors’ clerks; in fine, all the working, thinking, and speculating members of that lower middle class which honeycombs the interests of Paris and watches over its granary, accumulates the coin, stores the products that the proletariat have made, preserves the fruits of the South, the fishes, the wine from every sunfavored hill; which stretches its hands over the Orient, and takes from it the shawls that the Russ and the Turk despise; which harvests even from the Indies; crouches down in expectation of a sale, greedy of profit; which discounts bills, turns over and collects all kinds of securities, holds all Paris in its hand, watches over the fantasies of children, spies out the caprices and the vices of mature age, sucks money out of disease. Even so, if they drink no brandy, like the artisan, nor wallow in the mire of debauch, all equally abuse their strength, immeasurably strain their bodies and their minds alike, are burned away with desires, devastated with the swiftness of the pace. In their case the physical distortion is accomplished beneath the whip of interests, beneath the scourge of ambitions which torture the educated portion of this monstrous city, just as in the case of the proletariat it is brought about by the cruel see-saw of the material elaborations perpetually required from the despotism of the aristocratic “I will.” Here, too, then, in order to obey that universal master, pleasure or gold, they must devour time, hasten time, find more than four-and-twenty hours in the day and night, waste themselves, slay 11

themselves, and purchase two years of unhealthy repose with thirty years of old age. Only, the working-man dies in hospital when the last term of his stunted growth expires; whereas the man of the middle class is set upon living, and lives on, but in a state of idiocy. You will meet him, with his worn, flat old face, with no light in his eyes, with no strength in his limbs, dragging himself with a dazed air along the boulevard—the belt of his Venus, of his beloved city. What was his want? The sabre of the National Guard, a permanent stock-pot, a decent plot in Pere Lachaise, and, for his old age, a little gold honestly earned. HIS Monday is on Sunday, his rest a drive in a hired carriage—a country excursion during which his wife and children glut themselves merrily with dust or bask in the sun; his dissipation is at the restaurateur’s, whose poisonous dinner has won renown, or at some family ball, where he suffocates till midnight. Some fools are surprised at the phantasmagoria of the monads which they see with the aid of the microscope in a drop of water; but what would Rabelais’ Gargantua,—that misunderstood figure of an audacity so sublime,—what would that giant say, fallen from the celestial spheres, if he amused himself by contemplating the motions of this secondary life of Paris, of which here is one of the formulae? Have you seen one of those little constructions—cold in summer, and with no other warmth than a small stove in winter—placed beneath the vast copper dome which crowns the Halle-auble? Madame is there by morning. She is engaged at the markets, and makes by this occupation twelve thousand francs a year, people say. Monsieur, when Madame is up, passes into a gloomy office, where he lends money till the week-end to the tradesmen of his district. By nine o’clock he is at the passport office, of which he is one of the minor officials. By evening he is at the box-office of the Theatre Italien, or of any other theatre you like. The children are put out to nurse, and only return to be sent to college or to boarding-school. Monsieur and Madame live on the third floor, have but one cook, give dances in a salon twelve foot by eight, lit by argand lamps; but they give a hundred and fifty thousand francs to their daughter, and retire at the age of fifty, an age when they begin to show themselves on the balcony of the opera, in a fiacre at Longchamps; or, on sunny days, in faded clothes on the boulevards—the fruit of all this sowing. Respected by their neighbors, in 12

what face retain its beauty in this depraving practice of a calling which compels one to bear the weight of the public sorrows. and his daughter’s father-in-law. then. when they have any. before they descend each morning into the abyss of the misery which puts families on the rack. it escapes them. invites him to his evenings. they either are horrified at it and grow gloomy. Thus we are brought to the third circle of this hell. to take advantage of some fleeting opportunity. but they leave them somewhere or other. to get a man hanged or set him free. to open or wind up some business. in which the interests of the town are digested. to overreach a man or his money. the crowd of lawyers.Balzac good odor with the government. before their time. councillors. and. as by some acrid and bitter intestinal process. there moves and agitates. or else. Monsieur obtains at sixty-five the Cross of the Legion of Honor. business men. whose confessors they are. bankers. These life-long labors. in fetid ante-chambers. like their own legs. and where they are condensed into the form known as business. will some day find its Dante. which. in little barred dens. and everything stimulates the upward march of money. Here are to be found even more causes of moral and physical destruction than elsewhere. to analyze them. and spend their days bowed down beneath the weight of affairs. owing to their contact with corruption. they can neither expand it nor cut it short. moral. consequently. estimate them. Thus each sphere directs all its efforts towards the sphere above it. pure. the son of the timber merchant becomes a magistrate. out of lassi13 . These people—almost all of them—live in unhealthy offices. For them there is no such thing as mystery. whom these lower middle classes are inevitably driven to exalt. to gain all or not to lose. In this third social circle. connected with the upper middle classes. and despise it. The son of the rich grocer becomes a notary. they see the reverse side of society. not to be left behind. a sort of Parisian belly. What soul can remain great. They infect their horses. and magistrates. a parochial mayor. perhaps. speculators. whatever they do. Then. and mark them out by rule? Where do these folk put aside their hearts? … I do not know. to weigh them. big merchants. and generous. No link is wanting in the chain. they rise at dawn to be in time. are for the good of the children. notaries. Time is their tyrant: it fails them. they overdrive and age and break them. doctors.

Having started early to become men of note. At all hours the financier is trampling on the living. They know their business. like jackals. they are neither husbands nor fathers nor lovers. protectors. and fix the morality of society. or political prejudices. literary. and emaciated. too. and their faces become bloated. play and keep vigil. nor the judge. they apply set rules that leave cases out of count. sensual mouths. from corpses that are still warm. they glide on sledges over the facts of life. they all substitute words for ideas. a debauchery both secret and alarming. nor the pleader preserves his sense of right. and live at all times at the high pressure conduced by business and the vast city. are crudely and crookedly critical. they necessarily become callous to every sentiment. They all eat to excess. they feel no more. and their soul becomes a larynx. flushed. for they have all means at their disposal. So. their faces present the harsh pallor. those dull. the attorney on the dead. or some secret compromise. Borne along by their headlong course. When they return to their homes they are required to go to a ball. since man. Their genuine stupidity lies hid beneath their specialism. they swamp their wits in interminable arguments. but are ignorant of everything which is outside it. and crawl over the high places of the world. indeed pleasure. make them steal. in which the observer recognizes the symptoms of the degeneracy of the thought and its rotation in the circle of a special idea which destroys the creative faculties of the brain and the gift of seeing in large. they oppose—not. they turn into mediocrities. into society. Almost all conveniently adopt social. just as they adapt their conscience to the standard of the Code or the Tribunal of Commerce.tude. So that to preserve their self-conceit they question everything. and garrulous. They appear to be sceptics and are in reality simpletons. the pleader on the conscience. to such multifold moral contradictions. tarnished eyes. In fine. his laws and his institutions. to the opera. where they can make clients. No man who has allowed himself to be caught in the revolutions of the gear of these huge machines can 14 . the deceitful coloring. Forced to be speaking without a rest. espouse it. To this terrific expenditure of intellectual strength. of generalizing and deducing. acquaintances. Neither the great merchant. it would be too pale a contrast—but debauchery. phrases for feelings. to do away with the need of having opinions.

too. after a life of privation and continual scheming. who. or some newspaper editor. On the other hand. and hoard it in order to ally themselves with aristocratic families. Competition. studies in the morning. the artists of Paris would all regain by excessive labor what they have lost by idleness. the sculptor is bent before his statue. the faces stamped with the seal of originality are worn. remain beautiful. par excellence. his pleasure. Did Robespierre practise? Danton was an idler who waited. plunge into the abyss of vice.Balzac ever become great. Above this sphere the artist world exists. rehearses at noon. if he feels himself to be a man of genius. If he is a doctor. Napoleon. the artist is ceaselessly panting under his creditors. But who. If the ambition of the working-man is that of the small tradesman. and vainly seek to reconcile the world and glory. But here. and his debts require of him his nights. originally sublime. outrun by their costly fantasies. too. attract money to them. To begin with. the painter with no occupation. either he has practised little or he is an exception—a Bichat who dies young. calumny assail talent. in desperation. worn out by devouring genius. if they attain their end. After his labor. the journalist is a marching thought.. like the soldier when at war. money and art. An artist’s face is always exorbitant. Harassed by a need of production. whom the king makes a peer of France—perhaps to revenge himself on the nobility. the flagrant beauty of their heads is not understood. gnaws his entrails. nobly indeed. others die young and unknown because they have discounted their future too soon. Few of these figures. fatigued. nervous. In France the usage is to glorify wigs. Some. passes into the Council of State as an ant passes through a chink. here. something remains—he is almost Jacques Coeur. or some notary become mayor of his parish: all people crushed with business. are literally killed in its attainment. who. the painter who is the fashion is crushed with work. however lofty they were? These men of affairs. it is always above or below the 15 . rivalry. moreover has ever felt envious of the figures of Danton and Robespierre. but worn. his necessities beget his debts. jaded with intrigue. are the same passions. If a great merchant. The comedian plays till midnight. hungry for pleasure. Louis XVI. The type of this class might be either an ambitious bourgeois. alone have always wished for young men to fulfil their projects. the great rulers.

indolent. which incessantly acts upon the faces of the porter. Having no occupation other than to wallow in pleasure. before leaving the four territories upon which the utmost wealth of Paris is based. Every passion in Paris resolves into two terms: gold and pleasure. where its stream commences. the artisan. gilded and airy. But let us turn to the vast saloons. courses towards the aristocracy. from the little shops where it is stopped by puny coffer-dams. and maintaining subterraneously to Lutetia the tradition of her celebrated name. as the artisan has misused brandy. But. The soaring arch of gold has reached the summit. if the atmosphere of the streets belches out cruel miasmas into stuffy back-kitchens where there is little air. from the heart of the countinghouses and great workshops. the forty thousand houses of this great city have their foundations in filth. where it will become a blazing. realize that. There nothing is real. All the lower classes 16 . the hotels in their gardens. they have speedily misused their sense. Now. do you not breathe again? Do you not feel air and space purified? Here is neither labor nor suffering. To seek for pleasure is it not to find ennui? People in society have at an early age warped their nature. the small shopkeeper. and to call attention to a pestilence. to point out a deleterious influence the corruption of which equals that of the Parisian administrators who allow it so complacently to exist! If the air of the houses in which the greater proportion of the middle classes live is noxious. What power is it that destroys them? Passion. as it were. There the faces are lined and scarred with vanity. where its volume is that of ingots— gold. to deduce those which are physical. guided by the hands of young girls or the bony fingers of age. Half of Paris sleeps amidst the putrid exhalations of courts and streets and sewers. having cited the moral causes. and death or degradation is contained in the last. it is fitting.conventional lines of what fools call the beau-ideal. Pleasure is of the nature of certain medical substances: in order to obtain constantly the same effects the doses must be doubled. From the lowest gutters. which the powers that be have not yet seriously attempted to enclose with mortar walls solid enough to prevent even the most fetid mud from filtering through the soil. the rich. happy moneyed world. apart from this pestilence. poisoning the wells. in the shape of dowries and inheritances. expansive stream. latent.

It is greedy of time to the point of wasting it. Thus you see in these folk at an early age tastes instead of passions. in which gold is mirrored. and watch their tastes in order to turn them into vices and exploit them. or opinion of their own. scandal. Its kisses conceal a profound indifference. Its physiognomy suggests the evolution of good and evil. This hollow life. its urbanity a perpetual contempt. commonplace. has desires of irresistible fury. and whence intelligence has fled. invented by the eighteenth century. soon. the moral combat of ’89. being always with child. tired of giving without receiving. they remain at home.Balzac are on their knees before the wealthy. this perpetual expectation of a pleasure which never comes. the vices of a great man. that physiognomy of the wealthy upon which impotence has set its grimace. this permanent ennui and emptiness of soul. a perpetually creative artist. its premature wrinkles. It has no other fashion of love. who. The irrationality of this world is equaled by its weakness and its licentiousness. heart. and leave fools to reign over their territory. This coroneted town is like a queen. a wealth of indiscretion. The wealthy obtain in Paris ready-made wit and science—formulated opinions which save them the need of having wit. the clarion calls of 17 . they are misunderstood. science. is reproduced on its features. Flashes of wit without profundity. Paris is the crown of the world. Such a view of moral Paris proves that physical Paris could not be other than it is. If a few men of character indulge in witticism. and stamps its parchment faces. battle and victory. There impotence reigns. but these happy fortunates pretend that they do not meet to make and repeat maxims in the manner of La Rochefoucauld as though there did not exist a mean. it is a great man. and mind. Seek in it for affection as little as for ideas. Such is the sum of its speech. the lassitude of the upper Parisian world. romantic fantasies and lukewarm loves. and above all. and the politician’s disillusions. old doctors of sixty years. between a superfluity and absolute blank. a politician with second-sight who must of necessity have wrinkles on his forehead. a brain which perishes of genius and leads human civilization. at once subtle and refined. the fantasies of the artist. There are fledglings of forty. there ideas have ceased—they have evaporated together with energy amongst the affectations of the boudoir and the cajolements of women.

advance! Follow me!” She carries a huge crew. still full of illusions. the corrupting influence of the interests which consume the two middle classes. would accost every fresh shore. with the voice of her scientists and artists: “Onward.which still re-echo in every corner of the world. her soldiers. working-men and sailor-men touched with tar. explain the normal ugliness of the Parisian physiognomy. any really young face. then. It is only in the Orient that the human race presents a magnificent figure. and shooting out their bright lights upon it. but that is an effect of the constant calm affected by those profound philosophers with their long pipes. to a young girl of pure life such as is brought up in certain middle-class families. any face which is fresh and graceful and reposeful. whilst in Paris the little and the great and the mediocre run and leap and drive. who despise and hold activity in horror. the cruelties of the artist’s thought. The barque may roll and pitch. her arms are one of those oracles which fatality sometimes allows. than the engines which impel those proud leviathans which you admire when they cleave the waves! Is not Paris a sublime vessel laden with intelligence? Yes. and also the downfall of 1814. Thus. and the excessive pleasure which is sought for incessantly by the great. their short legs. and for watchman—Napoleon. illuminates it through the hundred mouths of her tribunes. Thus this city can no more be moral. to a young man newly embarked from the provinces. in her cabins the lucky passengers. and amusement. Boys and urchins laughing in the rigging. elegant midshipmen smoke their cigars leaning over the bulwarks. their square contour. is in Paris the most extraordinary of exceptions. but she cleaves the world. carved with victories. be sure it belongs either to a young and ardent ecclesiastic or to some good abbe of forty with three chins. cries from the height of her tops. Should you see one there. whipped on by an inexorable goddess. which delights in adorning her with fresh streamers. to a mother of twenty. Thus the exorbitant movement of the proletariat. as she suckles her firstborn. and in18 . glory. Necessity —the necessity for money. or for love which needs gold. rides with full sail. ploughs the seas of science. or cordial. on the deck. it is met with rarely. or clean. innovators or ambitious. ballast of heavy bourgeoisie. The City of Paris has her great mast. all of bronze. ask for glory which is pleasure.

Paris is essentially the country of contrasts. magnificent to behold against the mass of other faces. the fruit of quite exceptional manners and education. and rises at seven o’clock to arrange the window. and embellished with all the virginal charms with which our imagination pleases to 19 . wrinkled. a white complexion. it seems as though sentiments liked to be complete when they showed themselves. In Paris one sometimes sees in the aristocracy. there is in Paris a proportion of privileged beings to whom this excessive movement of industries. On this battlefield of interests and passions. Nevertheless. there also are to be found. patient. a distinguished caste of features. who live in Oriental fashion and can preserve their beauty. where every one is obliged to defend himself. elegant. there are to be found in the feminine world little happy colonies. just as in the midst of those marching societies where egoism triumphs. noble friendships and unlimited devotion. Although they also have a thousand secret causes which. the lustrous black of their soft locks. To the youthful beauty of the English stock they unite the firmness of Southern traits. destroy their physiognomy. admire such young people with that eager pleasure which men take in watching a pretty girl. and which we call armies. which unfolds for them hour by hour its moving poetry. to some shop assistant who goes to bed at midnight wearied out with folding and unfolding calico. the ravishing faces of young people. feeding himself on folly. as elsewhere. and gold is profitable. So women. old. arts. affairs. but these women rarely show themselves on foot in the streets. However. gracious. reeking of health. and constitute veritable exotic exceptions. too. in a perpetual state of absorption with his own smile. a delicious bloom on their lips. perhaps. and are sublime by juxtaposition. the only folk really happy in Paris. who lives monastically in the embrace of a fine idea. These beings are women. who remains sober. So it is with faces. here more than elsewhere. render them the flowers of the human race. worn. or. or to the soft and happy race of loungers. and grimacing. often again to some man of science or poetry. they lie hid like rare plants who only unfold their petals at certain hours. set like stars. and chaste. else to some self-contented fool. interests. If true sentiments are rare there. The fire of their eyes.Balzac trusted to the care of some devout dowager who keeps him without a sou.

although unfolded. which should be held by all the celibate. proving as it does 20 . Then the successes of the woman. by name Henri de Marsay. are not yet green. saluting the hymeneal magnificence which the country puts on.—the speedy infidelity of a young girl he had ardently loved gave him. the fashion of Paris. the prime interest of our history will have been justified. then. and the passionate admiration which such an one must inspire at the first sight. and the sky is blue. a sort of aversion for all that issued from her. glides like a serpent of a thousand coils through the Rue de la Paix towards the Tuileries. was born in France. the declaration of war between France and England had separated the two lovers. de Marsay. French funds were worth at that time seventeen francs. a young man as beautiful as the day itself. Madame de Marsay subsequently married the Marquis de Vordac. Quod erat demonstrandum—if one may be permitted to apply scholastic formulae to the science of manners.adorn the perfect woman. when Lord Dudley had just married the young lady. This Adonis. fifty centimes. universally adored. To begin with. only love the children with whom they are fully acquainted. easy of manner—to let out the secret he was a love-child. the natural son of Lord Dudley and the famous Marquise de Vordac— was walking in the great avenue of the Tuileries. a social belief of the utmost importance for the peace of families. The old gentleman died without having ever known his wife. when the sun begins to gild the roofs. to an old gentleman called M. on one of these joyous days. and never will be. and fidelity at all costs was not. This faded and almost extinguished butterfly recognized the child as his own in consideration of the life interest in a fund of a hundred thousand francs definitively assigned to his putative son. pretty. but before becoming a marquise she showed very little anxiety as to her son and Lord Dudley. Upon one of those fine spring mornings. If this hurried glance at the population of Paris has enabled us to conceive the rarity of a Raphaelesque face. already Henri’s mother. elegant. Lord Dudley was no more troubled about his offspring than was the mother. dressed with taste. perhaps. a generosity which did not cost Lord Dudley too dear. fathers can. when the leaves. crushed in the Parisienne the maternal sentiment. when the population of Paris issues from its cells to swarm along the boulevards. perhaps. Moreover.

In addition. Then he handed over the child to an aged sister. a Demoiselle de Marsay. had given to the serpent in the terrestrial paradise? Nor was that all. a brain of steel. explained to him the machinery of government. and drank elsewhere. introduced him sometimes behind the scenes of theatres. which 21 . which at that time were closed. a bishop. and determined to pay himself out of the hundred thousand livres for the care given to his pupil. those naive artists. and provided him. this tutor was a true priest. who took much care of him. The paternity of M. with a tutor. led him little into churches. out of the meagre sum allowed by her brother. and endeavored out of attraction towards a fine nature. for whom he conceived an affection. The worthy man would not have sold his name had he been free from vices. who took the measure of the youth’s future. an abbe without a farthing. Thus he squandered without remorse in gambling hells. As chance had it. beneath external traits as seductive as ever the old painters.Balzac that paternity is a sentiment nourished artificially by woman. or Borgias beneath the tiara. Then the great man. it is but for a few fleeting instants that children have a father. and M. and the law. the few dividends which the National Treasury paid to its bondholders. where they simmered at the time. more often into the houses of courtesans. Who would have expected to have found a heart of bronze. by name the Abbe de Maronis. custom. virilely to replace a mother: is not the Church the mother of orphans? The pupil was responsive to so much care. the good-natured prelate had procured for the child of his choice certain acquaintances in the best Parisian society. one of those ecclesiastics cut out to become cardinals in France. he exhibited human emotions to him one by one. deserted. Poor Henri de Marsay knew no other father than that one of the two who was not compelled to be one. The worthy priest died in 1812. de Marsay was naturally most incomplete. de Marsay imitated nature. taught him politics in the drawing-rooms. with the satisfaction of having left in this world a child whose heart and mind were so well moulded that he could outwit a man of forty. yet rich in promise. In the natural order. completed the education of his pupil by making him study civilization under all its aspects: he nourished him on his experience. He taught the child in three years what he might have learned at college in ten.

vicious but politic. that the grateful Henri de Marsay was hardly moved at aught in 1814. Observing this grief. weak in appearance yet as vigorous physically as intellectually. From his father. then. at Frascati. Naturally. one of those honest dullards. but if the church likes!). the only personal possession which the prelate had been able to bequeath him (admirable type of the men whose genius will preserve the Catholic. The bishop had emancipated his pupil in 1811. Apostolic. he began to weep on his own account. compromised for the moment by the feebleness of its recruits and the decrepit age of its pontiffs. he 22 . so fine a calculator of all kinds of strength. and Roman Church. in a family council. but of which he wished to preserve the capital. The continental war prevented young De Marsay from knowing his real father. and was as free as an unmated bird. Henri gave her some egotistical tears. so youthful at table. so that when he saw her die happy. Although he had lived twenty-two years he appeared to be barely seventeen. he had little regret for his putative father. he was equally ignorant of Madame de Marsay. de Marsay remarried. and was becoming so ugly and deaf and tedious that he ought to return thanks for her death. his only mother. at—I know not where.might equal in value. so complacent to his vices. treacherous yet amiable. this priest. so profound when it was needful to make some human reckoning. As a rule the most fastidious of his rivals considered him to be the prettiest youth in Paris. Henri de Marsay had no sentiment of obligation in the world. the priest chose. picked out by him through the windows of his confessional. he built for her a handsome little monument in Pere Lachaise when she died. Towards the end of 1814. Monseigneur de Maronis had guaranteed to this old lady one of the best places in the skies. another hundred thousand invested livres. and charged him with the administration of the fortune. bidding him observe that the good woman took her snuff most offensively. the abbe dried his pupil’s tears. when the mother of M. A deserted child. Then. In fine. sceptical yet learned. was so genuinely useful to his pupil. the revenues of which he was willing to apply to the needs of the community. It is doubtful whether he was aware of his name. in the young man’s hand. except when he looked at the portrait of his beloved bishop. As for Mademoiselle de Marsay. Lord Dudley.

Balzac had derived a pair of the most amorously deceiving blue eyes. from his mother the bushiest of black hair. reared in Havana. and owned a voice which would have been worth to Barbaja fifty thousand francs a season. that all these fine qualities. and with all the ruinous tastes of the Colonies. Few of them say to themselves. but knew how to beat a townsman at the terrible game of savate or cudgels. and in spite of the limpid springs in his eyes. He could cut a ball in half at ten paces on the blade of a knife. do you understand? to conceive one of those desires which eat the heart. Marquis de San-Real. Don Hijos. God nor Devil. after the fashion of men. moreover. 23 . Lord Dudley was not in the habit of keeping his children informed of the relations he created for them in all parts. the “Je Maintiendrai. and brought to Madrid with a young Creole woman of the Antilles. because women in Paris are commonly without tenacity. To render this adventure comprehensible. was as light as a cherub and quiet as a lamb. to make no more words of it. Underneath this fresh young life. he played the piano in a fashion which would have enabled him to become an artist should he fall on calamity. it is necessary to add here that Lord Dudley naturally found many women disposed to reproduce samples of such a delicious pattern. a refined and aristocratic figure. and beautiful hands. but fortunately married to an old and extremely rich Spanish noble. he rode his horse in a way that made you realize the fable of the Centaur. a priest had completed the work. a monkey’s agility. a gentle and modest expression.” of the House of Orange. the skin of a young girl. His second masterpiece of this kind was a young girl named Euphemie. Capricious nature had commenced by endowing him. drove a fourin-hand with grace. it has so many advantages that we must overlook its drawbacks in consideration of its benefits. which are forgotten because of the impossibility of satisfying them. Lazare. Lord Dudley. Alas. born of a Spanish lady. As much from indifference as from any respect for the innocence of youth. were tarnished by one abominable vice: he believed neither in man nor woman. That is a slightly inconvenient form of civilization. since the occupation of Spain by French troops. For a woman. who. Henri had a lion’s courage. to see him was to lose her head for him. these pretty faults. had taken up his abode in Paris. from both pure blood. and lived in the Rue St.

“What are you doing here on Sunday?” said the Marquis de Ronquerolles to Henri. without turning round. it is my son… . but they are children who are late in conceiving Parisian life. Then. This exchange of thoughts was accomplished by means of two significant glances. when he saw Henri. without it appearing that either De Ronquerolles or De Marsay had any knowledge of the other. as the others say. with that air of apparent affection which amongst the young men of Paris proves nothing. But. knowing their strength. waited for him to pass again. Finally there are to be found. either for the present or the future. but who sees and hears all. or the young man who thinks and he who spends. upon hearing the name. my dear De Marsay?” “Extremely well. other women. and engraved him in their minds that they might remember in due season that fragrant face. and who remain its dupes. The exiled lord.” answered the young man. Such was the story of the young man who. as well. which protects nothing Oriental except commerce. pass along in majesty and peace. They may be divided into two classes: the young man who has something. saying to him: “How are you. The young man was taking note of the passers-by with that promptitude of eye and ear which is peculiar to the Parisian who seems. which would not have disadorned the body of the fairest among themselves. 1815. to see and hear nothing. be it well understood this applies only to those natives of the soil who maintain in Paris the delicious course of the elegant life.came to Paris in 1816 to take refuge from the pursuit of English justice. There exist. They do not speculate. besides. at first. after the fashion of all those animals who. they study. “Ah. and the young man who has nothing. What a pity!” he said. as he passed. plenty of other young men. about the middle of the month of April. certain 24 . asked who that handsome young man might be. In effect. “There’s a fish in the net. was walking indolently up the broad avenue of the Tuileries. At that moment a young man came up to him and took him familiarly by the arm. they fag.” De Marsay answered. the youth of Paris resemble the youth of no other town. Middle-class matrons turned back naively to look at him again.

it is natural to consider as very distinct the two sorts of young men who lead the life of elegance. have ever in their mouth the Pitt and Coburg of each year. glory in repeating the stupidities of such and such actor who is in fashion. They are all equally eaten to the bone with calculation. despise all things which they do not know or which they fear. a lymph which infects it and renders it flabby. and that nothing is so deceptive as this pretty outside. In their normal state they have the prettiest exterior. Be they that or no. The same badinage dominates their ever-changing jargon. at least their services are there. and 25 . These honest folk call men of talent immoral or rogues. turn into ridicule science and the savant. blaspheme women. the magistracy. of men. always ready to bungle public or private concerns with the dull trowel of their mediocrity. happily for France. They would all hoax their fathers. all alike take precedence over everybody else. the amiable corporation to which Henri de Marsay belonged. At the first glance. then. in the body politic. are captivating alike. the courts. stake their friendship at every turn. They are always there. The diplomatic impolitely dub them fools. they are somewhat like the Emile of Rousseau. Nevertheless. and if you plumbed for their hearts you would find in all a stone. whereas the other sort do harm and are respected by the mob. set themselves above all by constituting themselves the supreme judges of all. is soon convinced that the difference is purely moral. rich or poor. and in reality are led by some old woman or an evil courtesan. who embrace careers and follow them with a single heart. with depravity. and be ready to shed crocodile tears upon their mothers’ breasts. literature. with a brutal lust to succeed. but generally they believe in nothing. They diminish and level down the country and constitute. they seek for oddity in their toilette. elegant youth stigmatizes them ceaselessly under the name of louts. speak rightly or wrongly of things. interrupt a conversation with a pun. which they count for conduct and integrity. of the flesh of citizens. but. they augment the number of those mediocrities beneath the yoke of which France is bowed down. and they never appear in society. bragging of their impotence. the chambers. in some manner. But the observer. and the fine arts. who goes beyond the superficial aspect of things. This sort of social prizemen infests the administration.Balzac young people. the army. or play at modesty. If such rogues require to be paid for their services.

like sieves. to be flinging them away broadcast. woe betide him who does not know how to take a blow on one cheek for the sake of rendering two. then of evenings. devote themselves without conviction to a system which has wind and tide against it. he who has nothing makes a public calculation or a secret reservation. no longer reflects any image. know nothing and understand everything. Next. and obtains everything by giving a handshake to his friends. that pretty white spray which crests the stormy waves. if the first. on the day of Waterloo. like a mirror. whom they exploit. but here the contrast comes in. they have unlimited confidence in themselves. and no crueler enemy than those same selves. They resemble. take in ideas of all kinds without retaining any. on the faith of a hope. Of this fluctuating fortune. They dress and dance. an element of success. sound it.commence operations. Finally. with contempt and impertinence. But the others are armed with an incessant distrust of men. because their soul. The one are vexed at an aimless impertinence. they weigh men as a miser weighs his gold pieces. worn from use. when they lay their heads on their pillows. dine and take their pleasure. If the first believe they know something. the second take the measure of the future. at big interest. they have the same tailors. it matters not with whom. the others economize their senses and life. in fine. the first move in the game. but the bills of the latter are still to pay. so agreeably flung away. and see in political fidelity what the English see in commercial integrity. some possess the capital for which the others wait. like their follies. like the first. The one class have no more faithful impressions. who make them dance for them by pulling what is the main string of these pup26 . lend all to those who need nothing and offer nothing to those who are in need. look upon all their ideas as new. but. even while they seem. as it were. The first. in the time of cholera or revolution. and allow themselves to be ridiculed by the diplomatic. their expenses are all the same. the latter study secretly others’ thoughts and place out their money. The one deny every faculty to others. the latter compare them and assimilate all the good. Where the young man of possessions makes a pun or an epigram upon the restoration of the throne. as though the world had been made yesterday. in order to have. and are sufficiently profound to have one thought beyond their friends. but they leap upon another political craft when the first goes adrift. whom they estimate at their value.

Balzac pets—their vanity. he had the air of saying: 27 . of his Pyrenean hound. to study ecarte. on his side. “He is very strong!” is the supreme praise accorded to those who have attained quibuscumque viis. and to obtain the right of despising everything around him for the rest of his days. the art of not being too respectful to his gloves. wore his boots. and those who had something have nothing. walked constantly under his umbrella. their hearts may be bad. who. just as a bold speculator employs a confidential clerk. learned to make skilful meditations upon the right wages to give people. political rank. if he had not wit enough to perceive that he was laughed at. for a consideration of some thousands of francs. in the shape of a secure establishment. to tell by her dress. When he posed in Henri’s company or walked at his side. but he had one last leg to stand on in his province. The friendship. her shoes. his intimate friend. thought himself astute in exploiting. and win by his sojourn in Parisian society the necessary authority to import later into his province a taste for tea and silver of an English fashion. these are more dangerous than those who play it without a farthing. He lived in the reflecting lustre of his friend. and whom the young men then in fashion were teaching the art of running through an inheritance. He set store on his capacity to speak in good terms of his horses. gilded himself with his rays. or a fortune. He was simply an heir who had passed without any transition from his pittance of a hundred francs a month to the entire paternal fortune. and who. was sufficiently cautious to stop short at two-thirds of his capital. remember a few fashionable catchwords. Naturally. The young man who called himself a friend of Henri de Marsay was a rattle-head who had come from the provinces. her walk. a day comes when those who had nothing have something. The latter look at their comrades who have achieved positions as cunning fellows. after his fashion. and to seek out what bargain was the best to close with them. a woman. the exact value of harness. to what class a woman belonged. He had learned at Paris. but their heads are strong. Amongst them are to be found certain young men who play this role by commencing with having debts. Thus. De Marsay had admitted him to his society in order to make use of him in the world. of De Marsay was a social position for Paul de Manerville. real or feigned.

De Marsay. he will be what he likes. For the time he was not even a young man. here on the Terrasse des Feuillants.” “I was going to ask you the same question. He would one day be a deputy. or I shall tell you nothing. we are real dogs. although imperceptible.” “Is it an intrigue?” “An intrigue. and his fear. His friend. De Marsay and I.” He made of De Marsay what Corporal Trim made of his cap. illustrious. a perpetual instance.” He often permitted himself to remark fatuously: “If I were to ask Henri for such and such a thing. but I jumped a hedge without moving on my horse!” Or again: “We were with some women. my dear fellow. “Ask De Marsay and you will see!” Or again: “The other day we were hunting. you will make people think that we have lunched too well. “De Marsay is a man of a thousand. I was walking along.” “Bah!” “I can mention it to you without compromising my passion. and upon my word of honor. “to see you here on a Sunday. defined him thus: “You ask me what is Paul? Paul? Why. I was—” etc. thinking of nothing at all. you will see. He feared him.” said Paul. by which I intended to leave. He would not believe me.” “Ah! ah!” “Hold your tongue then. but when I got to the gate of the Rue de Castiglione. I should not be surprised to find him one of these days Minister of Foreign Affairs. aristocratically speaking. he is a good enough friend of mine to do it. reacted upon the others. I came face to face with a 28 . Last Thursday. and was of use to De Marsay. Your laugh is too loud.“Don’t insult us. a woman who comes to the Tuileries on Sundays is of no account. Paul de Manerville!” “I am surprised.” he said to De Marsay. De Marsay and I. Thus Paul de Manerville could not be classed amongst the great. “Ah. and powerful family of fools who succeed. Nothing can withstand him. Besides.” But he was careful never to ask anything of him.

Balzac woman. less I think.” “Ah. she is like you!” “You flatter her!” 29 . “She comes here sometimes—the girl with the golden eyes! That is the name we have given her. I said to myself. and cease only in the sole of the feet. or rather a young girl. is it you. but who must have downy threads on the third phalanx of her fingers. my incognita is the most adorable feminine person whom I ever met. this was not stupefaction. my ideal! The creation of my thoughts. a sort of animal magnetism which becomes enormously powerful when the relations are reciprocally precise. and I have seen her here in the time of the Bourbons. creep down the length of the spine. a white girl with ash-colored hair. from human respect. a golden yellow that gleams. what struck me the most. living gold. another one! Then I scrutinize her.” “Silence. speaking physically. Morally speaking. I am thine. and is determined to take refuge in your pocket. luminous on fine days. my dear De Marsay! She has black eyes which have never wept. et cetera!’ Good. Paul! It is impossible for any woman to surpass this girl. nor was she a common girl. but which burn. and all along her cheeks a white down whose line. And in chief. than from one of those movements of profound surprise which affect the limbs. Ah. like a tiger’s. black eyebrows which meet and give her an air of hardness contradicted by the compact curve of her lips. of my morning and evening dreams! What. flava—the woman of fire. are her two yellow eyes. my dear fellow. on which the kisses do not stay. a Moorish color that warms a man like the sun. the other. gold which thinks. to nail you to the ground. if she did not throw herself at my head. but with a woman who was worth a hundred thousand of her. who. delicate in appearance. begins at her ears and loses itself on her neck.” “My dear fellow. She is a young creature—not more than twenty-two. she is like the cat who rubs herself against your legs. what I am still taken with. I have often produced effects of this nature. we are full of her!” cried Paul. But—upon my word of honor. But. gold which loves. are you there? Why this morning? Why not yesterday? Take me. my dear fellow. stopped short. lips burning and fresh. She belongs to that feminine variety which the Romans call fulva. her face seemed to say: ‘What.

the young girl touched him.“A firm figure. a hyena upon whom some jealous man has put a dress.” “There she is. since I have never seen her? Ever since I have studied women. I had a presentiment that on the following day she would be here at the same hour. Well. she turned back again. once more she adored me. a holy poem prostituted by those who have copied it for frescoes and mosiacs. in studying her indolent walk. her eyes shone. once more trembled. to guard this delicious creature… . and with her hand pressed the hand of the young 30 .” The unknown blushed. the tapering figure of a corvette built for speed.” said Paul. The duenna looked fixedly and attentively at the two young men. “what has that got to do with me. no doubt. nobody. an abyss of pleasure into which one plunges and finds no end. Ah. whose ardent and voluptuous forms. When the unknown and Henri passed each other again. which grapples with her and sinks her at the same time.” “After all. I have taken a pleasure in following her without being observed. “Every one is turning round to look at her. have realized for me the only woman of my dreams —of my dreams! She is the original of that ravishing picture called La Femme Caressant sa Chimere. the walk of the woman without occupation. which rushes down upon the merchant vessel with French impetuosity. asking nothing better than to pose as the monster in the fresco. it is the whole woman. almost never in France. then the duenna made me deeper in love. it is the ideal woman. for a heap of bourgeois who see in this gem nothing more than a gew-gaw and hang it on their watch-chains—whereas. On Saturday.” answered De Marsay. It was then I noticed the genuine Spanish duenna who looked after her. she saw Henri. facetiously. she saw me. whereas. “You say that she notices you?” cried Paul. this woman caressing her chimera. And here I am to-day waiting for this girl whose chimera I am. my incognita is the only one whose virginal bosom. to be seen sometimes in reality in Spain or Italy. I grew curious. but in the movements of which one devines all the pleasure that lies asleep. shivered. I saw her on Friday. she shut them and passed by. Well. a she-devil well paid. I have again seen this girl of the gold eyes. my dear fellow. the warmest. I was not mistaken. the most infernal inspiration of the genius of antiquity.

Moreover. Two men in livery let down the step of a tasteful coupe emblazoned with armorial bearings. and appeared to follow the old woman regretfully. The next day. The girl with the golden eyes was the first to enter it. Then. Any other young man would have obeyed his impulse to obtain at once some information about a girl who realized so fully the most luminous ideas ever expressed upon women in the poetry of the East. she was shod with elegance. having just set down a fare. and waved her handkerchief in the duennna’s despite. De Marsay was not impulsive. Laurent by name. In order to be able to spy at his ease and hang about the house. arched. she could break her with blows. “Follow that carriage. The coupe stopped in the Rue Saint Lazare before one of the finest houses of the neighborhood. but could not dismiss her. took her seat at the side where she could be best seen when the carriage turned. The two friends reached the gate. During her course she turned from time to time to look at Henri. his confidential valet. her handkerchief cried to Henri openly: “Follow me!” “Have you ever seen a handkerchief better thrown?” said Henri to Paul de Manerville. but the duenna led her away very quickly to the gate of the Rue de Castiglione.” The cab followed the coupe. Then she turned her head and smiled with passion. he made a sign to the driver to wait. observing a fiacre on the point of departure. and upon which a few coils of hair were tightly wound. but.Balzac man. admiring the magnificent grace of the neck which met her head in a harmony of vigorous lines. The girl with the golden eyes had that well-knitted. adieu. he had told his coachman to continue along the Rue Saint Lazare and carry him back to his house. waited in the vicinity of the house inhabited by the unknown for the hour at which letters were distributed. put her hand on the door. The two friends followed the young girl. notice the house and the street where it stops —you shall have ten francs… . too experienced to compromise his good fortune. seeming to be at once her mistress and her slave. as cunning a fellow as the Frontin of the old comedy. All that was perceptible. he had followed the example of those police officers who seek a good dis31 . and wore a short skirt. slender foot which presents so many attractions to the dainty imagination. Paul. In contempt of what might be said by the curious.

” said Laurent. “you are as much a porter as I’m …. “Come. In the ten years that I’ve been postman in Paris. Laurent feigned to be a porter unable to remember the name of a person to whom he had to deliver a parcel. there never was a door so mysterious as M. upon which the address. interrupting the valet de chambre and observing him attentively. at the Puits sans Vin. grandee of Spain. Naturally. I have seen plenty of different kinds of doors! But I can tell you. taking from his leather wallet a letter bearing a London stamp. when he rejoined the valet an hour after this encounter. it was not with the Marquis that the Auvergnat was concerned. this personage.” he said. the appearance of whom he sought to imitate. notice. Paris. No one can get into the house without the Lord knows what counter-word. “Her letters are forwarded to London. Marquis de San-Real. “Hark ye. it has been selected on 32 . so picturesque in the midst of Parisian civilization. which spoke of a woman’s hand.guise. “is for the marquise. who began to smile. who went the round of the Rue Saint Lazare that morning. “Could you tap a bottle of Chablis. “if your master is in love with the girl.” was written in long. Rue Saint Lazare. Hotel San-Real. fine characters. Deceived at first by appearances. “To Mademoiselle Paquita Valdes. passed by. when my round is finished— Where?” “At the corner of the Rue de la Chaussee-d’Antin and the Rue Neuve-des-Mathurins.” he said. “At half-past nine. “My parcel.” “She is away.” said the postman. and no fear of being called a liar by any of my comrades. de San-Real’s. informed him that the house in which the girl with the golden eyes dwelt belonged to Don Hijos. who wished to win the postman’s valuable friendship. my friend.” replied the postman. he is in for a famous task. When the postman.” “Then the marquise is not a young girl who … ?” “Ah!” said the postman. with a few dozen oysters. and. here’s the name of your quarry.” Laurent chinked some pieces of gold before the functionary. I doubt you’ll not succeed in seeing her. and bought up cast-off clothes of an Auvergnat. and a filet saute with mushrooms to follow it?” said Laurent. and consulted the postman.

“I serve a master who is a rare man. and puts you through a cross-examination like a criminal. you would run across a butler surrounded by lackeys. The two women look as if they were sewn to one another.” went on Laurent. The porter is an old Spaniard. laughing at his nonsense. You will tell me one might throw them down pieces. well. and if he took it into his head to kiss the sole of the foot 33 . “Good! my master knows him. the duenna who accompanies her and would put her under her petticoats sooner than leave her. Upon my word.Balzac purpose between a courtyard and a garden to avoid any communication with other houses. in the first hall. That has happened to me. leering at the postman. therefore. he said.” said Laurent. a thief. whether because they are afraid of being shot. whose garden joins at the top that of the Hotel San-Real.” “All that you say. These cursed animals think. “confirms me in what I have learned before.” replied the postman. I thought they were making fun of me! The fruiterer opposite told me that of nights they let loose dogs whose food is hung up on stakes just out of their reach. he certainly won’t triumph over Dona Concha Marialva. waits for you at the entrance. or that they have some enormous sum to lose in the case of an indiscretion. As for the servants. the fact is. If a lover. after having drunk off his wine. but peers at people as Vidocq might. I think they are mutes.” “The porter of the Baron de Nucingen. which is shut by a glazed door. told me the same thing. I don’t know what wages they can pay them to keep them from talk and drink. my butler comes out. worthy postman. don’t hope to get aught out of them. “Do you know. who never speaks a word of French. an old joker more savage and surly even than the porter. and would tear one to pieces. no one in the neighborhood knows the color of their speech. but it seems they have been trained to touch nothing except from the hand of the porter. that any one likely to come in has designs on their victuals. If your master is fond enough of Mademoiselle Paquita Valdes to surmount all these obstacles. If any one gets past the porter’s lodge. to himself. a mere postman. or you—I make no comparisons—could get the better of this first wicket. to see if they are not thieves.” he went on. He took me for an eavesdropper in disguise. they are not to be got at.

“Paquita Valdes is. Monsieur Laurent. on the fifth floor. in triumphing with such ease. rubbing his hands. “I have a wife and four children.” “So. Turn your thoughts to dressing me.” said Laurent. he obtained all those whom he deigned to desire. “I shall condemn you to the Concha. “unless he takes a balloon no one can get into that hotel. And what could one think of a woman. my name is Moinot. sir.” said Henri. like potentates. she would have to give in to him.of an empress. when Paquita can get out of it?” “But. And diving deep into the sea of pleasures he brought back more grit than pearls. Rue des Trois Freres. My name is written exactly like Moineau. “I live at No.” went on Moinot. your duenna. magpie: M-o-i-n-o-t. could one count on you?” “Lord. you understand! I am your man. with intelligence which is a grace of the soul. If what you want of me doesn’t transgress the limits of my conscience and my official duties. if you carry your impudence so far as to speak so of a woman before she has become mine…. Thus had he come. the friend of King Ferdinand. armed with moral force and fortune. for about two years he had grown very weary indeed. “Rascal!” answered Henri. I am going out. when his valet de chambre had related the result of his researches. shaking his hand…. the mistress of the Marquis de SanReal.” Henri remained for a moment plunged in joyous reflections. which are the only two real powers? Yet.” “Exactly.” “You are a fool! Is it necessary to get into the hotel to have Paquita. thus. 11. to implore of Chance some obstacle to 34 . having no lover. If he had need of you. no doubt. which is what I wish for you. Only an old Spanish mummy of eighty years is capable of taking such precautions. “Monsieur.” “You are an honest fellow.” said Laurent.” said Laurent. De Marsay was bound to grow weary of his triumphs. the duenna?” “We will shut her up for a day or two. Moinot. Let us say it to the praise of women. we shall have Paquita!” said Laurent. for he is generous. who should have known how to resist a young man armed with beauty which is the intelligence of the body.

a young girl. Amongst young people love is the finest of the emotions. it nourishes by its solar power the finest inspirations and their great thoughts. Thus. “How are we getting on? I have come to breakfast with you. Amongst men love becomes a passion. the first fruits in all things have a delicious savor. or else adventures which stimulated his curiosity. as he entered the room. and the characters in which are an old man. a Clarissa Harlowe. De Marsay.” said Henri. it makes the life of the soul blossom. fantasies. ruinous tastes.” said Paul de Manerville. It was a question of doing battle with some secret enemy who seemed as dangerous as he was cunning. Paquita. to himself. “You won’t be shocked if I make my toilette before you?” “How absurd!” 35 . “Well.Balzac surmount. strength leads to abuse. To afford him the feelings of a real love. If Laurent was the equal of Figaro. all the forces which Henri could dispose of would be useful. the attraction of passion was almost nil with him. The report of Laurent. the duenna seemed incorruptible. Amongst old men it turns to vice. a man. Like old men and people disillusioned. which. a man of genius? “It must be a cautious game. left no pleasant memory in his heart. Henri was at once an old man. or set determinations with himself to bring such and such a woman to such and such a point of corruption. Constant satiety had weakened in his heart the sentiment of love. Without the magic lustre of that unattainable pearl he could only have either passions rendered acute by some Parisian vanity. Although Paquita Valdes presented him with a marvelous concentration of perfections which he had only yet enjoyed in detail. He was about to play in that eternal old comedy which will be always fresh. and to carry off the victory.” “So be it.” said Henri. he needed like Lovelace. some enterprise which should ask the employment of his dormant moral and physical strength. his valet de chambre had just given an enormous value to the girl with the golden eyes. the living play was supplied by Chance with a stronger plot than it had ever been by dramatic author! But then is not Chance too. and a lover: Don Hijos. and a youth. he had no longer anything but extravagant caprices. impotence tends to extremes. once satisfied.

and can say what we like. is concerned with folly. Why spend two hours and a half in adorning yourself.” “I must be very fond of you. to take excessive care of oneself. that Paul could not refrain from saying: “But you will take a couple of hours over that?” “No!” said Henri. with petty things. and to dress! There. Now. “two hours and a half. I say nothing about that excess of niceness to which they are so devoted. She will never be 36 .” replied Paul de Manerville. who is concerned about his person. who was at that moment having his feet rubbed with a soft brush lathered with English soap.” “Well. Do you know of any woman who has had a passion for a sloven. “Have I not the most devoted attachment to you.“We take so many things from the English just now that we might well become as great prudes and hypocrites as themselves. so many different articles of such elegance. fops are the only men who take care of themselves. does it not imply that one takes care in oneself of what belongs to another? The man who does not belong to himself is precisely the man on whom women are keen. Laurent had set before his master such a quantity of utensils. without replying in any way to Paul’s declaration except by a look. “Do you know why women love fops? My friend. seeing that he has no mind for great things. mad fancies which float through the minds of everybody. A fop.” said Henri. tell me your system. Love is essentially a thief. And what is a woman? A petty thing. On the other hand. to do your hair in two minutes. to confide such high thoughts to you. I have seen most remarkable people left in the lurch because of their carelessness. With two words said to the winds. we must put it to the account of those morbid affections of the breeding woman. when it is sufficient to spend a quarter of an hour in your bath. if you are in the least capable of observing any moral fact.” said the young man. even if he were a remarkable man? If such a fact has occurred.” went on De Marsay. my good dunce. since we are by ourselves. that women love fops. explain to me why a man as superior as yourself—for you are superior—should affect to exaggerate a foppery which cannot be natural. can you not make her busy for four hours? She is sure that the fop will be occupied with her. then. “and do I not like you because I know your superiority? …” “You must have noticed. a bundle of follies.

his regiment of women at his command. is the sign of an incontestable power over the female folk. try to act the fop! … You will not even become ridiculous. diplomacy. In fine.Balzac neglected for glory. and of despising the most superior of men should he wear an old-fashioned waistcoat? … Laurent. you are hurting me! After breakfast. This girl receives letters from London. talking. of looking down at people from over your cravat. are right to have but one. If they once forsake their own line people no longer attach any value to what they do. riding. and who. ambition. M. laughing. is certain to know the person who writes the letters from London. with their high scarfs. they nowhere discovered the sublime Paquita Valdes. Paul. spurred and booted. crudel tirano. and a love-letter slipped in before it is sealed up again. foppery.” When. It is women who bestow that rank. all scented. You will come to signify folly as inseparably as M.” The day after. and then. one of those men condemned inevitably to do one and the same thing. The old tyrant. “It’s a white Mass. and a man cannot be a fop there gratis. read of course. M. on whose account some fifty of the most elegant young men in Paris where to be seen. perhaps.” said Henri. the two young men had traversed the Terrasse de Feuillants and the broad walk of the Tuileries. art—those prostitutes who for her are rivals. it is a question who shall have him! But do you think it is nothing to have the right of going into a drawing-room. or through your eyeglass. De Marsay came again to walk on the Terrasse des 37 . we will go to the Tuileries and see the adorable girl with the golden eyes. You will become a foregone conclusion. a letter opened. in Paris everything is known. who have only one woman. “but I have the most excellent idea in the world. de Talleyrand. My dear fellow. A man who is loved by many women passes for having superior qualities. romance. and has ceased to be suspicious of them. and her heart is full of gratitude towards the man who is ridiculous for love. You. walking. So. politics. de La Fayette signifies America. de Segur. Then fops have the courage to cover themselves with ridicule in order to please a woman. he has his victories. The fop is love’s colonel. The postman must be bought or made drunk. my friend Paul. Desaugiers. poor fellow. song. a fop can be no fop unless he is right in being one. after making an excellent meal. and damning themselves mightily. you will be dead.

who threw herself into the coupe with an air of desperation. with a little opium one can make you sleep. of which the meaning was unmistakable and which enchanted Henri.. Paquita. who distrusted Henri. casting a glance of disdain upon the duenna. when he had repassed Paquita and the duenna. already passion had embellished her for him. We know mythology and the fable of Argus. Laurent. no less impatient. But at one moment. in the direction of the Place Louis XV. “Oh. so flimsy withal. he was wild for those eyes. and De Marsay felt his hand pressed by her in a fashion at once so swift and so passionately significant that it was as though he had received the emotions surged up in his heart. Paquita seemed ashamed. for you. who by his master’s orders was on watch by the hotel. Dona Concha. When the two lovers glanced at one another. “I am determined to make this girl my mistress. came forward hurriedly. but one of them was surprised by the duenna. the golden-eyed girl exchanged certain glances with her lover. “if one cannot make you capitulate. stepping with all the precautions due to gout and decrepitude. As he followed her along the terrace. but her gaze sank lower to fasten on the feet and form of him whom women.” said Henri to himself. called their conqueror. in which all was delight. she said a few rapid words to Paquita. she dropped her eyes lest she should meet the eyes of Henri. De Marsay was on fire to brush the dress of this enchanting girl as they passed one another in their walk. whose rays seemed akin to those which the sun emits.Feuillants. learned from the neighbors that neither the two women nor the aged marquis had been abroad since the day upon which the duenna had surprised a glance between the young girl in her charge and Henri. he caught sight of the aged Marquis de San-Real. when he returned. in order to find himself on the same side as the girl of the golden eyes.” Before entering the carriage.” said De Marsay to himself. For some days Paquita did not appear in the Tuileries. Seriously. which united the 38 . and saw Paquita Valdes. who was walking on the arm of his valet. made Paquita pass between herself and the old man. but his attempts were always vain. The bond. before the Revolution. and whose ardor set the seal upon that of her perfect body.

All that I have already done. that to obtain an interview of one hour with you I would give my life. poor creatures!” said De Marsay. Should you have any doubt of it.” “At least they believe that. In order to be nearer to the field of action. who is entirely devoted to me. all the implements and stamps necessary to affix the French and English postmarks. where it will be waited for during the whole of the day. paper similar to that which her correspondent used. should tell you how greatly I love you. moreover. I shall understand it by your silence. to my happiness. exactly resembling the seal and wax affixed to the letters sent to Mademoiselle Valdes from London. about eight o’clock in the morning. thrown a letter over the wall of your garden into that of the Baron de Nucingen. Be walking there at that hour. If. I will confess to you. to-morrow. will let down two flasks by a string over your wall at ten o’clock the next morning. if you have neither pen nor paper. understand that I have found a means of corresponding with you. in order to be able to correspond with you. and I live at No. to which he gave all the appearances of a letter sent from London:— “MY DEAR PAQUITA. to the porter of the Hotel San-Real. you have not.—I shall not try to paint to you in words the passion with which you have inspired me. Both are of such a size as can easily be concealed within your bosom. a man. just as the two friends were laughingly discussing the discomfiture of a young man who had attempted to lead the life of 39 . My name is Adolphe de Gouges. De Marsay went and breakfasted with Paul. Some days later. If then. none knew by what means. he had a seal and wax. At two o’clock. the other will contain ink. between eight o’clock in the morning and ten o’clock in the evening. who lived in the Rue de la Pepiniere. What should we think of a woman who refused to be beguiled by a love-letter accompanied by such convincing accessories?” This letter was delivered by Master Moinot. 54 Rue de l’Universite. The flask of ink is of cut glass.Balzac two lovers was already severed. on the following day. you reciprocate it. it will be sufficient to employ six drops. One of the two flasks will contain opium to send your Argus to sleep. If you are too closely watched to be able to write to me. postman. De Marsay had attained his end. the other is plain. “but they are right. He wrote the following letter.

His sinewy arm did not belong to him. if he had come across him. the strength of the Moor. his dilapidated waistcoat. for he has still enough mirth to know the extent of his misfortune. would paint in the single phrase: He was an unfortunate man. like a man who understood nothing. leading a man to the gallows. his green frock coat. the strings of which were plastered in mud? Who will see all that but the Parisian? The unfortunate man of Paris is the unfortunate man in toto. His black eyes had the fixity of the eyes of a bird of prey. his imitation gold pin. red at the extremities. the promptitude in the execution of a thought. his battered hat. who would assuredly have given Talma a model for the part of Othello. I live at the Palais de Justice. his deplorable trousers. like a vulture’s.” replied Paul. Never did any African face better express the grand vengefulness. this man was under the yoke of some single and unique thought. everybody will conceive him according to the special ideas of each country. This individual was a mulatto. He was followed by a man whom the imaginations of all folk. and presented to him a mysterious personage who insisted on speaking himself with his master. the ready suspicion.” 40 . and who sought no less to divine something from the gestures and movements of the lips. low and narrow. and they were framed. and battered shoes. Who will see his lean and yellow scarf. looking at the unfortunate man. The mulatto was like an executioner of Louis XI. Henri’s coachman came to seek his master at Paul’s house. From this phrase. and am named Poincet.fashion without a settled income. The mulatto stood with his eyes fixed upon the two young men. by a bluish membrane devoid of lashes. “Who are you—you fellow who look the most like a Christian of the two?” said Henri. “I am a public scribe and interpreter. his greasy shirt-collar. Evidently. His forehead. and were devising an end for him. and his long beard. had something menacing. and his childish lack of reflection. But who can best imagine his face—white and wrinkled. “Faith! there is one of them who makes me shudder. “Who has hunted us out these two extraordinary creatures?” said Henri. from those who shiver in Greenland to those who sweat in the tropics.

because the daggers which are raised above your head would strike your heart before any human power could save you from them.” “I translated this letter for him. “When it was translated. it will be more amusing.” went on the interpreter. for your sake and for hers. “that the person from whom he is sent implores you. near the cafe. sir. looking towards the mulatto. Henri threw it in the fire.” answered Henri. “Paul.” “He says. As he was paying him. to act with the greatest prudence. and promised me two louis to fetch him here. in which you must take your place.” said the interpreter. casting a glance of congratulation upon Henri. he only speaks a sort of Spanish patois. “I do not know. he was in some place which I don’t remember. Then he came back to look for me. You will see a carriage there.” “He said that? So much the better.” added Poincet. as well.” replied the unfortunate.” “I am sure of it. which means lover. “Good. “What is he saying?” “He is warning me. saying to the man.” “What have you to say to me. after having listened to the unknown. the word cortejo—a Spanish word. “he would keep his word. “that you must be at half-past ten to-morrow night on the boulevard Montmartre.Balzac “Good! … and this one?” said Henri to Poincet.” said Henri to himself. but De Marsay would not permit it. “I did not translate nigger.” replied the interpreter.” The mulatto was about to bestow the two louis. He speaks fair and he looks remarkably as if he were capable of carrying out his threat.” went on the interpreter. “Ah—so—the game is beginning. who will wait to open the door for you. and himself rewarded the interpreter. nigger?” asked Henri. waiting for the mulatto’s reply…. You 41 . “that if I commit a single indiscretion he will strangle me. and he has brought me here to make himself understood by you. the mulatto began to speak. leave us alone for a moment. when they were alone.” The mulatto drew from his pocket the letter which Henri had written to Paquita and handed it to him. “He said.

when Paul returned. ate like a German. to try and contradict her—doesn’t it give her the right and the courage to scale in one moment obstacles which it would take her years to surmount of herself? Pretty creature. “Well. the man opened the door and quickly let down the step. as was also the landing upon which Henri was obliged to wait while the mulatto was opening the door of a damp apartment. supped with his friends. after having seen Paquita. the staircase of which was quite close to the entrance. Hearing the word. he played. In order to live until the morrow without too much pain. is mine. He recognized the sensa42 . Henri was so rapidly carried through Paris. Besides. went away. my child? The devil take me. The mulatto. jump then! To die? Poor child! Daggers? Oh. seemed to him empty and ill furnished. slept like a child. he had recourse to exorbitant pleasure.can come in now. he drank like a fish. Paquita? Can one think of it. and gave the counter-word to a man who looked to him like the mulatto. saw the carriage. followed by the interpreter. At the hour mentioned Henri was on the boulevard. dined. awoke the next morning fresh and rosy. the youth in Henri had reappeared. and so kill the time. now that I know this beautiful girl. this masterpiece of nature. and dressed to go to the Tuileries. like those of a house the inhabitants of which are away. the adventure has lost its charm. Paul. imagination of women! They cannot help trying to find authority for their little jests. and his thoughts left him so little capacity to pay attention to the streets through which he passed. in order to get himself an appetite and dine the better. “After having shared in a certain number I have finished by finding in Paris an intrigue accompanied by serious accidents. The mulatto let him into a house.” he cried to his friend. can one think of it. the chambers of which. and won ten or twelve thousand francs. by grave perils. at last I have an adventure which is entirely romantic. The deuce! what courage danger gives a woman! To torment a woman. This staircase was dark. with the intention of taking a ride.” For all his light words. that he did not know where the carriage stopped. barely illuminated by the candle which his guide found in the ante-chamber. fetid and unlit.” said Henri. who had not ceased to gaze at the lover of Paquita Valdes with magnetic attention. He left the Rocher de Cancale at two o’clock in the morning.

a land without a tree. This first interview was what every rendezvous must be between persons of passionate disposition. and face to face with the necessity of giving herself. in a loose voluptuous wrapper. There was the same pretension to elegance. In the sweet journey which two beings undertake through the fair domains of love. and the same collection of things in bad taste. Thus ideas. the cold hearth. however great may be her love. at the bottom of which they know not what they shall find. sombre. sat an old. which is embarrassing until the moment when two souls find themselves in unison. The condition of the old furniture and the dilapidated curtains with which the room was adorned gave it the air of the reception-room of a house of ill fame. this moment is like a waste land to be traversed. full of scorching sand. the old woman. under pain of ceasing to be woman. Upon a sofa covered with red Utrecht velvet. free to scatter her gaze of gold and flame. free to show her arched foot. her head capped by one of those turbans which English women of a certain age have invented and which would have a mighty success in China. which often float around souls like vapors. where the artist’s ideal is the monstrous. upon an ottoman. and uninhabited saloons of some sad and desert spot. the fire of which was buried in ashes. who desire each other ardently. and necessarily reacts upon the most passionate lover. in which the hero traverses the cold. nevertheless. If desire gives a man boldness and disposes him to lay restraint aside. At last the mulatto opened the door of a salon. do not know each other. is afraid of arriving at the end so promptly. and who. of dust and dirt. free of her luminous movements. who have stepped over a wide distance quickly. traversed by marshes. poorly dressed woman. The involuntary coldness of the woman contrasts with her confessed passion.Balzac tion which he had experienced from the perusal of one of those romances of Anne Radcliffe. which leads to smiling groves clad with roses. It is impossible that at first there should not occur certain discordant notes in the situation. by the side of a smoking hearth. the mistress. all would have chilled love to death had not Paquita been there. determine in them a sort of temporary malady. where Love and his retinue of pleasures disport themselves on carpets 43 . which to many women is equivalent to a fall into an abyss. alternatively damp and warm. The room.

his wit is. one may call superstition the prejudice of the first thoughts. and sparks flew from them. Nature. like all passions. Her eyes were all joy. the conjunction struck him. are so seductive. the strongest men are naturally the most impressionable. without doubt.of soft verdure. This decrepit woman was there like a suggestion of catastrophe. should have brought them to the happy transition which leads to that flowery way in which one does not walk. and that law of statics. if. Often the witty man finds himself afflicted with a foolish laugh which is his only answer to everything. is the appreciation of the result in causes hidden to other eyes but perceptible to their own. the tremor of a certain glance. and passion to utter at first nothing but the most silly commonplaces. intelligence. the azure of the firmament seems black. until chance. indeed. the communication of a spark. a word. And the embarrassment of the moment was singularly increased by the presence of the old hag. appears to be covered with a gauze veil. when she truly loves and finds herself in the presence of an idol for whom she has vainly longed. whose figures. and consequently the most superstitious. It would not be impossible for two beings of equal beauty. Such a state of mind is always in proportion with the violence of the feeling. the intensity of light is like darkness. might have been true also in the moral order. She was under the charm. suffocated beneath the icy pressure of his desires. Two creatures who love one another weakly feel nothing similar. The Spanish girl profited by this moment of stupefaction to let herself fall into the ecstasy of that infinite adoration which seizes the heart of a woman. at the first view. which. With Henri. there was an equal intensity of feeling. all has meaning for it. all happiness. and represented the horrid fish’s tail with which the allegorical geniuses of Greece have terminated their chimeras and sirens. Although Henri was not a free-thinker—the phrase is always a mockery —but a man of extraordinary power. so deceptive. Love takes pleasure or fright at all. 44 . as it were. in virtue of which two identical forces cancel each other. The effect of this crisis can even be compared with that which is produced by the glow of a clear sky. Moreover. as with the Spanish girl. a man as great as a man can be without faith. everything is an omen of happiness or sorrow for it. but where one sways and at the same time does not lapse.

little enough of which remains to-day. “we have twelve days.” said Paquita. “My dear Adolphe. “Even now we have but a few days before us. But Paquita did not answer.Balzac and fearlessly intoxicated herself with a felicity of which she had dreamed long. all this sick and dilapidated luxury. revealing so the most beautiful hands which Henri had ever seen.” she said. She seemed then so marvelously beautiful to Henri. and this explanation put him at his ease. De Marsay repeated his question in English. knowing his impotence and being compelled to swallow his rage of destruction.” she said.” he said. as it were.” She lowered her eyes.” she said. she is my mother.” The attitude of this woman and her eagerness to guess from the gestures of her daughter and Henri what was passing between them. a slave bought in Georgia for her rare beauty. of worn red drapery and of the green mats in front of the armchairs. disappeared. She only speaks her native tongue. by a fear which stripped her of that magnificent energy which Nature seemed to have bestowed 45 . were suddenly explained to the young man. “Yes. tranquilly. inspired by misfortune. “One. the ill-washed red tiles. “She is the only woman in whom I can confide. “Who is that woman?” said Henri to Paquita. although she has sold me already. and asked Henri if he spoke English. She made a sign that she understood no French. her yellow eyes betraying the servile sentiments. “Paquita. Her eyes had the cold glitter of a caged tiger. showing the absorption of a weak woman before the executioner’s axe. or caused by some vice beneath whose servitude one has fallen as beneath a tyrant who brutalizes one with the flagellations of his despotism. “are we never to be free then?” “Never. and it was only through a cloud that one could see the fearful harpy fixed and dumb on her red sofa. three—” She counted up to twelve. that all this phantasmagoria of rags and old age.” “And after?” “After. two. The room seemed lit up. and slain in advance. looked at and counted with her right hand on the fingers of her left. with an air of sadness.

for she let herself be viewed complacently.” she said. The presumptive play of this machinery. flung herself down upon the red sofa. throwing a glance at her which the Spaniard understood as though she had been used to receive such.—a horrible thirst with which great souls are seized. The old woman received her daughter without issuing from her state of immobility. but he was fascinated by that rich harvest of promised pleasures. and the desire of every loving woman too. the impassiveness of a statue upon which all remarks are lost. famished for new pleasures. He was infuriated by the infinite rendered palpable.” said Henri to himself. The admiration of De Marsay became a secret fury. falling into strange reflections. This girl became a mystery for him. All that he saw in this girl more distinctly than he had yet seen it. Paquita appeared to him occupied by something which was not himself. “If you are not to be mine. and buried her head in the rags which covered the bosom of her mother. The mother possessed in the highest degree that gravity of savage races. mine only. like a woman constrained equally by remorse and passion. would have frightened any other man than Henri. Her eyes took a fixed stare. the dream of every man. Perhaps she had in her heart another love which she alternately remembered and forgot. setting aside the soul. “This girl is mad. and wept there. happy to be admired. but as he contemplated her with the scientific attention of the blase man. she seemed to contemplate a threatening object far away. —Henri recognized in Paquita the richest organization that Nature had ever deigned to compose for love. In a moment Henri was assailed by a thousand contradictory thoughts. and he unveiled her completely. and cried naively: “Holy Virgin! What have I brought upon myself?” She rose.upon her only to aggrandize pleasure and convert the most vulgar delights into endless poems. by that constant variety in happiness. Hearing this speech. and transported into the most excessive raptures of which the creature is capable. Did she or did she not love her daughter? Beneath that mask every human emotion 46 . or displaying any emotion. “I do not know. like that Eastern king who asked that a pleasure should be created for him. Paquita covered her face in her hands. I will kill you!” he cried. “After—” she repeated.

“Kill thee—I!” he said. cast at him one of those looks which reach the very soul and consume it. and I should be lost. but not to-night. from what caprice Nature had made so seductive a man. which covered her like a mantle.” she said. At this moment the whole household believes me to be asleep in my room. say the same word to the same man. and from this creature all might be expected. Her gaze passed slowly from her daughter’s beautiful hair. In two days be at the same spot. “My Paquita! Be mine!” “Wouldst thou kill me?” she said fearfully. to the face of Henri.” she added. which she considered with an indescribable curiosity. “These women are making sport of me. So beautiful seemed she that he swore he would possess such a treasure of beauty. and offered him her lips. “Be mine—this evening. which De Marsay could not overhear. with the rapidity of a torrent coursing between the rocks. “and the same ardor. Cristemio worships me. That man is my foster-father. Paquita uttered a cry of alarm. To-night Adolphe.” she said seizing Henri by the waist and twining round him like a serpent.” said Henri to himself. Farewell. wagging her head in a fashion horribly significant. She might wake up. Paquita! Dost thou love me? Come!” In a moment he had poured out a thousand foolish words to her. said a word to the old woman. At that moment Paquita raised her head. in a melancholy voice. palpitating and anxious. this moment. do not leave me! It must be. who authoritatively seized Henri’s hand and that of her daughter. with an abandonment of passion which no words can describe. I gave too little opium to La Concha. but drawn towards him by an inexplicable force. She gazed at them for a long time. lifted her head to his. then snatched a kiss which filled them both with such a dizziness that it seemed to Henri as though the earth 47 .Balzac might brood—good and evil. “So be it—yes. “It is the same voice!” said Paquita. She seemed to ask by what fatality he was there. and then released them. She pressed him on every side at once. smiling. follow me. and repeating the same sound in a thousand different forms. “Yes. and would die in torments for me before they could extract one word against me from him.

opened the door. tender. so stupidly put into execution in Asia by brutish men. depart!” in a voice which told how little she was mistress of herself. which invested him with a vast and unsuspected power. an intermingling of the awful and the celestial. A single kiss had been enough. but one of those dreams which. But she clung to him still. was increased tenfold by its conjunction with European intelligence. He was no longer himself. It was as though the horses had hell-fire in their veins. In order to render his conduct intelligible in the catastrophe of this story. and set him down on the Boulevard des Italiens with marvelous rapidity. But this power. for the mother had remained in Henri’s imagination like some infernal. the keen48 . of paradise and hell. it is needful to explain how his soul had broadened at an age when young men generally belittle themselves in their relations with women. and he was. great enough to be able to resist the intoxication of pleasure. or in too much occupation with them. and expansive. leave a feeling of supernatural voluptuousness. more coldly. In effect.opened. put Henri into the carriage. in a spot of which the surroundings were more gruesome. with French wit—the most subtle. Never had rendezvous been spent in a manner more decorous or chaste. cadaverous. whose white eyes lit up at the sight of Paquita. in presence of a more hideous divinity. or. perhaps. which a man runs after for the remainder of his life. There was something sombre. savagely ferocious. revealed more audacious pleasures. which the imagination of poets and painters had not yet conceived. still crying “Depart!” and brought him slowly to the staircase. even when they fade away. which made De Marsay like a drunken man. or better aroused love from its centre to shed itself round him like an atmosphere. sweet. withal. Its growth was due to a concurrence of secret circumstances. almost all of whom are curbed in their least wishes by the laws. The scene was like a dream to De Marsay. De Marsay exercised the autocratic power of an Oriental despot. monstrous. cowering thing. and conducted Henri to the street. no rendezvous had ever irritated his senses more. took the torch from the hands of his idol. and Paquita cried: “Enough. constrained. mysterious. This young man held in his hand a sceptre more powerful than that of modern kings. There the mulatto. He left the light under the arch.

during those two days he was a private soldier in the service of the demon to whom he owed his talismanic existence. Happy. unattainable extravagances—full of light. For the next and succeeding day Henri disappeared and no one knew what had become of him. he grew young and pliable. a pride of gaze. majesty. he was waiting—and he had not long to wait—for the carriage. Thus. in the case of such men. had of themselves when they imitated God. An error was a misfortune similar to that which a thunderbolt causes when it falls upon a smiling Parisienne in some hackney coach. could have of himself. for the moment. De Marsay coldly condemned to death the man or the woman who had seriously offended him. The result. Such was De Marsay. and veiled themselves from their subjects under the pretext that their looks dealt forth death. His power only belonged to him under certain conditions. He dreamed of the girl with the golden eyes. revealing invisible worlds. The mulatto approached Henri. without emphasis and deriving from himself. is a security of action. in order to repeat to him in 49 . in the evening. Although often pronounced almost lightly. as the young and passionate can dream. with his future. But at the appointed time. a certitude of power. yet in a manner always incomplete. and who are. His dreams were monstrous images. happily for him. who held themselves to be of divine origin.Balzac est of all intellectual instruments. and thought of nothing but love as he went to bed. and. without any remorse at being at once the judge and the accuser. a leonine consciousness. and who walk in a panoply of terror. no one was anxious to put him out. for an intervening veil changes the conditions of vision. instead of crushing the old coachman who is driving her to a rendezvous. the Xerxes. Women are prodigiously fond of those persons who call themselves pashas. but secret. Thus the bitter and profound sarcasm which distinguished the young man’s conversation usually tended to frighten people. the verdict was irrevocable. He had not the opinion which Louis XIV. as it were accompanied by lions and executioners. Henri could do what he would in the interest of his pleasures and vanities. but that which the proudest of the Caliphs. the Pharoahs. which makes women realize the type of strength of which they all dream. This invisible action upon the social world had invested him with a real.

furious at the thought of losing a piece of good fortune which had been promised him. Once more the carriage moved on rapidly. released himself. he had but to collect himself and count. He moved his head towards the handkerchief. before taking this course. the streets leading from the boulevards by which the carriage passed. to the bottom of the carriage. When the carriage started at a gallop he seized his hands.” And Cristemio produced a white silk handkerchief. He tried to leap in. she told me. But. and he bound his eyes with a respect and care which manifested a sort of veneration for the person of the man whom his idol loved. and nailed him. in order to master him. and the carriage drove off. by subduing his attendant. Nor was it this passive instrument upon whom his anger could fall. To know whither he was going. he was forced to yield. whose omnipotence revolted suddenly. “No!” said Henri. he tried to play the mulatto. Henri was unarmed. and buttoned himself up to the chin. Henri got in hastily. “That nigger would have killed me!” said De Marsay to himself. and retain. There was one resource still open to a young man who knew Paris as well as Henri. by the number of gutters crossed. “If you wish to come. the possession of his faculties. so that he might know whither he was going. he drew a triangular dagger.French a phrase which he seemed to have learned by heart. The coachman heard the whistle and stopped. moreover. and whistled. The mulatto whistled. It was a vain attempt. The gesture of submission calmed Cristemio. then with his free hand. He could thus discover into which lateral street it would turn. The fellow uttered a cry which his fury stifled in his throat. Henri was strong. the impossibility of making terms with a slave whose obedience was as blind as the hangman’s. so long as it continued straight along. Already a few curious onlookers had assembled like sheep on the boulevard. The mulatto made a sign. he had placed his dagger distrustfully in his side pocket. you must consent to have your eyes bandaged. The eyes of the mulatto flashed from the darkness. He saw. threw back De Marsay with a hand like iron. so to speak. the carriage returned. “Yes!” cried De Marsay. either to50 .

conveyed him across a garden. on which were designs in black arabesque. all hindered him from the attention. set him on his feet. in plaits going in and out. which the blind have. and the thick carpet of which he could feel beneath his feet. but a mattress as broad as a bed. The journey lasted half an hour. relieved by bows of black and scarlet silk. When the carriage stopped. softly gracious. the rage into which his compromised dignity had thrown him. 51 . a mattress thrown on the ground. Henri saw Paquita before him. and. the ideas of vengeance to which he abandoned himself. The semicircular portion was adorned with a real Turkish divan. opposite which was a window. the suppositions suggested to him by the circumstantial care which this girl had taken in order to bring him to her. hidden by a rich tapestried screen. and left him in a room whose atmosphere was perfumed. But the violent emotion which his struggle had caused him. lifted him out. A woman’s hand pushed him on to a divan. He had entered by a door on one side. that is to say. it was no longer on the street. led him by his hands through several apartments. over which an Indian muslin was stretched. but Paquita in all her womanly and voluptuous glory. The section of the boudoir in which Henri found himself described a circular line. The top of this huge bed was raised several inches by numerous cushions. which further enriched it by their tasteful comfort. The two men took him to a staircase. and guess the name or position of the street in which his guide should bring him to a halt. a divan fifty feet in circumference. fluted after the fashion of Corinthian columns. putting him into a sort of litter. necessary for the concentration of his intelligence and the perfect lucidity of his recollection. The boudoir was lined with some red stuff. He could smell its flowers and the perfume peculiar to trees and grass. in the midst of which a chimney-piece shone of gold and white marble. and bound at the top and bottom by bands of poppy-colored stuff. made of white cashmere. The mulatto and the coachman took Henri in their arms.Balzac wards the Seine or towards the heights of Montmartre. and untied the handkerchief for him. The silence which reigned there was so profound that he could distinguish the noise made by the drops of water falling from the moist leaves. which was faced opposite by the other perfectly square half. arranged in panels.

The carpet was like an Oriental shawl. was of a brilliant whiteness. laden with exquisite perfumes. clad in a white wrapper. knelt before him. The only table there had a cloth of cashmere. The soul has I know not what attraction towards white. all were in white marble and gold. like that from which Venus rose out of the sea. whither he had deigned to come. which were of Indian muslin lined with rose-colored taffeta. In fine. flowers white or red. There was in this perfect harmony a concert of color to which the soul responded with vague and voluptuous and fluctuating ideas. whether from a comparison which he swiftly made between this scene and that of their first interview. harmonized with the effects of the light shed upon the diaphanous tissues of the muslin. to illuminate the divan. where the hands of slaves had worked on it. which was matched by window-curtains. that Paquita. Six silver-gilt arms. each supporting two candles. relieved by black and poppycolored ornaments. The furniture was covered in white cashmere. orange blossoms in her black hair. Although De Marsay was accustomed to seeing the utmost efforts of Parisian luxury. all his inexplicable affinities. were caressed in their involuntary sympathies. he experienced one of 52 . and the cornice was gilded. Whether from an effect of contrast between the darkness from which he issued and the light which bathed his soul. which has the power of realizing their caprices. The ceiling. Elegant flowerpots held roses of every kind. it had the designs and recalled the poetry of Persia. Never had richness hidden itself more coquettishly to become elegance. her feet bare.Below the muslin the poppy turned to rose. of which the color changed according to the direction of one’s gaze. that amorous color. which produced an appearance of mistiness. and set off with a fringe of poppycolor and black. Thus all that man possesses within him of vague and mysterious. were attached to the tapestry at an equal distance. The caresses of the tapestry. to express grace. adoring him as the god of this temple. It was out of a misty atmosphere. appeared to Henri. the candelabra. love delights in red. and the passions are flattered by gold. the least detail seemed to have been the object of loving thought. Everything there would have warmed the coldest of beings. he was surprised at the aspect of this shell. to inspire pleasure. from the middle of which a lustre of unpolished silver hung. The clock. becoming either all white or all rose.

” she answered. doubtless in order the better to behold his neck. and felt with an indescribable intoxication the voluptuous pressure of this girl. they would not be heard without these walls. “Speak. then? … Will you answer?” Paquita got up gently. strike! …” said the poor slave. by I know not what vaporous effusion of love—gleamed as though it reflected the rays of color and light. his anger. his desire for vengeance. the masterpiece of creation. in a low voice. there is the neck I love so well!” she said. but slightly gilded by the shadows.” “Strike. he took her utterly to him. a prey to terror. and his moans would be as vain as if he were in the midst of the great desert. untying with a gesture of wonderful sweetness the young man’s scarf. No sound can escape from it. 53 . “This retreat was built for love.Balzac those delicate sensations which true poetry gives. rendered by the accent almost lascivious.” “Who has understood jealousy and its needs so well?” “Never question me as to that. whose richly developed beauties softly enveloped him. Perceiving in the midst of this retreat. whose head fell backwards. I would be alone. her eyes full of tears. “Yes. took a poniard from one of the two ebony pieces of furniture. “For what do you take me. “Come to me. Paquita!” he said. A person might be murdered. “It is not I. set her on his knees. whose soft skin—soft. speak without fear!” she said. However loud should be the cries. “And if I wished to know who reigns here?” Paquita looked at him trembling. his wounded vanity. drew De Marsay from the reverie in which he had been plunged by Paquita’s authoritative refusal to allow him any research as to the unknown being who hovered like a shadow about them. “Wouldst thou please me?” This interrogation. “Where I am. whose warmly colored tints. and presented it to Henri with a gesture of submission which would have moved a tiger. Like an eagle darting on his prey. then?” he said. rising and freeing himself from the girl. this girl. so greatly was it desired to guard avariciously the accents and music of the beloved voice. all were lost. which had been opened to him as by a fairy’s magic wand.

you are.“Give me a feast such as men give when they love. “and whilst I sleep. the answer to which is very difficult to find. which has been made to gratify vengeance without having to fear that of the law. where none could find you. I could have you cast into a pit. returning to her first idea. then. a strange nature. “No. no!” she cried. on his power and his capacity of a man used to adventures.” said De Marsay. but upon the heart of a woman who adores you. Perhaps he counted. “wouldst thou please me?” “I would do all that thou wouldst.” she said. “But you seem to me a good girl. with a laugh. for I know not how to answer thee.” she said. slay me.” said she.’ Then. and this fearless gaze filled her with joy. after having used the cunning eloquence of woman and soared on the wings of pleasure. looking neither before nor after. I could beguile you with words. You would stay in my heart. after having quenched my thirst. upon my word of honor. she looked at him gently.” Henri looked at the girl without trembling. until no particle of you were left. “do not kill me! I love life! Life is fair to me! If I am a slave. I am amazed that I have been able to throw a bridge over the abyss which divides us. so much was pleasure written in them. “Well. my love. a pit full of lime which would kindle and consume you. mine forever. He had recovered his foppish ease. then kill me! Ah. considering her.” Paquita understood nothing of what the young man said.” answered De Marsay. “let me arrange you as I would like. moreover. “Come. prove it to you. a living riddle. Intoxicate me.” “All this appears to me prodigiously strange. and it is I who will be cast into the pit. profit by my momentary empire to say to you: ‘Take me as one tastes the perfume of a flower when one passes it in a king’s garden. to dominate this girl a few hours later and learn all her secrets. opening wide eyes which could never be stupid. I am a queen too. tell you that I love you alone. as he took the resolve to let himself go to the climax of his good fortune. joining her hands. and even that thou wouldst not. Hearken! I am bound like some poor beast to a stake.” 54 . no. I shall not do it! You have fallen into no trap here.

which must have been in connection with a bell. and implored De Marsay to permit his eyes to be bandaged. Abandoning herself to these follies with a child’s innocence. “I am dead. The fantastic union of the mysterious and the real. She was an Oriental poem. all that Henri could know of that poetry of the senses which is called love. Only. are best able to recognize is a girl’s innocence. of darkness and light. That which persons in the social position of De Marsay. living as he lived. but he saw nothing beyond. “Dead!” she said. then adorned his head with a woman’s bonnet and wrapped a shawl round him. God! here is the day! Escape! Shall I ever see you again? Yes. and resembled some bird flapping its wings. in which she dressed De Marsay.” She pressed him in her arms with an embrace in which the terror of death mingled. horror and beauty. paradise and hell. neither the rhythm of Saadi. Adolphe! Take me away to the world’s end. But. was resumed in the capricious and sublime being with which De Marsay dallied. nor that of Pindar. that Hafiz.Balzac Paquita went joyously and took from one of the two chests a robe of red velvet. pleasure and danger. strange phenomenon! The girl of the golden eyes might be virgin. she laughed a convulsive laugh. but innocent she was certainly not. if I have to deal death to all my warders to have that joy. Let there be no traces of our flight! We should be followed to the gates of hell. which had already been met with in this adventure. to an island where no one knows us. have set in their pulsing strophes. could have expressed the ecstasy—full of confusion and stupefaction—which seized the delicious girl when the error in which an iron hand had caused her to live was at an end. All the utmost science or the most refined pleasure. “And if I would not—and if I wished to stay here?” 55 . Then she touched a spring. whose radiant eyes gave the lie to none of the promises which they made. If it be impossible to paint the unheard-of delights which these two creatures—made by heaven in a joyous moment—found. tomorrow I will see you. Till to-morrow. in which shone the sun that Saadi. was excelled by the treasures poured forth by this girl. it is perhaps necessary to translate metaphysically the extraordinary and almost fantastic impressions of the young man.

indescribable sentiments which render him ignoble and ashamed. The certainty of this confused. doubtless suggested to Rousseau the adventures of Lord Edward. In the man who had just gorged himself with pleasure there occurs a propensity to forgetfulness. nor perfumed with that holy essence from which the performance of sentiment springs. when. one reads this work with the object of finding in it the lurid representation of the most physical of our feelings. But at this moment. There was needful. If Rousseau is obviously inspired by the work of Richardson. he has recommended it to posterity by great ideas which it is difficult to liberate by analysis. which conclude the letters of the Nouvelle Heloise.” she said. a tinge of contempt and. that delicious melancholy of the body. and the irresistible attraction of memories to lead him back to a woman. Henri. gazed stupidly at the retreating carriage. he departs from it in a thousand details. and the adventures of Lord Edward are one of the most Europeanly delicate ideas of the whole work. feeling in souls who are not illuminated by that celestial light. the persuasive grip of comparisons. a whim to go elsewhere. Paquita had established herself by both of these reasons. perhaps. how can she ever be loved? In Henri’s case. produced two cigars from his pocket. True love rules above all through recollection. of disgust for his idol. even by recalling to his lips the taste of the liveliest gratifications that he had ever grasped. whereas serious and philosophical writers never employ its images except as the consequence or the corollary of a vast thought. which leave his achievement magnificently original. I know not what ingratitude. seized as he was by the satiety of his happiness. therefore. in fine. a desire for liberty. lit one from the lantern of a good woman who sold brandy and coffee to workmen and street arabs and chestnut venders—to all the Parisian populace which begins its work before daybreak. found himself beneath the domination of that confused sentiment which is unknown to true love. he could hardly analyze his heart. in one’s youth. “for now I know I am certain to die on your account.“You would be the death of me more speedily. A woman who is not engraven upon the soul by excess of pleasure or by strength of emotion. in some sort. then he 56 . but real.” Henri submitted. He found himself on the Boulevard Montmartre at the break of day.

smoking his cigar. and slept the sleep of the dissipated. he awoke the driver. went to bed. “we all imagined that you had been shut up for the last ten days with the girl of the golden eyes. The idea of death. By her golden eyes.” “The girl of the golden eyes! I have forgotten her. I am not disposed to make you a gratuitous present of the treasures of my policy. who held to the houris of Asia by her mother. extremes meet. About noon De Marsay awoke and stretched himself. and the fear of which had more than once darkened the brow of that beautiful creature. expressed in the midst of their pleasure.” He saw a hackney coach standing at the corner of Frascati’s waiting for some gambler. therefore. no! I will not say a word.” his friend remarked. In the name of all that is most sacred in life—of cigars! I am no professor of social economy 57 . Of the girl with the golden eyes. So she preferred to feign terror rather than cast in my teeth indisposition or difficulty.Balzac went off. to see Paul de Manerville standing in front of him. over whom at that time all the elegant youth of Paris was mad. he hardly thought. Perhaps it is an instance of the proverbial axiom. was driven home. coquetry or duty. he felt the grip of that sort of voracious hunger which old soldiers can remember having experienced on the morrow of victory. for at such a time nothing is more agreeable than to eat in company. how glad I shall be to sleep. discretion is the best form of calculation. He was delighted. Listen—however. to Europe by her education. which for some queer reason—of which no rhymer has yet taken advantage—is as profound as that of innocence. “My dear fellow. “What a good thing a cigar is! That’s one thing a man will never tire of. with a laugh. Life is a river which is of use for the promotion of commerce.” “Why not?” asked De Marsay. “She is from Havana—the most Spanish region to be found in the New World. like a Parisian woman. seemed to him merely one of those deceptions by which women seek to make themselves interesting. to the tropics by her birth. Faith! I have other fish to fry!” “Ah! you are playing at discretion. “Well. and putting his hands in his trousers’ pockets with a devil-may-care air which did him small honor. You never teach me anything.” he said to himself.

nor what one wants of 58 .’ But such a ruse is vulgar and dangerous. you may some day need. if anybody besides myself took it into his head to say ill of you in your absence. Suppose at the club this evening I were to say: ‘Upon my word of honor the golden-eyed was not worth all she cost me!’ Everybody would exclaim when I was gone: ‘Did you hear that fop De Marsay.” said Henri. the discretion of locked doors—mere impotence! Active discretion proceeds by affirmation. It is what is called the woman-screen…. so that you might be killed according to rule. understand that there are two sorts of discretion—the active and the negative. Let us breakfast! It costs less to give you a tunny omelette than to lavish the resources of my brain on you. if you should ever have need of discretion.” “You will know some day. What have you got for us?” “Some Ostend oysters. Monsieur le Comte. you would find it here. who rarely denied himself a sarcasm. if you only wanted a thousand-franc note to keep you from blowing your brains out. “since all the same. Paul. which knows neither what it wants. he would have to deal with the somewhat nasty gentleman who walks in my shoes—there’s what I call a friendship beyond question. like anybody else. eh. Well.for the instruction of fools. Paul? If you had to fight tomorrow. for we haven’t yet done any business of that sort. how amusing it is to make a fool of the world by depriving it of the secret of one’s affections. Negative discretion is that of fools who make use of silence. negation. who tried to make us believe that he has already had the girl of the golden eyes? It’s his way of trying to disembarrass himself of his rivals: he’s no simpleton. and since I have much love for you—yes. However gross a folly one utters. In short. my good fellow. or whom we do not love.” “Do you bargain with your friends?” “My dear fellow. The best form of discretion is that of women when they want to take the change out of their husbands. to use discretion. there are always idiots to be found who will believe it. in order to save the honor of the one whom we love well enough to respect. I like you! Upon my word. It consists in compromising a woman with whom we are not concerned. an air of refusal. I would measure the ground and load the pistols. I derive an immense pleasure in escaping from the stupid jurisdiction of the crowd. Ah! here is Laurent.

of extracting.Balzac it. at last. by the time he had started his cigars. the principle and the result? Well. seeing. his perspicuity was not spontaneous. De Marsay’s conditions were alike. divine its hidden meaning. as a drama which is accomplished is known. you are laughing at me—as though I were not sufficiently mediocre to arrive at anything. his second-sight had need of a sort of slumber before it could identify itself with causes. Have you any ambition? Would you like to become something?” “But. to tame it. as he did. The purely physical innocence of Paquita. elevates and destroys! What a delight to impose emotions on it and receive none from it. Man hardens himself thus: he uses woman in order that she may not make use of him. 59 . and it did not debar in him the gift of foresight necessary to the conception of great designs. Like many men of great intelligence.” “Good Paul! If you go on laughing at yourself. in perspective. is it not a self-acquired power. As with all natures endowed with the faculty of living greatly in the present. no man knows what I love. so to speak. you will soon be able to laugh at everybody else. nor what I wish.” At breakfast. Cardinal de Richelieu was so constituted. which takes the means for the end. Perhaps what I have loved. He could read. or what I may have wished will be known. all that night of which the delights had been poured upon him by degrees until they had ended by flooding him in torrents. At this moment. De Marsay began to see the events of the night in a singular light. if indeed diplomacy is as difficult as life? I doubt it. never to obey it. the essence of it and assimilating it. but at first he only used his weapons for the benefit of his pleasures. then. as it did not at once penetrate to the heart of things. De Marsay perceived that he had been fooled by the girl of the golden eyes. mistake! I know nothing more despicable than strength outwitted by cunning. Henri. Can I initiate myself with a laugh into the ambassador’s part. and by turns curses and adores. and only became one of the most profound politicians of his day when he had saturated himself with those pleasures to which a young man’s thoughts—when he has money and power—are primarily directed. If one may ever be proud of anything. that page in effect so brilliant. of which one is at once the cause and effect. the bewilderment of her joy. but to let my game be seen—weakness.

obscure at first. I live a brute’s life? It should be time to choose oneself a destiny. As no social corruption was unknown to him. a dozen young folks in a season.” said De Marsay. he knew it as one knows a friend.certain words. he had been outraged in the most sensitive part of him. I am frightened. They talk to us about the immorality of the Liaisons Dangereuses. but there exists a book.” “My dear friend. filthy. The mere suspicion filled him with fury. I execute.” said Paul. the cry of a tiger which united a brute’s strength with the intelligence of the demon. If his presumption was right. “I say. and any other book you like with a vulgar reputation. as he professed a complete indifference towards all perversities. Why? I don’t know.—Another cup!—Upon my word of honor! man is a jester dancing upon a precipice. and am not sufficiently curious to try and find out…. Do you assassinate. what is the matter with you?” asked Paul. which is always open and will never be 60 . The Government cuts off the heads of poor devils who may have killed a man and licenses creatures who despatch. if you were to be asked whether you had anything against me and were to reply with a nothing like that! It would be a sure case of fighting the next day. “That seems to me even more tragical. “Nothing!” “I should be sorry. Life is a singular comedy. These cigars are excellent. medically speaking. corrupting. “your jokes are of a very sombre color this morning.” “I fight no more duels. all proved to him that he had posed for another person. he broke out with the roar of a tiger who has been the sport of a deer. I laugh at the inconsequence of our social order. but he was wounded at having served as sustenance for it.” “What would you have? Pleasure ends in cruelty. Do you know. but now clear. Give your friend some tea. fearful. Morality is powerless against a dozen vices which destroy society and which nothing can punish. then?” “You travesty words. and believed them to be justified on the simple ground that they were capable of satisfaction. to employ one’s powers on something which makes life worth living. which had escaped her in the midst of that joy. he was not startled at vice. Paul. horrible.

are sealed with the mark of destruction. with that firm will which only really strong men have the faculty of concentrating. whereas. had he been free. a dream. He had a sort of certitude of being taken to the Rue Saint-Lazare. his good fortune must remain what it had been hitherto.” “Yes! … Come. not to mention another book. physical or intellectual. a thousand times more dangerous. There had been a gentle rain. He would have been able. he understood. or if he had walked. When he passed. In the evening he repaired to the trysting-place and submitted complacently to having his eyes bandaged. whether for good or evil. as on the first occasion. All his labors. Henri could smell. through this gate. This indication was enough to light him in the researches which he promised himself to make in order to recognize the hotel which contained Paquita’s boudoir. and was put in a litter. of an evening in society. to pluck a twig of laurel. ethereally into an inaccessible mansion. the scent of the mignonette which lined the avenue along which he was conveyed. carried.” De Marsay rose. or women murmur behind their fans.” “Henri. doubtless by the mulatto and the coachman. that is obvious in spite of your active discretion. there is certainly something extraordinary the matter with you. took a handful of banknotes and folded them into his cigar-case. why they took such minute precautions. Then. I must kill the time until this evening. But it is man’s despair that all his work. so to speak. which is composed of all that men whisper into each other’s ears. and being brought to a halt at the little gate in the garden of the Hotel San-Real. therefore. he devoted his attention and applied his intelligence to the task of divining through what streets the carriage passed. transported. Let’s to the tables…. Perhaps I shall have the good luck to lose. the great book of the world. and took advantage of Paul’s carriage to repair to the Salon des Etrangers. dressed himself. He studied in the same way the 61 . as he heard the gravel grate beneath their feet. where until dinner he consumed the time in those exciting alternations of loss and gain which are the last resource of powerful organizations when they are compelled to exercise themselves in the void. At night-time certain vegetable perfumes are far stronger than during the day. to observe the nature of the soil which clung to his boots. is imperfect. the earth was moist.Balzac shut.

On her knees like an angel in prayer. the chief interest of his assignation. I shall not complain. But I can place you in a refuge in Paris. letting the tears fall and glisten on her cheeks.” she said. “you forget the power of woman. As on the previous night.” “No. who was undoing his bandage. little one!” replied Henri. Bear me to some place where no one can answer: ‘There is a girl with a golden gaze here. I am lost.” 62 . the poor girl no longer resembled the curious.turnings which his bearers took within the house. he found himself on the ottoman before Paquita. will be worth all my life to me. There was something so true in this despair veiled by pleasure. I will implore. if you abandon me to the fury of the monster who will destroy me. only one day.” Never did phrase uttered by human voice express terror more absolutely. then. your holy will be done! But come. and your desertion need cause you no remorse. and impetuous creature who had carried De Marsay on her wings to transport him to the seventh heaven of love. I will weep and cry out and defend myself. and forgot. my Paquita?” “My friend.” she resumed. let there be all the pleasures of life in our love. Well. I shall say nothing. “What could reach you. impatient. But if I stay here. She had wept. who has long hair. perhaps I shall be saved. but he saw her pale and altered. for one day passed with you. “I do not belong to myself. as I do to them. “Dona Concha suspects you already … and. Besides. if I put myself between you and the world?” “Poison!” she said.” “I cannot leave Paris. in which I have had you before my eyes. Then when you love me no longer.’ Yonder I will give thee as many pleasures as thou wouldst have of me. you shall leave me. for the moment. “carry me away this very night. “What is the matter with thee.” she said. that the terrible De Marsay felt within him an admiration for this new masterpiece of nature. but like an angel profoundly sad and melancholy. “it is easy enough to see I am no longer the same. where no human power can reach you. I am bound by a vow to the fortune of several persons who stand to me. and believed himself able to recall them.

proceeding to take some papers out of a tall Japanese vase. no!” she answered quickly. I had the curiosity of a demon. that you receive letters from London?” “My letters? … See. but it was at night and in the country. my lovely Adolphe! Thee. away from people.” she repeated. However full it be. “be what you are. similar to those of a rebus. caressing Henri’s hair.” she answered.” “What do you call the light?” “Thee.” she said. by the side of the Seine. “that was my ruin. strange figures. I drove Dona Concha to choose between the fear of immediate death and anger to be. “But how. and illustrating phrases full of passion. She offered De Marsay some letters.” “How is it.” said Henri. here they are!” she said.” he cried. Since I was twelve years old I have been shut up without ever seeing any one. marveling at these hieroglyphics created by the alertness of jealousy.” “But you were not always thus shut up? Your health … ?” “Ah. insidiously. were you able to get out?” “Ah!” she said. whilst you are what is fairest under the skies. with surprise. “you are in the power of an infernal genius?” “Infernal. All the passionate things that have been told me. “no longer.” she said. “we used to walk.” “Are you not proud of being loved like that?” “No. “If I obtain mercy it will perhaps be on account of my discretion. then. and in whom I only saw ogres. one of those angels whom I have been taught to hate. I wished to see what young people were like. this hidden life is but darkness in comparison with the light.” “Give me my robe. for whom I would give my life. I can only speak English and Spanish. I wished to break the bronze circle which they had described between creation and me. then.Balzac “Whom will your implore?” he asked. Our coachman and the lackey who accompanies us are old men …. I can neither read nor write. “You do not know how silly I am. “No. in which the young man saw. for I knew nothing of man except the Marquis and Cristemio. “Silence!” said Paquita. “But. I have learned nothing. traced in blood. and that I have 63 .

whom a somewhat 64 . whose golden tint was pure and clear. and happiness colored his existence to the tint of the rose and white boudoir. but let me be near you until you break me. he was carried beyond the limits within which he had hitherto confined passion. Paquita seemed to have been created for love by a particular effort of nature. for the first time for long. who. letting him read her eyes. so poetically translated in Manfred. to study her. which wise men think to discover in science. and hitherto I have been the loved one only. If you like.inspired. in spite of his satiety of the previous night.” he thought. Whatever might be the power of this young man. The hope of possessing at last the ideal being with whom the struggle could be constant and tireless ravished De Marsay. take me as a toy. Paquita responded to that passion which is felt by all really great men for the infinite—that mysterious passion so dramatically expressed in Faust. “Am I the favored one?” said Henri to himself. and which mystics find in God alone. but now I know what love is. yet the least recollection of it became in his eyes a crime. and his indifference in the matter of pleasures. and which urged Don Juan to search the heart of women. opened his heart. his coldness was dissipated in the atmosphere of that ardent soul. take me away. he found in the girl with the golden eyes that seraglio which a loving woman knows how to create and which a man never refuses.” “You will have no regrets?” “Not one”! she said. for myself. Experiencing the sting of a higher pleasure. I did not love. “I shall soon see. He would not be surpassed by this girl. he was ready at that time to pardon the offence in view of a love so single minded. his hard and fast theories melted away. in his hope to find there that limitless thought in pursuit of which so many hunters after spectres have started. In a night her feminine genius had made the most rapid progress. even while abandoning himself to the most enticing pleasures that ever peri descended from the skies had devised for her beloved. If he suspected the truth. He had therefore the sombre strength to withhold a portion of his thought. I feel for thee! For a certain time I understood nothing of existence. His nerves expanded. I would give up everything for you. If Paquita owed him no account of the past.

Let us go to Asia.” She understood no part of these ideas. but to start. when one can love no more. which the vulgar call so foolishly “the imaginary regions.Balzac artificial love had formed all ready for the needs of his soul. urged beyond that line where the soul is mistress over herself. and confidential. my child. where the sun shines ever on a palace which is always white.” “Faith! pleasure is the fairest climax of life. where the air sheds perfumes.” “Belong!” she repeated. He affected Paquita almost to madness. let us start this moment … take Cristemio. one needs much gold. “Was there need to say to me: ‘Will you’?” she cried.” “And where one dies together!” said Paquita. to Nice. “Let us go to the Indies. strength enough to tame the girl. where the earth grows only flowers. Let us go to the country where one lives in the midst of a nation of slaves. Asia is the only country where love can unfold his wings … . “But do not let us start to-morrow.” answered Henri. he lost himself in these delicious limboes.” He was tender. but. and to have gold one must set one’s affairs in order. “Have you not taken me? When we have taken it. If you would choose a retreat worthy of us. at the same time. “Gold! There is a pile of it here—as high as that. “Poor innocent! You know nothing of the world. as in the foolish lands where they would realize the dull chimera of equality. in a penetrating voice. there where spring is eternal. “Why should we not go to Sorrento. “if we have need of it let us take it. and then he found in that vanity which urges a man to be in all things a victor. where man can display the magnificence of kings and none shall say him nay. to Chiavari.” 65 .” “It does not belong to you. it will belong to us. “Have I a will? I am nothing apart from you. and pass all our life so? Will you?” he asked of Paquita.” He gave a laugh. kind.” she said holding up her hand.” “What does that matter?” she went on.” “You are right. one dies …. “It is not mine. the birds sing of love and where. except in so far as I am a pleasure for you.

At the very moment when De Marsay was forgetting all. Moreover. “speak to me. “My beloved. On either side there was an equality of strength. In a second Cristemio leaped on De Marsay and held him down with one foot on his chest.” went on Paquita. Promptly the mulatto arrived. De Marsay made no reply. silent. De Marsay realized that. cold. exclaimed: “Oh. that her life was in question. “Speak. with a roar. went and found his cravat. that it was scarcely prudent to compromise himself with the law by killing this girl on the spur of the moment. “Why did you want to kill me. if he struggled. his countenance. before he had arranged the murder in such a manner as should insure his impunity. who had lifted him vigorously in the air. “In what have I angered you?” she asked. Margarita!” “Margarita!” cried the young man. without knowing of what crime she had been guilty.” Henri maintained the phlegmatic attitude of a strong man who feels himself vanquished. and conceiving the desire to appropriate this creature forever. my beloved?” she said. and profited by the respite which this advantage gave to her. To end the combat Paquita threw between the legs of her lover a cushion which made him fall. but this is what I know. none the less. and advanced towards her with an air of such ferocious meaning that. entirely English. There was a struggle. he had already thought. “now I know all that I still tried to disbelieve. clasping Henri to her. the cupboard was shut.” she cried. at a single sign from Paquita he would be instantly crushed. With one bound she rushed to the other end of the room to escape the fatal knot which De Marsay tried to pass round her neck. to push the button of the spring which caused the bell to ring. revealed the consciousness of his dignity in a momentary resignation. do not leave me 66 .” He leaped upon the cabinet in which the long poniard was kept. he received in the midst of his joy a dagger-thrust.“Nay. agility. in spite of the vehemence of his anger. let us understand each other. his heel turned towards the throat. and suppleness. Paquita understood. Happily for Paquita and for himself. which Paquita. His fury waxed at this impediment. as though to contemplate him. but he recovered his tranquillity.

and went on with an accent replete with tenderness: “Adolphe. was a non-existent sense for him. The young man had one sorry quality. if I so instruct him. did not obtain it. The ferocity of the Northern man. for all reply. Hope. and every emotion had been exalted with him. that. in that it had dethroned him from the sweetest triumph which had ever flattered his man’s vanity. give me then one kind word! . and retired without letting his face show that he had formed any opinion. Will you speak?” she said. It is nearly day. you want to kill me! … If my death can give you any pleasure—kill me!” She made a sign to Cristemio. love. “There is no devotion like the devotion which obeys in friendship. gave her a glance.Balzac without one loving farewell! I would not keep in my heart the terror which you have just inspired in it …. throwing away the bandage. .” “I will give him you. for one considers as something great everything which resembles strength. and does not stop to weigh motives.” she answered. Paquita’s exclamation had been all the more horrible to him. “Ah. had been transmitted to him by his father. He was inexorable both in his good and evil impulses.” She waited for one look. In that man you possess a true friend. “What is the use of that!” she said. half dead. well. pointing to the mulatto. That returning upon itself which is one of the soul’s graces. so horribly significant. and fell.” said De Marsay. “That is a man. who withdrew his foot from the body of the young man. “he will serve you with the same devotion that he has for me. if you like. De Marsay. then these torches illuminating his life had been extinguished by a cold wind. with which the English blood is deeply tainted. with a sombre gesture. The mulatto cast a glance at Henri. all had lit up within his heart and his intelligence. for the 67 . which signified so plainly. if he hates me. Henri knew not how to pardon. good or bad.” Henri did not answer. Paquita. “You must die!” that Paquita threw herself upon him. “If he does not love me. in her stupefaction of grief. it is all over.” She waited for a word of recognition. had only strength enough to give the signal for departure. stamping her foot with anger. and often men invent extravagances. with regard to Paquita. .

about eleven o’clock at night. which led to a little gate opening upon a street which was at that hour deserted. “Henri. This time the mulatto did not accompany him. One of the other three took his stand outside the gate in the street. of a duel in which ordinary laws were invalid. On the last day of the week. and no one could discover either what he did during this period. to whom no one denied the gift of rare courage. Cristemio knew that Henri had sworn Paquita’s death. for the least sound.” such was the sense of that brief gaze. trembled. with a care almost obsequious. I will kill you. like a man who was to listen.first time in his life. accompanied De Marsay. the declaration of a savage war. “Where is the gentleman going to?” asked the coachman. the second waited in the garden. “The adventure is growing complicated in a most interesting way. who carried in his hand a bunch of keys. Henri knew that Cristemio would like to kill him before he killed Paquita.” said Henri. a challenge. On either side there was a provocation. leaning against the wall. where treason and treachery were admitted means. my good Ferragus?” 68 . with whom he exchanged a glance. if you give her the least pain.” said his companion to him.” “By whom. and at the moment when Henri put his head out of the window to look once more at the gardens of the hotel. De Marsay was escorted. an attentive sentinel. De Marsay was driven to the house of Paul de Manerville. The driver was evidently one of his friends. Henri drove up in a carriage to the little gate in the garden of the Hotel San-Real. Four men accompanied him. This retreat saved him from the fury of the mulatto and caused the ruin of the charming creature who had placed all her hope in him whom she loved as never human heart had loved on this earth before. nor where he stayed. for he stood up on his box. De Marsay took a keen notice of everything. Both understood each other to perfection. along the dimly lit corridor. For more than a week Henri was away from home. “If you do not love her well. at the end of which he issued by a secret door into the garden of the Hotel San-Real. he encountered the white eyes of Cristemio. the young man. The mulatto made him walk cautiously through an avenue of lime trees. “we are betrayed. the last. The carriage awaited him.

with which he was familiar. where the blood showed so 69 . The white room.” De Marsay lightly scaled the stairs. The girl of the golden eyes expired in a bath of blood. The two friends listened intently. “Too late. a certain disorder. my beloved!” said Paquita.” cried De Marsay. we know how to provide for every contingency. and heard some feeble cries which might have aroused pity in the breast of a tiger. revealed how cunningly the Marquise had interrogated the guilty one.” “Ah.Balzac “They are not all asleep. in which the eye of a man accustomed to amorous adventures could not but discern the madness which is common to all the passions. “We alone. a delicate perfume which was perceptible. The woman has robbed me even of my revenge! But if she has anticipated me. The spectacle which was offered to his view was.” “Listen. and recognized the passage leading to the boudoir. “no doubt she arrived from London today. with the laugh of a critic.” replied the chief of the Devourers. moreover. I want to see what is going on upstairs—I want to know how their domestic quarrels are managed. casting her pale eyes upon De Marsay. we will give her up to the law. The Marquise was a woman. “Wait for me. my good Gratien. from where does it come?” “I need no plan to know. she had calculated her vengeance with that perfection of perfidy which distinguishes the weaker animals. When he opened the door he experienced the involuntary shudder which the sight of bloodshed gives to the most determined of men. The great illumination of candles.” said Ferragus to Henri. By God! I believe she is roasting her at a slow fire. enchanted to detect a fault in a work of merit. in more than one respect astonishing to him. “it comes from the room of the Marquise.” said the chief of the Devourers. She had dissimulated her anger in order to assure herself of the crime before she punished it. “it is absolutely certain that some one in the house has neither eaten nor drunk …. Look! see that light!” “We have a plan of the house. in her death agony.” said Henri.” replied Ferragus. “Your marquise did not think the sound would escape by the chimney. listen! … The thing is settled.

There are certain animals who fall upon their enemy in their rage. if Paris had formed a circle round her. with the scratches on her breasts. suffer a thousand deaths! I have been too kind—I was only a moment killing you. eager and maddened. belong to no one but the fiend. like the Achilles of Homer. Here she had clung to her life. She had not even heard Paquita’s last sigh. “She is dead!” she said to herself. She was sublime so. here she had defended herself. drag their enemy by the feet nine times round the walls of Troy. betrayed a long struggle. She did not see Henri. and her torn dress revealed her in a state of semi-nudity. There are others who prowl around their victim. exhaled the odor of blood. mutilated by the dagger-thrusts of her executioner. Her body. She lay stretched on the floor. after a pause. Paquita must have tried to reach the window. which. she was too intoxicated with warm blood. without a doubt. I have no one left to love but God!” She gazed at her. do it to death. “Die without confessing!” she said. she was covered with bites. here she had been struck. told of the fury with which she had disputed a life which Henri had made precious to her. secondly. I should have made you experience all the tortures that you have bequeathed to me. and. too excited with the fray. had struggled long. monster of ingratitude. and her nostrils were not sufficient for her breath. A thunderbolt would not have disturbed her. dripping blood. her bare feet had left their imprints on the edge of the divan. “Go down to hell. I —I shall live! I shall live in misery. who still held in her hand her dagger. die. The hair of the Marquise had been torn out. along which she must have run. and who. in a violent reaction. Long strips of the tapestry had been torn down by her bleeding hands. and believed that the dead girl could still hear her. For the blood you gave him you owe me all your own! Die. Her head. The prints of Paquita’s hands were on the cushions. who guard it in fear lest it should be taken away from them. and seem in the tranquillity of victory to have forgotten it. The Marquise was like that. and in her death-throes had bitten the ankles of Madame de San-Real. In the first place. Her panting mouth was open.well. too exalted. to take notice of the whole of Paris. 70 . many of which were bleeding. she was too secure of her solitude to be afraid of witnesses.

and which would have stifled her maternal love. use a piece of furniture. “One person alone might ask for a reckoning for the death of this girl. with which one does as one wills. and threw it contemptuously at the old woman’s feet. if I could bring thee to life again! I was wrong—forgive me. “Will you not always be in her power?” “She comes from a country where women are not beings. The chink of the gold was potent enough to excite a smile on the Georgian’s impassive face.” said Henri. she has one passion which dominates all the others. “I know why you have left your lair.” replied the Marquise. “Who are you?” she asked. and their limbs quivered like those of frightened horses. “She was as little guilty as it is possible to be. sells. “The law will ask of you—” “Nothing. which one buys.” said Henri. “You are come to tell me that you never sold her to me to kill. “She was true to the blood. my sister. I shall die of grief!” The Marquise was throwing herself upon the divan. In effect. pointing to Paquita. stricken with a despair which deprived her of speech. “Poor child! Oh. With one accord they uttered the same phrase: “Lord Dudley must have been your father!” The head of each was drooped in affirmation.” cried the Marquise. “I come at the right moment for you. here. Paquita! Dead! and I live! I—I am the most unhappy.” said Henri. giving vent to a cry of despair. but things—chattels. I will pay you twice over. A horrible surprise froze the blood in their veins.” replied Margarita Euphemia Porraberil. Cristemio is dead. the two Menoechmi had not been more alike.” At that moment the horrible face of the mother of Paquita appeared.” She took a bag of gold from the ebony cabinet. Henri caught her arm.Balzac “Dead! Oh. Besides. in short. rushing at him with her dagger raised. a passion—” 71 . when this movement brought her in view of Henri de Marsay. Hold your peace. and slays. which one uses for one’s caprices as you. and thus they could contemplate each other face to face. pointing to the old woman.” “And the mother. even if she had loved her daughter. and she threw herself upon the body of Paquita.

you rascal?” “She is dead. on the Terrasse de Feuillants.” replied the Marquise. I am going back to Spain to enter the Convent of los Dolores.” A week later Paul de Manerville met De Marsay in the Tuileries. “No. “we shall not meet again. taking her in his arms and giving her a kiss.” “You are too young yet.” said Henri. “We shall meet again.” Paris. “there is no consolation when you have lost that which has seemed to you the infinite.” “What of?” “Consumption. designating the Georgian.” said Henri.“What?” Henri asked quickly.” she said. too lovely. brother. March 1834-April 1835. “Good-bye. 72 . interrupting his sister. what has become of our beautiful girl of the golden eyes. to whom she made a sign to remain.” she said. looking at the girl of the golden eyes.” said Henri. “But whom have you.” answered the Marquise. “who will help you to remove the traces of this fantasy which the law would not overlook?” “I have her mother. who was thinking anxiously of his friends and felt that it was time to leave. “Well. “Play! God keep you from it.

Bourignard. Part one is entitled Ferragus and part two is The Duchesse de Langeais. Gratien-Henri-Victor-Jean-Joseph Ferragus Dudley. Paul Francois-Joseph. Lord The Lily of the Valley A Man of Business Another Study of Woman A Daughter of Eve Manerville.Balzac Addendum The Girl with the Golden Eyes is the third part of a trilogy. The three stories are frequently combined under the title The Thirteen. Comte de The Ball at Sceaux Lost Illusions A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Marriage Settlement Marsay. The following personages appear in other stories of the Human Comedy. Henri de Ferragus The Duchesse of Langeais The Unconscious Humorists Another Study of Woman The Lily of the Valley Father Goriot Jealousies of a Country Town 73 .

Marquis de The Imaginary Mistress The Peasantry Ursule Mirouet A Woman of Thirty Another Study of Woman Ferragus The Duchesse of Langeais The Member for Arcis 74 .Ursule Mirouet A Marriage Settlement Lost Illusions A Distinguished Provincial at Paris Letters of Two Brides The Ball at Sceaux Modeste Mignon The Secrets of a Princess The Gondreville Mystery A Daughter of Eve Ronquerolles.

Balzac 75 .

76 .

Balzac The Hated Son by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley 77 .

This Portable Document File is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. in any way. in English. Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics 78 .DISCLAIMER The Hated Son by Honoré de Balzac. to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. nor anyone associated with ECONARCH Institute assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission. The Hated Son by Honoré de Balzac. Indonesia is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classics literature. for any purpose. Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley is a publication of ECONaRCH Institute. the Editor. Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series. the Editor. Any person using this document file. ECONARCH Institute. and in any way does so at his or her own risk. Neither ECONARCH Institute.

Balzac The Hated Son by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley Dedication To Madame la Baronne James Rothschild. 79 .

She was a prey to cruel fears. than by certain dangers which awaited her child. the poor woman moved with precautions which her intense terror made as minute as those of a prisoner endeavoring to escape. the Comtesse Jeanne d’Herouville felt such violent pains that in spite of her inexperience. which terrifies most women. either to study the nature of these new sufferings. so completely did she concentrate her own strength on the painful effort of 80 . In order not to awaken her husband who was sleeping beside her. or to reflect on her situation.PART I HOW THE MOTHER LIVED CHAPTER I A BEDROOM OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY ON A WINTER’S NIGHT. about two in the morning. Though the pains became more and more severe. and the instinct which makes us hope for ease in a change of posture induced her to sit up in her bed.—caused less by the dread of a first lying-in. she ceased to feel them. she was conscious of an approaching confinement.

” Fine pictures. once slept. she stopped as though she had rung a bell. The rafters of the ceiling formed compartments adorned with arabesques in the style of the preceding century. When the countess had succeeded in rising to her seat without awakening her keeper. The chamber was one of those which. the delicate carvings of which were blackened by time. severe in tone. it was easy to divine that she had once been all gaiety and light-heartedness. These decorations. The silver lamp. lighted the room so feebly that its quivering gleam could be compared only to the nebulous stars which appear at moments through 81 . She gave a sigh and again laid her hands. was never more timidly bold. not without precaution. stretching out her neck with little darting motions like those of a bird in its cage. she was filled with a sudden terror that revived the color driven from her cheeks by her double anguish. a thought came to darken that pure brow. the moustache of which was brushing her shoulder. placed upon the mantel of the vast fireplace. which preserved the colors of the chestnut wood. Then—as if for the first time since her marriage she found herself free in thought and action—she looked at the things around her. under which she had slept but little since her marriage. mostly brown in tone. but that fate had suddenly mown down her hopes. to this day octogenarian porters of old chateaus point out to visitors as “the state bedroom where Louis XIII. reflected the light so little that it was difficult to see their designs. she divided her attention between the folds of the rustling stuff and a large swarthy face. were framed in walnut. and changed her ingenuous gaiety to sadness. At the slightest rustling of the huge green silk coverlet. When some noisier breath than usual left her husband’s lips. But the half-formed smile on her burning lips was quickly suppressed. even when the sun shone full into that long and wide and lofty chamber.Balzac resting her two moist hands on the pillow and so turning her suffering body from a posture in which she could find no ease. Forced to watch the count. she made a gesture of childlike joy which revealed the touching naivete of her nature. and her long blue eyes resumed their sad expression. The prisoner reached the prison door in the dead of night and trying to noiselessly turn the key in a pitiless lock. on the fatal conjugal pillow. Seeing her thus.

Take away the bed. which stood upon a platform and was hung with curtains of green silk covered with brilliant designs called “ramages”—possibly because the birds of gay plumage there depicted were supposed to sing. On one side of the fireplace stood a large box or wardrobe of choice woods magnificently carved. now so much in request by antiquaries. Two cupids playing on the walnut headboard. carved in white marble with their mantle and supporters. which covered the foot of this lordly couch the superstition of the Comtes d’Herouville had affixed a large crucifix. might have passed for angels. fearing to see them move. bod82 . the explanation of which could have been found either in the Bible or Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The married pair mounted by three steps to this sumptuous couch. adorned with gold fringes. The folds of these immense curtains were so stiff that in the semi-darkness they might have been taken for some metal fabric. On the green velvet hanging. The arms of the family of Herouville. The fantastic figures crowded on the marble of the fireplace. and the same tester would have served in a church for the canopy of the pulpit or the seats of the wardens. At this moment a tempest was growling in the chimney. such as brides receive even now in the provinces on their wedding day. which formed a pendant to the bed. giving to every puff of wind a lugubrious meaning. wreathed with garlands. supporting the tester were carved with mythological allegories.—the vast size of the flute putting the hearth into such close communication with the skies above that the embers upon it had a sort of respiration. gave the appearance of a tomb to this species of edifice. which was opposite to the bed. or to hear a startling laugh from their gaping and twisted mouths. were the arsenals from which women drew the rich and elegant treasures of their personal adornment. and columns of the same wood.—laces. on which their chaplain placed a fresh branch of sacred box when he renewed at Easter the holy water in the basin at the foot of the cross. were so grotesquely hideous that she dared not fix her eyes upon them. Modern architects would have been puzzled to decide whether the room had been built for the bed or the bed for the room.the dun gray clouds of an autumn night. another erection raised to the glory of Hymen. These old chests. they sparkled and went out at the will of the wind.

combined with the mighty voice of the tempest. that face. but the answer of that sombre luxury seemed to her inexorable. After we have gone some way in life we know the secret influence exerted by places on the condition of the soul. was another piece of furniture. The poor young woman could augur nothing favorable as she listened to the threatening heavens. a large and greenish mirror. somewhat similar in shape. completed the furnishings of the room. but she turned and examined his features. On the other side. and richly framed in a sort of rolling toilet-table. and jewels. he listens to them. She might easily have believed in such predictions. eager for donations.—in fact all the inventions of coquetry in the sixteenth century. If matters were sad around the poor young woman. alms-purses. attributes an intelligent countenance to the things among which he lives. where the countess kept her books. masks. high collars and ruffs. as if despair were urging her to find a consolation there against so many sinister forebodings. but the smallness of their panes and the multiplicity of the leaden lines did not allow her to see the sky and judge if the world were coming to an end. Though her sufferings were now becoming keener and less endurable. made in Venice. veils. Antique chairs covered with damask. At this moment the countess turned her eyes upon all these articles of furniture. for the noise of the angry sea. Suddenly the tempest redoubled. on the upper step of the bed stood a little table. so that even the rocks appeared to shake. Suddenly she turned her eyes to the two arched windows at the end of the room. when fresh hope has come into his heart from things that surrounded him? The fortunate. the waves of which beat against the castle wall. gloves. papers. affirmed. The floor was covered with a Persian carpet. not83 . as certain monks. as if they were living beings whose help and protection she implored.Balzac ices. the countess dared not awaken her husband. or the unfortunate man. the changes of which were interpreted in those credulous days according to the ideas or the habits of individuals. by way of symmetry. on which the waiting-woman served every night in a gold or silver cup a drink prepared with spices. he consults them—so naturally superstitious is he. Who has not had his darksome moments. gowns of price. the richness of which proved the gallantry of the count.

the more to be feared because the narrowness of the skull betrayed an almost total absence of intelligence. The face was horribly disfigured by a large transversal scar which had the appearance of a second mouth on the right cheek.withstanding the tranquillity of sleep. surrounded without grace a cruel brow. the disdain expressed in the lower lip. had been grievously wounded at the siege of Rochelle. flickering in the draught. which resembled the beak of a bird of prey. the black and crinkled lids of the yellow eyes. The distrust resulting from this new misfortune made him suspicious to the point of not believing himself capable of inspiring a true passion. like the whitish lichen of old oaks. and a mere brute courage devoid of generosity. Before the catastrophe. The light from the lamp. he included in that antipathy all handsome men. Implacable as the war then going on between the Church and Calvinism. however. where religious intolerance showed its passionate brutality. she fancied that her husband was about to fix upon her his two insupportably stern eyes. the rigidity of the wrinkles. his hair. gave it a vague resemblance to the vermiculated stone which we see in the buildings of that period. The shape of the aquiline nose. Many furrows. he was so repulsively ugly that no lady had ever been willing to receive him as a suitor. gray before its time. the prominent bones of a hollow face. were all expressive of ambition. The misfortune of this wound increased his hatred against the partisans of what the language of that day called “the Religion. the count’s forehead was threatening even while he slept.” but. produced by the emotions of a warrior life. The countess was scarcely reassured by perceiving the cause of that phenomenon. casting shadows among its bony outlines. The only passion of his youth was for a celebrated woman called La Belle Romaine. and power. anxious to distinguish himself in that unhappy religious war the signal for which was given on SaintBartholomew’s day. At the age of thirty-three the count. Each time that a gust of wind projected the light upon the count’s large face. so that the fitful movements of its flash upon those features in repose produced the effect of a struggle with angry thought. seemed sadder still. and his character became so savage that when he did have some successes in gallantry he owed them to the terror inspired by his 84 . despotism. by a not unnatural turn of mind. scarcely reached beyond the foot of the bed and illumined the count’s head capriciously.

threaded with gold. repulsive figure. for the softest sounds of that harsh voice made her tremble. made a painful contrast to that large. Happily for the countess. surpassed the 85 . The left hand of this terrible Catholic. The countess. The excesses of the League. his gray eyebrows hid his eyelids in a way to heighten the light of his eye.. and remained as if stupefied. who was now in her nineteenth year.Balzac cruelty. Under his lion nose. When awake. he will not kill us!” she cried to herself mentally. a period when civil war raged throughout France. “He is frank. without injuring his robust constitution. courageous. it presented such a network of veins and projecting muscles. he appeared at first sight to be sixty. to imagine his gigantic proportions. that enormous hand was covered with hair so thick.—a face which now seemed ready to expire under the increasing attacks of physical pain. and defined a face such as Carlo Dolce has painted for his ivory-toned madonnas. which glittered with the luminous ferocity of a wolf skulking on the watch in a forest. To understand the horror of her present situation. Though the Comte d’Herouville was barely fifty years of age. “No. Stretched out as if to guard the countess. faithful to his word—faithful to his word!” Repeating that last sentence in her thoughts. her husband’s wide mouth was silent at this moment. You might have thought her the apparition of an angel sent from heaven to soften the iron will of the terrible count. a large and illkept moustache (for he despised all toilet niceties) completely concealed the upper lip. will complete this sketch of his character. she trembled violently. dilapidated him physically. we must add that this nocturnal scene took place in 1591. that it gave the idea of a branch of birch clasped with a growth of yellowing ivy. It was enough to see the width and length of the space occupied by the count in the bed. Children looking at the count’s face would have thought him an ogre. with its flaring nostrils. after contemplating her husband for a long time. which lay on the outside of the bed. She was fair and slim. opposed to the accession of Henri IV. as a miser guards his hoard. and the laws had no vigor. terrible tales of whom they knew by heart. played upon her neck like russet shadows. so much had the toils of war. Her chestnut locks.

came near becoming a sovereign prince at the gates of France.” said the count brutally. by a not uncommon chance in days when people were killed off like flies. At a banquet given. It was thus that Blagny. one or other of these parties applauded it.calamities of the religious wars. turning to his wife. “Madame.’s death. a court lady murdered a nobleman who made offensive remarks about her. looking with a sort of terror at the pretty Comtesse d’Herouville. a discussion arose on a topic which in those days of ignorance was thought amusing: namely. Sometime before Henri III. one of those presentiments which furrow a track like lightning through the soul. “if you give me a child ten months after my death. one of the most rabid royalists in Normandy. a young lady who. a soldier. License was so universal that no one was surprised to see a great lord kill his enemy in open day. kept the part of that province which adjoins Brittany under subjection to Henri IV. the legitimacy of children coming into the world ten months after the death of their fathers. was led in the name of the King or of the League. then pregnant. to the Comte and Comtesse d’Herouville. One of the king’s minions remarked to him:— “Hey! vive Dieu! sire. he had considerably increased the revenues of his great estates by marrying seven months before the night on which this history begins. The words of the count echoed in the bosom of the young wife. thinking that the count was joking. having a private object. or seven months after the wedding day. The guests were silent. Necessity and terror were the causes which led to this union. When a military expedition. I cannot help it. but be careful that you are not brought to bed in seven months!” “What would you do then. told her that her child would be born at 86 . she daggered him finely!” The Comte d’Herouville. “I should wring the necks of mother and child!” An answer so peremptory closed the discussion. had suddenly become the representative of both branches of the Saint-Savin family. old bear?” asked the young Marquis de Verneuil. two months after the marriage. The head of one of the richest families in France. by the rigor of his executions. imprudently started by a seigneur from Lower Normandy. her savage lord would execute his threat. Jeanne de Saint-Savin. All were convinced that if such an event occurred.

What learned man would take upon himself to say that the child unborn is on some neutral ground. as she leaned over that sleeping head. thus publicly expressed. and silenced her sufferings. “Poor babe!” She said no more. That odious suspicion. Two tears. and strove to see some sign of a pity she had vainly sought there when awake. she had driven from her mind. her look piercing. The child. “Poor babe!” were they dictated by a vision of the future? The shuddering of this mother was violent. remaining suspended at the bottom of that white face. of the inflections of voice with which the count accompanied his words. where the emotions of its mother do not penetrate during those hours when soul clasps body and communicates its impressions. Incapable of reasoning at this moment. when thought permeates blood with healing balm or poisonous fluids? The terror that shakes the tree. The bloody answer given by the count at the banquet was a link mysteriously connecting the past with this premature confinement. sending the life’s blood to her heart with such violence that the surface of her body felt bathed in ice. escaping from her eyes. 87 . so these memories revived sensations so delightful that her young conscience thought them crimes. a thousand scattered scenes of her past existence.Balzac seven months. made so vigorous a movement that she cried aloud. Like as the melodies of their native land make exiles weep. From that hour not a day had passed that the sense of secret terror did not check every impulse of her innocent gaiety. had cast into the memories of the countess a dread which echoed to the future. like dewdrops on a lily. rolled slowly down her cheeks. and traced two shining lines. threatened with death before its life began. the countess was almost choked with the intensity of a suffering as yet unknown to her. The memory of the look. She refused even to think of the happy days when her heart was free to love. there are ideas that a mother cannot bear. Since that fatal gala. still froze her blood. An inward heat overflowed her from head to foot. with as much fear as another woman would have found pleasure in evoking them. There lay the secret of the horror which was now oppressing her soul. in a voice that seemed like a sigh. will it not hurt the fruit? Those words. and sued them to enforce still further the savage threat of the count.

Next. She saw herself gathering flowers and planting them. the white fur of which fell one day by chance under the snipping of her mischievous scissors.Sleeping figures possess a sort of suavity. the old priest never ceased to jangle the chains of hell. whom up to that time she had made a sharer in all her frolics. and made her tremble with the assurance that God’s eye was on her. the rippling brook. she recalled how her prattle drove from his brow the judicial cares he did not always lay aside with his black or his red robes. due to the absolute repose of both body and mind. and taking her by the hand to lead her up the stairs. the scenes of her happy play. he told her of nothing but the vengeance of Heaven. all illusion granted to the unhappy is so persuasive that the poor wife ended by finding hope in that tranquillity. For a moment. she dared not raise her eyes in the priest’s presence. despite her constancy in watering them. and as if in a distant gleam of dawn. by one of those visions which in some way share the divine power. Her lively memory showed her the old gray heads of the masters who taught and tormented her. She remembered the person of her father. a rigid and fanatical old man. The roar of the tempest. When she saw 88 . Rendered timid. now descending in torrents of rain. she saw confusedly the vast town and the vast house blackened by age. the countess allowed herself to float into a reverie. the modest castle where her careless childhood had glided on. unknowing why they wilted and would not grow. and ceased to have any feeling but respect for her mother. seemed to her no more than a melancholy moan. She cast but one glance at the confessor of her aunt. but though that species of calmness softened but slightly the harsh expression of the count’s features. there were the verdant lawns. to which her mother took her when she was seven years old. the mother-superior of a convent of Poor Clares. whose duty it was to initiate her into the mysteries of religion. the little chamber. Hardened by the severities necessary against heretics. there passed before her rapid images of a happiness lost beyond recall. she saw him getting off his mule at the door of the manor-house. Jeanne in her vision saw faintly. the sweetness of which was so intoxicating that she had no strength to break its charm. her fears and her pains both yielded her a momentary respite. Contemplating the man to whom her life was bound.

She stroked with her hand the handsome face with its tiny pointed moustache. to sing her ballads to a lute. with her eyes fixed on the green silk curtains which she no longer saw. Her eye again wandered from the violet velvet mantle embroidered with gold and lined with satin to the spurs on the boots. discover what gift her father would make her on the feast of the Blessed SaintJohn. The vision brought her suddenly to that morning. when as yet she understood nothing of the things of life. She thought with an almost mocking regret of the days when all her happiness was to work beside her mother in the tapestried salon. the countess. The joyous peace of her childhood was far less sweet to her than a single one of the troubles scattered upon the last two years of her childhood.Balzac that beloved mother turning her blue eyes towards her with an appearance of anger. the trunk-hose. Alarmed by the seditions in Paris. in spite of the rapidity with which she opened and shut the door. 89 . a religious terror took possession of the girl’s heart.—years that were rich in treasures now buried forever in her heart. that ravishing morning. her mother’s family had sent the young courtier to Rouen. whose office might some day devolve upon him. when in the grand old parlor panelled and carved in oak. hoping that he could there be trained to the duties of the magistracy by his uncle. Passing thus from her childish joys through the sixteen years of her girlhood. to pluck the petals of a flower. which served the family as a dining-room. she saw her handsome cousin for the first time. But. Then suddenly the vision took her to the second period of her childhood. and the rich collaret which gave to view a throat as white as the lace around it. the pretty lozenges slashed into the doublet. a single glance had put into her soul so vigorous an impression of the scene that even at this moment she seemed to see it still occurring. and find out the meaning of speeches repressed before her. forgetting the storm. to pray in the church. and “royale” as small as the ermine tips upon her father’s hood. In the silence of the night. to read in secret a romance of chivalry. The countess smiled involuntarily as she remembered the haste with which she retired on seeing this relation whom she did not know. the grace of those softly flowing years when she knew no pain was eclipsed by the brightness of a memory precious though illfated.

she met that charming cousin. Faithfully the youth promised to study law and customs. after a few questions in reply to which she spoke for the first time of her love. “Well. she fancied that she kissed. The savage and terrible face of Comte d’Herouville. and was beloved!—and the moment when. she had kissed her father. we will think of it. all the naive instalments of a passion that did not pass the bounds of modesty. brought back to her the soulful joys of that innocent and mutual and sanctioned love. It was a falsehood. “I like you better in black. waiting for his smile at her caresses to say in his ear. recalled the days which seemed to her longer than years. if he continues to please you. The flames of civil war burst forth. where speech could be freer than before witnesses.—in short. poor apparently. Reliving in her vision those delightful days when she seemed to have too much happiness. and her fears. He laid aside the splendid trappings of the nobility of the sword to wear the sterner costume of the magistracy. she flew to the great linden-tree where. I will be on your side. in the void. Chaverny did not succeed him. Yes. and. 90 .—days when she loved.” she said. The memory of the little schemes employed to deceive her mother. before her formidable mother rose. she had loved Chaverny. sometimes a furtive clasp. but what treasures had she not discovered in that soul as tender as it was strong! Suddenly her father died. if he fits himself to succeed me. my child. she had slipped one morning into her father’s study to whisper her girlish confidences on his knee. knocking over his papers as she ran from the room. or a stolen kiss. By Chaverny’s care she and her mother found refuge in a little town of Lower Normandy. whose severity seemed great. fearing her mother’s sternness. Soon the deaths of other relatives made her one of the richest heiresses in France. “Will you scold me if I tell you something?” Once more she heard her father say. sometimes a rendezvous beneath the linden. daily. Happiness disappeared as wealth came to her. rose before her like a thunder-cloud. but by that falsehood she comforted her lover for having thrown his dagger to the winds. well. so full were they. Georges de Chaverny.” After that she had listened no longer. that fine young face with the glowing eyes. who asked her hand. that rosy mouth that spoke so well of love.her husband. If he studies well.

The poor countess could have no real doubt as to the legitimacy of the child that stirred in her womb. the priest. whom. the altar. This supposition. but there were days. glittered 91 . in truth. The poor countess strove to cast from her memory the scenes of weeping and despair brought about by her long resistance. never see me again!” She heard the departing steps of her lover. His yellow eyes. so gracious. all was ready. bringing in its train other such nights and sadder days. The night of her marriage reappeared to her in all the horror if its agony.” She turned her eyes to her husband as if to persuade herself that that harsh face contained a promise of mercy. when she deliberately made it a crime to put on the gown she had worn on the day she had seen her lover for the first time. consecrated to the memory of some vanished joy. Living like a cat shut into a lion’s cage. Jeanne could save Chaverny’s life by yielding. threw herself at her daughter’s feet. pale and dying. During this moment when her thoughts were misty and her soul floated in a region of fantasy her naivete made her attribute to that last look with which her lover transfixed her the occult power of the visitation of the angel to the Mother of her Lord. “you so respectful. clear as those of a tiger. you were always kind to me. “I am not guilty.Balzac spreading its gloom over the smiling meadows so lately gilded by the sun. It was night. “but if I seem guilty to the count it is as if I were so. At last came an awful night when her mother. the torches! Jeanne belonged henceforth to misery. dearly brought. if you love me. weeping. The count. arriving bloody from the battlefield was there. the young wife dreaded at all hours the claws of the master which ever threatened her. but in the depths of her heart she still kept sacred his last look which returned perpetually in her dreams and illumined them. Perhaps I am! The Holy Virgin conceived without—” She stopped. she never saw again. vanished before the memory of a conjugal scene more odious than death. Scarcely had she time to say to her young cousin who was set at liberty:— “Georges. “Ah! my poor Chaverny!” she cried. worthy of the days of innocence to which her reverie had carried her back. She knew that in order to be happy she must forget the past and think only of the future. she yielded.” she said. The count was awake.

He mistook the fear of the innocent creature for remorse. Affecting a calmness which the tones of his voice. and looks contradicted. “I see plainly you are afraid of me. Prompted by the instinct of feeble natures the countess interrupted the count by moans.” The gloomy look which accompanied these words overcame the countess. “I will fetch one.beneath their tufted eyebrows and never had his glance been so incisive.” he added. terrified at having encountered it. Seeing her husband pocket that key. “In any case. the count cast so horribly suspicious a look upon his wife. who fell back in the bed with a moan. The countess. he rose hastily. The countess knew of that room only by hearsay. “Why are you weeping?” said the count. the countess had a presentiment of danger. That voice. “I suffer much. exclaiming:— “I fear a miscarriage! I clambered over the rocks last evening and tired myself. pulling away the covering which hid his wife. why did you tremble when I looked at you? Alas! what must I do to be loved?” The wrinkles of his forehead between the eyebrows deepened. “Perhaps it is the beginning of a regular childbirth. “Well. it is no crime to suffer. that moan convinced the count of the justice of the suspicions that were rising in his mind. caused more by a sense of her fate than by the agony of the coming crisis. had a specious softness at this moment which seemed to her of good augury.” he said.” Hearing those words. She next heard him open the door opposite to that which he had just locked and enter a room where the counts of Herouville slept when they did not honor their wives with their noble company.” she answered. slid back under the great counterpane and was motionless. that she reddened and shuddered. and began by locking a door near the chimney through which the state bedroom was entered from the reception rooms which communicated with the great staircase.” he said. always a terror to her. my pretty one. sighing. Jealousy 92 . I must have a proper man here. wrapped himself in a dressing-gown which lay on a chair. “What then?” she said. his gestures.

When the count heard the steps of his retainer he pulled back the rusty bolts which protected the door leading from the gallery to the tower. He raised his eyes to those of his master and encountered so piercing a look that the effect was that of an electric shock. We shall ride like balls shot from an arquebuse. admitting into the sanctuary of learning a man of arms whose stalwart appearance was in keeping with that of his master. but I would rather be hanged. placed in the tall tower which flanked the western corner of the chateau on the ocean side. This man. the count left more than one Argus. If occasionally some military expedition forced him to leave her. the horn lantern which he held in his hand threw so feeble a gleam down the long library that his master and he appeared in that visible darkness like two phantoms. had there collected a library as interesting for the number as for the beauty of its volumes. and come with me yourself. in fact. and the boots and spurs of the man on duty sounded on the stone steps of a spiral staircase. she heard nothing more. entered a long gallery leading from his room which continued down the western wing of the castle. “Saddle my war-horse instantly. a bell placed at the bed’s head of a faithful servitor. The count had. a passionate lover of the works of printing.” added the count laying his right hand on the servant’s arm. Cardinal d’Herouville. “take off your cuirass. scarcely awakened. In spite of the attention the countess now gave to the slightest noise.” This order was given in a deep tone which roused the man’s intelligence. seemed to have walked there by instinct. and wear the uniform of a captain of guerrillas. monseigneur! What? disguise myself as a Leaguer! Excuse me. his great-uncle. he answered roughly:— “Choose the strongest horse there is in the stable and follow me. I will obey you. “Bertrand. Be ready when I am 93 .Balzac kept her husband always with her. The count now pulled the chain. A silver chain set in motion. by means of invisible wires.” The count smiled. which contrasted with the expression of his face. then to efface that smile. whose incessant spying proved his shameful distrust. and prudence had caused him to build into the walls one of those curious inventions suggested by solitude or by monastic fears.” “Heavens and earth.

as he listened to the howling of the storm:— “All the devils are abroad. and I will love you well. he returned to the room where his wife was moaning. He girded round his loins a broad leathern belt. These miserable garments gave him so terrifying an air and he approached the bed with so strange a motion that the countess thought her last hour had come.” “You must feel yourself very guilty to offer as the ransom of your faults the love you owe me. but when he had gone a few steps he said to himself.” she said. “Good God! what do you want to do with them?” “Where are they?” he repeated. “Ah! don’t kill us!” she cried.” he said to her. jarnidieu! I’d have been surprised to see this one stay quietly in his bed.” The count kept in his room a disguise which often served him in his campaign stratagems. in which he stuck a dagger. The count became entirely unrecognizable after he had put on an old gray felt hat with a broken cock’s feather on his head. “leave me my child. “In the chest.ready. emboldened by them.” The count’s voice was lugubrious and the bitter words were enforced by a look which fell like lead upon the countess.. with his usual violence.” These words were certainly not alarming. “I will founder my horse if necessary to bring you speedy relief. Putting on the shabby buff-coat that looked as thought it might belong to one of the poor horse-soldiers whose pittance was so seldom paid by Henri IV. I will ring to let you know.” Bertrand bowed in silence and went away. which he did not wear habitually. She shuddered when she saw her husband select from among her masks a “touret de nez. 94 . was about to make a request when the count asked her suddenly:— “Tell me where you keep your masks?” “My masks!” she replied. “Try to suffer patiently. and the countess.” the wearing of which was as common among the ladies of that time as the wearing of gloves in our day. We took Saint-Lo in just such a tempest as this.

and smiled with derision as he saw the gesture of involuntary fear which the slight shock of the black velvet wrung from his wife.” “A man!—why choose a man for the purpose?” she said in a feeble voice. hoping that all the issues were not closed upon her. Reaching the library she sought in vain for some secret passage. In vain she sought for some stratagem by which to save that child conceived in tears. blew through the brass tube feeble notes that died away upon the vast expanse of water.” He flung upon the bed one of the two masks he had taken from the chest. already her consolation. and for love of me. passing between the long rows of books. her one frail hope. Sustained by maternal courage. I’ll have no barber-surgeon boast that he has seen the Comtesse d’Herouville. Again she sounded the horn. she reached a window which looked upon the courtyard. coming out of a sort of reverie into which he had fallen. Soon she felt herself a prisoner in the vast apartment. She felt the uselessness of that moan unheard of men. and without succor against an evil she saw approaching her with rapid strides.—all creatures of her husband. passing into her oratory. “Ho! ho! my lady. opening a window. but without success against the voice of the hurricane. In her helplessness she thought of trusting herself to one of the women. “You are to do exactly. “You will give me a puny child!” he cried. am I not master here?” replied the count. and turned to hasten through the apartments. like a bubble blown into the air by a child. “can innocence be fatal?” “Your death is not in question. in a brief lull of the storm. Presently. The sound was quickly lost in that of the waves. “Wear that mask on your face when I return. the spring of all her thoughts.” said her master. “What matters one horror the more!” murmured the countess. she took the horn with which her husband summoned his men. what I shall now tell you. the future of her affections.—when. and the exclamation did her no injury. she found that the count had locked the only door that led to 95 . the countess heard the gallop of two horses which seemed to fly across the sandy dunes by which the castle was surrounded. but her master had disappeared. then. and.Balzac “My God!” she cried sorrowfully. alone in the midst of a night both silent and threatening.

joined to the fatigue of her efforts. The man was there. without a sound that let her know of his arrival. The bewildering pangs of her condition kept her from knowing the lapse of time. At the moment when she felt that. like a demon claiming at the close of a compact the soul that was sold to him. without help. the count appeared. overcame her last remaining strength. As moment after moment she lost hope. he took her in his arms and laid her on the bed in her chamber. borne under by one last wave less furious than others he has vanquished. 96 . alone. A presentiment of murder. then after masking her carefully.their apartments. the pangs of childbirth grew stronger and keener. and to all her other terrors was added that of the accidents to which her ignorance exposed her. she was about to give birth to her child. She was like a shipwrecked man who sinks. He muttered angrily at finding his wife’s face uncovered. This was a horrible discovery. Such precautions taken to isolate her showed a desire to proceed without witnesses to some horrible execution.

In the middle of the room the countess beheld a short. “God’s death! you scamp. After lighting in haste some candles. I’ll fling you into the river that flows beneath those windows. She did not recognize Bertrand. with a collar round your neck weighing a hundred pounds!” With that. giving him back his eyesight by a rough movement which threw upon the man’s neck the bandage that had been upon his eyes. if the child is living. who was there disguised and masked as carefully as his master.” said the count. with his face towards the wall. apparently out of breath and stupefied. whose eyes were blindfolded and his features so distorted with terror that it was impossible to guess at their natural expression. stout man.” he continued. he seemed to be estimating its thickness. “in which case your life will answer to me for the mother’s. but. keeping his body in such absolute immobility that he might have been taken for a statue. he pulled down upon the breast of his stupefied hearer the cravat with which his eyes had been bandaged. There.Balzac CHAPTER II THE BONESETTER THE TERROR of that apparition and hasty removal stopped for a moment the physical sufferings of the countess.” 97 . “Examine first if this can be a miscarriage. the old servitor had gone to the embrasure of a window and stood leaning against a corner of it. if you do. you are to bring it to me. and so enabled her to cast a furtive glance at the actors in this mysterious scene. “I warn you not to look at anything but the wretched woman on whom you are now to exercise your skill. the light of which mingled with the first rays of the sun which were reddening the window panes.

on the bed. the Church persecuted science and all research which was based on the analysis of natural phenomena. astrologer and necromancer were six attributes. the count seized the poor operator by the body and placed him before the countess. printing was done at enormous cost. and never was judicial astrology held in greater honor. He belonged to the class of sorcerers who are still called in parts of France “bonesetters. Without being precisely one of the famous mathematicians. were therefore seldom appreciated. they lodged them in their palaces and pensioned them. Princes protected the men of genius who were willing to reveal the future. casting glances alternately on his serving-man. whose influence was destined to make itself felt in the house of Herouville. mathematician and astronomer. for at no period in history was there a greater general desire to know the future.. and for this reason he was dismissed by Catherine de’ Medici. In those days a superior physician was supposed to be cultivating magic. So. as if he were pledging to the expected child a cradle in the waves. Never in any age were the nobles so little informed as to natural science. the count and Bertrand had snatched from his bed and fastened to the crupper of the latter’s horse. The famous Cornelius Agrippa. physician and alchemist.—a man. was a personage whose individuality may serve to characterize the period. who were superior to their times. the man whom the count had brought enjoyed in Normandy the equivocal reputation which attached to a physician who was known to do mysterious works. then he went himself to the depths of a baywindow and began to drum with his fingers upon the panes. as Nostradamus did. The men of science. all meeting in the single person of the physician. with outrageous violence. all things were still mere personal experience. This ignorance and this curiosity had led to the utmost confusion in human knowledge. while curing his patient he was drawing their horoscopes. to the people as well as to the nobles. they simply inspired an ignorant fear of occult sciences and their results. would not consent. who came to France to become the physician of Henri II. to predict the future. and at the ocean. Persecution begat mystery.So saying. who replaced him with Cosmo Ruggiero. scientific communication had little or no facility. the nomenclatures of theory did not exist. moreover. The man whom.” This name belonged to certain 98 .

The country people saw his study full of books and other strange things which gave to his successes a coloring of magic. and the frankness of his speech. so essential to his safety. he did not like his station as bonesetter and wished to rescue his family name from the position in which the prejudices of the times had placed it. sometimes obliged to spend several days with certain great ladies. consequently his clients paid him well. but by means of hereditary knowledge and the effect of long practice. and his hereditary practice greatly increased. possessing secrets said to be marvellous for the treatment of serious cases. his reputation had hindered certain young women from accepting him. But not only had Maitre Antoine Beauvouloir (the name of the present bonesetter) a father and grandfather who were famous practitioners. In those days of unbridled disorder. he was celebrated for his skill in confinements and miscarriages. Antoine Beauvouloir impressed the populace through a circumference of a hundred miles with respect akin to terror. without apparent study. was absolute. the poor bonesetter felt himself born for the joys of family and yet was unable to obtain them. Always on the road. the observations of which accumulated in the family. crimes were so frequent and passions so violent that the higher nobility often found itself compelled to initiate Maitre Antoine Beauvouloir into secrets both shameful and terrible. Incapable of finding consolation in the practice of his profession. He him99 . and (what was far more really dangerous for himself ) he held in his power many secrets of life and death which concerned the noble families of that region. The good man’s excellent heart was concealed by a misleading appearance of joviality in keeping with his puffy cheeks and rotund figure. that is. He was anxious to marry that he might have a daughter who should transfer his property to some poor noble. in fact. which gave him such power over feminine weakness. Like his father and grandfather before him. from whom he inherited important traditions. he had never married. they mended broken limbs and cured both men and beasts of certain maladies.Balzac untutored geniuses who. Without passing strictly for a sorcerer. he was also learned in medicine. the vivacity of his fat little body. His discretion. sometimes roused in the dead of night. and was given to the study of natural science. as on this occasion by the count. were bonesetters.

if possible. and as garrulous as all diplomatists who talk incessantly and betray no secrets. In none of the shameful and criminal intrigues in which superior force had compelled him to act as a blind instrument. “Do not give him the child—” “Speak loud!” cried the count in thundering tones which prevented Beauvouloir from hearing the last word uttered by the countess. but under cover of that medical action he could reflect. his life had never been so endangered as at that moment. He resolved. In spite of these defects developed in him by the endless adventures into which his profession led him. Though his death had often been threatened as a means of assuring the secrecy of enterprises in which he had taken part against his will. not that he gave it a single thought. The habit of being on such occasions the most important personage in the company. the strong good sense of a Norman countryman warned him to conceal the ideas he acquired and the truths he from time to time discovered. and he did reflect on his own situation. Cour100 . “What is the trouble?” he said to the countess in a low voice. He was.self took willingly enough to the feasts and jovialities which usually followed his principal operations. As soon as he found himself placed by the count in presence of a woman in childbirth. “say your ‘In manus.” said the leech to the lady. his own little person. before all things. as inquisitive as a nightingale. as greedy as a hound. had precautions been taken with such mystery as in this case. and to discover the actual extent of his danger. in order to save. had added to his natural gaiety a sufficient dose of serious vanity.” added the count who was careful to disguise his voice. His impertinences were usually well received in crucial moments when it often pleased him to perform his operations with a certain slow majesty. Antoine Beauvouloir was held to be the least bad man in Normandy.’” “Complain aloud. the bonesetter recovered his presence of mind. in other respects. “If not. “cry! scream! Jarnidieu! that man has a necklace that won’t fit you any better than me. Though he belonged to the small number of minds who are superior to their epoch. to find out who it was who now employed him. as he placed her in a manner to receive his help. He felt the pulse of the masked lady.

The count. fortunately drowned by the countess’s cries. he examined the child. “It ought to be a premature birth. Surprised to hear no cries. after all!” The count made the floor shake as he stamped with rage.” said Beauvouloir clinging to the count’s arm.” he said. the mischievous operator exclaimed:— “Madame is delivered as if she knew all about it!” The count then said. for the love of God!” cried the mother. more than he knew himself.” said the operator in a shrill voice. “it isn’t a miscarriage. you are counting your chicken before it is hatched. whose almost savage cry awoke in the heart of the little man a courageous pity which attached him. hiding the infant. who replied with an affirmative sign. The countess pinched Beauvouloir. coldly. as if that gesture were the only language in which to express her thoughts. he recognized at once a woman in her first trouble as he called it. “Take care.Balzac age. to the helpless infant rejected by his father. seeing the deception. “Monsieur is jealous.” “Don’t give it him. Then. “Holy Virgin!” cried the bonesetter. “God of heaven! will you give it to me?” he cried. Though the modest inexperience of certain gestures showed him the virgin ignorance of the countess. For Maitre Beauvouloir’s safety Nature was merciful. and the child was so puny that it caused little suffering to the mother. with a strength given to him by the excitement of his pity. thinking it dead. with a calmness more terrifying than his anger:— “Give me the child. It was more a miscarriage than a regular birth. “Ah! I see!” he said to himself. my little lady!” “Touch her lightly!” cried the count. he clung to the father’s fingers. sprang upon him with one bound. the child is deformed and almost lifeless. ought it?” he whispered to the countess. Like all men in constant practice. whispering in a broken voice: “Spare yourself a 101 .” thought the bonesetter. snatching the hapless victim which uttered feeble cries. “The child is not yet born. “It is not all clear to me yet. it is a seven months’ child.

or you will kill her.” “Wretch!” replied the count. The half-crazed motion with which the mother hid her son beside her and the threatening glance she cast upon the count through the eye-holes of her mask. “Miserable clown!” he cried. a silent pressure of the hand were the reward of the leech. and he’ll live a hundred years. restored her to life as if by magic. The countess had heard all. “But. Beauvouloir knows what he is talking about.crime. “She will die if she loses that child too soon. “have him baptized at once and do not speak of his danger to the mother. she fancied she heard the voices of angels. he stood by the window drumming on its panes. and as if absorbed in meditation. laid beside her on the bed. “Impudent scoundrel! your 102 . whether that of the father had done no harm to its puny organization. During the latter part of this scene the lord of Herouville seemed to hear and see nothing.” The gesture of satisfaction which escaped the count when the child’s death was prophesied.” A celestial sigh. when. for he had recognized the Comte d’Herouville. But the cries of the child. recovering the sense of his importance. who had looked to see. Rigid. under cover of the whimperings of the babe. the bonesetter said in her ear:— “Take care of him. made Beauvouloir shudder. before yielding the frail little creature to its mother’s embrace. and he pointed to her condition reprovingly. with an almost frenzied motion. thinking of his own safety.” replied Beauvouloir. But he turned at the last words uttered by the bonesetter. Beauvouloir now hastened to carry the infant back to its mother who had fainted.” he added. and came to him with uplifted dagger. giving him the opprobrious name by which the Royalists insulted the Leaguers. from whose hands the bonesetter had wrenched the child.” he said to the count. the child cannot live. to warn the count of the results of his violence. suggested this speech to the bonesetter as the best means of saving the child at the moment. “who told you that I wished to kill my son? Could I not caress it?” “Wait till he is eighteen years old to caress him in that way. who in his rage had forgotten to disguise his voice. for in many of the great crises of life the human organs acquire an otherwise unknown delicacy.

103 . I shall not ask you to be discreet.” So saying the count advanced slowly to the bonesetter. without suspecting them of the base crimes and trickery of your own kind? Kill my son! take him from his mother! Where did you get such crazy ideas? Am I a madman? Why do you attempt to frighten me about the life of that vigorous child? Fool! I defy your silly talk—but remember this. the count who had opened a closet. I must warn the lady to see to the food and medicine of her babe.” murmured the countess. so we have a son. “Could you not. and to Beauvouloir’s great satisfaction. This show of tenderness for the infant alarmed him far more than the impatient cruelty and savage indifference hitherto manifested by the count. my pretty one.” As he turned toward the bed. “Though you make me out a villain I am not released from the obligation of paying you like a lord. Do you suffer much?” “No.” continued the count. then he said to his wife in a specious voice:— “Well. “find yourself for once in your life in the honorable company of a noble and his wife. this is a joyful thing for us. holding out a purse. The shrewd practitioner turned this idea over in his mind until a light struck him. he’ll trust to the vials of the apothecary. stopped him with an imperious gesture. “This great and good noble does not want to make himself odious to his wife.” So saying. pushed a chair noisily toward him. whose tone in pronouncing the last words seemed to Beauvouloir to point to some better scheme for reaching his infernal ends. “I have it!” he said to himself. This man here. the count replaced the dagger in its sheath.” (pointing to Bertrand) “will explain to you that there are rivers and trees everywhere for miserable wretches who chatter of me.Balzac science which makes you the accomplice of men who steal inheritances is all that prevents me from depriving Normandy of her sorcerer. your miserable life shall answer for that of the mother and the child. which the count now flung to him contemptuously. as if to invite him to sit down.” The bonesetter was puzzled by this sudden change in the count’s intentions. as he did himself by the bedside. Beauvouloir saw within its red silk meshes a quantity of gold. since you are here.

convinced Beauvouloir that there was some incident behind all this which escaped his penetration. and rested his hand on that of the young wife. but you need not be alarmed.” The other pointed to a dying countess and her fortune claimed by the collateral heirs of the Saint-Savins. “The property of your wife cannot belong to the house of Herouville except through a male child. Disregarding the yellow flames flashing from the eyeholes of the count’s mask.” These last words were accompanied by a significant pressure of the fingers.” said Bertrand. less to watch her condition than to convey to her some advice. and she still retained her instinctive fears. “never leave him. The reasons of the sudden mercy which the count had shown to his son were to be found in a notary’s office. showing them at times openly. and to wait the birth of a second son who might be healthy and vigorous before getting rid of his wife and first-born. for the courage of mothers seemed suddenly to have doubled her strength. Beauvouloir uttered these words with the serious imperturbability of a man who intends to earn his money. madame. Milk. the child is so small. who knew his nature. “The skin is good. but I never saw any so little painful as this. “Ho! ho! bonesetter. Both advised him to leave to nature the extinction of that hated child. The milk fever will come. But that is not surprising. was even more surprised than the bonesetter. The mother’s breast is the remedy for all the ills of infancy.” he continued. He persisted in his suspicion. Those mighty powers stiffened his fingers and silenced the passion of his hatred. you are leaving your old felt hat behind you. At the moment when Beauvouloir arrested his murderous hand avarice and the Legal Custom of Normandy rose up before him. that is nothing. milk. of course. and hatred was softened by ambition. he saw the estates only.” At this point the wily bonesetter paused. The mother. as the two left the bedroom together. He saw neither wife nor child. and the tardy demonstrations of pleasure on the part of the father. Keep him always on your breast and you will save him. suckle him yourself. and beware of the drugs of apothecaries. and pressed the hand of the countess to make her attentive to his words. 104 . I fear nothing for madame. “If you wish to avoid all anxiety about your son. milk.The evident surprise of the mother. One cried out to him. I have seen many births of seven months’ children. You could put him in a wooden shoe! I am certain he doesn’t weight more than sixteen ounces.

In his eyes the misfortune of a rickety. To please him a man should be ugly in face. sickly constitution was a flagrant offence to his self-love as a father. 105 . was certain to find in his father a natural enemy. as it were.Balzac CHAPTER III THE MOTHER’S LOVE FOR SEVERAL DAYS the count remained assiduously beside his wife. Such were the circumstances which preceded and accompanied the birth of Etienne d’Herouville. he seemed to endure it living only through the hope of seeing it die. If the count had no other reason for wishing the death of this disowned son poor Etienne would still have been the object of his aversion. to the sedentary occupations of knowledge. Etienne. as perils threatened him. and ignorant. If he execrated handsome men. showing her attentions to which self-interest imparted a sort of tenderness. without fully comprehending. The day on which he saw that the mother’s intelligent eye perceived. His struggle with that colossus began therefore from his cradle. The countess saw. he announced his departure on the morning after the mass for her churching was solemnized. The hatred of the father for his son showed itself in every detail. he would rise abruptly and leave the room if the child cried. whose debility would bow him. that she alone was the object of these attentions. the danger that threatened her son. he abstained from looking at him or touching him. by a tender law of nature. and his sole support against that cruel antagonist was the heart of his mother whose love increased. he also detested weakly ones. in short. But even this self-restraint was galling to the count. tall. under pretext of rallying his forces to the support of the king. in whom mental capacity took the place of physical strength. robust. however.

as much as she did. no danger as long as she nursed the child. she must taste the food herself.” he said. Beauvouloir. a prickly. To her. She would not let her women care for the child. and she desired of all things to question him on certain points relating to her son. the duty never wearied her. replied that he feared. Happiness glowed upon her face as she obeyed the needs of the little being. who have worked in silence for a treasured child. and in future. Let the child’s clothes be washed under her own eye and let her keep the key of the chest which contains them. you know. If an attempt were made to poison him. would Beauvouloir undertake the care of the poor child’s health? To the questions of the countess. Should anything happen to the child send instantly to me. no clothes were ready for him. On that the poor man told her that she held his 106 . when obliged to feed him. he assured her. bitter. She dressed and undressed him.—with what perfection. and she kept his cradle beside her bed. deeply touched. The counsel of the bonesetter still continued in the countess’s mind. “feels anything strange upon her tongue. strong salt taste.Buried in solitude after the abrupt departure of the count. reject the food. and would gladly not have slept in order to be sure that no one approached him during her sleep. whose name she had caught and remembered. Beauvouloir was a being to whom she owed an untold debt of gratitude. “If Madame la comtesse. and those that were needed she made herself. how should she foil it? In what way ought she to manage his frail constitution? Was it well to nurse him long? If she died. The days had never hours long enough for these manifold occupations and the minute precautions of the nursing mother. those days fled by. finding fresh pleasures in every little care that he required.” These instructions sank deep into Jeanne’s heart. She begged Beauvouloir to regard her always as one who would do him any service in her power. but there was. She loved him as women love the child of an illicit love. obliged to suckle him. ye mothers. In the absence of the count she ventured to send for the bonesetter. She feared for her child. an attempt to poison Etienne. Jeanne de Saint-Savin owed to her child the only semblance of happiness that consoled her life. laden with her secret content. As Etienne had come into the world prematurely.

leaving a child named Gertrude. seemed united in one thought. too. would undertake the affair. from his birth up. she was the only being that existed on the earth. and to him. all that strikes the senses and forms the character. be brought to take an interest in so beautiful a daughter. was doomed to live and die in the clouds of melancholy. Mother and child. who had formerly belonged to the Cardinal of Lorraine. sooner or later. Abandoned by the count before very long. who had been rescued by the Sisters of the Convent of Poor Clares. His mother. the countess’s aunt. inclined him to melancholy. she should not only more than repay him for what she thought he had done for her. known by the name of La Belle Romaine. and might protect her indirectly by making him his physician. the Mother Superior of which was Mademoiselle de Saint-Savin. The “dot” and his savings enabled the bonesetter to buy a charming estate called Forcalier near the castle of Herouville. and filled for him the desert. When his young ear strove to listen and to distinguish sounds. Having been called to treat Gertrude for an illness.Balzac happiness in her hands. Etienne’s attitude was passive. had fallen in love with her. the countess felt that to her were given joys unknown to other mothers. he said. and in that he resembled his mother. The delicacy of his 107 . From the moment when Etienne first turned his eyes on things about him with the stupid eagerness of a little child. he. Comforted by the kind physician. and if Madame la comtesse. but she would make him grateful to her for life. Beauvouloir. sounds. who was married soon after to Beauvouloir. two feeble beings. compassionate to all true love. and things. The count might. they understood each other long before language could interpret between them. promised to do her best. he heard the monotonous ebb and flow of the sea upon the rocks. and pursued the affair so warmly that at the birth of her second son she did obtain from her husband a “dot” for the young girl. Then he related briefly how the Comte d’Herouville had in his youth loved a courtesan. Like all frail children. Thus places. his glance had rested on the sombre hangings of the castle walls. and to give his life the dignity of a student and man of learning. The countess. as regular as the swinging of a pendulum. she had died miserably.

Etienne’s weakness was so great that until he was a year and a half old she had never dared to take him out of doors. but now the faint color which tinted the whiteness of his skin like the petals of a wild rose.organs was such that a sudden noise. was playing with Etienne on the floor when suddenly she heard the heavy step of a man upon the boards. of struggling against the slightest obstacle. If he was tired. Suddenly he saw the child. She looked at him long. Hardly had she risen with a movement of involuntary surprise. as they do. to everything that seemed to him aggressive. “how can you live in this world? who will understand you? who will love you? who will see the treasures hidden in that frail body? No one! Like me. “My reception would have been more cordial. Soon his precocious perception of suffering revealed to him the power that he had upon his mother. but less frank. or the presence of a boisterous person gave him a sort of fever. without resistance or complaint. One morning the countess. “Poor. his stammered words. dear. you are alone on earth. his intelligent laugh fail to rouse her from her reverie. She gave a cry.” he answered bitterly. This angelic patience inspired in the mother a sentiment which took away all fatigue from the incessant care required by so frail a being. like them. little sensitive!” cried the countess as he fell asleep tired with some play which had driven the sad memories from her mind. often he tried to divert her with caresses and make her smile at his play. and never did his coaxing hands. The evident health in which he found it 108 . showed that life and health were already there. He was like those little insects for whom God seems to temper the violence of the wind and the heat of the sun. giving herself up to the glad joy of all mothers when their first child walks for the first time. The graceful pose of her child lying on her knees made her smile sadly. his care for her kept him from complaining. tasting one of those pleasures which are a secret between mothers and God. when the count stood before her. but endeavored instantly to undo that involuntary wrong by going up to him and offering her forehead for a kiss. “Why not have sent me notice of your return?” she said.” She sighed and wept. he yielded. incapable.

Balzac wrung from him a gesture of surprise mingled with fury. “If you do not wish me to throttle him. and the beach for a domain. I will never see or hear the little monster you hold in your arms.” The countess began to weep. the frightened mother carried away the child whose 109 . his lips trembled. “you know well that I loved my cousin Chaverny. but he could not utter a word. “Listen to me. He is your child. You will answer to God for the pain you inflict upon me. “He is your son. “Rise. But woe betide him if I ever find him beyond those limits.” The countess turned pale and dropped into a chair. Hide him. so furious was he. Can I trust your word as a nobleman for that?” “What does all this mean?” said the count. kill us now together!” cried the countess.” she said in a voice of emotion.” he said. But he repressed his anger. “I have received the governorship of Champagne and the king’s promise to be made duke and peer. we have inherited a princely fortune from your cousin.” said the countess gathering strength to oppose her tyrant. provided he lives among the rocks between the sea and the house. She saw the secret of the devilish smile on her husband’s face. there is nothing of me in him. “Look at him!” she said.” “Madame!” At that word. or—” “Just God!” cried the countess. and never crosses my path. and began to smile. “If you will not swear.” At these words the eye of the count glittered. “Monsieur. that cursed Huguenot. “and remember my words. I give you my word as a man of honor to do nothing against the life of that cursed child. he flung his dagger on the table with such violence that the metal resounded like a thunder-clap. falling on her knees and pressing her child to her breast. Moreover. see that I never find him in my way. hide him from my sight. madame. “swear to me that if you never meet him you will do nothing to injure him.” “Then. “I bring good news. I say. “protect us!” “Silence!” said her husband. and not mine. Georges de Chaverny is killed.” he said in his strongest voice. I will give him that fisherman’s house down there for his dwelling.

Silently she turned away. “Jeanne. “I know my duty. and yet. at the sound of the count’s step his features contracted. their union 110 . and the mother’s ear was not so alert as the instinct of her child.” The countess understood the meaning of the words. my dear. Thus incessantly threatened. it is certain that his voice was as soft as it was possible to make it when his wife returned. the secret of which is in the hearts of mothers. To witness the terror with which the count inspired her thus shared by her child made Etienne the more precious to the countess. the child comprehended the peril that threatened him and dreaded the approach of his father. I return. bringing you fresh honors and more wealth. like the savages of America.heart was beating like that of a bird caught in its nest. my dear. until. as some clever women would have done. that you will show me a pleasant face while I am here.” she replied in a tone of sadness which the count mistook for tenderness. “Tete-Dieu! shall I never be loved?” cried the count. motherhood became to the poor woman a passion which assumed the intensity that women put into their guilty affections. By a species of occult communion. As he grew older this faculty created by terror increased.” he said. Whether innocence has a power which the hardest men cannot escape. The timid creature had too much purity and dignity to try. or whether the count regretted his violence and feared to plunge into despair a creature so necessary to his pleasures and also to his worldly prosperity. and affected him like an illness. to console her despair with Etienne. tete-Dieu! you receive me like an enemy. My new government will oblige me to make long absences until I can exchange it for that of Lower Normandy. to govern the count by putting calculation into her conduct. and I request. One never knows how to trust you women. The terrible scene of which he had been a witness remained in his memory. seeing the tears in his wife’s eyes as she left the room. give me your hand. Etienne could distinguish his father’s step and hear his voice at immense distances.—a sort of prostitution by which noble souls feel degraded. the feigned softness of which could no longer deceive her. “do not be angry with me.

In short. or lodge. and skilful with his dagger. a good shot with an arquebuse. and not without great suffering. and the vivacity of look and speech which to his mind were the attributes of an accomplished man. and lifted their heads with the same hope. and using the privilege. taught him the mechanical knowledge required by a military career. not wishing. keeping strictly within the limits of the boy’s 111 . She herself spent the greater part of her time there. No two brothers were ever more unlike than Etienne and Maximilien. near the sea. and fitted up by the duchess with some of the comforts and enjoyments to which he had a right. they were one life. The duke (for about this time Henri IV. in order to leave the property and titles of the house of Herouville to his younger brother. At that cost the poor mother believed she ensured the safety of her hated child. Etienne was to be made a priest. He gave him. having free rein to tyrannize over every one. the rough manners. The younger’s taste was all for noise.Balzac was so strengthened that like two flowers on one twig they bent to the same wind. rewarded the services of the Seigneur d’Herouville with a dukedom). he said. The boy became. given to him by his father. When the boy was big enough he took him to hunt. When the count again left home Jeanne was pregnant. by the time he was twelve years old. gave the nursing of the youngest boy to a stout peasant-woman chosen by Beauvouloir. a holy horror of books and study. as formidable in his way as the father himself. so that the hatred of the count for his first-born was increased by this event. to fatigue his wife. who soon became the living image of his father. Together the mother and child roamed over the rocks and the shore. whom he named Maximilien. and announced his determination to bring up the child in his own manner. as time went on. made him a good rider. By a tacit compact each parent took charge of the child of their heart. and war. violent exercises. Etienne lived in the little house. the bodily strength. This time she gave birth in due season. To save her cherished child the countess agreed to all the plans which her husband formed for the happiness and wealth of his second son. to a stout boy. and the count felt for him the same excessive love that his wife felt for Etienne. and let him acquire the savage language. a lion-cub ill-trained.

were the favorite recreation promised as a reward for some more arduous study required by the Abbe de Sebonde. Etienne listened to his mother with a passionate admiration she had never seen except in the eyes of Georges de Chaverny. who was present at the lessons. and took pains to secularize it. who lives and dies in his snow. or the mighty labyrinth of the Divina Comedia. she used this enforced vocation to prepare him for a noble life of study and science. she covered him with kisses. accompanied by a mandolin. slow look of her child. a theory. of moss and pebbles. and in the culture of his mind. but a true love treasures abnegation. his mother taught him music. and she blushed when Etienne asked her why she seemed to love him better at that moment than ever before. She employed Beauvouloir to teach him the mysteries of natural science. did not regret the fate that was thus imposed upon him. he made a native land of his rocks and his cottage. regulating them according to her child’s strength. She found in the training of his soul. and revealing to him little by little the poetic beauties of that language. she was determined that Etienne’s education should not be wholly ecclesiastical. She put all her pride and self-love into making him superior to herself. While the duke rode off with Maximilien to the forest and the wild-boars at the risk of his life. pleasures akin to those she had tasted in feeding him with her milk. Nature had endowed the youth. in compensation for his infirmities. like the Lapp. The duchess. in spite of the tonsure imposed by the will of the father. The first time the poor woman found a memory of her girlhood in the long. she herself superintended his studies. and their tender. that virtue of strength. When Etienne could not at first comprehend a demonstration. She answered that every hour made him dearer to her. Hearts without tenderness covet dominion. 112 .domain of beach and shells. with so melodious a voice that to hear him sing was a constant delight. a theme. and she brought to the chateau Pierre de Sebonde as tutor to the future priest. The boy’s terror of his father was so great that. melancholy songs. knowing her child was not fitted to find happiness except in some humble and retired sphere. and enlivening them by teaching him Italian. and not in ruling him. the poor mother. and was terrified and uneasy if he passed his frontier. Jeanne wandered with Etienne in the milky way of Petrarch’s sonnets. Nevertheless.

wore the sort of fixed smile which we often see on the lips of the dying. “There is time enough. and the absolute forgetfulness of the father as to his first-born. expressed a condition of suffering which was painful to witness. she could not see Etienne in her visions of the future as priest or cardinal. were remarkably handsome. lined with a few furrows. The habit of meditation had taught him to droop his head like a fragile flower. as Pierre de Sebonde said. that beseeching look fascinated before the melody of his voice was heard to complete the charm. Etienne was then sixteen. implored the protection of men and women. At that age he was just five feet. as transparent and satiny as that of a little girl. leaving her tears upon them. Long chestnut hair. His skin. provided no violent emotion came to convulse his delicate body. his pure brow. His mouth. in spite of the unjust compact she had made with the duke. always gracious. and she kissed the hair that the scissors of the Church were to shear.Balzac seemed to long to infuse knowledge. had their reward. what joy suffused her eyes when Etienne’s mind seized the true sense of things and appropriated it. how happy he might be!” she often thought.” she said to herself. inspired by a sentiment which seemed to enter into the flesh of her son and give it life. its whiteness was that of porcelain. enabled her to postpone the moment of putting him into Holy Orders. white as those of a woman. But the fatal interests which consigned Etienne to the priesthood returned to her mind. Beauvouloir—that blessed man whose teachings had proved so precious to the child. which were light blue and ineffably gentle. True modesty was in every feature. and adorned with very white teeth. smooth and very fine. if some woman as loving as I could infuse into him hereafter the life of love. was parted in the middle of his head into two bandeaus which curled at their extremity. She proved. and the attitude was in keeping with his 113 . The day came when all her cares. His hands. that a mother is a dual being whose sensations cover two existences. His eyes. Still. as formerly she had given nourishment at the child’s least cry. and whose anxious glance at that frail idol had so often made the duchess tremble—declared that Etienne was now in a condition to live long years. a height he never passed. “Ah. His pale and hollow cheeks. And then. showed a delicate tracery of blue veins.

The library of Cardinal d’Herouville came into Etienne’s possession. Happy to see in her son the innocent passions which took the place of the rough contact with social life which he never could have borne. green or azure. by discovering the indication of unknown faculties. for from day to day he made progress in the interpretation of the Divine Word writing upon all things here below. These constant and secret researches into matters occult gave to Etienne’s life the apparent somnolence of meditative genius. he would detect the reason of these innumerable differences in a single nature.” Italian “motets. the fruitful comparison of human ideas. the shimmering of the sun upon the ocean. a shell. Poesy. studying their mysteries. happy. sonnets. poems. seeking perhaps a rhythm in their fragrant depths. without purpose. the slender lines on the petals of dark flowers. a seaweed. the enthusiasm given by a clear conception of works of genius. a thinker as well as a poet. all was event and pleasure to that ingenuous young soul. The sudden irruption of a gilded insect. He often admired. the delicacy of their rich tunics of gold or purple.person. the fringes. all-unconscious of the fact. their ivory or velvet textures. it was like the last grace that a great artist touches into a portrait to bring out its latent thought. a poet. And then to see his mother coming 114 . the rich meditations of which make us roam like botanists through the vast fields of thought. He would spend long days lying upon the shore. the use of which filled his life. Later. of their calyxes or leaves. were his loves. she brought him Spanish “romanceros. were interspersed with naive meditations which kept him motionless for hours together before his smiling flowers—those sweet companions!—or crouching in a niche of the rocks before some species of algae. and without explaining his pleasure to himself. which his fragile health forbade him to continue for many hours at a time. the duchess encouraged Etienne’s tastes. and his rambles among the rocks of his domain. so profusely beautiful. Flowers. the tremulous motion of the vast and limpid mirror of the waters. These readings. came to be the inexhaustible and tranquil joys of the young man’s solitary and dreamy life. a moss. ravishing creatures whose destiny resembled his own. a crab.” books. like a bee its honey. Etienne’s head was that of a delicate girl placed upon the weakly and deformed body of a man.

without so much as even suspecting their rival existence. and the love of a woman.” The pleasures of this tender motherhood were incessantly held in check by sad reflections. he read the thoughts on the skies. Early he mounted that ethereal summit where alone he found the delicate nourishment that his soul needed. far from the social world which would either have killed him or made him suffer. born of the strange position in which Etienne was placed. to bind the two brothers to each other in some 115 . his little kingdom of sand and shells. Etienne needed silence. this mental and moral life so poetically extended. A child by form. caresses. he consoled herself with a thought which the otherwise sad vocation of her son put into her mind. The action of his life took place. The duchess had long hoped for an opportunity. flowers and books entranced his solitude. Jeanne de Saint-Savin dreaded that coming storm. his mother gave him the love and the caresses. and in order that the weak. “He will be a cardinal. By his mother’s influence his studies had removed his emotions to the region of ideas. of which he will make himself the protector. he rose to thoughts that stirred in matter. and Art will not betray him. algae and verdure seemed to him a universe. a trifling fear would throw him into a violent fever. “he will live in the sentiment of Art. he was equally angelic under either aspect. to listen to her gave him such keen emotions that often a slight delay. to talk to her. Etienne imbibed all the benefits of this physical and absolutely innocent life. He will love Art instead of loving a woman. to await her. at times.Balzac towards him.” she thought. he felt the thoughts of the air. ever fresh and new. For the time being.—for the poor mother found no remedy for his sorrows except some lesser sorrow. intoxicating food! which predestined him to sorrow whenever to these accumulated treasures should be added the riches of a passion rising suddenly in his heart. peace in the landscape. to hear from afar the rustle of her gown. a man in mind. to kiss her. The brothers had passed the adolescent age without knowing each other. He lived by his soul and by his intellect. In him there was nought but soul. during the absence of her husband. in the moral world. If. Laying hold of human thought by reading. therefore. debilitated body should not be destroyed by the keen emotions of that soul.

Consequently. had now faded. might have feared that Etienne would some day claim his rights. and. Would he not blame her when in his violet robes he longed to be a father as she had been a mother? These thoughts. and those about her were cruelly inexpert in gentleness. Maximilien. unrestrained by his father. a man of mind and soul in whom a noble genius made itself felt. All the attendants of the castle cordially hated the Marquis de Saint-Sever (the name and title borne by the younger brother). without talent. What mother’s heart would not have been torn at the sight of her eldest son. hard and brutal. a first love unforgotten. but often she raised her eyes to heaven. and those who knew of the existence of the elder looked upon him as an avenger whom God was holding in reserve. asking it to account for this singular doom. Incapable of anger the gentle Jeanne de Saint-Savin could only bless and weep. he might even be persecuted by his own brother! The poor duchess had no relations to whom she could confide the life and interests of her cherished child. As soon as he could reason he had seen the low esteem in which the duke held his wife. and her melancholy life so full of secret sorrows were like a mortal illness kept at bay for a time by remedies.solemn scene by which she might enfold them both in her love. Bertrand was incessantly on the watch to prevent Maximilien from seeing Etienne. whose existence was carefully concealed. so many sorrows ignored and hidden within her. was chosen to wear the ducal coronet and perpetuate the family? The house of Herouville was discarding its own glory. Her heart needed the wisest management. Maximilien. deprived of his rights. while the younger. Such emotions repressed. This hope. No son had ever less respect for a mother than he. Etienne’s future was therefore doubtful. even military talent.—for she kept her keenest suf116 . Those eyes filled with tears when she thought that at her death her cherished child would be wholly orphaned and left exposed to the brutalities of a brother without faith or conscience. long cherished. Far from wishing to bring about an intercourse between the brothers. caused his mother many a grief. who believed in evil only. If the old man still retained some forms of decency in his manners to the duchess. so fearing. she feared an encounter between them. even more than between the father and son. might have flung him into the sea with a stone around his neck.

he had recently been implicated in a criminal case. Obliged at last to keep her bed. He studied the resources of his voice like an opera-singer. obtained by the duchess. and was repulsed. the duchess failed rapidly. In those days such posts belonged to learned men. Etienne created a mystical language by which to communicate with his mother. forbidden as he was by her compact with his father to approach the house. for she was then unable to see her son. The former bonesetter came to live at the castle. “What will become of my poor child without me?” was a thought renewed every hour like a bitter tide. The duke had no reason to repent this protection given to the old bonesetter. her griefs unrelieved. She tried to warn the duke as to the results of Maximilien’s education. who thus gained a living and the leisure necessary for a studious life and the accomplishment of scientific work. especially as they were constantly kept open in her home. Inspired by the genius of repressed feeling. When her sufferings warned this angel of many sorrows that her end was approaching. death was hastened by the gloomy apprehensions that filled her mind as to the future. A last blow hastened it. because his knowledge and his fortune had won him numerous bitter enemies. all these shocks had weakened the springs of life and were developing in her system a slow consumption which day by day was gathering greater force. Beauvouloir saved the life of the Marquis de Saint-Sever in so dangerous an illness that any other physician would have failed in doing so. and often he came beneath her windows to let her hear his melodiously 117 .—her joys embittered. had alone saved him from being brought to trial.Balzac ferings from her cherished child. The sorrow of the youth was equal to that of the mother. From this moment began a period of decline which soon became so visible as to bring about the appointment of Beauvouloir to the post of physician to the house of Herouville and the government of Normandy. But the wounds of the duchess were too deep-seated and dated too far back to be cured. and the intervention of the Governor of Normandy. Beauvouloir had for some time desired the situation. she saw that she could give no remedy to the shocking seeds which were germinating in the soul of her second child. In spite of the protection of a great family to whom he had done great services.

The divining of the thoughts of matter. opened it. Formerly. Something is about to happen to me.” said the duchess to Beauvouloir. when Beauvouloir by a sign informed him she was alone. a power with which his occult knowledge had invested him. as a babe. and showed on his saddened face the reflection of some new misfortune. All precautions are taken that no harm shall happen to you in the castle. inhaling the air that Etienne’s voice made living. The heaving waters seemed to show that the sea was working intestinally. become a poet.melancholy voice. the ocean was agitated by movements that to him were full of meaning.” These words brought the tears to Etienne’s eyes. made this phenomenon more eloquent to him than to all others.” he said. lantern in hand. During the fatal night when he was taken to see his mother for the last time. and there he was made to wait with Beauvouloir while Bertrand went on to unlock the other 118 . now. he had consoled his mother with his smiles. and he said:— “The Ocean did speak to me!” Mechanically he allowed himself to be led towards the door of the tower which gave entrance to the private way leading to the duchess’s room. Unconsciously. to see her you will have to pass through the room of Monseigneur the duke. Already he had felt the mysterious correspondences between his emotions and the movements of the ocean. Etienne found himself saying:— “What does it want of me? It quivers and moans like a living creature. Etienne reached the library of the Cardinal d’Herouville. “Monseigneur. Suddenly Beauvouloir knocked on the door of his room. the room where you were born.” This thought kept him standing before his window with his eyes sometimes on his mother’s windows where a faint light trembled. he caressed her with his melodies. sometimes on the ocean which continued to moan. “Those songs give me life. the swelling waves rolled in and spent themselves with lugubrious noises like the howling of a dog in distress. Bertrand was awaiting him. At length the day came when the poor son’s mourning began. but we must be prudent. My mother has often told me that the ocean was in horrible convulsions on the night when I was born. “Madame la duchesse is in so sad a state that she wishes to see you.

two tears rolling down her livid cheeks. White as her own laces. kissing her son. 119 . which he had never re-entered since the fatal day when. and make sure that the hated son could pass through his father’s house without danger. Etienne’s heart was horribly wrung by the same fears which filled the minds of these faithful servants. her eyes seemed to read the future. Beauvouloir and Bertrand. At that moment the storm. and in a tempest I am taken from you. On the great bed. “Did any one see him?” she asked of the two men. Thus the very circumstances attending the birth of Etienne were renewed at the death of his mother. for. intending to give some excuse as to the state of the duchess if the duke awoke and detected him. Same place. he looked for his beloved. This is my last joy. same agony. “Dear flower of my life!” said the mother. The duke did not awake. same scene. dear image of two souls that will soon be reunited! Adieu. with scarcely a breath left. as a further precaution. for the sight that met his eyes in that signorial room. mingled with my last pangs. suddenly burst forth. except the hours I have spent with you. my only love! adieu. Chaverny had bequeathed to her all his life in a last farewell. as in former days. “It would be your better fate!” she said. and to give him her whole soul. my only joy— pure joy! adieu. my own beloved!” “Let me follow thee!” cried Etienne. and scarcely found her. slept soundly. Between these storms all life has been stormy to me. in a measure. who. The same tempest. “You were taken from my bosom in the midst of a tempest. but this emotion prepared him. as heretofore. Advancing with light steps. the mother and the sleeping duke were all once more assembled. took Etienne in his arms and carried him through the duke’s room. she gathered up all her strength to clasp Etienne’s hand. Adieu. same dread of awaking the pitiless giant. on this occasion at least. where happiness never came. so emaciated was she. as a child. the paternal curse had driven him from it. same actors! but this was funereal grief in place of the joys of motherhood.Balzac doors. threatened by the melancholy moaning of the sea since sundown. Bertrand. the night of death instead of the dawn of life. Etienne and Beauvouloir heard in that immense chateau no sound but the plaintive groans of the dying woman. in a look.

they all trembled. in his old age. like a drop of blood cast into flowing water.” Prompted by an instinct which never misleads a mother. the most lasting of sorrows. who kissed him with a last look. like that ocean. At a sign from the duchess. caring nought for the inclemency of the weather.” Etienne’s sorrow was the most intense. he turned to carry him away. it was a new existence. Jerusalem. dooming this innocent creature to smile no more. were heard to say beside her grave. for which his veneration was only comparable to that of the Jews for their Holy City. stain the whole current instantly. He wandered no more among his rocks. immense. restores the purity of its surface. an irrevocable destiny. The two servitors. motionless. and wholly silent. fastened to the granite like the lichen that grew upon it. so as not to lose the habit of authority in the household. As for Beauvouloir. showing him for the last time to his mother. he felt no strength to read or sing. The stream. who. It was more than sorrow. “he has no protectors but you and Heaven. “Love him well!” she said to the physician and Bertrand. sent from Paradise. “She was a comely woman. tender. as he fainted by her side. The duchess died towards morning. His 120 . tempestuous.” murmured the duchess. and the mother had faith in that gesture. promised by a solemn gesture to be the providence of their young master. weeping seldom. “Take him away! take him away!” “Mother. renewed from its source. deeply moved to see their mistress forced to bequeath her noble child to none but themselves. had retained the superintendence of the stables. infinite as the ocean. calm. and each new current brought its own gall. and. He spent whole days crouched in the crevice of a rock. she had felt the pity of the old retainer for the eldest son of a house.At this instant the duke turned in his bed. Bertrand took Etienne in his arms. Bertrand. for all comment. There are pangs which. but with Etienne the source itself was polluted. taking a thousand forms. awaiting the final order of the dying mother. “Even my last joy is mingled with pain. lost in one sole thought. and. I would rather see you a moment longer and die!” said the poor lad. mourned by the servants of the household.—terrible. the compact between himself and the duchess had long been signed.

This pity resembled tenderness. or. as it were. he ended in sympathizing with his Ocean. softly swaying beneath the orange-tinted heavens. at least the same attentions. here smiling and azure. caprices. To what shall we compare a being to whom all social laws. the passing shimmer of the waters. Etienne bore. On days of perfect stillness his eyes could see the manifold tints of the ocean. which to him. he became. all was variety in that vast picture so monotonous to some. he came to feel the need of loving. he discovered the meaning of many mysteries. all the false sentiments of the world were unknown. in spite of his sombre melancholy. To him. like the face of a woman. Always in presence of that vast creation. if not her love. an intermediary creature between man and plant. separated from civilization by an iron wall. these attentions of the old retainer.Balzac house was not far from that of Etienne. But. He checked his roughness when speaking to the poor lad. he had a piercing sight which could reach to enormous distances and seize. Instinctively seeking another self to whom to confide his thoughts and whose life might blend with his life. had its physiognomy. the sea and the sky taught him many poems. the hidden marvels of which contrast so grandly with those of earth. between man and God. Familiar from his cradle with the infinitude of those liquid fields. of finding another mother. but too many links were now broken between the hated child and other creatures to admit of any keen affection at present in his heart. Like other men whose souls dominate their bodies. it was wellnigh impossible to meet with a being who had flowered like himself. or again. sometimes uniting its brilliant lines with the hazy gleams of the horizon. He put his pride into filling the mother’s place. without complaint or resistance. there green and sombre. ideas. The sea became to him a living. softly he walked in rainy weather to fetch him from his reverie in his crevice to the house. so that her child might find. with admirable ease and without fatigue. so that he was ever at hand to watch over the youth with the persistent affection and simple wiliness characteristic of old soldiers. perhaps one might say. the fleeting tints of the clouds. its smiles. Mechanically he allowed himself to be protected. and who kept his ravishing innocence by obeying nought but the instincts of his heart? Nevertheless. thinking being. another soul for his soul. For him all-glorious fetes were 121 .

free. He felt himself intrepid. he perceived nature in its harmonious whole.celebrated at sundown when the star of day poured its red colors on the waves in a crimson flood. the faintest change on that vast face. like an angel coming down from heaven. he hovered above the face of the waters. When the joyous. to him it revealed its wondrous melancholy. He ended at last by divining in the motions of the sea its close communion with the celestial system. In short. calm or sad. to plant themselves in ether. he copied its sudden pause. it was now his confidant. In the morning when he crossed the glowing sands of the beach and came upon his rocks. virgin of those ideas which degrade mankind. and terrible as the sea itself. from the blade of grass to the wandering stars which seek. surges. For him the sea was gay and sparkling and spirited when it quivered in repeating the noonday light from a thousand dazzling facets. running with its waves as they broke in a thousand liquid fringes upon the rocks. breathing its rage in its hissing breath. or calms. The flux and reflux of its waters were to him a melodious breathing which uttered in his ear a sentiment. and the thousand outlooks of his soul peopled its desert with glorious fantasies. could have predicted better than he the slightest wrath of the ocean. he still could see the sea in its twilight mystery. a gull. He had learned the mute language of that vast creation. he could see landscapes on its surface. By the manner of the waves as they rose and died away upon the shore. and possessed of a divine knowl122 . When night had spread its veil upon the sky. his friend. he felt and comprehended its inward meaning. married with that grand expression of the divine thought. it reflected the dungray sky surcharged with clouds. squalls. he lived like a sea-bird. Pure as an angel. feeling in his soul the tempest when it was angry. he bounded and fell back. he kept its solemn silence. like a veil before the face of a bride. he divined the temper of the ocean from a single glance. prodigal of the treasures of poetic imagination. consoled him in his solitude. mischievous white mists cast their gossamer before him. it made him weep whenever. naive as a child. he had wedded the sea. the height of tides. he followed their undulations and caprices with the joy of a lover. His thought. At all times he shared its fecund life. like it. and talk with it. no man of science. No mariner. he could foresee tempests. like seeds driven by the wind. or a flower.

he would sink into involuntary sleep. his shells and pebbles. his figure softly lighted by the warm rays of the sun which crept through the fissures and fell upon the dainty seaweeds that adorned his retreat. they communicated. on certain days he could hear her voice and see her smile. an angel seemed to reveal to him the abysses of the moral world and the terrible shocks of civilization. there were days when he had not lost her. the sun was a father. often he saw her in the clouds. when crouching in the crevice of some rock. 123 . to have endowed him with some perfected inner senses which penetrated to the spirit of all things. battles. the birds his friends. men. his granite rocks. his golden sands. to the quiet happiness of animals. by measuring the time he had been absent from his watery landscapes. realizing thus. capriciously curled up in his granite grotto. by celestial visions. armed with his love. To him the stars were the flowers of night. he went there. Across a light as brilliant as that from heaven he saw the cities of which he read. he spoke to her. at courts and kings. humble and resigned. alone told him that he had slept. his sun. the symbolic enterprise of Orpheus. These daylight dreams made dearer to him his precious flowers. the fruitful extent of which he contemplated in solitude. sometimes he descended. veritably. the entrance to which was as narrow as that of a charcoal kiln. in short. would perish like a pearl dropped from the crown of a princess into mud. the veritable nest of a sea-bird. his clouds. Unknown moral forces enabled him to go farther than other men into the secrets of the Immortal labor. his sovereign lord. Often. and buildings. God seemed to have given him the power of the hermits of old. with the sublime harmonies of ecstasy. He felt that his soul. His yearnings.Balzac edge. to seek his mother. his sorrows were the links that united him to the unseen world. To attach him the more to his solitary existence. if torn by the throng of men. Incredible mingling of two creations! sometimes he rose to God in prayer. Everywhere he found the soul of his mother. The sun. he looked with amazement. but without envy.

at the place where his wife had so vainly implored. almost dead. formerly so hard. but now marked with tints which softened its expression. tempered now by religious sentiment. The feeble body. was ghastly in color.PART II HOW THE SON DIED CHAPTER IV THE HEIR IN 1617. then seventy-six years old. the yellow skull of which seemed softening. broken. the Duc d’Herouville. in spite of all infirmities. decrepit. His once energetic face. a vivid impression of the 124 . stripped of its sinister aspect by old age and suffering. The reflections of the setting sun colored with a faintly ruddy tinge the head. by its heavy attitude and the absence of all movement. before the gothic window of his bedroom. The warrior and the fanatic still shone in those yellow eyes. gave. the help of men and heaven. Devotion had cast a monastic tone upon the face. was still vigorous. by the sounds of the horn wasted on the air. was sitting at sunset in an immense arm-chair. which. twenty and some years after the horrible night during which Etienne came into the world. wrapped in brown garments. matching the long meshes of white hair which fell around his bald head. You might have thought him a body resurrected from the grave.

the priest. so vindictive.” continued the duke. “I’ll arm my soldiers once more.Balzac monotonous existence. You will live many years yet. rising to his feet and casting a flaming glance at his three companions. the terrible repose of this man once so active. Normandy shall—” “Sit down. holding a letter in his hand.” said the old man. the fever has ceased. but without vigor:— “Your turn now. these silent men 125 . “My fine boy! He commands a company in the King’s Guard. “Read it. so enterprising. now that he is created Duc de Nivron.” “I wish I could see Maximilien here. The man-at-arms. The lad performed prodigies of valor in the attack on—” At this moment Bertrand entered. “Enough!” he said to his chaplain. The Marechal d’Ancre takes care of my lad. and the physician. with Maximilien at my side. and. and our gracious Queen Marie thinks of allying him nobly. Strongly illumined by a last ray of the setting sun. The duke. all three standing before their master. turned to another white-haired man and said. “The king. still sinewy. holding out the missive to his confessor. standing before the master in a respectful attitude. My race will be worthily continued. each presenting one of those ideas which end by possessing the whole man on the verge of the tomb. monseigneur. holding out a fleshless arm covered with sparse hairs. with a smile of satisfaction. These four personages formed a tableau full of instruction upon human life. uneasy at seeing the duke give way to an excitement that was dangerous to a convalescent. bonesetter.” said Beauvouloir. who was seated in his arm-chair. That venerable old man was reading aloud the Gospel. “What is this?” said the old lord. my good seigneur. eagerly. like an old menagerie lion which has reached a decrepitude that is still full of majesty. “A despatch brought by a courier sent to you by the king. Maitre Corbineau. were casting pallid glances about them. “What is happening? Have the Huguenots taken arms again? Tete-Dieu!” cried the old man. and not the queen-mother!” exclaimed the duke. How am I to-day?” “Doing well.” replied Bertrand.

126 . He forgets the great deeds I have performed for his holy cause. fresh as the evening breeze. “My house to perish! My name to be extinct! I will marry! I will have a son!” he said. it poured a balm on sorrows. “Monsieur le Duc de Nivron—” “Well?” “Is dead!” The duke dropped his head upon his breast with a great sigh.composed a picture of aged melancholy fertile in contrasts. the bonesetter could not repress a smile. “The Marechal d’Ancre has been killed on the Pont du Louvre by order of the king.” The duke sank back in thought. made a frame for this poetic canvas. tinctured by religion. equable as the color of the ocean. a perfume rising to the soul. where nothing had been changed in twentyfive years. At that instant a song. or rather it consoled them by expressing them. “is ungrateful to me. at that sigh.” said the duke. its harmony rose like a vapor filling the air.” “God has avenged himself!” said the priest. It seemed to them as though the illustrious and opulent house of Herouville was disappearing before their eyes like a sinking ship. “You can silence me far more easily than you can your conscience. pure as the sky. “Put that man in the dungeon!” cried the duke. The voice mingled with the gurgle of the waves so perfectly that it seemed to rise from the bosom of the waters. full of extinguished passions. The melancholy of that voice. “What is that?” asked the duke. and—O God!” “Go on!” cried the duke. That song was sweeter to the ears of those old men than the tenderest word of love on the lips of a young girl. casting a terrible glance at the heavens. in a solemn voice. rose above the murmur of the waves. as it were. At those words. “The Master above. Though the expression of despair on the duke’s face was truly awful. the melody of its tones shed. after a long pause. saddened by death. it brought religious hope into their souls like a voice from heaven. The sombre and solemn chamber. the three old men looked at each other. to cast its charm over Nature herself. but was silent.

where even his enfeebled hearing could detect the beating of Etienne’s heart.” he said. For hours the duke entreated. “Hey! tete-Dieu! where has he hid himself?” cried the duke. threatened.” said Bertrand. reduced to despair. the edges of which had been polished smooth by the repeated assaults of the high tide. As soon as the tall old man appeared upon the beach. He saw him from afar in a recess of the granite rocks. “have I a son?—a son to bear my name and to perpetuate it!” He rose to his feet and began to walk about the room with steps in turn precipitate and slow. his head on a tuft of mossy grass. He has deprived me of your brother. Sometimes he was silent. gave the cry of a startled bird. The hated child made no reply. implored in turn. my beloved son!” called the old man. “He is there. the young man turned his head. God has punished me for disowning you. “all is not lost. leaning on the arm of his old retainer Bertrand. lying carelessly extended in the sun. “Etienne. had recourse to prayer:— “Etienne. Then he made an imperious gesture.Balzac “The little nightingale is singing. The next morning the duke. Towards the middle of the day. “my dear Etienne.” replied Bertrand. the sound of his steps mingling faintly with the voice of the waves.” “What do you call a nightingale?” “That is the name we have given to monseigneur’s eldest son. So lying. Etienne was like a swallow at rest. To-day you are 127 . like a mouse darting so quickly into its hole that we doubt if we have even seen it. pointing to a narrow crevice. sending every one away from him except the priest. and disappeared as if into the rock itself. either for him or for us. “My son!” cried the old man. in a heartrending voice. “At least he lives!” said the old man.” replied Bertrand. receiving no response. with his ear at the cleft of the rock. his feet gracefully drawn up beneath him. the father. the quick pulsations of which echoed from the sonorous roof of his rocky hiding-place. reaching the rock beside which his son had been lying. walked along the shore and among the rocks looking for the son he had so long hated.

I will try to make you forget my cruelty. He knelt down upon the sand and made a vow:— “I swear to build a chapel to Saint-Jean and Saint-Etienne. I love you more than I love myself. As he felt the palpitation of his son’s body he strove to reassure him. the Duc d’Herouville. I see the wrong I have done. great tears rose in his eyes. he recognized the signs of a true grief. toward the castle. whose misery was my doing. dry so long. Governor of Normandy. grand-bailiff of Bessin. At this moment. and. after exhausting all formulas of language. all repentant promises. suffering great agony. Your old father prays you.” He remained on his knees in deep humility with clasped hands. Towards evening the old seigneur. Etienne. and you will be. mother! forgive me!” In the fever of his happiness the old duke lifted his feeble offspring in his arms and carried him. I will cherish you for all that I have lost. trembling like an abducted girl. I know that you have in your veins my blood with that of your mother. knight of the Orders and of the Golden Fleece.my only child. lord of twenty-seven domains counting sixty-nine steeples. hearing no further sounds.” The hated son paid no heed to this language bristling with social ideas and vanities he did not comprehend. was overcome by a sort of religious contrition. Come to me. the hope of his name. Marquis de Saint-Sever. the Duc de Nivron. and rolled down his withered cheeks. after me. glided to the opening of his grotto like a young adder craving the sun. saying in the voice of an angel:— “Oh. the patrons of my wife and son. Finding that his son. Etienne. kissing him with all the caution he might have shown in touching a delicate flower. and speaking in the gentlest tones he 128 . if God and the saints will restore to me the affection of my son. he kissed him. seizing his father’s hand. you are the Duc de Nivron. Would you have me die of grief? Come! come to me! or here I kneel until I see you. He saw the tears of the stricken old man. his soul remained under the impressions of unconquerable terror. praying. captain of a hundred men-at-arms. You shall take to wife the daughter of a prince. here present. He was silent. and to found one hundred masses in honor of the Virgin. peer of France. all resources of entreaty. he humbles himself before his child as before God himself. still did not come to him.

had become his slave. like those gigantic genii which the power of a fairy places at the order of a young prince. mingled with melodious memories of the pleasures he had had in the only love that was granted to him.Balzac had ever in his life used. “Will he live?” said the old man. “Teach me what would give you pleasure.” The father carried his son into the lordly chamber where the mother’s sad existence had been spent. dear child!” he said. and I will give you all you can desire. I bow to you myself as the god of the family. I give you unlimited power. Beholding once more the melancholy room where his eyes were accustomed to contemplate the ocean. “I can live only here. whither the duke had summoned them to present his son. Tete-Dieu! all things bow to me as the reeds to the wind. Cardinal de Richelieu had his body129 . “God’s truth! you are like my poor Jeanne. “Come!” said the father. who had heard him. At this epoch of our history. amazed at the fragility of his heir. Nothing shall ever thwart or trouble you. The emotions of this youth. He had his household guard and officers. recollections of his long misery. then. my child. hearing the retainers of the castle who were gathering in the guard-room. That fairy was Feudality. this room shall be yours. in order to soothe him. a duke and peer. accustomed to live in contemplations of ecstasy as others in the excitements of the world. taking him by the hand and leading him into the great hall. all rushed together upon his heart and developed there. an aide-de-camp is to a marshal. without his knowing why. and holding his breath as he leaned over him. in our day. like a poem at once terrible and delicious. the first lieutenant of his ordnance company was to him what. tears came into those eyes. with great possessions. lived the life of a prince. maternal love. A few years later. resembled none of the habitual emotions of mankind.” “What is that noise?” asked the young man. Grow strong! be well! I will show you how to ride a mare as pretty and gentle as yourself. who now.” replied Etienne. “Well. Etienne turned away and leaned against the window from which his mother was wont to make him signals announcing the departure of his persecutor. the cadets of his family did not revolt at serving him. holding public offices and the government of a province. simply.

like the warden’s benches of the churches. That sound oppressed the bosom of the young man. the doctor. caused by curiosity and expectation. Balagny. The wealth of the Duc d’Herouville. the rays of which were reddening the leaded panes of the windows. the steward. nevertheless. the huntsmen. shook him with reiterated blows when his father. d’O. induced by the terror the old man inspired in even the most important persons under his command. It was therefore an imposing spectacle for poor Etienne to see the assemblage of retainers of all kinds attached to the service of his father. Though all these people stood in respectful attitudes.—a vestige of feudality which disappeared under the reign of Richelieu. but living. Luynes. above a platform raised by several steps. made itself heard. who felt for the first time in his life the influence of the heavy atmosphere produced by the breath of many persons in a closed hall. Conde. the great seigneurs still delivered judgment on their vassals. When Etienne was placed beside his father on that raised platform. the grooms.—a last lingering custom of departed chivalry.” or dais of carved word. permitted him to imitate the magnificence of families who were in other respects his inferiors. “these people are only our servants. Several princes allied to the royal house—Guise. regarded as parvenus. and the valets. “Do not tremble. a low murmur. Zamet. due no doubt to some defect in the organization of his heart. the game-keeper. were shocked with a rapidity that proved the super-sensitiveness of his organs.” Through the dusky light produced by the setting sun. the captain and lieutenant of the guard. His senses. the majordomo. of Epernon. These thrones. pronounced in a solemn voice the following brief address:— 130 .guard. from which. the secretaries. etc. bending his bald head to his son’s ear. the ushers. A horrible palpitation. Etienne saw the bailiff. and Vendome. he shuddered at feeling himself the centre to which all eyes turned. for instance. showing himself to the assemblage like some majestic old lion.—those.—had pages chosen among the sons of the best families. have now become objects of collection as curiosities. accustomed to the pure and wholesome air from the sea. and the antiquity of his Norman race indicated by his name (“herus villoe”). The duke seated himself on a chair of state placed under a “solium. with certain of their men-at-arms.” said the duke. in certain provinces. Nevers. the chaplain. as princes.

offering his purse to Beauvouloir. should it come to my knowledge. what think you?” asked the duke presently. joined to those he was already feeling.” replied the old physician. a new and precious substance which the apothecaries were selling for its weight in gold. “Well. The household will go into mourning eight days hence. and God guide you. that that man had never been born. my heir presumptive. I present him to you that you may acknowledge him and obey him as myself. overcame the young man. “You have killed him by not preparing him for this ceremony. The valets brought in torches to illuminate the hall. saying to him. he uttered a cry of horror which appalled the assemblage.” “He can never have a child if he is like that!” cried the duke. The obsequies of my son Maximilien will take place here when his body arrives. the sudden lights.Balzac “My friends. Baron d’Artagnon. my first-born son. I warn you that if you. behold my son!” he felt an icy hand in his. following Beauvouloir into the seignorial chamber. or any one in this province.” “Vive monseigneur! Long live the race of Herouville!” cried the people in a roar that shook the castle. That hurrah. where the doctor laid the young heir upon the bed. thinking him dead. does aught to displease the young duke. Beauvouloir rushed to the platform. who had signed to the lieutenant of his company to come nearer. “Take this. Later. who fainted completely and fell into a chair. leaving his slender womanly hand in the broad palm of his father. a few drops of which he had given him on a bit of sugar. the Duc de Nivron. Turning round. to whom the king will no doubt grant the honors of his deceased brother. took the young man in his arms. over which I am governor. who was now revived by a cordial. “and treat him like the son of a king! If he dies by your 131 . showing Etienne. “It is not serious. As the duke. and carried him away. Return now to your duties. we shall celebrate the accession of my son Etienne here present. in being able to repair my loss. or thwart him in any way whatsoever. this is my son Etienne. saying to his master. he looked at the new Duc de Nivron. and. “I am fortunate. You hear me. it would be better. old rascal!” said the duke. the sensations caused by his father’s speech.

“You know. You hear me.” said the duke.” 132 .” said the old man. he will flee to his rocks. You alone can know if there is in that poor abortion the stuff that can breed a Herouville. and you shall have a grandson. smile.” replied the youth. all things in him must be the work of nature and not of your will. the path of love. you cured my son Maximilien of an illness. continuing. “Leave him now. I believe that any sudden emotion would be equally fatal. But if you give your son a proud. you are a great and powerful prince. though sudden terror would surely kill him. More than that. Poor Maximilien! I will avenge him. at his own pleasure. where. now we will understand each other. and will accomplish by his heart’s desire that which you wish him to do for the sake of your name. The duke took Beauvouloir by the arm and led him to the next room. ungainly woman of the world. I take upon myself to kill the man who killed him. “Good-night. My advice therefore is to leave Etienne to choose for himself.” “If you continue to be so violent.fault. You have twice delivered my poor Jeanne. whose voice made the father—thus named by Etienne for the first time—quiver. a great lady. monseigneur. But so delicate a body is the very humble servant of the soul. “that I wish you no harm. What think you?” “His life on the seashore has been so chaste and so pure that nature is sounder in him than it would have been had he lived in your world. your unlimited confidence. the Duc de Nivron will die by your own act. but you understand nothing of such matters. he said:— “Ah ca! old rascal. Monseigneur Etienne must himself choose his wife. my love.” “Good-night. you are a part of my household.” said the doctor. made the doctor. in short.” That term. The whole future of the house of Herouville is now in your hands. no longer a mere bonesetter. I’ll burn you myself on a gridiron. He will love artlessly. Listen to me. he will go to sleep. father. a favorite sign of graciousness with the duke. kissing his son upon the forehead. roughly. having pushed him into the recess of a window. Give me your entire confidence.

Leave Monseigneur Etienne to me. go to court. Yes. difficult as it may be. I shall have you ennobled. Beauvouloir was the Coyctier of this Louis XI. and no matter how valuable his knowledge might be. white or black. 133 . his sound good sense had so often been proved by the duke that the old man had now become his master’s most valued counsellor. go away from here. I know you. appeal to your witches’ sabbath or the novenas of the Church. It is. if only to obtain the marshal’s baton which was promised to you.” The duke struck his hand into that of his physician as a sign of complete acceptance. For this reason the physician was confident that the prejudices of the noble would thwart the desires and the vows of the father. by marriage. to-morrow you will seek to have it on your own conditions.” “God preserve me from it!” “Well.” said Beauvouloir. To-day you want male lineage at any price. monseigneur. Apart from the illegitimate ties which connected him. they are none other than yourself. Nevertheless. where the death of the marechal and the emancipation of the king must have turned everything topsy turvy. then. you will torment your son. he never obtained over the government of Normandy. what care I how ’tis done. Employ your magic. and where you certainly have business. the physician becomes a personage of importance in the household. provided my line male continues?” “I know. not surprising to see a former bonesetter so familiar with the Duc d’Herouville. in whom was the ferocity of religious warfare.Balzac “If I obtain a grandson by any sorcery whatever. you shall be Baron de Forcalier. But give me your word of honor as a gentleman to approve whatever I may do for him. therefore. When the days of a high and mighty seigneur are numbered. to this great family and certainly militated in his favor. I’ll make an old rascal into a man of honor. “a whole chapter of sorcerers capable of destroying your hopes. as much influence as feudality exercised over that rugged nature. and retired to his own apartments.

communicating new powers to his being and vivifying it with the fires of love. Beauvouloir saw plainly that to a being so delicately organized as Etienne marriage must come as a slow and gentle inspiration. A command to love would have dried within him the very sources of his life. It was so difficult to foresee the events which would make a son. Like his mother he was all pure love and soul. in spite of his great skill. disowned by his father and destined to the priesthood. As he had said to the father. Maitre Antoine Beauvouloir was a father. he had a daughter brought up under conditions which made her the wife for Etienne. Above all it was important that the young recluse should not be alarmed at the thought of marriage. not compelled. His science and his incessant 134 . or be made aware of the object of his father’s wishes. of which he knew nothing. This unknown poet conceived as yet only the beautiful and noble passion of Petrarch for Laura. had died in child-bed leaving him a daughter whose health was so frail that it seemed as if the mother had bequeathed to her fruit the germs of death. the presumptive heir of the house of Herouville that Beauvouloir had never until now noticed the resemblance between the fate of Etienne and that of Gabrielle. the opportunity to love must be given to him. to impose a wife on Etienne would be to kill him. of Dante for Beatrice.CHAPTER V GABRIELLE GREAT PHYSICIAN that he was. His wife. and then the event should be awaited. Beauvouloir loved his Gabrielle as old men love their only child. A sudden idea which now came to him was inspired more by his devotion to those two beings than by ambition.

From the house to this natural rampart stretched a mass of verdure peculiar to that rich soil. which he cultivated as a florist cultivates an exotic plant. in coming to reside at the castle. a beautiful green sheet bordered by a fringe of rare trees. He awaited the departure of his master before putting his plan into execution. however. The garden. a domain more important for its landed value than for the house then upon it. ever swaying. He had kept her hidden from all eyes on his estate of Forcalier. oaks. here. a thick wood shielded it from the north. round-headed walnuts. and whose scientific powers inspired in the ignorant minds of the country-people a superstitious awe. the silvery tints of a pine stood forth against the darker green of several alders. the enormous difficulties in the way would be from the first insurmountable. but with which he expected to obtain for his daughter an establishment in conformity with his views. the tones of which formed a tapestry of exquisite coloring: there. if the duke became aware of it. the weeping willows drooped their pale foliage between the stout. Within this double hedge wound a hidden path.Balzac care had given factitious life to this frail creature. he thought suddenly of Gabrielle. not to bring with him the flower he cherished in secret at Forcalier. By attaching himself to the house of Herouville. While promising the duke a posterity and requiring his master’s word of honor to approve his acts. and beeches made as leafy as a woodland glade. foreseeing that. Beauvouloir’s house at Forcalier had a southern exposure on the slope of one of those gentle hills which surround the vales of Normandy. which the willows. of that sweet child whose mother had been neglected and forgotten by the duke as he had also neglected and forgotten his son Etienne. This belt of trees 135 . and had thwarted all attempts of his enemies by means of his powerful influence with the governor. where she was protected against the dangers of the time by the general good-will felt for a man to whom all owed gratitude. before a group of sturdy oaks a slender poplar lifted its palm-like figure. Beauvouloir had increased still further the immunity he enjoyed in the province. high walls and Norman hedges and deep ditches made the enclosure inviolable. He had taken care. descending by an easy incline to the river which watered the valley. farther on. had a thick double hedge at its foot. forming an natural embankment. led by the sinuosities of the stream.

Still. letting her eyes follow those many-shaded green lines. the weakness of the body and the strength of the soul were made plain to him in that one indication which his long experience enabled him to understand. She had reached the age of seventeen in that sweet ignorance which the rarity of books allowed a girl to retain without appearing extraordinary at a period when educated women were thought phenomenal. Without being really vast. the only man she had ever known.enabled the occupants of the house to go down at all hours to the river-bank fearless of the rays of the sun. around which climbing plants were twining. necessitated from her birth by the apparent feebleness of her constitution. The house had been to her a convent. sometimes in the cumuli that floated above it. where the eye could rove at will. cleverly contrived through the rise and fall of the ground. her nurse. this garden seemed immense from the manner in which its vistas were cut. but with more freedom. to those of the valley. such constant care and the purity of the atmosphere had gradually strengthened her fragile youth. Besides this. less enforced prayer. before which lay the yellow ribbon of a gravelled terrace. and tossing in this month of May their various blossoms into the very windows of the second floor. as it were. the wise physician did not deceive himself when he saw the pearly tints around his daughter’s eyes soften or darken or flush according to the emotions that overcame her. Gabrielle could either enter the solitude of a narrow space. Watched over by her grandmother and served by her former nurse. Gabrielle’s 136 . The facade of the house. points of view. This absolute solitude. or she could hover above a glorious prospect. Gabrielle Beauvouloir never left this modest home except for the parish church. whither she was always accompanied by her grandmother. seeing naught but the thick green and the blue of the sky above the tree-tops. Following the instincts of her thought. from the brilliant colors of the foreground to the pure tones of the horizon on which they lost themselves. sometimes in the blue ocean of the atmosphere.—a retreat where she had lived beneath the eye of a pious old woman and the protection of her father. married themselves. and her father’s valet. As Gabrielle grew up. the steeple of which could be seen at the summit of the hill. was shaded by a wooden gallery. had been carefully maintained by Beauvouloir.

the impressions she received were too vivid. Gabrielle was all of life and love to her father. Tapestry. whose excessive sensibility alarmed him. Though she seldom deserved blame. a shock of any kind might wound her mortally. in the midst of an arid nature of hard and angular shapes. he endeavored to develop her body in order to deaden the blows which a soul so powerful gave to it. a mere word of reproach overcame her. which. such as all children love. But. ordained by cruelty for one and procured by science for the other. 137 . He carefully removed from her knowledge books. Aided by his mother he interested Gabrielle in manual exercises. With an instinct given by paternity. she beneath the weight of a too keen emotion of love. where it fostered a meditative melancholy. alas! instead of being born in a region of gorse and moor. in short. and wept long. Beauvouloir brought her beautiful spinning-wheels. In both these children the soul was killing the body. pottery of Bernard de Palissy. sewing. chairs beautifully wrought and covered with precious stuffs. were the food given to the mind of this charming creature. household cares. all those creations of art which awaken thought. the storage of fruits. and without an absolute solitude. The old physician had been compelled to cease telling stories. —he to terror. to his daughter. pictures. each was likely to succumb. an assault. Wise through long practice. his only heir. music. the most material occupations of life. lace-making. a passion. paternal love had induced Beauvouloir to impose on Gabrielle. embroidered line and jewels. tables. and never had he hesitated to procure for her such things as might produce the results he aimed for. Thus the moral education of the young girl required no less care than her physical education. the culture of flowers. she kept it in the depths of her heart. finely-carved chests. rich carpets. Many reasons had thus induced the good father to deepen the shadows and increase the solitude that surrounded his daughter. she would turn away weeping.Balzac celestial beauty made him fearful of attempts too common in times of violence and sedition. prie-dieus. Thus—singular to say!—the life which the hatred of a father had imposed on Etienne d’Herouville. addresses the mind only by its creations of pure fantasy. speaking neither to the soul nor the senses. the old man always chose his presents among the works of that fantastic order called arabesque.

springing thus into the first way open to the feelings of womanhood. the angelic son of Jeanne de Saint-Savin and the guileless daughter of Gertrude Marana were twin beings. so Beauvouloir argued. Gabrielle lived in a rich and fertile valley. Whither was this life of innocence leading Gabrielle? How teach a mind as pure as the water of a tranquil lake. reflecting only the azure of the skies? What images should be drawn upon that spotless canvas? Around which tree must the tendrils of this bind-weed twine? No father has ever put these questions to himself without an inward shudder. All other women would frighten and kill the heir of Herouville. the love expressed in the intertwining growth of the clustering plants. who yielded to vague misery among the shadows. there rose within her soul a distant light. that man was Etienne. Beauvouloir could not destroy the harmonious grouping of the native woods.such as all great painters have given as backgrounds to their Virgins. the Virgin and the saints. a dawn which pierced the darkness in which her father kept her. The infinite love he bore his daughter suggested a bold project to his mind. and Gabrielle. At this moment the good old man of science was riding slowly on his mule along the roads from Herouville to Ourscamp (the name of the village near which the estate of Forcalier was situated) as if he wished to keep that way unending. to a deep admiration of nature she joined her girlish adoration of the Creator. Across the misty ideas suggested by her long study of this beautiful landscape. the graceful upspringing of the wild flowers. the cool softness of the grassy slopes. observed at all seasons and through all the variations of a marine atmosphere in which the fogs of England come to die and the sunshine of France is born. she loved Jesus. rather than understood by the poor girl. One only being in all the world could make her happy. 138 . who saw in Jesus an eternal spouse. a continual marriage. Such ever-living poesies have a language heard. Gabrielle gave herself up to this passion of strong souls with so touching a simplicity that she would have disarmed the most brutal seducer by the infantine naivete of her language. Beauvouloir had never withdrawn his daughter from the influence of Divine love. she loved the Church and its pomps. She loved God. she was Catholic after the manner of Saint Teresa. Assuredly.


would perish by contact with any man in whom sentiments and external forms had not the virgin delicacy of those of Etienne. Certainly the poor physician had never dreamed of such a result; chance had brought it forward and seemed to ordain it. But, under, the reign of Louis XIII., to dare to lead a Duc d’Herouville to marry the daughter of a bonesetter! And yet, from this marriage alone was it likely that the lineage imperiously demanded by the old duke would result. Nature had destined these two rare beings for each other; God had brought them together by a marvellous arrangement of events, while, at the same time, human ideas and laws placed insuperable barriers between them. Though the old man thought he saw in this the finger of God, and although he had forced the duke to pass his word, he was seized with such fear, as his thoughts reverted to the violence of that ungovernable nature, that he returned upon his steps when, on reaching the summit of the hill above Ourscamp, he saw the smoke of his own chimneys among the trees that enclosed his home. Then, changing his mind once more, the thought of the illegitimate relationship decided him; that consideration might have great influence on the mind of his master. Once decided, Beauvouloir had confidence in the chances and changes of life; it might be that the duke would die before the marriage; besides, there were many examples of such marriage; a peasant girl in Dauphine, Francoise Mignot, had lately married the Marechal d’Hopital; the son of the Connetable Anne de Montmorency had married Diane, daughter of Henri II. and a Piedmontese lady named Philippa Duc. During this mental deliberation in which paternal love measured all probabilities and discussed both the good and the evil chances, striving to foresee the future and weighing its elements, Gabrielle was walking in the garden and gathering flowers for the vases of that illustrious potter, who did for glaze what Benvenuto Cellini did for metal. Gabrielle had put one of these vases, decorated with animals in relief, on a table in the middle of the hall, and was filling it with flowers to enliven her grandmother, and also, perhaps, to give form to her own ideas. The noble vase, of the pottery called Limoges, was filled, arranged, and placed upon the handsome table-cloth, and Gabrielle was saying to her grandmother, “See!” when Beauvouloir 139

entered. The young girl ran to her father’s arms. After this first outburst of affection she wanted him to admire her bouquet; but the old man, after glancing at it, cast a long, deep look at his daughter, which made her blush. “The time has come,” he said to himself, understanding the language of those flowers, each of which had doubtless been studied as to form and as to color, and given its true place in the bouquet, where it produced its own magical effect. Gabrielle remained standing, forgetting the flower begun on her tapestry. As he looked at his daughter a tear rolled from Beauvouloir’s eyes, furrowed his cheeks which seldom wore a serious aspect, and fell upon his shirt, which, after the fashion of the day, his open doublet exposed to view above his breeches. He threw off his felt hat, adorned with an old red plume, in order to rub his hand over his bald head. Again he looked at his daughter, who, beneath the brown rafters of that leather-hung room, with its ebony furniture and portieres of silken damask, and its tall chimney-piece, the whole so softly lighted, was still his very own. The poor father felt the tears in his eyes and hastened to wipe them. A father who loves his daughter longs to keep her always a child; as for him who can without deep pain see her fall under the dominion of another man, he does not rise to worlds superior, he falls to lowest space. “What ails you, my son?” said his old mother, taking off her spectacles, and seeking the cause of his silence and of the change in his usually joyous manner. The old physician signed to the old mother to look at his daughter, nodding his head with satisfaction as if to say, “How sweet she is!” What father would not have felt Beauvouloir’s emotion on seeing the young girl as she stood there in the Norman dress of that period? Gabrielle wore the corset pointed before and square behind, which the Italian masters give almost invariably to their saints and their madonnas. This elegant corselet, made of sky-blue velvet, as dainty as that of a dragon-fly, enclosed the bust like a guimpe and compressed it, delicately modelling the outline as it seemed to flatten; it moulded the shoulders, the back, the waist, with the precision of a drawing made by an able draftsman, ending around the neck in an oblong curve, adorned at the edges with a slight embroidery in brown 140


silks, leaving to view as much of the bare throat as was needed to show the beauty of her womanhood, but not enough to awaken desire. A full brown skirt, continuing the lines already drawn by the velvet waist, fell to her feet in narrow flattened pleats. Her figure was so slender that Gabrielle seemed tall; her arms hung pendent with the inertia that some deep thought imparts to the attitude. Thus standing, she presented a living model of those ingenuous works of statuary a taste for which prevailed at that period,—works which obtained admiration for the harmony of their lines, straight without stiffness, and for the firmness of a design which did not exclude vitality. No swallow, brushing the window-panes at dusk, ever conveyed the idea of greater elegance of outline. Gabrielle’s face was thin, but not flat; on her neck and forehead ran bluish threads showing the delicacy of a skin so transparent that the flowing of the blood through her veins seemed visible. This excessive whiteness was faintly tinted with rose upon the cheeks. Held beneath a little coif of sky-blue velvet embroidered with pearls, her hair, of an even tone, flowed like two rivulets of gold from her temples and played in ringlets on her neck, which it did not hide. The glowing color of those silky locks brightened the dazzling whiteness of the neck, and purified still further by its reflections the outlines of the face already so pure. The eyes, which were long and as if pressed between their lids, were in harmony with the delicacy of the head and body; their pearl-gray tints were brilliant without vivacity, candid without passion. The line of the nose might have seemed cold, like a steel blade, without two rosy nostrils, the movements of which were out of keeping with the chastity of that dreamy brow, often perplexed, sometimes smiling, but always of an august serenity. An alert little ear attracted the eye, peeping beneath the coif and between two curls, and showing a ruby ear-drop, the color of which stood vigorously out on the milky whiteness of the neck. This was neither Norman beauty, where flesh abounds, nor French beauty, as fugitive as its own expressions, nor the beauty of the North, cold and melancholy as the North itself—it was the deep seraphic beauty of the Catholic Church, supple and rigid, severe but tender. “Where could one find a prettier duchess?” thought Beauvouloir, contemplating his daughter with delight. As she stood there slightly 141

bending, her neck stretched out to watch the flight of a bird past the windows, he could only compare her to a gazelle pausing to listen for the ripple of the water where she seeks to drink. “Come and sit here,” said Beauvouloir, tapping his knee and making a sign to Gabrielle, which told her he had something to whisper to her. Gabrielle understood him, and came. She placed herself on his knee with the lightness of a gazelle, and slipped her arm about his neck, ruffling his collar. “Tell me,” he said, “what were you thinking of when you gathered those flowers? You have never before arranged them so charmingly.” “I was thinking of many things,” she answered. “Looking at the flowers made for us, I wondered whom we were made for; who are they who look at us? You are wise, and I can tell you what I think; you know so much you can explain all. I feel a sort of force within me that wants to exercise itself; I struggle against something. When the sky is gray I am half content; I am sad, but I am calm. When the day is fine, and the flowers smell sweet, and I sit on my bench down there among the jasmine and honeysuckles, something rises in me, like waves which beat against my stillness. Ideas come into my mind which shake me, and fly away like those birds before the windows; I cannot hold them. Well, when I have made a bouquet in which the colors blend like tapestry, and the red contrasts with white, and the greens and the browns cross each other, when all seems so abundant, the breeze so playful, the flowers so many that their fragrance mingles and their buds interlace, —well, then I am happy, for I see what is passing in me. At church when the organ plays and the clergy respond, there are two distinct songs speaking to each other,—the human voice and the music. Well, then, too, I am happy; that harmony echoes in my breast. I pray with a pleasure which stirs my blood.” While listening to his daughter, Beauvouloir examined her with sagacious eyes; those eyes seemed almost stupid from the force of his rushing thoughts, as the water of a cascade seems motionless. He raised the veil of flesh which hid the secret springs by which the soul reacts upon the body; he studied the diverse symptoms which his long experience had noted in persons committed to his care, and he compared them with those contained in this frail body, the bones of 142


which frightened him by their delicacy, as the milk-white skin alarmed him by its want of substance. He tried to bring the teachings of his science to bear upon the future of that angelic child, and he was dizzy in so doing, as though he stood upon the verge of an abyss; the too vibrant voice, the too slender bosom of the young girl filled him with dread, and he questioned himself after questioning her. “You suffer here!” he cried at last, driven by a last thought which summed up his whole meditation. She bent her head gently. “By God’s grace!” said the old man, with a sigh, “I will take you to the Chateau d’Herouville, and there you shall take sea-baths to strengthen you.” “Is that true, father? You are not laughing at your little Gabrielle? I have so longed to see the castle, and the men-at-arms, and the captains of monseigneur.” “Yes, my daughter, you shall really go there. Your nurse and Jean shall accompany you.” “Soon?” “To-morrow,” said the old man, hurrying into the garden to hide his agitation from his mother and his child. “God is my witness,” he cried to himself, “that no ambitious thought impels me. My daughter to save, poor little Etienne to make happy,—those are my only motives.” If he thus interrogated himself it was because, in the depths of his consciousness, he felt an inextinguishable satisfaction in knowing that the success of his project would make Gabrielle some day the Duchesse d’Herouville. There is always a man in a father. He walked about a long time, and when he came in to supper he took delight for the rest of the evening in watching his daughter in the midst of the soft brown poesy with which he had surrounded her; and when, before she went to bed, they all—the grandmother, the nurse, the doctor, and Gabrielle—knelt together to say their evening prayer, he added the words,— “Let us pray to God to bless my enterprise.” The eyes of the grandmother, who knew his intentions, were moistened with what tears remained to her. Gabrielle’s face was flushed with happiness. The father trembled, so much did he fear some catastrophe. 143

“After all,” his mother said to him, “fear not, my son. The duke would never kill his grandchild.” “No,” he replied, “but he might compel her to marry some brute of a baron, and that would kill her.” The next day Gabrielle, mounted on an ass, followed by her nurse on foot, her father on his mule, and a valet who led two horses laden with baggage, started for the castle of Herouville, where the caravan arrived at nightfall. In order to keep this journey secret, Beauvouloir had taken by-roads, starting early in the morning, and had brought provisions to be eaten by the way, in order not to show himself at hostelries. The party arrived, therefore, after dark, without being noticed by the castle retinue, at the little dwelling on the seashore, so long occupied by the hated son, where Bertrand, the only person the doctor had taken into his confidence, awaited them. The old retainer helped the nurse and valet to unload the horses and carry in the baggage, and otherwise establish the daughter of Beauvouloir in Etienne’s former abode. When Bertrand saw Gabrielle, he was amazed. “I seem to see madame!” he cried. “She is slim and willowy like her; she has madame’s coloring and the same fair hair. The old duke will surely love her.” “God grant it!” said Beauvouloir. “But will he acknowledge his own blood after it has passed through mine?” “He can’t deny it,” replied Bertrand. “I often went to fetch him from the door of the Belle Romaine, who lived in the rue CultureSainte-Catherine. The Cardinal de Lorraine was compelled to give her up to monseigneur, out of shame at being insulted by the mob when he left her house. Monseigneur, who in those days was still in his twenties, will remember that affair; bold he was,—I can tell it now—he led the insulters!” “He never thinks of the past,” said Beauvouloir. “He knows my wife is dead, but I doubt if he remembers I have a daughter.” “Two old navigators like you and me ought to be able to bring the ship to port,” said Bertrand. “After all, suppose the duke does get angry and seize our carcasses; they have served their time.”



BEFORE STARTING FOR PARIS, the Duc d’Herouville had forbidden the castle servants under heavy pains and penalties to go upon the shore where Etienne had passed his life, unless the Duc de Nivron took any of them with him. This order, suggested by Beauvouloir, who had shown the duke the wisdom of leaving Etienne master of his solitude, guaranteed to Gabrielle and her attendants the inviolability of the little domain, outside of which he forbade them to go without his permission. Etienne had remained during these two days shut up in the old seignorial bedroom under the spell of his tenderest memories. In that bed his mother had slept; her thoughts had been confided to the furnishings of that room; she had used them; her eyes had often wandered among those draperies; how often she had gone to that window to call with a cry, a sign, her poor disowned child, now master of the chateau. Alone in that room, whither he had last come secretly, brought by Beauvouloir to kiss his dying mother, he fancied that she lived again; he spoke to her, he listened to her, he drank from that spring that never faileth, and from which have flowed so many songs like the “Super flumina Babylonis.” The day after Beauvouloir’s return he went to see his young master and blamed him gently for shutting himself up in a single room, pointing out to him the danger of leading a prison life in place of his former free life in the open air. “But this air is vast,” replied Etienne. “The spirit of my mother is in it.” 145

The physician prevailed, however, by the gentle influence of affection, in making Etienne promise that he would go out every day, either on the seashore, or in the fields and meadows which were still unknown to him. In spite of this, Etienne, absorbed in his memories, remained yet another day at his window watching the sea, which offered him from that point of view aspects so various that never, as he believed, had he seen it so beautiful. He mingled his contemplations with readings in Petrarch, one of his most favorite authors,—him whose poesy went nearest to the young man’s heart through the constancy and the unity of his love. Etienne had not within him the stuff for several passions. He could love but once, and in one way only. If that love, like all that is a unit, were intense, it must also be calm in its expression, sweet and pure like the sonnets of the Italian poet. At sunset this child of solitude began to sing, in the marvellous voice which had entered suddenly, like a hope, into the dullest of all ears to music,—those of his father. He expressed his melancholy by varying the same air, which he repeated, again and again, like the nightingale. This air, attributed to the late King Henri IV., was not the so-called air of “Gabrielle,” but something far superior as art, as melody, as the expression of infinite tenderness. The admirers of those ancient tunes will recognize the words, composed by the great king to this air, which were taken, probably, from some folk-song to which his cradle had been rocked among the mountains of Bearn. “Dawn, approach, I pray thee; It gladdens me to see thee; The maiden Whom I love Is rosy, rosy like thee; The rose itself, Dew-laden, Has not her freshness; Ermine has not Her pureness; Lilies have not Her whiteness.” 146


After naively revealing the thought of his heart in song, Etienne contemplated the sea, saying to himself: “There is my bride; the only love for me!” Then he sang too other lines of the canzonet,— “She is fair Beyond compare,”— repeating it to express the imploring poesy which abounds in the heart of a timid young man, brave only when alone. Dreams were in that undulating song, sung, resung, interrupted, renewed, and hushed at last in a final modulation, the tones of which died away like the lingering vibrations of a bell. At this moment a voice, which he fancied was that of a siren rising from the sea, a woman’s voice, repeated the air he had sung, but with all the hesitations of a person to whom music is revealed for the first time. He recognized the stammering of a heart born into the poesy of harmony. Etienne, to whom long study of his own voice had taught the language of sounds, in which the soul finds resources greater than speech to express its thoughts, could divine the timid amazement that attended these attempts. With what religious and subtile admiration had that unknown being listened to him! The stillness of the atmosphere enabled him to hear every sound, and he quivered at the distant rustle of the folds of a gown. He was amazed, —he, whom all emotions produced by terror sent to the verge of death — to feel within him the healing, balsamic sensation which his mother’s coming had formerly brought to him. “Come, Gabrielle, my child,” said the voice of Beauvouloir, “I forbade you to stay upon the seashore after sundown; you must come in, my daughter.” “Gabrielle,” said Etienne to himself. “Oh! the pretty name!” Beauvouloir presently came to him, rousing his young master from one of those meditations which resemble dreams. It was night, and the moon was rising. “Monseigneur,” said the physician, “you have not been out to-day, and it is not wise of you.” “And I,” replied Etienne, “can I go on the seashore after sundown?” 147

The double meaning of this speech, full of the gentle playfulness of a first desire, made the old man smile. “You have a daughter, Beauvouloir.” “Yes, monseigneur,—the child of my old age; my darling child. Monseigneur, the duke, your father, charged me so earnestly to watch your precious health that, not being able to go to Forcalier, where she was, I have brought her here, to my great regret. In order to conceal her from all eyes, I have placed her in the house monseigneur used to occupy. She is so delicate I fear everything, even a sudden sentiment or emotion. I have never taught her anything; knowledge would kill her.” “She knows nothing!” cried Etienne, surprised. “She has all the talents of a good housewife, but she has lived as the plants live. Ignorance, monseigneur, is as sacred a thing as knowledge. Knowledge and ignorance are only two ways of living, for the human creature. Both preserve the soul and envelop it; knowledge is your existence, but ignorance will save my daughter’s life. Pearls wellhidden escape the diver, and live happy. I can only compare my Gabrielle to a pearl; her skin has the pearl’s translucence, her soul its softness, and until this day Forcalier has been her fostering shell.” “Come with me,” said Etienne, throwing on a cloak. “I want to walk on the seashore, the air is so soft.” Beauvouloir and his master walked in silence until they reached a spot where a line of light, coming from between the shutters of a fisherman’s house, had furrowed the sea with a golden rivulet. “I know not how to express,” said Etienne, addressing his companion, “the sensations that light, cast upon the water, excites in me. I have often watched it streaming from the windows of that room,” he added, pointing back to his mother’s chamber, “until it was extinguished.” “Delicate as Gabrielle is,” said Beauvouloir, gaily, “she can come and walk with us; the night is warm, and the air has no dampness. I will fetch her; but be prudent, monseigneur.” Etienne was too timid to propose to accompany Beauvouloir into the house; besides, he was in that torpid state into which we are plunged by the influx of ideas and sensations which give birth to the dawn of passion. Conscious of more freedom in being alone, he cried out, looking at the sea now gleaming in the moonlight,— 148


“The Ocean has passed into my soul!” The sight of the lovely living statuette which was now advancing towards him, silvered by the moon and wrapped in its light, redoubled the palpitations of his heart, but without causing him to suffer. “My child,” said Beauvouloir, “this is monseigneur.” In a moment poor Etienne longed for his father’s colossal figure; he would fain have seemed strong, not puny. All the vanities of love and manhood came into his heart like so many arrows, and he remained in gloomy silence, measuring for the first time the extent of his imperfections. Embarrassed by the salutation of the young girl, he returned it awkwardly, and stayed beside Beauvouloir, with whom he talked as they paced along the shore; presently, however, Gabrielle’s timid and deprecating countenance emboldened him, and he dared to address her. The incident of the song was the result of mere chance. Beauvouloir had intentionally made no preparations; he thought, wisely, that between two beings in whom solitude had left pure hearts, love would arise in all its simplicity. The repetition of the air by Gabrielle was a ready text on which to begin a conversation. During this promenade Etienne was conscious of that bodily buoyancy which all men have felt at the moment when a first love transports their vital principle into another being. He offered to teach Gabrielle to sing. The poor lad was so glad to show himself to this young girl invested with some slight superiority that he trembled with pleasure when she accepted his offer. At that moment the moonlight fell full upon her, and enabled Etienne to note the points of her resemblance to his mother, the late duchess. Like Jeanne de SaintSavin, Beauvouloir’s daughter was slender and delicate; in her, as in the duchess, sadness and suffering conveyed a mysterious charm. She had that nobility of manner peculiar to souls on whom the ways of the world have had no influence, and in whom all is noble because all is natural. But in Gabrielle’s veins there was also the blood of “la belle Romaine,” which had flowed there from two generations, giving to this young girl the passionate heart of a courtesan in an absolutely pure soul; hence the enthusiasm that sometimes reddened her cheek, sanctified her brow, and made her exhale her soul like a flash of light, and communicated the sparkle of flame to all her motions. Beauvouloir shuddered when he noticed this phenomenon, which 149

we may call in these days the phosphorescence of thought; the old physician of that period regarded it as the precursor of death. Hidden beside her father, Gabrielle endeavored to see Etienne at her ease, and her looks expressed as much curiosity as pleasure, as much kindliness as innocent daring. Etienne detected her in stretching her neck around Beauvouloir with the movement of a timid bird looking out of its nest. To her the young man seemed not feeble, but delicate; she found him so like herself that nothing alarmed her in this sovereign lord. Etienne’s sickly complexion, his beautiful hands, his languid smile, his hair parted in the middle into two straight bands, ending in curls on the lace of his large flat collar, his noble brow, furrowed with youthful wrinkles,—all these contrasts of luxury and weakness, power and pettiness, pleased her; perhaps they gratified the instinct of maternal protection, which is the germ of love; perhaps, also, they stimulated the need that every woman feels to find distinctive signs in the man she is prompted to love. New ideas, new sensations were rising in each with a force, with an abundance that enlarged their souls; both remained silent and overcome, for sentiments are least demonstrative when most real and deep. All durable love begins by dreamy meditation. It was suitable that these two beings should first see each other in the softer light of the moon, that love and its splendors might not dazzle them too suddenly; it was well that they met by the shores of the Ocean,—vast image of the vastness of their feelings. They parted filled with one another, fearing, each, to have failed to please. From his window Etienne watched the lights of the house where Gabrielle was. During that hour of hope mingled with fear, the young poet found fresh meanings in Petrarch’s sonnets. He had now seen Laura, a delicate, delightful figure, pure and glowing like a sunray, intelligent as an angel, feeble as a woman. His twenty years of study found their meaning, he understood the mystic marriage of all beauties; he perceived how much of womanhood there was in the poems he adored; in short, he had so long loved unconsciously that his whole past now blended with the emotions of this glorious night. Gabrielle’s resemblance to his mother seemed to him an order divinely given. He did not betray his love for the one in loving the other; this new love continued HER maternity. He contemplated that young girl, 150


asleep in the cottage, with the same feelings his mother had felt for him when he was there. Here, again, was a similitude which bound this present to the past. On the clouds of memory the saddened face of his mother appeared to him; he saw once more her feeble smile, he heard her gentle voice; she bowed her head and wept. The lights in the cottage were extinguished. Etienne sang once more the pretty canzonet, with a new expression, a new meaning. From afar Gabrielle again replied. The young girl, too, was making her first voyage into the charmed land of amorous ecstasy. That echoed answer filled with joy the young man’s heart; the blood flowing in his veins gave him a strength he never yet had felt, love made him powerful. Feeble beings alone know the voluptuous joy of that new creation entering their life. The poor, the suffering, the ill-used, have joys ineffable; small things to them are worlds. Etienne was bound by many a tie to the dwellers in the City of Sorrows. His recent accession to grandeur had caused him terror only; love now shed within him the balm that created strength; he loved Love. The next day Etienne rose early to hasten to his old house, where Gabrielle, stirred by curiosity and an impatience she did not acknowledge to herself, had already curled her hair and put on her prettiest costume. Both were full of the eager desire to see each other again,— mutually fearing the results of the interview. As for Etienne, he had chosen his finest lace, his best-embroidered mantle, his violet-velvet breeches; in short, those handsome habiliments which we connect in all memoirs of the time with the pallid face of Louis XIII., a face oppressed with pain in the midst of grandeur, like that of Etienne. Clothes were certainly not the only point of resemblance between the king and the subject. Many other sensibilities were in Etienne as in Louis XIII.,—chastity, melancholy, vague but real sufferings, chivalrous timidities, the fear of not being able to express a feeling in all its purity, the dread of too quickly approaching happiness, which all great souls desire to delay, the sense of the burden of power, that tendency to obedience which is found in natures indifferent to material interests, but full of love for what a noble religious genius has called the “astral.” Though wholly inexpert in the ways of the world, Gabrielle was conscious that the daughter of a doctor, the humble inhabitant of 151

Forcalier, was cast at too great a distance from Monseigneur Etienne, Duc de Nivron and heir to the house of Herouville, to allow them to be equal; she had as yet no conception of the ennobling of love. The naive creature thought with no ambition of a place where every other girl would have longed to seat herself; she saw the obstacles only. Loving, without as yet knowing what it was to love, she only felt herself distant from her pleasure, and longed to get nearer to it, as a child longs for the golden grapes hanging high above its head. To a girl whose emotions were stirred at the sight of a flower, and who had unconsciously foreseen love in the chants of the liturgy, how sweet and how strong must have been the feelings inspired in her breast the previous night by the sight of the young seigneur’s feebleness, which seemed to reassure her own. But during the night Etienne had been magnified to her mind; she had made him a hope, a power; she had placed him so high that now she despaired of ever reaching him. “Will you permit me to sometimes enter your domain?” asked the duke, lowing his eyes. Seeing Etienne so timid, so humble,—for he, on his part, had magnified Beauvouloir’s daughter,—Gabrielle was embarrassed with the sceptre he placed in her hands; and yet she was profoundly touched and flattered by such submission. Women alone know what seduction the respect of their master and lover has for them. Nevertheless, she feared to deceive herself, and, curious like the first woman, she wanted to know all. “I thought you promised yesterday to teach me music,” she answered, hoping that music might be made a pretext for their meetings. If the poor child had known what Etienne’s life really was, she would have spared him that doubt. To him his word was the echo of his mind, and Gabrielle’s little speech caused him infinite pain. He had come with his heart full, fearing some cloud upon his daylight, and he met a doubt. His joy was extinguished; back into his desert he plunged, no longer finding there the flowers with which he had embellished it. With that prescience of sorrows which characterizes the angel charged to soften them—who is, no doubt, the Charity of heaven—Gabrielle instantly divined the pain she had caused. She was so vividly aware of her fault that she prayed for the power of God to lay bare her soul to Etienne, for she knew the cruel pang a 152


reproach or a stern look was capable of causing; and she artlessly betrayed to him these clouds as they rose in her soul,—the golden swathings of her dawning love. One tear which escaped her eyes turned Etienne’s pain to pleasure, and he inwardly accused himself of tyranny. It was fortunate for both that in the very beginning of their love they should thus come to know the diapason of their hearts; they avoided henceforth a thousand shocks which might have wounded them. Etienne, impatient to entrench himself behind an occupation, led Gabrielle to a table before the little window at which he himself had suffered so long, and where he was henceforth to admire a flower more dainty than all he had hitherto studied. Then he opened a book over which they bent their heads till their hair touched and mingled. These two beings, so strong in heart, so weak in body, but embellished by all the graces of suffering, were a touching sight. Gabrielle was ignorant of coquetry; a look was given the instant it was asked for, the soft rays from the eyes of each never ceasing to mingle, unless from modesty. The young girl took the joy of telling Etienne what pleasure his voice gave her as she listened to his song; she forgot the meaning of his words when he explained to her the position of the notes or their value; she listened to HIM, leaving melody for the instrument, the idea for the form; ingenuous flattery! the first that true love meets. Gabrielle thought Etienne handsome; she would have liked to stroke the velvet of his mantle, to touch the lace of his broad collar. As for Etienne he was transformed under the creative glance of those earnest eyes; they infused into his being a fruitful sap, which sparkled in his eyes, shone on his brow, remade him inwardly, so that he did not suffer from this new play of his faculties; on the contrary they were strengthened by it. Happiness is the mother’s milk of a new life. As nothing came to distract them from each other, they stayed together not only this day but all days; for they belonged to one another from the first hour, passing the sceptre from one to the other and playing with themselves as children play with life. Sitting, happy and content, upon the golden sands, they told each other their past, painful for him, but rich in dreams; dreamy for her, but full of painful pleasure. 153

is not that a declaration of love such as virgins know how to give? Love desires to seem old. because each was the fruit of their long meditations. Flowers and music thus became the language of their love. Incapable of boldly looking forward. they took delight in repeating the same harmony. what grandeur in these nothings wherein were blended his only two affections. Gabrielle replied to Etienne’s gifts by nosegays of her own. it is a coquetry of youth. then when a shadow passed across that brow which death seemed to graze with its pinion. his love for his mother. Who knows the depths to which the roots of a feeling reach in the soul of a solitary being thus returning to the traditions of mother-love in order to bestow upon a woman the same caressing devotion with which his mother had charmed his life? To him. his taste for flowers. Gabrielle exclaimed at his last words.—nosegays which told the wise old doctor that his ignorant daughter already knew enough. ordering his people to find rare ones. They were poets and poem both.” Etienne related his youth. letting their passion flow through those fine sheets of sound in which their souls could vibrate without obstacle. which would have been disheartening had either given a meaning to their confused desires. Etienne brought flowers on the morrow. pure outlines of Etruscan figures. as his mother had done in earlier days for him. across that visible soul where the young man’s slightest emotions showed. Questioned why.” said Gabrielle. The material ignorance of these two lovers was like a dark background on which the faintest lines of their all-spiritual intercourse were traced with exquisite delicacy. they were imprisoned in their own simplicity.“I never had a mother. each beginning seemed to them an end. Their slightest words brought a flood of ideas.” To believe ourselves linked far back in the past by community of tastes. Though absolutely free. she blushed and avoided answering. was the interpreter of their ideas. the most sensual of arts for loving souls. like the red. 154 .” said the hated son. she answered:— “Because I too love flowers.” “I never had a father. “but my father has been good as God himself. “but my mother was all of heaven to me. Music.

by the delicacy she gave to their enjoyments. the satisfactions of which are doomed to blast so much. had not as yet attacked them. they admired their Ocean. Gabrielle. it needs no shade to bring it into relief. Equal in their feebleness. he was loved. but Etienne and Gabrielle plunged together into all the delights of that infantine period. Thus these two white doves flew with one wing beneath their pure blue heaven. to see her better. the daughter of the physician eclipsed all that by her beauty. they were quickly penetrated by Faith. by the loftiness of her sentiments. immensity sufficed them. Soon they had that divine belief in themselves which allows of neither jealousy nor torment. But the first wing-beat of true love sends it far beyond such struggles. without one thought of gliding on it in the white-winged bark with ropes of flowers. virginity of mind and senses enlarged for them the world. Love has its moment when it suffices to itself. desire. For them their sun was always at its meridian. he was sovereign lord. abnegation was ever ready. such love can sustain itself in the brightest light. no vexing thought troubled the harmonious concert of their canticle. passed quickly through the regions occupied by common passions and went beyond it. Like two zephyrs swaying on the same willow-branch. love could have no pain. when all is budding. in order to enjoy her more. the sea belonged to both of them. when it is happy in merely being. Etienne loved. strong in their union. they needed nothing more than the joy of looking at each other in the mirror of the limpid waters. the present was serene.Balzac Many loves proceed through opposition. sailed by Hope. the vulgar struggle of mind and matter. two natures are no longer to be distinguished. Where all is of the same essence. Like all enfeebled natures. admiration constant. the castle was his. if the noble had some superiority of knowledge and some conventional grandeur. the future cloudless. Sometimes they were 155 . through struggles and reconciliations. the lover sometimes hides from the beloved woman. it grows beneath the light. because she was a woman. their thoughts rose in their minds without effort. During this springtime. desire. by that celestial glow which doubles strength by doubling the soul. because he had suffered much and meditated much. that evil of terrestrial love. Under these conditions. Etienne. like genius in its highest expression.

glances. Caresses came slowly. one by one. but these two realized the dream of Plato. Etienne had had but one sorrow in his life.—the death of his mother. into the long. spending treasures of language on these secret idylls.—such was the May of their love. bare feet dabbling in the sea. but suppose a glorious day. frolic laughter. unceasing joys. lived under ashen skies. renewed. They gave themselves to each other. Their joys caused them neither wakefulness nor delirium. when the sun of heaven glows in the azure air. thoughts. the time thus spent was five months only. during which Etienne had suspended all his griefs. if we may count by the innumerable sensations. surprises. hunts. so coquettish—of young animals.—griefs which had passed into the heart of Gabrielle. speeches interrupted. for shells. It was the infancy of pleasure developing within them. long pressure of their clasping hands. 156 . eternal fidelity! If we must count by days. like the liquid fringes of the sea upon the sands of the shore. Joyous. sometimes two brothers in the boldness of their questionings. inventing soft exaggerations and more diminutives than the ancient muse of Tibullus. into a kiss. opening flowers.—all alike. There are existences that are ever gloomy.two sisters in the grace of their confidences. had fastened all her joys to come on those of her lord. abandoned. On their lips and in their hearts love flowed ever. clasping hands. kisses. They protected each other. dreams. ignorant of all danger. all dissimilar. Usually love demands a slave and a god. or the poesies of Italy. into a look. they cast their whole being into a word. They praised each other’s beauties ingenuously. The sentiment which induced them to express their souls in song led them to love by the manifold transformations of the same happiness.—they were but one being deified. death will justify the word. who.—call it a lifetime. in turn. realized hopes. but chaste as the merry play—so graceful. childlike. unaware of the beautiful red flowers which were to crown its shoots. he was to have but one love—Gabrielle.

his manners were brusque. Beauvouloir he knew was rich. In spite of the secrecy which surrounded Gabrielle. The Baron d’Artagnon. it was difficult to long deceive the commander of a company. repeated constantly. He heard the singing of two voices. The duke. he saw the lights at night in the dwelling on the seashore.Balzac CHAPTER VII THE CRUSHED PEARL THE COARSE RIVALRY of an ambitious man hastened the destruction of this honeyed life. in departing. brave in the service of the throne. possessed his utmost confidence. but supple in manoeuvres. gave to this man the duty of watching and reporting to him the conduct of Beauvouloir toward the new heir-presumptive. lieutenant of his company of men-at-arms. He had the hand his face demanded. carrying linen or clothes. The baron was a man after the duke’s own heart. his speech concise. withal an ambitious noble. built for strength. saw the physician’s daughter. he discovered Gabrielle’s nurse making her way on foot to Forcalier.—large and hairy like that of a guerrilla. an old warrior in wiles and policy. for flowers concerned a woman. The spy then watched the cottage. on learning 157 . The Duc d’Herouville. tall. cold and harsh. On those foundations the Baron d’Artagnon erected the edifice of his fortunes. virile in face. he guessed that Etienne’s orders. and fell in love with her. rude in his manners. possessing the honor of a soldier and the wiles of a politician. with an iron will in action. The duke would be furious at the man’s audacity.—a species of butcher. had no sooner passed his word to his physician than he was conscious of the voice of distrust. The duke. and bringing back with her the work-frame and other articles needed by a young lady.

her sister the Marquise de Noirmoutier. The scheme was excellent. with them failure was certain. perhaps. giving him certain orders to avert what he considered to be an evil. not seeking to leave it. and Mademoiselle de Grandlieu.—the baron attributing them wholly to the bonesetter’s ambition. The duke expected to oblige his son to marry her. On learning from d’Artagnon that Etienne was in love with the daughter of a miserable physician. instantly endeavor to detach him from the girl. The duke ordered out his equipages and started for Rouen.—a tall and disdainful beauty. The baron himself had no property. the heiress of large estates. bringing with him the Comtesse de Grandlieu. He wrote to the baron to keep his coming to Herouville a close secret. what better way than to force her son into a marriage with a noble like himself. who was flattered by the prospect of some day bearing the title of Duchesse d’Herouville. in his life had he felt such violent anger as when the last despatch of the baron told him with what rapidity Beauvouloir’s plans were advancing. What could such a man comprehend of love. for the guests were glad to deliver a blow to the despot of Normandy. It was under these circumstances that Etienne and Gabrielle unrolled their thread through the labyrinth of love. One day they had remained from morn to evening near the window where so many events had 158 . This announcement excited the anger of the governor to the highest pitch. People in Rouen spoke of it to the Duc d’Herouville in the midst of a banquet given to celebrate his return to the province. of course.that his son was falling in love. under pretext of showing them the province of Normandy. thought to dwell. would. giving his son to the daughter of some great house. A few days before his arrival a rumor was spread about the country—by what means no one seemed to know—of the passion of the young Duc de Nivron for Gabrielle Beauvouloir. he was only the more determined to carry out the marriage. and might have succeeded with other natures than those of Etienne and Gabrielle.—he who had let his own wife die beside him without understanding a single sigh of her heart? Never. where both. and he had planned for Etienne an alliance with the heiress of a branch of the house of Grandlieu. During his stay in Paris the duke had avenged the death of Maximilien by killing his son’s adversary.

and she. The lover laid his head heavily on the shoulder of his friend. During these still. He took her in one of his arms. pressing her to him with a movement of tender cohesion. at that hour golden on the shore. indeed. await the moment to take flight to heaven. his lips touched the heaving bosom. and presently they reached the point of confiding to each other their confused ideas. they formed but one soul. A single look. his hair flowed over the white shoulders and caressed her throat.Balzac taken place. they were. sufficed to communicate their thoughts. but at this moment happier in his love than she had been in hers. The crickets sang in their holes. But Etienne and Gabrielle were in absolute ignorance of satisfactions. looked at the sight and was silent. Each loved with that love so divinely like unto itself at every instant of its eternity that it is not conscious of devotion or sacrifice or exaction. Certainly they could only in that hour be compared to angels who. Etienne rose. Thus they remained till nightfall without uttering a word. filled at first with gentle talk. but the hope of all! 159 . and slashed here and there with those silvery caps which betoken a coming storm. The hours. They began to feel within them the wish for complete possession. black on the horizon. passing her arm about his neck to gain support. Etienne’s eyes would sometimes fill with tears as he held the hand of Gabrielle to his lips. conforming to her friend’s action. Gabrielle. The girl. had ended in meditative silence. it fears neither deceptions nor delay. bent her head aside to give more place for his head. serene hours. the dream of all who seek a meaning in humanity. the hated son looked down upon the sea. They had fulfilled the noble dream of Plato’s mystic genius. pure souls. one of those by which two souls support each other. and the lovers listened to that music as if to employ their senses on one sense only. that mysterious Pearl destined to adorn the brow of a star as yet unknown. Gabrielle followed his motion with a vague fear. When the first faint tints of twilight drew a veil athwart the sea. Like his mother. ingenuously loving. comprehending his desire. made him feel the weight of her body enough to give him the certainty that she was all his. a desire for which was stirring in their souls. but not enough to be a burden on him. for he had dropped her hand. with their feet on earth. the reflections of two beautiful. and the hush was interrupted only by the soughing of the flux and reflux on the shore.

” The heavy step of Beauvouloir sounded in the adjoining room. half fainting with distress and leaning on his love. the first to break the exquisite silence. holding out to her a smelling-bottle which he took from a table signing to her to make Etienne inhale its contents. “Stay with me.” “Separate us?” cried Etienne. “Why should we part?” replied Etienne. solely for himself. and you. “if you love each other. are the daughter of a poor doctor.“Will you take me home?” said Gabrielle.” she said. “This is not right. Etienne is Duc de Nivron. your happiness requires that you should marry and pass your lives together. “Write to him. calmly. but the devil has already prejudiced him against it. my child. my knowledge of science tells me that Nature destined you for each other. I have learned to-night that he is now in Rouen.” “Yes.” said Beauvouloir. but he found them separated. have just written. I should take Gabrielle away from here this very night.—”Gabrielle.” “My children. I meant to prepare monseigneur the duke for a marriage which will certainly offend his ideas. monseigneur.” he said to Gabrielle.” said the physician.” said Etienne. “to stay so late. interrupting Beauvouloir. not. and give me your letter that I may enclose it with one which I. 160 . but your marriage depends on the will of monseigneur the duke—” “My father has promised to gratify all my wishes. The doctor had seen these children at the window locked in each other’s arms. “you know we love each other. myself. and have no lights. my child.” “Why wrong?” she said.” replied the doctor. and he is master of the castle.” cried Etienne eagerly. “Father!” “Gabrielle. “We ought to be together always.” “My father swore to contradict me in nothing. The purest love demands its mystery. as I think. he has brought the heiress of the house of Grandlieu with him. If I listened to my presentiments. Bertrand is to start at once and put these despatches into monseigneur’s own hand.

and the force of your love may be irresistible. monseigneur. We must face your father’s anger here. Declare it to monseigneur the duke.” he said. leaning down to the ear of the young girl who was kneeling beside him. after a moment’s silence. as if overcome. “but suppose that he does not keep his promises?” Etienne sat down.” he said. I think. you will thus confirm my letter.Balzac “He swore to me also to consent to all I might do in finding you a wife. but not reading them. who hastened to give it to Bertrand.” he repeated. All is not lost. The duke would certainly fling me into a dungeon and leave me there for the rest of my days when he heard of your flight. “It was like a sheet of gold at our feet. She bowed her head. “The sea was very dark to-night.” replied the doctor. “Monseigneur.” continued Beauvouloir.” said Beauvouloir.” said Etienne to Gabrielle. “The sea was dark to-night. and I shall defend her. But alas! to mount a horse would risk your life and that of Gabrielle.” “Here!” repeated Etienne.—sad as that gloomy chamber where Etienne’s mother died. “We have been betrayed by some one in the chateau who has stirred your father’s wrath against us. On one side of him knelt Gabrielle. On his other side stood old Beauvouloir. “If you could ride a horse. and I should die joyfully if my death secured your happiness. “I should tell you to fly with Gabrielle this very evening. “Let us throw ourselves together into the sea. “The fate of his mother awaits him!” When the letter was written. A secret voice cried to the doctor. “your mind and your knowledge can make you eloquent. Beauvouloir divined all.” said Gabrielle in a voice of melody. and sat down at a table to write to his father. she read all on Etienne’s forehead. I know you both. and I know that any other marriage would be fatal to you. I love my daughter as well as you love her.” Etienne shook his head. watching the words he wrote. smiling. Etienne ordered lights. The old retainer’s horse was 161 . silent. Etienne held it out to the old man. whose jovial countenance was deeply sad.

At the sound of her steps the man arose and came toward her. a cry of horror. down the grand staircase. “Yes. “Are you the daughter of Beauvouloir. Etienne ran through the apartments of the chateau. saddled. monseigneur’s physician?” asked the baron when Gabrielle’s first alarm had subsided. this had frightened her. which formed a sort of flowery courtyard to the humble habitation. they gave each other.” “I have matters of the utmost importance to confide to you. in the shades of night. Etienne comprehended love in its dual expression.waiting in the courtyard. monsieur. echoed in his ears with the sharpness of a flash of lightning which burns the eyes. the key of which Etienne had given to Gabrielle. and she gave the cry. in the silence. she saw. where he saw lights. under the circumstances in which she and her lover stood. The presence and aspect of the Baron d’Artagnon amply justified the fear thus inspired in the young girl’s breast. and went down through the tower. At the moment when the Duc de Nivron reascended the staircase to the castle. had entered the little garden. the figure of a man sitting in the chair of that excellent woman. quitting her lover. I am the Baron d’Artagnon. lieutenant of the company of men-at-arms commanded by Monseigneur the Duc d’Herouville. the man himself was ready. in which was a door.” said Gabrielle to her friend when they were alone. Emboldened by the vague alarm which oppressed them. the lovers stopped. that first kiss in which the senses and the soul unite. and along the beach towards Gabrielle’s house. the poor youth left in the tower the torch he had brought to light the steps of his beloved. and by the frank tone with which the 162 . after closing the door of the tower. uttered by Gabrielle. and Gabrielle fled lest she should be drawn by that love—whither she knew not. Stupefied by the dread of coming evil. “Come with me to the gate of the courtyard. by the gleam of a torch which lighted her nurse’s spinningwheel. and continued with her toward the cottage. and met the duke twelve miles from Herouville.” Gabrielle. He started. was struck by these words. and cause a revealing joy. A few steps from the little garden. The pair passed through the cardinal’s library. When Gabrielle.

” “But if that alone can save your father. but he 163 . this is the decision monseigneur has made about him. but a simple young girl who loves never thinks herself in peril. “Your nurse is here. and say that you do not love him. Nine years ago your father was implicated in a criminal affair.” said the baron. He is generous. and Gabrielle followed him to the beach behind the house. Your father will be broken on the wheel. “Dear child. but now he intends to have him arrested and delivered up to justice to be tried for the crime.Balzac soldier said them. so much for his son. That speech would have frightened any one less ignorant than Gabrielle. and your father from the horrible death which awaits him. I cannot see your danger without warning you. In proof of this. He left the garden.” “Monseigneur de Nivron will be unhappy at losing you. The matter related to the secretion of a child of rank at the time of its birth which he attended. “would die of it. knowing that your father was innocent. but I do know that you can save Monseigneur de Nivron from his father’s anger. she may overhear us. he may obtain the favor of being hanged. “you and your father are on the verge of an abyss into which you will fall to-morrow. and also save yourself. guaranteed him from prosecution by the parliament. and Monseigneur de Nivron?” “Etienne. yourself. and so should I. Monseigneur.” “I can do all except deny my love.” “What must I do?” said Gabrielle. offer to marry any man whom the duke himself may select as your husband. he will dower you handsomely. “Fear nothing!” said the baron.” she replied. in view of some services he has done to his master.” said the baron. he suspects you of having seduced his son. and tell him that his son loves you against your will. and he would rather see him dead than see him marry you. though perhaps. I do not know what course monseigneur has decided on for you. As for your father. Come this way. “Throw yourself at monseigneur’s feet. endeavoring to give a honeyed tone to his voice. Monseigneur is furious against your father and against you.

let us kneel down and pray. He did not see Gabrielle. “if we have not sinned against thy divine commandments. “who art in heaven.” Etienne and Gabrielle knelt down at the prie-dieu. “What has happened?” he said. and he uttered a piercing cry.” “I shall come for your answer to-morrow. “He is here!” cried the young girl. leaving Gabrielle dumb with terror. and the nurse recited her rosary. her color gone. not yet the king. interrupting her. instead of being a duchess. obtain from the Virgin that if we cannot—Gabrielle and I—be happy here below we may at least die together.will live for the honor of his house. I have received orders to arrest him and send him in chains. we must have offended God. “You will not see him again. and found Etienne horrified by the silence of the nurse in answer to his question. if we have not offended the Church. “I will consult my father. and we will go to thee.” said the young man.” “Etienne. in whom love shines with the light that thou hast given to the pearl of the sea.” she replied. I hurt my foot against—” “No.” “Yes. At this moment Etienne reached the house. love. who are one and the same being. “I heard the steps of a man. be merciful unto us.” said the baron. you will resign yourself to be the wife of a baron only. “O God!” prayed the girl. “Gabrielle. “let me go now and comfort him. to Rouen. with a fervor which carried her beyond terrestrial space.” replied Etienne. her step heavy. under escort. having recited their evening prayers.” said the practical man. “Where is she?” “I am here!” cried the young girl. and let us not be parted either in this world or in that which is to come. and without suffering. “I heard you cry.” Then. Gabrielle related her interview with Baron d’Artagnon. and your father will live out his days. gathering strength from his de164 .” “Mother!” added Etienne. Call us. we. whose voice was icy.” said d’Artagnon. I will tell you afterwards. The young girl sprang to the house.

The countess and Mademoiselle de Grandlieu exchanged a look which the old man intercepted. for he trembled lest his own private scheme should fail if the duke were angered by this flight. ordering him to be present in the salon. for the stern brow of the master had awed the servants. d’Artagnon saw by the downcast look on Etienne’s face that as yet he did not know of Gabrielle’s escape.” replied the mother. the duke and Marquise de Noirmoutier mounted the grand staircase in silence. taking Etienne by the hand and presenting him to the ladies. Those two terrible faces—his and the duke’s—wore a fierce expression that was ill-disguised by an air of gallantry imposed by the occasion. Though Baron d’Artagnon now knew that Gabrielle had evaded his guards. my dear duke. smiling. where no one would suspect her presence.Balzac spair. moreover. 165 . he found her a prisoner. leaning on the arm of her daughter. that she knew a way to deceive the guards. When the company entered it. The next day he was struck down with grief when. He did not know that Gabrielle’s house would be surrounded and guarded by soldiers the moment that he quitted it. though she did not as yet know when she could accomplish it. where all the forces of his heart were spent in the dreadful suspense of waiting. “I shall know how to resist my father. resolved to face the terrible man who had weighed so fearfully on his life. But Gabrielle sent her nurse to tell him she would die sooner than be false to him. Etienne bowed without uttering a word. and would soon take refuge in the cardinal’s library. “This is my son. Then he returned to the castle. Etienne on that returned to his room. and.” He kissed her on the forehead. but not again upon the lips. The duke had already sent to his son. “Your daughter will be ill-matched—is that your thought?” he said in a low voice. At three o’clock on the afternoon of that day the equipages of the duke and suite entered the courtyard of the castle. on going to see her. “I think quite the contrary. he assured the duke she was a prisoner. Madame la Comtesse de Grandlieu.” said the old duke.

I love the daughter of your old friend Beauvouloir. is it not the first duty of a nobleman to keep his word?” “Yes.” said Etienne.” replied the old man. all the blood in his body rushing into his face. which the duke had left partially open.” “Well. Etienne followed his father. “Dear Benjamin. dying here through her marriage with you.The Marquise de Noirmoutier. “I do not know what love has to do with race. remember all the love-making you have read of in your books. and learn to make pretty speeches. laughed significantly. already the sight of the tall lady had terrified him. That laugh stabbed Etienne to the heart. I ask nothing of you. was the son of his mother. to him. softening his voice. “have I not found you a handsome wife? What do you say to that slip of a girl. then. who accompanied her sister. “I have selected that tall and handsome young lady as your wife. my cherub?” The old duke never doubted his son’s obedience. on the day when I forgave you the death of my mother. stirred with a curiosity that was shared by Baron d’Artagnon.” said the duke in a low voice and assuming a lively air. of the same dough.” “Father. docile to his kneading.” “You made no condition.” “Father. Monsieur le duc. The three ladies. leading the way into the state bedroom. “little I care. Therefore make yourself agreeable. my marriage.” replied the duke. walked about the great salon in a manner to group themselves finally near the door of the bedroom. Etienne.” “Come into your own room. “that you would not oppose the continuation of our noble race.” said the young man.— namely. “I do not understand you. a fine old family of Bretagne. and the granddaughter of your friend La Belle 166 . but this I know.” “I understood.’ were the words you said to me. did you not promise me never to thwart my wishes? ‘I will obey you as the family god. “Well.” thought the old man.” said the duke. “Let him have a child and die. I have a few words to say to you. I simply demand my freedom in a matter which concerns my life and myself only. in a gentle voice. she is heiress to the estates of the younger branch of the house of Grandlieu.

At that crucial moment Etienne. through the half-opened door. reaching a degree of anger that defies description. The lily not her whiteness.” Then with one bound he sprang to the door of the library and cried:— “Gabrielle!” Suddenly the gentle creature appeared among the shadows. which told only too plainly his intention of making away with her. broken his heart. looked his father in the face for the first time in his life. Twice detected in flagrant falsehood by the being he abhorred. every other father would have hesitated. whose sense of hearing was acute. As the clouds that bear the thunder project upon the heavens. The duke saw. but in this uncontrollable old man ferocity was the power which had so far solved the difficulties of life for him.— “Ermine hath not Her pureness. the three ladies and d’Artagnon. singing. Under present circumstances.Balzac Romaine.” The hated son. whom his father’s horrible speech had flung into a gulf of death. gave scorn for scorn.” replied the old colossus. trembling before those mocking women thus informed of Etienne’s love. with an air both savage and jeering. he gathered up his strength.” “She is dead. as the only remedy that he knew for the gordian knots of life. returned to the surface of life at the sound of that voice. and said. he drew his sword in all cases. the nature of the man came uppermost. stood out upon the brilliant background produced by the rich clothing of those courtly dames. the son he 167 . when the convulsion of his ideas had reached its height. Though the emotion of terror thus rapidly cast off had already in that instant. A moment of deep silence followed. so the old duke. heard in the cardinal’s library poor Gabrielle’s voice. Between the destruction of his son and a mesalliance. like the lily among its leaves. to let her lover know she was there. in tones of hatred:— “A nobleman ought not to lie.

and closed the door violently. and to him most despicable. cursing him more than ever in this supreme moment when that son’s despised. the tiger issued from its lair. both of you!” he cried. “miserable strumpet with the viper tongue. then. who has poisoned my house. 168 .” whispered the countess in the ear of the old man. who had served under seven kings of France. and Gabrielle fell dead in striving to retain him. “You.” he said to Gabrielle.cursed. the proof of my shame—and you. The old man left them. vile abortion. infallible till then. saying to Mademoiselle de Grandlieu:— “I will marry you myself!” “You are young and gallant enough to have a fine new lineage. At the moment when Etienne saw the huge hand of his father raising a weapon upon Gabrielle he died. the father and the man ceased to exist.— “Die. weakness triumphed over his own omnipotence.” These words struck home to the hearts of the two children the terror that already surcharged them. Casting at the angels before him—the sweetest pair that ever set their feet on earth—a murderous look of hatred.

Balzac 169 .

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Balzac The Hidden Masterpiece by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley 171 .

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in Paris.—neglected by Marie de Medicis for Rubens—was probably at 173 . he ended by crossing the threshold and asking if Maitre Francois Porbus were within. he paused a moment before laying hold of a grotesque knocker which ornamented the door of the atelier where the famous painter of Henry IV. a young man. however complying she may be. towards the close of the year 1612. was standing before the door of a house in the Rue des Grands-Augustine. whose clothing betrayed his poverty.Balzac The Hidden Masterpiece by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley CHAPTER I ON A COLD MORNING in December. After walking to and fro for some time with the hesitation of a lover who fears to approach his mistress. At the affirmative answer of an old woman who was sweeping out one of the lower rooms the young man slowly mounted the stairway. stopping from time to time and hesitating. like a newly fledged courier doubtful as to what sort of reception the king might grant him. When he reached the upper landing of the spiral ascent.

by that indefinable modesty which men born to glory lose in the practice of their art. Is there a man. and dismayed at this moment by his own presumption. which has the quality of alluring the artistic mind. When braggarts. The young man felt the strong sensation which vibrates in the soul of great artists when. in the flush of youth and of their ardor for art. looking at him attentively and hoping to find either the frank good-nature of the artistic temperament. as a pretty woman loses hers among the artifices of coquetry. till joy is but a memory and glory a lie. that man will forever lack some heart-string. the brow full and prominent and falling with 174 .—a passion daring yet timid. is doubt. Amid such fleeting emotions nothing so resembles love as the young passion of an artist who tastes the first delicious anguish of his destined fame and woe. step early into the fame which belongs rightly to their future achievements. self-satisfied and in love with themselves. He drew back into a corner of the landing and made room for the new-comer. some sentiment in his poetry. rich in his spring-time of genius. slender in fortune. and modesty. The habit of success lessens doubt. Worn down with poverty and discouragement. perhaps. whose heart has not beaten loudly as he approached a master of his art? If there be.—something. or at least the intimate friend. if chance had not thrown an unexpected assistance in his way. or the serviceable disposition of those who promote the arts. If talent is to be measured by youthful shyness. I know not what. as it were. primeval flowers bred of noble enthusiasms. they approach a man of genius or a masterpiece. of the painter. they are men of genius only in the eyes of fools.. the magnificence of his lace ruffles. But on the contrary he fancied he saw something diabolical in the expression of the old man’s face. The oddity of his dress. which droop and fade from year to year. of his brush. the solid assurance of his deliberate step. some touch. led the youth to assume that this remarkable personage must be the patron. Imagine a bald head.work. In all human sentiments there are. some fibre in his creations. the young neophyte might not have dared to enter the presence of the master to whom we owe our admirable portrait of Henry IV. full of vague confidence and sure discouragement. An old man mounted the spiral stairway. I know not what. then this unknown young man might claim to be possessed of genuine merit.

all the less perhaps because the neophyte stood still beneath the spell which holds a heaven-born painter as he sees for the first time an atelier filled with the materials and instruments of his art. Imagine such a head upon a lean and feeble body. as yet. “Good-morning. a laughing. when it was opened by a man in feeble health. but a few wandering reflections gleamed through the russet shadows on the silvered breastplate of a horseman’s cuirass of the fourteenth century as it hung from the wall. Daylight came from a casement in the roof and fell. and said. or sent sharp lines of light upon the carved and polished cornice of a dresser which held specimens of rare pottery and porcelains. focussed as it were. and taking no further notice of him. upon a canvas which rested on an easel in the middle of the room.Balzac deep projection over a little flattened nose turned up at the end like the noses of Rabelais and Socrates. and you will have a faint idea of the exterior of this strange individual. and which bore. or touched with sparkling points the rough-grained 175 . The face in other respects was singularly withered and worn by the weariness of old age. then he rapped three times upon the door. apparently about forty years of age. and still more. You might have thought that a canvas of Rembrandt without its frame had walked silently up the stairway. to whose appearance the dusky light of the landing lent fantastic coloring. The eyes had lost their lashes. allowing the youth to pass in at the same time. but whose pupils. a short chin boldly chiselled and garnished with a gray beard cut into a point.” Porbus bowed respectfully. it would seem. under the impression that he came with the old man. contrasting with the pearl-white balls on which they floated. maitre. sea-green eyes. festoon the black velvet doublet of the old man with a heavy gold chain. wrinkled mouth. by the action of thoughts which had undermined both soul and body. The light thus concentrated did not reach the dark angles of the vast atelier. cast at times magnetic glances of anger or enthusiasm. The old man cast a look upon the youth which was full of sagacity. surround it with lace of dazzling whiteness worked in meshes like a fishslice. faded perhaps by age. and made way for his guest. only three or four chalk lines. and the eyebrows were scarcely traced along the projecting arches where they belonged. bringing with it the dark atmosphere which was the sign-manual of the great master.

jostled each other upon shelves and brackets. but—she is not living. You color the features with flesh-tones. easels and stools upset or standing at right angles. and that we cannot walk round her. She is a silhouette with only one side. Innumerable sketches. It is a masterpiece. and imagine that you have got at the secret of God’s creations! Pr-r-r-r!—To be a great poet it is not enough to know the rules of syntax and write faultless grammar. a semblance cut in outline. and afterwards sold by her in the days of her distress. bottles of oil and turpentine. and because you draw now and then from a nude woman standing on a table. but as to entering into competition with her—the devil!” “You do like her. You young men think you have done all when you have drawn the form correctly. and no. mixed beforehand on your palette. which fell full on the pale face of Porbus and on the ivory skull of his singular visitor. you fancy yourselves painters. you think you can copy nature. “yes.texture of ancient gold-brocaded curtains.” said the old man to Porbus. fragments and torsos of antique goddesses amorously polished by the kisses of centuries.” said the old man. Anatomical casts in plaster. and put everything in place according to the laws of anatomy. but at the very next glance we perceive that she is glued to the canvas. painted for Marie de Medicis. Porbus. Look at your saint. At first sight she is admirable. colorboxes. This noble picture represents the Mary of Egypt as she prepares to pay for her passage by the ship. in ink. and which even then was precious in the sight of certain opinionated individuals to whom we owe the preservation of the divine afflatus through the dark days when the life of art was in jeopardy. studies in the three crayons. “and I will give you ten golden crowns over and above the queen’s offer. The good woman is well set-up. then?” “As for that. I feel no air between 176 .—taking very good care to shade one side of the face darker than the other. left but a narrow pathway to the circle of light thrown from the window in the roof. The attention of the young man was taken exclusively by a picture destined to become famous after those days of tumult and revolution. an image that can’t turn nor change her position. “I like your saint. flung in broad folds about the room to serve the painter as models for his drapery. and in red chalk covered the walls from floor to ceiling.

you ought to have chosen honestly the one or the other. All is in good perspective. between the patient phlegm and honest stiffness of the old Dutch masters and the dazzling warmth and abounding joy of the Italians. but that other part is not living.” “But why is it so. my friend. well! it was a glorious ambition. You have breathed only a part of your soul into the well-beloved work. Here. 177 . at least. space and depth are wanting. a dead body. Your outlines are false. nor stir those fibres which interlace like net-work below the translucent amber of the brow and breast. no. they do not round upon themselves. clear color of Titian has forced out the skeleton outline of Albrecht Durier. and holds back the magnificent torrent of Venetian color. No. There is truth here. while the young man could hardly restrain a strong desire to strike the critic. Well. the purple tide of life does not swell those veins. and yet in spite of your conscientious labor I cannot believe that this beautiful body has the warm breath of life. they suggest nothing behind them. there. “Ah! that is the question. The torch of Prometheus went out in your hands over and over again. You have tried to follow. blood does not run beneath that ivory skin.” said the old man. it bears throughout the signs of this unfortunate indecision. Your creation is incomplete. at one and the same time. Hans Holbein and Titian. here again. This part palpitates with life. a statue. the atmospheric gradations are carefully observed.” said the little old man. of life. there are several parts of your painting on which the celestial flame never shone. you have a woman. As it is. but what is the result? You have neither the stern attraction of severity nor the deceptive magic of the chiaroscuro. See! at this place the rich. pointing to the bosom of the saint. Albrecht Durier and Paul Veronese. If I put my hand on that firm. “You are floating between two systems. Here and there the outline has resisted the flood. my dear master?” said Porbus humbly. life and death jostle each other in every detail.—between drawing and color. and thus attained the unity which conveys one aspect.Balzac this arm and the background of the picture. round throat I shall find it cold as marble. Your figure is neither perfectly well painted nor perfectly well drawn. as molten bronze might burst and overflow a slender mould. you are true only on your middle plane. If you did not feel that the fire of your genius was hot enough to weld into one the rival methods.

and see what you will get. You young men are content with the first 178 .” he added. “but there. we must wait and watch its times and seasons. Neither the painter nor the poet nor the sculptor should separate the effect from the cause.—a hand is not merely a part of the body. Your hand reproduces. but. and cannot be attained in that way.” “The mission of art is not to copy nature. and clasp it firmly ere it yields to us. That is not the way to force an entrance into the arcana of Nature. but you do not see her. a sculptor could reach the height of his art by merely moulding a woman. “Yes.” cried the old man. hastily interrupting Porbus with a despotic gesture. Effects! effects! what are they? the mere accidents of the life. It is our mission to seize the mind. “it is all false. without the slightest resemblance to her living hand. but to represent it. returning to the throat. Try to mould the hand of your mistress.” said Porbus at length. Form is a Proteus less easily captured. “you draw a woman.” showing the spot where the shoulder ended against the background.” The old man sat down on a stool and held his head in his hands for some minutes in silence. and not the life itself. The true struggle of art lies there. more skilful to double and escape. without an action of your mind.” continued the old man vehemently. countenance of things and beings. for they are indissolubly one. “If it were not so. “Master. there are effects in nature which become false or impossible when placed on canvas. than the Proteus of fable. soul. can give it movement and life. Many a painter has triumphed through instinct without knowing this theory of art as a theory. without servilely copying that hand.—ghastly articulations. I should fill you with despair. nor follow its windings and evolutions with enough love and perseverance. Do not inquire into the why and wherefore. it expresses and carries on a thought which we must seize and render. it is only at the cost of struggle that we compel it to come forth in its true aspects.“and here. but a poet. You are not an abject copyist. Beauty is solemn and severe. the model you copied under a master. it is far more.—since I have taken that as an example. A hand. to our sorrow. you must have recourse to the chisel of a man who. You do not search out the secrets of form. “I studied that throat from the nude.

her eyes soften and droop with just that look of resigned gentleness. which you present to our eyes. perhaps. your 179 .” said the old man. whose original stands forth like a sublime vision.Balzac glimpse you get of it. not misled by will-o’-the-wisps. belongs to a fair one. the throbbing shadow of the eyelashes falls exactly thus upon her cheek. and—that is not it. “his superiority came from the inward essence which seems to break from the inner to the outer of his figures. Every figure is a world. that flower of life which Raphael and Titian culled. You have given the shadow of life. O Mabuse! O my master!” added this singular person. drawn by the monitions of an inward voice. you think you have touched the goal. colored phantoms. at any rate. “you were a thief. What lacks? A mere nothing. but where is the blood which begets the passion or the peace of their souls. You clothe your women with delicate skins and glorious draperies of hair. you have robbed us of your life. or. That was Raphael’s method. you will use up many a crayon and spoil many a canvas before you reach that height. ha! you have not got there yet. its being. which floats vaporously about the tabernacle of flesh. and perhaps you may yet paint a worthy picture. sensations.—a medium by which to communicate ideas. Form with him was what it is with us. laid bare by a divine finger which points to the past of its whole existence as the source of its given expression. you grew weary too soon. in short. feelings. my little men. Your figures are pale.—invincible powers. but this. but you have not given its fulness. the infinite poesy of being. Ha. but advancing always until they force Nature to lie bare in her divine integrity. This is not the spirit of the great warriors of art. proud of not being obliged to write “currus venustus” or “pulcher homo” on the frame of your picture. with the second or the third. Undoubtedly a woman carries her head this way and her petticoats that way. That is it. colored with the rainbow tints of light. and is the cause of what you call ‘effects’? Your saint is a dark woman. and you call that painting! art! Because you make something which looks more like a woman than a house. you think yourselves majestic artists like our great forefathers. lifting his velvet cap in homage to the sovereign of art. but the true artist smiles. Mediocrity will extol your work. a portrait. its —I know not what—soul. my poor Porbus. Start from the point you have now attained. but that mere nothing is ALL. in short.

“I see that it is worth while to talk art before you. drawing. that fountain of art and science. the saint and the boatman. waking from a deep reverie. It is a masterpiece for the world at large.” he resumed after a pause. have a subtile meaning which the Italian painters cannot give. seemed to quiver with the eagerness of an incontinent fancy. But you are worthy of a lesson. “Alas. Your palette. rather than took. your art! But at least. such a chance of instruction may never fall in your way again. —the three essential parts of art. The little old man turned up his cuffs with convulsive haste. Porbus. and capable of understanding it. the handful of brushes which Porbus held out to him. I do not know one of them who could have invented that hesitation of the boatman. blushing. “These figures. I don’t blame you for admiring Porbus’s saint. I will show you how little is needed to turn that picture into a true masterpiece. only those who are behind the veil of the holy of holies can perceive its errors. As he did so his beard. and snatched.” “Let us see what you can do. slipped his thumb through the palette charged with prismatic colors.” said Porbus. The unknown copied the saint with an easy turn of his hand. cut to a point. and his hurly-burly of color. Give all your eyes and all your attention. “what is your name?” The youth signed the drawing: Nicolas Poussin. and sentiment. and while he filled his brush he muttered between his teeth:— “Colors fit to fling out of the window with the man who ground 180 . good sir!” cried the young man in a loud voice. maitre. with his mountains of Flemish flesh daubed with vermilion.” “But the saint is sublime.” “Does the young fellow belong to you?” asked Porbus of the old man. “I am all unknown. “Oh! oh!” exclaimed the old man. only a dauber by instinct. “this picture is better than the paintings of that rascally Rubens. forgive my boldness.knowledge.” said the neophyte. giving him a red crayon and a piece of paper.” said the strange being who had discoursed so wildly. “Not bad for a beginner. you have got the elements of color. I have just come to Paris. At any rate.” Porbus fetched his palette and brushes. his cascades of red hair.

—a painting steeped. and I am an old man now. the extraordinary old man was giving touches here and there to all parts of the picture. Mabuse had but one pupil. and his motions seemed to be jerked out of him with such rapidity and impatience that the young Poussin fancied a demon.” said the old man without turning round. or even against. the will of their owner. I never took a pupil. muttering half to himself. in light. The old man worked on.Balzac them. young man. “see how with three or four touches and a faint bluish glaze you can make the air circulate round the head of the poor saint. young man! what I am showing you now no other master in the world can teach you. half to his neophyte:— “Paf! paf! paf! that is how we butter it on. the convulsive movements which seemed the result of some mental resistance. as it were. running through the whole scale with more rapidity than the organist of a cathedral runs up the gamut of the “O Filii” at Easter. revolting! who can paint with them?” Then he dipped the point of his brush with feverish haste into the various tints. “See. Mabuse alone knew the secret of giving life to form. encased with the body of this singular being. was working his hands fantastically like those of a puppet without.” While he was speaking. Young man. Look how the drapery now floats. false. The unnatural brightness of his eyes. and you see that the breeze lifts it.—crude. gave to this fancy of the youth a semblance of truth which reacted upon his lively imagination. there one. just now it looked like heavy linen held out by pins. Ah! my little 181 . You are intelligent enough to guess at what should follow from the little that I shall show you to-day. He worked with such passionate ardor that the sweat rolled in great drops from his bald brow. Here two strokes of the brush. young man. See how this tone of mingled reddish-brown and ochre warms up the cold grayness of that large shadow where the blood seemed to stagnate rather than flow. Observe that the satiny lustre I am putting on the bosom gives it the plump suppleness of the flesh of a young girl. and I am he. who was suffocating in that thick atmosphere. plunged in passionate contemplation. Porbus and Poussin stood motionless on either side of the easel. but each so telling that together they brought out a new painting.

—” he continued. Come. and. Nobody will thank us for what is underneath. still. and said to them. come!—pon. in company with two great artists who treated him with kindly attention. pon. hiding under layers of color the conflicting methods.” The three left the atelier and proceeded. with his eyes fixed on a picture. Here is a little man.” said Porbus. warm up that icy tone. it is only the last touches of the brush that count for anything. he pulled from his belt a leathern purse from which he took two gold pieces and offered them to him. striking Nicolas Poussin on the shoulder. “who has the faculty. painted by that wayward genius to enable him to get out of the prison where his creditors had kept him so long. “do not look at that too long.pats. at a table covered with appetizing dishes. saying. remember that!” At last the demon paused. observing that he was speechless. Hey! hey! in spite of the degenerate times we will talk painting. to a handsome wooden house standing near the Pont Saint-Michel. one can put one’s name to such a work. the old man turned to Porbus and Poussin. touching up the spots where he had complained of a lack of life.” “Take them. beside a good fire. Yes. both of you. “Young man. The embryo painter soon found himself in one of the rooms on the ground floor seated. “Now let us go and breakfast.— “I buy your drawing. “take them. seeing that the latter trembled and blushed with shame. talking all the way of art. you are right.” Observing the shabby cap of the youth. whose window-casings and arabesque decoration amazed Poussin. “Now see. my little friend. and regaining the unity of tone essential to an ardent Egyptian.” he added. to my house.” said Porbus to Poussin. for the young scholar had the pride of poverty. I have some smoked ham and good wine. Come. pon. who stood mute with admiration.— “It is not yet equal to my Beautiful Nut-girl. The figure presented such fulness and force of reality that Nicolas 182 .” he continued. or you will fall into despair. we are strong ourselves. Porbus put on a hundred. he has the ransom of two kings in his pouch. I have only put on one or two. I will sign it.” It was the Adam of Mabuse. rising to fetch a mirror in which to look at what he had done. by unexpected good fortune.

” said Porbus. and the other as a mark of friendship. where the forms should have the living life. that is only a man.” resumed Porbus. and the being who came first from the hand of God must needs have had something divine about him which is lacking here. but the atmosphere. The latter looked at the picture with a satisfied but not enthusiastic manner. grand and yet profound.” “Zounds!” cried Poussin naively. with deep emotion.Balzac Poussin began to comprehend the meaning of the bewildering talk of the old man. he rises and is coming towards us. The man is living.” answered the host. “and if you would consent to let me see your Beautiful Nut-girl. “that is only one of my early daubs. “What a magnificent Giorgione!” “No. “No. exclaimed aloud. which seemed to say. I thought it was finished. the sky. “Maitre Frenhofer. “I have done better myself. feel. He turned to the latter as if to ask the name of their host. but the painter laid a finger on his lips with an air of mystery. keenly interested.” “Show my work!” exclaimed the old man.—where are they? Besides. “could you order up a little of your good Rhine wine for me?” “Two casks. and the young man. see. the air that we breathe. Yesterday. whose wealth and genius were sufficiently attested by the respect which Porbus showed him. I too could paint some lofty picture. no! I have still to bring it to perfection. Her eyes were liquid. “one to pay for the pleasure of looking at your pretty sinner this morning. “My poor master surpassed himself there. certainly. and by the marvels of art heaped together in the picturesque apartment. “are you the king of painters?” The old man smiled. observing against the dark panelling of the wall a magnificent portrait of a woman.” remarked the old man.” “There is life in the form. Mabuse said so himself with vexation in his sober moments. Poussin. her flesh 183 . towards evening.” Poussin looked alternately at the old man and at Porbus with uneasy curiosity.” “Ah! if I were not so feeble. as if long accustomed to such homage.” he remarked. but observe the want of truth in the background. hoping that sooner or later some word of the conversation might enable him to guess the name of the old man. kept silence.

light half-tints. but go a few steps off 184 . as it were. for. I have not dryly outlined my figures. there is no such thing as drawing. king of light. Do not laugh. A line is a means by which man explains to himself the effect of light upon a given object. We feel that if the figures changed position the shady places would not be wiped off. layer by layer. the human body does not end off with a line. so that I defy any one to place a finger on the exact spot where the parts join the groundwork of the picture. brass. young man. In my work you will see whiteness beneath the opacity of the broadest shadow. you will understand the reasons for it one of these days. For this reason I do not sharply define lineaments. that we detach things from their surroundings and put them in their due relief. I have analyzed and lifted. They are wood. where all things are rounded and full.—in other words. I have sketched my figure in light clear tones of supple yet solid color. If seen near by this sort of work has a woolly effect. for shadow is but an accident.—remember that. I have avoided that blunder. iron. her tresses waved—she breathed! And yet. though I have grasped the secret of rendering on a flat canvas the relief and roundness of nature.trembled. Then I worked backward. and would remain dark spots which never could be made luminous. I was able to cast strong shadows deepening almost to blackness. though many of our most illustrious painters have fallen into it. and is wanting in nicety and precision. this morning at dawn I saw many errors. The shadows of ordinary painters are not of the same texture as their tones of light. nor brought out superstitiously minute anatomical details. In that respect sculptors get nearer to the truth of nature than we do. but there is no such thing as a line in nature. Unlike the crowd of ignoramuses. great sovereign of art. Like him. It is only in modelling that we really draw. the colors of Titian. The proper distribution of light can alone reveal the whole body. To speak rigorously. I have studied to their depths the masters of color. let me tell you. and glazings whose transparency I kept diminishing little by little. young man. no matter how strange that saying seems to you. anything you please except flesh in shadow. each wrapping or overlapping another. Nature is all curves. I diffuse about their outline a haze of warm. Ah! to attain that glorious result. who fancy they draw correctly because they can paint one good vanishing line. and by means of half-tints.

” The old man paused. betrayed the imperial touch of a great artist. I doubt my work. young man. “See. and which.” said Porbus in a low voice.Balzac and the parts fall into place. with fixed eyes. but what are ten short years in the long struggle with Nature? We do not know the type it cost Pygmalion to make the only statue that ever walked—” He fell into a reverie and remained. they take their proper form and detach themselves. his manners. a work no doubt of genius. became to the wondering youth something more than a man. everything about the strange old man seemed beyond the limits of human nature. sadly. “Nevertheless. beautiful beside even the Adam of Mabuse. Is not that the method of the sun. filling him with the inexplicable curiosity of a true artist. there are moments when I have my doubts. and waking by its touch confused ideas within the soul. lead to unbelief. divine painter of the universe? O Nature. his wealth. and then work down to the darker portions. playing mechanically with his knife. that wild impassioned nature to which such mighty powers have been confided. his work guarded so secretly. then resumed. The strange old man. which too 185 . “For ten years I have worked. we feel the air circulating around them. he seemed a fantastic spirit inhabiting an unknown sphere. with his white eyes fixed in stupor. judging by the head of the Virgin which Poussin had so naively admired.—in short. Perhaps it would be better not to sketch a single line. he is talking to his own soul. the limbs stand out.—the presence of the artistic nature.—a work of patient toil. We can no more define the moral phenomena of this species of fascination than we can render in words the emotions excited in the heart of an exile by a song which recalls his fatherland. I ask myself if I ought not to grasp the figure first by its highest lights. the respectful deference shown to him by Porbus. The words acted like a spell on Nicolas Poussin. like the depths of ignorance. The contempt which the old man affected to pour upon the noblest efforts of art. “I am not satisfied.” he continued. oblivious of all about him. Nature! who has ever caught thee in thy flights? Alas! the heights of knowledge.—the body turns. The rich imagination of the youth fastened upon the one perceptible and clear clew to the mystery of this supernatural being.

who. Yes. celestial Beauty! in thy farthest sphere. the old man became by sudden transfiguration Art itself. Frenhofer is a man carried away by the passion of his art. and drags cold reason and common souls. I would go down to hell to win back the life of art—” “Let us go. my dear Porbus. I would search thee out. fruitful though destitute. wishing to compliment the old drunkard. “Oh! the old dragon has guarded the entrance. “I have never yet beheld a perfect woman. “he neither sees nor hears us any longer.. and even lovers of art. its transports. where for such there is neither pleasure nor instruction. It is a nature. whose scattered beauty we snatch by glimpses? Oh! to see for a moment. and he sacrificed the greater part of his wealth to satisfy the mad passions of his master. so long sought for.” said the wonder-struck young man. He became the friend. “Yes. which Mabuse had seized so well that once. In return.—epics.” answered Porbus. an essence. His treasure is out of our reach.often abuses those powers. interrupting his own words. works of art.” “Mystery! then there is a mystery?” “Yes. saviour. the power of giving life to form. a body whose outlines were faultless and whose flesh-tints—Ah! where lives she?” he cried. our perpetual despair. he sees above and beyond what other painters 186 . Like Orpheus.” said Frenhofer.—I would give my all of fortune. Mabuse bequeathed to him the secret of relief.—art with all its secrets. while to the artistic soul itself. I have not waited for your wish or urging to attempt an assault on the mystery. he made his appearance in a paper garment painted to resemble damask. “Frenhofer was the only pupil Mabuse was willing to teach. speaking half in reverie. for the enthusiastic Poussin. and visions rise along the way. the divine completed nature. mocking yet kind.— the ideal.—that flower of nature.” said Porbus to Poussin. laid a hand upon his shoulder and discovered the deception.” “Let us go to his atelier. having sold and drunk the value of a flowered damask which he should have worn at the entrance of Charles V. father of that unhappy man. “where lives the lost Venus of the ancients. Thus. over stony and arid places.—that white-winged angel of sportive fancy. The splendor of the stuff attracted the attention of the emperor. and its dreams. a single moment.

but to-day I believe in myself. Porbus smiled at the youth’s enthusiasm. Do not imitate him. This proves that our art is made up. That. “It is—it is. Work! work! painters should theorize with their brushes in their hands. of course. and that lines can render nothing but geometric figures. with a gesture of love. but he had the misfortune to be born rich. He has meditated deeply on color and the absolute truth of lines. and thinking only of the hidden masterpiece. but by dint of much research. “What is the matter?” she asked. not listening to Porbus. But there is a higher truth still. much study. and color gives the life. A sublime painter. and that enables him to stray into theory and conjecture. is not true. who rose quickly as the door opened. Near the single and gloomy window of the room sat a young girl. of an infinite number of elements.—namely. we shall be brought to doubt. he ran up the miserable stairway with anxious rapidity until he reached an upper chamber nestling between the joists of a roof “en colombage. choking with joy. who is as much excited in brain as he is exalted in art.”—the plain. * * * Nicolas Poussin returned slowly towards the Rue de la Harpe and passed. indeed. Gillette. without observing that he did so. Ah. happy! There is gold in these brushes!” 187 . In his hours of despair he fancies that drawing does not exist. and that if reason and poesy persist in wrangling with the tools. much thought.” “We will contrive to get in. that practice and observation are the essentials of a painter. he has come to doubt the object for which he is searching. like nature. and bade him farewell with a kindly invitation to come and visit him. Drawing gives the skeleton. because with a black line which has no color we can represent the human form. she had recognized the young man’s touch upon the latch. the brushes. Returning presently upon his steps. but life without the skeleton is a far more incomplete thing than the skeleton without the life. we shall be rich. like Frenhofer. “that I feel myself a painter! I have doubted it till now.” cried Poussin. the modest hostelry where he was lodging. slight covering of the houses of old Paris.” he cried.Balzac see. I can be a great man.

beloved heart!” “Ah! do you want something of me?” “Yes.” she answered. espousing his poverty. pretty as the spring-time. The walls of the garret were covered with bits of paper on which were crayon sketches. “I will not do it. in a grave tone. You look at me. for the sun did not always shine in the heavens. as others are daring in the display of luxury and in parading the insensibility of their hearts. and perhaps by the monition of his own talent. She was all grace and beauty. His grave and earnest face lost its expression of joy. and lighting all with the fire of a noble soul. Gillette. “O God!” he exclaimed.” “Would you like me to copy another woman?” “Perhaps. “if to make me a great 188 . he possessed only four clean canvases.Suddenly he became silent. poor. “Tell me. “if she were very ugly. The smile which flickered on her lips brightened as with gold the darkness of the garret and rivalled the effulgence of the skies. Colors were at that time costly.— calm and collected in her passion. he had suddenly found a mistress. “Listen. happy girl sprang lightly on the painter’s knee. Brought to Paris by a gentleman of his acquaintance. with a little pouting air. Your eyes say nothing to me.—one of those generous and noble souls who are ready to suffer by the side of a great man. he was comparing the immensity of his hopes with the mediocrity of his means.” “Well. but you do not think of me. In the midst of this poverty he felt within himself an indescribable wealth of heart and the superabundant force of consuming genius. decked with the wealth of feminine charm. but she was always here. “then I must know it.” “If you want me to pose as I did the other day. living in his happiness. his griefs.” she said. sustaining the genius which overflowed in love ere it found in art its destined expression. strong to bear deprivation and bestow love. “I can never tell her!” “A secret!” she cried.” “Gillette. and the poor gentleman gazed at a palette that was well-nigh bare. then.” Poussin was lost in thought. studying to comprehend his caprices. come!” The obedient.” continued Poussin.

” she interrupted. when she was once 189 . I am proud and happy in doing thy dear will. How came this cruel thought into thy mind?” “It came there.” “Well. my own Gillette. To obey your caprices. Ah. no! it must be a secret between us. a wretch?” “Let us consult Pere Hardouin.” Poussin bent his head upon his breast like a man succumbing to joy or grief too great for his spirit to bear. “If I showed myself thus to another you would love me no longer. and I myself. “And yet. then. “In you he would see only a woman. ah.” “No. it is glorious! But thou wilt forget me.—thee alone! I am not a painter. but thou must not be present. You are the perfect woman whom he seeks. fy!” “Forgive me. To me thou art more precious than fortune and honors.” he said. ready to sacrifice love’s scruples to reward the lover who thus seemed to sacrifice his art to her.” she added. a living woman.” she said. “Yet he is only an old man. “you know well that I would not do it. She reigned.” Forgetting all but his art. to suffer for thy good! Yes.” resumed Poussin. “Am I. “I told you. “Listen. “He loves me no longer!” thought Gillette. but I never said— never!—that I. “I would rather be loved than famous. that is simple and natural! in spite of myself. away with these brushes! burn those sketches! I have been mistaken. I should feel unworthy of your love.Balzac painter it were necessary to pose to some one else—” “You are testing me. Perish art and all its secrets!” She looked at him admiringly. Yes. she felt instinctively that the arts were forgotten for her sake.” “Renounce it?” cried Poussin.” said the painter. “Stay at the door. armed with thy dagger. and yet I love thee. happy and captivated by his passion.” she said. “it would be my ruin. pulling him by the sleeve of his worn doublet. and flung at her feet like grains of incense. would renounce my love. Nick. My vocation is to love thee. I am thy lover. enter and kill the man. Poussin clasped her in his arms.” “Love should grant all things!” she exclaimed. If I cry out. I will go. that I would give my life for you. throwing himself at her feet. with a sort of contrition. but to another.

She felt that she loved him less as the suspicion rose in her heart that he was less worthy than she had thought him. But before long she fell a prey to an anguish far more cruel than her regret. and she struggled vainly to drive forth a terrible fear which forced its way into her mind.more alone. She regretted her promise. 190 .

“I thought for one moment that my work was accomplished. “Young Poussin is beloved by a woman whose incomparable beauty is without imperfection. worthless? Are you unable to grind a new white? Is the oil bad. and without changing his melancholy attitude he cast on Porbus the distant glance of a man sunk in absolute dejection.” “How so?” asked Frenhofer.” He rose suddenly. if he consents to lend her to you. my dear master. I go to Turkey. “Nature herself. as if to depart at once. “Wait. in the imperfections of our moral nature. At times I am half afraid that a brush may wake this woman. letting a smile of satisfaction flicker on his lip. in search of models. I am about to travel.Balzac CHAPTER II THREE MONTHS after the first meeting of Porbus and Poussin. I shall have no peace until I clear up my doubts. It may be that I have up there. He was seated languidly in a large oaken chair of vast dimensions covered with black leather. if we are to believe the mathematicians of health. according to casuists. “I have come in time to spare you the costs and fatigues of such a journey. “was the distant ultra-marine. self-developed discouragements. lies in a bad digestion.” exclaimed Porbus. for which you journeyed to Brussels. Asia. but I must have deceived myself in some of the details. Greece. surprised. the former went to see Maitre Frenhofer. or the brushes restive?” “Alas!” cried the old man. in the wind. at least you must let us see your picture. He found the old man a prey to one of those deep. or else. “Well. But. I must compare my picture with various types of Nature.” The old man remained standing. maitre.” he added.” said Porbus. the fact being that the good man was simply worn out by the effort to complete his mysterious picture. and that she will disappear from sight. whose cause. in some swelling of the intestines. motionless. in the weather. in a state bordering 191 .

knew not how to answer a feeling so novel and yet so profound. She would blush if other eyes than mine beheld her.—if you did not worship her on your knees. My painting is not a picture. Poesy and women give themselves bare. and think you I would submit my idol to the cold eyes and stupid criticisms of fools? Ah. cease to be father. a painter?—No. even to his friend. Was the old man under the thraldom of an artist’s fancy? Or did these ideas flow from the unspeakable fanaticism produced at 192 . in a moment.” The old man seemed to renew his youth. a passion! Born in my atelier. it is a woman. Titian. she is my creation. the work which I keep hidden behind bolts and bars is an exception to all other art.—paintings of Correggio. the Beatrice of Dante? No. I painted her? She has a soul. Would you have me resign the joy of ten years. lover. my spouse?—tear off the veil with which I have chastely hidden my joy? It would be prostitution! For ten years I have lived with this woman. mine alone! she loves me! Has she not smiled upon me as. Well. It is not a canvas. the lover. it is a sentiment. a young man. his pale cheeks blushed a vivid red. “Show my creature.—a woman with whom I weep and laugh and think and talk. the Angelica of Ariosto. so debased as to lend his wife to dishonor? When you paint a picture for the court you do not put your whole soul into it. it dies when a man says.— the soul with which I endowed her. we see but their semblance. as I might throw away a worn-out doublet? Shall I. no! I would kill on the morrow the man who polluted her with a look! I would kill you. but suffer her to endure the glance of a man. she must remain a virgin there. Have we the model of Raphael. creator? —this woman is not a creature. like truth. his hands trembled. touch by touch. “What!” he at last exclaimed. I will kiss the print of his feet in the dust. She shall not leave it unclothed. she is mine. amazed by the passionate violence with which he uttered these words. I shall have the strength to burn my Nutgirl ere I render my last sigh. Bring your young man.—you. to lovers only. Let her be seen?—where is the husband. my friend. his eyes had the brilliancy and fire of life. Here is she whom I love. mournfully. I will give him my treasures.on stupefaction. you sell to courtiers your tricked-out lay-figures.—but make him my rival? Shame upon me! Ha! I am more a lover than I am a painter. Porbus. Michael-Angelo. love is a mystery! its life is in the depths of the soul.

as the one I speak of. I leave you mistress of your actions. “is she not worth all the masterpieces in the world?” 193 . Porbus said to the old man. “What am I doing here?” she said to Poussin. then. perhaps. fancying he saw some hesitation in the old man’s eye. You are my conscience. “Whoever sees it will find a woman lying on a velvet bed. it is finished!” said Frenhofer. if you.—a model called the Beautiful Nutgirl. he caught her all trembling by the hand and led her to the old master. “If our love perishes. Mine will be to me forever faithful. Yet—I wish I could be sure—” “Go to Asia. Let us enter. “She will betray him sooner or later. “then let us say no more. in a deep voice.” Opening the door of the house the two lovers met Porbus coming out. as perfect. At this moment Gillette and Nicolas Poussin reached the entrance of the house. you may be dead. a woman as beautiful. no! I am but a child. whose eyes were still wet with tears. and your picture forever unfinished. I will obey your will.” returned Porbus.Balzac times in every mind by the long gestation of a noble work? Was it possible to bargain with this strange and whimsical being? Filled with such thoughts. he will think he sees the bosom of Catherine Lescaut.” said Porbus hastily. “There!” he cried.—a memory on thy palette. Come. yourself—” “Have I a self when you speak thus to me? Oh. Astonished at the beauty of the young girl. “Gillette.” “Well.” “What sort of mistress is that?” cried Frenhofer. “Is it not woman for woman? Poussin lends his mistress to your eyes. I shall be happy. even in Asia. looking at him fixedly. perfumes are exhaling from a golden tripod by her side: he will be tempted to take the tassels of the cord that holds back the curtain. As the young girl was about to enter. thy fame shall be the guerdon of my obedience to thy will. she dropped the arm of her lover and shrank back as if overcome by a presentiment.” “Oh. seeming to make a violent effort.” she continued. beneath curtains. Porbus made a few steps towards the door of the room. But before you find. I may yet live again. if I put into my heart a long regret. my glory. he will see it rise and fall with the movement of her breathing. Come home.

“Ah! you love me still?” she whispered.” cried Porbus. his mistress raised her eyes joyfully and looked at him.” said Gillette. then she ran into his arms. she had none to hide her joy. with the artist’s habit.” “Can it be.” exclaimed the old master. with its accent of love. and above all the gesture with which he laid his hand upon 194 . “Ah!” she cried. “Gillette!” he cried. “The fruits of love wither in a day. disrobe as it were the beauteous form of the young girl. “let us go. captured by brigands and offered to a slave-merchant. he never looked at me like that!” “Old man!” said Poussin. her hands hung at her sides.” At this cry. “see this sword. simple attitude of a young Georgian. Gillette stood before him in the ingenuous. looking steadily at Poussin and at Porbus. “let us go in. I will set fire to your house. and repented of his folly in bringing this treasure from their peaceful garret. I will plunge it into your heart at the first cry of that young girl. “that I am nothing more than a woman to him?” She raised her head proudly. scruples convulsed his heart as he saw the eye of the old painter regain its youth and. Do you understand me?” His look was gloomy and the tones of his voice were terrible. bursting into tears. strength seemed to abandon her. innocent and timid. he seemed to revel in the triumph which the beauty of his virgin was about to win over the beauty of the living woman. His attitude. those of art are immortal. and as she glanced at Frenhofer with flashing eyes she saw her lover gazing once more at the picture he had formerly taken for a Giorgione. “Let me have her for one moment. Once more he became a lover rather than an artist. roused from his meditation by Gillette’s voice. “Do not let him retract. her eyes were lowered. Poussin cursed himself. I consent!” There was love in the cry of Frenhofer as in that of Poussin. Yes. Though she had had strength to hide her suffering.Frenhofer quivered. He was seized with the jealous frenzy of a true lover. A modest blush suffused her cheeks. and no one shall escape from it. striking Poussin on the shoulder. and her tears protested against the violence done to her purity. mingled with jealous coquetry on behalf of his semblance of a woman. yes. “and you shall compare her with my Catherine.

Have I not caught 195 . “Do not look at that. the air within it is so true.” Porbus and Poussin. “Come in! come in!” cried the old man. rushed into the middle of a vast atelier filled with dust. Porbus and Poussin remained outside the closed door of the atelier. the Beautiful Nut-girl. and where they saw a few paintings hanging here and there upon the walls. “it is only a daub which I made to study a pose. whose hair fell in disorder about his face. but could see it nowhere. and his ear seemed glued to the panel of the door. brushes. standing darkly in the shadow. for though old painters have none of such petty scruples in presence of their art. looked about them for the secret treasure. looking at one another in silence. colors. waving his hand towards the enchanting compositions on the walls around them. “Ah!” he cried. yet they admire them in others. At first the painter of the Egyptian Mary uttered a few exclamations: “Ah. Where is art? Departed. Never shall painter. light. which was scarlet with supernatural excitement. “My work is perfect. At these words Porbus and Poussin. she unclothes herself!” —”He tells her to stand in the light!”—”He compares them!” but he grew silent as he watched the mournful face of the young man. vanished! Here is the form itself of a young girl.” he added. seized with wild curiosity. amazed at the disdain which the master showed for such marvels of art. They stopped before the figure of a woman. and his breast heaved like that of a young man beside himself with love. which filled them with eager admiration. where everything lay in disorder.” said Frenhofer. Both men. “did you not expect such perfection? You stand before a woman. it is worth nothing.Balzac the weapon. comforted the poor girl. I can show it now with pride. canvas. beaming with happiness. The young man held his hand on his sword. that you are unable to distinguish it from the air you breathe. lifesized and half nude. produce the rival of Catherine Lescaut. looked like conspirators waiting the hour to strike a tyrant. Those are my errors. “There it is!” said the old man. and you are looking for a picture! There are such depths on that canvas. when they are fresh and pleasing. His eyes sparkled. who half forgave him for thus sacrificing her to his art and to his hopes of a glorious future.

crossed by a multitude of eccentric lines.” And he caught up a brush which he held out to them with a naive motion.” cried Frenhofer. my brushes. “See. “The old rogue is making game of us. Can you?” “No. 196 . and tried to see if the light. these are my colors. Coming nearer.” said Poussin. They stood lost in admiration before this glorious fragment breaking forth from the incredible. See!” returned Porbus. mistaking the purpose of their examination. she breathes! That bosom. wait!” “Can you see anything?” whispered Poussin to Porbus.the color. swaying. the easel. believing that he thus brought his work to perfection. “There is a woman beneath it all!” cried Porbus.—an enchanting foot. The foot seemed to them like the torso of some Grecian Venus. coming close to the pretended picture. falling plumb upon the canvas at which he pointed. slow. tones. brought to light amid the ruins of a burned city. though vaguely. which came forth from the chaos of colors. See how these outlines spring forth from the background. yes. Do you not feel that you could pass your hand behind those shoulders? For seven years have I studied these effects of light coupled with form. The two men turned towards him with one accord. standing directly before it. the ecstasy in which he lived.—see! Ah! who would not worship it on bended knee? The flesh palpitates! Wait.—is it not bathed in light? Why. making a sort of painted wall. “I can see nothing here but a mass of confused color. moving from right to left. had neutralized all effects. “Yes. calling Poussin’s attention to the layers of color which the old painter had successively laid on. They examined the picture. the very life of the line which seems to terminate the body? The same phenomenon which we notice around fishes in the water is also about objects which float in air. progressive destruction around it. “Nothing. here is the frame. That hair.” “We are mistaken. she is about to rise. bending. it is really a canvas. shadows hazy and undefined.” The two painters drew back. rising by turns. misty and without form. a living foot. leaving the old man absorbed in ecstasy. they perceived in a corner of the canvas the point of a naked foot. beginning to comprehend.

a faint half-shadow.” answered Poussin gravely. there on her cheek.” “How much happiness is there!—upon that canvas.—smoothing off the sharp contrasts and the texture of the color. “it rises. if you observed it in Nature you might think it could hardly be rendered. and then see how. turning to Poussin as he did so. We must live with our work for years before we can produce a creation like that. My dear Porbus. rousing from his abstraction. “is the ultimate end of our art on earth. Look at the light on the bosom. looking first at the two painters. “Do you know that he is one of our greatest painters?” “He is a poet even more than he is a painter. believe me. addressing Poussin. “But sooner or later. my friend.” And with the end of his brush he pointed to a spot of clear light color. and you will comprehend what I have told you about the manner of treating form and outline. faith in art. look attentively at my work. below the eyes. “There.” answered the old man.” said Porbus.Balzac “He means it in good faith. to enter heaven. “Nothing there!—upon my canvas?” said Frenhofer. I think.” returned Porbus. See! there.” cried Poussin. Come nearer. it is. “Yes. he was smiling at his visionary woman. See.—I have been able. I took unheardof pains to reproduce that effect. and give to the form the aspect and roundness of Nature itself. and see how by a series of touches and higher lights firmly laid on I have managed to grasp light itself. by an opposite method. Porbus struck the old man on the shoulder. 197 . he will perceive that there is nothing there. if too far off it disappears. “What have you done?” cried Porbus. and combine it with the dazzling whiteness of the clearer tones. Some of these shadows have cost me endless toil.” added Poussin. and said. “we need faith. most remarkable.” “And from thence. The absorbed old man gave no heed to their words. and then at his imaginary picture. and you will see the work more distinctly. to do away with the very idea of drawing and all other artificial means. at that point.” said Porbus. Well. touching the canvas. by caressing the outline of my figure and veiling it with cloudy half-tints.

are jesting with me? Answer. dolt! Why did you come here? My good Porbus. “I should be infamous if I still loved thee. I—I see her!” he cried. for I despise thee. can it be that I have spoiled my picture?” Porbus hesitated. Tell me. “Kill me!” she answered. then. too. “Am I then a fool.” he added. an idiot? Have I neither talent nor capacity? Am I no better than a rich man who walks. “You see nothing?—clown. “She is wondrously beautiful!” At this moment Poussin heard the weeping of Gillette as she stood. with the grave composure of a jeweller locking his drawers when he thinks that thieves are near him. but the anxiety painted on the white face of the old man was so cruel that he was constrained to point to the canvas and utter the word. and said to him. by the body. I love.” The tone of this farewell chilled the two painters with fear. my darling?” asked the painter. “Adieu.” While Poussin listened to Gillette. my little friends. and yet already I hate thee. in a corner. and can only walk? Have I indeed produced nothing?” He gazed at the canvas through tears. full of contempt and suspicion. you are envious men who seek to make me think she is spoiled. with convulsive haste. When they reached the threshold of his house he said to them. He cast at the two painters a look which was profoundly dissimulating. “What troubles thee. I admire thee. scoundrel. Frenhofer drew a green curtain before his Catherine.The old man seized the arm of the young man violently. “Nothing! nothing! after toiling ten years!” He sat down and wept. but thou hast filled me with horror. I am your friend. “See!” Frenhofer looked at his picture for a space of a moment. becoming once more a lover. that you may steal her from me. and staggered. infidel. “is it possible that you. “By the blood. * 198 * * . he silently pushed them through the door of his atelier. turning to his friend. and feared to speak. Suddenly he raised himself proudly and flung a lightning glance upon the two painters. by the head of Christ. forgotten.

after having burned his paintings.Balzac On the morrow Porbus. alarmed. went again to visit Frenhofer. 199 . and found that he had died during the night.

200 .

Balzac Honorine by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Clara Bell 201 .

Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics 202 . for any purpose. This Portable Document File is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Honorine by Honoré de Balzac. Indonesia is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classics literature. in English. the Editor. the Editor. in any way. Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series. Any person using this document file. nor anyone associated with ECONARCH Institute assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission. Translated by Clara Bell is a publication of ECONaRCH Institute. to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them.DISCLAIMER Honorine by Honoré de Balzac. Neither ECONARCH Institute. and in any way does so at his or her own risk. ECONARCH Institute.

grandeur. the talent for conversation. and they frequently offer greater comfort than that of France. but the life of the brain. both English and French have perhaps sufficient reasons.Balzac Honorine by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Clara Bell Dedication To Monsieur Achille Deveria An affectionate remembrance from the Author. finds so little comprehen203 . which is half the French language. They sometimes display a bewildering magnificence. Something better than England is everywhere to be found. but does not say. whose raillery. the spirit of the unspoken. whereas it is excessively difficult to find the charms of France outside France. is nowhere else to be met with. as it is. IF THE FRENCH have as great an aversion for traveling as the English have a propensity for it. Other countries can show admirable scenery. the prompt apprehension of what one is thinking. which makes but slow progress in that particular. Hence a Frenchman. the “Attic salt” so familiar at Paris. they lack neither grace nor noble manners. and luxury.

from which water mysteriously flows. which out of France are to be regarded as myths. and to whom the Quais of the left bank of the Seine are not really Paris. have owned to pleasure at seeing the custom-house officers of their native land. and as rare as the woman of whom I write! It is to find—not the most fashionable pleasantry. more or less famous. on the hill forming the last fold of the Apennines between the gate of San Tomaso and the well-known lighthouse. when the waves of the Mediterranean lap one after another like the avowal of a woman. when silence reigns on the quay and in the groves of the villa. of the kind here in question. from whom you drag it word by word. which may seem the most daring hyperbole of patriotism. would wither in a foreign land like an uprooted tree. could fancy themselves still in Paris when they found themselves in a palazzo. in torrents. two Parisians. which is to be seen in all the keepsake views of Genoa. Emigration is counter to the instincts of the French nation. like an oasis. This preamble is intended to recall to such Frenchmen as have traveled the extreme pleasure they have felt on occasionally finding their native land. To find Paris again! Do you know what that means. from the poet down to the artisan. This palazzo is one of the magnificent villas on which Genoese nobles were wont to spend millions at the time when the aristocratic republic was a power. in the drawing-room of some diplomate: a pleasure hard to be understood by those who have never left the asphalt of the Boulevard des Italiens. after it has rained as it can rain there. all the morning. for that exists only in the Rue Montorgueil— but a meal which reminds you of it! It is to find the wines of France. that the moment when the perfumed 204 . for it loses its aroma between Paris and the frontier—but the witty understanding. If the early night is beautiful anywhere. the critical atmosphere in which the French live. It must be confessed. O Parisians? It is to find—not indeed the cookery of the Rocher de Cancale as Borel elaborates it for those who can appreciate it. In 1836. Many Frenchmen. and over the marble heads with yawning jaws. it surely is at Genoa.sion. when the clearness of the sea vies with that of the sky. taken by the French Consul-General. when the Sardinian Court was residing at Genoa. from the duchess to the boy in the street. when the stars are beaming.

Mademoiselle des Touches. when. one of the glories of the fair sex. Mademoiselle des Touches had been to Florence on business. and position recommend her no less than her talents. the Marquis di Negro. again on the landscape painter’s account. a secretary to the Embassy who believes himself to be crushed and mischievous. With the charming kindness of which she is prodigal. and the Marquis Damaso Pareto. finally. the other a well known critic Claude Vignon. and you will have the picture presented by the terrace of the villa about the middle of May—a picture in which the predominant figure was that of a celebrated woman.Balzac air brings fragrance to the lungs and to our day-dreams. One of the two Frenchmen was the famous landscape painter. who knew her Genoa down to its smallest chapels. but she had drawn in the claws of her refusals when it was proposed that they 205 . Though the ambassador was a distinguished man of letters. The Consul-General had. and was returning by the Cornice road to Marseilles. the celebrated lady had refused to yield to his advances. holds you in your easy-chair. a ConsulGeneral with a wife as beautiful as a Madonna. the heroine of this improvised festival. of course. known in the literary world by the name of Camille Maupin. Camille Maupin. who have come to take leave of the Consul’s wife at a splendid dinner. before the arrival of the Court. She had stopped at Genoa. and two silent children—silent because sleep has fallen on them—the French Ambassador and his wife. made visible and ambient as the air. Leon de Lora. Imagine to yourself. wished to do the honors of Genoa. the town at your feet and fair woman opposite—such Boccaccio hours can be known only in Italy and on the shores of the Mediterranean. a spoon in your hand. They had both come with this lady. dreading what the English call an exhibition. had left her landscape painter to the care of the diplomate and the two Genoese marquises. when voluptuousness. to a woman whose wealth. she had brought with her Leon de Lora to show him Italy. name. two Frenchmen disguised as Genoese. a knight hospitaller to all men of talent on their travels. round the table. two Parisians. on whom all eyes centered now and again. She had come by Simplon. and was miserly of her minutes. you sip an ice or a sorbet. and had gone on as far as Rome that he might see the Campagna.

Notwithstanding all the flattering advances prompted by a spontaneous passion. in consequence of the inability of daughters to inherit. However. So Mademoiselle des Touches had sacrificed one of those days of perfect freedom. the Consul and his wife. women know and recognize the difference. the Consul-General had not seemed to wish to marry. literature had scarcely been mentioned. who had been married about six years. a woman is rarely rich. was an exception. and to see. which explains without justifying some of their attachments. A Genoese heiress! the expression might raise a smile at Genoa. and after certain steps taken by the Ambassador during his visits to the Genoese Court. This diplomate. Now. it is easy to understand that etiquette had been banished. the two Genoese noblemen. in a word. But before coming to the turn in the conversation which led the Consul-General to speak. when a collation was served. The 206 . After dinner till nine o’clock. who were curious to know whether Camille Maupin’s manly talent impaired her grace as a pretty woman. but Onorina Pedrotti. the butterfly flittings of this French tilting match were certain to come to it.should spend a farewell day at the Consul’s villa. a man of four-and-thirty. His handsome face. thrown into relief by a delightful nature. be noted that there was no affectation in his dreamy expression. Nevertheless. It may. as well as a great many women even of the highest rank. Lord Byron was a poet. the meeting being accounted for. Leon de Lora had told Camille that her presence at the villa was the only return he could make to the Ambassador and his wife. where. which are not always to be had in Paris by those on whom the world has its eye. the only child of a banker without heirs male. and the Consul was poetical. the marriage was decided on. were it only to flutter over this essentially French subject. though the conversation had been gay and grave by turns. whether the trousers showed below her petticoats. it will not be out of place to give some account of him and his family. The familiarity of that face makes a description of the Consul’s unnecessary. had captivated a Genoese heiress. after living in the town for two years. and constantly enlivened by Leon de Lora’s sallies—for he is considered the most roguish wit of Paris to-day—and by the good taste which will surprise no one after the list of guests. was the living portrait of Lord Byron. however.

she lulled these unknown griefs in a cradle of tenderness and Italian caresses.Balzac young man withdrew his former refusal. made in the corn trade. Onorina Pedrotti is one of those beautiful Genoese women who. and the heiress might perhaps have slipped through his fingers if he had not played his part of a love-sick malade imaginaire. Onorina Pedrotti. and perhaps more. estimated at two millions. who might have hated the Consul if she had been altogether scorned. Hence the fulness and singular placing of the breast in the figures of 207 . As to the fortune of the Casa Pedrotti. This. In accordance with a promise made by the Ambassador to the Consul-General’s father-inlaw. the extreme reserve. in passing. was the opinion of the town of Genoa. Il Signor Pedrotti had indeed no reason to complain of the choice to which he was driven by his beloved child. less on account of the touching affection of Onorina Petrotti than by reason of an unknown incident. the young couple came into it within six months of their marriage. Pedrotti’s daughter gave him her love as a consolation. when they are beautiful. at any rate. to some women. are the most magnificent creatures in Italy. All is well if other women are in question. Women allow precedence in love affairs. when she know that he had loved. for the first and last Count Pedrotti died in January 183l. It may be remarked. at a subsequent date. they are very ready to immolate themselves for the common weal. the most natural actions seem inexplicable. Signor Pedrotti himself was made a Count by the King of Sardinia. that women never complain of being the victims of a preference. Onorina’s dower was a million of francs. A man is not a diplomate with impunity: the sposo was as secret as the grave—so secret that the merchants of Genoa chose to regard the young Consul’s attitude as premeditated. loved her sposo no less. This involution of causes sometimes affects the most serious events of history. the young man was created Baron and Commander of the Legion of Honor. the women thought it too degrading to be believed. the melancholy of the French Consul could be explained only by the word passion. one of those crises of private life which are so instantly buried under the daily tide of interests that. If it was real. Michael Angelo took his models in Genoa for the tomb of Giuliano. where. Powerful protectors in Paris watched over the young diplomate’s fortunes.

So Camille said to herself alternately. as handsome as a mother’s desire. and of consummate diplomatists. But. and he. she had discerned. and whom she had seen too in Paris drawing-rooms. And they presently found 208 . throughout the day. but which is peculiar to the women of Liguria. see the long dress. Recall to mind the figure of Night which Michael Angelo has placed at the feet of the Pensieroso. This beautiful family was the object of Camille’s secret study. and you will see before you the Consul’s wife. Camille wondered why one of the most superior men she had ever met. “What is wrong?—Nothing is wrong. at the same time. the husband and wife had offered her the pleasing spectacle of complete happiness. This phenomenon is observed among all fallen nations. remained as Consul-General at Genoa when he possessed a fortune of a hundred odd thousand francs a year. set a spark of fire in those dreamy eyes. as after the burning of a town coins are found hidden in the ashes.Day and Night. by many of the little nothings which women perceive with the intelligence of the Arab sage in Zadig. as beautiful as the type of childhood so laboriously sought out by the sculptor David to grace a tomb. with a boy of six. twist that long hair round the magnificent head. with her arms folded like those of Mademoiselle Georges. And Onorina. of Orientals. These two handsome creatures would no doubt love each other without a misunderstanding till the end of their days. It struck Mademoiselle des Touches that the Consul looked rather too absent-minded for a perfectly happy man. dress her in modern garb. they spoke of the perennial stock-in-trade of the republic of letters—woman’s sin. is no less an exceptional patrician beauty. A Genoese beauty is no longer to be found excepting under the mezzaro. imagine the statue sitting upright.” following the misleading symptoms of the Consul’s demeanor. a little dark in complexion. The noble type survives only among the populace. had the absolute calmness of Englishmen. that the husband was faithfully devoted. as at Venice it is met with only under the fazzioli. which so many critics have thought exaggerated. Although. throw a scarf about the massive bosom. embroidered with flowers. it may be said. white. In discussing literature. an exception as regards her fortune. of savages. and a little girl of four on her knees.


themselves confronted by two opinions: When a woman sins, is the man or the woman to blame? The three women present—the Ambassadress, the Consul’s wife, and Mademoiselle des Touches, women, of course, of blameless reputations—were without pity for the woman. The men tried to convince these fair flowers of their sex that some virtues might remain in a woman after she had fallen. “How long are we going to play at hide-and-seek in this way?” said Leon de Lora. “Cara vita, go and put your children to bed, and send me by Gina the little black pocket-book that lies on my Boule cabinet,” said the Consul to his wife. She rose without a reply, which shows that she loved her husband very truly, for she already knew French enough to understand that her husband was getting rid of her. “I will tell you a story in which I played a part, and after that we can discuss it, for it seems to me childish to practise with the scalpel on an imaginary body. Begin by dissecting a corpse.” Every one prepared to listen, with all the greater readiness because they had all talked enough, and this is the moment to be chosen for telling a story. This, then, is the Consul-General’s tale:— “When I was two-and-twenty, and had taken my degree in law, my old uncle, the Abbe Loraux, then seventy-two years old, felt it necessary to provide me with a protector, and to start me in some career. This excellent man, if not indeed a saint, regarded each year of his life as a fresh gift from God. I need not tell you that the father confessor of a Royal Highness had no difficulty in finding a place for a young man brought up by himself, his sister’s only child. So one day, towards the end of the year 1824, this venerable old man, who for five years had been Cure of the White Friars at Paris, came up to the room I had in his house, and said: “ ‘Get yourself dressed, my dear boy; I am going to introduce you to some one who is willing to engage you as secretary. If I am not mistaken, he may fill my place in the event of God’s taking me to Himself. I shall have finished mass at nine o’clock; you have threequarters of an hour before you. Be ready.’ “ ‘What, uncle! must I say good-bye to this room, where for four years I have been so happy?’ 209

“ ‘I have no fortune to leave you,’ said he. “ ‘Have you not the reputation of your name to leave me, the memory of your good works—?’ “ ‘We need say nothing of that inheritance,’ he replied, smiling. ‘You do not yet know enough of the world to be aware that a legacy of that kind is hardly likely to be paid, whereas by taking you this morning to M. le Comte’—Allow me,” said the Consul, interrupting himself, “to speak of my protector by his Christian name only, and to call him Comte Octave.—’By taking you this morning to M. le Comte Octave, I hope to secure you his patronage, which, if you are so fortunate as to please that virtuous statesman—as I make no doubt you can— will be worth, at least, as much as the fortune I might have accumulated for you, if my brother-in-law’s ruin and my sister’s death had not fallen on me like a thunder-bolt from a clear sky.’ “ ‘Are you the Count’s director?’ “ ‘If I were, could I place you with him? What priest could be capable of taking advantage of the secrets which he learns at the tribunal of repentance? No; you owe this position to his Highness, the Keeper of the Seals. My dear Maurice, you will be as much at home there as in your father’s house. The Count will give you a salary of two thousand four hundred francs, rooms in his house, and an allowance of twelve hundred francs in lieu of feeding you. He will not admit you to his table, nor give you a separate table, for fear of leaving you to the care of servants. I did not accept the offer when it was made to me till I was perfectly certain that Comte Octave’s secretary was never to be a mere upper servant. You will have an immense amount of work, for the Count is a great worker; but when you leave him, you will be qualified to fill the highest posts. I need not warn you to be discreet; that is the first virtue of any man who hopes to hold public appointments.’ “You may conceive of my curiosity. Comte Octave, at that time, held one of the highest legal appointments; he was in the confidence of Madame the Dauphiness, who had just got him made a State Minister; he led such a life as the Comte de Serizy, whom you all know, I think; but even more quietly, for his house was in the Marais, Rue Payenne, and he hardly ever entertained. His private life escaped public comment by its hermit-like simplicity and by constant hard work. 210


“Let me describe my position to you in a few words. Having found in the solemn headmaster of the College Saint-Louis a tutor to whom my uncle delegated his authority, at the age of eighteen I had gone through all the classes; I left school as innocent as a seminarist, full of faith, on quitting Saint-Sulpice. My mother, on her deathbed, had made my uncle promise that I should not become a priest, but I was as pious as though I had to take orders. On leaving college, the Abbe Loraux took me into his house and made me study law. During the four years of study requisite for passing all the examinations, I worked hard, but chiefly at things outside the arid fields of jurisprudence. Weaned from literature as I had been at college, where I lived in the headmaster’s house, I had a thirst to quench. As soon as I had read a few modern masterpieces, the works of all the preceding ages were greedily swallowed. I became crazy about the theatre, and for a long time I went every night to the play, though my uncle gave me only a hundred francs a month. This parsimony, to which the good old man was compelled by his regard for the poor, had the effect of keeping a young man’s desires within reasonable limits. “When I went to live with Comte Octave I was not indeed an innocent, but I thought of my rare escapades as crimes. My uncle was so truly angelic, and I was so much afraid of grieving him, that in all those four years I had never spent a night out. The good man would wait till I came in to go to bed. This maternal care had more power to keep me within bounds than the sermons and reproaches with which the life of a young man is diversified in a puritanical home. I was a stranger to the various circles which make up the world of Paris society; I only knew some women of the better sort, and none of the inferior class but those I saw as I walked about, or in the boxes at the play, and then only from the depths of the pit where I sat. If, at that period, any one had said to me, ‘You will see Canalis, or Camille Maupin,’ I should have felt hot coals in my head and in my bowels. Famous people were to me as gods, who neither spoke, nor walked, nor ate like other mortals. “How many tales of the Thousand-and-one Nights are comprehended in the ripening of a youth! How many wonderful lamps must we have rubbed before we understand that the True Wonderful Lamp is either luck, or work, or genius. In some men this dream of 211

the aroused spirit is but brief; mine has lasted until now! In those days I always went to sleep as Grand Duke of Tuscany,—as a millionaire,—as beloved by a princess,—or famous! So to enter the service of Comte Octave, and have a hundred louis a year, was entering on independent life. I had glimpses of some chance of getting into society, and seeking for what my heart desired most, a protectress, who would rescue me from the paths of danger, which a young man of two-and-twenty can hardly help treading, however prudent and well brought up he may be. I began to be afraid of myself. “The persistent study of other people’s rights into which I had plunged was not always enough to repress painful imaginings. Yes, sometimes in fancy I threw myself into theatrical life; I thought I could be a great actor; I dreamed of endless triumphs and loves, knowing nothing of the disillusion hidden behind the curtain, as everywhere else—for every stage has its reverse behind the scenes. I have gone out sometimes, my heart boiling, carried away by an impulse to rush hunting through Paris, to attach myself to some handsome woman I might meet, to follow her to her door, watch her, write to her, throw myself on her mercy, and conquer her by sheer force of passion. My poor uncle, a heart consumed by charity, a child of seventy years, as clear-sighted as God, as guileless as a man of genius, no doubt read the tumult of my soul; for when he felt the tether by which he held me strained too tightly and ready to break, he would never fail to say, ‘Here, Maurice, you too are poor! Here are twenty francs; go and amuse yourself, you are not a priest!’ And if you could have seen the dancing light that gilded his gray eyes, the smile that relaxed his fine lips, puckering the corners of his mouth, the adorable expression of that august face, whose native ugliness was redeemed by the spirit of an apostle, you would understand the feeling which made me answer the Cure of White Friars only with a kiss, as if he had been my mother. “ ‘In Comte Octave you will find not a master, but a friend,’ said my uncle on the way to the Rue Payenne. ‘But he is distrustful, or to be more exact, he is cautious. The statesman’s friendship can be won only with time; for in spite of his deep insight and his habit of gauging men, he was deceived by the man you are succeeding, and nearly became a victim to his abuse of confidence. This is enough to guide 212


you in your behavior to him.’ “When we knocked at the enormous outer door of a house as large as the Hotel Carnavalet, with a courtyard in front and a garden behind, the sound rang as in a desert. While my uncle inquired of an old porter in livery if the Count were at home, I cast my eyes, seeing everything at once, over the courtyard where the cobblestones were hidden in the grass, the blackened walls where little gardens were flourishing above the decorations of the elegant architecture, and on the roof, as high as that of the Tuileries. The balustrade of the upper balconies was eaten away. Through a magnificent colonnade I could see a second court on one side, where were the offices; the door was rotting. An old coachman was there cleaning an old carriage. The indifferent air of this servant allowed me to assume that the handsome stables, where of old so many horses had whinnied, now sheltered two at most. The handsome facade of the house seemed to me gloomy, like that of a mansion belonging to the State or the Crown, and given up to some public office. A bell rang as we walked across, my uncle and I, from the porter’s lodge—Inquire of the Porter was still written over the door—towards the outside steps, where a footman came out in a livery like that of Labranche at the Theatre Francais in the old stock plays. A visitor was so rare that the servant was putting his coat on when he opened a glass door with small panes, on each side of which the smoke of a lamp had traced patterns on the walls. “A hall so magnificent as to be worthy of Versailles ended in a staircase such as will never again be built in France, taking up as much space as the whole of a modern house. As we went up the marble steps, as cold as tombstones, and wide enough for eight persons to walk abreast, our tread echoed under sonorous vaulting. The banister charmed the eye by its miraculous workmanship—goldsmith’s work in iron—wrought by the fancy of an artist of the time of Henri III. Chilled as by an icy mantle that fell on our shoulders, we went through ante-rooms, drawing-rooms opening one out of the other, with carpetless parquet floors, and furnished with such splendid antiquities as from thence would find their way to the curiosity dealers. At last we reached a large study in a cross wing, with all the windows looking into an immense garden. “ ‘Monsieur le Cure of the White Friars, and his nephew, Mon213

sieur de l’Hostal,’ said Labranche, to whose care the other theatrical servant had consigned us in the first ante-chamber. “Comte Octave, dressed in long trousers and a gray flannel morning coat, rose from his seat by a huge writing-table, came to the fireplace, and signed to me to sit down, while he went forward to take my uncle’s hands, which he pressed. “ ‘Though I am in the parish of Saint-Paul,’ said he, ‘I could scarcely have failed to hear of the Cure of the White Friars, and I am happy to make his acquaintance.’ “ ‘Your Excellency is most kind,’ replied my uncle. ‘I have brought to you my only remaining relation. While I believe that I am offering a good gift to your Excellency, I hope at the same time to give my nephew a second father.’ “ ‘As to that, I can only reply, Monsieur l’Abbe, when we shall have tried each other,’ said Comte Octave. ‘Your name?’ he added to me. “ ‘Maurice.’ “ ‘He has taken his doctor’s degree in law,’ my uncle observed. “ ‘Very good, very good!’ said the Count, looking at me from head to foot. ‘Monsieur l’Abbe, I hope that for your nephew’s sake in the first instance, and then for mine, you will do me the honor of dining here every Monday. That will be our family dinner, our family party.’ “My uncle and the Count then began to talk of religion from the political point of view, of charitable institutes, the repression of crime, and I could at my leisure study the man on whom my fate would henceforth depend. The Count was of middle height; it was impossible to judge of his build on account of his dress, but he seemed to me to be lean and spare. His face was harsh and hollow; the features were refined. His mouth, which was rather large, expressed both irony and kindliness. His forehead perhaps too spacious, was as intimidating as that of a madman, all the more so from the contrast of the lower part of the face, which ended squarely in a short chin very near the lower lip. Small eyes, of turquoise blue, were as keen and bright as those of the Prince de Talleyrand—which I admired at a later time—and endowed, like the Prince’s, with the faculty of becoming expressionless to the verge of gloom; and they added to the singularity of a face that was not pale but yellow. This complexion seemed to bespeak an irritable temper and violent passions. His hair, already silvered, and care214


fully dressed, seemed to furrow his head with streaks of black and white alternately. The trimness of this head spoiled the resemblance I had remarked in the Count to the wonderful monk described by Lewis after Schedoni in the Confessional of the Black Penitents (The Italian), a superior creation, as it seems to me, to The Monk. “The Count was already shaved, having to attend early at the law courts. Two candelabra with four lights, screened by lamp-shades, were still burning at the opposite ends of the writing-table, and showed plainly that the magistrate rose long before daylight. His hands, which I saw when he took hold of the bell-pull to summon his servant, were extremely fine, and as white as a woman’s. “As I tell you this story,” said the Consul-General, interrupting himself, “I am altering the titles and the social position of this gentleman, while placing him in circumstances analogous to what his really were. His profession, rank, luxury, fortune, and style of living were the same; all these details are true, but I would not be false to my benefactor, nor to my usual habits of discretion. “Instead of feeling—as I really was, socially speaking—an insect in the presence of an eagle,” the narrator went on after a pause, “I felt I know not what indefinable impression from the Count’s appearance, which, however, I can now account for. Artists of genius” (and he bowed gracefully to the Ambassador, the distinguished lady, and the two Frenchmen), “real statesmen, poets, a general who has commanded armies—in short, all really great minds are simple, and their simplicity places you on a level with themselves.—You who are all of superior minds,” he said, addressing his guests, “have perhaps observed how feeling can bridge over the distances created by society. If we are inferior to you in intellect, we can be your equals in devoted friendship. By the temperature—allow me the word—of our hearts I felt myself as near my patron as I was far below him in rank. In short, the soul has its clairvoyance; it has presentiments of suffering, grief, joy, antagonism, or hatred in others. “I vaguely discerned the symptoms of a mystery, from recognizing in the Count the same effects of physiognomy as I had observed in my uncle. The exercise of virtue, serenity of conscience, and purity of mind had transfigured my uncle, who from being ugly had become quite beautiful. I detected a metamorphosis of a reverse kind in the 215

Count’s face; at the first glance I thought he was about fifty-five, but after an attentive examination I found youth entombed under the ice of a great sorrow, under the fatigue of persistent study, under the glowing hues of some suppressed passion. At a word from my uncle the Count’s eyes recovered for a moment the softness of the periwinkle flower, and he had an admiring smile, which revealed what I believed to be his real age, about forty. These observations I made, not then but afterwards, as I recalled the circumstances of my visit. “The man-servant came in carrying a tray with his master’s breakfast on it. “ ‘I did not ask for breakfast,’ remarked the Count; ‘but leave it, and show monsieur to his rooms.’ “I followed the servant, who led the way to a complete set of pretty rooms, under a terrace, between the great courtyard and the servants’ quarters, over a corridor of communication between the kitchens and the grand staircase. When I returned to the Count’s study, I overheard, before opening the door, my uncle pronouncing this judgment on me: “ ‘He may do wrong, for he has strong feelings, and we are all liable to honorable mistakes; but he has no vices.’ “ ‘Well,’ said the Count, with a kindly look, ‘do you like yourself there? Tell me. There are so many rooms in this barrack that, if you were not comfortable, I could put you elsewhere.’ “ ‘At my uncle’s I had but one room,’ replied I. “ ‘Well, you can settle yourself this evening,’ said the Count, ‘for your possessions, no doubt, are such as all students own, and a hackney coach will be enough to convey them. To-day we will all three dine together,’ and he looked at my uncle. “A splendid library opened from the Count’s study, and he took us in there, showing me a pretty little recess decorated with paintings, which had formerly served, no doubt, as an oratory. “ ‘This is your cell,’ said he. ‘You will sit there when you have to work with me, for you will not be tethered by a chain;’ and he explained in detail the kind and duration of my employment with him. As I listened I felt that he was a great political teacher. “It took me about a month to familiarize myself with people and things, to learn the duties of my new office, and accustom myself to 216


the Count’s methods. A secretary necessarily watches the man who makes use of him. That man’s tastes, passions, temper, and manias become the subject of involuntary study. The union of their two minds is at once more and less than a marriage. “During these months the Count and I reciprocally studied each other. I learned with astonishment that Comte Octave was but thirtyseven years old. The merely superficial peacefulness of his life and the propriety of his conduct were the outcome not solely of a deep sense of duty and of stoical reflection; in my constant intercourse with this man—an extraordinary man to those who knew him well—I felt vast depths beneath his toil, beneath his acts of politeness, his mask of benignity, his assumption of resignation, which so closely resembled calmness that it is easy to mistake it. Just as when walking through forest-lands certain soils give forth under our feet a sound which enables us to guess whether they are dense masses of stone or a void; so intense egoism, though hidden under the flowers of politeness, and subterranean caverns eaten out by sorrow sound hollow under the constant touch of familiar life. It was sorrow and not despondency that dwelt in that really great soul. The Count had understood that actions, deeds, are the supreme law of social man. And he went on his way in spite of secret wounds, looking to the future with a tranquil eye, like a martyr full of faith. “His concealed sadness, the bitter disenchantment from which he suffered, had not led him into philosophical deserts of incredulity; this brave statesman was religious, without ostentation; he always attended the earliest mass at Saint-Paul’s for pious workmen and servants. Not one of his friends, no one at Court, knew that he so punctually fulfilled the practice of religion. He was addicted to God as some men are addicted to a vice, with the greatest mystery. Thus one day I came to find the Count at the summit of an Alp of woe much higher than that on which many are who think themselves the most tried; who laugh at the passions and the beliefs of others because they have conquered their own; who play variations in every key of irony and disdain. He did not mock at those who still follow hope into the swamps whither she leads, nor those who climb a peak to be alone, nor those who persist in the fight, reddening the arena with their blood and strewing it with their illusions. He looked on 217

the world as a whole; he mastered its beliefs; he listened to its complaining; he was doubtful of affection, and yet more of self-sacrifice; but this great and stern judge pitied them, or admired them, not with transient enthusiasm, but with silence, concentration, and the communion of a deeply-touched soul. He was a sort of catholic Manfred, and unstained by crime, carrying his choiceness into his faith, melting the snows by the fires of a sealed volcano, holding converse with a star seen by himself alone! “I detected many dark riddles in his ordinary life. He evaded my gaze not like a traveler who, following a path, disappears from time to time in dells or ravines according to the formation of the soil, but like a sharpshooter who is being watched, who wants to hide himself, and seeks a cover. I could not account for his frequent absences at the times when he was working the hardest, and of which he made no secret from me, for he would say, ‘Go on with this for me,’ and trust me with the work in hand. “This man, wrapped in the threefold duties of the statesman, the judge, and the orator, charmed me by a taste for flowers, which shows an elegant mind, and which is shared by almost all persons of refinement. His garden and his study were full of the rarest plants, but he always bought them half-withered. Perhaps it pleased him to see such an image of his own fate! He was faded like these dying flowers, whose almost decaying fragrance mounted strangely to his brain. The Count loved his country; he devoted himself to public interests with the frenzy of a heart that seeks to cheat some other passion; but the studies and work into which he threw himself were not enough for him; there were frightful struggles in his mind, of which some echoes reached me. Finally, he would give utterance to harrowing aspirations for happiness, and it seemed to me he ought yet to be happy; but what was the obstacle? Was there a woman he loved? This was a question I asked myself. You may imagine the extent of the circles of torment that my mind had searched before coming to so simple and so terrible a question. Notwithstanding his efforts, my patron did not succeed in stifling the movements of his heart. Under his austere manner, under the reserve of the magistrate, a passion rebelled, though coerced with such force that no one but I who lived with him ever guessed the secret. His motto seemed to be, ‘I suffer, and am silent.’ 218


The escort of respect and admiration which attended him; the friendship of workers as valiant as himself—Grandville and Serizy, both presiding judges—had no hold over the Count: either he told them nothing, or they knew all. Impassible and lofty in public, the Count betrayed the man only on rare intervals when, alone in his garden or his study, he supposed himself unobserved; but then he was a child again, he gave course to the tears hidden beneath the toga, to the excitement which, if wrongly interpreted, might have damaged his credit for perspicacity as a statesman. “When all this had become to me a matter of certainty, Comte Octave had all the attractions of a problem, and won on my affection as much as though he had been my own father. Can you enter into the feeling of curiosity, tempered by respect? What catastrophe had blasted this learned man, who, like Pitt, had devoted himself from the age of eighteen to the studies indispensable to power, while he had no ambition; this judge, who thoroughly knew the law of nations, political law, civil and criminal law, and who could find in these a weapon against every anxiety, against every mistake; this profound legislator, this serious writer, this pious celibate whose life sufficiently proved that he was open to no reproach? A criminal could not have been more hardly punished by God than was my master; sorrow had robbed him of half his slumbers; he never slept more than four hours. What struggle was it that went on in the depths of these hours apparently so calm, so studious, passing without a sound or a murmur, during which I often detected him, when the pen had dropped from his fingers, with his head resting on one hand, his eyes like two fixed stars, and sometimes wet with tears? How could the waters of that living spring flow over the burning strand without being dried up by the subterranean fire? Was there below it, as there is under the sea, between it and the central fires of the globe, a bed of granite? And would the volcano burst at last? “Sometimes the Count would give me a look of that sagacious and keen-eyed curiosity by which one man searches another when he desires an accomplice; then he shunned my eye as he saw it open a mouth, so to speak, insisting on a reply, and seeming to say, ‘Speak first!’ Now and then Comte Octave’s melancholy was surly and gruff. If these spurts of temper offended me, he could get over it without 219

thinking of asking my pardon; but then his manners were gracious to the point of Christian humility. “When I became attached like a son to this man—to me such a mystery, but so intelligible to the outer world, to whom the epithet eccentric is enough to account for all the enigmas of the heart—I changed the state of the house. Neglect of his own interests was carried by the Count to the length of folly in the management of his affairs. Possessing an income of about a hundred and sixty thousand francs, without including the emoluments of his appointments— three of which did not come under the law against plurality—he spent sixty thousand, of which at least thirty thousand went to his servants. By the end of the first year I had got rid of all these rascals, and begged His Excellency to use his influence in helping me to get honest servants. By the end of the second year the Count, better fed and better served, enjoyed the comforts of modern life; he had fine horses, supplied by a coachman to whom I paid so much a month for each horse; his dinners on his reception days, furnished by Chevet at a price agreed upon, did him credit; his daily meals were prepared by an excellent cook found by my uncle, and helped by two kitchenmaids. The expenditure for housekeeping, not including purchases, was no more than thirty thousand francs a year; we had two additional men-servants, whose care restored the poetical aspect of the house; for this old palace, splendid even in its rust, had an air of dignity which neglect had dishonored. “ ‘I am no longer astonished,’ said he, on hearing of these results, ‘at the fortunes made by servants. In seven years I have had two cooks, who have become rich restaurant-keepers.’ “Early in the year 1826 the Count had, no doubt, ceased to watch me, and we were as closely attached as two men can be when one is subordinate to the other. He had never spoken to me of my future prospects, but he had taken an interest, both as a master and as a father, in training me. He often required me to collect materials for his most arduous labors; I drew up some of his reports, and he corrected them, showing the difference between his interpretation of the law, his views and mine. When at last I had produced a document which he could give in as his own he was delighted; this satisfaction was my reward, and he could see that I took it so. This little 220


incident produced an extraordinary effect on a soul which seemed so stern. The Count pronounced sentence on me, to use a legal phrase, as supreme and royal judge; he took my head in his hands, and kissed me on the forehead. “ ‘Maurice,’ he exclaimed, ‘you are no longer my apprentice; I know not yet what you will be to me—but if no change occurs in my life, perhaps you will take the place of a son.’ “Comte Octave had introduced me to the best houses in Paris, whither I went in his stead, with his servants and carriage, on the too frequent occasions when, on the point of starting, he changed his mind, and sent for a hackney cab to take him—Where?—that was the mystery. By the welcome I met with I could judge of the Count’s feelings towards me, and the earnestness of his recommendations. He supplied all my wants with the thoughtfulness of a father, and with all the greater liberality because my modesty left it to him always to think of me. Towards the end of January 1827, at the house of the Comtesse de Serizy, I had such persistent ill-luck at play that I lost two thousand francs, and I would not draw them out of my savings. Next morning I asked myself, ‘Had I better ask my uncle for the money, or put my confidence in the Count?’ “I decided on the second alternative. “ ‘Yesterday,’ said I, when he was at breakfast, ‘I lost persistently at play; I was provoked, and went on; I owe two thousand francs. Will you allow me to draw the sum on account of my year’s salary?’ “ ‘No,’ said he, with the sweetest smile; ‘when a man plays in society, he must have a gambling purse. Draw six thousand francs; pay your debts. Henceforth we must go halves; for since you are my representative on most occasions, your self-respect must not be made to suffer for it.’ “I made no speech of thanks. Thanks would have been superfluous between us. This shade shows the character of our relations. And yet we had not yet unlimited confidence in each other; he did not open to me the vast subterranean chambers which I had detected in his secret life; and I, for my part, never said to him, ‘What ails you? From what are you suffering?’ “What could he be doing during those long evenings? He would often come in on foot or in a hackney cab when I returned in a 221

carriage—I, his secretary! Was so pious a man a prey to vices hidden under hypocrisy? Did he expend all the powers of his mind to satisfy a jealousy more dexterous than Othello’s? Did he live with some woman unworthy of him? One morning, on returning from I have forgotten what shop, where I had just paid a bill, between the Church of Saint-Paul and the Hotel de Ville, I came across Comte Octave in such eager conversation with an old woman that he did not see me. The appearance of this hag filled me with strange suspicions, suspicions that were all the better founded because I never found that the Count invested his savings. Is it not shocking to think of? I was constituting myself my patron’s censor. At that time I knew that he had more than six hundred thousand francs to invest; and if he had bought securities of any kind, his confidence in me was so complete in all that concerned his pecuniary interests, that I certainly should have known it. “Sometimes, in the morning, the Count took exercise in his garden, to and fro, like a man to whom a walk is the hippogryph ridden by dreamy melancholy. He walked and walked! And he rubbed his hands enough to rub the skin off. And then, if I met him unexpectedly as he came to the angle of a path, I saw his face beaming. His eyes, instead of the hardness of a turquoise, had that velvety softness of the blue periwinkle, which had so much struck me on the occasion of my first visit, by reason of the astonishing contrast in the two different looks; the look of a happy man, and the look of an unhappy man. Two or three times at such a moment he had taken me by the arm and led me on; then he had said, ‘What have you come to ask?’ instead of pouring out his joy into my heart that opened to him. But more often, especially since I could do his work for him and write his reports, the unhappy man would sit for hours staring at the goldfish that swarmed in a handsome marble basin in the middle of the garden, round which grew an amphitheatre of the finest flowers. He, an accomplished statesman, seemed to have succeeded in making a passion of the mechanical amusement of crumbling bread to fishes. “This is how the drama was disclosed of this second inner life, so deeply ravaged and storm-tossed, where, in a circle overlooked by Dante in his Inferno, horrible joys had their birth.” The Consul-General paused. 222


“On a certain Monday,” he resumed, “as chance would have it, M. le President de Grandville and M. de Serizy (at that time Vice-President of the Council of State) had come to hold a meeting at Comte Octave’s house. They formed a committee of three, of which I was the secretary. The Count had already got me the appointment of Auditor to the Council of State. All the documents requisite for their inquiry into the political matter privately submitted to these three gentlemen were laid out on one of the long tables in the library. MM. de Grandville and de Serizy had trusted to the Count to make the preliminary examination of the papers relating to the matter. To avoid the necessity for carrying all the papers to M. de Serizy, as president of the commission, it was decided that they should meet first in the Rue Payenne. The Cabinet at the Tuileries attached great importance to this piece of work, of which the chief burden fell on me—and to which I owed my appointment, in the course of that year, to be Master of Appeals. “Though the Comtes de Grandville and de Serizy, whose habits were much the same as my patron’s, never dined away from home, we were still discussing the matter at a late hour, when we were startled by the man-servant calling me aside to say, ‘MM. the Cures of SaintPaul and of the White Friars have been waiting in the drawing-room for two hours.’ “It was nine o’clock. “ ‘Well, gentlemen, you find yourselves compelled to dine with priests,’ said Comte Octave to his colleagues. ‘I do not know whether Grandville can overcome his horror of a priest’s gown—’ “ ‘It depends on the priest.’ “ ‘One of them is my uncle, and the other is the Abbe Gaudron,’ said I. ‘Do not be alarmed; the Abbe Fontanon is no longer second priest at Saint-Paul—’ “ ‘Well, let us dine,’ replied the President de Grandville. ‘A bigot frightens me, but there is no one so cheerful as a truly pious man.’ “We went into the drawing-room. The dinner was delightful. Men of real information, politicians to whom business gives both consummate experience and the practice of speech, are admirable storytellers, when they tell stories. With them there is no medium; they are either heavy, or they are sublime. In this delightful sport Prince 223

was quite inefficient. ‘They must first have created convents. M. which I would compare. My uncle remarked on the contradiction which the legislators of the Code. a sacerdotal of whose ignorance in matters of the world and of literature enlivened the conversation by guileless amazement and unexpected questions. and full of sense. “ ‘In the eyes of the Church.’ said Comte Octave. ‘adultery is a crime. Ought they not in this case to have harmonized the civil and the religious law. sparkling. l’Abbe preaches for his own saint. de Grandville said.’ “ ‘M. as square on his feet as he was tall. They were obliged to leave the husband free to take proceedings: well. Napoleon’s Council of State. gentle. woman was merely a luxury. still feeling the blows of the revolutionary storm. cut in facets like a diamond.Metternich is as good as Charles Nodier. as of old?’ “ ‘To a convent!’ said M. “The Abbe Gaudron was. had established between civil and religious law. de Serizy. a refined wit. in those of your tribunals it is a misdemeanor. the cradle of the human race. of which we were just now speaking—adultery. And you may rely upon it. Being sure that the proprieties would be observed by these three superior men. By exalting the soul above the body. penetrating. and elegant. a Saint Peter rather than a Saint Paul. think of what you say. as M. no virtues were demanded of her but obedience and beauty. to Rossini’s music. and which he said was at the root of all the mischief. l’Abbe—give to God what society would have none of?’ “ ‘Oh!’ said the Comte de Grandville. for its effect on the soul. The fun of a statesman. ‘you do not know France. Adultery drives to the police court in a carriage instead of standing at the bar to be tried. and in those days monasteries were being turned into barracks. there are not ten cases of adultery brought up in a year. and have sent the guilty wife to a convent. a peasant full of faith. and there was regarded as a chattel. for it was Jesus Christ who invented adultery. is sharp. touched with tenderness towards erring women. the modern family in Europe— 224 . like that of all men who are accustomed to conceal their thoughts under the black robe. ‘In the East. Besides. there was nothing vulgar nor idle in this light talk. my uncle allowed his wit full play.’ said he. They came to talking of one of the plague spots of social life.

and in its pleasures. As for you. is severer than the Code and the Church. So we three represent every case of the conjugal conscience. in cases where the Church now exacts no more than sincere repentance from the erring wife. we shall form the committee. and broke his plate. society is satisfied with a brand-mark instead of an execution. The Catholic Church overlooked the needs of half the globe. The whole economy of the law on marriage seems to me to require reconstruction from the bottom to the top.’ “Octave’s fork dropped on his glass. the world punishes a blunder after encouraging hypocrisy. if ever divorce is brought in again. as I admit with our dear Abbe. And formerly that was what was done. fearful punishments for adultery were needful. and the increase of this inviting crime marks the decline of the dogmas of the Catholic Church. ‘I have a wife I cannot live with. There are so few judges who would not gladly have committed the fault against which they hurl the rather stolid thunders of their “Inasmuch. The French law would be perfect perhaps if it excluded daughters from inheriting. no doubt.—So let us discuss Europe only. Serizy has a wife who will not live with him. But since then practice has modified the law. The cloister or death sums up early legislation. by placing her on so high a level as the Church does. yours ran away from you. the world is audacious and satirical. but it no longer terrifies them. and. 225 . The law still condemns the guilty. In these days. and more than old at five-and-twenty.’ said the Comte de Grandville with a laugh. “ ‘Is woman our superior or our inferior? That is the real question so far as we are concerned. Octave. and that of the Code. there are two standards of morals: that of the world.’ “ ‘Ah! the Church saw the difficulties. “ ‘This institution has given rise to a new world. If woman is our inferior. broke it.” The world.Balzac a daughter of Christ—invented indissoluble marriage. in its habits.’ “ ‘We three among us know the question very thoroughly.’ exclaimed M. ‘But the practices of that world will never be that of a climate where women are marriageable at seven years of age. and made it a sacrament. as is always the case. de Grandville. which gives the lie to the law alike in its rejoicings. The throne served as a hotbed for adultery.’ the Count went on with a smile. Where the Code is weak. In short.

by which he hinted at my presence.’ he added. ‘Serizy and I. Are you a father?’ asked my uncle. after being the witnesses to your marriage. the two Counts and the two priests stole away. Hence. The letter did not lack dignity. My patron was sitting in an armchair by the fire. the Code. and flashed a thunderous glare at M. or to make households happier by abolishing scandalous unions and giving the sole preference to moral qualities and beauty. de Serizy changed the subject by relating all he had done to please his wife without ever succeeding. Now Nature takes no account of the affinities of souls. “ ‘But then.He had turned as pale as death. “ ‘You now know the secret of my life. seeing that poor Octave had fallen into a fit of melancholy which prevented his noticing their disappearance.’ my uncle said.— 226 . he maintained that social law was never more perfect than when it was nearest to natural law. The incapacity of daughters to inherit so long as there were male heirs was an excellent provision. ‘I would remark to your Excellency that Nature only owes us life. I did not see Maurice. said he to me on noticing that we were alone. and that it is society that owes us happiness.’ “ ‘Setting aside all the religious question. her aim is fulfilled by the propagation of the species. in the attitude of a man crushed. became your accomplices. The old man concluded that it was impossible to regulate human sympathies and antipathies.’ he exclaimed. de Grandville. I did not think I was committing an indiscretion in the presence of these two venerable priests. lifting his hand with a gesture of disgust. ‘I have a child to succeed me. my dear fellow. “ ‘And I—have I any children?’ said Comte Octave in a hollow voice. “When coffee had been served.’ “M. for it is in the nature of women to preserve some virtues even when committing that horrible sin.’ the President went on. in its present form. one evening when I came in I found a letter in which the Countess announced her flight. and his tone made such an impression that there was no more talk of wives or marriage. if I am sacrificed. and which I caught. “ ‘Forgive me. whether to hinder the degeneration of the race. was wise in leaving a wide latitude to chance. ‘how are we to perfect legislation in a country which insists on bringing together seven or eight hundred legislators!—After all. ‘After three years of married life.

and though the flame lighted them but dimly.Balzac The story is now that my wife went abroad in a ship that was wrecked. must have been singular. she is supposed to be dead. which is. I have lived alone for seven years!—Enough for this evening. I read a poem of melancholy. “Oh! how I loved my poor master! He seemed to me sublime.’ 227 . the smallest details of the life of this married bachelor. those parched temples. That sallow face. as I did. to say the least. it needs time to become accustomed to improvement. ever revenged himself? Was he feeding himself on her long agony? Is it not a remarkable thing in Paris to keep anger always seething for ten years? What had Octave done since this great misfortune—for the separation of husband and wife is a great misfortune in our day. for great sorrows have a diffidence of their own. so perfect. so worthy to be loved. but at last. seemed to me more obscure than ever. those overwhelming studies. so amiable. those moments of absentmindedness. for I understood that there could be no vulgar difference between the woman that Count could choose and such a character as his. one evening. de Grandville’s remark had been like a torch flung into the caverns over which I had so long been walking. I foresaw some strange drama indeed. When we suffer from a chronic disease. Maurice. We will talk of my situation when I have grown used to the idea of speaking of it to you. Must not supreme grief always come at last to stagnation? Had this judge. the twilight before sleep. M. That improvement often seems to be merely another aspect of the complaint. I saw perpetual activity in the heart I had accused of being torpid. which it never was of old? “We allowed a few days to pass on the watch. when domestic life has become a social question. so loving.’ “I went to bed greatly agitated. far from being explained. who had so much in his power. for the mystery. and to which any man would have given himself up. The events which had driven the Countess to leave a man so noble. all stood out in luminous relief during the hour of mental questioning. the Count said in a grave voice: “ ‘Stay. as it were. my eyes could perceive their wide extent! I could imagine the Count’s sufferings without knowing their depths or their bitterness.

like the ideal figure of Innocence a painter once created.” “ ‘ “Mamma. She did not even inquire into the secret of her involuntary emotions on a fine spring day. she knew nothing of the world. you must wait eighteen months. your birth and fortunes are equal. for everything. her guilelessness would have led her to walk fearless among serpents. even religion. was poetry to her ingenuous heart. she felt that she was weak and destined to obedience. we were married. I went into society. well. who had been brought up by my mother. as well as being a love match. Honorine. In short. she dreamed of happiness as she would have dreamed of jewels. while another man would make you unhappy. or renewing the furniture.” “ ‘When I was six-and-twenty. Her smiling imagination knew nothing of the corruption —necessary perhaps—which literature imparts by depicting the passions. and was ignorant of all the dangers of society. as nearly as may be. perhaps happiness seemed to her the jewel of the soul. was just awakening to life. Her piety was not free from puerile pleasures. Our respect for my father and mother. “Octave and I have agreed to be married—” “ ‘ “What! at seventeen?” said my mother. We lived together like two brothers. you can make a marriage which is suitable. hindered us from making this house fashionable. Innocent and pure.” said she to my mother. we lived on. is his story. as we stood throwing crumbs to the fish: “ ‘ “Would you like that we should be married? With me you could do whatever you please. Full of grace and of childish ways. as we had done in the past. old folks of the Bourbon Court. in the garden of this house. who came out to join us. “ ‘At the end of a year I said to her one day. Shame and grief had never tinged her cheek nor moistened her eye.“This. who was sixteen at the time when I came back from college to live in this old house. The dear child had suffered so little that she had not even developed her courage. by the basin. However. and if eighteen months hence you like each other. “ ‘My father had a ward. no delirium had disturbed her dream. “No. rich and lovely. And then. and Honorine nineteen. and she awaited marriage without wishing for it. I initiated my wife into the world 228 . as children. She looked to the future as a perpetual fete.

“ ‘Oh!’ said he. I may have made the mistake of trusting too entirely to that artless nature. reflection counseled me to continue in ignorance. the husband failed to realize Honorine’s girlish dreams? Who can tell. will not accept any superiority above that with which she is endowed by nature. that for a month I remained stunned. The blow was so terrible. while happy days last. What poetic delusion had seduced my wife? Was it through her senses? Was it the magnetism of misfortune or of genius? Which of these powers had taken her by storm or misled her?—I would not know. as the Colonel of the 229 . seeing the amazement in my eyes. gives pain. Perhaps I was in the wrong? During the difficult beginnings of a household I. or. at once discreet and laughter-loving.— So far. I have never ceased to worship her. The husband becomes a pedagogue. and I regarded it as one of my duties to instruct her. in whom revolt seemed to me impossible? Alas! neither in politics nor in domestic life has it yet been ascertained whether empires and happiness are wrecked by too much confidence or too much severity! Perhaps again. the story is commonplace enough. Afterwards. one by one I recall the pleasures for which Honorine no doubt had no taste. ‘do not make a hero of me. I kept no watch over the Countess. assumed a magisterial tone? On the other hand. a professor. do not think me such a fool. sooner or later. with all the good faith of an anatomist seeking the cause of a disease which might be overlooked by his brethren. “ ‘It was eighteen months after my father’s death—my mother followed him to the tomb in a few months—when the fearful night came which surprised me by Honorine’s farewell letter. many prudent calculations. and Honorine’s misfortunes have since taught me too much about all these things. and love perishes under the rod which. “ ‘I recognized afterwards that marriages contracted under such circumstances as ours bear in themselves a rock against which many affections are wrecked. perhaps.Balzac of fashion. From the day when she left me I have lived on memory. if you like. but his merciful indulgence struck me then as really worthy of that of Jesus Christ when He rescued the woman taken in adultery. many lives. but one word will change it all: I love Honorine. what precepts he has neglected?’ “I remember only the broad outlines of the reproaches the Count addressed to himself. Maurice. for a young and handsome wife.

in Court. that I fancied she shared the intoxication. she mistook this first test of marriage for life itself. I tried to forget. But love took possession of me as a passion. as guileless on the eve of my sorrows as on the day when I said to her. despotic passion which comes over some old men. who have a kind heart. I stood on the very threshold of infidelity. as I saw in fancy that ingenuous face. and I condemned myself. as to have sought no diversion. through which the blood might be seen coursing and the nerves quivering.—And I. but there the memory of Honorine rose before me like a white statue. for the law makes the husband a judge: I acquitted my wife. This is the secret of my labors. I had perhaps wearied her with my love before the hour of loving had struck for her! Too young to understand that in the constancy of the wife lies the germ of the mother’s devotion. At this day I love the absent 230 .Empire would say. who sees emerging from it the transfigured soul of the dead. loved as a child. the very odor of virtue. At consultations. I read them by the light of the fire that wrecked my roof. the mean. Then I constituted my heart a tribunal by virtue of the law. nor daring to complain to me. so wise a judge as they say—I. After frightful struggles with myself. I have not in the whole world met with another woman. Ah! Maurice. I fled like a man preparing to violate a tomb. I dream so incessantly of Honorine that only by excessive strength of mind do I succeed in attending to what I am doing and saying. unknown to me. “ ‘Well. and the refractory child cursed life. an indiscriminating passion in a husband is a mistake that may lead to any crime in a wife. I felt no more anger with her than a father can feel on seeing his beloved child in some danger it has imprudently rushed into. out of sheer modesty perhaps! In so cruel a position she would be defenceless against any man who stirred her deeply. entirely unemployed. “Shall we marry?” as I remembered a heavenly fragrance. money in hand. Alas. but whose mind was absorbed—I understood too late these unwritten laws of the woman’s code. the prettiness of her movements. and the light in her eyes. my boy! I was either too young or too much in love. by night. I understood that I had made a poem of my wife—a poem I delighted in with such intoxication. I had no doubt left all the faculties of this child. As I recalled the infinite delicacy of that exquisite skin.

the smile on her lips. it makes sport of those who cannot keep the woman they have secured under the canopy of the Church. no one can burden his heart or his skin with another’s pain. it regards a husband as ridiculously inept. to play with the black masses of her curling hair?—Could you see me when I leap with hope—when I writhe under the myriad darts of despair— 231 . You may conceive of my feelings when. to whom passion gave an eloquence indeed so far above that of the pleader that. burning. I have not even to face ridicule. bereft of sleep!—’ “I cannot remember all the words of this eloquent man. after a pause. I have the insolence of the old man and the reserve of a boy. I have thrown myself into it.—You even understand my sorrows only by very vague analogy. Could you see me calming the most violent frenzy of despair by the contemplation of a miniature in which I can see and kiss her brow. “ ‘Serizy is happy. I. felt my cheeks wet with tears. The measure of our sufferings is in ourselves. you. who at this moment shed tears with me. I know it. and come out again alive. and. and you will one day admit that it is so. and before the Maire’s scarf of office. And I had to keep silence. as he adores her. which enables me almost to feel. I have defied the gulf of hard work. can breathe the whiteness of her skin. like him. “I remain married only for my wife’s sake. society only laughs at such a desperate conjugal predicament.” he said to me one day on coming out of court. His indulgence allows him to see his wife. fevered. for he pours it himself on his fatherly pleasures. not even ridicule. “ ‘But I—I have nothing. but it is not the actual living drama which is at this moment being acted in Paris! The interior drama interests nobody. the shape of her face. during which we dried them away. he finished his story with this revelation:— “ ‘This is the drama of my soul. I should have killed myself. I who live solely on a love which is starving! I who can never find a word to say to a woman of the world! I who loathe prostitution! I who am faithful under a spell!—But for my religious faith.Balzac Honorine as a man of sixty loves a woman whom he must possess at any cost. and yet I feel the strength of a young man.—My dear fellow. Where it pities a lover. he can protect and defend her. he knows all the perfect joys of a benefactor whom nothing can disturb. as I listened to him.

when I tramp through the mire of Paris to quell my irritation by fatigue? I have fits of collapse comparable to those of a consumptive patient. my life is a continual paroxysm of fears. to secure her against discovery. choosing to take nothing but the dress she wore that day.—Why. counted on the easy and luxurious life in Switzerland or Italy which fine ladies indulge in when they leave their husbands. “ ‘As to the drama—it is this. In short. In the month of November 1820 I found means to persuade the best accoucheur in Paris to play the part of a humble suburban apothecary. to guard her in her cage. “ ‘After three months of desperation rather than despair. was one of those poems which occur only to the heart of a lover through life and death! Love must have its daily food. eighteen months after her flight she was deserted by her lover.—that is my life. sinister. the Chamber. without her suspecting that she is in my power. who was appalled by the cold. You imagine that I am occupied with the Council of State. Honorine has sixty thousand francs a year of her own. my true life. Politics. cruel. and revolting aspect of poverty—the coward! The man had. And ought I not to protect 232 . dear me. the future would be lost. I induced the priest of the parish in which the Countess was living to supply her needs as though he were performing an act of charity. to supply the little pleasure she allows herself. for if she did. The wretch left the dear creature expecting an infant. Then to hide my wife. joy. and dejection. and without a penny. terrors as of a murderer who meets a sergeant of police.—For seven years I have never gone to bed without going first to see the light of her night-lamp. to be always about her like a sylph without allowing her to see or to suspect me. moods of wild hilarity. “ ‘She left my house. the Courts. To recover my wife is my only study. no doubt. seven hours at night are enough for all that. the idea of devoting myself to Honorine with God only in my secret. to find her a housekeeper who would be devoted to me and be my intelligent confidante—it was a task worthy of Figaro! You may suppose that to discover where my wife had taken refuge I had only to make up my mind to it. to satisfy her needs. or her shadow on the window curtains. The child carried her magnanimity to the point of folly! Consequently. so much are my faculties overwrought by the life I lead! Honorine is my real concern.

Honorine was nursed as she would have been in her own home. whose guilt was the outcome of my imprudence. and sends me in a bill for two thousand francs every three months.Balzac this child. has shown a power of resistance in misfortune. She pays for everything she needs at about the third of its value. For nine months more my wife lay between life and death. “ ‘Oh! I know what you are about to say. The porter and his wife cost me dreadfully dear for the same reasons. She believes that she sells the product of her elegant fancywork to a shop. When. I hold this ground in the name of a clerk of the law courts. for a rent of five hundred francs a year. and a splendid hothouse. who took an interest in her. Honorine has her little house.’ said he. deserted at the time when she most needed a manly arm. However. where she is so well paid that she makes twenty francs a day. ‘was extended over her head. She is devoted to flowers.” “ ‘This woman. in a charming little house. and in these six years she had never had a moment’s suspicion. and pays a hundred crowns to a gardener. in short. on her recovery. But her zeal. as a guardian angel?—At the age of seven months her infant died. Honorine was bent on earning her living. dress. happily for her and for me. for three years Honorine has been happy. The smallest indiscretion would ruin the gardener’s prospects. whose pride amounts to a vice. holding out his own with a gesture of angelic dignity. the old woman of impeccable discretion whom I was so lucky as to find. she was told—”By the Sisters of Charity in the neighborhood —by the Maternity Society—by the parish priest. where she makes artificial flowers and articles of fashion. so that on six thousand francs a year she lives as if she had fifteen thousand. against fresh disaster—to fulfil my part. and comfort. but this arm. I have promised the man a market-garden with a house on it close to the porter’s lodge in the Rue Saint-Maur. a garden. believing that she owes to her own toil all the luxury of flowers. and whose affection Honorine has won. like that of the gardener. seeing 233 . Madame Gobain. who costs me twelve hundred in wages. she asked how and by whom she had been assisted. My wife works! For five years past I have lodged her in the Rue Saint-Maur. There she lives under the name of her housekeeper.’ cried the Count. which on some evenings I call the obstinacy of a mule. is kept hot by the promise of reward at the moment of success.

This horror of me overwhelms me. from what Gobain told me. a fish. for a woman so ignorant as to believe that she is paying ample wages with two hundred and fifty francs to Madame Gobain. for a tenth of their value. a dish of fruit. my life at this day may be summed up in the two words which express the extremes of torment—I love. the lightest word she has spoken. She will not listen to the advice. she attends the Church services and prays. on recognizing my writing. a cook fit for a bishop. ‘Yes. in which I tried to propitiate my wife—a letter written and re-written twenty times! I will not describe my agonies. for I have never done her the smallest harm. I go every evening to chat with the old woman. who was to come and tell me what my wife had done. I had just succeeded in some ruse worthy of the stage. I believed in some chance of a reconciliation. Well. to the injunction. It was dark— there was a fog. Honorine. and I was on foot.” she had exclaimed. I went from the Rue Payenne to the Rue de Reuilly like a condemned wretch going from the Palais de Justice to his execution. Honorine is pious. for a single exclamation might betray to me the secrets of that soul which is wilfully deaf and dumb. 234 . One day when. “I leave this to-morrow.” “ ‘What a dagger-stroke was this to a man who found inexhaustible pleasure in the trickery by which he gets the finest Lyons velvet at twelve francs a yard. yes. I had just deceived my wife—I had sent her by a purchaser of wardrobes an Indian shawl. dismays me. My wife was formerly living in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. but she has never been to confession or taken the Communion. but in which I—the solemn lawyer whom you know—had wrapped myself for a night! In short. to be offered to her as the property of an actress who had hardly worn it. I have always been kind to her. she foresees what a priest would tell her. that she should return to me. I went to meet Madame Gobain. I have made the attempt. and I wait! I have in Madame Gobain a faithful spy on the heart I worship. I wrote by post a letter. but he goes on a cart. to hear from her all that Honorine has done during the day.— ”Madame Gobain. a pheasant. had thrown the letter into the fire without reading it. Granting even that I may have been a little hasty when teaching her.a question in my eyes and on my lips. “ ‘You have sometimes found me rubbing my hands in the enjoyment of a sort of happiness.

The last cost me fifty thousand francs. where she may feel that life is altogether new. I have not a single means of action. Sometimes at night I hear the jingling bells of madness. if the part I am playing were not that of divine fatherhood. and their respect for the power of a Minister. is that a reason for persisting in a determination which only the most implacable hatred could have inspired? Honorine has never told Madame Gobain who she is. was detected by me in the act of opening a box in which I had put the private agreement. that ten months ago I bought and paid for one of the handsomest houses in the Faubourg Saint-Honore. The others know nothing. the citadel is mine. nor the room from which she fled. falling as low as man can fall. “ ‘If it were not that I feel all my noblest faculties as a man satisfied. I mean to place my idol in a new temple. I will not allow her to see this house again. I coughed. which sometimes shines and flashes up. and have it copied by a public writer. she keeps absolute silence as to her marriage. so that the worthy and respectable woman can never speak a word in my favor. must she not necessarily return under her husband’s roof? “ ‘And I have such complete faith in a happy future. The unhappy man. for she is the only person in the house who knows my secret. who did not know how lightly I sleep. they live under the awe caused by the name of the Prefect of Police. there are moments when I should believe that I was a monomaniac. to complete despair. 235 . and I turned him out. happy. if Honorine were the mother of a child of mine.Balzac that my man’s irony may have hurt her legitimate girlish pride. and he was seized with a panic. The purchase was made in the first instance in the name of the secretary whom you succeeded. and saying to myself. if I did not drink in delight by every pore. but I cannot get into it. next day I compelled him to sell the house to the man in whose name it now stands. Hence it is impossible for me to penetrate that heart. “ ‘How can I argue against reasons of which I know nothing? Should I write a letter. An act of violence would ruin me for ever. and laid before Honorine? But that would be to run the risk of a third removal. I dread the violent transitions from a feeble hope. expansive. If I win back Honorine. A few days since I was seriously considering the horrible end of the story of Lovelace and Clarissa Harlowe.

I. of love. And that heavenly blossom is fading in solitude and hiding!—Ah! The law of which we were speaking. Only one chance of victory is left to me.’ he added. taking up the thread of his confidences. I have been told of a poet who. the cunning and patience with which bird-catchers at last entrap the wari236 . she craves its poetry. the heart. to which I paid little heed in the time of my happiness—like all who are happy. but he stopped as if shocked by the vehemence of his own words. Well. All stupendous passions have the same impulses. but she does not listen to the commandments of the Church. “ ‘No. he had risen.’ “ ‘Ah yes!’ said he.That house is being made a marvel of elegance and taste. ‘the law is a squad of gendarmes—my wife seized and dragged away by force! Would not that be to triumph over a corpse? Religion has no hold on her. bought the handsomest bed in Paris without knowing how the actress would reward his passion. with whom we pass our life. you are very unhappy. she prays. I am at my wits’ end. a man who is supposed to be the gravest adviser of the Crown. and who form the daily poem of a fugitive delight. you must believe in the intensity of a physical passion which for nine years has absorbed all my faculties. Napoleon flung himself on his wedding bed at Compiegne.’ he went on with bitter irony. after a long pause. one of the coldest of lawyers. looking at me. ‘From the violence of my speech you may. of kindness. From day to day I have appreciated the extent of my loss. and gesticulating. I believed that Count Octave’s fears were realized. for my part. The orator of the Legislative Chamber can understand the poet who fed his ideal on material possibilities. all in that woman. I love as a poet—as an emperor!’ “As I heard the last words. the enchanting divinities in the train of Love. as if craving a glance of pity. discovering the exquisite gifts of that capricious and refractory young creature who has grown so strong and so proud under the heavy hand of poverty and the shock of the most cowardly desertion. but that is nothing in comparison with the worship I feel for the soul. and was walking up and down. the mind. being almost mad with love for an actress. have exhausted everything in the way of mercy. Three days before the arrival of Maria Louisa. By a phenomenon of retrospection I see now the graces of Honorine’s mind and heart. “ ‘I am very ridiculous. monsieur. was stirred to the depths of his heart by that anecdote.

not so much by these advantages of which I had never dreamed. “Three weeks later I went to live in the gardener’s cottage. Maurice. Presently the footman announced Madame de Courteville and her daughter. de Grandville’s indiscretion betrayed to you the secret of my life. Madame de Courteville. and this old house settled on her. It is no secretary of mine that will be lodged in the Rue Saint-Maur in the little garden-house which I have at his disposal. and a carriage came into the courtyard. “I was dazzled.—would not you have enough good reasons for not falling in love with the Countess?’ he said to me in a whisper.” said the Consul after a pause. repaired. It is my distant cousin. but by Amelie de Courteville.’ replied the Count. which had been cleaned. And can you devote him to destruction by sending him into the fire? Can any one put his hand into a brazier without burning it?’ “ ‘You are a foolish boy. till you get something better. I ended by regarding this incident as one of the decrees of fate. I know the heart of your second—he might fall in love with your wife. his cousin. Have you enough affection for me to show me romantic devotion?’ “ ‘I see what you are coming to. one of the utterances for which gamblers listen and pray in the midst of their most impassioned play….Balzac est birds. and furnished with the celerity which is explained by three words: Paris. Monsieur le Comte. Your first secretary tried to open your deed box. whose beauty was thrown into relief by one of those well-chosen toilets which a mother can achieve for a daughter when she wants to see her married. ‘I guess your purpose. was the widow of a judge on the bench of the Seine division. as he took me by the hand and introduced me to Madame de Courteville and her daughter. as lovely as imagination could wish for an ideal mistress? “ ‘Baron. Baron de l’Hostal. “But I will not talk of myself. the most capricious. Hence. French workmen.’ said I. a lawyer high in office …” “After a moment of silent surprise. who had left her a daughter and no fortune whatever. money! I was as 237 . I heard the gate bell ring. The Count had a large family connection on his mother’s side. the swiftest. when M. and Master of Appeals. interrupting him. ‘I will send you well gloved. and the rarest. What could a woman of nine-and-twenty be in comparison with a young girl of twenty.

her occupations. like a man whom nothing can divert. I may confess that I counted very much on my uncle’s advice. even in the smallest details. There would be no more fresh air for Honorine. Would the prudence of a young man of five-and-twenty be equal to the part I was undertaking. I will say nothing of the curiosity which consumed me to see the Countess! The wish almost extinguished my budding love for Amelie de Courteville. of building a wall between the two gardens.much in love as the Count could possibly desire as a security. while my work in the garden lasted. and I sat in council. the mind. I had not even inquired whether I had a neighbor. expressed by an eccentric creature who had become her neighbor. her plans for the morrow. Octave lived only for that hour. As soon as the Countess had gone to bed. formerly a summer villa. at about eleven at night. turning up the soil of the marketgarden. collecting every variety. My scheme for building a wall was indeed a dangerous threat. Like the maniacs of England. I worked frantically. for I had been authorized by the Count to take him into confidence in any case where I deemed his interference necessary. as a disastrous piece of news. “During two months. I engaged a garden. was laid down for me by the Count. I gave it out that I was devoted to one kind of flower. along which she had planted cypress trees already four feet high. This dwelling. the flowers she proposed to imitate. and especially grew dahlias. Octave. was like a house of cards. You will understand that my conduct. 238 . I heard the old woman’s report to the Count of his wife’s least proceedings during the day. I devoted myself to horticulture. the intention. it was not more than thirty feet deep. I never set eyes on the little house where my fair neighbor dwelt. whose whole intellectual powers were directed to the most trifling incidents of the tragicomedy enacted in the Rue Saint-Maur. and appropriating the ground to the culture of flowers. One fine morning Madame Gobain announced to her mistress. I understood what love in despair may be when it is the threefold passion of the heart. her frame of mind. Madame Gobain. though the Countess’ garden was divided from mine by a paling. at the end of the year. whose garden would then be a sort of narrow alley shut in between my wall and her own little house. involving a friend’s happiness? To settle that matter. He inquired into everything: her meals. or of Holland. and the senses.

‘What do I care for your mistress!’ “ “Madame. I caught sight of the half-opened curtains on the first floor of the little house. saying that even a charcoal seller is master in his own premises.’ 239 . as I was walking along my graveled path.’ said the housekeeper. that nothing worse may happen—’ “ ‘Why—what?’ “ ‘Well.Balzac and about a hundred feet long. your neighbor is a little cracked!’ said Gobain. especially when he has no wife. and was really a charming example of the Pompadour style. ‘I do not know whether it will be possible to tame him. ‘what sort of man is this florist?’ “ ‘On my word. He seems to have a horror of women.’ said Gobain. He is the nephew of a Paris cure.’ replied Gobain. but very amiable. and by a rude shrug expressed. if you want to know all that is said about him—’ “ ‘Well. If I do not succeed. I have seen the uncle but once. And he has his reasons for disliking women—well. “ ‘My good Gobain.’ said she. I will speak to him myself! Tell him that I beg him to come here. I will send for the cure. so well called rococo. as they say in the neighborhood. I hastily glanced at the Countess’ house. A long avenue of limes led up to it. “ ‘He has studied too hard. The gardens of the pavilion and my plot of ground were in the shape of a hatchet. very ugly. ‘madmen frighten me less than sane folks. called upon to give an account of her errand. of which this avenue was the handle. in his love of flowers.. ‘he has turned misanthropic.’ said Honorine. imitated a trellis with flowers up to the second floor.’ “The day after this conversation. “The Countess was in despair. painted in the German fashion. My wall would cut away threequarters of the hatchet. tapping her head! “Now a harmless lunatic is the only man whom no woman ever distrusts in the matter of sentiment. and of a woman’s face curiously peeping out. It is quite possible that this priest encourages his nephew. The garden front. a fine old man of sixty. Madame Gobain called me. “ ‘What ails him then?’ asked the Countess. You will see how wise the Count had been in choosing this disguise for me. ‘the madman bid me leave him in peace.

a ragged bandana round my neck. After the Countess’ breakfast.’ said the housekeeper. She could freeze or give life by a look. the fragrance of spring formed a setting for this creature of sorrow. the verdure of the first foliage. shed on Honorine the pale gold. I saw at last the woman whom her own conduct and her husband’s confidences had made me so curious to meet. heavy wooden shoes. who found her greatest solace in growing flowers. powerful. though common in Italy. ‘this good man is your neighbor. outlined a poet’s brow. all the lines and forms of the head had a stamp of nobleness which would defy the outrages of time. or contempt in her way of raising or dropping those veils of the soul. a peaked cap on my head. terror. filtering through the light foliage of the acacias. Her brown eyes expressed both tenderness and vivacity. “ ‘Madame.’ said the Countess. Honorine could cast a spell. their brightness seemed reflected in her face through the long downcast lashes.’ “Next day a signal from Gobain informed me that I was expected. carelessly knotted on her head. I had dressed myself like a countryman. And to crown all by a grace. the eye seemed to feel that tender skin. At the slightest emotion the blood mounted under the surface in rosy flushes like a cloud. When we met. and a dibble in my hand. where the blood flowed in the blue veins. have been able to enwrap the Virgin. hands soiled with mould.“ ‘He is perfectly right. On looking at the Countess. “I will go. “ ‘Yes. The air was pure. the weather serene. The mouth was wholly voluptuous.’ “The Countess was not alarmed. and shabby shooting coat. there was so much feeling. ‘A heavenly flower!’ “Her pallor was what first struck me by its peculiar tone of white— for there are as many tones of white as of red or blue. ambient glory in which Raphael and Titian. As I then saw Honorine I understood Octave’s passion and the truthfulness of his description. 240 . high. and dreamy. I broke out some palings and went towards her. alone of all painters. Merely by lifting her delicate eyelids. dignity. in an old pair of gray flannel trousers. when she was walking to and fro in front of her house. rare in France. It was in the early days of May. Her light-brown hair.” when I told him that he would greatly distress a lady living in retirement. but he ended by saying. the sunshine.

her thoughts. If my life. speak. take my life. only. Her small feet. that inimitable nature went at once to the heart. and I will divine your thought. A man on seeing her must say to himself: “ ‘Think. sacrificed in torments. and you 241 . excepting as gifted with these apparently incompatible qualities. and remained distinct from the footfall of a thousand other women. had left her still a child. set down. the exquisiteness of her heart. for those whose soul had drunk in the melody of that voice. I understood how the memory of this wife had arrested the Count on the threshold of debauchery. for she was one of those pliant little women who allow themselves to be taken up. and taken up again like a kitten. Inhaling the perfume of violets that accompanied her. as a token to which a father responds on recognizing a gift to his child. made a light sound essentially their own. and succeed in producing effects similar to those which would have struck you at first sight of the Countess. I will smile like a martyr at the stake. she would be implacable. Gay and tender. which. like the angel. Honorine was not thin. and how impossible it would be ever to forget a creature who really was a flower to the touch. as I heard them on the gravel. for whom her set lips had parted. in the street. But it was a child who might be as strong as an angel. a flower to the eye. haughty and imposing.’ Many women study their expression. once hurt in her nature. “Coldness on that face must no doubt be death to those on whom her eyes had smiled. the least respectful working man would have made way for her. Honorine inspired devotion. producing a feminine music which stamped itself on the heart. If I tell you all this. regardless of reward. for I shall offer that day to God. it is because her soul. lending to her words the poetry of song by its peculiar intonation. and.Balzac “Though slight. it was impossible to understand her. that. and her figure struck me as being one that might revive love when it believed itself exhausted. chivalrous devotion. a heavenly flower to the soul …. nevertheless. can procure you one day’s happiness. Her gait bore all the quarterings of her race with so much pride. in her. that harmonized with the rustle of her dress. She perfectly represented the idea conveyed by the word mignonne. are all we are concerned with. petted. it was all the outcome of a delightful nature. a flower of fragrance. and I will obey.

and the Countess must have supposed me to be a wretched and wounded sufferer worthy of her pity. we have begun at the foundations. However. ‘the only beings that never disappoint our cares and affection. or.’ said I.would have blamed me if I had not sketched them for you. necessary as they are. “ ‘Why. ‘can a lady of such rank as yours would seem to be.’ And I went on to deliver such a diatribe while comparing botany and the world. The masses of plants. that we ended miles away from the dividing wall. good reasons for employing your fingers so as to keep your brains from working?’ “ ‘Let us stick to the question of the wall. or in single clumps. to carry out my part. of our mania?—Oh! what a charming clump of narcissus! They are as fresh as this spring morning!’ “I assure you. which none might see but the sun.’ said I. as soon as nothing compels us to obey the various hypocrisies. “ ‘They are. the most heartless of landlords must have treated it with respect. On it was set that inscrutable signmanual. like me. which Society insists on.’ I replied. were really a joy to the soul. she had made for herself a perfect museum of flowers and shrubs. and by no means chivalrous. as grave as a judge. nay. and of which the arrangement had been prompted by the genius of an artist. if you choose.’ said she. affecting to be far more in love with the flowers than with her. I imitate them. That is enough to tell you that I am poor and unable to pay for the concession I am anxious to obtain from you?’ “ ‘But how. I looked alternately at the mass of narcissus and at the Countess. arranged according to their height. and suggested none but sweet thoughts and graceful. at the 242 .’ said she. with a smile. madame. that you are fond of flowers?’ “ ‘I am an artificial flower-maker. ply so humble a calling? Have you. ‘After growing flowers. voluptuous pictures. ‘Must not I know which of us ought to yield to the other in behalf of our suffering. which our true character stamps on everything. “ ‘I am told. This retired and solitary garden breathed comforting scents. “ ‘So you are very fond of flowers?’ said she. clumsy. “I was very near forgetting my part as a half-crazy lout. like a mother who is artist enough to have the pleasure of painting her children ….

and found myself for the second time at her side. Towards the end of May. But I like my solitude too well to burden it with any loss of independence. you will see mine. The dining-room. on the ground floor. we happened both to be out on opposite sides of the paling. I shall see yours. The Countess led me into the house. I. The staircase was charmingly decorated in monochrome. my premises at any hour. a blue rose. “ ‘If you insist on my leaving the paling. was painted in fresco. “Exquisite simplicity reigned there. . The little drawing-room. . but the Countess had hung it with panels of 243 . for my part. was very much faded.’ “ ‘As you please. “For a fortnight I seemed to take no heed of my neighbor. she found me in such deep dejection. admirably and marvelously executed. . ‘you will learn all the secrets of gardening that I want to hide. that she spoke to me of hopefulness. “ ‘Now. Come and welcome. in brief sentences that sounded like the songs with which nurses lull their babies. you will always be admitted as a neighbor with whom I hope to keep on good terms. we might as well make a little door of open railings to unite our gardens. for women. ‘I will give you the right to come into my garden. are fond of flowers.’ said I.’ said she. and mocking her with a madman’s gesture and grimace. opposite the dining-room. the Cure of the White Friars. have none but my uncle. You. both walking slowly. The interior of the little house was just such a dainty box as the art of the eighteenth century devised for the pretty profligacy of a fine gentleman. too.’ “ ‘No. of what use would a door be?’ said I. I am seeking to grow a blue dahlia. I then leaped the fence. wishing to subdue my sadness. from my own domain. If you receive no visitors at all. have all the cold blood of an experienced attorney. we could not help exchanging a few civil words. Having reached the end.’ said I. Is not blue the favorite color of superior souls? We are neither of us really at home. when they are not in love. turning round to the Countess. lost in such painful meditations.Balzac end of half an hour my neighbor naturally brought me back to the point. So at last I had penetrated the sanctuary where everything was in harmony with the woman I have tried to describe to you. one lovely evening. with garlands of flowers. I am crazy for blue flowers. and with one leap I was over the paling.

For coloring prints she must sit bent over a table and devote herself. She soon gave me the right to go into the pretty workshop where she made her flowers. with some attention. a thing which is at the antipodes to poetry—a manufacture. with a dressing-room. her voice. A look would have spoilt all. by the care. laugh. “Perhaps of all the work a woman can do. only the lead cornices were visible. which do not take a pretty woman out of her sphere. the minute exactitude. she may chat. as smart as a boudoir where elegance emphasized the vulgarity of the tools of her trade. as I may say. the result of our close neighborhood and of the Countess’ conviction that I was indifferent to women. In a few days we had reached a certain degree of intimacy. or think. taken off old screens. Her manner to me was the outcome of a kind of pity. Sewing and white embroidery do not earn thirty sous a day. Her looks. A bath-room came next. But the making of flowers and light articles of wear necessitates a variety of movements. the making of artificial flowers is that of which the details allow her to display most grace. she is still herself. “There was certainly a feeling for art in the way in which the Countess arranged on a long deal table the myriad-colored petals which 244 . gestures. The kitchen was beneath in the basement on which the house was raised. The balustrade of a balcony in garlands a la Pompadour concealed the roof. “But for the bitter smile which occasionally played on the beautiful red lips of this pale woman.tapestry of fanciful designs. Honorine chose to regard me as an old friend. as diligently as a woman must who is to earn her living by it. for there was a flight of several steps outside. her words. to this half painting. all showed that she was a hundred miles away from the coquettish airs which the strictest virtue might have allowed under such circumstances. a retreat full of books and curiosities. Engraving music is one of the most laborious. The Countess had in the course of time poetized. Upstairs there was but one bedroom. and a library which she used as her workroom. Embroidering tapestry. and I never allowed a thought of her to be seen in my eyes. sing. it would have been possible to believe that this violet buried in her thicket of flowers was happy. and the intelligence it demands. In this retreat one was a hundred leagues from Paris. entails consumption or curvature of the spine. ideas even.

’ she would say. nectaries of the most variegated hues. To please my own taste as an artist I have made drooping flowers with leaves of the hue of Florentine bronze. she attempted the most difficult things. arranged in such order that the eye could at once see the required shade in the scale of tints. Thus the aristocratic artist saved time. and the most elaborate in their simplicity. was the living model she strove to imitate. padding the wire stem and adjusting the leaves. of iron and brass. ‘is in its infancy. shaped like a flower-cup on its stem. I believe. “I could not tire of admiring her as she shaped a flower from the materials sorted before her. the tiniest corollas. A pretty little cabinet with a hundred tiny drawers. the most artless of all. which was never allowed to turn sour. while she adapted each motion to the result with the lucidity of instinct. Her fingers seemed to be fairies. flowers for gloomy and stern bigots. went from the table to the flower she was making. close racemes. such as are found before or after the winter. pensive flowers for women who are bored? Botany. She displayed the genius of a painter in her bold attempts. they would lend a complete language of flowers to the wreaths they wear on their head. to use Perrault’s expression. of ebony inlaid with ivory. as those of an accomplished pianist fly over the keys. If the women of Paris had a little of the genius which the slavery of the harem brings out in Oriental women. The saucers of color were of white china. “Under her eyes. and it had a fitted cover with a hinge so easy that she could lift it with a finger-tip. she struggled even with wildflowers. she copied faded flowers and yellowing leaves. so infinite were the different actions of twisting. contained the little steel moulds in which she shaped the leaves and some forms of petals. in a Venetian glass. lurked in a little drawer of the table before her. all hidden under grace of movement. The wire.Balzac were used in composing the flowers she was to produce. She had a passion for achievement. as swift as her thoughts. and always clean. heaths. A fine Japanese bowl held the paste. may be made to express every sensation 245 . fitting. Her hands. and pressure needed for the work. “ ‘This art. Would not such a crown on the head of a young woman whose life is a failure have a certain poetical fitness? How many things a woman might express by her head-dress! Are there not flowers for drunken Bacchantes.

there was nothing of the coquette in her. false wounds to excite the compassion of that enchanting woman. nothing survived of the woman. offered these to me with childlike effusiveness and such compassion as would inevitably have filled with bitterness any profligate who should have fallen in love with her. cut up material. I soon appreciated the extent of my devotedness by learning to estimate the baseness of a spy. like the beggars in the street. having. as to which she kept the most profound silence. though the causes I assigned for my misanthropy might have satisfied Young or Job. When I had nothing to do. We talked as we worked. weaned from the world. My affected desire for occupation made me soon skilful. that I fancied she was well content with the chance which had brought to her desert island a sort of Man Friday. it was all charity. even the most subtle. Her renunciation of love. she proclaimed with equal vehemence and candor. the necessity for overcoming my dislike to speak had induced the Countess to strengthen the bonds of our intimacy. These happy days proved to me that a woman’s friendship is far superior to her love. besides love. My person led to adorable banter as to my purely physical resemblance—with the exception of his club foot—to Lord Byron. she told me.and thought of the soul. and prepare wires for the stems. and soured. but she found in me so exact a counterpart of her own antipathy to love.’ “She would employ me to stamp out the leaves. “I will say nothing of the feelings of shame which tormented me as I inflicted on my heart. worn out with griefs. “I suffered the revelations of my sorrows to be dragged from me with as many grimaces as a young lady allows herself before sitting down to the piano. At the same time. gloomy. I involuntarily compared these 246 . so conscious are they of the annoyance that will follow. This charming creature. Solitude was perhaps beginning to weigh on her. for I had my part to keep up as a man weary of life. I read new books to her. It was tacitly acknowledged that her own troubles. for. her dread of what is called happiness for women. sceptical. The expressions of sympathy bestowed on me would have comforted the greatest grief. alas. she did not feel that she had a heart. excepting in the ideal world where she found refuge. far outweighed mine. treasures of kindliness to bestow. As you may imagine. and for so many years alone. all sheer pity.

Still. hoping to bring Honorine to the confidential point. you have loved. to me it has the disadvantage of being false. In my opinion. “ ‘You are an actress in good faith. he is unpardonable in one thing—he lives on! You dare not own it. ergo. My misanthropy allowed me to utter cynical sallies against men and women both.’ said she. nay. In men gratitude for past delights is eternal. lovely as you are. What can those women be who give themselves up to a succession of loves?’ she asked. and emotion. Nay. looking at me as the Virgin in Ingres’ picture looks at Louis XIII. ‘I am not a woman. all inaction. woman is the most dishonorable and cowardly being to be found.Balzac two lives—hers and the Count’s:—his. ‘But. and that when we have had our fill. but you all have in your hearts the feeling which that popular calumny called tradition ascribes to the Lady of the Tour de Nesle: “What a pity it is that we cannot live on love as we live on fruit. hers. and stagnation. in his eyes she is hedged round by an imprescriptible prerogative. Though he should find his mistress grown old or unworthy. and that is where her charm lies. “ ‘The Orientals are right. quiescence. she is to him for ever sacred. offering her his kingdom. evading my question. ‘when they shut you up and regard you merely as the playthings of their pleasure. nothing should survive but the remembrance of pleasure!” ‘ “ ‘God has.’ said I. Where would be the pleasure of hunting a tame thing? When once a woman has inspired a man’s passion. the woman still has rights over his heart. but to you women the man you have loved is as nothing to you. no doubt.’ “ ‘I!’ she exclaimed. more.’ she added. ‘if your argument seems to you very witty. but she was not to be caught in any trap. I am a nun. and I indulged in them. all activity. The woman and the man were admirably obedient to their nature. ‘for you gave me a look just now which would make the fame of an actress. reserved such perfect bliss for Paradise. and I began to understand that mulish obstinacy which is commoner among women than is generally supposed. and seventy-two years old!’ 247 . Europe has been well punished for having admitted you to form an element of society and for accepting you on an equal footing. agitation. you forget.’ I said to her one evening.

If I were rich. in her wilfulness. ‘Oh! when my mind wanders. I have no liking for my work. On some days I find my soul invaded by a purposeless expectancy. The evening before. and. the Countess had exclaimed: “ ‘Lucretia’s dagger wrote in letters of blood the watchword of woman’s charter: Liberty!’ “From that moment the Count left me free to act. it goes higher. often sings in my heart. she persisted. I stare into the darkness. and after a thousand fatigues I find life once more— everyday life. I listen vaguely. I told the Count that it was impossible to drag this tortoise out of her shell. “ ‘I have been paid a hundred francs for the flowers and caps I made this week!’ Honorine exclaimed gleefully one Saturday evening when I went to visit her in the little sitting-room on the ground floor.’ she said. like all women when stuck between the issues of a dilemma. I should work.’ “She looked at me sweetly. to keep me from soaring too often on the many-tinted wings of the angel. The twilight of July and a glorious moon lent us their misty light. I feel that some great event is impending. “ ‘I am a nun. ‘and you talk to me of the world where I shall never again set foot. Is this a warning from heaven? I ask myself—’ “After three months of this struggle between two diplomates. that my life is about to change. “ ‘Is the world so much to be desired?’ she replied. I cannot banish some idea which takes possession of me.’ “ ‘Not even in thought?’ said I. how can you so positively assert that you feel more keenly than I? Sorrow has but one form for women. nevertheless. and a woman whose disgust of life made her invulnerable. and wandering in the world of fancy. 248 . or held in the clutches of truth. There are meditations which are the ruin of us women! I owe much peace of mind to my flowers. concealed under the semblance of youthful melancholy.“ ‘Then. The only misfortunes they regard are disappointments of the heart. The angel of perfection. which the unavowed proprietor had had regilt. in our last quite friendly discussion. Gusts of mingled perfumes soothed the soul. which seems to make my fingers clumsy. the beautiful angel Gabriel. it must be broken. all the same. though sometimes they fail to occupy me. “It was ten o’clock.

Oh. playing among the flowers. madame? Monsieur Maurice is crying like a child. unlaced her. “ ‘Pooh! Am I a woman? I am a boy gifted with a soft soul. who came down and found me with my face wet with tears.Balzac the Countess was clinking in her hand the five gold pieces given to her by a supposititious dealer in fashionable frippery. for the first time. I only wished to give up this part of the bird-catcher which I had so rashly assumed. I meanwhile walked up and down the path behind the house. like the influence of a most insidious poison. but frozen under a nervous attack of which the first chill. armed with their laws.’ “Roused to action by the evil interpretation that might be put on our mutual behavior. Popinot.’ said she. and calling you mother!’ “I waited for an answer. a boy whom no woman can torture—’ “ ‘Your life is the negation of your whole being. who came and led away her mistress. “ ‘I earn my living by amusing myself. I have transports of pride every Saturday! In short. liked Mr.’ said I. like a flower itself of life and love. “ ‘For a pretty little child. on whom God has lavished His choicest treasures of love and beauty. the Countess had not indeed fainted. that is all. laid her on her bed. A too prolonged silence led me to perceive the terrible effect of my words. ‘What? You. another of Octave’s accomplices found for him by a judge. have tried to make us slaves. though the darkness at first concealed it. Madame Gobain. and doubting my success.’ “ ‘This is not becoming in a woman. but to the consciousness of some dreadful suffering. as she afterwards said. Gaudissart’s gold pieces as much as Lord Byron. not to life. ‘I am free. felt. hastily went up again to say to the Countess: “ ‘What has happened. undressed her. and restored her. she summoned superhuman strength to put on a wrapper and come down to me. with curling hair. I called Madame Gobain. gave the lie to the part I had assumed.’ said she. running. Leaning on her sofa.’ I replied. ‘I am subject to 249 . weeping. your double. “ ‘You are not the cause of this attack. somewhat disturbed by a speech which. it is true. do you never wish—’ “ ‘For what?’ said she. when men. Murray’s. as gentle as everything that was part of her. M. I like M.

had already reasserted their mastery. ‘those pretty fingers. madame. this is for you?” Marie is the real Madame Gobain. and have been so unhappy as to lose your child?’ “ ‘Marie!’ she called as she rang the bell. you. You have in me the most devoted friend you will ever have: Friend.’ “ ‘I defy you!’ she exclaimed. the Countess showed me a mute countenance. “ ‘Bring lights and some tea. Of what use are complaints when they are not an elegy like Manfred’s. who. madame. so profaned in France. so you conceal your name behind that of your housekeeper. her indomitable pride and gravity. worthy of a savage. a sort of cramp of the heart—’ “ ‘And will you not tell me of your troubles?’ said I. My heart is a poem that I lay before God.’ said she. which are enough to show that you are not a mere girl—were they made for toil? Then you call yourself Madame Gobain. who will defend you against everything. from me.’ “ ‘In the first place. I could know all your secrets by to-morrow. in my presence the other day on receiving a letter. “ ‘I have no interest in anything. I ought to know it.’ I went on. Gobain came in.—Fear nothing. ‘Have you not just now told me that you have been a mother. said to Marie: “Here. as I wiped away my tears. if I chose. ‘If such a crime is possible. do you understand me? I give this word its sacred and pathetic meaning. And your friend. pointing to her hands. ‘so I cannot be inquisitive. only wishes that you should be as happy as 250 . with ill-disguised uneasiness. with the calm decision of a Mylady clothed in the armor of pride by the dreadful English training which you know too well.’ “ ‘If I chose—’ said I. in a voice which cannot be affected. nor bitter mockery like Don Juan’s.’ I replied.these spasms. where we apply it to our enemies. She said: “ ‘Do you know why I like Lord Byron so much? It is because he suffered as animals do.’ said she. “ ‘If?’ she repeated. “When the housekeeper had lighted the tapers and closed the shutters. “ ‘Seriously?’ “ ‘Certainly. tossing her head. but. nor a reverie like Childe Harold’s? Nothing shall be known of me.

” said the Consul. Now. ‘What is to become of me?—Must I 251 . find out who I am. they reproach us for it some time later as if it were an injury.’ “ ‘That means that you will fly—’ “ ‘On wings!’ she cried.’ said she. looking at the ladies. “ ‘Well. that is all. you may need a second.’ she went on. I beg that you will. and which I enjoy like a fraud—’ “She rose and paid no further heed to me. then.’ “ ‘Never mind. The preservation of the small happiness I enjoy here depends on the steps you take.’ and she held up her finger. interrupting her. but. ‘I forget that woman and the Pope are infallible.’ said I. “ ‘Where can I go?’ she said. ‘But do not therefore hate me! Will you behave like other women?’ “ ‘What do other women do?’ “ ‘They lay upon us immense sacrifices. “ ‘Forgive me. to attract men’s gaze. ‘only two words would be enough to destroy the peace so dearly bought. to excite desires and evil thoughts? Paris is a desert with Bedouins.’ “ ‘They are right if the thing required appears to be a sacrifice!’ replied she pointedly.’ replied I. I will tell you what I may have discovered.’ replied she with threatening audacity. “ ‘Instead of sacrifices. What have you to complain of? Who am I? An additional servant—M. with the grace which you ladies have at command. say efforts and—’ “ ‘It would be an impertinence. ‘Is it not the very essence of genius and beauty to shine. to-morrow.’ “ ‘Good heavens!’ said she after a long pause. and when we have made them. Who can tell whether the pain I have involuntarily caused you was not a voluntary act?’ “ ‘Yes.Balzac such a woman ought to be. Gobain. Paris is the only place in the world where those who must work for their livelihood can hide their life.’ said I. ‘you must also tell me by what means you obtain your information. If you have to fight a duel. at the same hour. and tell me all that you can find out about me. Be curious. ‘I insist on it. ‘to the New World—’ “ ‘Where you will be at the mercy of the brutal passions you will inspire. I have already said that I insist.

calculate all the chances. then. for the first time. “ ‘Heavens! what privations such a sum must represent!’ I exclaimed. who had risen.’ I replied with a smile. “ ‘Madame la Comtesse. At ten next evening I was. walking to and fro by the trenches of the Bastille. in that vast realm which we ought to call the Spiritual World. which I should have liked to see perpetuated by a great painter.’ said she. on the eve of a battle.’ said I with a grave smile.’ she added shortly. ‘Has it never struck you that a time would come when you could no longer work. the other in agonizing dread of reunion. if you should learn anything. Octave and Honorine moved and lived altogether in the world of lofty spirits.’ I went on. sunk in an attitude of grief. shown into a charming bedroom furnished with white and blue—the nest of this wounded dove. “ ‘The battle is to-morrow. I must be alone. but in feelings. The Count and I remained together till two in the morning. to keep up the appearance of indifference I had given to the scene. This evening I am not myself. dismissing me with an imperious gesture. examine the ground. The real dramas of life are not in circumstances. “The poor woman. when competition will lower the price of flowers and articles of fashion—?’ “ ‘I have already saved a thousand crowns. others besides you would be informed. The Countess looked at me. Must I not save my strength in case of disaster? For. But as I went down the avenue I repeated the words: “ ‘The battle is to-morrow. but was stricken dumb by my respectful demeanor. These two divided beings would each lie awake. ‘till to-morrow. and perceive that the victory must depend on an opportunity to be seized half-way through the fight. “ ‘You are.’ she said. dropped back into her chair and remained there.’ “Octave’s anxiety was equal to Honorine’s. that I had arranged with such care to end my days in?’ “ ‘To end your days!’ exclaimed I with visible alarm. “ ‘Leave me. they are played in the heart. “I was punctual. and was about to speak. if you please. and then—Good-night. like two generals who.leave this quiet retreat. one in the hope. or. ‘the wife of the noblest and most highly 252 .

“ ‘In my own house. to see the glimmer of your nightlight! Your large cashmere shawl cost six thousand francs— your old-clothes-seller brings you.’ she replied. who might have forgotten you. he obeys you …’ “ ‘That is enough. opening her eyes with a wide stare of astonishment. is not the real owner. That young man told me everything. In short. things fresh from the best makers.’ 253 . he professes to hope that you were not lost in the wreck of the Cecile. the ship in which you sailed for Havana to secure the fortune to be left to you by an old aunt.—How could a woman so clever as you are believe that shopkeepers buy flowers and caps as dear as they sell them? Ask a thousand crowns for a bouquet. Lenormand. and at every hour. your husband will know where you are gone. of a man who is acknowledged to be great. you embarked. If you leave this house this evening. No mother’s tenderness was ever more ingenious than your husband’s! I have learned from the porter of this house that the Count often comes behind the fence when all are asleep. and you will get it. madame. the money you earn is paid by him. he has assigned plausible reasons for your disappearance. but who is far greater in his conduct to you than he is in the eyes of the world. sublime for seven years past. “ ‘In Count Octave’s. the usher of the Court. M. and his care will follow you everywhere. however stealthily. ‘I want to know but one thing more. you are living here like Venus in the toils of Vulcan. and his protection extends to the most trivial details of your existence. From whom have you obtained all these details?’ “ ‘Well. You and he are two lofty natures. as second hand. he is only a screen for your husband. and received letters which give him great hopes.—Where do you suppose yourself to be living?’ I asked her. In short.Balzac respected of men. He takes as many precautions to hide you from all eyes as you take yourself. but you are alone in your prison by the devices of a sublime magnanimity. my uncle got a place for a penniless youth as secretary to the Commissary of police in this part of Paris.’ she said. Your husband has saved you in the eyes of the world.’ I replied. escorted by two ladies of her family and an old man-servant. The delightful seclusion you enjoy is the Count’s work. The Count says that he has sent agents to various spots. ‘You have been tricked.

’ I said. it strains its neck to look about it with wild eyes. full of exaggerated dignity. as Minister of State. he never is one in a drawing-room. ‘you would kill yourself?—Madame. but—only when you have demonstrated to me that you cannot and ought not to return to him. tell them to me. I believe. ‘He forces me to it. you shall be as free and as little annoyed as if you were an ugly. tell them to my uncle. they were tears of desperation. If you should wish to evade the Count’s tyranny. noticing a glance of horrible suspicion. then. In us you will find two devoted advisers. We will hear you. solitude. is pure. you must have some very powerful reasons for not wishing to return to Comte Octave. Even though he is powerful. Oh! do not fear that you would escape his power only to fall into mine. perhaps we can clear the matter up. I will find you the means. and if you are the dupe or the victim of some misapprehension. and she wept—not because she was touched. remember that in me you have a most sincere friend.’ “ ‘And how? By what means?’ “ ‘That is my secret.’ “ ‘Oh! there is always a convent!’ said she. he shall never find you. of that you may be 254 . cross old maid. in short. She had believed herself independent and free. and independence. but because she was helpless. “ ‘Yes.’ “ ‘Certainly I have!’ “ ‘Well. Though in the confessional my uncle is a priest. studying me with a defiant look. At any rate. I am not deceiving you. marriage weighed on her as the prison cell does on the captive.’ “ ‘What. I will save you from him—. I myself would never be able to see you without your consent. your fault is fully expiated …. as you hold it in your hand. ‘You shall have peace.“The Countess was trembling as a trapped swallow trembles while. “ ‘I will go!’ she cried through her tears. she was a woman! The moment came when her tears forced their way. but if you have done wrong. we will try to find a solution of the problems you may lay before us. can procure your rejection by every convent in the world. Her dry eyes glittered with a light that was almost hot: still. Your soul. I will go where no one certainly will come after me.’ I added. But the Count. She shook with a nervous spasm.

rich. I am out of the fray. admired. My husband had the young girl. In some natures love can never be on trial. they were exhausted by that delusive intimacy in which I alone was genuine. however unworthy of the offering. he is kind. for it is broken. a worthless lover had the woman—there is nothing left!—Then let myself be loved! that is the great idea you mean to utter to me. But be a Christian. but I can never more love 255 . but for you he will be Fenelon—the Fenelon who said to the Duc de Bourgogne: ‘Eat a calf on a Friday by all means. he has not had it. and I rebel at the idea of being a prostitute! Yes. could enter into the scruples of my conscience. There is none but God who can understand me. When it comes. but to Octave’s?—No. My uncle is not a Grand Inquisitor. by the light of the conflagration I saw clearly.’ “ ‘But. it is. ‘will there never be a man who understands me?’ “ ‘No.’ said she. “ ‘I esteem him.’ “ ‘Ah! you love him. I had but one name bestowed on me. seventy-five years of age.—Well. respect him. Another than my husband. And that is why I appeal to religion to decide between us. he never has done me the smallest hurt. I threw into it all the faculties of my being. Honorine. For me the cup of happiness is not drained. nay. in one of the finest houses in Paris.Balzac sure. venerate him.’ I said. a happy mother … and I will decide in your favor. Oh! but I still am something. which it breaks. that it is preferable to that of the Comtesse Octave. whence there is no escape. as I had but one heart. has had all my love. which are to me as the circles of Dante’s hell. Prove to me that this is the only life you can lead. never. No man.’ “ ‘Nay. or it is not. I could imagine surrendering to another man’s love. he is tender. for he did not take it. The Cure of the White Friars is a saint. Having thus utterly abandoned myself. not Saint Augustine himself. and I tell you—well. when it rises up. I have no weapons left. that life of eighteen months was to me a life of eighteen years. No. what am I?—the leavings of a feast. he is Saint John. nor empty. monseigneur. monsieur. I gave it him as a mother gives her child a wonderful toy. which were not impoverished by their effusiveness. beloved by her husband. it is complete. the convent is my last hope and my only refuge. a different man. and nothing can refill it. the tenderest of the Fathers of the Church. For me there never could be two loves.

in the presence of your flowers he will be as tender as they are.’ he answered. now remind me of everything I wish to forget. when I had finished my account of the scene that had just taken place. ‘let us talk no more of this. in the Rue Saint-Maur. I am feverish. However. ‘Supposing I were to go to her!’ he added. even if it were done by a man into whose arms she could throw herself. in all the glory of your beauty. Ah! I must fly from hence as I fled from my home. for at this moment they are suffocating me. You have his sublime devotion of nine years as a guarantee for your tranquillity. she was apparently calm. and as indulgent as his Divine Master. ‘The Countess is one of those Lucretias who could not survive any violence. The Count. Drawn by an irresistible attraction. A priest whose hair has grown white in the exercise of his functions is not a boy. he had quitted the spot on the Boulevards where we had agreed to meet. my feet are standing in the ashes of my Paraclete. So compose yourself.him. ‘Can a woman exist unprotected? At thirty. who for nine years has never allowed himself to be seen here. My uncle has as much influence as a Minister of State. You may therefore discuss the future in perfect confidence with my uncle and me.’ “ ‘Where will you go?’ I asked.’ “ ‘You are young.’ “I left the Countess at midnight. I found the Count a few paces off. do not exaggerate your misfortune. full of tenderness to be bestowed. ‘you do not know that in a soul 256 . but depressed.’ she went on. will never go there without your permission. these things which I believed I had earned by my labor. ‘supposing she were to see me suddenly?’ “ ‘At this moment she is capable of throwing herself out of the window. If he is stern under his stole. “ ‘What a night my poor child will go through!’ he exclaimed. I will express my notions on this subject in writing to you. are you prepared to live in the wilderness where I could hide you?—Be quite easy. Discussion makes everything small. you will be understood by him to whom every passion has been confided for nearly fifty years now. rich in powers of which you have no suspicion.’ I replied. All that I see. and who weighs in his hands the ponderous heart of kings and princes. and had some secret purpose which no perspicacity could guess.

having taken a soothing draught prepared by the chemist. all my egoism—for I know that I am an egoist —ought to be sacrificed to the family. Legally. and that. the world will regard me as pure. to deprive him of children. During this night the chances are quite as great that on seeing me Honorine might rush into my arms as that she would throw herself out of the window. the caresses of my child will wipe away many tears! I shall be very happy. I shall be a mother. I shall be damned. Civil law condemns me to obey. that is the sentence of religious law. “know all the resources of art. of which I kept a copy—for you. my feelings. I certainly shall be much looked up to. Yes.” said the Consul.’ said he. and the waves are driven now to one shore. whatever I may have done. the wind changes every instant.’ “ ‘And you would accept the equal chances. I know that if I am not reconciled to Octave. Here is the letter written by this woman. come. worn out with fatigue. my repugnance. society ratifies the husband’s forgiveness. as virtuous. Keeping only to the human aspect of the question. “This is her letter. a dose of opium which Desplein prepared for me to send me to sleep without any risk!’ “Next day at noon Gobain brought me a letter. If my husband does not reject me. haughty 257 .Balzac tossed by such dreadful alternatives the will is like waters of a lake lashed by a tempest. there is nothing so terrible as truth. cost what it may. to enable me to wait till to-morrow. religiously. now to the other. to wipe his name out of the Golden Book and the list of peers? My sufferings. and from the world’s point of view I ought to go back to Octave. but you will acknowledge that literature could never find such language in its assumed pathos. that much is sublime in marriage. the tricks of style. telling me that the Countess had gone to bed at six. “ ‘Well. but it forgets that the forgiveness must be accepted. ‘I have at home. and the efforts made in their compositions by writers who do not lack skill. he is not better informed than my own conscience. or rather by this anguish:— “ ‘Monsieur Maurice.— “ ‘I know all your uncle would say to me. is it not cruel to refuse him happiness. mademoiselle. Conscience is the interpreter of God to man.’ said I. I shall ride. she had now fallen asleep. addressing Camille.

I will become white and innocent again. for I will lie in my shroud. I shall not have to climb up again to the heaven of aristocracy. and Octave all wish me to live. Well. The world will receive me handsomely. Oh! on the day when I should read a trace of involuntary. Alas! I might even mistake some proof of love for 258 . she marries a man she loves.and wealthy. Does forgetfulness depend on our will? When a widow remarries. I should kill my husband by my coldness. by comparisons which he would guess. do not you see? “ ‘Every time my eyes met his I should see my sin in them. My heart would be full of confused and struggling memories. nothing could hold me: I should be lying with a fractured skull on the pavement. in a handsome carriage! I shall have servants and a fine house. and be the queen of as many parties as there are weeks in the year. marriage can never move me to the cruel rapture. in some imperceptible gesture. The greatness of his generosity would be the measure of the greatness of my crime. of a vision of the future. in a saddened look. even when his were full of love. I shall never have come down from it. It might be my own over-susceptibility that would lead me to this horrible but welcome death. and find that less hard than my husband. white with the blameless pallor of death. at need. “ ‘ “What are you rebelling against?” I am asked from the height of heaven.” That mulish obstinacy of which you jestingly accused me is in a woman the result of confidence. the law. “ ‘God. love makes a girl of her. no doubt. may forget all. from the pulpit. So God. My eyes. Though my husband. would speak to me of a certain celestial grace which will flood my heart when I know the pleasure of doing my duty. I might die the victim of an impatient mood in Octave caused by some matter of business. though hidden in the depths of my conscience. whose august intervention may at need be invoked by the Count. sublimely generous. if there is no other difficulty. This is not in the least “mulish obstinacy. But I cannot love the Count. It all lies in that. would be for ever reading an invisible condemnation. society are all in accord. my reply cuts the knot: I will not live. Your uncle. the world. the mortal delirium of passion. from the judge’s bench. or be deceived by some unjust suspicion. indeed. I shall not forget. the law. even of suppressed reproach in a furrow on his brow. and from the throne. always uneasy.

who are a florist. But common knowledge is surely degrading. If I go back to Octave. but no one sees me eat nor sees me weep. to revive the faded colors. he would be God! God alone can remake me! I am drinking the bitter cup of expiation. and I should for ever feel the shame of being a chattel instead of a lady. Supposing I could exchange humiliation for ecstasy? Would not Octave at last feel that my consent was sheer depravity? Marriage is based on esteem. These are the bitter fruits of such a sin. to make the sap flow again in the tender vessels of which the whole vegetative function lies in their perfect rigidity.Balzac a sign of contempt! “ ‘What torture on both sides! Octave would be always doubting me. for I neither can nor will accept love from any one. I doubting him. can convince me that love may be renewed. a man whom I despise. I should represent pleasure. but as I drink it I painfully spell out this sentence: Expiation is not annihilation. a sleepless pillow. on sacrifices on both sides. 259 . alone. Oh! monsieur. Nay. A young bride is like a plucked flower. you know whether it is ever possible to restore the broken stem. You. quite involuntarily. in his house. I. could his genius smooth out the folds of the bruised corolla? If he could remake a flower. which are my shame. If some botanist should attempt the operation. “ ‘Have I shown you enough of my heart? No one. how many virtues must a woman tread under foot. I must give up my tears—they would offend him. and not virtue. A woman has courage in the presence of her husband if he knows nothing. but with whom I have known raptures branded on me with fire. “ ‘In my little house. I have made myself a bed where I can only toss on burning coals. but neither Octave nor I could esteem each other the day after our reunion. but which I cannot forget. she deceives him to secure him double happiness. I eat my bread soaked in tears. He would have disgraced me by a love like that of an old man for a courtesan. for He alone can know and encourage the horrible refinements at which the angels must turn pale. but a guilty wife is like a flower that had been walked over. but to restore herself to a betrayed husband? Who could count them? God alone. not to give herself. should give him a rival wholly unworthy of him. I will go further. she shows a sort of fierce strength in her hypocrisy. monsieur.

I could not bear to blush before that man. it is the feeling of a soul made vast and hollow by seven years of suffering. she says. If other children should draw their nourishment from me. and the hell that awaits me under Count Octave’s roof. that I shall bear in my womb all the days of my life. where God does not forbid my blessing Him. which is not a false position. is an argument to certain pious souls gifted with an energy which I have not. with the experience I now have. monsieur. of a child I nursed for seven months. So. Finally. these difficulties. is a man’s soul after all) there is no guarantee for the new life I should lead with him. is not on earth. the memory which returns to us on the verge of the tomb. he always standing upright. torn by pitiless rocks. If I were still a girl. This. and turning it sour. you regard me as a child—Ah yes! I have a child’s memory. For five years now I have been wandering in the sandy desert of the future without finding a place convenient to repent in. 260 . he dwells in heaven! Octave is full of delicate feeling. is not argument. “ ‘Religion has its answers ready to all this. What! I should be always on my knees. I seem a light thing. my husband is the man I should choose. but even in his soul (which. “ ‘One word more. you see. are my punishment. I bless my sufferings. and I know them by heart. and if we were to exchange positions. which does not cover a snare or reveal a precipice down which I must fall. they would drink in tears mingling with the milk. This suffering. “ ‘All this. there is not a situation in that beautiful life to which the world and my husband’s love want to recall me. but that is the very reason of my refusal. I should scorn him! I will not be better treated by him in consequence of my sin. monsieur. because my soul is possessed by true repentance. I have made my choice between this hell. however generous. and God will give me strength to endure them. tasting joys to which I have no right. and in the belief in happiness. I know. “I thank Thee!” But in my husband’s house I should be full of terror. when I suffer. I say to God. must I make a horrible confession? I shall always feel at my bosom the lips of a child conceived in rapture and joy.“ ‘Here. The angel who might venture under such circumstances on certain liberties which are permissible when both are equally blameless.

the silence. and where my mind would find no struggle and no victory. such comparisons are fatal and wrong on the threshold of the Mairie. seemed to me sublime. she filled his life and gave the zest of a conflict to happiness. I felt. all the resources of strength. I saw before me modest reality.’ “ ‘She is mine!’ cried the Count. monotonous level? No. where the commonplace must be its poetry.Balzac “ ‘Come then. so to speak. “ ‘Answer that!’ said I. chaste and confiding. Anxiety had conquered the power of opium.’ “After making this copy of the letter to preserve it complete. with its infinite caprices. but I took a 261 . I understood that extreme happiness and extreme pain obey the same laws. but the inevitable. the sinner to be reinstated. To Honorine’s heart fidelity had not been a duty. who were to dine with the Count that day. As I involuntarily compared Amelie with Honorine. while Amelie would serenely pronounce the most solemn promises without knowing their purport or to what they bound her. which curiosity helps to betray. the dead woman. what young man would choose the chalky. After having dreamed of impossible love. Octave was walking up and down his garden like a madman. which you promised me. I went to the Rue Payenne. so kindly to irreparable woes. Pity me. and that the women who can inspire us with perfect love are very rare. However handsome Mademoiselle de Courteville might be. on seeing her once more. “Of the plains of Champagne and the snowy. I found the erring wife more attractive than the pure girl. for what could be expected! At five-and-twenty I did not trust myself. giving him his wife’s letter. whose face expressed joy as he went on reading the letter. I went in to receive Madame de Courteville and Amelie. storm-beaten but sublime Alps. would settle down into the sphere of peaceful motherhood. that love has three aspects. The crushed. whereas Amelie. and tell me where I may find the solitude. that a family cannot have its foundation on the tempests of love. after having tasted the tormenting delights of the ideal. It is rather more difficult than conquering the modesty of ignorance. “He signed to me with his hand to leave him to himself. the peace. she incited the special generosities of a man’s nature. Alas! only the experience of life can teach us that marriage excludes passion. she demanded all the treasures of the heart. ‘Try to reassure the modesty of experience.

under an arbor.’ I said. to whom I shall owe my life. she showed me with her hand to the seat by her side. in a loose dress of white muslin fastened with blue bows.’ “ ‘Poor boy!’ said he. It was now August. but the storm hung overhead. she must never know that Maurice was your secretary. I felt as if I were in an oven. You have got me an appointment as Maitre des Requetes—well.’ “ ‘How?’ said she. “I went back to the Count to announce the arrival of his relations. “ ‘You gave me the gloves. a consulship. taking my hand. the scent of the flowers was heavy.manful resolution. Never mention my name to her. my happiness—’ “ ‘My dear Octave. or all will be undone …. but she was sitting on a wooden bench shaped like a sofa.’ I added. the day had been hot and stormy. get me instead some diplomatic post abroad. the sky was like copper. is not life at a deadlock for me?’ “ ‘Life as you have made it. “ ‘Monsieur le Comte—’ “ ‘No longer Octave? You. Maurice?’ said he. She did not rise. her hair unadorned in waving bands over her cheeks. ‘But not the life I propose to make for you. if you should succeed in bringing the Countess back to her duty. whither I presently returned. for. that is all. I replied. you may be very happy …. “ ‘Your letter is in the Count’s hands. saying: “ ‘Now. and showing a little way beyond her skirt. while he kept back the tears that were starting to his eyes. ‘but I have not put them on. seeing him draw himself up.—Oh! do not be uneasy. her feet on a small wooden stool. and I saw him grown young again in the reflected light of hope. struck by my changed expression. which he pressed. and do not think of my marrying Amelie. laughing. if you choose.’ “We then agreed as to what I was to do that evening at Honorine’s house.’ 262 . her whole person was a question. and caught myself wishing that the Countess might have set out for the Indies. “ ‘What ails you. ‘I will play my part to the end. I have studied her well’—(he looked at me as Othello must have looked at Iago when Iago first contrived to insinuate a suspicion into the Moor’s mind)—’she must never see me again.

had a magical effect on the Comtesse Honorine. alike divine and human. out of respect for your own dignity. my dear Countess.Balzac “Honorine started like a frightened doe. You must make this sacrifice to the world. she consented. I have forwarded to him. and my uncle asked him what his reply would be if his wife wrote him a letter in such terms. There is a law. passionate child. and in mine. The fine head. and to God. let us consider the other side of the question. with your ears stopped. to the law. The devotion of seven years has its claims. and if after reading it you still find that your life is a deadlock. as children do. turned about. with its silver hair thrown into relief by the entirely black dress. “ ‘You wanted an answer to your letter. remained standing for some minutes. sprang to a few paces off. perhaps. I will place you in a convent whence the Count’s power cannot drag you. But do not the Pyramids end in a point on which a bird may perch? The Count had set all his hopes on this supreme instant. walked down the garden. and he had reached it. and the divinely calm face. You must read the reply. which even hatred affects to obey. 263 . He will himself bring the Count’s answer. a copy of your letter. Thus you are not compromised. before going there. and beamed in the reflection of that virtue which gave light without knowing it. Till now you have passed condemnation. where I joined her.’ “As she saw in this concession no attack on her womanly resolve. sent by my husband. “ ‘You—a friend? Say rather a traitor! A spy. and finally went in to sit alone in the drawing-room. you must read it. and which commands us not to condemn the accused without hearing his defence. did you not? And there was but one man in the world who could write it. at ten that evening. after giving her time to get accustomed to the pain of this poniard thrust. “In all my life I remember nothing more formidable than my uncle’s entrance into that little Pompadour drawing-room. the spy will prove himself a friend. All the labor or four or five months had been building up to this moment. she had the feeling of cool balm on her wounds. But. or you will be no better than a wilful. In the presence of that saintly man. through my uncle. So you must read the answer your husband will send you.’ “Instinct in women is as strong as the perspicacity of great men.

if you had read the letter I wrote to you five years since. I have much to reproach myself with. and make our domestic life possible. and secured to me by law. uncle. with great pleasure. to which. and he handed the Countess the following letter:— “ ‘My Dear Honorine. but a sister who will allow me to press on her brow such a kiss as a father gives the daughter he blesses every day. in hope. I failed to scent danger when it threatened you. if you believe him capable of accepting kisses given in 264 . you would have spared yourself five years of useless labor. I so fully appreciated your susceptibilities that I would not bring you back to the old house in the Rue Payenne. your life even? Women have one heart always on their side. “ ‘Are you come.— “ ‘If you had but done me the favor of trusting me. but which I could not bear to see again with you. The Lord bid me guard it well! The Lord has punished me for my audacious confidence. my affection is neither mean nor grasping. it is one of those which will never let any annoyance last long enough to pucker the brow of the child it worships. “ ‘Will you bereave me of the right I have conquered from your despair —that of watching more closely over your needs. both of my mother and of your own? Yes.“ ‘Monsieur the Cure of the White Friars. with a message of happiness and peace?’ said I. my dear Honorine. An angel was in the house. I misunderstood marriage. Honorine. and of privations which have grieved me deeply. Have mercy on me. another house. “ ‘Happiness and peace are always to be found in obedience to the precepts of the Church. where I can live without you. I conduct not a wife whom I owe to her ignorance of life. “ ‘You cannot give yourself a single lash without striking me. you never knew any mother but my mother.’ replied my uncle. In it I proposed an arrangement of which the stipulations will relieve all your fears. your pleasures. What can you think of the companion of your childhood.’ said old Gobain. But how is it that you never guessed that I had for you the heart of a mother. and in seven years of sorrow I have discovered all my errors. who would have brought you back to me. I am decorating. always abounding in excuses—their mother’s. in the Faubourg Saint-Honore. dear.

Honorine. for we may each acknowledge that the other has sense enough to look only straight forward.Balzac trembling. pleasures. with the consideration which lends so much lustre to a woman. without a possible squall. What is it? Love without desire. The tenderness of a mother knows neither contempt nor pity. living by your own law. if you will. If. I have proved this for the seven years past. in me admiration shall hide every sentiment in which you might see an offence. you can expand their circle at your will. “ ‘Thus you will be at home in your new house exactly as you are in the Rue Saint-Maur. The warmth of the atmosphere in which you live will be always equable and genial. The guarantee for this. living side by side. “ ‘Thus. when you feel secure that you are as much at home as in your own little house. Well. without tempests. it will wait on your pride. you have only to ask for it. occupied as you please. Honorine. without either suffering or joy. alone. it will not be forced upon you by the Church or by the Law. towards whom I am bound to show every form and refinement of politeness. you desire to try some other elements of happiness. “ ‘Your solitary pride has exaggerated the difficulties. You may. To see you happy is enough happiness for me. but you will find neither mockery nor indifference. unapproachable. is to be seen in all the flowers made by you. carefully pre265 . when you long for an unnecessary absolution. of which you are now exacting the most chivalrous labors of love. and the fortune which will allow of your doing many good works. but not my friend and sister. will satisfy the ambition of him who wishes to be your life’s companion. My wife might indeed have to fear all the things you dread. and you may measure his tenderness by the care he will take to conceal it. Neither you nor I will be jealous of the past. but having in addition the legitimate protection. look on at the life of a brother. In you the kindness of a sister. later. nor have any doubt as to his intentions. we may both be magnanimous. the affectionate thoughtfulness of a friend. on your own impulsion. of living between delight and anxiety? Do not fear that you will be exposed to the laments of a suppliant passion. or amusements. or of a father. I would not want you back until I felt certain of my own strength to leave you in perfect freedom.

pressed it very affectionately. and has perhaps caused you some annoyance …’ “ ‘Monsieur. On the threshold she took my hand. Understand me perfectly: you shall be no more troubled that you have been until this day. ‘you know how to love. I will get rid of the crazy fellow who has meddled in your concerns. ‘You love your husband. wringing her hand. the tally cords of the Peruvians. which enlightened me as to her motives. Like the quipos. ‘thank you very much. My uncle signed to me. ‘We shall meet again …’ “ ‘No. they are the record of our sorrows. and I rose. I leave to-morrow. nor to the bidding of the Law. “Honorine then took out the Count’s letter again to finish reading it. and looking at my uncle. folding up the letter. so that she cried out. my child. a bird snarer.’ said she.’ 266 . I have begged the saintly man who takes charge of this letter not to say a word in my behalf. and said. which I have led for nine years. if you remain in your solitude and show no sign. Thus the Count found me useful to the very last. and watered by my tears. “ ‘Let us leave the Countess. “ ‘You are going already Maurice?’ she said. “This exclamation made my uncle look at me uneasily. “Honorine had wanted to ascertain whether I were an actor. If you persist in condemning me to the lonely life. which she placed in her bosom.’ “The light that flashed in my eyes was another reply which would have dissipated the Countess’ uneasiness if she still had any. and still reading.’ said Honorine.’ I replied.’ said he. without looking at me. my will yields to yours. which was one of those cries from the heart which women understand so well. and I had the melancholy satisfaction of deceiving her by my exclamation.served. I will not accept the simple and quiet happiness that I ask from any one but yourself. followed us to the door. I will avail myself of Monsieur le Comte’s permission to remain here—’ “ ‘Ah!’ I exclaimed. “She rose. “ ‘Ah. I will not owe your return to the terrors threatened by the Church. Maurice. “ ‘If this secret compact does not suit you. and won from the Countess a mischievous glance. bereft even of a fraternal smile.

leaving my uncle. and we spoke to each other sacred phrases. at least do not 267 . ‘He is mad. It will be so for a long time yet. you have sixty thousand francs a year of your own. “the ice is broken. you must forgive him!’ and with all the more truth. but a letter had promised me that I should have permission—the mild and melancholy letter of a woman who dreaded the agitations of a meeting. and there I remained for almost an hour.” said she with a forced smile. where I could quickly qualify to rise in the career of a consul. to hide Honorine’s hesitancy under a pride of appearance which was flattering to me. When you left I had not yet been admitted to the pavillon in the Rue Saint-Maur.” “ ‘ “There is no crime in being in love with your wife. I made bold to call. but I have entered on a new life of suffering. and I am so tremulous with happiness that you must forgive the incoherency of my language. After I had established myself there.” said I. “no longer to work as you do. I have heard from Madame Gobain that for three weeks you have been living on your savings.Balzac “And I rushed away. “ ‘During a long quarter of an hour we both of us were possessed by an involuntary nervous trembling as great as that which seizes a speaker on the platform. I received this letter from the Count:— “ ‘My Dear Maurice. my eyes full of tears. because he really thought it. my head buried in my hands. to which I now restricted my ambition. what is the matter with your nephew?’ “The good Abbe completed my work by pointing to his head and heart. and desired Gobain to inquire whether I could be received. as much as to say. madame. “ ‘ “Madame had to dress. I set out with an appointment as vice-consul in Spain. After waiting for more than a month. and the prudence of a diplomatist. in a large commercial town.— “ ‘If I were happy.” said I. I sat down in a chair in the avenue near the lodge. “ ‘ “Do me the favor. I have grown young again in my desires. to whom she said: “ ‘Why.” said Gobain. who has learned to moderate his passion. with all the impatience of a man of forty. I should not write to you. like those of persons taken by surprise who “make believe” a conversation. “ ‘ “You see. “Six days after. Honorine. and if you cannot give me back your heart.

“This evening she will yield. holding out her hand. Honorine made no answer. and she was so sad that I made as though I had not written. On my way from my own house to the Rue Saint-Maur thoughts of love had swelled in my heart. and how impossible it was to wring it from her. “ ‘ “Why not live always as we are?” she said. But then it was like a delicious May. I was deeply grieved by the idea that I could have distressed her.” “ ‘I gave her three certificates for twelve thousand francs a year each. untouched by passion. and I had said to myself. she took them. I felt imperatively how necessary to me was Honorine’s consent. to our home. opened them languidly. calm eyes. and after reading them through she gave me only a look as my reward. She fully understood that I was not offering her money. “ ‘ “Is she making an experiment?” I asked myself as I left her. do not toil. “ ‘ “I am conquered. she was studying me.” said I. though the most ardent love should find no favor in your eyes. which I kissed. “Come and see me as often as you like. “ ‘ “Though you should prefer to remain here. she read my heart and forgave 268 . she was no longer afraid. a springtime of love that gave me ineffable bliss. giving up the attempt to speak of it.” said she. “and to preserve your independence. Next day I found her armed with affected high spirits. she was seized with alarm.” “ ‘All my real or affected force was blown to the winds by a smile.” “ ‘ “I have long known your kindness. that she should resume her rank and live in our new residence.” “ ‘So she had done herself a violence in receiving me. still.abandon your fortune to me. I remembered the terrible words you once quoted to me. but freedom. Could she guess the storms that distracted me when I left as when I came? “ ‘At last I painted my situation in a letter to her. “ ‘I submitted without saying a word. “Lucretia’s dagger wrote in letters of blood the watchword of woman’s charter—Liberty!” and they froze me. and it took two months of habit before I saw her in her true character. like a young man.” said she. by a command from those proud. Alas! when I proposed that she should go to England to return ostensibly to me.

I hope it eagerly. holding them in her own. I do love you. and you want what I cannot give—Love. and in a spirit of sublime charity she said: “ ‘ “And perhaps I shall not die!” “ ‘For two months now I have been struggling with myself. and. but that day she was a bride. my dear. you have my consent. It will be my expiation. she knelt before me on a cushion. in her own blue-and-white room. “I understand: resignation offends you. a white sash with long floating ends. if it were not more natural to call the indefinable feeling which must kill me the worship of the Divine! The future will be nothing to me. I love your soul …. it will be your concern.—What shall I be? A mother? I hope it. for her face was terribly grave. My joy was chilled at once. “you asked no more. the Honorine of long past days. without deceiving you as to what she will be. she wore a white muslin gown. I can be resigned—” “ ‘I made a movement. You know what she is in such simplicity. for the first time. but not in the way you wish to be loved. What 269 . On seeing the effect of her words she took both my hands. and in it were some sprays of Cape heath. do not curse my memory. you are here!” She paused. Try to change me. here I give you Honorine. Honorine was in a dress that made her bewitching. but if I should die. understand that I love you enough to die in your service like an Eastern slave. “ ‘ “Octave. dressed. Three days ago she received me. consult your own mind.” she said. Now you demand your wife. And this was how. and watched me turning pale with the pain she had inflicted. Her hair framed that face that you know in its light curls. and without a regret. and do not set down to obstinacy what I should call the worship of the Ideal.” she went on. It was bright with flowers. and lighted up. But understand clearly that this submission has its dangers. Religion and pity led me to renounce my vow of solitude. Still. “ ‘ “Yes.” she went on. such as she is. “ ‘ “At first. she said: “ ‘ “Octave.Balzac me. Well.” “ ‘She did more. there were fires beneath the ice. Believe me. My blood ran cold. “I will return as your wife when you will.” “ ‘And she sat down in the calm attitude you used to admire.

for marriage. “Have mercy!” But there was no mercy. I am dying for society. No courtesan was ever more gay than I. I agreed to take a wife. and he showed me the way to heaven. I have played my part as a wife well. for I am not perverse. my kind friends. To the last moment. He was my director. and send out this cry. I throw all my powers into this terrible masquerade. as the early Christians died for God! I know not of what I am dying. I have had happiness not less genuine than the tears shed by actresses on the stage. and to my husband. by M. “Six months after the revolution of July I received this letter. I let his love feed on the illusions of my heart. I cried to your heart. which concludes the story of this couple:— “ ‘Monsieur Maurice. “What shall I do?” ‘ “I did not answer this letter. and I am honestly trying to find out.shall I do? My heart is too full. and broken by the death of my uncle. de Grandville. I am rent and I 270 . smothered in flowers. I nursed him in his last illness. I admire them as strong and necessary natures. the actress is applauded. Well. Two months later the newspapers announced the return on board an English vessel of the Comtesse Octave. “ ‘I do not blame those who forget. as you know. I held that letter in my hand for two hours. but the invisible rival comes every day to seek its prey—a fragment of my life. at whose word I surrendered. and Monsieur de Serizy. invented with sufficient probability to arouse no contradiction. for the family. feasted. restored to her family after adventures by land and sea. and I am dying. bidding me persevere in my duty.—I am dying though I am a mother—perhaps because I am a mother. but I have the malady of memory! I have not been able twice to feel that love of the heart which identifies a woman with the man she loves. I therefore seek a friend. “ ‘And I have done my duty. in the confessional. “When I moved to Genoa I received a formal announcement of the happy event of the birth of a son to the Count and Countess. urged by Octave. but I am bent on explaining my malady to you—you who brought that heavenly physician your uncle. I have deceived my husband. Two months after. dying with stupendous courage. sitting on this terrace—on this bench. My poor Octave is happy.

The dead child calls me. hinder her from cherishing in her heart the mysterious flower of the Ideal—of that heavenly perfection in which I believed. The incessant need for watchfulness startles my heart with constant alarms. to renew my strength. that enchanted blossom with glorious colors. and that perhaps is why I am dying! I lock up my griefs with so much care that nothing is to be seen of it. the dead one. my burning eyes are cooled with water. Bianchon. I am a Saint-Theresa who has not been suffered to live on ecstasy in the depths of a convent. You will find with this a codicil in which I have expressed my wish. Octave believes that I adore him. who discovered my secret.” “ ‘So it is quite understood by M. and myself that I am dying of the softening of some bone which science has fully described. and whose perfume disgusts us with reality.— Poor Octave! I wish him a better wife than I am. it must eat into something. but do not produce it excepting in case of need. and it has attacked my life. I have not succeeded in implanting in my soul the sharpeared vigilance that lies with facility. and a spotless winged angel to come and go as she wished. “ ‘The intimacy of marriage without love is a position in which my soul feels degraded every hour. for he deserves to be well loved. and I am going to him. and that of Octave’s happiness never leave me a moment to refresh myself. and has the eyes of a lynx. but it is the elder. that will triumph! I told you so before. “ ‘Since my spiritual spy is married. The exigencies of society. “ ‘I said to the doctors. with the Holy Infant. Desplein. or I shall drag my husband with me. for perhaps I am fatuously vain. I smile on two children. It is not the lip of one I love that drinks my tears and kisses them. I bid him remember what the florist of the Rue Saint-Maur hereby bequeaths to him as a lesson: May your wife soon be a mother! Fling her into the vulgarest materialism of household life. as I could in my solitude. do you understand? So I am afraid lest he should follow me. I now write to beg you in that case to be the little Count’s guardian. It is my soul that acts a part. and not with tender lips. 271 .Balzac smile. the care of my child. “Make me die of some plausible complaint. My devotion may perhaps leave Octave inconsolable but willing to live. I can never weep or give myself up to dreams but when I am alone.

Do not mourn for me. ‘holds a charm and wears an aureole. It happened to be fine. Honorine was not alone in her anguish. “ ‘That man. you will love my child for love of me if he should one day lose his poor father. I did not admit you to my kingdom of beauty. putting away the letters and locking the pocket-book.” said the Consul-General. in the interests of human nature. I did not tell you all: I saw love budding under your affected madness. And yet I would have it! … I am consumed by remorse.” replied the Consul.“ ‘You saw me happy among my beloved flowers. “He suspects the truth. I fear. and I concealed from you my thoughts. if Saint Bernard was right in saying that where there is no more love there is no more life. passing through Genoa to take leave of me and place his will in my hands. he spoke these last words: ‘Ought we not. God only knows how much we love the confidant of our love when she who inspired it is no more.’ said Octave. Well. “having seen me going to the steamboat with—” “A white-haired man! an old man?” said the painter. “and that is what is killing him. Keep my secrets as the grave will keep them.” “Does he suspect himself of murder?” said Mademoiselle des Touches to the Baron de l’Hostal. moved no doubt by the spectacle. and. and in spite of our reason? In my conscience I heard cries.’ the Count went to the prow and looked down on the Mediterranean. my poetry. to inquire what is the irresistible power which leads us to sacrifice an exquisite creature to the most fugitive of all pleasures. He appoints me his son’s guardian. “for since the revolution of July he has disappeared from the political stage. I remained on board the steam packet that was to take him to Naples till it was out of the roadstead. “An old man of forty-five.” said the Consul. now I shall die in Italy of 272 . “Is the Count still living?” asked the Ambassador. a small boat brought me back. I have been dead this many a day. my patron. I had no occasion to tell him of Honorine’s wishes. In the Rue Payenne I was dying of the joys I had not. We sat for some little time taking leave of each other—for ever. well. Monsieur de Lora. going in search of health and amusement in Southern Italy.’ “ “And the Countess died.” “Do you remember. That old man was my poor friend.

and that was the mistake of those two. “but good-for-nothing as I may be. under a painter’s roof. “Still. of living by the side of a studio. and always finding us wanting?” “Mademoiselle. Then the Consul. and never coming down. with deep irony. who said in her ear: “A bit of a coxcomb is M. seeing the Consul’s wife approaching. went a few steps away.” said Leon de Lora. I cannot help admiring a woman who is capable. took the Consul’s arm.—Oh!” she exclaimed. to ask it of the facts of life is a luxury against which nature protests every hour.” Mademoiselle des Touches turned from the Consul.” said Claude Vignon. and said to him: “Are not men wrong too when they come to us and make a young girl a wife while cherishing at the bottom of their heart some angelic image. equally noble. of pain and pleasure alternately. The Paradise of Dante. and the guests went home on foot along the seashore. as that one was. de l’Hostal.” said Mademoiselle des Touches. “his wife was listening! Unhappy man!” Eleven was striking by all the clocks. whispering to Claude these words: “for he has not yet guessed that Honorine would have loved him.” “No. and was immediately joined by Claude Vignon. To such souls as those the six feet of a cell. who will soon be no more. that sublime expression of the ideal. asked. that perpetual blue. you would be right if marriage were based on passion. is to be found only in the soul. turning to the two women. “Was she virtuous?” Mademoiselle des Touches rose. 273 . nor dipping her feet in the street mud. Wherein lay the discord between two natures. Marriage with heart-deep love on both sides would be Paradise. and perhaps the most extraordinary exceptions in intellect—a pearl! Life is made up of various incidents.” “You are right. “That woman was one of the rarest.” “Such a thing has been known—for a few months.Balzac the joys I have had …. and comparing us to those unknown rivals. that is not life. and the kneeling chair are all they need. I dare assert?’ “ For some minutes profound silence reigned on the terrace. nor seeing the world.” replied she. to perfections often borrowed from a remembrance.

was the object of such a passion. a bitter writer.” “Then there are yet some great souls in this age!” said Camille Maupin. and she stood for some minutes pensively leaning on the balustrade of the quay. the woman who loved lived like a nun ever after. nay. and a politician. and the pistol shot which killed him hit not him alone. 274 . “A man.” replied the Ambassador to Mademoiselle des Touches.“Comtesse Honorine is not unique of her kind.

Bauvan. Bianchon narrated the following: 275 . M.Balzac Addendum The following personages appear in other stories of the Human Comedy. Horace Father Goriot The Atheist’s Mass Cesar Birotteau The Commission in Lunacy Lost Illusions A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Bachelor’s Establishment The Secrets of a Princess The Government Clerks Pierrette A Study of Woman Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life The Seamy Side of History The Magic Skin A Second Home A Prince of Bohemia Letters of Two Brides The Muse of the Department The Imaginary Mistress The Middle Classes Cousin Betty The Country Parson In addition. Comte Octave de Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life Bianchon.

Abbe The Government Clerks A Start in Life Granville. Felix Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life Cousin Pons Cesar Birotteau Gaudissart the Great Gaudron. Vicomte de (later Comte) The Gondreville Mystery A Second Home Farewell (Adieu) Cesar Birotteau Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life A Daughter of Eve 276 .Another Study of Woman La Grande Breteche Desplein The Atheist’s Mass Cousin Pons Lost Illusions The Thirteen The Government Clerks Pierrette A Bachelor’s Establishment The Seamy Side of History Modeste Mignon Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life Fontanon. Abbe A Second Home The Government Clerks The Member for Arcis Gaudissart.

Balzac Cousin Pons Lora. Jean-Jules Cesar Birotteau The Commission in Lunacy The Seamy Side of History The Middle Classes Serizy. Mademoiselle Felicite des Beatrix Lost Illusions A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Bachelor’s Establishment Another Study of Woman A Daughter of Eve Beatrix The Muse of the Department 277 . Comte Hugret de A Start in Life A Bachelor’s Establishment Modeste Mignon Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life Touches. Abbe A Start in Life A Bachelor’s Establishment Cesar Birotteau Popinot. Leon de The Unconscious Humorists A Bachelor’s Establishment A Start in Life Pierre Grassou Cousin Betty Beatrix Loraux.

Claude A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Daughter of Eve Honorine Beatrix Cousin Betty The Unconscious Humorists 278 .Vignon.

Balzac 279 .

280 .

Balzac Juana by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley 281 .

Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics 282 . in English. Neither ECONARCH Institute. and in any way does so at his or her own risk.DISCLAIMER Juana by Honoré de Balzac. Any person using this document file. Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series. to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. nor anyone associated with ECONARCH Institute assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission. in any way. the Editor. Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley is a publication of ECONaRCH Institute. This Portable Document File is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Indonesia is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classics literature. the Editor. for any purpose. ECONARCH Institute. Juana by Honoré de Balzac.

Order being re-established. this intoxication of victory bore a striking resemblance to pillage. JUANA (THE MARANAS) CHAPTER I EXPOSITION NOTWITHSTANDING the discipline which Marechal Suchet had introduced into his army corps. he was unable to prevent a short period of trouble and disorder at the taking of Tarragona. each regiment quartered in its respective 283 .Balzac Juana by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley Dedication To Madame la Comtesse Merlin. According to certain fair-minded military men. though the marechal promptly suppressed it.

In a word. hoping to metamorphose them finally into generals. the Spaniards were left free to follow “in petto” their national tastes. had wagered that he would eat the heart of a Spanish sentinel. and the commandant of the city appointed. except in the matter of the bullets. not so difficult to discover. he would have been. nevertheless. His regiment was composed of the scattered fragments of the Italian legion. a man of remarkable bravery. Though Bianchi was the prince of the devils incarnate to whom the regiment owed its dual reputation. acquired a great reputation for valor in the field and for wickedness in private life. that sort of chivalrous honor which excuses. the man who. The place assumed a mongrel aspect. established on the island of Elba. military administration began. a cause. But the emperor’s calculation was scarcely fulfilled. often decimated but always the same in character. Bianchi. This regiment.lines. he had. men who are for the most part misunderstood. At the siege of Tarragona it lost its celebrated hero. who. Though all things were organized on a French system. like all other sublunary effects. Napoleon had incorporated these vigorous beings in the sixth of the line. But if he won no crown he had ample opportunity to obtain wounds. whom society brands with a hot iron and designates by the term “mauvais sujets”. or shocking at the close of an orgy under the influence of some damnable reflection dropped by a drunken comrade. This legion was to Italy what the colonial battalions are to France. an admirable pirate. In the marechal’s army was a regiment. and it was not surprising that he met with several.—barring those whom the bullets might take off. A few days before his death he distinguished himself by a daring action which the marechal 284 . in the army. whose existence may become either noble through the smile of a woman lifting them out of their rut. during the campaign. having entered the military service too late. composed almost entirely of Italians and commanded by a certain Colonel Eugene. the worst excesses. at an earlier period. Its permanent cantonments. nor balls at the Pizzo. a second Murat. and did eat it. served as an honorable place of exile for the troublesome sons of good families and for those great men who have just missed greatness. This period of pillage (it is difficult to determine how long it lasted) had. obtained neither a Grand Duchy of Berg nor a Kingdom of Naples.

would have destroyed one of the most beautiful Italian faces which a woman ever dreamed of in all its delicate proportions. The marechal granted the request and then forgot his promise. He had ruined himself in supporting a theatre at Milan in order to force upon a 285 . twirled his moustache with the air of a man who was ready to demolish everything. He pretended bravery. The fortune he possessed made him cautious. or scarred his cheek. to be fighting his own battle. secondly. pension. who played. Captain Montefiore. for two reasons. an officer half civil. boasted loudly of belonging to the 6th of the line. The first. nevertheless. the nickname was based on an innocent military pun. “captain of crows.” In the first place. This beauty may have been among the secret causes of his prudence on fighting days. the favor of being the first to mount the breach at the assault on Tarragona. and additional decoration. was considered. He was nicknamed. of the illustrious Montefiore family of Milan (though the laws of the Kingdom of Italy forbade him to bear his title in the French service) was one of the handsomest men in the army. in order to explain how it was that the 6th of the line was the regiment to enter Tarragona. but Bianchi forced him to remember Bianchi. not at all remarkable among these men of iron. which his position in the regiment warranted.Balzac wished to reward. asking. natural enough in a city taken by storm. This historical digression was necessary. but his income was mortgaged for a number of years to pay off the costs of certain Italian escapades which are inconceivable in Paris. where he was shot by a monk. he could smell powder a league off. in soldier phrase. cleft his forehead. half military. The Marquis de Montefiore possessed an entailed property. Bianchi refused rank.” was instinct with that melancholy by which all women are more or less duped. for sole recompense. not unlike the type which Girodet has given to the dying young Turk. and took wing at the sound of a musket. This regiment possessed two officers. This face. but his brother officers did not esteem him. A wound which might have injured his nose. degenerated for a time into a slight pillage. a somewhat important part. and why the disorder and confusion. The enraged hero was the first to plant our flag on the wall. in the “Revolt at Cairo. a captain in the quartermaster’s department. in the history we shall now relate.

whereas their natural proclivities would have seated them at the green table of a congress. He consoled himself for his nickname.” he would marry a girl of rank. —a Provencal. He was not a brave man. Nature had poured Montefiore into the mould of a Rizzio. as artists soothe the immediate disappointment of their hopes by the expectation of future fame. Both were endowed with that nervous. but he was certainly a philosopher. Both regarded the war in its results. and he did not care to risk it for the paltry distinction of a bit of red ribbon. they simply considered those who died for glory fools. Now Montefiore and Diard were two philosophers. whether at the galleys or in the garret of an artist. and he had precedents. and from orderly officer to aide-de-camp on the staff of some easy-going marshal. according to the impulse of 286 . not its action. Captain Montefiore had one friend in the person of the quartermaster.public a very inferior prima donna. and in other respects also he was quite as profound a politician as Philip the Second himself. he reflected. Montefiore was Philippiste in his capacity of rich marquis and handsome man. By that time. A friend. whom he was said to love madly. and no one would dare to dispute his courage or verify his wounds. feverish. Chance had made soldiers of them. who consoled each other for their present lives by the study of vice. A fine future was therefore before him. Did not Philip the Second register a vow after the battle of Saint Quentin that never again would he put himself under fire? And did not the Duke of Alba encourage him in thinking that the worst trade in the world was the involuntary exchange of a crown for a bullet? Hence. he saw himself made colonel by feminine influence and a carefully managed transition from captain of equipment to orderly officer. if we may use so parliamentary an expression. he should come into his property of a hundred thousand scudi a year. which is equally strong for good or evil. consoles for many troubles. He relied on his face to win him promotion. and from which may emanate. whose opinion would never be of any consequence to him if by chance they survived the present war. some journal would speak of him as “the brave Montefiore. born in the neighborhood of Nice. half-feminine organization. and Diard into that of a diplomatist. whose name was Diard. and for the disesteem of the regiment by thinking that his comrades were blackguards. which seemed to be one of extermination.

he was a gambler. Variable as the beauty of a fair woman. sentiments which many men give up as they grow older. when the game is finished. In spite of the moustache with which in their military fanaticism they had decorated her face. Diard was a great boaster and a great talker. he declared. Montefiore. solely. Montefiore was also a gambler. Montefiore was the man with whom Bianchi made his bet about the heart of the Spanish sentinel. to preserve them for posterity. one seeking for painted madonnas. thought him rich. will not bow to their companions. and he made prizes (like two celebrated generals) of works of art. feeling no respect for them. In what part of Tarragona it happened I cannot say. he arrived just in time to prevent two Parisians from shooting a Virgin by Albano. and gamblers may be said to have nothing of their own. by dint of reasoning or calculating. but Diard presently recognized by its architecture the portal of a convent. Many of them. they made their way bravely through a labyrinth of narrow and gloomy little streets in quest of their personal objects. to the shame of men be it said. The quartermaster was not without courage and a certain juvenile generosity. left alone during this epi287 . but the first in the heart of the town as soon as it was taken. Supporting each other. Diard was considered a good accountant. possibly because of the antipathy felt by all real soldiers against the bureaucrats. the other for madonnas of flesh and blood. talking of everything. it is not a rare thing to see persons gambling together around a green table who. His military comrades would have been puzzled indeed to form a correct judgment of him. for. the gate of which was already battered in. but in truth. accustomed to draw upon his funds when occasion obliged them. he bought the picture. a noble deed or a base one.Balzac these singular temperaments. a crime or a generous action. Springing into the cloister to put a stop to the fury of the soldiers. The fate of such natures depends at any moment on the pressure. Montefiore and Diard were among the last to mount the breach at Tarragona. and all the officers of the regiment played with the pair. Accidents of this sort happen in all attacks. He said he was artistic. but with this pair of friends they were customary. but no soldier would have trusted him with his purse or his will. produced on their nervous systems by violent and transitory passions. more or less powerful.

Silver pitchers and precious dishes of plate and porcelain adorned a buttery shelf of the old fash288 . with dishevelled hair. such as we see in the old storehouses of the rue des Lombards. nor the musketry. from which a shot was fired at him at the moment when his eyes caught a flaming glance from those of an inquisitive young girl.” a plumed hat hanging to a nail. old tapestries. had ever seen. for the moment. he accompanied him on a series of rambles about the streets. the musket of the guerrillas.—an appropriate lodging for an equipment captain! The house of the worthy Spaniard consisted. Tarragona furious. An idea came into his head. on the ground-floor. who had wasted his fortune on a thousand follies.—the curiosity of a daring Spanish woman. where the inmates took their meals and warmed themselves over the dull glow of the brazier. neither the cries. Tarragona taken by assault. firing from every window. on the contrary. smoking cigars and discoursing bitterly to animate all hearts with hatred against the French. suggested perhaps by the shot of the draper-patriot. and half-naked. with smoky old pictures.—to set fire to the house. He could still quiver. and heard. It was a magnified bull-fight. and without any means of action. the Italian had obtained his military billet in the house of the draper.sode. Tarragona violated. nor the growling of the artillery. This shop communicated with a parlor lighted from an interior courtyard. he. where a few obstinate beings were still defending the town. namely. the thousand passions of a young and blase man— the most abominable monster that society generates. The profile of that Spanish girl was the most divinely delicious thing which he. and dreaming of an impossible woman because he was tired of all women. Diard came out of the convent. an Italian libertine. the fighting was centred in the marketplace. Montefiore forgot the pillage. a large room breathing the very spirit of the middle-ages. but Montefiore said not a word of his discovery. of a vast and gloomy shop. weary of Italian beauty. antique “brazero. nearly opposite the convent. A better idea then occurred to him. noticed. and the cloak of Bartholo. But he was now alone. The kitchen adjoined this unique living-room. the house and shop of a draper. externally fortified with stout iron bars. was indeed an object of curiosity. whose head was advanced under the shelter of a blind. But the next day.

persecuted by Napoleon. whom he could see and hear as they went and came and talked and coughed. sparsely admitted. his birth. even the faces. The marquis glued his face to the lozenge-shaped leaded panes which looked upon the black-walled enclosure of the inner courtyard. they made their home.Balzac ion. allowed these dazzling objects to show but slightly. was a dark staircase leading to a ware-room where the light. He had his reasons for capturing the good-will of the merchant and his wife. carefully distributed. But no revelation came to betray the hiding-place of that precious treasure. Supposing that she was the only daughter of the old couple. permitted the examination of goods. but in vain. But in spite of the confidence he managed to inspire in the worthy pair the latter maintained the most profound silence as to the said madonna. and was treated with the respect due to his name. Montefiore concluded they had consigned her to the garret. and not only did the captain see no trace of the young girl during the first day he spent under the roof of the honest Spaniard. giving a somewhat fantastic appearance to the exterior of the building. Discovery by that hot patriot. or by tapping softly on the doors.—probably because they wished to avoid all quarrelling. Above this were the apartments of the merchant and his wife. he saw no gleam of light except from the windows of the old couple. Rooms for an apprentice and a servantwoman were in a garret under the roof. as in pictures of the Dutch school. These chambers were now taken by the merchant and his wife who gave up their own rooms to the officer who was billeted upon them. for the time being. he scented his madonna as the ogre scented the youthful flesh of Tom Thumb and his brothers. and these semi-lies had the success he expected. looked brown. all things. whom he was serving against his will. the mercer. Montefiore gave himself out as a former Spanish subject. not a shadow! Montefiore was far too wary to risk the future of his passion by exploring the house nocturnally. so fine in color and in its tone of patriarchal life. Of the young girl. Between the shop and this living-room. suspicious as a Spaniard 289 . But the light. which projected over the street and was supported by buttresses. He was invited to share the meals of the family. where. and his title. but he heard no sound and came upon no indication which revealed her presence in that ancient building.

“Ah!” cried the wife. the Italian’s madonna. As for the apprentice. Though Montefiore 290 . a grave.” said Montefiore.must be. At this moment the rustle of a dress and the fall of a chair behind the tapestry were plainly heard. coldly. Florence. The draper dropped a word of imprecation against the girls. much like the faces formerly carved on the handles of Moorish lutes. resting his faith on time and the imperfection of men. giving no sign of emotion. The child is confided to our care. half fainting. The next day he discovered a hammock in the kitchen. he glanced at the girl before he turned to his host and said in his own language:— “Is that your daughter. black-visaged Spaniard. the wife opened a secret door. meant ruin infallibly. not looking at her face again. in smoothing the anxious forehead of the merchant. and led in. The captain therefore resolved to wait patiently. But how is it possible to put sense into a girl of eighteen?” “She is very handsome. briefly. have you not?” said Montefiore. signore?” Perez de Lagounia (such was the merchant’s name) had large commercial relations with Genoa. The mistress of the house offered a “cigarrito” to their semi-compatriot. “Her mother’s beauty is celebrated. “may the saints assist us! God grant no harm has happened!” “You have some one in the next room. turning pale. to whom he was careful to pay no attention. only. They continued to smoke. During supper on the second day Montefiore succeeded. if she were my daughter I should take less precautions. to avoid a too-studied indifference. which always results—even with scoundrels. showing plainly where the servant-woman slept. his bed was evidently made on the shop counter. and how much more with honest men!—in the neglect of precautions. and I would rather die than see any evil happen to her. watching each other. even the wife let a gay smile of hatred appear in the folds of her elderly face.” replied the merchant. and replied in the same language:— “No. he knew Italian. and Livorno. Evidently alarmed. by cursing Napoleon. The lamp and the reflections of the brazier illumined fantastically the shadows of the noble room.

like a flash of light infused beneath that diaphanous complexion. with that science of vision which gives to a libertine. the only artist daring enough to have painted the Mother of God intoxicated with the joy of conceiving the Christ. it did not last. the sublime exaltation of the Spanish Saint Teresa. of Murillo. though the apparition was delightful.” said Montefiore in Italian. In this young girl three things were united. he could not refrain.—the glowing imagination of the boldest and also the warmest of painters. a woman. if we may so express it. to the Moorish blood which vivified and colored it. Montefiore no longer felt worn and jaded. as it does to a sculptor. The girl was taken back to the secret chamber. and Perez very 291 . “You do right to hide her. and a passion of love which was ignorant of itself. where the servant-woman carried to her openly both light and food. at a moment when Perez turned his head to expectorate. and divining her shape by inductions both rapid and sagacious. The bodice of the country set off the lines of a figure that swayed as easily as a branch of willow.Balzac compelled himself not to give the slightest look which might contradict his apparent coldness. He accordingly asked her history. The presence of such a woman has the virtue of a talisman. raised to the top of her head. The devil! we have generals in our army who are capable of abducting her. perhaps. on which the sun of Spain had cast faint tones of bistre which added to its expression of seraphic calmness a passionate pride. “I will keep your secret. Her hair. but the Virgin of Spain. But. he beheld one of those masterpieces of Nature whose creation appears to demand as its right all the happiness of love. a single one of which would have sufficed for the glory of a woman: the purity of the pearl in the depths of ocean. the fatal power of disrobing. That young girl brought back his youthful freshness. Here was a fair young face. These luxuriant locks brought into strong relief the dazzling eyes and the scarlet lips of a well-arched mouth. from casting a rapid glance at the young girl. Then. whose sparkling eyes met his. She was not the Virgin of Italy.” Montefiore’s infatuation went so far as to suggest to him the idea of marrying her. fell thence with black reflections round the delicate transparent ears and defined the outlines of a blue-veined throat.—due.

carriages. as content under the roof of a garret as beneath the silken hangings of opulence. despotic in her caprices and obeyed. the present. and more than once she had said to love:— “Return to-morrow. yet living on without thought or care of the past. in her poverty. journeys (like those of Catherine II.—in short. without herself. Cast. pages. often beyond her own imaginings. thanks to the caprice of great lords struck with her extraordinary beauty.willingly told him the circumstances under which she had become his ward.—flowers. in short. a street prostitute came to Tarragona. to be literally gorged with gold and jewels and all the delights of excessive wealth. Though the good-man was gifted with a certain patriarchal eloquence. oftener than to any other woman of her class. Then. and knowing his reputation was desirous to let him see how strong were the barriers which protected the young girl from the possibility of seduction. the life of a queen. this careless indifference to all things. preserving nothing but her allpowerful beauty. in keeping with his simple life and customs. palaces.). which indeed she comforted. for which vice lit the fire beneath the crucible in which fortunes were melted 292 .” But this slime permeated with gold and perfumes. or the future. she attached herself to him as a dog to its master. chemist. and ended. these religious beliefs cast into that heart like diamonds into mire. she would find herself back in the streets. his tale will be improved by abridgment. this life begun. At the period when the French Revolution changed the manners and morals of every country which served as the scene of its wars. these unbridled passions. maids. it had happened. pictures. poor. being able to discover how her gold evaporated. to-day I belong to God. in a hospital. The life of this woman had been a tissue of romantic adventures and strange vicissitudes. into the hands of some poor gambling officer. these gambling chances transferred to the soul. or man of science. to the very existence. driven from Venice at the time of its fall. sharing the discomforts of the military life. Italian and Spanish both. or any one. denuded of everything. this great alchemy. The prudent Spaniard was led to make this confidence because he had heard of Montefiore in Italy. To her. physician. she fulfilled very scrupulously the duties of religion.

had ended by becoming its veritable name and by ennobling its vice by incontestable antiquity. a pyramid in Egypt. and Italy. faithfully transmitted from mother to daughter since the middle ages. Formerly. for this event was a secret between herself and God. In those days women of that sort had a certain rank in the world of which nothing in our day can give an idea. when those three countries had. The vow once made. in earlier times. as Rhodope built. the blood of the Maranas spoke. a name of distinction substituted for the patronymic name by the constant heredity of the same office devolving on the family. and believing in that altar. Spain. mutual interests which united and disunited them by perpetual warfare. a prostitute. The name Marana. person. in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. to make her daughter a virtuous creature. this Marana of the nineteenth century stood with her feet in the slime and her head raised to heaven. an angel in heaven for them all. gathered around them the cassock. a thought the more within her heart. after that long line of lost women. Ninon de l’Enclos and Marian Delorme have alone played. Catalinas.Balzac up and the gold of ancestors and the honor of great names evaporated. a day of opulence or of penury I know not which. The name of this woman was La Marana. existing solely in the female line. the name Marana served to express in its general sense. proceeded from a cause. on the honor and with the will of the galleys—the firmest will. name and power of a father had been completely unknown since the thirteenth century. and Maranas who. but assuredly it was in a moment of repentance and melancholy. criminals in love. inflicted at first as a disgrace upon the singular family with which we are now concerned. She cursed the blood in her veins. a particular heredity. a saint. the idea. in France. the courtesan returned to her reckless life. she trembled lest she should have a daughter. The name Marana was to her what the designation of Stuart is to the celebrated royal race of Scotland. in preceding centuries. One day. as such women swear. gown. and thus to gain. and sword. she cursed herself. An Imperia built I forget which church in Rome in a frenzy of repentance. the most scrupulous honor that there is on earth—she swore. the role of the Imperias. and she swore. before an altar. In her family. At 293 . in France.

she even obliged the young father to settle a handsome patrimony upon the child and to give her his name. as Henrietta Wilson loved Lord Ponsonby. happy or not happy. Then. but as Juana di Mancini. Love has its egotism. striving to keep for herself all that there was of vice between them. motherhood might still redeem her. when her Marie-Juana-Pepita (she would fain have given her all the saints in the calendar as guardians). no more love. that she had a daughter. as the Marchesa Pescara loved her husband—but no.last she loved. and for which men blush at last. as Mademoiselle Dupuis loved Bolingbroke. a daughter for whom to desire a noble life and the chastity she had not. with the violent love of such women. It was from that weak man. No more fetes. Henceforth. opulent or beggared. half women. comprise all human sentiments. she adored one of those fair men. That Juana might never bow her head under their hereditary shame. the only spotless prayer which she could lift to God? So. all heavenly hopes? La Marana was so resolved not to soil her daughter with any stain other than that of birth. when this dear little creature was granted to her. That sentiment could not be measured or estimated by any other. The tones of that infant voice made an oasis for her soul in the burning sands of her existence. To accomplish sacredly through life the task of sending a pure soul to heaven. the highest of all human feelings because the most disinterested. in her total. She made herself virtuous and lived in solitude. she did not love. All joys. Did it not. but motherhood has none. she became possessed of so high an idea of the dignity of motherhood that she entreated vice to grant her a respite. that senseless marriage unblessed by God or man which happiness is thought to justify. in fact. that she sought to invest her with social virtues. the mother had the courage to renounce her child for her 294 . no more orgies. and intoxicating happiness. and kisses. in truth. but which no happiness absolves. was not that a better thing than a tardy repentance? was it not. Thus the girl was not know as Juana Marana. a daughter to save. after seven years of joy. La Marana was a mother like none other. all fortunes were centred now in the cradle of her child. the time came when the poor Marana deprived herself of her idol. for. she had in her heart a pure. untainted sentiment. her eternal shipwreck. when this daughter. to whom she gave the virtues which she had not.

a contract. and mother. still asleep. a mother throughout her life. Since that day of mourning and hope the mother. On the threshold of that house Marana left a tear such as the angels garner up. A second time the Marana came to the church where Juana made her first communion.” she said to Perez when she reached the house. virgin. for another mother. momentarily compromised. the disinherited mother was enabled to bear her trial by visions of Juana. where religion and sacred sentiments and honor filled the air. she confided her daughter and her daughter’s fortune to the fine old Spanish honor. and to seek. Dona Lagounia had no child. she had seen her Juana dying. the exiled mother recognized herself in her daughter such as she 295 . and God its supreme judge. After stating the miseries of her position to Dona Lagounia. under circumstances which enabled her to recognize the integrity of the Spaniard and the noble virtue of his wife. The mother then parted from her Juana.” requiring neither acknowledgment nor interest. pure and spotless. on the forehead and left her without betraying whom she was. Once when Juana fell ill with a dangerous complaint: “I knew it. other principles to follow. and she was only too happy to obtain one to nurture. she kissed her. convinced that the child’s future was safe. another home. The fortune and honor of the merchant. drawn by some invincible presentiment. She nursed her and watched her. The abdication of a mother is either a revolting act or a sublime one. Asleep. other and saintlier examples to imitate. had thrice returned to see her daughter. was it not sublime? At Tarragona a lucky accident threw the Lagounias in her way. until one morning. According to her own code of honor. La Marana made over to the husband the whole sum she had obtained of the father for Juana’s “dot. required a prompt and secret succor. She came to them at a time when her proposal seemed that of a liberating angel. Simply dressed. the poor prostitute. and certain of having found her a mother. concealing herself behind a column. a mother who would bring her up as a Mancini. wife. sure of the girl’s convalescence. a trust. and not as a Marana. was a thing of the heart. Leaving her child in the simple modest house of the merchant where the burgher virtues reigned. which filled the precincts of that ancient house. not without horrible suffering.Balzac child’s sake. in this case.

now the richest merchant in the provinces. The Marana drove through the Corso in all the splendor of a sovereign. Horrible anguish! To this Marana. stronger for the moment than that of love. one was lacking. and full of delicacy. she will assuredly set out at once to come here and see to her daughter’s safety. pure as the snow fresh-fallen on the Alps. with radiant face. an honored mother. had made the child religious. the Marana felt in the depths of her soul a jealous sentiment. she lacked no virtue necessary to the highest destiny. and the presence of so precious a treasure had brought him untold prosperity. Perez de Lagounia. she passed her daughter like a flash of lightning and was not recognized. surfeited with kisses. too much the mother of her child. but the events of the present war delayed the fulfilment of this project. to which city the merchant and his wife had paid a visit. “but in whatever quarter of the world she may be living. a mother in whom shone all the domestic virtues. and as pure as she was beautiful. She might be the humblest of women. A third and last meeting had taken place between mother and daughter in the streets of Milan. and she left the church. felt for the young girl a sentiment that was semi-superstitious. Perez had intended taking her to Madrid and marrying her to some grandee. when she hears of the occupation of our province by your armies. Juana might well become the wife of either a great seigneur or a wealthy merchant. Juana living was dead to her.once had been. A courtesan even in maternity. and of the siege of Tarragona. incapable of resisting any longer the desire to kill Dona Lagounia.” said Perez. girlish kiss of a daughter to a mother. a single one. Juana’s fortune. a heart of gold. One thought revived the soul of the courtesan—a precious thought! Juana was henceforth safe. had increased tenfold.” 296 . but at least she was not what her mother was—an infamous courtesan. The merchant and his wife had fulfilled their trust with scrupulous integrity. “I don’t know where the Marana now is. for which she would have bartered all the others: the joyous. ending the above history. Her money had preserved his ancient house from dishonorable ruin. managed by them. as she sat there. His wife.

and made success a thing well-nigh impossible. Montefiore spent the first hours of the night at his window. but impatient to love. the wakeful sleep of the aged. no doubt. the cook bivouacking in the kitchen. The adventure was full of danger. but danger of a kind that never daunts the least courageous man.—all these things were obstacles. endeavoring to look below him to the secret apartment where. Italian by birth. no longer did he think of making a Marchesa di Montefiore of Juana di Mancini. He recognized the blood of the Maranas in the glance the girl had given from behind the blinds. the merchant and his wife had hidden the love and joyfulness of their old age. the echoing sonority of the old mansion. The ware-room of the “entresol” separated him from the rooms on the ground-floor. The apprentice sleeping in the shop. in the trick she had just played to satisfy her curiosity. the girl. Montefiore. The captain therefore could 297 . virgin indeed. the close surveillance of the girl in the day-time. and Montefiore were ready and able to defy the whole universe. impelled as much by the instinct of a man of gallantry as by those vague hopes which cannot be explained. for love and pleasure followed it. Passion. But Montefiore had in his favor against all impossibilities the blood of the Maranas which gushed in the heart of that inquisitive girl. Spanish in principles. undoubtedly. and to which we give the name of presentiments (a word of astonishing verbal accuracy).Balzac CHAPTER II AUCTION THE FOREGOING NARRATIVE changed the intentions of the Italian captain. Perez and his wife sleeping. The libertine wanted a virtuous woman for a wife. and also in the parting look she had cast upon him.

lower a letter filled with coin and strike it against that circular window in her hiding-place?” At once he wrote a note. nobility of soul increases the dangers which surround youth. The lover pretends to doubt the love he inspires at the moment when he is most beloved. the little figure of Juana. offering. the young girl. and the attitude. “Is she alone?” Montefiore asked himself. came to his assistance. a circle of light. Then he made a cord of whatever he could find that was capable of being turned into string. longs to make sacrifices to prove her love. in the centre of which the silhouette of Juana was clearly defined. confident and proud. “could I. the success of which is nearly always certain. or it may have been the young girl herself. the note of a degraded marquis now a mere captain of equipment. without danger. his heart and hand to the Signorina Juana di Mancini—a common trick. At the moment when he stationed himself at his window. “The shadows will show if her mother or the servant is with her. after succeeding with infinite trouble in striking the glass. “If she is not alone.” thought Montefiore. gave evidence that she was arranging her hair for the night. and lowered it in the deepest silence to the centre of that spherical gleam. appeared upon the wall.” But.not have recourse to noises significantly made from one floor to the other. he saw.” Ever since the constitution of societies the young girl finds herself torn by a struggle between the caution of prudent virtue and the evils 298 . and stood before the window while she read it. saw the note. Montefiore had given his name and asked for an interview. In it. on the black wall of the courtyard. an artificial language which all lovers know well how to create. took it. I can pull up the string at once. filled the note with a few silver crowns. and knows the world and men too little to continue calm in the midst of her rising emotions and repel with contempt the man who accepts a life offered in expiation of a false reproach. But chance. the note of a man exiled by his family to Elba. At Juana’s age. the consecutive movement of the arms. The young girl opened her window cautiously. A poet of our day has said: “Woman succumbs only to her own nobility. after the style of the old romances. a single form.

and yet Paris is situated in the forty-eighth degree of latitude. armed with his pistols. a troublesome cornice. was replying by snip of scissors. or paper. he descended the stairs without boots. indeed! She can have nothing more to lose. Montefiore waited for a later and more somnolent hour of the night. in the shop? and the servant in her hammock? Besides. if she resists. opened it. But virtue and innocence sometimes imitate the clever proceedings inspired by jealousy to the Bartholos of comedy. vexatiously placed. in spite of his reflections. it is impossible to doubt the necessity of religion. Come. Montefiore kept his eyes fixed on the exquisite black profile projected by the gleam upon the wall. so beautiful. moving step by step. while Tarragona is in the forty-first. and read by the light of his lamp one word. Man created Satan and Lovelace. ink. deprived them of the mute correspondence which may be established between a pair of lovers as they bend to each other from their windows. The old question of climates is still useful to narrators to explain the sudden denouements. perhaps. the young girl would. She is so grand. “but what of poison? or the dagger or carbine of Perez? And that apprentice not yet asleep. Juana was amusing herself by cutting up his missive. Often she loses a love.Balzac of wrong-doing. carefully cut out of the paper: come. I can hear old Perez snoring even here. or the resistances of love. and the first. he has only the fatal power to blast her and drag her down into his own mire. Thus the mind and the attention of the captain were concentrated on that luminous circle where. but a virgin is an angel on whom he can bestow naught but his own vices. without pens. the officer drew it up. Juana. that he cannot magnify or embellish her. she loses a marriage if she is imprudent. this old house echoes the slightest sound. But no! The singular motions she proceeded to make gave not a particle of hope to the expectant lover. stopping to 299 . without perhaps knowing it herself.” Bitter reflection! rakes alone are logical and will punish a woman for devotion. the imprudences. then. he thought. Presently she refastened the note to the string. on the other hand. innocently reveal her thoughts by a series of gestures. Neither he nor Juana could see each other. Casting a glance over the vicissitudes of social life in Paris. delightful in prospect. “Come!” he said to himself.

a pretty carpet on the floor. Juana possessed in an equal degree the most attaching virtues and the most passionate impulses. an antique mirror. an immense and very old arm chair also in ebony and covered with tapestry. Under such circumstances most men are as feminine as a woman. peering into the darkness. he had perfumed his black hair. near the table a single chair. she had needed the modesty and sanctity of this monotonous life to calm and cool the tumultuous blood of the Maranas which bounded in her heart. putting forth his hands. a little coffer of ebony. and an innocent admiration. The Italian had put on his handsomest uniform. however. arrested for a moment by the sacredness of the picture which met his eyes. Montefiore entered. measuring the stairs. under the protection of religious ideas. and that was all. a sort of naive curiosity. did not allow of her going with them. The marquis arrived without hindrance before the secret door of the room in which the girl was hidden. all the more efficacious because they were partly superstitious. a table with twisted legs. in a recess at the farther end of the room 300 . he scratched the panel softly and Juana opened to him. Up to the present time she had slept in the room of her adopted mother. but the limited space in the garret where the merchant and his wife had gone to make room for the officer who was billeted upon them.question the silence. He saw before him a tapestry on the walls with a gray ground sprinkled with violets. Dona Lagounia had therefore left the young girl to the guardianship of lock and key. but he recognized in the expression of the girl’s face complete ignorance of her peril. palpitating. A faint ray of light traced along the sill of the secret door guided Montefiore to the place. and ready at the slightest incident to fly back into his room. He stopped short. the desires of which her adopted mother told her were an instigation of the devil. and also under the shield of a native pride and sensitive modesty which made the young Mancini in sort an exception among her sex. who had remained there hidden during the day from every eye while the siege lasted. and now shone with the particular brilliancy which dress and toilet bestow upon natural beauty. a sort of cell made in the angle of the house and belonging exclusively to Juana. On the table. were flowers and embroidery.

to see the world at your feet. but above all Juana herself. Juana. if you will have it so. The dreamy thoughts of Juana. “Poor child! how have you breathed so long the air of this dismal house without dying of it? You. Often I have kissed my mother at night as one would kiss a mother for the last time. Suicides go to hell. all was calm and pure and sacred. “True. “But who can have told you my secret thoughts? For the last few months I have nearly died of sadness. saying in my heart: ‘Tomorrow I will kill myself. and I am so afraid of hell that I resign myself to live. with a holy water basin and a prayer. and near the pillow a crucifix. to inhabit the palace of a prince. if Juana herself had not seemed so amorous. inhaling from the atmosphere the sound of these words which the accents of love made magnificent. dressed in white. Flowers exhaled their perfume faintly.’ But I do not die. you know. solitary. even in a Montefiore. to efface all other beauty by your own which can have no rival—you. with those two shopkeepers!” Adroit question! He wished to know if Juana had a lover. intoxicated with an unknown happiness. “I loved you. beautiful with naught but her own beauty. to live in the midst of fetes. I am not so weary of it. How many times I have thought of escaping to fling myself into the sea! Why? I don’t know why. if the night. Above the bed were three pictures. 301 . and in you they will be forever. to live here. to get up in the morning and go to bed at night.” she replied. had communicated to all things her own peculiar charm. her soul appeared to shine there. printed in letters of gold and framed. the candles cast a tender light. “As soon as I saw you. might have inspired respect. like the pearl in its matrix. and do the same things. if the silence. though they are so silly.” he said in pure Tuscan. Montefiore stood still. made to reign in the world.—little childish troubles. there is not a stitch there which I did not set with dreadful thoughts. and in the modest tone of voice so peculiarly Italian. possibly that of Satan beholding heaven through a rift of the clouds which form its enclosure.Balzac was the narrow little bed where Juana dreamed. but I suffer—And yet. Look at that embroidery. I would rather die than stay longer in this house. Yes.” Juana listened. but very keen. My soul and my life are now in you. and work the same hours. laying down her rosary to answer love. to feel the joys which love bestows.

I am bad. Is he to be you?” she said. I was happy. Every day during my morning meditation. the chants. “Have you not said that you would love me always?” “Yes.” she said reflectively. I wanted flowers here—and I have them. our meeting seemed to me a sign from heaven. Besides. I say so to my confessor. with a glance at Montefiore in which shone the purity of the cherubim. feeling myself like the angels without sin and able to communicate every week—I loved God then. smiling at Montefiore. the music gave me pleasure. Oh! I am bad.my father and mother adore me. and see the picture my father brought me from Italy. my Juana. after a pause. “I would like that. “I should find in him my dear religion. fresh jewels. “Come. the diamonds of my ancient family. my jewels. as if it were impossible to give in any other language the infinite tenderness. “I should find. that 302 . I swear to you.” she added. But for the last three years. I have so gazed at that picture. lovely flowers! Then I wanted—but I want nothing now. softly. and showed him at the foot of her bed a Saint Michael overthrowing the demon. Italian was Juana’s maternal language. First. kissing her hair. for you my horses. but I feel within my soul that I would like better than all the world my husband. without pleasures?” “Oh! I have not always been like this.” he continued. my palace at Milan. Till I was fifteen the festivals of the church. taking her round the waist and pressing her to his heart. each day. all things have changed. from day to day. without amusement. the loving elegance with which the Italian tongue and accent clothe those delightful words. Are you not as beautiful as Mary in heaven? Listen.” cried Montefiore. him and God—God and him.” she continued. Mio caro sposo!” she said. “yes. after a pause.” she cried. “Yes.” “Do you always live here alone. to make you my idol. and all the joys of earth!” “Yes. “I swear to take that forehead for my altar.” She took a candle. “Look!” she said. for you. “has he not your eyes? When I saw you from my window in the street. to lay at your feet all the luxuries of the world. while waiting for my mother to call me to prayer. For you. But let me speak to you as you speak to God. made a sign to Montefiore. surely it will be you. a thousand pleasures.

but there will never be enough to express our coming happiness. are you not another myself?” She held out the ring with a trembling hand. postponed all further action to the future. that I have ended by thinking him my husband—oh! heavens. than my father and mother. as yourself. I speak to you as though you were myself. of which he knew the power. and who told me never to part with it. in his gestures. With that intention. take it. reflecting that in this first interview he ought to venture upon nothing that might frighten a young girl so ignorantly pure. so imprudent by virtue rather than from desire. On this first evening Montefiore forced himself to be as respectful as he was tender. but she gave it to him.” Juana was thoughtful. Let us promise before God. you cannot love me!” “Ah!” she said. relying on his beauty. I must seem crazy to you.” said Montefiore. who are so grave. holding it tightly as she looked at Montefiore with a clear and penetrating eye that questioned him. I will love you forever. “speak to me as your husband.” “Juana. Between us two few words are needed to make us comprehend our past. Montefiore. again pressing her in his arms. in the tones of his voice. “I should be a monster indeed if I deceived you. I talk to my flowers.” “Give you my ring!” she said in terror. uneasy at such artlessness. in the interests of his passion 303 . who sees and hears us.Balzac angel. to be faithful to each other throughout our lives. For the rest of that night. the hymen of the heart. “Oh. I think. “here it is. and throughout the next day. taking her hands and kissing them with the passion that gushed in his eyes. “Why not?” asked Montefiore. Lay your hand upon my heart. take my ring— and give me yours. Here. my Juana!” said Montefiore. I have suffered all that you have suffered. That ring! all of herself was in it. and on this innocent ring-marriage. they can understand me better. Feel how it beats. “But our holy father the Pope has blessed it. it was put upon my finger in childhood by a beautiful lady who took care of me. You. yet the strongest of all ceremonies. but if you only knew how a poor captive wants to tell the thoughts that choke her! When alone. Juana’s imagination was the accomplice of her passion. the lightest. to my tapestry.” “Juana.

A young lover. or to have the door of her mysterious hiding-place opened to him. he launched the young creature into plans for a new existence. described to her the world under glowing colors. was all the more satisfied with himself for restraining his desires because he saw that it would lead to his greater contentment. on the apprentice. he might have been lost a dozen times during those ten days. he was caressing and unctuous in language. having agreed upon the hour for their future nocturnal interviews. To make the daughter of the Maranas truly virtuous. Thus the lovers lived only in the night-time. and they all liked him.” Montefiore. to the world. hungry to see her lover. that I may hear your voice. even on the cook. implored him to do so. clever enough to imagine the girl’s life. Solitude. but he always refused her from an instinct of prudence. but. stay in bed till midday on pretence that he was ill. he had used his best powers and fascinations to lull the suspicions of the old couple. or else to have been wholly withdrawn from it. on Dona Lagounia. when the rest of the household were asleep. it fills my soul. and had now accustomed them to see him. would have committed the enchanting im304 . weariness of employments contrary to her nature had brought this about. “The day. The young girl. “But stay in the salon. If Montefiore had not been one of those libertines whom the habit of gallantry enables to retain their self-possession under all circumstances. in the last glance she gave him.and the desires with which Juana inspired him. but changed. will seem very long to me. there was already more of passion than a girl should feel. in spite of the confidence he now inspired in them.” she said. he never asked to see Juana. to-morrow. in the simplicity of a first love. He returned to his room without accident. she ought to have been habituated. in the pretty movement by which she brought her forehead to his lips. Ten days went by without any event occurring to trouble the peace and solitude of the house. and speak loud. the pure and pious Juana existed no longer. giving her a sense of the rights and realities of love. receiving his kisses on her forehead. Montefiore employed his Italian cajolery on old Perez. Then. a soldier. little by little. talked to her of household details always attractive to the mind of girls. he left her happy. Besides.

On the eleventh day. was enchanted with such boldness. in asking Perez what had become of his guest. perhaps. It would happen. and strength. candor. its nobility. he thought. like a veil. To find in the pure love of marriage the excitements of intrigue. after waiting for him in vain for several nights. He obtained a mission from one of the generals. and Perez would reply. the house and his love. true Spaniard and true Italian. But he did resist even Juana herself. at the dinner-table. which it is useless here to raise. Juana making her long hair a chain which she wound about his neck when caution told him he must go. not aware of the importance of his answer. and he knew he might be sure of her silence. in this way: Juana. Montefiore. delightful. instead of returning to his own room after dinner. and say to her adopted father and mother. sure of success. an experienced rake. that the reason of his separation from his family was an ill-assorted marriage. The most suspicious of guardians would however have been puzzled to detect the secret of their nightly meetings. to hide her husband behind the curtains of her bed. who consent to receive his wife. but he had studied her character. Juana. step by step. would risk her life.— “The Marquis de Montefiore is reconciled to his family. he has gone to Italy to present her to them. 305 .Balzac prudences which are so difficult to resist. Juana pouting. contrived to enter unseen that of Juana. was preparing for the finale of that drama which he foresaw and enjoyed as an artist who loves his art. The door closed on this last evening upon her folly. Three days later. and without regret. to make that farewell night the longer. on the night preceding his intended departure. Montefiore. He expected to leave before long.” And Juana?—The marquis never asked himself what would become of Juana. the Italian marquis gave himself the ineffable pleasures of a slow seduction. This false revelation was an infamous thing in view of the nocturnal drama which was being played under that roof. leading gradually to the fire which should end the affair in a conflagration. it argued ardor! For herself she did not fear discovery. her happiness. under seal of secrecy. he thought it wise to inform old Perez. who for three years past had dreamed of love without dreaming of its dangers. in case of detection: “I am the Marquise de Montefiore!”— was to an ignorant and romantic young girl. It is to be supposed that.

” replied the merchant. The flush in her cheeks. after a pause during which he recovered from the emotion caused by the abrupt entrance.” “Yes. “But. “Ten days to reach Tarragona!” Then without caring for crown or court. and the look and voice of the mother. “but since you see me living why do you ask that question? Should I not have died before harm could have come to Juana?” At that answer. due to anxiety. the climax of her life of luxury. suddenly the noise of a carriage drawn by several horses resounded in the street. in spite of her thirty-six years. “My daughter! my daughter!” cried the Marana.” said Dona Lagounia. being at that time the mistress of a king. “Yes. which had just crossed Italy. of course. At this voice. “O God! send me to hell if it so pleases thee!” cried the Marana. furnished with an almost imperial safe-conduct. “how have you kept her safe? Tarragona is taken. dropping. “She is there. calmly. “Tarragona! I must get to Tarragona before the town is taken!” she cried. the merchant and his wife were reading their evening prayers. was still in all the glory of her ravishing beauty. loud and hasty raps echoed from the shop where the servant hurried to open the door. into a chair. pointing to the door of the little chamber. for it contained the echoes of her pain and the agonies of its own emotion.It was nine o’clock. but none to bear this joy. had left Naples. France. and Spain. she arrived in Tarragona. the skies of Naples. the Marana who. exhausted and half dead. the Marana seized the calloused hand of the old 306 . “She is there. magnificently dressed in spite of the mud upon the wheels of her travelling-carriage. the fetes. is she still—” “Perfectly well. she had strength to endure suffering. Joy was more violent in her soul than suffering. and into that venerable salon rushed a woman. furnished too with gold which enabled her to cross France with the velocity of a rocket. on hearing from her royal lover of the events in Spain and the siege of Tarragona.” he repeated. and the abrupt invasion of their solitude.—the Marana who. paled suddenly. the prayerbook fell from the hands of the old couple. but has any harm come to her.” she said.” said Perez. It was. the Marana.

” “Has he seen Juana?” “No. Senora.” replied the Spaniard. wife. “Fortunately for us the most loyal of men.Balzac man. it is true. The Spaniard turned back.— “Open! open! open! Juana!” Juana did not open. and kissed it. her door is barricaded.” added Perez.” “Ah. We have been deceived. “My good Perez!” she said at last. Here it is. 307 . my wife!” he added. “she is now asleep. “But have you had no soldiers quartered in your house?” “Only one.” said Perez. She knew nothing of what was passing in the salon. the double portieres of thick tapestry deadened all sounds. “The marquis must have seen her for a moment. “There is a man in Juana’s room. “I do not know. turning to Dona Lagounia. “And I will show you why. wetting it with the tears that flowed from her eyes—she who never wept! those tears were all she had most precious under heaven. seizing his dagger and rapping its hilt violently on Juana’s door as he shouted. taking it from a sideboard. “You are mistaken. let me see my daughter!” “Nothing easier. “where to find the key. and gets up late and goes to bed early.” “An Italian! What is his name?” “Montefiore. He is ill. but now an Italian who hates Bonaparte. a Spaniard by birth.” she said. Within that circle he saw the shadow of a group such as Canova alone has attempted to render.” he said to the Marana.” “You are very pale. I lied to you in saying I could not find the key. a short moment.” said Perez.” “Can it be the Marquis de Montefiore—” “Yes. he himself. a married man. If she has left the key in the lock we must waken her.” As he rose to take the duplicate key of Juana’s door his eyes fell by chance on the circular gleam of light upon the black wall of the inner courtyard.” said Dona Lagounia. for she needed time to conceal Montefiore. Juana’s key is in the lock. but I think he looked at her that evening she came in here during supper.” “Impossible! By my eternal salvation I say it is impossible!” said his wife. “But it is useless. “Madame.” he cried.

“has this room another issue?” Perez made a negative gesture. The life of Montefiore was in his hands. your virtue. “I am the Marquise de Montefiore. he would wash away his remorse in the blood of that Italian. She had lost all. “this woman has the right to despise us. you and your wife and servants! There will be murder here. The door opened. The Marana could not repress a passing shudder. “out. and we have saved nothing for her but her money—Juana!” he cried again. “Perez.” she continued more calmly. blasted by his words. go! I forgive you. turning her dry eyes on them.” she said. remained at his post. She saved our life. Juana. Ah! you have fallen low indeed. or I will burst in your door. I see plainly that the girl is a Marana. “I am your mother. Between my daughter and me there is none but God. echoed through the garrets in the roof. You might be shot by the French. The whole earth could not tear him from my grasp.” 308 . whom I thought in heaven. Our honor is dead. “Out.” she asked. You have a lover in this room. rising in violence. Dona Lagounia.” She gave a dreadful sigh. your religion.” “Madame. you have placed yourself in the only situation in which I could reveal myself to you. was standing calmly in the centre of her chamber. who had risen and was standing motionless. your judge. Have nothing to do with this.—a true courtesan. Go.” answered the girl. “Out. As for the man. making a sign to his wife. The Marana forgot all else. he belongs to ME. all in white. confiding in that gesture. you. the mother entered the room. springing like a tigress on the dagger. and softly lighted by the wax candles. but she knew how to suffer. He was cold and calm. You have come down to me. all of you!” cried the Marana.” His voice. Perez. mine only. and this woman—” He pointed to the Marana. “What do you want with me?” she said. and Perez. out. there is and can be no one but my husband. which she wrenched from the hand of the astonished Perez.“Do not swear. out! out. it is my affair. You. and our honor. were too weak to fight against my blood. our fortune. “Juana. “open. With his old invincible Spanish honor he was determined to share the vengeance of the betrayed mother.

go. in his solemn voice. the gleam of which blinded him.” The Italian appeared. Open the doors.— “Bind him fast. leave them open. Answer. “The daughter that was mine is dead or dying. “Come! they are slandering you. and go. rush for Captain Diard! Help. addressing Montefiore.” said the Marana. “I desire to marry your daughter. but let him shout. do not utter that word.” repeated Perez. pale and speechless.” “My noble Montefiore!” said Juana. all of you.” “He told me that he was married. With one bound he sprang from the room.” Montefiore. “Then why did you attempt to fly and cry for help?” asked Perez. madame. At that moment a tumult rose in the street which was plainly heard 309 . “Answer. but she wrung her hands and went to her armchair and sat down. Are you married? Answer.” interrupted the Marana. “He told me he was married. are you married?” “No. “I have no daughter. go. and he knew her well.” she said. he saw the dagger in the Marana’s hand.” “Montefiore. Soldiers of the 6th of the line. striving to gain time. help!” Perez had gripped the man and was trying to gag him with his large hand.” said Perez. “Holy Virgin!” murmured Dona Lagounia. “shout. saying. “Has he deceived me?” said Juana.— “Help! help! they are murdering a Frenchman. drawing a deep breath. my love!” cried the girl. tearing aside the curtain and revealing the officer. “He told me he was free. saw nothing but the blade of the dagger. at last. “Your daughter—” began Montefiore. but the Marana stopped him. Terrible. bending to the ear of the marquis. soul of corruption. revealing light! Juana said nothing. slowly. in a grave voice.—As for you. call for help if you choose. in a low voice.Balzac “Then there are two.” said Montefiore. crying out in a thundering voice. by the time your soldiers get here this blade will be in your heart. scarcely a step from Juana. who had fallen on the threshold of the door. as I told you.

hearing the voice of his friend. by all there is most sacred in the world. by God. she says I am her lover. who took no notice of him. the blade slipped upon the Italian’s epaulet. by my mother. and this time. and indignation had given to the girl. She inveigled me into a trap. entering the room. but anger hindered her aim. the Marana had time to strike her dagger into the guilty man. had summoned Diard. on my honor!” And he bit the arm of the courtesan. in a low voice. hatred. The quartermaster. “What is all this?” demanded the quartermaster. so that the soldiers were delayed by battering them in. “kill him. If she wants a husband I am ready to marry her. Before they could enter. accompanied by friends. but. The Marana sprang upon him. “Mother. “They are murdering me. at a word from Perez. 310 . who was fortunately in his bivouac.” The Marana pulled the Italian to the side of her daughter’s bed and said to him. if your tongue ever injures my daughter you will see me again. struck with the splendid beauty which contempt. But.— “If I spare you. He is so base that I will not have him for my husband.in the silence of the room. remember this. A soldier of the 6th. the apprentice closed and bolted the doors. “on account of this girl. there is no trouble here. I am a bachelor. Put up your weapons. came. resolved not to miss her prey. “Then you are hard to please. “Because I told you the truth. already so beautiful. I will marry her. she caught him by the throat. I am married—Diard! Diard!” he shouted in a piercing voice. though she struck her blow with such force that he fell at the very feet of Juana. hearing Montefiore’s cry for help. Go!—How much ‘dot’ do you give her?” she continued. were he ten times as beautiful. “Why did I fly?” said Montefiore.” said Juana. going up to Perez. give thanks for the rest of your life. “She has two hundred thousand gold piastres.” “Ah! I recognize my daughter!” cried the mother. “I am free and I will marry her! I swear it.” replied the Spaniard. and they are forcing me to marry her—” “And you reject her?” cried Diard.” cried Montefiore.

whatever happens. “Madame. “I have sworn that you shall live a virtuous life. throwing the weapon on Juana’s bed. Then she whispered in the girl’s ear. But my husband is in heaven. “Who are you?—Go!” she repeated to Montefiore. hearing this statement of gold piastres. saying. turning to Diard.” said the Marana. clasping her in her arms. will stand between you and him. But. you can marry her and be happy together.” At that idea. monsieur?” repeated the Marana.” she said. turning to Diard. for he will be the father of your children—the father of your children! If you take a lover. your mother. many troubles. But for such a wife I have the heart to make myself a marshal of France. addressing Diard. My father was provost of merchants. restraining her tears. The marquis. I am at present only the quartermaster of the 6th of the line. And he went immediately. 311 . I am not—” “But. my Juana. Sacrifice all things to him. Farewell.— “I am really free—” A glance from Juana silenced him.Balzac “And that is not all. monsieur. Do you see that dagger? It is in your ‘dot. came forward once more. To-morrow I shall enter a convent—” “Juana.” Juana turned pale.’” she continued. I. expect. “Who are you. are you not?” cried the Marana. “I leave it there as the guarantee of your honor so long as my eyes are open and my arm free.” she continued in a grave tone. “If you please the Signorina Juana di Mancini. “I thank you with admiration. “Alas! monsieur. and be faithful to your husband. at least. her tears began to flow. She freed herself from her mother and sat down once more in her arm-chair. you are an honest man.—Juana. interrupting him. I have sworn that you shall kiss your children without a blush upon your face” (her voice faltered slightly). “You MUST have another husband. hush!” cried the mother. “in becoming the wife of a brave and worthy man remember that you will also be a mother. therefore. continue pure. “You are really free to go. “God grant that we may never meet again.” said the girl. My name is Pierre-Francois Diard.” she said.

The foregoing rapid narrative is not the principal subject of this Study. “you have been happier than you knew in this dull home. that Montefiore and Diard were intimately known to each other.—Do not allow her to regret it.“Poor child!” she added.” she said. turning to Diard. and to show plainly what blood and what passions were in Madame Diard. for the understanding of which it was necessary to explain how it happened that the quartermaster Diard married Juana di Mancini. 312 .

If Juana had loved Diard she would have esteemed him. born with an invincible instinct for luxury and good taste. the habits of his province. This repulsion was natural. and should forget the things behind her to relearn life. Putting on the nuptial robe of a passion in which life itself is concerned. The man was neither handsome nor well-made. and nearly always misjudged because she is misunderstood.Balzac CHAPTER III THE HISTORY OF MADAME DIARD BY THE TIME that the quartermaster had fulfilled all the long and dilatory formalities without which no French soldier can be married. she. were a mixture of the worst army tone. the woman of the day before no longer exists on the morrow. Woman is a saintly and noble creature. she is all future. and his own insufficient education. In this sense the famous words which a modern poet has put into the lips of Marion Delorme is infused 313 . a young girl all grace and elegance. His manners. Love creates in a wife a new woman. she rejected the very thought precisely because he had married her. her very nature tending toward the sphere of the higher social classes? As for esteeming him. he was passionately in love with Juana di Mancini. devoid of all distinction. and Juana had had time to think of her coming destiny. who felt neither esteem nor love for Diard. was bound to him forever. Reborn into virtue and chastity. there is no past for her. but almost always misunderstood. An awful destiny! Juana. How could she love Diard. by a rash but necessary promise. the woman wraps herself in purity and whiteness.

Juana. The pure and simple years of her quiet life would have been rewarded by a brilliant existence such as she had 314 . upon Perez and Dona Lagounia. in a moment.” “But oh! into what hands our pearl is going!” “Say no more. so truly does it recall the energetic diction of the father of our modern theatre. even the least reflective. “Her mother gave her to this man. degraded. in all the conscientious purity of her youth. She felt.” “But a single fault is not vice. brimming with tears proudly repressed. She could not honor the man who took her thus.” Hearing these dreadful words Juana saw the happy future she had lost by her own wrongdoing. that distinction. So Juana loveless was doomed to be Juana humiliated. One evening.” “And that would only lead to other miseries. Juana became profoundly sad as she saw the nature and the extent of the life before her.with truth.” said Perez.” “Yes. stupid with grief. But they were silent: of what good were reproaches now. or I shall seek a quarrel with that Diard. Often she turned her eyes. “She knew what she was doing. pitying as the angels. legal with the heart’s legality.” said Perez. to whom I hoped to marry her.— “And Love remade me virgin. subtle in appearance but sacredly true. which women apply instinctively to all their feelings. hopeless. the bitter thoughts those tears contained. “The child will die of grief. heard through the open door of her little room. without consulting the poor child!” cried Dona Lagounia. why look for consolations? The deeper they were.” said the old woman. which the old couple had thought shut.” That line seems like a reminiscence of a tragedy of Corneille. both of them. a pitying moan from her adopted mother. “Yes. who fully comprehended. “but what can we do? I cannot now boast of her beauty and her chastity to Comte d’Arcos. the more they enlarged the wound. Yet the poet was forced to sacrifice it to the essentially vaudevillist spirit of the pit. in a shaking voice.

This analysis. to express one of those latent facts. Vice was a speedy solution. Juana. “God wills it. or. religion a lifetime of suffering. In the paroxysm of her anger and her distress she had thought such qualities enough for her daughter’s happiness. Juana would not cast down her husband’s joy. but to which. the day for the marriage. sorrow undyingly active. sooner or later. dreadful to play. that are common to Southerners. Juana resigned herself. and without restriction. the generous impulses. she was ignorant of where it went or what it might bring her. all women unhappily married come. was a human type. the miseries of which are buried by women in the depths of their souls. she knew how far her misery would go. The first days of this marriage were apparently happy. Dona Lagounia stayed beside her child and prayed and watched as she would have prayed and watched beside the dying. This is a history impossible to recount in its full truth. To fall from the height of Greatness to Monsieur Diard! She wept. a nature both Spanish and Italian. knowing well that no flowers grew for her along the way of that painful journey. struggling hourly against her nature. She determined to obey her mother’s prayer.” she said to Juana. having dried up the source of her tears by dint of weeping. As for the quartermaster. a 315 . At times she went nearly mad. Nature gives to woman alternately a strength which enables her to suffer and a weakness which leads her to resignation. the description of which would need such minute observations that to persons eager for dramatic emotions they would seem insipid. He loved her distractedly. The Marana.—dreams which had caused her ruin.Balzac fondly dreamed. in which every wife would find some one of her own sufferings. The next day was the fatal day. we may well absolve him. married. She married Diard. though he had no grace in Juana’s eyes. namely. would require a volume to express them all. had recognized in that man the accents of passion and the brusque nature. She floated for a while between vice and religion. so keen to know the signs of love. and cross the desert of life to reach God’s heaven.—a double role. But Juana could still remain free. Religion triumphed. The meditation was stormy and solemn. destined to represent woman’s misery in its utmost expression. Free.

those solemn and touching elegies which certain women carry with them to their tomb. his ambition had induced some belief in his nature. he was too severely wounded to remain in the service. and succeeded in entering the Imperial Guard. Threatened with the loss of a leg. With this idea in his mind. without those rewards he hoped to win. a vengeance in her hand. Besides. what women are. in whom his efforts. and in that beauty. the retired sol316 . so that his wife might never meet him during the time they remained in Spain. the merit of which would consist in faintest tints and delicate shadings which critics would declare to be effeminate and diffuse. he petitioned for his own removal. This event. tender and consoling in the troubles of life. He desired at any price to obtain a title. unless he bore another heart within his heart. devotions unrewarded. angelic charities secretly accomplished. hopeless volume by its very nature. honors. his courage. roused for a time. unfortunately. misunderstood even by those who cause them. sighs unheeded. he was forced to retire on a pension. what man could rightly approach. and would have won had he not been Diard.” At first. but. for she was certainly not a woman to fear the dagger added to her “dot. generosities perpetually bestowed and wasted. but a sorrowful and suffering wife. and who showed herself. this wound. a wife incessantly wounded. without the title of baron.—in short. inspired by a real love. sank down. and his thwarted hopes contributed to change his character. At first he was sustained by his wife. yet forgiving always. he behaved courageously in one of the most bloody battles in Germany. disdained. fate spared her nought. all the religions of womanhood and its inextinguishable love. that glow.—she who had the beauty and the glow of the diamond.—on earth at least. vengeances withheld. by one of those passions which for the time being change even odious characters and bring to light all that may be noble in a soul. Next. melancholies. pleasures longed for and denied. Juana knew that life. His Provencal energy. a wife pure as a flawless diamond. He forced Montefiore to leave the regiment and even the army corps. Diard behaved like a man of honor. and consideration in keeping with his present wealth. Inspired by a few words from Juana.— splendid silences misconstrued.fruitless. She was wholly a wife.

in spite of 317 . poor man. that gentleness. with noble rooms. in which abounded artists (by nature no judges of men). bury in oblivion the quartermaster of the 6th of the line. Given equal genius. She lived in a fine house. he knew this. compact. men of pleasure ready to amuse themselves anywhere. but he understood her. His wealth enabled him to surround his wife with the enjoyments of Parisian luxury. were only the outward signs of the resignation which had made her his wife. He foresaw a coming happiness. in the patience and gentleness shown on all occasions by his wife. a few politicians who swelled the numbers. but that patience. where she maintained a salon. Juana expressed nothing. and Diard Provencal. because it was an epoch when all men were endeavoring to rise. often he would have given his eternal life that Juana might have wept upon his bosom and not disguised her secret thoughts behind a smiling face which lied to him nobly. Social classifications ready-made are perhaps a great boon even for the people. Diard’s character was not sufficiently strong. Those who put themselves before the eyes of the public in Paris must either conquer Paris or be subject to it. the arm of the sea which separates Corsica from Provence is. and secure for Madame Diard a noble title. an islander will always be more compact and rounded than the man of terra firma in the same latitude. we ought to do them justice and acknowledge these inward struggles. Like many men Diard tried all things. Resignation. all of whom admired Juana. Many young men —for after a certain age men no longer struggle—persist in the effort to triumph over an evil fate. and he strove to make himself respected.Balzac dier came to Paris. and when at last they succumb and roll down the precipice of evil. were they love? Often Diard wished for refusal where he met with chaste obedience. from time to time. and all things were hostile to him. religion. resolved to win in an administrative career a position to command respect. on the horizon of their lives. where most of the courtiers had been his equals. and cherished. His passion for that seductive creature enabled him to divine her most secret wishes. Napoleon has confided to us the pains he took to inspire respect in his court. loved. the thunder of which they hear. He was not loved as a lover dreams of being loved. and certain men of fashion. But Napoleon was Corsican. or persistent to command society at that epoch.

between the heights of the Luxembourg and the heights of Montmartre. he has sold his pictures. brought him great troubles. but this respect stopped short with her. and by her advice Diard sent back to Tarragona all the pictures he had brought from there. all that wants to demolish power and worships power if it resists. the sneerers of Paris did not see without malicious smiles and words the pictures with which the former quartermaster adorned his handsome mansion. never forgave the former quartermaster of the 6th of the line for becoming suddenly so rich and for attempting to cut a figure in Paris. all that sneers at a parvenu. young or old. Diard’s comrades. This lack of esteem was perfectly natural. In the first place. noble of yesterday or noble from the fourth century. even Parisian calumny. an ocean which has made two nations. all that clothes itself and gabbles.human science. which triumphed over everything. Works of art purchased the night before were said to be spoils from Spain. from the last house in the faubourg Saint-Germain to the last in the rue Saint-Lazare. only said. in spite of the virtues which our imaginations attribute to soldiers. Diard’s mongrel position. her husband received none of it. Juana’s feminine perception and her keen eye hovering over her salons. “That Diard is shrewd. that Juana met on all sides the respect inspired by her pure and religious life. But the public. that world of insolence and humble desires. clothes itself to go out and goes out to gabble.” Worthy people continued to think that those which remained in the Diard salons were not honorably acquired. All that world of great and small pretensions. Now in Paris. and this accusation was the revenge of those who were jealous of his present fortune. all those minds know. such as Paris contributes. Some jealous women asked how it was that a diard (!) had been able to marry so rich and beautiful a young girl. where the 318 . brought her nothing but pain.—all those ears hear. it must be said. in a single evening. And yet. all those tongues say. all that is gilded or tarnished. Hence comments and satires without end. all that fears to commit itself. Perhaps there is useful instruction to be derived from the almost imperceptible connection of acts which led to the finale of this history. Juana comprehended this reproach. of envy and cringing. determined to see things in the worst light. which he himself made still more questionable.

so suddenly become a woman and a wife. the multiplicity of the precautions she would have to take. but at any rate they have the most cruel of public prosecutors. whose childhood was passed in her retreat in Tarragona. But Juana. when she is young and clever. at any hour. feeble beings apparently. who. or has not done. once before. Besides. was related within ten minutes in the Ile-Saint-Louis. but she learned from it only that which her sorrow and her wounded pride revealed to her. have ruled society.Balzac new-comer who aspires to honor among them was born and brought up. an intangible moral being. moved a thousand springs. the meannesses. Do not ask what mysterious telegraph it was which conveyed to him in the twinkling of an eye. Diard was therefore debarred from succeeding in society. Thus the opinion of the 6th of the line as to its quartermaster filtered through society the night on which he gave his first ball. which occurred at the Opera-house. may give him other chances for elevation. and what that interloper has done. he wants to know all and he will know all. if a man is incapable of being anything himself. his wife. after the manner of what are called “sensitives. Henceforth his wife alone had the power to make anything of him. without rising from sofas or leaving their chambers. no observer can report its effects. There may be no court of assizes for the upper classes of society. tell him all yourself. saw plainly that were she to attempt to compel society to respect her husband. We sometimes meet with invalid women. Miracle of our strange civilization! In Paris. and she saw nothing around her 319 . in any place. and placed their husbands where their ambition or their vanity prompted. it must be after the manner of Spanish beggars. That telegraph is a social mystery. that bit of news. Juana had the tact of a virgin heart which receives impressions in advance of the event. Do not hope to hide anything from him. would they meet the necessity? Suddenly she divined society as.” The solitary young girl. that scandal. who accuses and brands. knew nothing of the vices. she had divined life. she looked at that society with the curiosity of a girl. that story. both judge and executioner. Of many extraordinary instances thereof. or the resources of Parisian society. one may suffice: The assassination of the Duc de Berry. carbine in hand. do not ask what prompts him. in the course of his life.

perhaps. moreover. those miniature empires. did not enlighten her husband soon enough. to cap all. when shrewdness and tact succeed. He could not understand a consistent part. Already the prefects were a species of vizier. Diard. and then to abandon that millionaire life and bury himself as sub-prefect at Issoudun or Savenay was certainly holding himself below his position. and society logically refused him that to which he pretended in its midst. he wanted to be made prefect. To frequent the imperial salons and live with insolent luxury. rich as he was. Diard. his favor enhanced the value of all offices. such as he ought to play in the world. or chamberlains of H. was allowed no place in public life. whereupon he lowered his demand to a sub-prefecture. Though she used great tact—we might say velvet softness if the term were admissible—to disguise from her husband this supremacy. which surprised and humiliated herself. Incapable of studying the phase of the empire in the midst of which he came to live in Paris. of course. 320 .M. Juana. Now Diard. The myrmidons of the great man scoffed at Diard’s pretensions to a prefecture. There was. did his best to spread it. the quartermaster. Diard ended by being affected by it. At that time every one believed in the genius of Napoleon. was nevertheless not decorated. Finally. could only be filled by men of great names. the emperor and king. He was in one of those positions where shrewdness and tact might have taken the place of strength. and society then judged him as the government judged him and as he judged himself. repulsed everywhere. the additional grief of tardily recognizing her husband’s peculiar form of incapacity. and its gradations were everything. they are. too late aware of our laws and habits and administrative customs. Prefectures. he was a man unfitted for any purpose that required continuity of ideas. far from arresting the spot of oil on his garments left by his antecedents. petitioned successively all the ministerial powers. She had. a ridiculous discrepancy between this latter demand and the magnitude of his fortune. the highest form of strength. he found nothing open to him. the luckless man felt in his own home the superiority of his wife. grievously wounded on the battlefield.but the immense extent of an irreparable disaster. desperate. he perceived it neither as a whole nor in its gradations.

was all heart to his former friends.—all contributed to repulse the respect which careful observation of matters of good taste and dignity might otherwise obtain for vulgar persons. the semi-Italian gesticulations. She lived in constant apprehension of some disaster. there could be no worse suffering than this struggle in which Diard received insults he did not feel and Juana felt those she did not receive. She judged her husband incapable of rising to the honored ranks of the social order. each social nature pricked her with its own particular pin. So goes the world. She used her influence to make Diard resign his 321 . the yoke of such conventionalities can only be cast off by great and unthinkable powers. insolently. The courage or the ardor of this man lessened under the reiterated blows which his own faults dealt to his self-appreciation. and felt in one instant all the sorrows which were gathering themselves together to fall upon her head. and called him. and to a soul which preferred the thrust of a dagger. The few persons of really good society whom Diard knew. an awful moment. a variety of the human species of which no type will presently remain. his style of dress.Balzac At a game of life like this men are either unmanned. this man whose fibres vibrated like the strings of a harp. Observing this on one occasion. This presentiment was in her soul as a contagion is in the air. Juana had ceased to think of herself. he accepted everybody. The manners. Henceforth Juana felt pity for him. in short. refused his hand to Diard. These details but faintly picture the many tortures to which Juana was subjected. and gave his hand in his gilded salons to many a poor devil. but she had strength of mind and will to disguise her anguish beneath a smile. “my good fellow” when he met him. frank in his vices as in his virtues. a general of the empire. In the first place he had to struggle against his own habits and character. or they give themselves to evil. or they grow the stronger. and she felt that he would one day descend to where his instincts led him. when she gained a clear and lucid perception of society. He succored the shabby and spattered man as readily as the needy of rank. the speech of Diard. A passionate Provencal. they came upon her one by one. treated him with that elegant. The future was very gloomy for this young woman. A moment came. and fault after fault he committed. polished contempt against which a new-made man has seldom any weapons.

she was one of those noble creatures to whom it is impossible to speak disrespectfully. then annoyed. had the weight of a fascination. he feels the need of foisting faults upon her. she had all the secret heroism necessary to her position. But Juana. patient and without pride. allowed his natural character to assert itself. trifles increase and grow till they swell to Alps. Diard. the peaceful and consoling life of home. What myriads of scenes are played in the depths of his souls. Her energy increased with the difficulties of life. left Diard no chance for planned ill-humor. the more a man likes to find fault with her.various pretensions and to show him. She felt herself strong to accept the trying task of making him happy. embarrassed at first. beneath the cold exterior of lives that are. if only to assert by that act his legal superiority. and he often gave way to southern excitement. ended by feeling that such high virtue was a yoke upon him. Perhaps he felt the need of flying from himself. Besides. Without wearying of Juana. he reigned there. But here he found another reef. as a haven. But if by chance she seems really imposing to him. in which her life. his passion for her. gentle and without that bitterness which women know so well how to cast into their submission. The poor soldier had one of those eccentric souls which need perpetual motion. though they influence life so powerfully and are frequently the forerunners of the great misfortune doomed to fall on 322 . religion inspired her with those desires which support the angel appointed to protect a Christian soul—occult poesy. After that. between man and wife. shone out. and violent emotions were what he wanted. her glance. and whose vital object seems to be to come and go incessantly. a man dissatisfied with himself. Evils came from society—why not banish it? In his home Diard found peace and respect. like the wheels mentioned in Holy Writ. closed his house to the world.—he. Diard was one of the men who are instinctively compelled to start again the moment they arrive. The more virtuous a woman is and the more irreproachable. rendered tranquil by time. The goodness of his wife gave him no violent emotions. allegorical image of our two natures! Diard abandoned his projects. commonplace! Among these dramas. without blaming Juana. and lived in his home. lasting each but a short time. apparently. saintly and pure. Henceforth his days of gloom were more frequent.

For the last five years Francisque had been the object of Juana’s most tender and watchful care. The first was born seven months after her marriage. however. his motions. it is difficult to choose an example. Her mother had been virtuous as other women are criminal. It seemed at times as if she had but that one child. and there 323 . Juana’s maternal love may have been the strongest because. she had stolen a fancied happiness. But she loved her children doubly: first with the noble violence of which her mother the Marana had given her the example. The latter resembled both Diard and Juana.—maternal love. Diard. had no other comfort in their misery. could enjoy at all moments the ineffable delights which her mother had so craved and could not have. But Juana. and without inquiring even of himself whether the boy was the fruit of that ephemeral love to which he owed his wife. maternity comprised all earthly sentiments. but to him. happily for her. Juana had watched him from his cradle. His name was Francisque. which particularly marked the moment when in the life of this husband and wife estrangement began. she had studied his cries. secondly. but more particularly Diard. as to her mother. Juana had two children. she had never really tasted it. was in a way neglected. which gave to the Marana’s life its stamp of untaught poesy. Perhaps it may also serve to explain the finale of this narrative. To her. to him her prettiest caresses. deprived of all other affections. with grace and purity. There was a scene. Madame Diard accepted one alone. she put the joys she lacked into the one joy of her children. an open consolation at all hours. He was called Juan. in the spirit of those social virtues the practice of which was the glory of her life and her inward recompense. The secret thought. seeing that the eldest. he made him his Benjamin. she endeavored to discern his nature that she might educate him wisely. Of all the sentiments transmitted to her through the blood of her grandmothers which consumed her. The second was born about two years after her arrival in Paris. was to Juana an acknowledged life. The mother was constantly occupied with that child. to him the toys. and he strongly resembled his mother.Balzac so many marriages. took him under his own protection. the penetrating mother-looks. especially. Each. from differing causes. Juan.—in secret. two sons. unhappy in her virtue as her mother was unhappy in her vice. the conscience of her motherhood.

she adored him. which his wife cast upon her eldest child was a fatal revelation to the husband of the secrets of a heart hitherto impenetrable. papa. capable of great things over-night. For two years after his retreat from active life Diard was held captive in his home by the softest chains. “The king can give nothing but life.are noble passions that resemble vice. when their good qualities are kept to a steady energy by some outward bond. her child. she was much moved. He had killed himself to avoid the dishonor of a trial and the shame of death upon the scaffold. If that man had been more consistent in his life. his future. Juana comprehended him. on coming home to dinner. moist with joy. Diard. the spectators of this little scene. she was sure of his heart. and from the day when the husband and wife changed parts she felt for him the true and deep interest she had hitherto shown to him as a matter of duty only. often the victim of their own virtues. didn’t you tell us the other day that the king could pardon?” asked Francisque. The glance. if he had not destroyed by fitful inconstancy and restlessness the forces of a true though excitable sensibility. who made herself gay and amusing to cheer him. Unfortunately. who used the resources of feminine genius to attract and seduce him to a love of virtue. the more they are satisfied the more they increase. Juana would doubtless have loved him in the end. At this time all Paris was talking of the affair of a captain in the army who in a paroxysm of libertine jealousy had killed a woman. and her husband was obliged to explain to her the fine jurisprudence of French law.” said Juan. “But. When Juana saw the generous pardon laid silently on the head of Juan by Diard’s fatherly affection. but her ardent love was a secret between herself. Mothers and gamblers are alike insatiable. and often lucky through their worst passions. almost in spite of himself. were differently affected by it. and 324 . half scornfully. but whose ability and cleverness did not go so far as to simulate love. which does not prosecute the dead. That eldest child was all Juana. and incapable the next morning. admirable men in some respects. Diard and Juana. He lived. he was a type of those southern natures which are keen in perceptions they cannot follow out. Juana did not see at first the logic of such conduct. told his wife that the officer was dead. under the influence of his wife.

Balzac God.” she answered quickly. for she pressed him to her heart when alone. You know all that I have struggled to do in life. as his wife continued silent. he added:— “You love one of your children better than the other. and Juana’s incessant care and watchfulness betrayed her desire to correct in the son the vices of the father and to encourage his better qualities. simplified to his childish intelligence. “Will you dare to say that Juan is not the child of your heart?” “If that were so.” she replied simply. Presently. more quickly still.” said Juana. unaware that her glance had said too much and that her husband had rightly interpreted it. Juana.” she said.” she said. Francisque was Diard. “That boy’s character requires care.” “I know. that you are never in the wrong.” he added. “Juan was born perfect. “How about Juan?” Madame Diard. “do you think it a misfortune?” “You have never loved me.” said Diard. “But one of them gives you greater joys. Then he sat down gloomily. “No. a lesson upon honor.” she said. and reflected. in a gentle voice still trembling with the pleasure that Juan’s answer had brought her.” he said. Ah! if you had only loved me!” “A woman who loves. took Francisque in her lap and gave him. Juana. “likes to live in solitude. Juan instinctively enjoyed the seeming indifference of his mother in presence of his father and brother. I would have conquered worlds for your sake. “How false you women are!” cried Diard. and that is what we are doing. If you had chosen. “I never counted them.” said Diard. supported by the hope of pleasing you.” “But neither of them have ever given me a moment’s uneasiness. with dignity. far from the world. struck by the tone in which the words were uttered. looked at her husband.” “You know that.” 325 . “I did not know until now which of them you preferred. “Yes.

—and they all gambled with him. for the rest of their lives together. luxury. he was determined to preserve it. he speedily grew accustomed to win and lose enormous sums. and the day came when he took from her all she had hitherto freely disposed of for the household benefit. and in order to do so he separated himself from his wife. and the life of her husband could not be a source of grief and injury to Juana only. bankers. he won much money. a coldness between them. and cast. On the morrow of that fatal day Diard went back to his old companions and found distractions for his mind in play. Like all gamblers. now emancipated. By the end of the year Diard and Juana only saw each other in the morning at breakfast. Soon he ceased even to dine in his own home. 326 . festivities. At such times Juana once more caught a glimpse of the world of balls. The silence that fell between them was a true divorce. admired Diard at their clubs. He became the fashion. and continued playing. The conversation they had on this subject was the last of their married intercourse. persons with newly-acquired large fortunes. he felt the necessity of withdrawing from his wife the management of their income. he soon became celebrated for his style of playing. A fine player and a heavy player.—seldom in their own houses. Children are conjointly one with husband and wife in the home. giving her instead a monthly stipend. and she was glad. As for Diard. he acquired under the Restoration by the rolling of his gold on the green cloth and by his talent for all games that were in vogue. he had his alternations of loss and gain. not seeking for the causes of this evil. Ambassadors. Little by little. giving her the large apartments and lodging himself in the entresol. Two or three times during the winter he gave a fete as a matter of social pride in return for the civilities he received. Unfortunately. he returned to the dissipated life he had formerly lived. The social consideration he had been unable to win under the Empire. having sucked life to the dregs. Juana comprehended that from henceforth she was only a mother. and all those men who. and lights. For such an event is a great evil. turn to gambling for its feverish joys. Not wishing to cut into the capital of his fortune.The words were said bitterly. Some months went by in the enjoyment of this new independence.

would see a poor devil to the galleys. he had the glory of inventing the “man of straw” for lucrative posts which it was necessary to keep in his own hands for a short time. won her sincere homage. which her peaceful life restored to her. if done in the streets by the light of an oil lamp. he bought votes. He practised the decent thievery by which so many men. He was intimate with a number of men. In these days bold scoundrels die brilliantly in 327 . On that bench is the aristocracy of evil. Diard now became a sort of business man. monopolized. men who. In three years he had dissipated three fourths of his fortune. Diard was placed by public opinion on the bench of infamy where many an able man was already seated. Diard was not always lucky. not a mere commonplace gambler who is seen to be a blackguard. which nothing had corrupted. have set up the principle that robbery done on a large scale is only a smirch to the reputation. under gilded ceilings and by the light of candelabra. That style of gambler is no longer seen in society of a certain topographical height. she came to understand that though her husband was following. cleverly masked. receiving. Such actions are no longer crimes or thefts. is sanctioned. becoming a financial power. Diard was. therefore. make their fortunes.—thievery which. so much per cent on the purchase of fifteen parliamentary votes which all passed on one division from the benches of the Left to the benches of the Right. She. her beautiful virginity of soul. appeared like a being fallen from some other planet.Balzac but for her it was a sort of tax imposed upon the comfort of her solitude.—transferring thus to financial matters the loose principles of love in the eighteenth century. and sold sugars. the queen of these solemnities. Diard brought up. without communicating its nature to her. Her simplicity. It is the upper Chamber of scoundrels of high life. her beauty and her true modesty. far from it. since the revolution. but. he sold offices. on one occasion.—they are called governing. a new line of conduct. developing industry. But observing how few women ever entered her salons. or hidden in the recesses of the political world. more particularly with the roues of the Bourse. and concerned himself in several of those affairs which are called shady in the slang of the lawcourts. and ends by begging. he had gained nothing actually in the world’s esteem. but his passion for play gave him the energy to continue it.

Her children were to her what they are to many mothers for a long period of time. he made himself one of these privileged men. and all her hours were occupied. From day to day the dread of some unknown but inevitable evil in the shadow of which she lived became more and more keen and terrible. Glad of his abandonment. Nevertheless. The boys had too much intelligence and shrewdness not to have judged their father. she suffered no longer from her blemished life. She understood at last how the conduct of a father might long weigh on the future of her children. however imaginary it was for them. revelations of the truth. consequently. she felt no curiosity about him. and her motherly solicitude brought her many. Diard feared his wife as a criminal fears the executioner. In the long run. Diard was now an accidental circumstance. the penetration of which made Diard shudder. however. not a participator in her life. She devoted what money she had to the education of her children. he forgot that assumption of joy. by chance. a piercing look. Diard. did not buy his remorse at a low price. it even changed to a species of fear. he was able to maintain himself in the fiery furnace into which he had sprung. Juana felt bound to him by no tie other than that imposed by conventional laws. If he had been much in the home Diard would have neutralized his wife’s efforts. however. and to judge a father is moral parricide. Juana saw her children’s shame. In this she was greatly seconded by her husband’s continual absence. Having studied the machinery of government and learned all the secrets and the passions of the men in power. At such times the assumed gaiety of her husband alarmed Juana more than his gloomiest expressions of anxiety when. during the rare moments when Diard and Juana met she would cast upon his hollow face. taking the bloom from their young imaginations. and giving them straightforward reasons.the chariot of vice with the trappings of luxury. though incomplete. Therefore. wan from nights of gambling and furrowed by emotions. Juana’s indifference to her husband wore itself away. In him. at least. she brought up her children to the highest respect for paternal authority. and since he had ceased to be the father and the head of the family. and in her Diard 328 .—a sort of renewal of their own existence. without. Through them alone came her interests and her emotions. Madame Diard knew nothing of her husband’s infernal life. wishing to make men of them.

diplomats and others. The house. not a purse would be open to him. an arm raised. alarmed Juana secretly. the judgment of that serene brow. were assembled at the watering-places in the Pyrenees. his only visible possession. and were doubtless well supplied with money. precisely because he had mounted to a height he could not maintain. The house was at the corner of two streets. Nevertheless. the cause of which escaped her penetration. Joined to the neighboring house on one side only. Diard paid the rent in advance. a weapon ready. Not a hand would be offered. he seemed to have recovered some energy. it was open to view and accessible on the other three sides. When her husband told her that he was going to the watering-places and that she would stay at Bordeaux. where they gambled for enormous sums. and left Juana barely enough money for the necessary expenses of three months. Her husband made it gaily. Madame Diard made no observation on this unusual meanness. Diard hired in a quiet street a quiet little house. and had a garden. Juana offered 329 . a sum not exceeding a thousand francs. For them the veil of the future seems thinner than for others. and the sort of prestige with which opulence had invested him would vanish. was mortgaged to its fullest selling value. he showed himself day by day more attentive to the children and more amiable to their mother. but he would not leave his wife in Paris. He owed three hundred thousand francs and he could scarcely muster one hundred thousand. lest some importunate creditor might reveal to her the secret of his horrible position. deeper perhaps than he deserved. He therefore took her and the two children with him. but who are seldom mistaken when they tremble thus. Unless some favorable event occurred he would fall into a slough of contempt. and in it he established his wife. His tone was curt and imperious. He determined to go at once to the Pyrenees. the presentiments of mothers who tremble without apparent reason. A few days more. neatly furnished. each day brought Juana dark presentiments. After fifteen years of marriage Diard found himself without resources. At Bordeaux. This sudden journey. refusing to allow her to take the tutor and scarcely permitting her to take a maid. At this juncture he happened to hear that a number of strangers of distinction. Obliged to occupy the same carriage.Balzac dreaded a calm vengeance.

Diard. Therefore as soon as she appeared. greatly developed. Her pleasures consisted in taking walks with the children. Towards the end of the second month the Marquis de Montefiore appeared at the same baths. In two months he won three hundred thousand dollars.” Diard had the money in bank-bills in his pocket. encountered him. and Diard lost every penny that he possessed. simply and naturally economical. “My dear Montefiore. But these burning expectations depended on the marquis’s reply. where I have left my wife. but her wants all provided for until her husband’s return. and at once formed a plan to teach the children Spanish and Italian. Her maid then sufficed for the service of the house. 330 . and she thus found herself without money. Diard at first made a fortune at the baths. Diard would have been left without the power to take his revenge. he kept it all. confident in his luck. his handsome face. after making a tour of the salon. She was then thirty-three years old. At the first advances made to her Juana ceased to walk abroad. but it never occurred to him to send any money to his wife. his fortunate marriage with an Englishwoman. The marquis was at this time celebrated for his wealth. but nevertheless they played together. a revenge at cards often exceeds the amount of all preceding losses. A gambler with four hundred thousand francs in hand is always in a position to do as he pleases. his former companion. “I owe you a hundred thousand francs. but with the selfpossession and rapid bird’s-eye view of a man accustomed to catch at all resources.no difficulty. Diard. and desired to add his spoils to those of others. Had he paid his debt on the spot. much talk was made in Bordeaux about the beautiful Spanish stranger. The latter received him very coldly. and confined herself wholly to her own large garden. but my money is in Bordeaux. and more especially for his love of play. renewed acquaintance with Montefiore. expecting to make some great stroke of fortune on a vast stake. and to make them read the two masterpieces of the two languages. Her beauty.” said the ex-quartermaster. She was glad to lead a retired life. Montefiore had already mentioned his intention of visiting Bordeaux. she arranged with a “traiteur” the day after Diard’s departure to send in their meals. he still hoped to recover himself by some one of the endless caprices of play. To spare herself the troubles of material life. and more. was in all its lustre.

” said Montefiore. While it was being brought. with the agility of a tiger. Montefiore may have felt. without being noticed. went on until he had lost two hundred thousand more on his word. They went down-stairs. He was gay as a man who swam in gold. tripped up the marquis with a kick behind the knees. and 331 .” Three days later Diard and Montefiore were in Bordeaux at a gambling table. then Diard. having won enough to pay his hundred thousand francs. a desire to breathe the open air and recover from such emotions in a walk. Eleven o’clock sounded. Then. “Bah!” exclaimed the husband.Balzac “Wait. But they would make a pretty fortune for a beggar and turn him into an honest man for the rest of his life. I am rich enough to-day not to wish to take the money of an old comrade. like Diard. The latter proposed to the marquis to come home with him to take a cup of tea and get his money. but as if the latter understood him he preferred to keep at his side. my dear fellow.” Diard told him the exact address. “Where do you live?” said Montefiore. taking Diard’s arm. I should be profitable to kill.” Diard led the marquis along a lonely street where he remembered to have seen a house. “and we will go together to Bordeaux. and was able. to pick up one of those small sharppointed steel knives with pearl handles which are used for cutting fruit at dessert. “You see.” “Have you much with you?” “No. but if I came home alone and a scoundrel were to follow me. “only my winnings. Diard. no sooner were they fairly in the avenue. “that as long as I am with you I have nothing to fear. the door of which was at the end of an avenue of trees with high and gloomy walls on either side of it. the night was superb. When they reached this spot he coolly invited the marquis to precede him. In all conscience. “But Madame Diard?” said Montefiore. “for I want to send a carriage there to fetch me. not much. in a low voice.” said Montefiore. he walked up and down the room. but before taking his hat Diard entered the dining-room of the establishment and asked for a glass of water. in the courtyard.” said the wary Italian.

“There he is! there he is!” cried the people. walking very gently. seemed afoot in the twinkling of an eye. while from every door came shouts and gleams of light. Montefiore had time to cry “Murder! Help!” in a shrill and piercing voice which was fit to rouse every sleeper in the neighborhood. soldiers. like a spectator who sees the inutility of trying to give help. But not losing his head as yet. But already every window was open. the high walls of which appeared to echo back the cries. As soon as that clamor rose. and had done the deed with lucid mind and the quickness of a pickpocket. took his wallet. gendarmes. The sound of their coming steps seemed to beat on Diard’s brain. everything. every one. The cries of the dying man reached them. and he saw them rushing up the avenue. directing them to the very spot where the crime was committed.putting a foot on his neck stabbed him again and again to the heart till the blade of the knife broke in it. and he dashed down a cross street to avoid them. His last sighs were given in those horrible shrieks. the murderer left the avenue and came boldly into the street. a mass of persons. He even turned round once or twice to judge of the distance between himself and the crowd. But though he had taken the Italian unawares. Then he searched Montefiore’s pockets. Inhabitants. though without being able to escape some eyes which took in the extent of his course more rapidly than he could cover it. Diard. through the lights and the noise. and heads were thrust forth right and left. Diard kept on. going straight before him. with a natural sense of caution. and his legs were so actively agile that he soon left the tumult behind him. The crowd began to run towards the avenue. who had entered the avenue as soon as they saw Montefiore stretched out near the door of the empty house. though Diard did his best to stifle the noise by setting his foot firmly on Montefiore’s neck. with the exception of one man. began to watch Diard. or fancied he saw. with the vigor of a lion and the bounds of a deer. Some men awoke the commissaries of po332 . began to run or rather to fly. feeling himself well in the advance. who. money. At the other end of the street he saw. Diard was not aware that at the moment when they entered the avenue a crowd just issuing from a theatre was passing at the upper end of the street.

was his first necessity. Then. gold. money. and they think to establish their innocence by want of proof of their guilt. others stayed by the body to guard it. Diard. Then. then. he saw them written in fiery letters on the darkness. Presently he reached the wall of the garden of his house. beat upon his brain with the force of a hammer. observing a pile of stones on the road. The place was perfectly silent. noticing that he was bathed in perspiration. in the hold of some vessel and escape without any one suspecting his whereabouts. where he wiped his face with his handkerchief and put his clothes in order. That done. and get to the wharves. which Diard hastily closed behind him with a kick. which resolved itself into two ideas: to leave the house. then conceal himself. in the midst of his trouble. the hemorrhage from his victim’s body was no doubt inward. He raised his eyes. The pursuit kept on in the direction of the fugitive. After that he walked into a track of the moonlight to examine his hands. A quiver of joy passed over him as he saw that no blood stains were on them. He did not think these ideas. though a distant murmur of the tumult came to his ears like the roaring of the sea. and he thought he had foiled his pursuers. he hid his treasure in it. and able to reflect on his position. But to do all this. spent with her children.—and 333 . hoping that no one saw him. as he ran. Nevertheless. obeying one of those vague thoughts which come to criminals at a moment when the faculty to judge their actions under all bearings deserts them. panting after him. like a rat. The maid opened the door. he even tried to smile as he rapped softly on the door of his house. visions of her gentle life. and through the outer blinds of one window came a gleam of light from his wife’s room. like a dandy about to pay a visit to a pretty woman. For a moment he breathed freely. had all the sensations of a dream when he heard a whole city howling. He dipped some water from a brook and drank it. Once at the wharves he could hide all day. return at night for his treasure. he endeavored to assume a placid countenance. who dragged it after him like the flame of a conflagration. When at last he mounted the stairs to Juana’s room he was calm and collected. he kept his ideas and his presence of mind. But all this took time. he sent the servant back to Juana and stayed in the darkness of the passage.Balzac lice. running.

” His wife.” he said.” “Then there’s not a sou to be had here!” cried Diard. alone. in a coaxing voice. cries? Go and see what it means. They all three stopped and looked at Diard. “Thunder of heaven! every instant is precious! Where are your jewels?” “You know very well I have never worn any. “say your prayers without me. like other women. Listen to me. and I regret it now. The maid brought a light to show him up. who stood in the doorway with his hands in his pockets. perhaps. was sitting at a table. All that you gave me went to pay masters and—” “Enough!” cried Diard. “Felicie. so beautiful with the faces of his wife and children. then 334 . and go to bed. frantically.” said Juana. by finding himself in this calm scene. It was a living picture of the Virgin between her son and John.” replied Juana. shouts. so softly lighted. while the boys followed her pronunciation of the words from the text.” The boys left the room in silence.he did not possess one penny.” said Diard. I don’t say that to reproach you. have you not. nothing. “I left you with very little money. my friend. “Oh. with the incurious obedience of well-trained children. but I want to speak to you—to you. overcome. “I have nothing. violently.” he replied.” And he glanced at his sons. In making that allowance you did not reckon the costs of the children’s education. in her white dressing-gown. laid something by?” “No. “don’t you hear a noise in the street. I have something to say to you. and come and tell me. “Why do you shout in that way?” she asked. instantly perceiving from the livid paleness of her husband that the misfortune she had daily expected was upon them. go to your room. “Juana. “I have killed a man. “My dear Juana. “My dears. reading aloud to Francisque and Juan from a Spanish Cervantes.” “What has happened?” she asked. since I relieved you of the care of our income by giving you an allowance.” Juana sprang to the door of her children’s room and closed it. “Juana. only to explain my want of money.

money! for God’s sake. the police. as one kills anything. a file of soldiers posting themselves in deepest silence along the wall of the house. There she saw. They are on my traces. Juana. now that everything is quiet you must go down to that heap of stones—you know the heap by the garden wall—and get that money. She turned. Diard had.” “Who?” “The people. But I can’t lose time—Money. since you haven’t any in the house. Take it and go—go!” “Felicie hasn’t come back.” “Killed him!” she cried.” Juana left the room. you must escape through the garden. and she heard the distant mutterings of a crowd of persons whom sentinels were holding back at the end of the streets up which curiosity had drawn them. I have been told.” she said. “Your sons must hear nothing.” “The money that you stole?” said Juana.” she said. been seen to enter his house by persons at their windows. holding out to him at arm’s length a jewel. but returned immediately. “Ah!” she said with a sigh.” “There were many reasons why he should die by my hand. looking on the garden. “What does that matter to you? Have you any money to give me? I tell you I must get away. “Can she have been arrested?” Juana laid the cross on the table.” As a precaution she turned to the other windows. money! I may be pursued.” he cried. “Here. I—I killed him. “how?” “Why. in truth. of great value. and on their information and that of the frightened maid335 . “that is Dona Lagounia’s cross.Balzac she returned.” he replied. and sprang to the windows that looked on the street. “With whom have you fought?” “Montefiore. affecting to be calm. with a sudden thought. There are four rubies in it. We did not fight. In the shadow of the trees she saw the gleam of the silver lace on the hats of a body of gendarmes. He stole my whole fortune and I took it back. “the only man you had the right to kill. and said to her husband:— “You have not a minute to lose. in the moonlight. that’s all. Here is the key of the little gate.

do you think—Juana! is it so pressing?—I want to kiss you. who was arrested. for pity’s sake. holding out to Diard. and I will save you. then she blew his brains out and flung the weapon on the ground. by the throat. The man was nearly fainting. “Yes. putting the pistol beneath his hand.” The gendarmes were mounting the staircase. my little Juana. help me! give me. with averted head. “I will. a doctor. pointing to the dead body bent double on the floor.” said Juana.” said Juana.” “Yes.” Diard ran from window to window with the useless activity of a captive bird striking against the panes to escape. A dozen gendarmes. “Monsieur. returning from the theatre.servant. a sheriff. with a nervous agitation which she neverthe336 .” “Ah! you are always my good angel. followed by an examining judge. the troops and the people had blocked the two streets which led to the house. had climbed the walls of the garden. “What do you want?” asked Juana. of human justice. “But—my good Juana. She went to the little table and sat down. dear Juana. Juana grasped the pistol. “Juana. aimed it at Diard. Juana heard the entrance of the soldiers into the courtyard. At that instant the door was opened violently. holding him. taking up the volume of Cervantes. entered the room.” Juana left the room and returned immediately. in short. and guarded all exit in that direction. and tried to sit down. “Your children implore you. Diard did not take it. Juana stood silent and thoughtful. in spite of his cries. The whole town is here. where they laid down the body of the murdered man to confront the assassin with the sight of it. The public prosecutor. some advice.” “Do you not see why?” replied Juana. and a posse of gendarmes. she was pale. monsieur. “Is that Monsieur Diard?” said the prosecutor. “you cannot escape. one of his own pistols.” she said. madame.” “Your gown is covered with blood. She turned round and saw Diard white and livid. all the representatives.

understanding the suspicions of the prosecutor. in order to reach the truth hidden under so many contradictory actions. crime weighs no less heavily on them than on the criminal.” The magistrates approved the request of the merciful physician. The examining judge in this case was young. and to imagine evil everywhere. laying down the volume. we can only congratulate you on the death of your husband. “At least he has died as a soldier should. You will permit us to do our duty?” “May I go and change my dress?” she asked. The maid 337 . “Yes. The doctor may need it. and of comprehending them. The judge and the prosecutor talked together in a low voice.” “It would be too painful for madame to see me operate. “Messieurs. “Leave the room. it is impossible that the exercise of their dreadful functions should not. with a careless shrug of his shoulders. but you must bring it back to us. whatever crime his passions may have led him to commit. madame. and Felicie was permitted to attend her mistress. what becomes of those of the judge who is incessantly compelled to search the inner folds of the soul? Martyrs to their mission. in the long run. and he felt obliged to say to the public prosecutor.” said the doctor.” he added. Then he signed to the examining judge and the doctor to remain. magistrates are all their lives in mourning for their lost illusions. But however we may desire to spare you at such a moment. Officers of the law are very unfortunate in being forced to suspect all.” said the prosecutor to the gendarmes. but a young judge makes a thoughtful person shudder. “I hope you will allow her to remain in the next room. keeping it wholly inward. dry up at their source the generous emotions they are constrained to repress. under the circumstances.— “Do you think that woman was her husband’s accomplice? Ought we to take her into custody? Is it best to question her?” The prosecutor replied. If the sensibilities of the surgeon who probes into the mysteries of the human body end by growing callous. His act renders negatory that of justice.” he said.— “Montefiore and Diard were two well-known scoundrels.Balzac less controlled. the law requires that we should make an exact report of all violent deaths. By dint of supposing wicked intentions. “Madame. An old man seated on the bench is venerable.

” she said to the public prosecutor and the judge. and a Spaniard.” The doctor performed the autopsy.” “One moment!” cried the examining judge. find that money. “I am a stranger here.” “Yes. “It was you. monsieur. “Messieurs.” “Where?” “In the street. Suddenly he stopped. and hastily entered the next room. Her dying mother was being carried to a 338 . The doctor returned and continued his dictation as follows.— “And. “Madame—” he said. who had removed her bloody gown.” “Have you finished?” he said to the sheriff after a pause.evidently knew nothing of the crime. and I know no one in Bordeaux. The doctor signed the report. Look. Juana. “Yes. what has become of the money stolen from the Marquis de Montefiore?” “Monsieur Diard. “can I be suspected of some infamous action? I! The pile of stones must be close to the wall of my garden. “said something to me vaguely about a heap of stones. repressing with difficulty the tears which for an instant rose into her eyes and moistened them. stooping to her ear. under which he must have hidden it.” she said in his ear. from the above assemblage of facts. “Monsieur. taking with him the examining judge. came towards him. I implore you. gave him one glance. On her way with her two children to take the diligence which would carry her to the frontiers of Spain.” he whispered. Juana made a noble gesture and motioned to the doctor. and dictated his report to the sheriff. and together they found Montefiore’s treasure. Better let the thing rest there. I ask of you one kindness: enable me to obtain a passport for Spain. search. Juana. who had followed him into the room.” she replied.” The doctor went out.” The two magistrates looked at each other. she heard herself being called in the street. it appears evident that the said Diard killed himself voluntarily and by his own hand. Within two days Juana had sold her cross to pay the costs of a journey. “who killed your husband. “Madame.” she replied.” replied the writer. I am ignorant of the laws. Go yourself.

Juan heard these parting words. Though the two spoke to each other in a low voice.— “Mother. and through the curtains of her litter she had seen her daughter. and there the last interview between the mother and the daughter took place. die in peace.Balzac hospital. Juana made the bearers enter a porte-cochere that was near them.” 339 . I have suffered for you all.

340 .

Balzac Maitre Cornelius by Honore de Balzac Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley 341 .

in English. Any person using this document file. Maitre Cornelius by Honoré de Balzac. This Portable Document File is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Indonesia is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classics literature. the Editor. and in any way does so at his or her own risk. Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics 342 . the Editor. Neither ECONARCH Institute. to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley is a publication of ECONaRCH Institute. Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series. in any way.DISCLAIMER Maitre Cornelius by Honoré de Balzac. for any purpose. ECONARCH Institute. nor anyone associated with ECONARCH Institute assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission.

and Friendship. dear count.Balzac Maitre Cornelius by Honore de Balzac Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley DEDICATION To Monsieur le Comte Georges Mniszech: Some envious being may think on seeing this page illustrated by one of the most illustrious of Sarmatian names. will know that I am only seeking to pay my debt to Talent. Memory.—but you and a few others. to enhance a modern work with an ancient jewel.— a fancy of the fashions of the day. as the goldsmiths do. 343 . that I am striving.

projected among the galleries. Here and there eyes shone in the flutings of the columns. and the lateral chapels. The crowd presented effects that were no less picturesque. and in certain parts of the noble church (the towers of which were not yet finished) the deepest obscurity prevailed. Nevertheless a goodly number of tapers were burning in honor of the saints on the triangular candle-trays destined to receive such pious offerings. always sombre. The sermon had been long. Some statues seemed animated. the floor re344 .CHAPTER I A CHURCH SCENE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY IN 1479. the moment at which this history begins. The lights on each altar and all the candelabra in the choir were burning. vespers were ending in the cathedral of Tours. the vaulted ceilings. ON ALL SAINTS’ DAY. because the strong shadows of the columns. Certain figures were so vaguely defined in the “chiaroscuro” that they seemed like phantoms. produced fantastic forms which increased the darkness that already wrapped in gloom the arches. the gleam of these masses of candles barely lighted the immense building. Irregularly shed among a forest of columns and arcades which supported the three naves of the cathedral. darkness had fallen during the service. attracted attention like the principal heads in a picture. whereas others. The archbishop Helie de Bourdeilles was rising from his seat to give the benediction himself to the faithful. the merit and signification of which have never been sufficiently explained. standing in a full gleam of the scattered light. even at mid-day. some men seemed petrified.

the vaults re-echoed sighs. Religious sentiment certainly had. into crimes.Balzac flected looks. it was everywhere. into eloquence. movement is needed to make it poetical. perhaps. Religion had passed into science. in those days. Lords and vassals. The festivals of the Church were the theatre of former times. no moments more majestic. its sublime devotions. no doubt. The manners of that period will also serve to explain this alliance between religion and love. the soul of woman was more keenly stirred in a cathedral than it is at a ball or the opera in our day. The mystical exaltation of the faithful reacts upon each of them. contains. when human riches unite themselves with celestial grandeur. the marbles spoke. Prayer. the perfumes and the pomps of the altar. equally risen into heaven. into the flesh of the sick man and the poor man. and do not strong emotions invariably bring women back to love? By dint of mingling with life and grasping it in all its acts and interests. a power electrical. Consequently. religion had made itself a sharer of all virtues. the harmonies of the organ. as usual. To mankind in the mass. These semi-learned observations will serve. into politics. the feebler are no doubt borne upward by the waves of this ocean of faith and love. In the first place society had no meetingplace except before the altar. which sympathized with those of Christianity. an affinity with love. the voices of the crowd and its silent contemplations. were the ones to do penance. hope in the clasping hands. the edifice itself seemed endowed with life. The concert of feelings in which all souls are rising heavenward produces an inexplicable phenomenon of spirituality. its naive superstitions. Love was still a religion. This involuntary union of all wills. men and women were equals nowhere else. The existence of Peoples has no more solemn scenes. it was either the motive or the end of it. but in these hours of religious thought. the secret of the magic influences wielded by the chants of the priests. draws our nature above itself. incredible sublimities are felt in the silence.—passions ending often in little sanctity. the accomplice of all vices. with its fine fanaticism. there is fear in the bended knee. it mounted thrones. and for which women. to vindi345 . we need not be surprised to see in the middle-ages so many tender passions begun in churches after long ecstasies. There alone could lovers see each other and communicate. equally prostrate on the earth.

hanging from the vaulted ceiling of the chapel before an altar magnificently decorated.— a caustic. a nobleman.—a vanity which the Church did not rebuke. A woman had her chapel as she now has her opera-box. leaning against one of the enormous columns that surround the choir. precisely opposite to the seat vacated of the burgher. This simony is in practice to the present day. and each made it their pride to adorn their own sumptuously. after which they returned to their prayers with a certain gesture by which they all expressed the same thought. kneeling upon the chair with an air of contrition that even an inquisitor would have trusted. at the risk of being called a bad Catholic. cast its pale light upon a 346 . he quickly hid his face among the plumes of his tall gray cap. It was customary for the chapter to lease at a handsome price to seignorial families. Two old women shook their heads. a trifle straitlaced. a silent slander. In this particular chapel a lady was kneeling close to the railing on a handsome rug of red velvet with gold tassels. Observing the new-comer attentively. or fearing for his purse in the tumult of the crowd when the worshippers dispersed. which are. his immediate neighbors seemed to recognize him. Having done so. and gave each other a glance that seemed to dive into futurity. The families who hired these privileged places were required to decorate the altar of the chapel thus conceded to them. hastened to take possession of the seat abandoned by the worthy Tourainean. themselves and their servants exclusively. the right to be present at the services. impatient to get home. On which. certain details of which may frighten the perfected morals of our age. in the various lateral chapels of the long side-aisles of the cathedral. sent a murmuring echo through the distant arches. A silver-gilt lamp. a burgher. The chair into which the young man had slipped was close to a chapel placed between two columns and closed by an iron railing. as everybody knows.cate the truth of this study. At the moment when the chanting ceased and the last notes of the organ. and even to rich burghers. jeering thought. mingling with the vibrations of the loud “A-men” as it issued from the strong chests of the intoning clergy. and the hushed assembly were awaiting the beneficent words of the archbishop. slipped quietly away.

a sagacity coldly cruel. strong hands. if. unfortunately. “A-men!” To that response. though happily lost in the general clamor. her furtive glance left for a moment the vellum page of the prayer-book and turned to the old man whom the young man had designated.Balzac prayer-book held by the lady.” The words were said in a tone of innocence which a man of any delicacy ought to have obeyed. that attitude. which had been clasped. What terrible complicity was in that glance? When the young woman had cautiously examined the old seigneur. and glance at his wife. had now dropped slightly apart in the slumber to which he had imprudently yielded. the hand touched the iron. His sardonic lips. his coarse. and wearing a long and discolored white beard cut in a fan-tail. he would wake. nearly bald. no doubt. in so low a voice that the words could be heard by the young woman only. adorned with a precious jewel. had she been wicked. carried away. The cross of Saint-Michel glittered on his breast. savage in expression. that would surely enable him to divine all because he suspected everything. The book trembled violently in her hand when the young man approached her. presented the characteristic signs of a malignant spirit. instantly. that simple movement. this hilt was directly under his hand. she would certainly have dissimulated. covered with gray hairs. no doubt. hunchbacked. “He sleeps!” he replied. the hilt of which was in the form of an iron shell. sung in a sweet low voice which was painfully agitated. His yellow forehead was wrinkled like those of men whose habit it is to believe nothing. they went to the heart and pierced it. toward a picture of the Virgin. the moistened glance. By the manner in which he had placed the weapon. The right hand seemed about to fall upon his dagger. his pointed chin aggressively pushed forward. as sound is heard in its echo. she drew a long breath and raised her forehead. remained in his chair and raised his head slightly that he might look into the chapel. by one of those paroxysms of passion which stifle conscience. The lady turned pale. she added rapidly in a whisper:— “You will ruin me. But the stranger. revealed her life with imprudent naivete. The personage who thus alarmed the lovers was a little old man. to weigh all 347 .

tears of love and of despair. and who. peculiar properties which they distinguished. you might have thought him a stunted ogre. endeavoring to make the young man comprehend her fears. The duenna slept. Perhaps their love made them find faithful interpreters in the icy hands of the old priest to whom they confessed their sins. The latter raised his head and looked at her. Consequently. but certainly no passion was ever more perilous. 348 . an elegant figure.” In reply. His bodily frame. strengthened by youth. the pages were young and seemingly careless of what might happen. in short. etc.” The young nobleman had scarcely said these words in a low voice. to their masters. things indifferent to other men. At sight of them the lady trembled and betrayed herself. Tears were in his eyes. and elegant. Guarded by a tiger. It was easy to divine that to these two beings air. and the finest hair in the world. search out the meaning and the value of human actions. foot-falls. “Let us love each other and die!” To which the young knight answered. but her pallid skin told of secret sufferings that made her interesting. and from whom they received the Host at the holy table. Love may never have been more deeply felt than in those hearts. and permitting a mere pressure of the hand. like misers chinking their gold. “Let us love each other and not die. let yourself be managed. the woman seemed to say to her lover. she showed him a sign her old duenna and two pages. long resisted and could resist no longer a love increasing day by day through invincible obstacles. though deformed. nurtured by terror. accepting a look.things. That jealous husband would surely not fail to see the difference between a worthy old burgher who gave him no umbrage. slender. presented hidden qualities. she risked her life in whispering a word. and the new-comer. either of good or evil. moreover. no doubt.” she said. sound. “Do not be frightened as you leave the church. She had. young. was bony and solid. “Libera nos a malo. The lady was moderately handsome. and seemed both vigorous and excitable. Both had. Love profound! love gashed into the soul like a scar upon the body which we carry through life! When these two young people looked at each other.. an inevitable danger awaited the young lady whenever this terrible seigneur woke. never more delightfully enjoyed.

By a privilege seldom granted even to men of genius. but she could not prevent her face from blushing and her heart from beating with unnatural violence. Repenting himself for having slept. effacing himself behind a column at the moment when the hand of the old man fell. Without waiting for the end of the “Soecula soeculorum. The benediction was given. through which it was his custom to pass. a stream of persons detached itself from the flood which obstructed the great portals. after which he left his chapel. but seeing no one to distrust. and his wife was torn from him by a stranger. The lover. placing the duenna and the youngest page. with one eye on his mistress. after which he disappeared. he awoke with his mind as clear. The terrible hunchback saw at once that he had fallen into a trap that was cleverly prepared. but he suspected some treachery and he resolved to watch his treasure more carefully than before.” the crowd rushed like a torrent to the doors of the church. his ideas as lucid as though he had not slept at all.” she replied. then he gave his arm to his wife and told the other page to follow them. The old lord saw the unusual crimson on the cheeks. The mass was too compact to allow him to retrace his steps. before him. Following his usual custom. the old seigneur waited till the general hurry was over. carrying a lantern. my dear?” “The smell of the incense turns me sick. and his yellow eyes fixed themselves instantly on his wife. The man had the mania of jealousy. the wily old man pretended to believe in this excuse. and he now rose quickly. As he made his way to the lateral door which opened on the west side of the cloister. even the eyelids of his wife. “It is particularly bad to-day?” he asked. had watched the husband with the other. He looked about him cautiously. and poured through the side aisle around the old lord and his party. but at that instant he was pulled vigorously into the street. forehead. In spite of this sarcastic query. he said to his wife:— “What are you thinking of. The husband tried to pass out first. and he and his wife were therefore pushed onward to the door by the pressure of the multitude behind them. Feeling the cold iron he woke. The lady lowered her eyes to her book and tried to seem calm.Balzac when the hand of the old seigneur dropped upon the hilt of his dagger. dragging the lady by the arm. 349 . swiftly as a bird.

” “Ah!” she cried. “Alas!” said her lover.—and now that I see you all seems accomplished. but the ardor of love carried the day against jealous fury. especially those of the highest rank. Several among them. clasping hands. and a terrible voice howled out the words:— “To me. “Will you fly with me into the adjoining States?” said the young man. But he found himself surrounded and pressed upon by forty or fifty gentlemen whom it would be dangerous to wound. With the rapidity of lightning the abductor carried the countess into an open chapel and seated her behind the confessional on a wooden bench. eagerly. in hearing you speak to me. softly. sire de Saint-Vallier. A roar like that of a lion rose louder than the shouts of the multitude.— two or three plans.he collected his whole strength. and carried her off so rapidly. Poitiers! Servants of the Comte de Saint-Vallier.?” “True. and strove with his other hand to cling to the gate of the church. silenced by a difficulty he had not foreseen. “I did not reckon on the trouble I should feel in being near you. attempted to draw his sword and clear a space around him. seized his wife once more by the sleeve of her gown. with the strength of despair.” replied the young man. The young man took his mistress round the waist. able to do thirty leagues at a stretch. that the brocaded stuff of silk and gold tore noisily apart. By the light of the tapers burning before the saint to whom the chapel was dedicated. “in what corner of the world could you hide a daughter of King Louis XI.” 350 . The countess had not the cruel courage to reproach the young man for the boldness to which they owed this perilous and only instant of happiness. “Why did you tear me from my husband?” she asked in a sort of terror. answered him with jests as they dragged him along the cloisters. here! Help! help!” And the Comte Aymar de Poitiers. they looked at each other for a moment in silence. I have made plans. “Two English horses are awaiting us close by. and amazed at their own audacity. and the sleeve alone remained in the hand of the old man.

“he is won! You can safely trust him. turning pale and interrupting herself. tell him the tortures that his daughter has endured these five years.Balzac “But I am lost!” said the countess. then. Can I rely on— Oh!” she cried. he called me ‘Marie-full-of-grace. “here comes the page!” The poor countess put her hands before her face as if to veil it. “No one can deceive him. tell him that to master me the count bleeds me in both arms—to exhaust me. In the confessional. I could not gain admission to Plessis. “Poor darling! no one can speak to the king. everything is arranged to deceive him. When the count contrives to return for you he will warn us of his coming. how could I reach the king? My confessor himself is a spy of Saint-Vallier. letting the tears that rolled in her eyes flow down her cheeks. a friend of mine. some dreadful recollection giving her courage to confess the secrets of her marriage.” he added. to kiss her hands. That is why I have consented to this guilty meeting. “To-night he will know all. tears fell from her eyes. Tell him that my husband drags me about by the hair of my head. but an expression of sadness settled down on her face. to obtain a defender. that—” Her heart swelled. Therefore. sobs choked her throat. I have not dared complain.” At these words the tears of the poor woman stopped.— some one to tell the truth to the king. and placed you under his own protection in this chapel. who was muttering broken words. “We are saved!” the young man cried in the blind enthusiasm of his love. out of pity for the count. “Fear nothing. his anger would be terrible. in a low voice. she added: “Yes. Ah! if he knew the man to whom he gave me. Say that I am a prisoner.” she said. or we are lost!” 351 . who will tell him that he drew you for safety out of the crowd. Though my uncle is grand-master of his archers. Save me from his blows! Go to Plessis. perhaps! But go to the king. how she has suffered! Marie. “The count will kill me. let yourself say but two words. tell him—” she hesitated.—to-night. he belongs to me. He loved me well when I was little. “is a priest. In her agitation she allowed the young man. “Listen to me carefully!” “This will cost me my life!” she said. Besides.’ because I was ugly. see the king. My dear lady! my beautiful sovereign! oh.” said the young seigneur.

“But my husband?” she said. seeing on the dark wall a picture of the Virgin. petrified with horror. “God preserve me from ridding you of him in any other way. “I am so unhappy that you would never betray my trust.” said the young man. “This evening.” she added. trembling. on which the light from the lamp was falling. looking at him with dignity. For all answer the young seigneur made a gesture of horror. and I confide to you my honor. blushing.” “Ah!” he cried.” replied her lover.” said the young man. I can soon find my way to your apartment by the help of a silken ladder. “Here is something to put him to sleep. I have obtained a letter of recommendation to him which will make him receive me. she cried out:— “Holy Mother of God. drawing from his belt a little vial. But what is the good of all this? Go. with a look that made her drop her eyes. “I shall be with you in your room. “Not for always?” said the countess.” he replied. In a moment of despair I thought of killing him. Besides. and I 352 .” “Forgive me.” she said. “are you not my hope? You are a gentleman.” he said. sooner than that you should enter that house of Maitre Cornelius. His house is next to yours.“What will become of us?” she murmured. don’t go. give us counsel!” “To-night. “I would long ago have defied him to mortal combat if he were not so old.” he said. “if you love me don’t go to Maitre Cornelius. you will be made the victim of some sorcery. Once under the roof of that old thief.” “I cannot pay too dearly for the joy of serving you. Then. They were in such great peril that their tenderest words were devoid of love.” “Oh!” she said. “Oh. Do you not know that all his apprentices—” “Have been hanged. let me die. “you do indeed love me!” “Yes. “I am cruelly punished for my sins.” “How?” she asked naively. pressing her to his heart with all the force of his youth. laughing. “I shall offer myself as apprentice to Maitre Cornelius. the king’s silversmith.” said the countess.

“Monseigneur. The Comte de Saint-Vallier found his wife kneeling on the steps of the alter. surprised at the short time he had gained with his mistress and wondering at the celerity of the count. distressed by his silence. “The fear of awakening my husband will save us from ourselves. Accompanied by several friends and by servants bearing torches. came to the side of the countess and closed the iron railing before which the page was marching gravely up and down with the air of a watchman.” “I was wise to destroy that drug. “I deserve your blame. he reached the great portal safely. which was not refused. he hurried forward.” said the young man. An old canon suddenly issued from the confessional. Instantly the young nobleman. “To-night!” he said. the old priest standing beside her and reading his breviary.” she continued. my duty is to wait for the help of Heaven—that will I do!” She tried to leave the chapel.” she said.” she said in a voice that was faint with the pleasure of finding herself so loved.” “I pledge you my life. My sorrow is great that I have never yet been able to confess that wicked thought. “Ah!” cried the young man. You will see me to-night. A strong light now announced the coming of the count. pressing her hand.” said the page. We will then be united. the pope can annul my marriage. “Do not come. gliding from column to column in the long shadows which they cast athwart the nave. “order me to do so and I will kill him. snatched a kiss. giving him a look that was full of delightful hopes. At that sight the count shook the iron railing violently as if to give vent to his rage. slipping hastily from the chapel. “If the king is willing. going forward to meet him.” And she broke the vial by flinging it on the floor violently. rushing in.Balzac feared you might have the same desire. a naked sword in hand. I have shamed you.” she said. Thanks to the darkness. “my husband sleeps lightly. “Monseigneur comes!” cried the page. madame is there. 353 . His gloomy eyes seemed to pierce the shadows and to rake even the darkest corners of the cathedral. but I fear it would be repeated to him and he would avenge it.

he dared not look at his friends. on the site of an old fortification given by Charles VII. then he entered the chapel. The count. “Monsieur. to whom King Louis XI. in which his dwelling. “Father. Impatient to reach his home and preoccupied in searching for means to discover the truth.” said his wife. the usual residence of the king. The last house in this street was also the last in the town.” said the countess. it was easy to believe that the same architect had built them both and destined them for the use 354 . that is my husband. if sent for. gave his utmost confidence in those financial transactions which his crafty policy induced him to undertake outside of his own kingdom. to whom the courtiers.” The count turned pale with anger. father.“What do you want here. The priest took a key from his sleeve. was situated. he took his way through the tortuous streets which at that time separated the cathedral from the Chancellerie. I shall find some way to repay you. who gave me a refuge here. and seemed to be listening attentively to the sounds in the cathedral. Observing the outline of the houses occupied respectively by Maitre Cornelius and by the Comte de Poitiers. where other great seigneurs had their houses. a fine building recently erected by the Chancellor Juvenal des Ursins. Then he answered curtly: “Thank God. When his escort of servants had entered the courtyard and the heavy gates were closed. “you owe many thanks to this venerable canon. could go in a moment. The count reached at last the rue du Murier. for this new quarter of the town was near to Plessis. an old Brabantian merchant. a deep silence fell on the narrow street. It belonged to Maitre Cornelius Hoogworst. almost in spite of himself. cast a look into the confessional. who had come there more to laugh at him than to help him. called the hotel de Poitiers. with a drawn sword in a church?” asked the priest. to that faithful servant as a reward for his glorious labors. he signed to his servants and left the church without a word to the others who had accompanied him. His silence had something savage and sullen about it. and unlocked the railed door of the chapel. without allowing her to finish her curtsey to the canon.” He took his wife by the arm and.

But at this particular spot a deep silence reigned. The ill-joined shutters sent out streaks of light. The bays. and even a lover. trembled at the mere word “magic. Beneath the shadow of the steeples of Saint-Martin. the lover of the hapless countess passed in front of the hotel de Poitiers and paused for a moment to listen to the sounds made in the lower hall by the servants of the count. A young man would be readily impressed by this sudden contrast. As six o’clock was striking from the great tower of the Abbey SaintMartin. and both could be well defended against an angry populace. it is no wonder that the daring young seigneur stopped short before the house of the silversmith. About to fling himself into an enterprise that was horribly hazardous. Their corners were upheld by towers like those which lovers of antiquities remark in towns where the hammer of the iconoclast has not yet prevailed. was also under a ban.” Few indeed were the minds and the imaginations which disbelieved in occult facts and tales of the marvellous.—tales which caused such singular horror to the countess. resembling a small fortress. with murmurs of satisfaction which fancy can picture better than words can paint. the inhabitants were regaling themselves. how355 . Beyond them stretched the silent country. he continued his way to the adjoining house. these two mute dwellings. Each was sinister in aspect. the chimneys smoked. the home of the criminals of the State. which had little depth. The building opposite to them. seemed afflicted with leprosy. who were supping. The riots and the civil wars so frequent in those tumultuous times were ample justification for these precautions. and called to mind the many tales furnished by the life of Maitre Cornelius. After the conclusion of the church services. one of the daughters whom Louis XI. gave a great power of resistance to the iron shutters of the windows and doors. At this period a man of war. the young man had heard the joyous uproar of many feasts given throughout the town in honor of the day. Casting a glance at the window of the room where he supposed his love to be. All along his way.Balzac of tyrants. The lover of the Comtesse de Saint-Vallier. separated from the others in the same street and standing at the crooked end of it. because in these two houses lived two passions which never rejoiced. and the comforting odor of roasted meats pervaded the town. had in Dauphine by Madame de Sassenage.

and the hesitation that now took possession of the lover. and to make them share the alarms of that olden time. it is necessary to interrupt the course of this narrative and cast a rapid glance on the preceding life and adventures of Maitre Cornelius.ever bold he might be in other respects. was likely to think twice before he finally entered the house of a so-called sorcerer. in order to make the readers of this nineteenth century understand how such commonplace events could be turned into anything supernatural. But. The history of Maitre Cornelius Hoogworst will fully explain the security which the silversmith inspired in the Comte de Saint-Vallier. the terror of the countess. 356 .

in short. Duke of Burgundy. to their epoch. he had spent considerable sums in order to put the treasures he brought with him in safety. the king went to the house of the Fleming for those diversions with which King Louis XI. The strange inventions made for him secretly by the locksmiths of the town. which had made him the object of general execration.Balzac CHAPTER II THE TORCONNIER CORNELIUS HOOGWORST. the other his religion. all of which was rarely done by Louis XI. During those years extraordinary events had happened in his house. Venice. the one his conscience. The king was conscious of the advantages he could gain from a man connected with all the principal commercial houses of Flanders. they discarded and resumed with equal facility. The monarch pleased the Fleming as much as the Fleming pleased the monarch. the other by policy. the curious precautions taken in bring357 . having drawn upon himself the enmity of Charles. both pleasure and profit in lending himself to the capricious pleasures of his royal client. distrustful. ennobled. and miserly. The old Fleming found. On his first arrival. one of the richest merchants in Ghent. he naturalized. Wily. both of them. equally learned. they loved the same Virgin. and the Levant. one by conviction. no doubt. understanding each other marvellously. Cornelius had now lived nine years in the city of Tours. if we may believe the jealous tales of Olivier de Daim and Tristan. and flattered Maitre Cornelius. found refuge and protection at the court of Louis XI. equally politic. superior. History has taken care to transmit to our knowledge the licentious tastes of a monarch who was not averse to debauchery. diverted himself.

which. factotum. and a young apprentice. and the drama of each day eclipsed that of the night before. served him as secretary. a youth with a gentle. a robbery of considerable amount took place in his house.ing those locksmiths to his house in a way to compel their silence. Louis XI. The young man was feeble and he died under the sufferings of the “question” protesting his innocence. cashier. Maitre Cornelius had brought with him from Ghent two Flemish valets. and courier. not omitting to attribute all this fabulous wealth to compacts with Magic. doing his business by means of Jews. but when the judge required them to say where the stolen property could be found. were long the subject of countless tales which enlivened the evening gatherings of the city. More grieved by the loss he had met with than by the death of his three servants. pleasing face. On their way to the scaffold they declared themselves innocent. In those days wars and seditions furnished endless excitements. Some time after this affair. the king himself procured for his old “torconnier” a young orphan in whom he took an interest. seeing no one but the king. were again put to the torture. and the interest felt in their unhappy fate soon evaporated. and lived from that moment in the deepest solitude. The old miser had his two valets and the secretary put in prison. shrewd calculators. an old woman. and hanged. judged. During the first year of his settlement in Tours. according to the custom of all persons about to be executed. the latter. and judicial inquiry showed that the crime must have been committed by one of its inmates. called Maitre Cornelius familiarly by that obsolete term. who. his sister. un358 . condemned. He obtained permission from the king to use state couriers for his private affairs. Consequently the narrators of that region—the home of the tale in France—built rooms full of gold and precious tones in the Fleming’s house. The valets confessed the crime to escape torture. but the criminals were Flemish. served him well in order to gain his all-powerful protection. they kept silence. Maitre Cornelius lived alone in his house with the old Flemish woman. The city of Tours talked much of this singular affair. sold his mules to a muleteer of the neighborhood. These singular artifices on the part of the old man made every one suppose him the possessor of Oriental riches.

The epithet. In course of time. and little by little it came to be believed that all the victims whom the king’s silversmith had sent to the scaffold were innocent. their complaints obtained a hearing. explains the old word torconnier. showed plainly that the robbers had secret communication with its inmates.—that these melancholy executions were the result of cool calculations. and sought to put terror and gibbets between himself and his fellowmen.” The poor young orphan devoted himself carefully to the affairs of the old Fleming. of course. a man who pressed others by violent means. The first effect of these rumors was to isolate Maitre Cornelius. the manner in which they were perpetrated. and Cornelius as an executioner. Guilty or not guilty. fell on the orphan. and eager to make their fortunes. Some persons declared that the cruel miser imitated the king. the unfortunate secretary was hanged. The inhabitants of Tours blamed Tristan l’Hermite secretly for unseemly haste. During a winter’s night. the old Fleming laid the matter before Louis XI. meant a usurer. two young men of the town. the young Touraineans were looked upon as victims.” which remains to this day in our legal phraseology. a collector of imposts. If the Fleming had found strang359 . Touraineans. After a very brief and summary examination by the grand provost. and that their real object was to relieve him of all fear for his treasure. others said that he had never been robbed at all. pleased him much.. Robberies coincided with the admission of the two young men into the house. Become by this time more than ever suspicious and vindictive. A trial was promptly had and promptly ended. “tortionnaire. certain diamonds deposited with Maitre Cornelius by the King of England as security for a sum of a hundred thousand crowns were stolen.” and named his house Malemaison. was all the more severe because he had answered for the youth’s fidelity. who placed it in the hands of his grand provost.—took service with the silversmith.—men of honor. which we often find spelt “tortionneur. and was soon high in his good graces. After that no one dared for a long time to learn the arts of banking and exchange from Maitre Cornelius. The two families thus thrown into mourning were much respected. The Touraineans treated him like a leper. The circumstances of these crimes. Louis XI.Balzac der the reign of Saint-Louis. and suspicion. called him the “tortionnaire. however.

yet always he returned there. others he impressed with the deep respect that most men feel for limitless power and money. ill-luck will happen to you. and Asiatic superstition has called the “evil eye. he went regularly to the services. Some he inspired with instinctive terror. the populace. Such royal solicitude made the courtiers believe that the old miser had bequeathed his property to Louis XI. long remembered in Tours. a chapel in perpetuity. though capricious in his manner of doing so. ill-turns of fortune among the Touraineans. Even at court most persons attributed to Cornelius that fatal influence which Italian.” Without the terrible power of Louis XI. On certain days he refused to give them a penny.— always at high interest and on good security. which was stretched like a mantle over that house.” Passing in front of the Fleming explained all sudden pains and evils. involuntary sadness. on the slightest opportunity. would have demolished La Malemaison.ers to the town bold enough to enter it. His way of life. the Duke of Burgundy. A good Catholic. and the Touraineans at that time regarded him as their good genius.. He lent them money rather liberally. Spanish. his countenance. but the lords of the court paid him frequent visits. Some inexplicable power brought him back to his dismal house in the rue 360 . At Tours he was gloomy and absorbed. while to a few he certainly possessed the attraction of mystery. as elsewhere. and during his absence the king caused his premises to be guarded by a detachment of his own Scottish guard. the next day he would offer them large sums. justified all the tales of which he had now become the subject. A popular proverb of that day. and as he had purchased there. always attending the earliest mass at Saint-Martin. The most favorable opinion of Maitre Cornelius was that of persons who thought him merely baneful. was the saying: “You passed in front of the Fleming. When at home. And yet Cornelius had been the first to plant mulberries in Tours. he was separated even in church from other Christians. Who shall reckon on popular favor! A few seigneurs having met Maitre Cornelius on his journeys out of France were surprised at his friendliness and good-humor. and the favor of the king. that “evil house” in the rue du Murier. Cornelius travelled much in foreign lands after the death of his persecutor. the torconnier went out but little. the inhabitants would have warned them against doing so.

‘Pasques-Dieu! I don’t steal what I can take. “don’t put bad ideas into my head. with the malicious look at his barber. as it were. “You wish he did. Like a snail. there!” said the king. to his barber. This fact seemed the more extraordinary because it was known to be the miser’s custom to lock up his sister at night in a bedroom with iron-barred windows.Balzac du Murier. waiting for the hour of the witches’ sabbath. and always fearful of being duped by men.” “And yet that old brigand overcharges you. “My crony the torconnier knows very well that I shall not plunder him unless for good reason. who was thought a witch. with the one exception of the king. Cornelius. a few days before the festival of All-Saints.” said Louis XI. I had carried off a string of rubies he wanted to sell me. the inheritance would be a fine one between you and the devil!” “There. the torconnier. died.” For the last two years Maitre Cornelius had lived entirely alone with his aged sister. otherwise I should be unjust. “The devil is amusing himself at the expense of our crony. the place would be the most dangerous spot on earth for him. became closer 361 . like most misers. the assimilation. don’t you?” replied the king. constantly robbed. by chance. on the roof of the house. sire. whom he greatly respected. whose life is so firmly attached to its shell. “He says he has been robbed again. As he grew older. The old vagabond came and asked me if.’ I said to him. but he can’t hang anybody this time unless he hangs himself. “Ventre-Mahom. but.” replied the king. yet he knew very well that whenever Louis XI. his passion for gold.” “Was he frightened?” asked the barber. of that metal with his own substance. My crony is a more faithful man than those whose fortunes I have made— perhaps because he owes me nothing. came to hate mankind. A tailor in the neighborhood declared that he had often seen her at night. “Misers are afraid of only one thing. and I have never done anything but what is just and necessary.” said the barber. he admitted to the king that he was never at ease except under the bolts and behind the vermiculated stones of his little bastille. He fell into extreme misanthropy.

The old woman rarely took bread from the baker. and many of them came into the town to look at his house out of mere curiosity. in a crisis of his life. This mental deliberation was so painfully interesting that he did not feel the cold wind as it whistled round the corner of the building. Though quite decided through the violence of his love to enter that house. and age intensified it. as already he had laid aside the handsome garments of nobility. Cornelius was a chimerical being. The young man called to mind the many traditions which made Cornelius a personage both curious and formidable. According to many of the country-people to whom the townsfolk talked of him.and closer. more rapacious than her brother whom she actually surpassed in penurious inventions. and tinting with a mixture of light and shade the hollows and reliefs of the carvings. The young seigneur whom we left in front of that house looked about him. and chilled his legs. His sister herself excited his suspicions. he could not claim the privileges of his rank nor the protection of his friends without bringing hopeless ruin on the Comtesse de Saint-Vallier. On entering that house. first at the hotel de Poitiers. If her husband suspected the nocturnal visit of a lover. that the least credulous of the townspeople ended by attributing to these strange beings the knowledge of some secret for the maintenance of life. he was capable of roasting her alive in an iron cage. 362 . But where is the man who. Their daily existence had something mysterious and problematical about it. and then at the evil house. all the while aware that he should certainly take it. In case of mishap. he hesitated to take the final step. though she was perhaps more miserly. The moonbeams were creeping round their angles. it seemed as if Nature herself encouraged the superstitions that hung about the miser’s dwelling. he must lay aside his name. she appeared so seldom in the market. Men of science averred that he had found the Universal Panacea. Those who dabbled in alchemy declared that Maitre Cornelius had the power of making gold. the young man feared to die before he had been received for love’s sake by the countess. does not willingly listen to presentiments as he hangs above the precipice? A lover worthy of being loved. The caprices of this white light gave a sinister expression to both edifices. the home of his mistress. and stay there long enough to accomplish his design.

could he only kiss once more the hand of his lady. to say no word that would not lead to death or at least to sanguinary combat if overheard. his ribbed socks.—a custom fallen elsewhere into desuetude. Soon the town. However slight might be the guerdon of his enterprise. during the sleep of a dangerous husband. to defy both heaven and earth in snatching the boldest of all kisses. but still observed in the provinces. except through the roofs. the watchmen of each quarter stretched the chains across the streets. In those days the roofs of houses were much frequented after dark. to descend the chimney. whose snores would double their joy. He never supposed for a moment that the countess would refuse him the soft happiness of love in the midst of such mortal danger. his linsey-woolsey breeches. garroted as it were. armed to the teeth and bearing lanterns. Looking down at the shabby clothing in which he had disguised himself. This perilous occupation was long the amusement of King Charles IX. the steps of a few belated burghers.—all these voluptuous images and romantic dangers decided the young man. The adventure was too perilous. to risk his life to kneel beside her on a silken cushion before a glowing fire. and renounce the privileges of his rank. his stout shoes. attended by their servants. His black leather belt.Balzac or of killing her by degrees in the dungeons of a fortified castle. impelled by the chivalrous and passionate spirit of those days. the young 363 . Though the lights were not put out. and safe from robbers and evil-doers. and even in Paris. To a noble of the fifteenth century it was like death itself to play the part of a beggarly burgher. too impossible not to be attempted and carried out. in his youth. and his gray woollen doublet made him look like the clerk of some povertystricken justice. or creep along from gutter to gutter to the window of her room. echoed in the distance. he still resolved to venture all. seemed to be asleep. Fearing to present himself too late to the old silversmith. if we may believe the memoirs of his day. The streets were so narrow in the provincial towns. that robbers could jump from the roofs on one side to those on the other. Suddenly all the bells in the town rang out the curfew. Many doors were locked. the young nobleman felt ashamed. where venerable habits are abolished slowly. But—to climb the roof of the house where his mistress wept.

On each side of the door was a face framed in a species of loophole. his attention was excited by a sort of vision. “Who is there?” “A friend. then he saw in each hollow face. motionless. The uneasy gleam of those eyes was turned on him so fixedly that. projecting. sent by Oosterlinck.”— perhaps with reference to horns and hoofs. which echoed within the house as if it were the entrance to a cave. At first he took these two faces for grotesque masks carved in stone. a feverish tumult rose in his soul.” “What do you want?” “To enter. but the cold air and the moonlight presently enabled him to distinguish the faint white mist which living breath sent from two purplish noses. were doubtless those of Cornelius and his sister. during which he examined the singular sight. he felt like a bird at which a setter points. discolored were they. then he walked straight to the door and struck three blows upon it. and an eye appeared at a small and very strong iron grating. He rubbed his eyes to clear his sight. so angular. distorted. two eyes of porcelain blue casting clear fire. on looking at it.” “Your name?” “Philippe Goulenoire. and a thousand diverse sentiments passed through his mind at the spectacle before him. and whether this were the house named on a card which he drew from his pocket and pretended to read in the moonlight. of Brussels.” “Have you brought credentials?” “Here they are.nobleman now went up to the door of the Malemaison intending to knock. A faint light crept beneath the threshold. strained and suspicious.” “Where is it?” “To your left.” 364 . The two faces. The young man feigned to be looking about him to see where he was.” “Pass them through the box. after receiving it for fully a minute. which the writers of those days would have called “cornue. but he quickly repressed it. like those of a wolf crouching in the brushwood as it hears the baying of the hounds. beneath the shadow of the eyebrows. when.

he heard Cornelius saying to his sister. A toothless old woman with a hatchet face. But as he ate. then he returned to his seat. but.” she said to Philippe. where there was no fire. opened to the slightest distance through which a man could pass. he couldn’t take more precautions at Plessis. her hollow temples composed apparently of only bones and nerves. Philippe heard the bolts run. “The devil!” thought he. showed that the miserly pair were eating their suppers. the eyebrows projecting like the handles of a cauldron. Cornelius examined the false apprentice with as much care and scrutiny as if he were weighing an old coin. the nose and chin so near together that a nut could scarcely pass between them. —a pallid. he was careful not to glance. Philippe Goulenoire (so called) next beheld the brother and sister dipping their sops into the egg in turn. Philippe squeezed himself rather than walked into La Malemaison. while Cornelius followed prudently behind him. Two stools placed beside the table. and with the utmost gravity and the same precision with which soldiers dip their spoons in regular rotation into the mess-pot.Balzac Philippe Goulenoire put the letter through the slit of an iron box above which was a loophole.” He waited for more than a quarter of an hour in the street. showing him a three-legged stool placed at the corner of a carved stone fireplace. even 365 . “Close the traps of the door. with the circumspection dictated by all amorous enterprises. on which was an egg in a plate and ten or a dozen little bread-sops. was tempted to look about him. on one of which the old woman sat down. and presently a small low door. iron-bound. At the risk of tearing off his clothing. as they say he does. the locks creak.—guided the “soi-disant” foreigner silently into a lower room. no doubt. “Sit there. closing. haggard creature. On the other side of the chimney-piece was a walnut table with twisted legs. Cornelius went to the door and pushed two iron shutters into their place. This performance was done in silence. the loopholes through which they had been gazing into the street. hard and dry and cut with studied parsimony. Philippe. feeling that an icy mantle had descended on his shoulders. After that lapse of time. “plainly the king comes here.” A clinking of chains resounded from within.

“Three-quarters at Brussels. he perspired in his harness.’s silversmith resembled that monarch. one in Ghent. but by raising them a little he could flash out a lucid. Louis XI. These remains of a magnificent costume. penetrating.furtively. therefore. formerly worn by him as president of the tribunal of the Parchons. He was certainly not an ordinary miser. His thin lips. no doubt. a species of robe made of black velvet. but his lofty. as often happens where persons dwell together in a sort of intimacy.” “Any news at Ghent?” “The brother of Lieven d’Herde is ruined. the springs of which had been lowered by experience until the cruel teachings of life had driven it back into the farthest recesses of this most singular human being. Philippe was not cold. at the walls. open in front. and his passion covered. the sumptuous material being defaced and shiny. the old man covered his knee with the skirt of his dalmatian. vertically wrinkled. projecting forehead. occasionally contemplating his future master. by looking first at the egg and then at the old woman. “What is the present rate of Venetian sequins?” he said abruptly to his future apprentice. functions which had won him the enmity of the Duke of Burgundy. The lower part of his face bore a vague resemblance to the muzzle of a fox. The thick eyebrows of the Fleming almost covered his eyes. was now a mere rag. showed great and splendid qualities and a nobility of soul.” “What is the freight on the Scheldt?” “Three sous parisis. and to whom the phenomenon of the concentration of inward forces has become familiar.” “Ah!” After giving vent to that exclamation. dreading further questions. with many lines. for he fully understood that if Cornelius detected him. extreme enjoyments and secret conceptions. Until then the brief information obtained that morning 366 . gave him an air of indescribable craftiness. he would not allow so inquisitive a person to remain in his house. He had even acquired the same gestures. He contented himself. the glance of men habituated to silence. powerful glance. with large sleeves and no collar.

the chains are up in the streets. You know. listening attentively to some sound. The solemn gravity of the terrible Fleming reacted upon him. she looked at the new inmate as if to gauge the capacity of the stomach she might have to fill. “Come. But the young man who. 367 . “you can come back and see me tomorrow.” he said. I have done without an apprentice for some years. hey!” “And suppose he steals those Bavarian jewels? Tiens. and I shall be put in prison. alarmed.” he whispered in his sister’s ear. and remembered how the grand provost Tristan and his rope were at the orders of Maitre Cornelius. your hair and moustache are as black as the devil’s tail. However.” “Hey! by Saint-Bavon. “if it is your good pleasure.Balzac from a Jew whose life he had formerly saved. He felt himself under lock and key.” “Hush!” exclaimed the old man. thanks to his good memory and the perfect knowledge the Jew possessed of the manners and habits of Maitre Cornelius.” The oath seemed to affect the old man singularly. “Have you supped?” asked the silversmith. “Silence. I am a Fleming. had sufficed him. a noise produced by the steps of several men echoed in the distance on the other side of the moat of the town. frightened at the eagerness he was showing in his words. in the first flush of his enterprise. I wish to sleep upon the matter. A moment after the “Hush!” uttered by Cornelius. in a tone which signified. I don’t know a soul in this place.” The old maid trembled in spite of her brother’s tone. “In his letter Oosterlinck tells me he will answer for this young man. monsieur. “Well then. had feared nothing was beginning to perceive the difficulties it presented. Besides. you shall sleep here. Both misers listened. come.” he added.” replied Cornelius. he looks more like a thief than a Fleming. and said with a specious smile:— “You have not stolen your name.” “But—” said his sister. “You are not to sup. “we have a hundred thousand francs belonging to Oosterlinck? That’s a hostage. by Saint-Bavon indeed.” “I have supped.” replied the miser. of course I will go.

a mismatched pitcher and 368 . It was wainscoted in oak to the chair-strip. beside the hall in which they had been sitting. the round well of which rose through a high turret. that’s a good deal!” At this moment the old sibyl returned with the key. the moon casting. all of stone. and the walls above were hung with yellow leather stamped with black arabesques. a stool.“It is the Plessis guard on their rounds. The young nobleman took note of all this through the loopholes on the spiral staircase.” replied Philippe. The pair went out beneath the portico and mounted a spiral stone staircase. in a meaning tone of voice. “I have but little money. without light?” cried Cornelius. At the farther end. which.” said Cornelius. “but I know good tricks in business. A cot. through an iron railing. “Give me the key of the apprentice’s room. “No. This new and terrible weapon lay close to Cornelius.” The sister understood the meaning hidden beneath these words and left the room. no.” said Cornelius. If you will pay me a sou on every mark I earn for you. that will satisfy me. “The devil! this nook is the place where the king takes his ease. The old woman made a gesture as if to take the lamp. “Come. “How do you expect to earn your living with me?” said the latter. “At your age can’t you see in the dark? It isn’t difficult to find a key. was narrow and dark. could be seen a wretched garden in which nothing grew but the mulberries which Cornelius had introduced. cold and without ornament of any kind. fortunately. It was a little room. “Do you mean to leave us alone. a brilliant light. The tower stood in the middle of the facade on the courtyard.” The architect had constructed the room given to the apprentice under the pointed roof of the tower in which the staircase wound.” said the sister. but what struck the young man most was a match-lock pistol with its formidable trigger. At the first floor up the young man paused.” said Cornelius to Philippe.” “A sou! a sou!” echoed the miser. “why. like the courtyards of all provincial houses. Philippe Goulenoire was able to hide from Cornelius the glance which he hastily cast about the room. Looking at this singular creature as she walked towards the door.

“Suppose it is my last farewell!” he said to himself.Balzac basin formed the entire furniture of the room. Throwing himself on his pallet to reflect on his course. “Here is your lodging. He stood there. took away the key and descended the staircase. the slightest noise on the staircase sounded in the room of the apprentices. Every point of this lovely nature had. no doubt. in a little garret from which so many of his predecessors had gone to the scaffold. where lights were gleaming in the deep recesses of a few windows. and 369 . seated on a stool. Good night! Do not leave this room as the others did. so that Philippe did not lose a single movement of the miser and his sister who were watching him.” said Cornelius. Thence he saw the Loire. The soul of the young seigneur could not repress a sad and tender emotion. His mistress illumined each difficulty. A feeble cry. according. Alone. the beautiful slopes of Saint-Cyr. the young fellow felt like a wild beast caught in a trap. a mysterious grace. He listened attentively. the waters. placed at intervals in the outside wall of the tower. the gloomy marvels of Plessis. at that moment. reached his ear. without light. pretended to sleep. but a supernatural being seen through the incense of his desires. He undressed. The light could enter only through square openings. lay down. feeling already the terrible emotions his adventure offered him.” said by the old woman. restored him to himself and to a sense of his true situation. He jumped upon the stool and raised himself to his full height in order to reach one of the little openings through which a faint light shone. the roofs of the houses shone like diamonds in the trembling light of the moon. nevertheless. Cornelius double-locked the door. leaving the young nobleman as much befooled as a bellfounder when on opening his mould he finds nothing. To him she was no longer a woman. “it is plain and solid and contains all that is needed for sleep. the windows. to the exterior ornamentation. and the whispered words. By an accident unknown probably to the architect. which he fancied came from the hotel de Poitiers. Far in the distance lay the beautiful meadows of Touraine and the silvery stream of her river. he heard a slight movement which echoed faintly from the spiral staircase.” After giving his apprentice a last look full of many meanings. “He has gone to bed. and yielding to the fears of a prisoner who. retains some glimmer of hope.

the young man had brought with him. and on the other a blade that was toothed like a saw. concealed under his clothes. and thought he could recognize the position of their apartments. not without great difficulty. This horrible weapon had on one side a blade sharpened like a razor. He was not a little astonished to find a door wide open which led down a corridor to several chambers. at the end of which corridor was a window opening on a depression caused by the junction of the 370 . To accomplish this daring project he must leave his room. The young man studied carefully the sounds they made in doing so. Happily for him the staple of the lock was put on to the outside of the door by four stout screws. He then resolved to get out upon the roof of the house through the window of the staircase on the second floor. in seeking means to get from his prison to the hotel de Poitiers. they must. he believed. Like all the houses of that period. believed he could make his way from the tower to the roof. But he did not count on the narrowness of the loopholes of the tower. but toothed in the reverse direction from that by which it would enter the body. from which its windows projected. About ten o’clock Cornelius and his sister. convinced that their new inmate was sleeping. concealing the gutters for the rain water which gargoyles in the form of crocodile’s heads discharged into the street. and he went down the stairs without his shoes to reconnoitre the localities.employed the time during which the pair remained on the staircase. adorned with spandrel tops that were richly sculptured. after studying this topography as carefully as a cat. By the help of his dagger he managed. The young seigneur. By way of precaution. By midnight he was free. it was impossible to pass through them. occupy the whole second floor. this floor was next below the roof. The roof itself was edged with a sort of balustrade. to unscrew and remove it altogether. carefully laying it aside and the four screws with it. retired to their rooms. The young man determined to use this latter blade to saw through the wood around the lock. and thence to Madame de Vallier’s by the gutters and the help of a gargoyle. one of those poignards formerly used to give the “coup de grace” in a duel when the vanquished adversary begged the victor to despatch him. and Cornelius had carried off the key.

With the instinct given by love. Having made up his mind on that point. he felt weak. Once at liberty under the open sky. In this extremity Philippe. pressing himself back into the angle of it. Nothing could express his joy. but one thing he was resolved upon. like the hour of death to a criminal. and awaited the old man. at the entrance of which he stood like a spectre. The terrible old miser advanced. but he turned and retraced his steps. The young man then rushed to his room. Perhaps the extreme agitation of his danger of the boldness of the enterprise caused his emotion. “If I open the window and jump upon the roofs.” thought the young man. opened it softly and jumped upon the roof. he slipped into a doorway. his eyes open to their fullest extent and fixed upon the corridor.Balzac roofs of the hotel de Poitiers and that of the Malemaison which met there. caught up his dagger and returned to the blessed window. came into line with the current of air which the young man could send from his lungs. He leaned against the balustrade. so happy was he. Cornelius muttered vague words and swore a Dutch oath. fastened a silken ladder to it. when to his horror. holding his lamp in advance of him. When Cornelius. threw the ladder down the chimney and risked himself upon it. the lamp was blown out. unless it be the vow which he instantly made to the Blessed Virgin to found a mass in her honor in the celebrated parish church of the Escrignoles at Tours. After examining the tall broad chimneys of the hotel de Poitiers he returned upon his steps to fetch his dagger. victory is often as perilous as battle. and to the chance of not having mistaken his mistress’s room. he went to all and felt them to discover in which there had been a fire. he will hear me. he would hold the countess in his arms if it cost the life of two men. carrying a lamp. He knew not whether Saint-Vallier was asleep or awake. instigated by love. recovered his presence of mind. 371 . quivering with joy and saying to himself:— “By which chimney can I get to her?” He looked at them all. trusting to his good blade. he beheld a vivid light on the staircase and saw Maitre Cornelius himself in his dalmatian. the daring young fellow stuck his dagger securely in a joint between two stones.

he bent more gently still and saw the countess seated in an armchair. Pale with joy and palpitating. 372 .Presently his feet gently touched the warm embers. We may well believe their burning silent kisses echoed only in their hearts. the timid creature showed him. Saint-Vallier lying in a bed about ten feet from her. by the light of the lamp. and she saw him.

I have found the thief who stole the rubies and all the jewels of the Duke of—” “Let us hear about that.Balzac CHAPTER III THE ROBBERY OF THE JEWELS OF THE DUKE OF BAVARIA THE NEXT DAY. and the captain of his Scottish guard. The group paused under a tree. about nine in the morning. was leaving his chapel after hearing mass. going out into the courtyard of Plessis. he found Maitre Cornelius on his path. “Tell me about it. as Louis XI. one hundred thousand francs of whose money I 373 . who was walking up and down the courtyard. like a dog who exhibits his fidelity. followed by his silversmith. wagging his head. Tristan!” The grand provost. “Good luck to you. How could I distrust a beggar recommended to me by Oosterlinck. Another man to hang for you! Hola. came with slow steps. I would willingly pay a thousand gold crowns if I could have a moment’s talk with you. “Sire. “Oh. bitterly. Coyctier his physician. The king sat down on a bench and the courtiers made a circle about him.. shoving up his cap in his hasty way. Olivier de Daim. “He must be crafty indeed. that fellow!” exclaimed Louis.” said Louis XI. “Sire. yes!” replied the silversmith. a man who pretended to be a Fleming has got the better of me—” began Cornelius. crony. “But methinks he’d have snared you yourself.” he said.

the glory of your reign is concerned in it! there ought not to be robbers in the land under so great a king. “take you hold of it. I will wager the Jew’s letter and seal were forged! In short. mounted on his mule. you are the accomplice of fellows who come in boats. He meant to stay with me. He had forced the lock of his door. I felt one under my feet when I entered the room. who is. This time we don’t lack proof. Presently he saw Cornelius. assuredly. and the courtiers left him alone. “This is your business. who promptly disappeared down the 374 . He must have had accomplices. A deep silence reigned. gentlemen.” Louis XI. and ruin me. To-morrow. tired out. rather. the bold wretch! But where are the jewels? The country-folks coming into town early saw him on the roof. Happily. who waited for him by that embankment you have been making.” He rose. the beggar. smiled. walked a few steps away. the moon was down and he couldn’t find all the screws. He was sound asleep. crack! they get off with everything. we shall know all. Ah.hold in my hands. sire.” The king was not listening. As soon as I missed the jewels I went up to the room of that apprentice. Just fancy. He had fallen into one of those gloomy meditations which became so frequent during the last years of his life. I’ll roast him alive. I found myself this morning robbed of those jewels you admired so much. and leave no traces! But we hold this fellow as a key. night after night. sire. the bold scoundrel! ah! a fine morsel he’ll be for the gallows. “Where are those thousand gold crowns?” he called to him. They have been ravished from me. “Ah! sire. he got down into my strong-room by the chimney. you are too great a king! there is no sum that can pay for your justice.” he said at length to Tristan. sire! To steal the jewels of the Elector of Bavaria! those scoundrels respect nothing! they’ll steal your kingdom if you don’t take care. riding away in company with the grand provost. a past-master in thieving. The courtiers envied the frank speech and privileges of the old silversmith. With a little bit of questioning beforehand. But when he got back to his room. He had a silk ladder. and his clothes were covered with marks of his clambering over the roof and down the chimney. or to-night. Why.

lacking the moonlight. He saw himself on a cushion at the feet of the countess. everything. the best-loved natural daughter of Louis XI. more fire about them. his head on her knees in the ardor of his love. He promised her to go on the morrow and reveal her wrongs to that terrible father. he listened to the story of her persecutions and the details of the count’s tyranny. The false Goulenoire was being watched by the old sister. While the king’s silversmith rode back from Plessis. he had no patience to look for them. in which all else conspired. who was. the young seigneur had indeed fallen soundly asleep. but the events of the day and the agitations of the night did not allow him to keep faith with himself. Happiness is forgetful.Balzac avenue of young mulberries which led from Tours to Plessis. the colors of the stuffs and the tapestries were more vivid. But in the young man’s dream the gleam of the lamp. Cornelius no longer seemed formidable to the young man when he threw himself on the pallet where so many poor wretches had wakened to their doom. he assured her. the husband banished. Exhausted with fatigue. make a sort of compact with himself to awake at daybreak. those tender entreat375 . and this light-hearted heedlessness proved his ruin. the marriage broken off. seated on the corkscrew staircase oblivious of the cold. he grew pitiful over the poor lady. which had so far served him well. in truth. With the “laisser-aller” of a tired man. The young man continued to dream of the secret delights of that charming night. He had even postponed till the morrow the cleaning of his soiled garments. however. of which they might both be the victims if the slightest noise awakened him. The Marie of his sleep resisted far less than the living Marie those adoring looks. accompanied by the grand provost and his redoubtable archers. should be settled as they wished. ignorant of the danger that was galloping towards him. he no longer felt the same ardor and courage to defend himself against distant or imaginary dangers with which he had rushed into the perils of the night. more of love was in the air. Returning from his gallant adventure. a great blunder. than there had been in the actual scene. He did. It was true that.—and all this within reach of that husband’s sword. he had missed finding all the screws of that cursed lock. the flame of their eyes. he trusted to his luck. and knitting socks for Cornelius.

in order to dissolve a marriage it was necessary to go to Rome. then. the spring and principle of his highest resolutions. In those days. who seeks God on the roofs. Nearly every woman in those days had sufficient power to establish her empire over the heart of a man in a way to make that passion the history of his whole life. that she might sacrifice it to him later. and the honor of women demands that it be left. she permitted him to die for her. and observing the diabolical faces ex376 . midnight Christian. Marie de SaintVallier granted to her lover all the superficial rights of the tender passion. his sister. she accepted the devotion and life of her lover. and to be their lover it was necessary to incur great dangers. those voluptuous solicitations. but farther than that she would not go. Which of the two was the reality? Did the false apprentice in his dream see the true woman? Had he seen in the hotel de Poitiers a lady masked in virtue? The question is difficult to decide. to obtain the help of certain cardinals. they had forms of noble pride. At that sight. Following the amorous jurisprudence of the period. and shed into the soul a fresh delirium at each new step in love. She willingly allowed him to kiss her foot. her hands. in litigation. Marie was firm in maintaining her liberty to love. those false generosities. her robe. as it were. and to appear before the sovereign pontiff in person armed with the approval of the king. and she made her deliverance the price of the highest rewards of his love. she yielded to an intoxication which the sternness of her semi-chastity increased. Women were a power in France.ies. often their love cost blood. her throat. which render the first moments of a passion so completely ardent. they were so many sovereigns. wake up!” The young man saw the black face of Tristan l’Hermite above him. he saw Cornelius. and behind them the provost guard. she avowed her love. At the moment when the Marie of the dream may have been about to forget her high dignity as mistress. the lover felt himself seized by an iron hand. those adroit silences. and recognized his sardonic smile. on the steps of the corkscrew staircase. their lovers belonged to them far more than they gave themselves to their lovers. But the Marie of his dream made small defence against the young seigneur’s ardent entreaties. and the sour voice of the grand provost said to him:— “Come.

“that’s the speech of a noble. then. rob me. The grand provost was engaged in attentively examining Georges 377 . then he said to Cornelius. “Ha! the damned thief. He is a noble. “Now is the time to play our knives.Balzac pressing either hatred or curiosity of persons whose business it was to hang others. I shall recover my dear rubies. the villain! I want to see his feet warmed in your pretty boots. “Mort-Dieu!” he cried. But the myrmidons of the grand provost were accustomed to such proceedings. and all the sums I have lost. having disarmed him.” “Say a thief!” cried the torconnier. When Georges d’Estouteville reached the stairs they seized him dexterously. they bound his hands. He is. he confesses!” cried the miser. which was under the pillow. the so-called Philippe Goulenoire sat up on his pallet and rubbed his eyes. seizing his dagger. made by a man who was really in despair. ho!” cried Tristan. comrades!” After that outcry. who know all my secrets. I don’t doubt it. murder me! They have grown rich out of me. help to me. Ha! this time we shall get back the treasure. Tristan looked silently at the prisoner’s hands. “My good Tristan. open my locks. nor of an apprentice. smiling. pointing to them:— “Those are not the hands of a beggar.” “Oh. the nephew of the grand master of the archers. who stood motionless and thoughtful. Methinks I see Georges d’Estouteville. and our worthy king shall have his share in the harvest. our hiding-places are much more secure than yours!” said Georges.” “Ho. for the fellow has the face of the king of Egypt. the blade of which fortunately slipped on the corselet of a guard. young d’Estouteville thought less of himself than of the dangers his recognition would bring upon his unfortunate mistress. and reached the landing. Hearing his real name uttered by Tristan. the young courtier gave a bound. he has ruined me. Tristan. dagger in hand. To avert suspicion he cried out:— “Ventre-Mahom! help. visible and invisible. noble or serf. the leader of that gang of devils. not surprised by the vigorous thrust he made at them with his dagger. and threw him on the pallet before their leader.

The crowd. took the wiser course of retreating to their homes. At this moment.” said the grand provost to the guards. led by one of the provost’s guard. cared little for a probable riot. a horrible uproar arose. aided by his sister. Tristan. closed the door. kept the strong leathern thong that bound the prisoner tightly twisted round his arm. and revived the hatred felt against Cornelius. and slammed the iron shutters with the violence of panic terror. “What are you 378 . who. who was not determined to see the victim. From early morning the news of the robbery had spread through the town. so that there was not a young man in the town. had awakened public sympathy. “Take him off. “Push on! push on!” he said to his men. and some others pressed against the sides of the horses and nearly suffocated. Georges d’Estouteville asked permission to dress himself. On all sides the “apprentice. The growls of the populace kept increasing. At the voice of their leader the archers spurred their horses towards the end of the street. Whether the populace merely wished to see this new victim. after he had mounted his horse. “Oh. seeing one or two of their number knocked down by the horses and trampled on. very good. “That’s what I call business!” cried Cornelius. and seemed the precursors of a riot. “Make room for the king’s justice!” cried Tristan. Cornelius. the men put on his clothing with the clever rapidity of a nurse who profits by the momentary tranquillity of her nursling. who was not accustomed to respect the populace of those days (inasmuch as they were not yet the sovereign people). nor a young woman with a fresh face and pretty feet to exhibit. “How did you get out those screws?” Georges kept silence. On a sign from their chief. An immense crowd cumbered the rue du Murier. or whether it intended to rescue him.” said Tristan. certain it is that those behind pressed those in front upon the little squad of cavalry posted around the Malemaison.d’Estouteville’s clothes and the lock of the door. be silent if you choose. When Georges issued from the house.” said to be young and handsome. You will soon confess on the holy rack.

hope. rich in illusions. He. risking our life with delight on the faith of a kiss. but when Marie de Saint-Vallier saw them she turned hastily away. loving ourselves with all the forces of our being.” Had she cried the words aloud. she was at her ease. who was going to his death for her. she could not have expressed their meaning more plainly than in that glance. and then betrayed. to understand the fury of hatred and despair which took possession of Georges d’Estouteville’s heart at the sight of his laughing mistress. After the page had said a few words in her ear. Escaping for a moment the perpetual watchfulness of her tyrant. go and darn your husband’s stockings. walked gaily to his doom. was laughing. too. the brave young seigneur. in that one moment. able to believe in a woman’s love. who advanced to his mistress on tiptoe. from heaven to martyrdom and from martyrdom back to heaven! So then. At the moment when the first movement of the crowd took place. the dangers of their mutual situation all took part. But perhaps she was only amused at seeing the caps of the populace carried off on the spears of the archers. He had passed. light-hearted and content. pleasure. from whom he received a cold and indifferent glance. Those tears were suddenly dried. and her old man seemed content. laughing with the count. go home. seeming to say:— “I am watching over you. No doubt she had been there some time. Hey! my good woman. in which terror. she was leaning from the window with her arms on a cushion. poor devoted lover. however.” Though such speeches showed that the grand provost was in good humor. my friends. 379 . at one of the windows of the hotel de Poitiers. get back to your needles. Marie returned to the window. Georges d’Estouteville was stupefied at seeing. she cast one glance upon Georges that was brilliant with the fires of love and hope. She was mocking at him. they made the most obstreperous fly as if he were flinging the plague upon them. The count took no notice of this servitor. your dinner is getting burnt. the cursed hunchback! A few tears escaped the eyes of the young man. We must be twenty-three years old. his dear Marie de Saint-Vallier.Balzac doing here? Do you want to be hanged too? Go home. when Georges beheld the red and white plumes of the page who was devoted to his interests. full of a thousand thoughts.

speaking sometimes to the prisoner. a vast and fertile plain. She came near dying when she heard of the accusation against you. “Nothing that concerns you. disdainfully. the park was defended by a moat. when the count and his wife. “What is it?” asked the provost. In spite of the singular fancy which possessed the author of “Quentin Durward” to place the royal castle of Plessis-lez-Tours upon a height. in honor of his beloved daughter. Take courage. seeing an officer of the Scottish guard riding towards them at full speed. and followed by two pages. in order to enter Plessis-lez-Tours in company. so that he adroitly managed to say to him in a low voice:— “I jumped the garden wall and took a letter to Plessis from madame to the king. also by the canal Sainte-Anne. On the side towards Brehemont. Georges was on foot. she on her white mule.” The grand provost had scarcely reached the embankment leading to Plessis. By uniting the two rivers between the city of Tours and Plessis this canal not only served as a formidable protection to the castle. All were moving slowly. Tristan. whom he invites to dinner. he on his horse. protected on either side by the Cher and the Loire. and his wife were naturally in advance. As Tristan was about leaving the rue du Murier. but it offered a most precious road to commerce. both mounted. Madame de Beaujeu. joined the archers. the criminal followed them. we must content ourselves by leaving it where it really was. one of whom held him still by the leathern thong. “The king has sent me to fetch the Comte and Comtesse de Saint-Vallier.” Love had already given strength and wiliness to the countess.” replied the officer. so named by Louis XI. the remains of which still show its enormous breadth and depth. the young page questioned them. Mingling with the archers.thinking that the horrors of the “question” were not sufficient payment for the delights of his love. At a period when the 380 . his people stopped him. Her laughter was part of the heroism which women display in the great crises of life. She is going now to speak to the king about you. between two guards on horseback. the count. namely on low land.

had scarcely more than three years longer to live. had nothing remarkable about it. standing in the very centre of the little plain reserved for the king and guarded by four streams of water.. Also. heiress of Burgundy (brought about by means of Desquerdes.Balzac power of artillery was still in embryo. If we may believe tradition. the pretty valley which the Croisille waters. commander of his troops in Flanders). at a glance the course of the Loire. the opposite bank of the river. already he felt the coming on of death in the attacks of his mortal malady. Delivered from his enemies. through vistas cut in the park (plexitium). Louis XI. No rival mansion rose near this solitary castle. he saw time slipping past him rapidly with no further troubles than those of old age. he saw the entrance to his fortress and the embankment by which he had connected his favorite residence with the city of Tours. Unity of taxation. The desire to live became in him the egotism of a king who has incarnated himself in his people. even by the minions about him. the finest points of view in the world. experience had intensified his natural distrust. having established his authority everywhere. he wished to prolong his life in order to carry out his vast designs. All that the common-sense of publicists and the genius of revolutions has since introduced of change in the character of monarchy. and from its windows could be seen. and now meditating ameliorations in his kingdom of all kinds. the dwelling of the kings of France would ever have remained in Touraine. Louis XI. Deceived by every one. and part of the slopes of Saint-Cyr. from the windows that opened on the courtyard. had thought of and devised. long since chosen by Louis XI. The castle. and from his chamber he could see. equality of 381 . for his favorite retreat. had bestowed upon the building of his castle the luxury of architecture which Francois I. now in the fifty-seventh year of his age. the position of Plessis. built of brick and stone. on the point of increasing the territory of France by the possessions of the Dukes of Burgundy through the marriage of the Dauphin with Marguerite. displayed afterwards at Chambord. If Louis XI. might be considered impregnable. Louis XI. but it was surrounded by noble trees. occupied the west wing. It is enough to see this splendid position and its magical effects to be convinced of its superiority over the sites of all other royal residences.

sat down in a huge tapestried chair near the fireplace in his chamber. 382 . he seemed crouched together like a man who had fallen asleep in the midst of some deep meditation. and his doctor. about two hundred feet from the entrance to Plessis. While awaiting his dinner. a repast which was taken in those days between eleven o’clock and mid-day. for the saving of which he blindly obeyed Coyctier. was himself crushed down by remorse. On All-Saints’ eve he had gathered together the learned goldsmiths of his kingdom for the purpose of establishing in France a unity of weights and measures. a spirit unbelieving as to all things here below. These two Tourainean seigneurs looked at the captain of the Scottish guard. the Sire de Montresor. His head had drooped upon his breast. the future in which he feared eternal punishment. Louis XI. his cap. and Jean Dufou. according to his usual custom. who crushed down all about him. It was once more the gigantic and ever magnificent combat of Man in the highest manifestation of his forces tilting against Nature. Coyctier. who was sleeping in his chair. a man struggling with two powers greater than his own—the present and the future. The king himself appeared to be dozing. a fear which led him to make so many sacrifices to the Church. Olivier de Daim. Thus seated in his high chair. joining in a singular manner the prudence of a king to the natural idiosyncracies of a man of lofty aims. devoutly believing in the practices of religion. hid his eyes. as he had already established the unity of power. Sire de Montbazon. This king. The only sound that was heard were the steps of the two chamberlains on service. Thus. returning from a short promenade. who were walking up and down the adjoining hall. standing in the recess of a window and watching their master. looked at each other without a word. his vast spirit hovered like an eagle over his empire. At no period in our history has the great figure of Monarchy been finer or more poetic. the present. namely his life itself. who presently seemed asleep.. Amazing assemblages of contrasts! a great power in a feeble body. pulled forward on his forehead. At this moment Tristan and his cortege crossed the canal by the bridge of Sainte-Anne. and by disease in the midst of the great poem of defiant monarchy in which all power was concentrated. surmounted by the royal crown.subjects before the law (the prince being then the law) were the objects of his bold endeavors.

Madame le comtesse likes both those things. hollow. the man of power. a brow furrowed with wrinkles. “Pasques-Dieu!” cried Louis XI. Can I eat lampreys?” he added. with a florid face. Looking at certain details of that countenance you would have thought him a debauched husbandman. the king.—a sickly. peremptory. seemed at first sight extinct. ha! here’s my crony and his thief. looking anxiously at Coyctier. The two men were a picture in themselves. of a light yellow. or a miserly pedler. above these vague resemblances and the decrepitude of a dying old man. but a spark of courage and of anger lurked there. and I may hear sounds more easily than you. These two personages were framed.” he said. “He is dreaming. His cap. and his collar of the order of Saint-Michel. The doctor was a stout burgher. and exclaimed:— “Ha. and weighty with high thoughts. In that mask was the forehead of a great man. but in his cheeks and on his lips there was something indescribably vulgar and common.Balzac “Who is that?” said the king. That effect of nature might be utilized. His eyes. but no writer. a cold sarcasm. addressing the barber. and yet. “do you think me mad? People are crossing the bridge. dressed in black. all the features of which expressed a sour craftiness.” he added thoughtfully. no painter has represented the face of that terrible monarch in his last years. hung 383 . Louis XI. History and romance-writers have consecrated the brown camlet coat. decorated with leaden medallions. And here comes my little Marie de Saint-Vallier. are not less celebrated.. He saw the grand provost. in a low voice. and self-important. rose and went toward one of the windows that looked on the town. greedy of gain. The two courtiers questioned each other with a look of surprise. and see that the cook doesn’t forget the lampreys. Olivier. and at the slightest touch it could burst into flames and cast fire about him. worn by Louis XI. rose supreme. in that panelled chamber. as it were. For all answer the physician began to examine his master’s face.” said Coyctier. I’d forgotten all about it. after a pause. It is true I am near the chimney. “What a man!” said de Daim. “go and tell Monsieur de Montbazon to serve some good Bourgeuil wine at dinner. and the breeches of the same stuff. yellow and brown face.

Imbert de Bastarnay. pretending to be slightly angry. the ceiling of which. as she embraced him.” replied the physician.” replied Coyctier. The name was at this period given to doctors everywhere. my children. find some way to amuse yourself. sitting down and holding out his arms to her. Try not to fret your mind. all inlaid with arabesques in pewter. The furniture. “I am here. addressing the Comte de Poitiers. madame.” continued the king. 384 . made of carved beams. “Go to the maitre d’hotel. Louis XI. humbly.” Louis XI. “Compose yourself. would seem to-day more precious than they were at that period when the arts were beginning to produce their choicest masterpieces. “Sire.” “Ah!” said the king. Come. “Hola. followed by her old husband. Dufou!” Dufou.” “To-day!” cried the king in terror. sire. you have so much bile in motion that you may die on All-Souls’ Day. He turned to the door and called out in a hollow voice. Marie appeared.” is still applied to the faculty in England. “Lampreys are not good for you.” said the king. rapped softly on the royal door. appeared not to have heard her. the bed. and let her know that I wish to dine alone to-day. recently substituted for the former term of “myrrh-master. On receiving the king’s permission he entered and announced the Comte and Comtesse de Saint-Vallier. “Good-day. seigneur of Montbazon and grand cup-bearer of France.” he added. “Salt mackerel. entered in haste.” As he spoke.with high-warped tapestries of Flanders. That title. “Then what may I eat?” asked the king. and tell him I must have salt mackerel for dinner. roughly. Otherwise.” replied his daughter in a low voice. “that you neglect me? It is almost three years since I have seen you. sire of Montresor and Bridore. And go to Madame de Beaujeu. who allowed her to pass in first. “my daughter Marie used to succeed in that difficult business. made a sign. “How thin you have grown! Why have you let her grow so thin?” said the king. come here. Do you know. “I want to speak to you in secret. was blackened by smoke. my pretty.

my child. seeing only an amuse385 . will you?” “What is your cause?” asked the king. who could guess the thoughts of the jealous man.—is that it?” said the king. laughing. in a low voice.— “I always thought you cautious and penetrating. Coyctier. then.” The count left the room. you will go to hell. Marie boldly put her hand on the king’s lips and said in his ear. “Ah. is innocent of the robbery. but you will not let my truthfulness injure the success of my cause. holding his daughter between his knees. and who is now in the hands of the grand provost. “I think that Bridore has something to say to you. how do you think I am.” “In that case. “Happiness.” “Saint-Vallier. “I want to know truly what to expect. “If you don’t confess every morning. and knew she must forestall his cruel designs. raising his daughter’s head gently and stroking her chin.” said the king. I think you look very ill to-day. “Ah! you love each other too much. Marie lowered her head and blushed.” said the king.” she replied. “I did right to call you Maryfull-of-grace. “After sending me your—” In this danger.—hey? Do I seem changed to you?” “Sire.Balzac The jealous husband cast so frightened a look at his wife that she almost pitied him. or would you rather I deceived you?” “No. “I need not ask if there is love in this business.” “How do you know that?” asked the king. do you want me to tell you the real truth. what do you want of me?” he said to his daughter the moment the doctor had gone. but he made a gesture with his shoulders well known to his wife.” “Cannot you oblige me without forcing me to tell my secret thoughts?” “Where would be the pleasure?” cried the king.” he said. sire. “Tell me. sire!” he stammered. leave us! Now. my daughter. “the young man you have had arrested for robbing your silversmith Cornelius. frowning and passing a hand across his forehead.

” “Ho.” “Come. “as I am not to know the truth. and hurried to the door of the room. coldly. set the young nobleman at liberty. and yet rob Cornelius. don’t put on that solemn face of yours! Give me the life of that young man.” she said. putting her lips to her father’s ear.” “Well. sire. If you will grant me his pardon. “Speak out. “I don’t see it so. and I must punish evil-doers.” “Sire. “here’s an audacity that deserves the axe. my daughter. “Then he is not an apprentice?” “He is certainly innocent. even though you may punish me. “Ah! do you want your pleasure to cost me grief?” “Oh! you sly little girl. interrupting her. ho! this is getting serious. haven’t you any confidence in me?” “Then.” replied Saint-Vallier. you will regret all this. Two robberies!” “I have your blood in my veins.” she said.” “He could be there. shoving up his cap. For the last moment or two. and surprised the Comte de Saint-Vallier eavesdropping. had shown him the shadow of a listener’s foot projected on the floor of his chamber. “I would prefer an axe at 386 . “he was in my room all night.” Marie turned pale. but softly on tiptoe. “I am the law and justice of my kingdom.” she said. in a low voice. and I was not born to love a scoundrel. shining through a space below the door.. haughtily.” said the king.ment in this affair. “you are hard to confess.” With the words the king pushed his daughter from his knee.” “Well. I will tell you everything.” said Louis XI.” “So! he is a nobleman. but she made a violent effort and cried out:— “Sire. You are jesting at—” “Then. is he?” cried the king. well!” cried the king.” “Is it yours already?” “Sire. The so-called thief stole nothing. “I am pure and virtuous. making no noise.” cried the king. I assure you. the light from a window in the adjoining hall. I think Tristan had better clear it up. That young seigneur is the nephew of the captain-general of your archers. He opened the door abruptly. “Pasques-Dieu!” he cried.

“Georges d’Estouteville was your lover last night?” “Oh. He loves me truly in all honor. Leaning on the arm of his daughter.” “You may have both.” continued the king. sire!” “No! Ah! by Saint-Carpion. sire. But he did not expect the strange confidences his daughter now made to him after stipulating for the pardon of her husband. my daughter. for Louis instantly demanded: “What purpose?” The adventure amused him immensely.” “But. no. “So.” After scolding thus. And he came for another purpose. Monsieur de Saint-Vallier! So you dare to shed the royal blood!” cried the king. appeared with contracted brows on the threshold of his chamber. Go into the farther hall. Conyngham. and found all his servitors in waiting.” Having said these words. The deep silence which reigned was presently broken by the 387 . At this moment the bell of Plessis sounded the hour of the king’s dinner.” said Louis XI. liking to play with her as a cat plays with a mouse. his eyes lighting with anger.” he said. He cast an ambiguous look on the Comte de Saint-Vallier.” “Do you take me for Saint-Louis. messieurs.” she said. he deserves to die. but he took care to draw the tapestried curtain. and suppose I should believe such nonsense? A young fellow. addressing the captain of the guard. “Ho. to have risked his life just to kiss your little slippers or your sleeves! Tell that to others. Marie felt that she had risked the life of her husband. which made a second door.Balzac my throat to the ornament of marriage on my head. ho. made like him. “He kissed my feet and hands with an ardor that might have touched the most virtuous of women. “you are asleep! Where is Monsieur de Bridore? Why do you let me be approached in this way? Pasques-Dieu! the lowest burgher in Tours is better served than I am. “None of you are safe from such infirmities. intended more to stifle the words of the king than the whistling of the harsh north wind. Louis XI. Louis re-entered his room. thinking of the sentence he meant to pronounce upon him. Did the scamp not think my daughter beautiful?” “Oh! that is not it. it is true.

do you hear me? By our Lady of Clery! you have committed crimes of lese-majesty. 388 .’” The countess gave a sign. then he added:— “You will leave to-night to attend to my affairs with the government of Venice. Henceforth I shall watch over her with greater care than I have done since I married her to you. and. she will certainly be safe here. Marie silently pressed her father’s arm as if to thank him for his mercy and goodness. “Our man is in the hands of the monks. and turned pale. As for Louis XI. lairs where they lurk. but looked at the king.. Go at once and put a stop to the execution. and I reserve to myself the doing of it. I shall take charge of her at Plessis. Set the prisoner at liberty provisionally. my friend. advancing toward the king. and make your preparations for a long journey. He confessed the theft after a touch of the ‘question. “I know about you.” “Silence!” cried the king. I can always recover him. Did I give you such a pretty wife to make her pale and weakly? Go back to your own house. You need be under no anxiety about your wife. she could not speak. looking fixedly at the count. This affair must be better sifted.” The king stopped at these words from a habit of cruelty. that thief is an acquaintance of my wife.” “What! is it all over?” said the king.steps of Tristan l’Hermite as he mounted the grand staircase. “You will answer with your own body for that of the criminal.” Hearing these words. Let Cornelius know that I shall be at his house to-night to begin the inquiry myself. “Some one is here who will wear out my patience. he was laughing to himself in his sleeve. who muttered in a low tone: “I am betrayed. the affair is settled. said:— “Sire.” he continued. The grand provost entered the hall. Monsieur de Saint-Vallier. addressing the grand provost. All your blood could not pay for one drop of mine. That look was observed by Saint-Vallier. these robbers have retreats they frequent.” said the king.

—a sort of momentary abdication. endeavoring to please the people of the middle classes.” one of the greatest pleasures of princes. think you. was fond of intervening in the affairs of his subjects. looking at the seigneurs who were serving him. as he expected. played the incognito openly. made insipid by the lack of opposition. a fine fortification ready-made for this kingdom. however. conquer Piedmont. Louis XI. or. with an escort of soldiers. was really only a passion for the “incognito. and he was always ready to mingle his royal majesty with the burgher life. 389 . could have robbed my silversmith? The robberies now amount to over twelve hundred thousand crowns in eight years. his doctor. better still. Several times during dinner he said to his daughter:— “Who. messieurs!” he continued. so that he shouldered the anxieties of Maitre Cornelius eagerly. Louis XI. This taste. Twelve hundred thousand crowns. perhaps to make away with her life. and also the secret sorrows of the Comtesse de Saint-Vallier. the Comte de SaintVallier awaiting his wife. which enables them to put a little real life into their existence. On these occasions he was always the good fellow. Pasques-Dieu! bank the Loire.” When dinner was over. where he found. took his daughter. whom he made his allies against feudality. and the grand provost. meaning engaged) in litigious affairs. For some time past he had found no opportunity to “make himself populace” and espouse the domestic interests of some man “engarrie” (an old word still used in Tours.. “Notre Dame! with a sum like that what absolutions could be bought in Rome! And I might.Balzac CHAPTER IV THE HIDDEN TREASURE LOUIS XI. and rode to the hotel de Poitiers in Tours. severely blamed by some historians.

in the house of his silversmith. then the chimney down which the robber was supposed to have descended. in truth. and make no wager. eager to begin the unravelling of the melancholy comedy. and go to the frontier. sire. after giving his wife a cold kiss which he would fain have made deadly. At last. my old crony. that no one had forced an entrance into the strongroom of his silversmith. I am so good in detecting criminals. a fire was seldom made. “don’t worry yourself. then crossed over to the Malemaison. silver. “No.” he said. 390 . could not help smiling as he saw the fright of the miser and his sister.“Monsieur. where the Fleming kept his treasure. They will sup at Plessis..” Louis then gave the order—not without adding certain secret instructions—to a lieutenant of the Scottish guard to take a squad of men and accompany the ambassador to Venice. Cornelius did not see the arrival of the escort of his royal master without uneasiness. easily convinced his silversmith of the falsity of the latter supposition. Saint-Vallier departed in haste. you will be accompanied by an escort of honor. who asked to see. “I told you to start at once.—and no sign that any one had passed down the flue. nor on the iron coffers which contained the gold. and jewels deposited as securities by wealthy debtors. in the first place. lasting now for eight years. in his quality of king. “Are all those persons to take part in the inquiry?” he said to the king.” They went at once into the strong room.” “Find him. the casket from which the jewels of the Duke of Burgundy had been taken. Louis XI. No marks of violence were on the locks. inasmuch as there was no soot on the hearth. after two hours of close investigation. marked with that sagacity which distinguished the suspicious mind of Louis XI.— where. that I will wager you ten thousand crowns I shall do so now. Louis XI. Say farewell to your wife now. There Louis. and moreover that the chimney issued at a part of the roof which was almost inaccessible. beyond all doubt. he had enough penetration to discover the secret of the robberies. it was clear to him. they will be in Venice before you get there. As for your instructions and credentials. and you and I alone will make the investigation. flattering himself that.” said the king.

piteously. Nevertheless he hurried back. “go and execute the orders of our gracious master. I order you to remain in ignorance. savage look with which old maids appear to squirt 391 . or wheat. “Well. “Then.Balzac “If the robber opened this box. “If you are robbed again to-night. followed by the old woman. fruits. the guilty man!” cried Louis XI. sire?” she cried. That is one of my secrets. The housekeeper opened it and showed it to the king. go and fetch some. Shall the king lack flour?” “Our good flour!” she grumbled.” said the king. and was casting on the Fleming those glances peculiar to men of talent and power which seem to penetrate the brain. “Oh yes. to and from market. In any other circumstances the king would have laughed at his silversmith’s cry. not the least impressed by his royal majesty. abruptly. nuts. and why did he prowl about at night?” “If you have not guessed why. have been used in Touraine to carry or bring.” he added. and said to the king:— “Sire. but he had suddenly become thoughtful. as she went downstairs. The bag was half full of flour. is it only a royal notion to examine my flour?” At last she reappeared. my crony.” she answered. but the bitter smile on Louis’s withered lips determined him. we have laid in our stock for the winter. on whom she cast the rapid. from time immemorial. “Old fool!” said Cornelius. “What do you want to do with our flour. thinking he had in some way offended his dangerous master. “Have you any flour?” demanded the king. I shall know to-morrow who did it. why did he take nothing out of it but the jewels of the Duke of Bavaria? What reason had he for leaving that pearl necklace which lay beside them? A queer robber!” At that remark the unhappy miser turned pale: he and the king looked at each other for a moment. “Devil or angel. I have him.” “Then the devil is in my house!” cried the miser. sire. what did that robber whom you have taken under your protection come to do here.” said the king. Cornelius almost hesitated to leave the king alone in the room with his hoards. “Ah! my flour!” Then she returned. bearing one of those stout linen bags which. Make that old hag you call your sister come here. Cornelius was frightened.

“My flour. and returned by a door in the ramparts to the house of the torconnier. Next. said to his silversmith. Cornelius. sire! on the ground! But—” Maitre Cornelius. “It costs six sous the ‘septeree. and then he departed with much pomp for Plessis along the embankment. but she held out her hand for the empty bag. in the mulberry trees on the embankment and on the roofs of the adjoining houses. forgetting for the time being that he was ill 392 . all of which converged to a secret lock. who seemed much amused by the operation. and would sup on the morrow with Cornelius. When they reached the door Louis XI. he told the miser to close his windows with the utmost care. the intentions of the king. followed by the king. which was braced with large plates and bars of iron. retreating step by step as he did so. and with the greatest secrecy. and the captain of his guard. and when her brother gave it back to her she disappeared with a heavy sigh. The old woman quivered. that no single ray of light should escape from the house. the key of which was kept by Cornelius. who was beginning to understand. Cornelius then took a feather broom and gently smoothed the flour till it looked like a fall of snow. and holding much jovial converse.” The old maid did not comprehend. “What does that matter?” said the king. All these precautions were so well taken that the people of Tours really thought the king had returned to Plessis. so as to give the idea in the town that he himself would not sup with Cornelius. seized the bag and gently poured its contents on the floor.venom upon men. as the king was supping with his physician. and to assemble at once the rest of his men and escort him back to Plessis. “Spread it on the floor. “Are there two keys to the lock?” “No. the king sent for Tristan.’” she said. After examining everything.” The king then examined the structure of the door. and ordered him to post several of his men for the night. sire. Towards eight o’clock that evening. but there he secretly left his escort. but be careful to make an even layer of it—as if it had fallen like snow. though vaguely. This proposal astonished her as though the end of the world had come.

“Ho. “The pearl necklace is gone!” cried Cornelius. which he found locked without a sign of fracture or defacement.” said the king. and while examining them himself for the second time. Then he studied the direction of the steps. even the wariest robber. so that my curiosity may be satisfied. messieurs. sire!” said the lieutenant. “you have been finely robbed this time. but as they grew gradually fainter. the king chanced to observe the miser’s slippers and recognized the type of sole that was printed in flour on the corridors. Carefully avoiding those precious footprints.” Thereupon.” said the king. Louis XI. “an amazing sight! Your silversmith crept down the side of the wall like a cat. Louis XI. they finally left not the slightest trace. and it was impossible for him to discover where the robber had fled. so lightly that he seemed to 393 . the deepest silence reigned without. was the first to leave his apartment. He was not a little astonished to see. as he went along.Balzac and in danger of death.” “We’ll know all about it now. all went to bed. the marks of a large foot along the stairways and corridors of the house. under pain of grievous punishment. “I hope. made him look at the foot-prints on the stairs and corridors. he followed them to the door of the treasure-room. The next morning. Once in the room the king ordered him to make a new mark with his foot beside those already existing. the evident truthfulness of his silversmith making him still more thoughtful. no one is to leave his chamber to-morrow morning without my order. laughing. and all passers. remembering the innocent men who had been hanged for the crime.” At these words the old Fleming hurried out of his chamber. The miser now hurried to his treasure. would have believed that the Malemaison was occupied as usual. and he went at once to the door of the strong-room. “that my silversmith shall be robbed to-night. crony!” called out the king. visibly terrified. Therefore. He said not a word. and easily convinced him that the robber of his treasure was no other than himself. He immediately sent for the men he had stationed on the watch and asked:— “What did you see during the night?” “Oh. and checked his laughter. I never left my room. “There is sorcery in this.

” he said to Cornelius.—You have incurred the penalty of death.” replied Cornelius mechanically. I noticed in the two other cases I have already observed. remarking the strange pallor on the Fleming’s face. If you would give yourself the amusement of watching him at such times. and also Tristan.” “I am your physician. you are more valuable to bleed than to kill.be a shadow. beginning to think the sum royally magnificent. and stood stock-still like a man who has lost the use of his limbs.” replied the physician. “and tell Messieurs Conyngham. This is the third case I have seen of that singular malady. Bridore. Presently. At this answer. “That was the magnet that invariably brought him back to Tours. he watched him narrowly while the king related the adventure. You can get out of the claws of my justice by payment of a good round sum to my treasury. “there is nothing supernatural in that. happily. but if you don’t build at least one chapel in honor of the Virgin. Coyctier. who. he shoved up 394 .” muttered the king. absorbed in his calculations.” said the king. and made a pause.” “I!” exclaimed Cornelius. a curious connection between the actions of that nocturnal existence and the interests and occupations of their daily life. and eighty-seven thousand crowns. “You have ten murders on your conscience!” Thereupon Louis XI. he added:— “You need not be uneasy. after that one word. you are a wise man.” “Ah! Maitre Coyctier. Louis XI. make thirteen hundred and seventeen thousand crowns.” replied the other. all of you. “Go away. Your silversmith has the faculty of walking in his sleep. to leave their rooms and come here to mine. He felt his treasure. Noticing the attitude of Maitre Cornelius. made the gesture which was customary with him when a good idea was presented to his mind. you would see that old man stepping without danger at the very edge of the roof. did not hear him.” Coyctier entered at this moment.” “Twelve hundred and thirty. he remained silent. addressing the archers. insolently. “Sire. “Thirteen hundred and seventeen thousand crowns hidden somewhere!” “He must have buried them in some hiding-place. you are likely to find things hot for you throughout eternity. gave a silent laugh.

“or else you have already done so. “persons attend to their business while asleep. agree to divide it with me. you are trying to hoodwink me. was alone with his silversmith. if I help you to recover this treasure. at my death.” said the king.” “Sire! can you doubt my devotion? you. not of money. She will bring you a noble treasure. “all treasures buried in France belong to the king. sire!” cried Cornelius. while continuing himself almost torpid with thought and the shock of this singular misfortune. up to this moment. and without fear.” returned the king.” continued Coyctier. you are the absolute master of our lives and fortunes. bursting into a diabolical. sire. but of lands. Dutchman. I will give it all to you. all is yours. and I will try to prove my gratitude for your goodness. You might fear any one but me. looking the other in the eyes. 395 . “Ha!” cried Coyctier.” “Yes. he looked at him and chuckled coldly.” “There.” “Ah. who.” he said. “you are the only man in the kingdom whom I would trust for such a service.” “Leave us. flinging himself at the king’s feet. with frowning brows. “somnambulists never remember on their waking what they have done when asleep.” “Pasques-Dieu! and such treasure!” cried the king. When Louis XI. heard the remarks of the king and his physician. there. sire.Balzac his cap with a hasty motion.” said the king. which will round out the glory of your crown. you can surely. who are the only man I love!” “All that is talk. But what scheme have you for finding it?” “I shall watch you myself when you are taking your nocturnal tramps. you have only taken what you need. “Messire Hoogworst. but. by a singular provision of nature. “Where is it?” asked Cornelius. As this man is fond of hoarding.” “Listen to me. he has simply pursued his dearest habit.” “No. “At such times. by doing my utmost to promote the marriage of the Burgundian heiress with Monseigneur. with a nod. I will not divide it. coarse laugh. No doubt each of these attacks have come on after a day in which he has felt some fears about the safety of his treasure. old crony.

he will get the secret of the hiding-place. At this instant. a hoard is hidden in this house.—the changes in which were difficult to decipher among its wrinkles.” he said in conclusion. Louis XI. and shook her violently. that she trembled in every limb. We must be beforehand with him.” Maitre Cornelius found the agility of youth to run downstairs to the lower rooms where he was certain to find his sister. and am I your servant?” “Ah. near as he is to death. “have just been lying to each other like two pedlers of coconuts. can resist thirteen hundred thousand crowns. I was awaiting confirmation from Oosterlinck through that apprentice. and her face. She turned pale by degrees. crying out: “You cannot die now. There is time enough later—Oh! it is all over. my dearest soul. we must find the hidden treasure and send it to Ghent. and I. This shock was so violent for an old maid accustomed for years to reduce herself by voluntary fasts. 396 . I don’t feel sure that his conscience. was concluded. I.” said the old man. Enough! leave me. “Louis XI. my girl. and you alone—” Cornelius stopped suddenly. You understand. Maitre Cornelius seized her. When his judgment of Louis XI. and the extraordinary situation in which he found himself. she was dead. I do not like persons to meddle in my affairs without my knowledge. What has become of that young man?” “Enough!” said the king. I am the robber!” Jeanne Hoogworst rose from her stool and stood erect as if the seat she quitted were of red-hot iron. “this is only one more blunder you have committed. I have put thirteen hundred thousand crowns and all the jewels somewhere. he rose abruptly like a man in haste to escape a pressing danger. “Ah! Jeanne. sire.! Are you the master. and seemed to be weighing the heart of the sovereign who had had thoughts of parricide at twenty-two years of age. “I was waiting to surprise you agreeably with news of the arrangements I had made for you in Ghent. and horrible pains were in her back. You are selling me your influence—Pasques-Dieu! to me.—became distorted while her brother explained to her the malady of which he was the victim. The king alone can watch my wanderings at night. too feeble or too strong for such a crisis. fell stark. his sister. that if he follows me. I. I wish to reflect upon all this.“You need not have waited till this moment to do me that service.

but two great tears issued from his eyes and rolled down his hollow cheeks. and the sight of such riches will give you heart to live. “I make you my heir. pushing up his cap. my poor sister! Ah. sire. Take all. Louis XI. all. Hang me. There it lies. I give up all to you—” “Come. the two men found a barrier raised be397 . “What is the matter?” he asked. my crony. “May God and the Virgin keep you in their good graces!” replied the silversmith humbly. my treasure! With you. misfortunes never come singly. he locked up the room and returned to the king.” He closed her eyes and laid her on the floor. My sister is dead. my affections. have I lost you?—you who understood me so well! Oh! you were my real treasure. She precedes me there below.” said Louis XI. Here are my keys. who had made a few steps toward the door of the chamber. at last in a curt voice. I care for nothing now. it is full of gold. with strange exclamations of grief.” he said. was struck with the expression of sorrow on the moistened features of his old friend.” replied Louis XI. Jeanne! thirteen hundred thousand crowns! Won’t that wake you?—No. If you had only known what good it would have done me to live two nights longer..” At that answer the king. then. my peace of mind. who did not like to hear of death.. you would have lived. are gone. who was partly touched by the sight of this strange suffering. she is dead!” Thereupon. he sat down. solely to please me. come. Then the good and noble feelings which lay at the bottom of his soul came back to him. conducting the king to the door of the house. I will come back in the course of this week—” “As you please. he cried out mournfully:— “Oh! my poor companion. if that’s your good pleasure. “Enough!” cried Louis XI. “Ah! sire. “we shall find your treasure some fine night. ransack the house. “Adieu. The two men looked at each other with an expression that neither pen nor pencil can reproduce. turned round abruptly. half forgetting his hidden treasure. pointing to the floor with a dreadful gesture. crony. and said no more. After so long a friendship. and.Balzac The old hag never could do anything at the right time.

had given the command of the army encamped on the frontiers of Belgium. Otherwise. Happily for Cornelius a rumor was spread about Tours that his sister was the actual robber. 1438. is concerned. and the pair remained in the cautious condition of an armed friendship. The gold and the influence of Cornelius could powerfully support the negotiations now begun by Desquerdes. whose arms are paralyzed by chance. to marry the Dauphin to whom she was betrothed in the chapel of the castle—certain it is that the king took no steps in the matter of the hidden treasure. and that she had been secretly put to death by Tristan. But. by his connections. but on the other hand. the latter could. “As you please. The silversmith spent the first days which succeeded that fatal night in ceaseless occupation.” of the king. The marriage of the celebrated Marguerite depended on the people of Ghent and the Flemings who surrounded her. and his torconnier parted much in doubt as to the conduct they ought in future to hold to each other. sire. just as the latter recognized a declaration of war in the “Adieu. of each other. he went and came. These two master-foxes were. Thus Louis XI. if the true history had been known. though they had always been like one man on the two points of gold and suspicion. that the king could divine. Like carnivorous animals confined in cages. it is not so as regards Cornelius Hoogworst.” the repugnance that his visits would henceforth cause to the silversmith. whether it were that from that day the king’s health failed and went from bad to worse. like two duellists. one may say. namely. which the sovereigns of Europe were then coveting. 398 . So. from the tone in which Cornelius uttered the words. therefore. the general to whom Louis XI. or that Cornelius did assist in bringing into France Marguerite of Burgundy—who arrived at Ambroise in July. But they knew each other so well. that of the domains of the house of Burgundy. the whole town would have risen as one man to destroy the Malemaison before the king could have taken measures to protect it. although these historical conjectures have some foundation so far as the inaction of Louis XI. The monarch possessed the secret of the Fleming. my crony. he levied no tribute from his silversmith. bring about one of the finest acquisitions that any king of France had ever made.tween them by suspicion and gold. they had so completely the habit. There was no inaction there.

Often he stood motionless for hours. A miser. knowing the secret of neither the one nor the other.Balzac smelling for gold in every corner of his house. the idea by which man reproduces himself by creating outside of himself the fictitious being called Property. nor whether the sun or the moon were shining. he besought the trees of the garden. Two men had his secret. fantastic. he walked through the streets of Tours. he knew not where he was. he tried to see his riches through space and obstacles. If. but continually terrible torture. the robber and the robbed. with all its accompanying sentiments. he studied the cracks and crevices. consumed with a single desire that burned his entrails. like Sardanapalus. But Cornelius. possessed and did not possess his treasure. the secret he did not know himself. in the midst of this torture.—a novel. gnawed more cruelly still by the ever-increasing agony of the duel he was fighting with himself since his passion for gold had turned to his own injury. or Coyctier could post men to watch him during his sleep and discover the unknown gulf into which he had cast his riches. he would leave the little gratings of his door wide open. Often he would ask his way of those who passed him. —a species of uncompleted suicide which kept him at once in the miseries of life and in those of death. absolutely motionless.—those riches he had 399 . The most perennial and the best materialized of human ideas. and casting on those who watched him a fixed gaze. the insupportable light of which froze them with terror. drove its steel claws perpetually into his heart. believing that he was still in Ghent. by chance. Never was a Vice more punished by itself. that mental demon. the happiness of dying in the midst of his wealth. locked by accident into the subterranean strong-room that contains his treasures. and then the passers in the street could see that already wizened man. has. to give him back his treasure. he sounded the walls. he seemed like a stranger in them. Sometimes. becoming forgetful. Then. and seeming to be in search of something lost. He was constantly absorbed in one overwhelming thought. the foundations of the house. plunging them into the void. Fear arose. the earth and the heavens. the roofs of the turrets. Louis XI. Striving for the miracles of ecstasy and the powers of sorcery. casting his eyes on all sides. planted on his two legs in the midst of his untilled garden.

His struggles to keep awake were awful— alone with night. beside his fear. At last this man so powerful. And then. with all the thoughts that man. named Bohier. remains unfinished to the present day. in his embassy. and Malemaison. Nothing then restrained the populace. arose Remorse. the beloved mistress of Henri II. who became the illegitimate wife.—for bastardy and love were hereditary in that family of nobles. he cut his throat with a razor. Maddened by certain thoughts more agonizing than those he had as yet resisted. 400 . succumbed to the horrors of the torture he had himself created. found the miser’s treasure and used it in the construction of Chenonceaux.watered with the blood of so many innocent men. that Evil House. he took the most cruel precautions against sleep. and Fear. his commercial relations put him in the way of obtaining powerful anti-narcotics. The family did not become extinct. with that of Louis XI. Remorse. has best embodied—obedient thus to a moral truth as yet devoid of actual proof. that marvellous chateau which. in spite of the wealth of several kings and the taste of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici for building. the countess gave birth to a son. was pillaged. whose career was famous in the history of France under the reign of Francois I. In order to prevent during his lifetime the abduction of his hidden treasure. as we know. the illegitimate great-granddaughter of Louis XI. instinctively perhaps. After the departure of the count. almost. Happily for Marie de Sassenage. silence. obscure in history. this heart so hardened by political and commercial life. the celebrated Diane de Poitiers. This death coincided. besides which.. this genius. He was saved by his daughter. A tradition exists among the older inhabitants of Touraine that a contractor of public works. the Comte de Saint-Vallier died.

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Balzac Louis Lambert by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Clara Bell and James Waring 403 .

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indeed. the tanner and his wife adored Louis. and intended that his son should succeed him. their only child. and never contradicted him in anything. and these two Books. had sealed his fate. but his precocious bent for study modified the paternal decision. a little town in the Vendomois. For. he reached the age of ten.Balzac Louis Lambert by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Clara Bell and James Waring Dedication “Et nunc et semper dilectoe dicatum. and he obtained them by those winning ways peculiar to children. One thing resulted from this first reading of the Bible: Louis went all over Montoire begging for books. At the age of five Louis had begun by reading the Old and New Testaments. which no one can resist. 405 . including so many books.” LOUIS LAMBERT was born at Montoire. Could that childish imagination understand the mystical depths of the Scriptures? Could it so early follow the flight of the Holy Spirit across the worlds? Or was it merely attracted by the romantic touches which abound in those Oriental poems! Our narrative will answer these questions to some readers. While devoting himself to these studies under no sort of guidance. where his father owned a tannery of no great magnitude.

he set out every morning with part of a loaf and his books. after the manner of schoolboys. to escape his mother’s remonstrances. indeed. What scholar has not many a time found pleasure in seeking the probable meaning of some unknown word? The analysis of a word. rich families secured them long beforehand to have them ready when the lots were drawn. of which we find many examples in the lives of great men. Lambert owed the favor and patronage of this celebrated lady to chance. not far from Blois. indeed. The poor tanner’s modest fortune did not allow of their purchasing a substitute for their son. How admirable is a mother’s instinct! From that time reading was in Louis a sort of appetite which nothing could satisfy. and his parents’ wish not to expose him to the dreadful chances of war. and went to read and meditate in the woods. He has told me that he found indescribable delight in reading dictionaries for lack of other books. who can smooth the path of forlorn genius? To us. his taste for study and precocious intelligence gave grounds for hoping that he might rise to high fortunes in the Church. would be to Lambert matter for 406 . such vicissitudes. This arrangement at once satisfied Louis’ passion for knowledge. but instead of indulging. history. and physics. and they saw no means allowed by law for evading the conscription but that of making him a priest. and I readily believed him. After remaining for about three years with his uncle. where he was maintained at the cost of Madame de Stael. the parish priest of Mer. an old and not uncultured Oratorian. he was accustomed to spend the time allowed him by his uncle for holidays at his father’s house. feeding indiscriminately on religious works. appear to be merely the result of physical phenomena. or shall we not say to Providence.At that period substitutes for the army were scarce. he devoured books of every kind. for she believed such persistent study to be injurious. philosophy. another small town on the Loire. in 1807. and. who do not see below the surface of human things. in the sweets of the delightful far niente that tempts us at every age. they sent him to his maternal uncle. Louis left him early in 1811 to enter the college at Vendome. its physiognomy and history. to most biographers the head of a man of genius rises above the herd as some noble plant in the fields attracts the eye of a botanist in its splendor. This comparison may well be applied to Louis Lambert’s adventure. so.

their shapes.” he has said to me when speaking of his studies. it has conveyed different ideas in different places. “Often. which have all seized some remnant of the primitive speech 407 . of the unknown beings whose traces survive in us. by one of those startling freaks in which nature sometimes indulges. from the age of fourteen. classified by rhetoric. What a fine book might be written of the life and adventures of a word! It has.Balzac long dreaming. and the look they give to the word. steels himself to every moral or physical perception—an involuntary education which subsequently brings forth fruit both in the understanding and character of a man. from thought to word. and which proved how anomalous was his temperament. are the exact reflection. from the alphabet to written language. and forming. and its influence. to whose genius are they due? If it takes great intelligence to create a word. and he accounted for them after seeking out both the principle and the end with the mother wit of a savage. Starting from Greece. received various stamps from the occasions on which it has served its purpose. from hieroglyphics to the alphabet. from the word to its hieroglyphic presentment. of course. “often have I made the most delightful voyage. in accordance with the character of each nation. but is it not still grander to think of it under the three aspects of soul. floating on a word down the abyss of the past. the hieroglyphics of thought? Was it not the ancient mode of representing human ideas as embodied in the forms of animals that gave rise to the shapes of the first signs used in the East for writing down language? Then has it not left its traces by tradition on our modern languages. and motion? Merely to regard it in the abstract. Indeed. its effects. But these were not the instinctive dreams by which a boy accustoms himself to the phenomena of life. and traverse the whole extent of modern ages. in a sense. Louis mastered the facts. he would utter quite simply ideas of which the depth was not revealed to me till a long time after. is enough to cast one into an ocean of meditations? Are not most words colored by the idea they represent? Then. “Who can philosophically explain the transition from sensation to thought. like an insect embarked on a blade of grass tossing on the ripples of a stream. how old may human speech be? The combination of letters. I would get to Rome. body. no. apart from its functions. of which the eloquent beauty resides in a series of images.

His eye took in six or seven lines at once. as the word Flight for instance. the worthy man had been able to choose the best books from among these precious libraries. by their mere physiognomy. a majestic and solemn tongue whose grandeur and solemnity decrease as communities grow old. As a priest who had taken the oath. This treasure had been derived from the plunder committed during the Revolution in the neighboring chateaux and abbeys. The process of absorbing ideas by means of reading had become in him a very strange phenomenon. In three years Louis Lambert had assimilated the contents of all the books in his uncle’s library that were worth reading. and his mind grasped the sense with a swiftness as remarkable as that of his eye. “But we are too high and too low!” Louis’ passion for reading had on the whole been very well satisfied. whose sonorous tones ring in the Hebrew Bible. The cure of Mer had two or three thousand volumes. 408 . words call to life in our brain the beings which they serve to clothe. there is but one place where their properties are at full liberty to act and develop. “I chose the formula of an abstract idea on purpose. But the subject demands a science to itself perhaps!” And he would shrug his shoulders as much as to say.of nations. not wishing to illustrate the case by a word which should make it too obvious to the apprehension. sometimes even one word in a sentence was enough to enable him to seize the gist of the matter. Like all beings. which were sold by the pound. and still are noble in Greece. “But is it not so with every root word? They are all stamped with a living power that comes from the soul. and which they restore to the soul through the mysterious and wonderful action and reaction between thought and speech. but grow weaker under the progress of successive phases of civilization? “Is it to this time-honored spirit that we owe the mysteries lying buried in every human word? In the word True do we not discern a certain imaginary rectitude? Does not the compact brevity of its sound suggest a vague image of chaste nudity and the simplicity of Truth in all things? The syllable seems to me singularly crisp and fresh. Might we not speak of it as a lover who finds on his mistress’ lips as much love as he gives? Thus. which is a direct appeal to the senses.

Indeed.Balzac His memory was prodigious. Then I suddenly see within me a camera obscura. just as if I had been on the heights of Santon. “When I read the story of the battle of Austerlitz. I heard the clatter of horses and the voices of men. but he saw them in his mind. where natural objects are reproduced in purer forms than those under which they first appeared to my external sense. lighted. The scene was as terrifying as a passage from the Apocalypse. the cries of the fighting men rang in my ears. as he said. whether this was by a process of analogy or that he was gifted with a sort of second sight by which he could command all nature. I looked down on the plain where armed nations were in collision. accustomed in early youth to the mysterious mechanism by which human faculties are concentrated. that the image stamped on his mind could not have been clearer if he had actually seen them. had developed to a point which permitted him to have such precise concepts of things which he knew only from reading about them. And this power he could exert with equal effect with regard to the most abstract efforts of the intellect.” At the age of twelve his imagination. from the ideas he had first acquired to the last thought evolved in it. and those which had occurred to him in the course of meditation or conversation.” On the occasions when he brought all his powers into play. His brain. not merely the position of a sentence in the book where he had met with it. “I can draw a veil over my eyes. and in some degree lost con409 . for names. and made my inmost self quiver. “I saw every incident. The roar of the cannon. to which a fund of remembrance gave precocious originality. things. “Whenever I wish it. from the most obscure to the clearest. for words. Thus his was the singular privilege of being able to retrace in memory the whole life and progress of his mind. situated. stimulated by the perpetual exercise of his faculties. He not only recalled any object at will. I could smell the powder. and faces.” said he to me one day. drew from this rich treasury endless images full of life and freshness. and colored as he had originally seen them. He remembered with equal exactitude the ideas he had derived from reading. He could remember. but the frame of mind he had been in at remote dates. on which he fed his spirit during those lucid spells of contemplation.” said he to me in his own language. he had every form of memory—for places.

elevated his heart. and accustomed him to those swift reactions of the soul of which ecstasy is at once the result and the means. almost in rags. Saint Theresa and Madame Guyon were a sequel to the Bible. As a result of these early impressions.sciousness of his physical existence. ennobled it. whose sphere was enormously expanded. and in increased faculties of mind.” This predilection was disastrous. This line of study. to use his own words. was due perhaps to the influence produced on his mind by the first books he read at his uncle’s. this mens divinior. The book was a translation of Heaven and Hell. Already. At that time Monsieur Saint-Martin. and old age we are always eager for mysteries in whatever form they present themselves. perhaps their sublime superiority is no more than the desire to devote themselves which characterizes woman. purified. In childhood. and lived on only by the remarkable energy of his mental powers.” he would say. forbidden to come within forty leagues of Paris. or if we may gauge another’s happiness by our own or by social notions. I have reversed the order in which I ought to tell the history of this man. this beautiful virginity of the senses naturally resulted in the richer fervor of his blood. A strong bias drew his mind into mystical studies. if indeed his life can be measured by ordinary standards. greatly surprised. One day.” another phrase he was fond of using. gave him an appetite for the divine nature. The Baroness de Stael. they had the first-fruits of his manly intelligence. This taste for the “things of heaven. in spite of myself. Louis passed immaculate through his school life. only transferred to the greatest things. manhood. and a few other French or half German writers were almost the only persons in the French Empire to whom the name of Swedenborg was known. spent several months of her banishment on an estate near Vendome. took the book from him with the roughness she 410 . Monsieur de Gence. this peculiar taste. “Abyssus abyssum. “Our spirit is abysmal and loves the abyss. she met on the skirts of the park the tanner’s son. Madame de Stael. and absorbed in reading. he left space behind him. as others throw all their life into action. and suggested to him the almost womanly refinement of feeling which is instinctive in great men. when out walking. who transferred all his activities to thinking. But I will not here anticipate the intellectual phases of his life.

The circumstances of the time. my memory. then she probably forgot him. “Why? yes!” “And do you understand Him?” The Baroness was silent for a moment. could with difficulty recall these words spoken by the Baroness as describing Lambert. though retentive. then she sat down by Lambert. and Louis Lambert’s character. and manners. Monsieur de Corbigny. early in 1811. after diverting him from a career in which he might have found happiness. Having entered this college at the age of fourteen. Madame de Stael determined to save Louis Lambert alike from serving the Emperor or the Church. I doubt whether during the whole time he ever heard a word of his benefactress—if indeed it was the act of a benefactress to pay for a lad’s schooling for three years without a thought of his future prospects. Such a meeting was of a kind to strike Madame de Stael very greatly.— “Do you understand all this?” she asked. on her return home she said but little about it. and to preserve him for the glorious destiny which. Lambert would leave it at the end of 1814. when he had finished the course of Philosophy. looks. notwithstanding an effusiveness which in her became mere loquacity. is far from being so trustworthy as my friend’s. but it evidently occupied her thoughts.Balzac affected in her questions.” Louis failed to justify in the eyes of the world the high hopes he had inspired in his protectress. and I have forgotten the whole of the dialogue excepting those first words. one of the fancies characteristic of artist souls. and with a keen glance at Lambert. “Do you pray to God?” said the child. and began to talk to him. may to a great extent absolve Ma411 . awaited him. Unfortunately. she thought. to send her Moses in due course to the High School at Vendome. Before her departure she instructed a friend of hers. for she made him out to be a second Moses snatched from the waters. “He is a real seer. and whom I catechised to be informed of what few words Madame de Stael had let drop. The transient favor she showed him was regarded as a feminine caprice. The only person now living who preserves any recollection of the incident.

whose excitable nature found ample pasture during the vicissitudes of 1814 and 1815. or the impression that such an adventure as Louis Lambert’s was calculated to produce. unluckily. and Juilly. originally half-military and halfmonastic. The authoress of Corinne heard no more of her little Moses. he went on foot from Blois to Paris in the hope of seeing her. practices. by the strangeness of the story. in certain of their establishments—the colleges of Vendome. scattered about the country. was not a sufficiently large sum to leave lasting memories in Madame de Stael. And here a little information must be given as to the primitive administration of this institution. When the first crisis had blown over. I believe. certain Oratorians. Two letters from Lambert to the Baroness remained unanswered. who died. therefore. to the education of youth—succeeding the Jesuits. of Tournon. which absorbed all her interest. A hundred louis.dame de Stael for her thoughtlessness and her generosity. The memory of Madame de Stael’s good intentions with regard to Louis remains. and customs which gave this school a character with which I 412 . However. devoted. turned out a certain number of cadets for the army. which she placed in the hands of Monsieur de Corbigny. to explain the new life which there awaited Lambert. Before the Revolution. and arrived. The political events that ensued were then a sufficient excuse for this gentleman’s neglect of the Baroness’ protege. struck. the authorities recovered possession of their buildings. Sorreze. I believe. like the Society of Jesus. only in some few young minds. the Oratorians. Pont-Levoy. in fact. on the very day of her death. decreed by the convention. like the others. with the habits. That at Vendome. The abolition of educational bodies. as mine was. At this time Louis Lambert was at once too proud and too poor to go in search of a patroness who was traveling all over Europe. of la Fleche. had but little effect on the college at Vendome. No one who had not gone through the training at our college could understand the effect usually made on our minds by the announcement that a “new boy” had arrived. in 1812. The gentleman who was to have kept up communications between her and the boy left Blois just at the time when Louis passed out of the college. came back to the college and re-opened it under the old rules.

Balzac have seen nothing at all comparable in any that I have visited since I left that establishment. and including all the buildings necessary for an institution on that scale: a chapel. examined us from the three points of view of dress. attended by the tutors and the tradesmen. placed in file like soldiers to await the arrival of the two inspectors who. Once entered there. Standing in the heart of the town. Everything bore the stamp of monastic rule. rhetoric. the college possesses extensive precincts. and the first class comprised the senior students— of philosophy. Letters to parents were obligatory on certain days. health. Each of these divisions had its own building. into the minimes (the smallest). Thus our sins and our sentiments were all according to pattern. The punishment originally invented by the Society of Jesus. The two or three hundred pupils lodged in the establishment were divided. in my day the tawse was still a living memory. a pupil never leaves till his studies are finished. and water supply. Distance prohibits any frequent visits from parents to their children. The division of the minimes included the eighth and seventh classes. We were all in our best. and fourth. I well remember. everything is calculated to give the School the benefit of conventual discipline. and play-ground. was still in force in all the integrity of the original code. a bakehouse. classrooms. in the large common precincts on to which the classrooms opened. the middle boys. so was confession. the little boys. The rule of the House forbids holidays away from it. among other relics of the ancient order. on the little river Loire which flows under its walls. as alarming to the moral as to the physical man. an infirmary. This college is the most celebrated home of learning in all the central provinces. and chemistry. and receives pupils from them and from the colonies. a theatre. gardens. and beyond which was the refectory. according to ancient custom. fifth. and morals. the middle boys were classed as third and second. and the big boys. With the exception of walks taken under the guidance of the Fathers. carefully enclosed by walls. the inspection we went through every Sunday. the little boys formed the sixth. 413 . and the classical leather strap played its terrible part with all the honors. the higher mathematics.

and the formula would be. the cavalry charges on stilts. the clatter of our clogs. deprived as we were of all communication with the outer world and of family affection. But a full account of the peculiarities which made the college at Vendome a place unique in itself and fertile in reminiscences to those who spent their boyhood there. and the plate of dessert returned by the same road. This gastronomical barter was always one of the chief pleasures of our college life. we transacted it with amazing eagerness. and all our games permitted or prohibited. If one of the “middle” boys at the head of his table wished for a helping of lentils instead of dessert—for we had dessert—the offer was passed down from one to another: “Dessert for lentils!” till some other epicure had accepted. then. our military band. our Father professors. Which of us all but remembers with delight. notwithstanding the bitterness of learning. they were taken in order. Contrary to the usual practice in educational institutions. and above thirty garden plots. setting down the dishes. and. handing the bread. then the plate of lentils was passed up to the bidder from hand to hand. accommodated all the school. above all. Mistakes were never made. Our two or three hundred pigeon-houses. such tricks and freedom as were necessitated by our seclusion. worthy of an ancient religious Order. the trading transactions with “the shop” set up in the courtyard itself. the bustling to and fro of the servants employed in changing the plates. as the case might be. were a sight even stranger than our meals. would be weariness to the reader. permission obtained to play cards and devise theatrical performances during the holidays. a tolerant Oratorian rule which enabled us to exchange plates according to our taste. our academy. To make our life more tolerable. our incessant barter kept everything moving. with the tours of inspection of the masters. “Lentils number one for dessert number one. we were allowed to keep pigeons and to have gardens. a relic of the cadets. with a thousand birds nesting all round the outer wall. made this refectory at Vendome a scene unique in its way. 414 . our chaplain. the eccentric pleasures of that cloistered life? The sweetmeats purchased by stealth in the course of our walks. again.This dining-hall. and the chatter of three hundred lads. and the amazement of visitors. If several identical offers were made.” The tables were very long. the long slides made in winter. we were allowed to talk at our meals.

a purse of gold. to which we went. to the earthenware pots in which we set aside the rice from supper to be eaten at next morning’s breakfast. twelve times a year. tools. the whole catalogue of the most treasured possessions of boys. ink of all colors. balls and marbles. the budget of her personal fancies. Jacobin pigeons. as we imagined possible on the eve of the first Sunday in each month? For six francs during one night we owned every delight of that inexhaustible shop! and during Mass every response we chanted was mixed up in our minds with our secret calculations. found themselves penniless? Any one who forms a clear idea of this huge college. would be the first to hear on trustworthy authority: “There will be a new boy to-morrow!” and then suddenly the shout. was ever more spitefully criticised than the new boy by the youths in his division. and Nuns. including everything from sauce for the pigeons we were obliged to kill off. and the four plots in which we were distributed as by a monastic rule. each of which would absorb the whole sum. each in his turn. Which of us was so unhappy as to have forgotten how his heart beat at the sight of this booth. during the first days of happiness. with its monastic buildings in the heart of a little town. stilts. a passenger suddenly embarked on the ship. will easily conceive of the excitement that we felt at the arrival of a new boy. hands.Balzac This shop was kept by a sort of cheap-jack. pencils. to spend his little pocket-money. paper. and despising those pariahs who. on her first appearance at Court. open periodically during play-hours on Sundays. Usually during the evening playhour before prayers. in short. of whom big and little boys could procure—according to his prospectus—boxes. those sycophants who were accustomed to ingratiate themselves with the Fathers who took it in turns two and two for a week to keep an eye on us. helping. to whom her husband. dream of so many different purchases. No young duchess. pens. “A New Boy!—A New Boy!” rang through 415 . Mass-books—an article in small demand—penknives. while the smallness of the sum allowed by our parents for these minor pleasures required us to make a choice among all the objects that appealed so strongly to our desires? Did ever a young wife. Which of us all can recollect ever having had a sou left to spend on the Sunday following? And which of us but obeyed the instinctive law of social existence by pitying. by the avarice or poverty of their parents.

I was in the fourth class at the time—among the little boys. In my time there were indeed but three genuine Oratorians to whom this title legitimately belonged. after examining him. to find occupation about the altar in various country parishes. in which Gerard represents her as so tall and handsome. as a remarkable exception. Our housemasters were two men whom we called Fathers from habit and tradition. Father Haugoult. which had gradually become secularized. Monsieur Haugoult had to tell us all about Madame de Stael.the courts.” Games were at an end. and he lacked the tact which is indispensable for discerning the different characters of children. even after I read her book of really masculine power. began very obligingly to communicate to his pupils the wonderful events which were to end on the morrow in the advent of the most singular of “new boys. But Lambert at that time was an even greater wonder. discovered. Father Haugoult. like an aerolite. was not a bad man. Monsieur Mareschal. by Madame de Stael. It was Louis’ ignorance of Latin that placed him so low as the fourth class. Louis Lambert’s advent was the subject of a romance worthy of the Arabian Nights. had thought of placing him among the senior boys. though they were not priests. that the real Madame de Stael fell at once in my estimation. they often dined at the director’s table. but of very moderate attainments. De l’Allemagne. the headmaster. and held two literary meetings annually. alas! the woman painted by my imagination so far transcended this. then. he was to be one of the “Academy. We hurried up to crowd round the superintendent and pester him with questions: “Where was he coming from? What was his name? Which class would he be in?” and so forth.” Proh pudor! we were to have the honor of counting among the “little boys” one whose coat was adorned with the red ribbon displayed by the “Academicians” of Vendome. All the children came round in silence to hear the story of Louis Lambert. but he would certainly leap up a class every year. These Academicians enjoyed distinguished privileges. that evening she seemed to me ten feet high. like the cure of Mer. and graduating their punishment to their powers of resistance. at which we 416 . in 1814 they all left the college. the master for the week. and. and. I saw at a later time the picture of Corinne. in a corner of the wood.

Balzac were all present to hear their elucubrations. a coming genius. tragedies. and an Academician! This boy of fourteen. a youth capable of writing a composition or a translation while we were being called into lessons. In the fourth. epistles. a treaty of alliance offensive and defensive. he would confess that. the masterpiece of this unknown Society. he can have no pigeon-house. In school language. I long treasured the memory of a story called the “Green Ass. and of learning his lessons by reading them through but once. “If he has pigeons. Well. for the Academicians were expected to hold public meetings every Thursday during the holidays. said Father Haugoult. the word here rendered chum—faisant. but never in my time did I know brothers who were chums. and to read tales in verse or prose. “Oh. he thinks perhaps that he will make his life the poorer if he merges an affection of his own choosing in a natural tie. it cannot be helped. since famous as an agriculturist. essays. And if every Vendome scholar would speak the truth. there is not room for another. in later life. Louis Lambert bewildered all our ideas.” which was. copin—expressed a fraternal sharing of the joys and evils of your childish existence. It is strange.” It was very unusual to be one of that illustrious body before attaining to the second class. I think. the protege of Madame de Stael. The impression made upon me by Father Haugoult’s harangue that evening is one of the most vivid reminiscences of my childhood. And Father Haugoult’s curiosity and impatience to see this new boy added fuel to our excited fancy. or in some schools. An Academician was a great man in embryo. a poet already. was to be one of us! a wizard. a community of interests that was fruitful of squabbling and making friends again. I can compare it with nothing but my first reading of Robinson Crusoe. Indeed. I wish I might be his chum!” cried an enthusiast.” said one boy. an Academician of the great French Academy seemed to him far less remarkable than the stupendous boy who wore the cross and the imposing red ribbon which were the insignia of our “Academy. “Who will sit next to him?” said another. I owe to my recollection of these prodigious impressions an 417 . dramas—compositions far above the intelligence of the lower classes. If man lives by his feelings.

Jealous of his place as leader.observation that may perhaps be new as to the different sense attached to words by each hearer. while I. when this book was published. Carried away by this ill-timed mania. was already interested. a score of early developed brains. anomalies that are famous in the history of the human mind. but a study of this fact would require considerable elaboration. he doubted Lambert’s precocious gifts. overwhelmed him with evidence. made his appearance in public life as a lawyer. having lately read Les Enfants celebres. and under the same roof. on the same form. we often talked nonsense together about God. we affect a word more than it affects us. of whose fame Vendome ever hears. and allowed me to help myself to books without much caring what I chose to take from the library. I neglected my studies to compose poems. has not been false to his pre-destination. as I myself was. My mathematical master was the librarian of the college. Our comrade Dufaure had not. I had a long discussion with my next neighbor in the dormitory as to the remarkable being who on the morrow was to be one of us. a quiet spot where I went to him during play-hours to have my lesson. who was ambitious to see me in the Ecole Polytechnique. were brought together in the same classroom. and lead us too far from our immediate subject. which certainly can have shown no great promise. and Lambert’s predecessors. and he said nothing of the books I borrowed. This neighbor. Pascal—in short. He at that time affected pyrrhonism. Either he was no great mathematician. I was at the time passionately addicted to reading. The translator of Fichte. and nature. the expositor and friend of Ballanche. in metaphysical questions. quoting young Montcalm. by a tacit understanding between us. or he was absorbed in some grand scheme. paid for me to have a special course of private lessons in mathematics. 418 . ourselves. Barchou de Penhoen. who became an officer. Pico della Mirandola. and is now a writer with lofty philosophical views. I made no complaints of being taught nothing. nor to the hazard of fortune by which the only two scholars of Vendome. My father. while he worked at I knew not what. its value is in relation to the images we have assimilated and grouped round it. Not being able to sleep. The word in itself has no final meaning. for he very willingly left me to read when I ought to have been learning. So.

I persisted in my reading. next 419 . the idlest. I felt sympathy from the first for the boy whose temperament had some points of likeness to my own. The looked-for morrow came at last. in spite of good advice from Monsieur Mareschal. who tried to cure me of an unfortunately inveterate passion by telling me the fable of a linnet that fell out of the nest because it tried to fly before its wings were grown. I was nicknamed the Poet. whom Monsieur Mareschal was leading by the hand. The superintendent descended from his desk. I thought it glory to be the familiar friend of a child whose immortality was foreseen by Madame de Stael. Louis Lambert came to fill it. will you place him in the fourth class? He will begin work to-morrow. according to etiquette: “Monsieur. This autobiographical digression may give some idea of the reflections I was led to make in anticipation of Lambert’s arrival. the headmaster. A minute before breakfast we heard the steps of Monsieur Mareschal and of the new boy in the quiet courtyard.” and consequently the most frequently punished. who participated in our torments of curiosity. the most dreamy of all the division of “little boys. he said: “Where can he sit?” It would have been unfair to displace one of us for a newcomer. To me Louis Lambert was as a giant. so as there was but one desk vacant.Balzac to judge by a line of too many feet which became famous among my companions—the beginning of an epic on the Incas: “O Inca! O roi infortune et malheureux!” In derision of such attempts. I became the least emulous. We then saw this famous new boy. did not sound the whistle he used to reduce our mutterings to silence and bring us back to our tasks.” Then. Though I knew not yet what glory meant. Father Haugoult. and the headmaster said to him solemnly. Every head was turned at once to the door of the classroom. after speaking a few words in an undertone to the classmaster. I have brought you Monsieur Louis Lambert. I was always rhyming. I was at last to have a companion in daydreams and meditations. but mockery did not cure me. I was then twelve years old.

strength. of which the proportions were extraordinary even to us heedless boys. of a fine. and his hands were burnt brown by the sun. and his evident strength in proportion to his years. as may be supposed. we all stood up to look at Louis Lambert. Louis Lambert was slightly built. Though we ourselves had all gone through this cruel novitiate. whose manners. vegetable coloring. well. absorbed in studying him in silence. the scorn expressed in his face for our childishness. the catechism. bright black in masses of curls. gave wonderful beauty to his brow. when studying in the classroom had faded his vivid. in fact. nearly five feet in height. but make no noise. whether he was stoical or dumfounded. His head was unusually large. and temper were thus tested. At the same time. Though we still had some time to wait before lessons were over. he became as pale and white as a woman. knowing nothing. For my part. do not disturb the other classes. and there was a shout of laughter. There were about eighty of us little demons. The new boy was thenceforth Pythagoras through all his life at the college. Lambert. saw how eager we were. his face was tanned. and which had the transparency of alabaster. Monsieur Mareschal heard our mutterings. and we all gathered round Lambert while Monsieur Mareschal walked up and down the courtyard with Father Haugoult. as bold as birds of prey.” These words set us free to play some little time before breakfast. the easy attitude he assumed. His hair. for I had last joined the class. giving him an appearance of manly vigor. the line having 420 . and said.to me. One of us thereupon remarked that he was no doubt of the school of Pythagoras. which were inexhaustible on such occasions. never sparing him the mockery. to the discomfiture of the neophyte. with the kindness that endeared him to us all: “Well. which. The distinction of this prophetic brow lay principally in the exquisitely chiseled shape of the arches under which his black eyes sparkled. he did not possess. infused a certain respect into the veriest scamps among us. the impertinence. made no reply to any questions. of the auguries of phrenology. two months after he came to the college. Lambert’s piercing eye. so far removed from the stamp of his own nature. Indeed. so to speak. I kept near him. we showed no mercy on a newcomer. a science still in its cradle.

one was never spoken without the other. they seemed to have a soul in their depths. at another full of heavenly sweetness. he entirely belied Madame de Stael’s prognostications. steadying the table with his feet on the cross-bar below. equally unexpected. almost colorless. equally rigid. But children. which rendered him unfit for the violent exercise in vogue among his fellows. for their look was full of a wonderful variety of expression. consisting of twelve large desks. as it seemed. if I may use such words in a new sense. At one moment astonishingly clear and piercing. and displayed none of the prodigies we looked for in him. face to face and sloping from the middle. one of our little bullies having made game of this sickliness. and said: “Now. After three months at school. As to his strength. His strength and his voice were no less variable. ten of you try to move it!” I was present. Lambert took hold with both hands of one of the class-tables. those eyes became dull. rough. for what is nearer to God than genius in the heart of a child? The similarity of our tastes and ideas made us friends and chums.Balzac the unusual beauty of being perfectly level to where it met the top of the nose. he leaned back against the class-master’s desk. which was indeed plain enough. and to call either they always shouted “Poet-andPythagoras!” Some other names had been known coupled in a like 421 . They then looked like a window from which the sun had suddenly vanished after lighting it up. and can vouch for this strange display of strength. and seemed weakly. he was habitually incapable of enduring the fatigue of any game. at other times it was labored. I alone was allowed really to know that sublime— why should I not say divine?—soul. His tone could be as sweet as that of a woman compelled to own her love. and after the first few days we ceased to study Louis. Louis was looked upon as a quite ordinary scholar. Lambert had the gift of summoning to his aid at certain times the most extraordinary powers. almost infirm. rugged. our intimacy was so brotherly that our school-fellows joined our two names. But during the early days of his school-life. But when you saw his eyes it was difficult to think of the rest of his face. when he was lost in meditation. and of concentrating all his forces on a given point. are wont to judge of everything by first impressions. it was impossible to move the table. like men.

It was not till I was thirty years of age. I have forgotten some. I benefited by them without understanding their greatness or their processes. happy in the tender care of an old man who was devoted to him. that I am enabled now to write his intellectual biography. mingled with the odors of a classroom that was never clean. Louis became the victim of a malady which. and during that time my life was so identified with his. that I was capable of understanding all the bearings of the phenomena which I witnessed at that early time. and to the freedom of a purely haphazard education. will be found full of what may be termed moral anachronisms.manner. or remember only the most conspicuous facts. till my experience was matured and condensed. Indeed. and every part of him suffered from this life in common. my memory is now able to co-ordinate them. though the symptoms were invisible to the eye of our superiors. so far as the expression and appreciation of many things is concerned. still. and I have mastered the secrets of that fertile brain by looking back to the delightful days of our boyish affection. being more immediately connected than the others with the nerve-centers of the brain. this narrative. considerably interfered with the exercise of his remarkable gifts. which perhaps will not detract from its peculiar interest. to live within the four walls of a room where eighty boys were sitting in silence on wooden forms each in front of his desk. The effluvia that vitiated the air. cause invisible disturbance to the 422 . Thus for two years I was the school friend of poor Louis Lambert. His senses were developed to such perfection as gave them the most sensitive keenness. the sense which. nor free from the fragments of our breakfasts or snacks. indeed. as into that of many another man who is lost to science. when shocked. must. till the flash of an intense illumination had thrown a fresh light upon it. affected his sense of smell. Accustomed to live in the open air. to walk in the ranks. In the course of the first few months after coming to Vendome. used to meditating in the sunshine. he found it very hard to submit to college rules. So it was time alone that initiated me into the meaning of the events and facts that were crowded into that obscure life. It was long before I fully knew the poetry and the wealth of ideas that lay hidden in my companion’s heart and brain.

a sort of sink. there was a large stone slab.Balzac organs of thought. he always had impositions to write. but the master. he seemed to be thinking of his lessons. Thus the place. which maintained some vitality in our brains. that we had not six free days during the two years of our school friendship. a visible effect on the constitution of royal personages when the faults of such an education are not counteracted by the life of the battle423 . has. on which two pails full of water were kept standing. The habit of preserving a dignified appearance. Lambert and I were so overpowered with impositions. In spite of numerous windows and lofty doors. where we every morning washed our faces and hands. a punishment which varies according to the practice of different schools. consisted at Vendome of a certain number of lines to be written out in play hours. The loss of the fresh and fragrant country air in which he had hitherto lived. And then he never earned the rest of the play-time. the hairdressing. too. Want of exercise is fatal to children. this system of discipline would have reduced us to idiotcy. and the thousand messes made by the boys. the lockers. In each classroom. the air was constantly fouled by the smells from the washing-place. the change of habits and strict discipline. there were lockers in the classrooms in which the boys kept their miscellaneous plunder—pigeons killed for fete days. he spent the hours of study gazing at the trees in the court or the clouds in the sky. begun in tender infancy. And this sort of humus. would call out: “Lambert. where women combed and powdered our hair. one after another. you are doing nothing!” This “you are doing nothing!” was a pin-thrust that wounded Louis to the quick. being cleaned but once a day before we were up. The imposition. Besides these elements of impurity in the atmosphere. it is said. or tidbits filched from the dinner-table. We then passed on to a table. mingling with the mud we brought in from the playing-yard. in the master’s presence. But for the books we took out of the library. seeing his pen motionless. combined to depress Lambert. to say nothing of their eighty closely packed bodies. produced a suffocatingly pestilent muck-heap. With his elbow on his desk and his head supported on his left hand. or the sheet before him still a blank. was always more or less dirty.

but if the master. It was enough for either of us to hear our class-fellows repeat the task in French. if there were a book to be finished. The “little boys” and the smallest of all. Then we always put off writing our exercises till the last moment. A good many of the boys indeed were obliged to prefer the evil to the remedy. for lack of a mother’s care. there was a scarcely less cruel apprenticeship through which every boy had to pass: to those bodily sufferings which seemed infinitely varied. we very often did not even know what the lesson was. How often have we scribbled an exercise during the time when the head-boy. when a schoolboy is constantly exchanging the frozen air of the muddy playingyard for the stuffy atmosphere of the classroom. and waiting for a bandage carelessly put on. took it into his head to reverse the usual order and call upon us first. unfortunately. especially in winter. but this could only be very indifferently done to so many damaged hands. and heels. The tenderness of a child’s skin needs extreme care. was gathering them from the others! In addition to the moral misery which Lambert went through in trying to acclimatize himself to college life. and so degenerate the race. the task was forgotten—again an imposition. the rules of punishment carried out in schools deserve the attention of the Office of Public Instruction when any thinkers are to be found there who do not think exclusively of themselves. And if the laws of etiquette and Court manners can act on the spinal marrow to such an extent as to affect the pelvis of kings. must result in schoolboys from the constant lack of air. or grammar. and cheerfulness! Indeed. and we could say it when our turn came. what deep-seated mischief. physical and moral. exercise. were martyrs to chilblains and chaps so severe that they had to be regularly dressed during the breakfast hour. the choice constantly lay between their lessons waiting to be finished or the joys of a slide. toes. then the imposition fell in spite of our most ingenious excuses. Our memory was so good that we never learned a lesson. Also it was the fashion in the school 424 . whose business it was to collect them when we came into school. We incurred the infliction of an imposition in a thousand ways. Latin. or if we were lost in thought. to soften their cerebral tissue.field or the laborious sport of hunting. and still more carelessly cast off again.

and punished for not working. whether from a defect in his gait. Hence. in winter. the water and snow got in through some unnoticed crack or ill-sewn patch. dragged on by the general movement. or by fidgeting during lessons in obedience to the instinctive need of movement common to all children. the strong despise the feeble without knowing in what true strength consists. or sometimes to dispute their possession with the clay soil of the district. so sensitively afraid of laughter or of pity—two forms of scorn—is the still tender soul at that age. In the first place. That boy did not get through the winter without great suffering. sick with pain. hence the weekly inspection of which I have spoken. Woe to the boy who indulged in the bad habit of treading his shoes down at heel. This plan.Balzac to gibe at the poor. No gloves. If by good hap a boy’s parents. were incapable of work. The price paid for our schooling and board also covered the cost of clothing. or the broken heels would prevent the wretched shoes from keeping on his feet. not ten perhaps could walk without some special form of torture. or the headmaster gave gloves to a particularly delicate lad. or if the gloves escaped 425 . amused to see them dry and shrivel. of cracking the shoe-leather. feeble creatures who went to be doctored. then the rivets and packthread intended to repair the shoes would give way. The committee contracted for the shoes and clothes supplied to the boys. the bullies vied with each other in snatching off the rags which the infirmary nurse had tied on. with halfdead feet and fingers. Nor was this all. as in social life. Out of sixty boys. would not believe in real suffering. or wearing out the soles too fast. the wags or the big boys of the class would put them on the stove. his chilblains would ache and shot as badly as a fit of the gout. The Fathers. and yet they all kept up with the body of the troop. is always disastrous to the managed. too often deluded by shammed ailments. though admirable for the manager. he was obliged to drag them wearily along the frozen roads. At school. the infirmary nurse. Many a time some proud-tempered boy would shed tears of rage while summoning his remaining energy to run ahead and get home again in spite of pain. and the foot would swell. many of us. as men are driven through life by life itself.

who. lessons ill learned. cracked with the least cold. and less merciless in their mockery than boys are in regard to those who rule over them.” to use the school phrase. and destroyed them very quickly. unless it be the resistance of the opposition to the ministry in a representative government. his shoes. His girlish complexion. He was forced to take care of his locker. who. There is a perpetual struggle going on between the masters and the boys. to be compared with nothing else in the social world. he sometimes revenges himself for his own blunders on the boys who are only too ready to detect them. Of all the physical 426 . gloves were impossible. and surrounded with snares. after getting wet they shrunk as they dried for want of care. if he is occasionally unjust or out of temper. but offended dignity spoke in the master through the strap. his books. a struggle without truce. to give his mind to the thousand details of our trivial life. Taught at last by cruel experience. under the hand of an almost divine imagination. common ill behavior were sufficiently punished by an imposition. when lost in thought. gave himself up with rapture to the flow of his ideas. It is a task to put angels out of patience. his copy-paper. and his pens from pilferers. An unhappy class-master must then not be too severely blamed. Unless for serious misdemeanors. he had a mania for fidgeting with his shoes.the marauders. for which there were other forms of punishment. and consequently not too competent. ill-paid as he is. his clothes. Perpetually watched by a hundred mocking eyes. to protect his ink. No. But journalists and opposition speakers are probably less prompt to take advantage of a weak point. white hands grew red and swollen. he was obliged to “look after his things. Louis Lambert fell a victim to all these varieties of torment. the strap was regarded at Vendome as the ultima ratio Patrum. acquire a habit of mechanical motion. the skin of his ears and lips. in short. his desk. Like many contemplative men. He had perpetual colds. His soft. and boys insist on equality. to which more selfish and commonplace minds devoted such strict attention—thus infallibly securing prizes for “proficiency” and “good conduct”—while they were overlooked by a boy of the highest promise. less extreme in resenting an injury. Thus he was a constant sufferer till he became inured to school-life. This was not all. Gloves were a privilege. Exercises forgotten.

which struck him like a lightning-flash. under the sway of chronic melancholy. but few could control an expression of anguish in anticipation. it was a question of nature. like the journey from the Palais de Justice to the Place de Greve which the condemned used to make to the scaffold. resulting in a certain amount of “strap. every eye looked alternately at the master and at Louis. From this arose a standing feud between Lambert and his master. To sensitive natures these preliminaries were an introductory torture. Lambert. others accepted the infliction with stoic calm. and owed it to a peculiarity of his physiognomy of which he was for a long time quite unconscious. who. Louis Lambert was constantly enduring the strap. you will get the strap. as I well remember: “If you look at me again in that way. as a Leyden jar is charged with electricity. about two fingers wide. as sensitive as a woman. he made this speech. the victim knelt in the middle of the room. applied to our poor little hands with all the strength and all the fury of the administrator. without knowing it. The observation was so utterly foolish.” Thus did he first discover the power of his eye. Whenever he was suddenly roused from a fit of abstraction by the master’s cry. so full of nerves. and charged with thought. that the boy again looked at the Father.” At these words every nose was in the air. at once so 427 . overwhelming him with another flash. This look.—this boy. and as sick with genius as a girl with love that she pines for. certainly the most acute was that inflicted by this leathern instrument. Some boys cried out and shed bitter tears before or after the application of the strap. knowing nothing of it. He had to leave his form and go to kneel down near the master’s desk under the curious and generally merciless eyes of his fellows. “You are doing nothing!” it often happened that. no doubt. The hapless poet. indignant at this unspoken retort. he flashed at his teacher a look full of fierce contempt. To endure this classical form of correction.Balzac torments to which we were exposed. discomfited the master. wished to cure his scholar of that thunderous flash. The first time the Father took offence at this ray of scorn.

The penetrating instinct and unerring conceit of schoolboys made them feel that we were of a nature either far above or far beneath their own. a victim of the strap and to a sickly frame. our illicit amusements. when amnesty was proclaimed and we got a few hours of freedom. we shared in none of the popular diversions of the school. Aliens from the pleasures enjoyed by the others. sitting there alike during lesson time and play hours. Forgotten for the most part. nor walk on stilts. tortured in every sense. and we fell into utter disgrace with our companions. The Poet-and-Pythagoras formed an exception and led a life apart from the life of the rest. our persistent indifference. which lay open to his mind. was but natural in our schoolfellows. he took refuge in heaven. restricted to the acreage of his desk. we sat there very contentedly. This hard judgment. our apparent waste of time.powerful and so weak. for being an idle and incorrigible pair. to be squeezed in the mould of a collegiate routine to which every spirit and every body must yield. Louis Lambert suffered in every spot where pain can touch the soul or the flesh. Perhaps this life of purely inward emotions helped him to see something of the mysteries he so entirely believed in! Our independence. environed by distress—everything compelled him to give his body up to the myriad tyrannies of school life. and. half happy. accepting its rule and its uniform as gold is crushed into round coin under the press. We lived exactly like two rats. earned us a reputation. Stuck on a form. hence some simply hated our aristocratic reserve. We could neither play ball. whatever their range or temperament. sitting forlorn under a tree in the playing-ground. perhaps I have but now divined them. On exceptional holidays. transplanted by “Corinne” from the country he loved. huddled into the corner of the room where our desks were. others merely scorned our ineptitude. These feelings were equally shared by us without our knowing it. like the martyrs who smiled in the midst of suffering. Our masters treated us with contempt. which was injustice in the masters. like two 428 . from whom we concealed our secret studies for fear of being laughed at. our frequent punishments and aversion for our exercises and impositions. This strange state of affairs inevitably and in fact placed us on a footing of war with all the other boys in our division. nor run races. which no one cared to controvert. we were outcasts.

the dews of the valley. We had both played the part of the “Leper of Aosta. He had. which brought many a thrashing down on the Poet-and-Pythagoras. Louis has taken the glory off many a masterpiece for me. revive the memories of our childhood. in his structures. before we read them as expressed by his eloquent pen.” And. “Happily for me. two images who would have been missed from the furniture of the room. there is no possible comparison between the pangs of a passion condemned. shut in between four narrow. I am sure. A book may. whether rightly or wrongly. just to show their malignant power. Louis Lambert was an enslaved soul. indeed. Werther is the slave of desire.Balzac plants.” and had both experienced the feelings described in Monsieur de Maistre’s story. must transcend the wail even of genius. Filled as he was with 429 . are the more genuine. Lambert’s home-sickness lasted for many months. seen vast landscapes. “Why are there so few straight lines in nature? Why is it that man. Given equal talent. After sitting for a long time with his eyes fixed on a lime-tree in the playground. always suffering but unable to complain of suffering. and thus this life became an ideal life in the strictest meaning of the words. by every law. founded on desires which. the more pathetic sorrow. a living elegy. An eagle that needed the world to feed him. But the most aggressive of our schoolfellows would sometimes torment us. being purer. fragrant with the scent of woods. but it can never compete with them successfully. “there are hours of comfort when I feel as though the walls of the room had fallen and I were away—away in the fields! What a pleasure it is to let oneself go on the stream of one’s thoughts as a bird is borne up on its wings!” “Why is green a color so largely diffused throughout creation?” he would ask me. of all creatures. and we responded with stolid contempt. and liberty. dirty walls. has a sense of straightness?” These queries revealed long excursions in space. Lambert’s woes had taught me many a chant of sorrow far more appealing than the finest passages in “Werther. rarely introduces curves? Why is it that he alone.” he exclaimed one day. I know no words to describe the dejection to which he was a prey. indeed. He was always silent and resigned. but that word would reveal an infinite speculation. Louis would say just a word. and the grief of a poor child pining for the glorious sunshine.

which is a slow process of seeing by which we work up from the effect to the cause.” said he one day. using his own arguments to consider the intellect as a purely physical phenomenon. we both fell into artless meditation. Louis went on his skyward way absolutely unconscious of the things about us. His considerations on the substance of the mind led to 430 . or. because I was younger and more impressionable than he. “Thinking is seeing. “as though imagined suffering affected you in spite of yourself? If. we set to work to detect in ourselves the inscrutable phenomena of the origin of thoughts. Then. often mixed up with childish notions. His intuitions had already acquired that acuteness which must surely characterize the intellectual perceptiveness of great poets and often bring them to the verge of madness. after much discussion. and a word from the depths of his soul would show the current of his mind. tired to regulate my life in conformity with his. I feel an acute pain as if I had really cut myself. But the pain comes suddenly.” He was a spiritualist (as opposed to materialism). And Louis the more easily infected me with the sort of torpor in which deep contemplation leaves the body. in a wider sense. like every work of art. eh?” When he gave utterance to such subtle reflections. he would grasp my hand. Perhaps the words materialism and spiritualism express the two faces of the same fact. I. carried away by some objection raised as to the first principles of our organization. so as to describe some day the unknown process. We both were right.” said he to me one day. which Lambert hoped to discover in their earliest germ. “Do you ever feel.contempt of the almost useless studies to which we were harnessed. all poetry. but I would venture to contradict him. we got into the habit of thinking together in a common reverie. for instance. “Every human science is based on deduction. a look would flash from Lambert’s eager eyes. only the blood is wanting. and startles me like a sharp noise breaking profound silence. proceeds from a swift vision of things. I think with concentration of the effect that the blade of my penknife would have in piercing my flesh. Can an idea cause physical pain?—What do you say to that. obeying the imitative instinct that is so strong in childhood. Like two lovers.

would try to make me share in his beliefs concerning angels. In each of us there are two distinct beings. I used to listen hungrily to his tales. and the credulity natural to the young. Is it not during the youth of a nation that its dogmas and idols are conceived? And are not the supernatural beings before whom the people tremble the personification of their feelings and their magnified desires? All that I can now remember of the poetical conversations we held together concerning the Swedish prophet. often led us to discuss Heaven and Hell. he must strive to foster the delicate angelic essence that exists within him. His passion for mystery. may be told in a few paragraphs. but we lived through our heart and brain. was merely vegetating. apparently. rapturously devour stories in which truth assumes the most grotesque forms. for lack of a lucid appreciation of his destiny. as well as children. full of the marvels which make men. The romantic end he foresaw as the destiny of man was calculated to flatter the yearning which tempts blameless imaginations to give themselves up to beliefs. which gave his words that color of truth without which nothing can be done in any art. instead of confirming his intellectual being. all his powers will be ab431 . having quite forgotten each other’s existence. How delightful it was to me to feel his soul acting on my own! Many a time have we remained sitting on our form. He had a certain consciousness of his own powers which bore him up through his spiritual cogitations. each conscious of the other’s presence. If a man desires to earn his call to be an angel. Then Louis. the angel is an individual in whom the inner being conquers the external being. In his least logical arguments there were still amazing observations as to the powers of man. like two fish swimming in the same waters. both buried in one book. According to Swedenborg. and bathing in an ocean of thought. Our life. as soon as his mind reveals to him his twofold existence. whose works I have since had the curiosity to read. with a certain pride. and yet not apart. the life of privation to which we were condemned in consequence of our idleness and our indifference to learning. Lambert’s influence over my imagination left traces that still abide. he allows bodily action to predominate.Balzac his accepting. by expounding Swedenborg. If.

Still. is proved and made intelligible by that variety. I loved to 432 . so strangely powerful that they give rise to phantasies as various as the dreams of the opiumeater.sorbed in the use of his external senses. that he made my brain reel. he so acted on my imagination. In the invisible world. allows us to suppose that there is as great a difference between men of genius and other beings as there is between the blind and those who see. The infinite variety which differentiates individual men can only be explained by this twofold existence. and the angel will slowly perish by the materialization of both natures. the soul triumphs over matter and strives to get free. the wide distance between a man whose torpid intelligence condemns him to evident stupidity. which I have endeavored to sum up in a more or less consistent form. gives us. The beings who. again. Dante. since it extends creation beyond all limits. according to their inner perfection. survives and begins its real life. if some native of the lower spheres comes. circle on circle. as it were. and taking such effect on the brain. which. to the highest heaven. swathed in the wrappings of the phraseology affected by mystical writers: an obscure language full of abstractions. Thus Swedenborg’s doctrine is the product of a lucid spirit noting down the innumerable signs by which the angels manifest their presence among men. not only can he never understand the customs and language there. This doctrine. the angel. are apparently mingled without distinction. strong enough then to cast off its wrappings. was set before me by Lambert with all the fascination of mysticism. in distinct spheres whose speech and manners have nothing in common. the clue to heaven. In the contrary case. had perhaps some slight intuition of those spheres which begin in the world of torment. as in the real world. and one who. if he nourishes his inner being with the aliment needful to it. in his Divine Comedy. all unworthy. and rise. but his mere presence paralyzes the voice and hearts of those who dwell therein. When they separate by the act of what we call death. This hypothesis. Lambert told me of mystical facts so extraordinary. into a higher sphere. and Madame Guyon. that there are books by Jacob Boehm. In point of fact. by the exercise of his inner life. Swedenborg. are there distributed. has acquired the gift of some power. here on earth.

If my memory does not play me false. These violent revulsions of the mind on itself gave me. And there was a roar of laughter. while Lambert looked at the master in some bewilderment. of patrician rank?” “She would say that you were an ass!” said I in a muttered tone. And who better than he could inspire or feel love? If anything could give an impression of an exquisite nature.Balzac plunge into that realm of mystery. To him pure love—love as we dream of it in youth—was the coalescence of two angelic natures. if one of us had a book to finish and to return to the mathematical master. We imitated each other’s handwriting. so that one might write the tasks of both. The passage began with Caius Gracchus. his actions. But on the foregone conclusion that we were both of us idiots. he could read on without interruption while the other scribbled off his exercise and imposition. invisible to the senses. the master always went through them under a rooted prejudice. vir nobilis. was it not the amiability and kindliness that marked his feelings. 433 . his words. they were sometimes of remarkable merit when Lambert did them. his slightest gestures. in which every one likes to dwell. Lambert himself explained everything by his theory of the angels. without my knowing it. the conjugal regard that united us as boys. and that we expressed when we called ourselves chums? There was no distinction for us between my ideas and his. I remember one afternoon. or clothes it in the more solid guise of romance. a comprehension of its power. which lasted from two till four. and even kept them to read to be laughed at by our schoolfellows. Lambert had construed this by “Caius Gracchus had a noble heart. at the end of the lesson. We did our tasks as though paying a task on our peace of mind. and accustomed me to the workings of the mind. Nothing could exceed the fervency with which he longed to meet a woman angel. “What would Madame la Baronne de Stael say if she could know that you make such nonsense of a word that means noble family.” “Where do you find ‘heart’ in nobilis?” said the Father sharply. Thus. the master took possession of a page of translation by Lambert. whether he pictures it to himself under the indefinite ideal of the Future.

The doors. we had a long day before us to spend in walks in the country round the town of Vendome. in fact. and boys were sometimes shut up there for a month at a time. or the sharpness of our hearing. as books were prohibited. with a silent step. that we considered Thursday our only real day of freedom. The manor of Rochambeau was the most interesting object of our excursions. were locked at night and opened in the morning under the eye of the Father whose duty it was to superintend our rising and going to bed. Thursday and Sunday were holidays.“Master Poet. the partitions consisting at the top of open bars. The boys in these coops were under the stern eye of the prefect. the smaller boys were very seldom taken on so fatiguing an expedition. so completely filled up Sunday. But a few walnut shells dropped on the stairs. was a sound peculiar to that college. so we could give ourselves up without anxiety to our favorite studies. The creak of these gates. However.” replied the master. a sort of censor who stole up at certain hours. or with relating singular facts connected with the phenomena of mind. One of the most extraordinary of these incidents beyond question is this. By the law of custom in all schools. partly the cause of Lambert’s troubles. How434 . either in irony or in reproof. After once attending Mass. perhaps by reason of its distance. we could talk the whole day long in the silence of the dormitories. On every pretext masters and pupils threw the name in his teeth. which the college servants unlocked with remarkable expedition. or at unexpected moments. not only because it concerns Lambert. looking at me with inexpressible affection. which we were made to attend very regularly. almost always enabled us to beware of his coming. to hear if we were talking instead of writing our impositions. “Vir nobilis!” Madame de Stael was. our prison hours were chiefly filled up with metaphysical discussions. where each boy had a cubicle six feet square. which I will here record. fitted with gratings. Lambert simply repeated. Louis lost no time in getting himself “kept in” to share my imprisonment. Freer thus than in any other circumstances. but because it perhaps was the turning-point of his scientific career. who unfortunately overheard me. These little cells were our prison. you will stay in for a week. but the services.

who was but thirteen. we set out at half-past twelve. the turrets of the chateau. we were to go there for the first time. marching in a body on the famous chateau with an eagerness which would at first allow of no fatigue. I saw this last night in a dream. Neither Lambert nor I had ever seen the pretty valley of the Loire where the house stood. but after thinking it over. I asked him if he had not perhaps been brought to Rochambeau in his infancy. analogous to what may be known of the phenomena of sleep in several persons. We talked of it all the evening. he answered in the negative. if Lambert’s powerful mind had any presentiment of the importance of such facts. using a 435 .” He recognized the clump of trees under which we were standing. and he was quite astonished by this incident. After dinner next day. made us all very good. once or twice a year the class-masters would hold out Rochambeau as a reward for diligence. will illustrate the beginnings of Lambert’s line of talent. on the devious valley through which the river winds and sparkles between meadows in graceful curves—a beautiful landscape. but at that time we were incapable of falsehood in the most trivial matters of our life as friends. as gay as swallows. whence we looked down on the house standing half-way down the slope. he took it. where the owner sometimes treated the boys to milk. in fact every part of the prospect which we looked on for the first time. and nothing hindered the outing. This incident. one of those scenes to which the keen emotions of early youth or of love lend such a charm. which filled the school with traditional glee. in fact. Louis. planning to spend in fruit or milk such money as we had saved. towards the end of the spring. given to us for our afternoon snack. Indeed. might have the precocity of genius.Balzac ever. When we reached the hill. against all the habits of school-life. that it is wise never to see them again in later years—Louis Lambert said to me. “Why. at any rate. he was far from appreciating their whole bearing. the distance. each provided with a square hunch of bread. In 1812. So his imagination and mine were much excited by the prospect of this excursion. We were mere children. Our anxiety to see this famous chateau of Rochambeau. at fifteen. the color of the water. I. as the basis of a whole system. and my question struck him. And off we went. the grouping of the woods. the details.

striking his brow with his hand. or else in the cerebral centre. “If not the elements of a science. Louis said to me: “If the landscape did not come to me—which it is absurd to imagine—I must have come here. at least they prove a frequent severance of our two natures. why should I not insist on their separating in the same way while I am awake? I see no half-way mean between the two propositions. where ideas are formed. “per436 . or the facts took place either in some nerve centre. If. if without stirring I traversed wide tracts of space. At last. sound acts only at certain angles or on surfaces. if I heard sounds in the most perfect silence and without the conditions requisite for the production of sound. I have hit on evidence to show the superiority that distinguishes our latent senses from our corporeal senses! Homo duplex! “And yet. Material nature must be penetrable by the spirit. does not that constitute a complete severance of my body and my inner being? Does it not prove some inscrutable locomotive faculty in the spirit with effects resembling those of locomotion in the body? Well. of which the name is yet to be discovered. and yet I saw the landscape—and this upsets many systems. where our feelings dwell and move. If I was here while I was asleep in my cubicle. I saw. colored objects. since I was in my cell. then. “But if we go further into details: either the facts are due to the action of a faculty which brings out a second being to whom my body is merely a husk. if my spirit and my body can be severed during sleep. then. I heard. I saw. the fact I have been thinking out for a very long time. and after a few minutes’ reflection. which seem to prove that man has a double life? May there not be a new science lying beneath them?” he added. color is caused only by light. at any rate the revelation of stupendous powers in man. with a doubtful shrug. I walked. after a pause. At this moment we were sitting together on an old oak-stump. with my eyes shut. in the dark. This last hypothesis gives rise to some strange questions.” he went on. Motion is inconceivable but in space. in myself.fragment—as Cuvier did in another branch of inquiry—as a clue to the reconstruction of a complete system. “How is it that men have hitherto given so little thought to the phenomena of sleep. there must be inner faculties independent of the external laws of physics.

a passion begotten of our pride. big with prescience. of which the development within us produces certain unobserved phenomena of activity.” Noble soul! I recognized his superiority. his burning glance was radiant. the delicacy 437 . He shared with me all the treasures of his mind. In our love of the marvelous. for the Spirit uses. his uplifted hand. at last his head.” he added after a pause. and his forehead seemed ready to burst with the afflatus of genius. leaving me the credit of my insignificant contributions. and vision. He was always as gracious as a woman in love. or exhausted by too eager a flight.” said he. which was damp. then. Perhaps he saw the dreams of his youth as swaddling clothes that he must soon shake off. and animates the Substance. as though too heavy. “We will both study the Chemistry of the Will. Always when he was talking to me of Heaven and Hell. and regarded me as instrumental in his discoveries. I own. the sheaths for a very marvelous instrument. lament over the loss of my illusions. his silent but tremulous lips were eloquent. “Sight and hearing are.” He remained pensive. but now. too. no doubt. but it does not destroy it.Balzac haps we have not two natures. he seemed to soar more boldly than ever above the landscape. so fevered was he for the search for truth. laughing at his own figure of speech. took my hand and clasped it in his own. This boy—this giant—bent his head. as he pronounced these last words. His powers—mental powers we must call them till some new term is found—seemed to flash from the organs intended to express them. he had all the bashful feeling. perhaps we are merely gifted with personal and perfectible qualities. he said: “I shall be famous!—And you. divides. Must this new science destroy them? Yes. I so much wished to believe in our twofold nature and in Swedenborg’s angels. though he took great care never to make me feel it. because we did not understand them. after a pause. we have translated these effects into poetical inventions. for the study of our unknown properties involves us in a science that appears to be materialistic. he was wont to treat of Nature as being master. fell on his breast. penetration. almost sad. It is so convenient to deify the incomprehensible! “I should. His eyes shot out thoughts.

On the following day he began writing what he called a Treatise on the Will. he cast the model of his work. Lambert’s ideas. Lambert’s writings excited the curiosity of our companions. and rediscovered by that prodigious genius. Some of the boys. But suddenly. glanced through them. and the precursor of Gall. and said. One day one of the masters. At the end of six months’ indefatigable labor. with a sense of justice. as he confiscated them: “And it is for such rubbish as this that you neglect your lessons!” Large tears fell from Lambert’s eyes. The dreadful Haugoult insisted on our giving up the box. and came to seize. in self-defence. The foe. and the class-master came to protect his slaves. of the cave of Trophonius. a box that contained the precious papers. he would have it broken open. by force. just as the electric shock always felt by Mesmer at the approach of a particular manservant was the starting-point of his discoveries in magnetism. suddenly illuminated by this flash of light. The trunk was locked. then. inquiring as to the cause of the fight. a science till then interred under the mysteries of Isis. he disentangled certain truths from his many acquisitions and brought them into order. close on Lavater. Father Haugoult roughly intervened. Our enemies had interrupted us in writing our impositions. of Delphi. Lambert gave him the key. enlisted the aid of our tyrants. the master took out the papers. crushing us with insulting contempt. advised the attacking party to leave us in peace. assumed vaster proportions. but they tried to smash it in the struggle.of soul which make life happy and pleasant to endure. a stroke of malignity at which we shrieked with rage. Lambert and I defended it with incredible courage. wrung from him as much by a sense of his offended moral superiority as by the gratuitous insult 438 . or struck perhaps by our heroic defence. our aggressors could not open it. his subsequent reflections led to many changes in its plan and method. like a founder. brought to the spot by the noise of a battle. if we should resist. betrayed the existence of the manuscript. but the incident of that day was certainly the germ of the work. who was bent on seeing the manuscripts. and became the object of cruel practical jokes which led to a fatal issue.

to commemorate the life of the man who bequeathed to me all he had to leave—his thoughts. This present volume is intended as a modest monument. I can boldly state that. a broken column. then already forgotten as childish. but this is not all I have borrowed from him: his character and occupations were of great value to me in writing that book. Bernard Palissy. Ten years later. by 1812. Thus a humble artisan. I understood the value of his work. but which.Balzac and betrayal that he had suffered. Our parting threw him into a mood of the darkest melancholy. Father Haugoult probably sold the Treatise on the Will to a local grocer. It was in memory of the disaster that befell Louis’ book that. and the subject arose from some reminiscences of our youthful meditations. as he had declared. evidence was certain to come sooner or later. searching the soil to find minerals 439 . I at once spent several months in recalling the principal theories discovered by my poor schoolmate. Having collected my reminiscences. did it not require them to keep silence as to our misdeeds? In a moment they were no doubt ashamed of their baseness. in due time. bring forth fair fruit in the intellectual sphere. he had proved. of which the germs thus fell into unworthy hands. I adopted the title invented by Lambert for a work of fiction. and gave the name of a woman who was dear to him to a girl characterized by her self-devotion. and I do not know whether Lambert ever recommenced his labors. to reveal to them the bare skeleton of some science to come. in the tale which comes first in these Etudes. unconscious of the scientific treasure. when I met some learned men who were devoting serious attention to the phenomena that had struck us and that Lambert had so marvelously analyzed. His philosophical speculations ought undoubtedly to gain him recognition as one of the great thinkers who have appeared at wide intervals among men. We gave the accusers a glance of stern reproach: had they not delivered us over to the common enemy? If the common law of school entitled them to thrash us. Six months later I left the school. divined. In that boyish effort Lambert had enshrined the ideas of a man. of which the roots spread slowly. and set forth in his Treatise several important facts of which.

had adopted certain common words that answered to his notions. Volition—a word due to Locke—expressed the act by which a man exerts his will. Volition. Thus Lambert. but. in the sixteenth century. to set forth the basis of his system. The Idea. geological facts which it is now the glory of Cuvier and Buffon to have demonstrated. New ideas require new words. proclaimed. up to the point where from an excess of cold or of heat the 440 . which he regarded as the quintessential product of the Will. in spite of myself. constituted the act by which man uses his mind. extended and defined in their meaning. the actions constituting his external life. Thus the Will and the Mind were the two generating forces. “You must will before you can think. the mass of power by which man can reproduce. if such words may be taken to formulate notions so difficult of definition. the Volition and the Idea were the two products. a name common to every creation of the brain. in the South a constant excitability of the Will.” he said. or Thought.for glazing pottery. give some idea of Lambert’s Treatise by stating the chief propositions on which it was based. I know not. from its generative fluid to a solid expression. “Many beings live in a condition of Willing without ever attaining to the condition of Thinking. I shall strip them of the ideas in which they were clothed. I started on a different path. he thought. The word Will he used to connote the medium in which the mind moves. having assimilated them in the first instance so as to color them with my own. and only made use of those of his researches which answered the purpose of my scheme. outside himself. so to speak. The word Mind. or a new and expanded use of old words. in the South. He gave the Will precedence over the Mind. life is long. the Mind and Ideas are the motion and the outcome of our inner organization. In the North. According to him. I can. just as the Will and Volition are of our external activity. I believe. whether as his disciple I can faithfully expound his views. or to use a less abstract expression. with the infallible intuition of genius. therefore. and which were indeed their indispensable accompaniment. also represented the medium in which the ideas originate to which thought gives substance. but in the North we see torpor. it is shorter. was the Idea evolved from the abstract state to a concrete state.

having thrown all her energies into her motherly love. a fragile. In support of his definitions. he had no suspicion then of its importance. as the circulation of 441 .” The use of the word “medium” was suggested to him by an observation he had made in his childhood. whether the element that constitutes electricity does not enter as a base into the specific fluid whence our Ideas and Volitions proceed? Whether the hair.Balzac organs are almost nullified. absorbent. saw the electric sparks from her hair when she combed it. was one of those beings created to represent womanhood in all the perfection of her attributes. for instance. to be sure. all sensitiveness and affection. the circulation of the blood and all its mechanism would not correspond with the transsubstantiation of our Will. The man of fifteen made scientific application of this fact which had amused the child. and consequently wholly suffering. were at all more extraordinary than those of the invisible and intangible fluid produced by a voltaic pile. turns white. and wholly electrical? Whether the fluid phenomena of the Will. but so violent in their effects. His mother. and tactile. that are given off from a grain of musk without any loss of weight. but relegated by a mistaken fate to too low a place in the social scale. imperceptible indeed. excretive. either absorbent or diffusive. He inquired. may not be in fact a capillary system. nervous woman. of which there is ample evidence in many instances. though he proposed to seek the solution for himself. though. falls out. a fact beyond dispute. and spontaneously reacting under the impress of conditions as yet unobserved. a matter generated within us. or some superabundant power run to waste. which loses its color. Lambert. Whether. a child of six. challenges flung out to science. but not always sleeping. but its singularity naturally struck his delicately alert imagination. granting that the function of the skin is purely protective. especially of women who by a sad fatality are doomed to let unappreciated feelings evaporate in the air. Lambert propounded a variety of problems to be solved. she died young. in proportion to the decay or crystallization of our thoughts. Wholly loving. and applied to the nervous system of a dead man? Whether the formation of Ideas and their constant diffusion was less incomprehensible than evaporation of the atoms. in a cot by his mother’s bed. lying. or disappears.

having had a glimpse of some phenomena of the natural working of the Being of Action. Nature has in every case been pleased to give a twofold purpose to the various apparatus that constitute her creatures. in conformity with its nature. which is now ascertained beyond dispute.” he said. recognizing the startling coincidences between the views of that celebrated physiologist and those of Louis Lambert. and the twofold action of the human organism. having observed in almost every type of created thing two separate motions. The inner Being. and they had with equal steps arrived at the same strange truths. car442 . the Being of Action—the word he used to designate an unknown specialization—the mysterious nexus of fibrils to which we owe the inadequately investigated powers of thought and will—in short. like Swedenborg. the nameless entity which sees. I was really bewildered by my recollections. be free from the physical conditions by which the external Being of Reaction. “is a fact completely accomplished in our will before it is accomplished externally. he proposed to class the phenomena of human life in two series of distinct results. whether the more or less rapid affluence of these two real substances may not be the result of a certain perfection or imperfection of organs whose conditions require investigation in every manifestation? Having set forth these principles. foresees the end. and the sum-total of our external acts he called Reaction. with the ardent insistency of conviction. he assumed. From this followed a multitude of logical explanation as to those results of our twofold nature which appear the strangest. proves by a mass of evidence in daily life how true were Lambert’s deductions as to Action and Reaction. In fact. their existence in our human nature.” Hence the sum-total of our Volitions and our Ideas constitutes Action. demanding. he asserted. is fettered in its manifestation. They both died young. a special analysis for each. and accomplishes everything before expressing itself in any physical phenomenon—must. were. When I subsequently read the observations made by Bichat on the duality of our external senses. acts. and designated this vital antithesis Action and Reaction. Certain men.the nerve fluid corresponds to that of the Mind? Finally. and a rectification of various systems in which truth and falsehood are mingled. nay. “A desire. the visible man.

so improvable by use. the flowers of the past. it could be seen vaguely foreseeing the future. by some phenomenon of sight or movement. admitted their truth while refusing to consider them as radiating from a common centre. integument.Balzac ried away above this world by their ardent soul. and shape. in the ages when the understanding had preserved the religious and spiritualist impressions. but enthusiasts in brain at least. in short. “must. and hell the void into which our unperfected faculties are cast away. 443 . and argumentative—quacks perhaps. and embryo in a seed. “Heaven. gifted with faculties so extensive. Hence arose demonology. after all.” he would say. scent. Other men. or by the mystery of a palingenesis not unlike the power a man might have of detecting in the form. and filled with the Divine Spirit. how could men help accounting for the mysteries of our nature otherwise than by divine interposition? Of whom but of God Himself could sages demand an account of an invisible creature so actively and so reactively sensitive. the black arts. then. less poetically religious. thirsting for poetry. space in its two manifestations—Time and Distance—of which the former is the space of the intellect. Each of these was. be the survival of our perfected faculties. Thus. and to conditions that are still completely unknown.” But how. which prevailed from the time of Christ till that of Descartes. Hence we have angels! A lovely illusion which Lambert would never abandon. bent on constructing a science out of a simple fact. every form of divination founded on circumstances that were essentially transient. either by the power of retrospective vision. in their ignorance of the causes and their admiration of the facts. the latter is physical space? Sometimes they found it reconstructing the past. judicial astrology. or by some phenomenon of physical presentiment. they pleased their fancy by regarding that inner man as divine. then. and so powerful under certain occult influences. and constructing a mystical universe. again. cherishing it even when the sword of his logic was cutting off their dazzling wings. between faith and doubt. cold. that they could sometimes see it annihilate. because they varied according to men’s temperament. and the numberless variations of their color. and sometimes. either by its apprehension of final causes. if not in heart—recognizing some isolated examples of such phenomena.

jealous of all mysteries. though they may become perceptible to the inner being when it has reached a high degree of ecstasy. and demoniacs of every degree—the victims of the Middle Ages—became the subject of explanations so natural. had been regarded with reason as incomprehensible. which proceed from the same source. or again. punished with the stake. The marvelous gifts which the Church of Rome. in Louis’ opinion. nothing but the eccentricity of these phenomena could have availed to give some of them historic certainty. by another faculty. can abstract itself completely from the Being of Reaction. Scaliger turned pale at the sight of 444 . “If apparitions are not impossible. and piercing walls by its potent vision. Bayle had hysterics when he heard water splashing. and even then only in the privacy of intimate intercourse. where everything is buried. bursting its envelope. can grasp in the brain. a phenomenon known to the Hindoos. Sympathies have rarely been proved. been recorded when developed by famous men. according to Lambert. very happily. startling evidence was derived of the prodigious faculties at the command of the Being of Action. till then. which.” I know—though my remembrance is now vague—that Lambert. escapes our grosser senses. or a great perfection of vision. imperishable perhaps. But the antipathies that arise from the inversion of affinities have. that their very simplicity often seemed to me the seal of their truth. as missionaries tell us. Thus. by the name of Tokeiad. by following the results of Mind and Will step by step. The man holding a hazel rod when he found a spring of water was guided by some antipathy or sympathy of which he was unconscious.” said Lambert. they afford a kind of pleasure which those who are so happy as to possess them rarely speak of unless they are abnormally singular.But from these errors of the learned. after he had established their laws. in spite of its closest convolutions. were. and from the ecclesiastical trials under which fell so many martyrs to their own powers. and the whole of past consciousness. “they must be due to a faculty of discerning the ideas which represent man in his purest essence. whose life. the ideas which are formed or forming there. the result of certain affinities between the constituent elements of matter and those of mind. Thus wizards. men possessed with second sight. accounted for a multitude of phenomena which.

by another effort. they were its natural corollary. very multifarious. though Louis did not know the Swiss doctor’s writings—which are few and brief. and chosen from among many which history has happened to preserve. of course. so important. or even imparted. if they could not protect themselves against such an aggression. at the presence of a cat. A simple and logical inference from these principles led him to perceive that the will might be accumulated by a contractile effort of the inner man. whether he were forewarned or no of an eclipse of the moon. These three antipathies were connected with water. and many other persons have felt faint at seeing a rose even in a painting. are enough to give a clue to the sympathies which remain unknown. suspended while the phenomenon lasted was restored as soon as it was over without his feeling any further inconvenience. These effects of antipathy. projected. Lord Bacon. The Chevalier de Guise. though as yet so little appreciated. We have only the notorious disaster of Marius and his harangue to the Cimbrian commanded to kill him. to material objects. these antipathies were produced by animal emanations. Erasmus was thrown into a fever by the smell of fish. Henri III.Balzac water-cress. but there is nothing to establish it beyond question. Tycho-Brahe at that of a fox. and his vitality. and of infusing into them an essence foreign to their own. or the august injunction of a mother to the Lion of Flo445 . always fell into a syncope while it lasted. The evidence of this theorem of the science of humanity is. and often took effect at a great distance. which I remember from among his essays. This fragment of Lambert’s investigations. Marie de Medici. and every more or less scientific brain will discern the ramifications by which it is inevitably connected with the phrenological observations of one and the speculations on physiognomy of the other. The Duc d’Epernon fainted at the sight of a hare. and then. all well authenticated. the Marechal d’Albret at the sight of a wild hog. will throw a light on the method on which he worked. was also embodied in a single section of this treatise. I need not emphasize the obvious connection between this theory and the collateral sciences projected by Gall and Lavater. Thus the whole force of a man must have the property of reacting on other men. Mesmer’s discovery.

the investigation it undergoes commands the admiration we give to works slowly elaborated. and he spoke of them in such a way as to impress his belief on the hearer. the vital force is lacking. when a sort of darkness reigns within us. Thought was slow or alert. becoming atrophied. a sort of flora. in historic proof of instances of such lightning flashes of mind. springing into existence like a will-o’-the-wisp. an idea suddenly flies forth. dies out never to return. an ephemeral life. in a way. Again. expanding.” said he. and specified all its actions by the strangest words in our language. and we are lost in the contemplation of things outside us. resting. and rushes with the swiftness of lightning across the infinite space which our inner vision allows us to perceive. heavy or nimble. they terrify us and leave the soul dejected. exhausts us by long gestation. dawns gradually. within us and without. Will and Thought were living forces. Or again. “Often. hovers in the unknown limbo of the organs where it has its birth. shrinking. To him these two forces were. “in the midst of quiet and silence. speaking of its spontaneity. or resuscitating. is itself fruitful. then. on certain days. they rise up pallid and misty. it can endure the closest inspection. he ascribed to it all the attributes of an active agent. wild and headlong. invites it. instead of springing forcibly into life and dying unembodied. when our inner faculties are dormant. visible. resembling a natural kingdom. they come linked together. grows outwardly in all the grace of youth and the promising attributes of a long life. he described its life. like that of babes who give their parents such infinite joy and sorrow. develops. and perish for want of strength or of nutrition. one brings another. everything testifies to the livingness of those exquisite creations. they vie with each other. This radiant idea. growing old. Sometimes an idea. Sometimes ideas are evolved in a swarm. tangible. “Yes. which I compare with flowers in obedi446 . they fly in clouds. its strength. and all its qualities with a kind of intuition which enabled him to recognize all the manifestations of its substantial existence.rence. of which the iconography will one day be outlined by some man who will perhaps be accounted a madman. and never tires the sight. “Ideas are a complete system within us. they rush down into the depths to light up that immense obscurity. and thought of it as rising. To Lambert. light or dark. waking. a sort of still-born blossom in the fields of the mind.

perhaps! “When we consider the line where flesh ends and the nail begins contains the invisible and inexplicable mystery of the constant transformation of a fluid into horn. lascivious. is painful only as a result of the law in virtue of which the weight of a body is multiplied by its velocity. “By this system God is bereft of none of His rights. The Mind appeared to me as a purely physical power. whose creative fingers are able. after all. and collects to flash in lightnings. the nerves. to reproduce the forms of nature. has brought me a new conviction of His greatness. or. which. the marvels of the touch. or the brain at our will. The weight of the feeling produced by suspense increases by the constant addition of past pain to the pain of the moment. “And then. are we to attribute the magic by which the Will enthrones itself so imperiously in the eye to demolish obstacles at the behest of genius. whether harsh or suave. Mind. “And are there not in our inner nature phenomena of weight and motion comparable to those of physical nature? Suspense. it was difficult not to be dazzled by his conviction and carried away by his arguments. This brief sketch of the laws which.Balzac ence to some unutterable revelation of their true nature! “Their being produced as the final cause of man is. to choose an example vividly familiar to everybody. con447 . Perfumes are ideas. again. surrounded by its innumerable progeny. after passionate study. thunders in the voice. we must confess that nothing is impossible in the marvelous modifications of human tissue. after receiving into my soul his look like a ray of light. or filters. in obedience to the high pressure of thought or of feeling. through the human frame? The current of that sovereign fluid. in spite of dissimulation. unless it be to the electric fluid. to what. flows in a torrent or is reduced to a mere thread. is the occult agent to which are due the evil or the beneficent efforts of Art and Passion—intonation of voice.” After hearing him discourse thus. the instrument of the mental transfusions of a myriad artists. horrifying or seductive by turns. thrilling the heart. the infinite gradations of the eye from dull inertia to the emission of the most terrifying gleams. terrible. not more amazing than the production of perfume and color in a plant. as Lambert maintained. It was a new conception of humanity under a new form. as a form of matter.

who saw him. but simple enough to believers—the fact that Alphonzo-Maria di Liguori. He had not forgotten that Apollonius of Tyana had. a man gifted with singular powers of insight. She found him. when far away from Porphyrius. while the Bishop himself. in Asia. without a guide. whose lives.” said he. administered consolations to Pope Ganganelli. heard him. making her way alone in the North American wilderness. at a great distance from Rome. so as to give to many of his theories an almost mathematical certainty. always selecting the real fact. 448 . “the Holy Father is just dead. His memory allowed him to recall such facts as might serve to support his statements. supplied him with valuable materials. Bishop of Saint-Agatha. must suffice to give a notion of the prodigious activity of his spirit feeding on itself. was in a trance at home. nor the incident in the last century. and answered him. proved in the face of the most incredulous mockery ever known—an incident most surprising to men who were accustomed to regard doubt as a weapon against the fact alone. at the very hour when it was taking place in Rome. in the acts of the martyrs—in which glorious instances may be found of the triumph of human will. The hour of the Pope’s death coincided with that when the Bishop had been restored to his natural state. Louis had found confirmatory evidence in the mysteries of the ancients. with admirable sagacity. reaching him just in time to save his life. as set forth by their biographers. Nor had Lambert omitted the yet more recent adventure of an English girl who was passionately attached to a sailor. he saw all his attendants kneeling beside him. in criminal trials and medical researches. the probable phenomenon. in the demonology of the Middle Ages.” Two days later a letter confirmed the news. and set out from London to seek him. supply very curious particulars as to the operation of their understanding. and flew to dissuade him. On recovering consciousness. announced the death of a tyrant with every detail of his execution. he had appended them to each chapter in the form of demonstrations. in the chair where he commonly sat on his return from Mass. nor that Plotinus. The works of Cardan. Louis had sought for proofs of his theories in the history of great men. believing him to be dead: “My friends. was aware of his friend’s intention to kill himself.stitute the formula of our intellect.

but he did not seem to give much heed to it.” said he. he had been attached to her in the truest and most faithful affection. as the outcome of a most extraordinary memory. who fed and served him. and told them when to mow the hay and gather the crops. I must go and consult my wife. before a turf fire in the room used by the tanner and his wife. consulted on important occasions. to the great aston449 . he was a sort of oracle. This fact. or the Sagamore of the Indian savages. of which he had told me before he wrote his essay. an old laborer. The barometric exactitude of his forecasts was quite famous. which was curious. This discussion was held in his presence. and went out. white hair.Balzac All this rich collection of scientific anecdotes. This state of rapt meditation often came upon him since his wife’s death. was doomed to destruction. if I may be allowed to coin a new word for a phenomenon hitherto nameless. For whole days he would sit immovable in his armchair. when he was asked for his opinion. His land was tilled by his grandchildren. and among others Louis’ maternal great-grandfather.” The old man rose. Two or three relations were invited to this family council. the only thing they had in the world. Hence their anxiety was very great when the question first arose as to whether they should yield to the plaintiff ’s unjust demands. much bent. and a bald. of which the loss would leave them with a stain on their good name. Among the various cases which added to the value of Lambert’s Treatise was an incident that had taken place in his own family. “this is too serious a matter for me to decide on alone. and this work. The matter came under discussion one autumn evening. bright eyes. served no doubt to wrap parcels in. but with a venerable and dignified countenance. took his stick. “My children. bearing on the post-existence of the inner man. and added to the confidence and respect he inspired. he predicted rain and fine weather. Like the Obi of the Negroes. to say the least of it. or should defend themselves against him. His father and mother were being forced into a lawsuit. struck me so forcibly that I have never forgotten it. culled from so many books. most of them worthy of credit. on which grew a few locks of thin. yellow head.

contributed largely to his belief in Swedenborg’s miraculous visions. studied comparative anatomy. had captivated his attention.ishment of the others. presentiments or predictions are the perception of these causes”—I think we may deplore in him a genius equal to Pascal. As he grew older. and this was undoubtedly with the purpose of collecting facts and submitting them to analysis—the only torch that can guide us through the dark places of the most inscrutable work of nature. and are the outcome of its intellect. at a later period. under his father’s roof and to his own knowledge. in his childhood. your mother came to meet me. She tells me that you will find some receipts in the hands of a notary at Blois. His chimerical notions about angels perhaps overruled his work too long. physics. or Laplace. for in the course of that philosopher’s life he repeatedly gave proof of the power of sight developed in his Inner Being. Lambert was naturally led to seek in the laws of nature for the causes of the miracle which. He had too much good sense to dwell among the clouds of theories 450 . when Louis was nine years old. Lavoisier. He presently came back and said: “I did not have to go so far as the graveyard. and as his intelligence was developed.” The words were spoken in a firm tone. the disputed receipts were found. but was it not in trying to make gold that the alchemists unconsciously created chemistry? At the same time. and made him the principal subject and actor in such marvelous manifestations of mind? If Lambert had no other title to fame than the fact of his having formulated. What name can be given to the chance which brought within his ken so many facts and books bearing on such phenomena. who thought him daft. as our actions are accomplished in our minds before they are reproduced by the outer man. such a psychological dictum as this:— ”The events which bear witness to the action of the human race. Lambert. and the lawsuit was not attempted. and other sciences bearing on his discoveries. which will enable you to gain your suit. have causes by which they are preconceived. the old man’s demeanor and countenance showed that such an apparition was habitual with him. geometry. I found her by the brook. This event. In fact. in his sixteenth year.

I can only conjecture that the bent of his work must have been from that of his first efforts of thought. round which so many a fine genius has beaten its way without ever daring to amalgamate them. was it not the rough copy of a science of which he would have investigated the secrets at a later time. carried me off at four or five hours’ notice. still. he was but a boy. Our parting was unexpected. Louis. lovers of poetry. while at some points it touched the ripest fruits of his genius. the most productive of results. In our day. His brain. is not the simplest demonstration based on facts more highly esteemed than the most specious system though defended by more or less ingenious inductions? But as I did not know him at the period of his life when his cogitations were. My mother. Thus his conception. while my inactive life induced symptoms of coma. as it were. no doubt. alarmed by a feverish attack which for some months I had been unable to shake off. clung to the smaller elements of its germs. at first purely Spiritualist. and connected the logical sequence? Six months after the confiscation of the Treatise on the Will I left school. have examined. what he chiefly lacked must have been a certain vein of interest. he had not yet acquired the necessary powers to produce a coherent system. 451 . Though gifted already with the powers which characterize superior men. compactly cast in a piece. was still full of the delightful beliefs that hover around youth. by many more. deduced. Still. Hence certain inconsistencies that have left their stamp even on the sketch here given of his first attempts.Balzac which can all be expressed in a few words. though endowed with a great faculty for abstractions. had been irresistibly led to recognize the Material conditions of Mind. Confounded by the facts of analysis at the moment when his heart still gazed with yearning at the clouds which floated in Swedenborg’s heaven. incomplete as his work may have been. have secured the foundations. The announcement of my departure reduced Lambert to dreadful dejection. It is easy to see where his Treatise on the Will was faulty. But his work bore the stamp of the struggle that was going on in that noble Spirit between the two great principles of Spiritualism and Materialism. To certain readers.

For a long time indeed I vaguely looked for the promised apparition. but our iron-gray uniform. and we parted. If I can. When I crossed the yard by which we left. very slender. and loneliness. though it was not fated to be the last. “but I shall die. and in the evening I escorted him back to the fatal gate of the college.” Only the young can utter such words with the accent of conviction that gives them the impressiveness of prophecy. “Well. “Is not my position a dreadful one? I have nothing here to uphold me!” and I slapped my forehead.” he went on. Who will understand me now?—Good-bye! I could wish I had never met you. Lambert was at one of the refectory windows to see me pass. I should not know all I am losing. leaving a terror of its fulfilment. developed by harsh usage. Peaceful mildness gave charm to his face. for his natural kindliness tempered his conscious strength and superiority. with gilt buttons and knee452 . I will come back to you.” “And what is to become of me?” said I. By my request my mother obtained leave for him to dine with us at the inn. His frame was a marvel. on whose heart can I rest? I could tell you everything in a look. and which had so shocked our masters. pointing to the playground where two hundred boys were disporting themselves and shouting. alarm. had bereft his eyes of the audacious pride which is so attractive in some faces. “You will live. Divine patience. which was full of expression. a model for a sculptor.“Shall I ever seen you again?” said he in his gentle voice. He shook his head with a gentle gesture. Even now there are days of depression. and almost always moist. when I am forced to repel the intrusion of that sad parting. His countenance. revealed his sweet nature. as he clasped me in his arms. “When I come back half dead with fatigue from my long excursions through the fields of thought. No lover and his mistress ever shed more tears at parting. and the constant concentration needed for his meditative life. I shall be left alone in this desert!” said he. good-bye. gracious and sad. he grew no more. an exquisite serenity that was never marred by a tinge of irony or satire. At that time Louis Lambert was about five feet five inches in height. He had pretty hands. of a pledge. of doubt.

would be regarded as heresiarchs or atheists. which was unlike the different shades of our schoolfellows’ bodies mottled by the cold. and several Fathers and certain Saints. the Word. In chapel he was equally apt to think of God or to meditate on some problem of philosophy. who. He was rigidly calm during the services. and would not pray. When we swam in our pool in the Loire. Louis was like one of those cautious blossoms that close their petals to the blast and refuse to open unless to a clear sky. he disliked everything that resembled any special care for his person. like those of Orientals or of savages. and the gift of tongues. and drank water only. either by instinct or by choice he was averse to any exertion that made a demand on his strength. To this slight picture of the outer man I must add a sketch of his moral qualities. in all things he gave himself up to nature. that the greatest work that could be written nowadays was a His453 . any more than he would think. gave us such an ungainly appearance that Lambert’s fine proportions and firm muscles could only be appreciated in the bath. As a rule. never shivering after his bath.Balzac breeches. with whom gravity seems a condition of nature. Though naturally religious. Louis did not accept the minute practices of the Roman ritual. and so constantly rested his elbows on the table. that the sleeves of his coats were soon in holes. all to him confirmed his doctrine. in aspirations. without any regular formality. Christ’s unconsciousness of His Death—having so perfected His inner Being by divine works. Et Verbum caro factum est seemed a sublime statement intended to express the traditional formula of the Will. Louis was conspicuous by the whiteness of his skin. for I believe I can now judge him impartially. perhaps because he avoided the shade and always ran into the sunshine. elegant in his attitudes. delicate in hue. His own prayers went up in gusts. or blue from the water. his ideas were more intimately in sympathy with Saint Theresa and Fenelon. I remember once hearing him say on this subject. and the Act made visible. He ate little. his movements were few and simple. at any fixed hour. Gracefully formed. in our day. He commonly sat with his head a little inclined to the left. that one day the invisible form of it appeared to His disciples—and the other Mysteries of the Gospels. the magnetic cures wrought by Christ. To him Jesus Christ was the most perfect type of his system.

“The Apocalypse is written ecstasy. they are earlier than our sacred books. as we conversed. indeed men had existed before that cataclysm or shock? A serious 454 . He thought that the mythology of the Greeks was borrowed both from the Hebrew Scriptures and from the sacred Books of India.” He regarded the Bible as a part of the traditional history of the antediluvian nations which had taken for its share the new humanity. which he spoke of as the great era of the Mind. To give a notion of his talents in a few words.” said he. “From this effect. There would be little interest in the record of opinions now almost universally held. from the lips of a boy. Louis was capable of the highest flights. He discerned the strongest evidence of his theory in most of the martyrdoms endured during the first century of our era. though at that time.” I need say nothing of his views on poetry or history. he could have written Zadig as wittily as Voltaire. each man may draw conclusions in favor of his own. adapted after their own fashion by the beauty-loving Hellenes. One of his most remarkable literary observations. he could have thought out the dialogue between Sylla and Eucrates as powerfully as Montesquieu. amply prove that Material force will never prevail against the force of Ideas or the Will of man?” he would say. “It is impossible. “to doubt the priority of the Asiatic Scriptures. and show the lucidity of his judgment. And he never rose to such poetic heights as when. produced by the Will of all. His rectitude of character made him desire above all else in a work that it should bear the stamp of utility. which has ever dwelt in my memory. his refined taste demanded novelty of thought as well as of form. “Do not the phenomena observed in almost every instance of the torments so heroically endured by the early Christians for the establishment of the faith. is this. he would enter on an inquiry into miracles. in the evening. at the same time. worked by the power of Will during that great age of faith. The man who is candid enough to admit this historical fact sees the whole world expand before him. they might seem remarkable.tory of the Primitive Church. nor of his judgment on the masterpieces of our language. which will serve as a clue to all the others. Was it not on the Asiatic highland that the few men took refuge who were able to escape the catastrophe that ruined our globe— if.

which they were the first to recognize. and those fables which charm us so irresistibly. but crushes the poor. no doubt to secure its unity.” said he. their sorrows as pilgrims inspired them with none but gloomy poems. A constant need of self-preservation amid all the dangers and the lands they traversed to reach the Promised Land engendered their exclusive race-feeling and their hatred of all other nations.” Thus. convulsions of nature are interpreted with stupendous power as a vengeance from on high. this threefold literature included all the thoughts of man. to him. In the Hindoos. need protection. These fine fancies are lacking in the Book of the Hebrews. and perhaps also to induce it to maintain his laws and his system of government—for the Books of Moses are a religious. Therein lies the secret of the extraordinary splendor of those languages and their myths. the answer to which lies at the bottom of the sea. on the contrary. majestic but blood-stained. as it were. “The law. the spectacle of the rapid recoveries of the natural world. he could judge it coldly. Perhaps it is because we find in them the native air of renewed humanity. over the heads of society. and knowing it solely from books. gave rise to happy images of blissful love. “These three Scriptures are the archives of an engulfed world. of which the subject might not there be discerned in its germ. “never puts a check on the enterprises of the rich and great. and civil code—that character bears the authority of terror. “The character of the primitive ideas of that horde called by its lawgiver the people of God. to the worship of Fire and of the endless personifications of reproductive force. and how far they had led him. This view shows how learnedly he had pursued his early studies of the Bible. on the contrary. we know not why. political. since this wandering tribe knew none of the ease enjoyed by a community settled in a patriarchal home. The anthropogony of the Bible is merely a genealogy of a swarm escaping from the human hive which settled on the mountainous slopes of Thibet between the summits of the Himalaya and the Caucasus. who. In fact. Hovering. A grand human history lies beneath those names of men and places. Not a book could be written. and the prodigious effects of sunshine.” 455 .Balzac query. in his opinion.

his system led rather to the passive obedience of which Jesus set the example. or the sinews. struck his forehead. as the ancient priests of sacrifice sought to read the future in the hearts of men.” Here. faith. his powers were concentrated on the functions of the inner senses and a superabundant flow of nerve. As a man of ideas. Perhaps nature requires that in them the heart should be nearer to the brain!” Then he went on: “From that. perhaps. will be my glory—laws which must be those of the human organism. and from his reading. Hence his reading. due. before taking leave of this exceptional boyhood. to assimilate every idea.His kind heart did not therefore allow him to sympathize in political ideas. Louis had ceased to feel the spur to glory. All the innumerable modes of human existence result from the proportions in which these three generating forces are more or less intimately combined with the substances they assimilate in the environment they live in. the life of man is Movement determined in each individual by the pressure of some inscrutable influence—by the brain. I may pronounce judgment on it by a rapid glance. from his earliest years. Lambert said to me: “Apart from the general laws which I have formulated—and this. to some malady—or to some special perfection —of organism. the Angel alone has light. no doubt. and having opened it. perhaps. the reflections that 456 . Scorning a sentiment so wholly personal: “Glory. “faith sees only the clouds of the sanctuary. a sum-total of action takes its rise which constitutes social life. the neck is short. genius.” He stopped short.fluid. he had found nothing in the entrails of his chimera. he craved to satisfy the thirst of his brain. the man of brain.” So. according to his own definitions. the man of heart. Lambert was all brain and all heart. had an abstract enjoyment of fame.” said he. A short time before our separation. Under the impulsion. The man of sinew contributes action or strength. in a way.” he added sadly. But. the heart. It seems to me that his intellectual life was divided into three marked phases. of a precocious activity. During the last hours of my life at Vendome. “is but beatified egoism. and exclaimed: “How strange! In every great man whose portrait I have remarked. he had.

was his salvation—it absorbed the superabundance of his thoughts. like that of bodies saturated with alcohol? I had seen nothing of this first phase of his brain-development. dreamed of feeling. after reducing everything to the abstract. and caught a glimpse of new sciences—positively masses of ideas. like a physician who watches the course of his own disease. at a later day. The point which most thinkers reach at last was to him the starting-point. of childish grace and superhuman powers. I then perceived in him the struggle of the Mind reacting on itself. he became thoughtful. might not he die of inanition for want of feeding abnormal and disappointed cravings? Was not this a sort of debauchery of the intellect which might lead to spontaneous combustion. 457 . to enable him to live he yearned for yet other intellectual creations. he contemplated his inmost self. After passing from concrete ideas to their purest expression. Louis Lambert is the creature who. and whose life I would fain hide from all the world. it is only now. that I can thus give an account of its prodigious fruit and results. always excepting one woman whose name. whose features. At this stage of weakness and strength. gave me a poetical and truthful image of the being we call an angel. Lambert was now thirteen. perhaps. acquired by other men only after long study. were achieved by Lambert during his bodily childhood: a happy childhood. Lambert was cast into all the miseries of school-life—and that. Thus. he had made for himself the most exacting life possible. was he not compelled to be perpetually casting nutriment into the gulf he had opened in himself? Like some beings who dwell in the grosser world. Though as yet he knew it not. whose identity. Merely to live. Quelled by the woes of school and the critical development of his physical constitution.Balzac gave him the power of reducing things to their simplest expression. Checked in his career. and the most insatiably greedy. whence his brain was to set out one day in search of new worlds of knowledge. I was so fortunate as to witness the first stage of the second period. colored by the studious joys of a born poet. and not yet strong enough to contemplate the higher spheres. and of absorbing them to study them in their essence. and trying to detect the secrets of its own nature. from words to their ideal import. more than any other. and from that import to principles. the advantages of this splendid stage.

so as to be sole master of the secret of her existence, and to bury it in the depths of my heart. The third phase I was not destined to see. It began when Lambert and I were parted, for he did not leave college till he was eighteen, in the summer of 1815. He had at that time lost his father and mother about six months before. Finding no member of his family with whom his soul could sympathize, expansive still, but, since our parting, thrown back on himself, he made his home with his uncle, who was also his guardian, and who, having been turned out of his benefice as a priest who had taken the oaths, had come to settle at Blois. There Louis lived for some time; but consumed ere long by the desire to finish his incomplete studies, he came to Paris to see Madame de Stael, and to drink of science at its highest fount. The old priest, being very fond of his nephew, left Louis free to spend his whole little inheritance in his three years’ stay in Paris, though he lived very poorly. This fortune consisted of but a few thousand francs. Lambert returned to Blois at the beginning of 1820, driven from Paris by the sufferings to which the impecunious are exposed there. He must often have been a victim to the secret storms, the terrible rage of mind by which artists are tossed to judge from the only fact his uncle recollected, and the only letter he preserved of all those which Louis Lambert wrote to him at that time, perhaps because it was the last and the longest. To begin with the story. Louis one evening was at the TheatreFrancais, seated on a bench in the upper gallery, near to one of the pillars which, in those days, divided off the third row of boxes. On rising between the acts, he saw a young woman who had just come into the box next him. The sight of this lady, who was young, pretty, well dressed, in a low bodice no doubt, and escorted by a man for whom her face beamed with all the charms of love, produced such a terrible effect on Lambert’s soul and senses, that he was obliged to leave the theatre. If he had not been controlled by some remaining glimmer of reason, which was not wholly extinguished by this first fever of burning passion, he might perhaps have yielded to the most irresistible desire that came over him to kill the young man on whom the lady’s looks beamed. Was not this a reversion, in the heart of the Paris world, to the savage passion that regards women as its prey, an 458


effect of animal instinct combining with the almost luminous flashes of a soul crushed under the weight of thought? In short, was it not the prick of the penknife so vividly imagined by the boy, felt by the man as the thunderbolt of his most vital craving—for love? And now, here is the letter that depicts the state of his mind as it was struck by the spectacle of Parisian civilization. His feelings, perpetually wounded no doubt in that whirlpool of self-interest, must always have suffered there; he probably had no friend to comfort him, no enemy to give tone to this life. Compelled to live in himself alone, having no one to share his subtle raptures, he may have hoped to solve the problem of his destiny by a life of ecstasy, adopting an almost vegetative attitude, like an anchorite of the early Church, and abdicating the empire of the intellectual world. This letter seems to hint at such a scheme, which is a temptation to all lofty souls at periods of social reform. But is not this purpose, in some cases, the result of a vocation? Do not some of them endeavor to concentrate their powers by long silence, so as to emerge fully capable of governing the world by word or by deed? Louis must, assuredly, have found much bitterness in his intercourse with men, or have striven hard with Society in terrible irony, without extracting anything from it, before uttering so strident a cry, and expressing, poor fellow, the desire which satiety of power and of all earthly things has led even monarchs to indulge! And perhaps, too, he went back to solitude to carry out some great work that was floating inchoate in his brain. We would gladly believe it as we read this fragment of his thoughts, betraying the struggle of his soul at the time when youth was ending and the terrible power of production was coming into being, to which we might have owed the works of the man. This letter connects itself with the adventure at the theatre. The incident and the letter throw light on each other, body and soul were tuned to the same pitch. This tempest of doubts and asseverations, of clouds and of lightnings that flash before the thunder, ending by a starved yearning for heavenly illumination, throws such a light on the third phase of his education as enables us to understand it perfectly. As we read these lines, written at chance moments, taken up when the vicissitudes of life in Paris allowed, may we not fancy that 459

we see an oak at that stage of its growth when its inner expansion bursts the tender green bark, covering it with wrinkles and cracks, when its majestic stature is in preparation—if indeed the lightnings of heaven and the axe of man shall spare it? This letter, then, will close, alike for the poet and the philosopher, this portentous childhood and unappreciated youth. It finishes off the outline of this nature in its germ. Philosophers will regret the foliage frost-nipped in the bud; but they will, perhaps, find the flowers expanding in regions far above the highest places of the earth.
“Paris, September-October 1819. “Dear Uncle,—I shall soon be leaving this part of the world, where I could never bear to live. I find no one here who likes what I like, who works at my work, or is amazed at what amazes me. Thrown back on myself, I eat my heart out in misery. My long and patient study of Society here has brought me to melancholy conclusions, in which doubt predominates. “Here, money is the mainspring of everything. Money is indispensable, even for going without money. But though that dross is necessary to any one who wishes to think in peace, I have not courage enough to make it the sole motive power of my thoughts. To make a fortune, I must take up a profession; in two words, I must, by acquiring some privilege of position or of self-advertisement, either legal or ingeniously contrived, purchase the right of taking day by day out of somebody else’s purse a certain sum which, by the end of the year, would amount to a small capital; and this, in twenty years, would hardly secure an income of four or five thousand francs to a man who deals honestly. An advocate, a notary, a merchant, any recognized professional, has earned a living for his later days in the course of fifteen or sixteen years after ending his apprenticeship. “But I have never felt fit for work of this kind. I prefer thought to action, an idea to a transaction, contemplation to activity. I am absolutely devoid of the constant attention indispensable to the making of a fortune. Any mercantile venture, any need for using other people’s money would bring me to grief, and I should be ruined. Though I have nothing, at least at the moment, I owe nothing. The man who gives his life to the achievement of great things in the sphere of intellect, needs very little; still, though twenty sous a day would be enough, I do not possess that small income for my laborious idleness. When I


Balzac wish to cogitate, want drives me out of the sanctuary where my mind has its being. What is to become of me? “I am not frightened at poverty. If it were not that beggars are imprisoned, branded, scorned, I would beg, to enable me to solve at my leisure the problems that haunt me. Still, this sublime resignation, by which I might emancipate my mind, through abstracting it from the body, would not serve my end. I should still need money to devote myself to certain experiments. But for that, I would accept the outward indigence of a sage possessed of both heaven and heart. A man need only never stoop, to remain lofty in poverty. He who struggles and endures, while marching on to a glorious end, presents a noble spectacle; but who can have the strength to fight here? We can climb cliffs, but it is unendurable to remain for ever tramping the mud. Everything here checks the flight of the spirit that strives towards the future. “I should not be afraid of myself in a desert cave; I am afraid of myself here. In the desert I should be alone with myself, undisturbed; here man has a thousand wants which drag him down. You go out walking, absorbed in dreams; the voice of the beggar asking an alms brings you back to this world of hunger and thirst. You need money only to take a walk. Your organs of sense, perpetually wearied by trifles, never get any rest. The poet’s sensitive nerves are perpetually shocked, and what ought to be his glory becomes his torment; his imagination is his cruelest enemy. The injured workman, the poor mother in childbed, the prostitute who has fallen ill, the foundling, the infirm and aged—even vice and crime here find a refuge and charity; but the world is merciless to the inventor, to the man who thinks. Here everything must show an immediate and practical result. Fruitless attempts are mocked at, though they may lead to the greatest discoveries; the deep and untiring study that demands long concentrations of every faculty is not valued here. The State might pay talent as it pays the bayonet; but it is afraid of being taken in by mere cleverness, as if genius could be counterfeited for any length of time. “Ah, my dear uncle, when monastic solitude was destroyed, uprooted from its home at the foot of mountains, under green and silent shade, asylums ought to have been provided for those suffering souls who, by an idea, promote the progress of nations or prepare some new and fruitful development of science. “September 20th.


“The love of study brought me hither, as you know. I have met really learned men, amazing for the most part; but the lack of unity in scientific work almost nullifies their efforts. There is no Head of instruction or of scientific research. At the Museum a professor argues to prove that another in the Rue Saint-Jacques talks nonsense. The lecturer at the College of Medicine abuses him of the College de France. When I first arrived, I went to hear an old Academician who taught five hundred youths that Corneille was a haughty and powerful genius; Racine, elegiac and graceful; Moliere, inimitable; Voltaire, supremely witty; Bossuet and Pascal, incomparable in argument. A professor of philosophy may make a name by explaining how Plato is Platonic. Another discourses on the history of words, without troubling himself about ideas. One explains Aeschylus, another tells you that communes were communes, and neither more nor less. These original and brilliant discoveries, diluted to last several hours, constitute the higher education which is to lead to giant strides in human knowledge. “If the Government could have an idea, I should suspect it of being afraid of any real superiority, which, once roused, might bring Society under the yoke of an intelligent rule. Then nations would go too far and too fast; so professors are appointed to produce simpletons. How else can we account for a scheme devoid of method or any notion of the future? “The Institut might be the central government of the moral and intellectual world; but it has been ruined lately by its subdivision into separate academies. So human science marches on, without a guide, without a system, and floats haphazard with no road traced out. “This vagueness and uncertainty prevails in politics as well as in science. In the order of nature means are simple, the end is grand and marvelous; here in science as in government, the means are stupendous, the end is mean. The force which in nature proceeds at an equal pace, and of which the sum is constantly being added to itself—the A + A from which everything is produced—is destructive in society. Politics, at the present time, place human forces in antagonism to neutralize each other, instead of combining them to promote their action to some definite end. “Looking at Europe alone, from Caesar to Constantine, from the puny Constantine to the great Attila, from the Huns to Charlemagne, from Charlemagne to Leo X., from Leo X., to Philip II., from Philip II. to Louis XIV.; from Venice to England, from England to Napoleon, from Napoleon to England, I see no fixed purpose in politics; its con-


Balzac stant agitation has led to no progress. “Nations leave witnesses to their greatness in monuments, and to their happiness in the welfare of individuals. Are modern monuments as fine as those of the ancients? I doubt it. The arts, which are the direct outcome of the individual, the products of genius or of handicraft, have not advanced much. The pleasures of Lucullus were as good as those of Samuel Bernard, of Beaujon, or of the King of Bavaria. And then human longevity has diminished. “Thus, to those who will be candid, man is still the same; might is his only law, and success his only wisdom. “Jesus Christ, Mahomet, and Luther only lent a different hue to the arena in which youthful nations disport themselves. “No development of politics has hindered civilization, with its riches, its manners, its alliance of the strong against the weak, its ideas, and its delights, from moving from Memphis to Tyre, from Tyre to Baalbek, from Tadmor to Carthage, from Carthage to Rome, from Rome to Constantinople, from Constantinople to Venice, from Venice to Spain, from Spain to England—while no trace is left of Memphis, of Tyre, of Carthage, of Rome, of Venice, or Madrid. The soul of those great bodies has fled. Not one of them has preserved itself from destruction, nor formulated this axiom: When the effect produced ceases to be in a ratio to its cause, disorganization follows. “The most subtle genius can discover no common bond between great social facts. No political theory has ever lasted. Governments pass away, as men do, without handing down any lesson, and no system gives birth to a system better than that which came before it. What can we say about politics when a Government directly referred to God perished in India and Egypt; when the rule of the Sword and of the Tiara are past; when Monarchy is dying; when the Government of the People has never been alive; when no scheme of intellectual power as applied to material interests has ever proved durable, and everything at this day remains to be done all over again, as it has been at every period when man has turned to cry out, ‘I am in torment!’ “The code, which is considered Napoleon’s greatest achievement, is the most Draconian work I know of. Territorial subdivision carried out to the uttermost, and its principle confirmed by the equal division of property generally, must result in the degeneracy of the nation and the death of the Arts and Sciences. The land, too much broken up, is cultivated only with cereals and small crops; the forests, and consequently the rivers, are disappearing; oxen and horses are no longer


bred. Means are lacking both for attack and for resistance. If we should be invaded, the people must be crushed; it has lost its mainspring— its leaders. This is the history of deserts! “Thus the science of politics has no definite principles, and it can have no fixity; it is the spirit of the hour, the perpetual application of strength proportioned to the necessities of the moment. The man who should foresee two centuries ahead would die on the place of execution, loaded with the imprecations of the mob, or else—which seems worse—would be lashed with the myriad whips of ridicule. Nations are but individuals, neither wiser nor stronger than man, and their destinies are identical. If we reflect on man, is not that to consider mankind? “By studying the spectacle of society perpetually storm-tossed in its foundations as well as in its results, in its causes as well as in its actions, while philanthropy is but a splendid mistake, and progress is vanity, I have been confirmed in this truth: Life is within and not without us; to rise above men, to govern them, is only the part of an aggrandized school-master; and those men who are capable of rising to the level whence they can enjoy a view of the world should not look at their own feet. “November 4th. “I am no doubt occupied with weighty thoughts, I am on the way to certain discoveries, an invincible power bears me toward a luminary which shone at an early age on the darkness of my moral life; but what name can I give to the power that ties my hands and shuts my mouth, and drags me in a direction opposite to my vocation? I must leave Paris, bid farewell to the books in the libraries, those noble centres of illumination, those kindly and always accessible sages, and the younger geniuses with whom I sympathize. Who is it that drives me away? Chance or Providence? “The two ideas represented by those words are irreconcilable. If Chance does not exist, we must admit fatalism, that is to say, the compulsory co-ordination of things under the rule of a general plan. Why then do we rebel? If man is not free, what becomes of the scaffolding of his moral sense? Or, if he can control his destiny, if by his own freewill he can interfere with the execution of the general plan, what becomes of God? “Why did I come here? If I examine myself, I find the answer: I find


Balzac in myself axioms that need developing. But why then have I such vast faculties without being suffered to use them? If my suffering could serve as an example, I could understand it; but no, I suffer unknown. “This is perhaps as much the act of Providence as the fate of the flower that dies unseen in the heart of the virgin forest, where no one can enjoy its perfume or admire its splendor. Just as that blossom vainly sheds its fragrance to the solitude, so do I, here in the garret, give birth to ideas that no one can grasp. “Yesterday evening I sat eating bread and grapes in front of my window with a young doctor named Meyraux. We talked as men do whom misfortune has joined in brotherhood, and I said to him: “ ‘I am going away; you are staying. Take up my ideas and develop them.’ “ ‘I cannot!’ said he, with bitter regret: ‘my feeble health cannot stand so much work, and I shall die young of my struggle with penury.’ “We looked up at the sky and grasped hands. We first met at the Comparative Anatomy course, and in the galleries of the Museum, attracted thither by the same study—the unity of geological structure. In him this was the presentiment of genius sent to open a new path in the fallows of intellect; in me it was a deduction from a general system. “My point is to ascertain the real relation that may exist between God and man. Is not this a need of the age? Without the highest assurance, it is impossible to put bit and bridle on the social factions that have been let loose by the spirit of scepticism and discussion, and which are now crying aloud: ‘Show us a way in which we may walk and find no pitfalls in our way!’ “You will wonder what comparative anatomy has to do with a question of such importance to the future of society. Must we not attain to the conviction that man is the end of all earthly means before we ask whether he too is not the means to some end? If man is bound up with everything, is there not something above him with which he again is bound up? If he is the end-all of the explained transmutations that lead up to him, must he not be also the link between the visible and invisible creations? “The activity of the universe is not absurd; it must tend to an end, and that end is surely not a social body constituted as ours is! There is a fearful gulf between us and heaven. In our present existence we can neither be always happy nor always in torment; must there not be some tremendous change to bring about Paradise and Hell, two images without which God cannot exist to the mind of the vulgar? I know that a compromise was made by the invention of the Soul; but it


is repugnant to me to make God answerable for human baseness, for our disenchantments, our aversions, our degeneracy. “Again, how can we recognize as divine the principle within us which can be overthrown by a few glasses of rum? How conceive of immaterial faculties which matter can conquer, and whose exercise is suspended by a grain of opium? How imagine that we shall be able to feel when we are bereft of the vehicles of sensation? Why must God perish if matter can be proved to think? Is the vitality of matter in its innumerable manifestations—the effect of its instincts—at all more explicable than the effects of the mind? Is not the motion given to the worlds enough to prove God’s existence, without our plunging into absurd speculations suggested by pride? And if we pass, after our trials, from a perishable state of being to a higher existence, is not that enough for a creature that is distinguished from other creatures only by more perfect instincts? If in moral philosophy there is not a single principle which does not lead to the absurd, or cannot be disproved by evidence, is it not high time that we should set to work to seek such dogmas as are written in the innermost nature of things? Must we not reverse philosophical science? “We trouble ourselves very little about the supposed void that must have pre-existed for us, and we try to fathom the supposed void that lies before us. We make God responsible for the future, but we do not expect Him to account for the past. And yet it is quite as desirable to know whether we have any roots in the past as to discover whether we are inseparable from the future. “We have been Deists or Atheists in one direction only. “Is the world eternal? Was the world created? We can conceive of no middle term between these two propositions; one, then, is true and the other false! Take your choice. Whichever it may be, God, as our reason depicts Him, must be deposed, and that amounts to denial. The world is eternal: then, beyond question, God has had it forced upon Him. The world was created: then God is an impossibility. How could He have subsisted through an eternity, not knowing that He would presently want to create the world? How could He have failed to foresee all the results? “Whence did He derive the essence of creation? Evidently from Himself. If, then, the world proceeds from God, how can you account for evil? That Evil should proceed from Good is absurd. If evil does not exist, what do you make of social life and its laws? On all hands we find a precipice! On every side a gulf in which reason is lost! Then social


Balzac science must be altogether reconstructed. “Listen to me, uncle; until some splendid genius shall have taken account of the obvious inequality of intellects and the general sense of humanity, the word God will be constantly arraigned, and Society will rest on shifting sands. The secret of the various moral zones through which man passes will be discovered by the analysis of the animal type as a whole. That animal type has hitherto been studied with reference only to its differences, not to its similitudes; in its organic manifestations, not in its faculties. Animal faculties are perfected in direct transmission, in obedience to laws which remain to be discovered. These faculties correspond to the forces which express them, and those forces are essentially material and divisible. “Material faculties! Reflect on this juxtaposition of words. Is not this a problem as insoluble as that of the first communication of motion to matter—an unsounded gulf of which the difficulties were transposed rather than removed by Newton’s system? Again, the universal assimilation of light by everything that exists on earth demands a new study of our globe. The same animal differs in the tropics of India and in the North. Under the angular or the vertical incidence of the sun’s rays nature is developed the same, but not the same; identical in its principles, but totally dissimilar in its outcome. The phenomenon that amazes our eyes in the zoological world when we compare the butterflies of Brazil with those of Europe, is even more startling in the world of Mind. A particular facial angle, a certain amount of brain convolutions, are indispensable to produce Columbus, Raphael, Napoleon, Laplace, or Beethoven; the sunless valley produces the cretin—draw your own conclusions. Why such differences, due to the more or less ample diffusion of light to men? The masses of suffering humanity, more or less active, fed, and enlightened, are a difficulty to be accounted for, crying out against God. “Why in great joy do we always want to quit the earth? whence comes the longing to rise which every creature has known or will know? Motion is a great soul, and its alliance with matter is just as difficult to account for as the origin of thought in man. In these days science is one; it is impossible to touch politics independent of moral questions, and these are bound up with scientific questions. It seems to me that we are on the eve of a great human struggle; the forces are there; only I do not see the General. “November 25.


“Believe me, dear uncle, it is hard to give up the life that is in us without a pang. I am returning to Blois with a heavy grip at my heart; I shall die then, taking with me some useful truths. No personal interest debases my regrets. Is earthly fame a guerdon to those who believe that they will mount to a higher sphere? “I am by no means in love with the two syllables Lam and bert; whether spoken with respect or with contempt over my grave, they can make no change in my ultimate destiny. I feel myself strong and energetic; I might become a power; I feel in myself a life so luminous that it might enlighten a world, and yet I am shut up in a sort of mineral, as perhaps indeed are the colors you admire on the neck of an Indian bird. I should need to embrace the whole world, to clasp and re-create it; but those who have done this, who have thus embraced and remoulded it began—did they not?—by being a wheel in the machine. I can only be crushed. Mahomet had the sword; Jesus had the cross; I shall die unknown. I shall be at Blois for a day, and then in my coffin. “Do you know why I have come back to Swedenborg after vast studies of all religions, and after proving to myself, by reading all the works published within the last sixty years by the patient English, by Germany, and by France, how deeply true were my youthful views about the Bible? Swedenborg undoubtedly epitomizes all the religions—or rather the one religion—of humanity. Though forms of worship are infinitely various, neither their true meaning nor their metaphysical interpretation has ever varied. In short, man has, and has had, but one religion. “Sivaism, Vishnuism, and Brahmanism, the three primitive creeds, originating as they did in Thibet, in the valley of the Indus, and on the vast plains of the Ganges, ended their warfare some thousand years before the birth of Christ by adopting the Hindoo Trimourti. The Trimourti is our Trinity. From this dogma Magianism arose in Persia; in Egypt, the African beliefs and the Mosaic law; the worship of the Cabiri, and the polytheism of Greece and Rome. While by this ramification of the Trimourti the Asiatic myths became adapted to the imaginations of various races in the lands they reached by the agency of certain sages whom men elevated to be demi-gods—Mithra, Bacchus, Hermes, Hercules, and the rest—Buddha, the great reformer of the three primeval religions, lived in India, and founded his Church there, a sect which still numbers two hundred millions more believers than


Balzac Christianity can show, while it certainly influenced the powerful Will both of Jesus and of Confucius. “Then Christianity raised her standard. Subsequently Mahomet fused Judaism and Christianity, the Bible and the Gospel, in one book, the Koran, adapting them to the apprehension of the Arab race. Finally, Swedenborg borrowed from Magianism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Christian mysticism all the truth and divine beauty that those four great religious books hold in common, and added to them a doctrine, a basis of reasoning, that may be termed mathematical. “Any man who plunges into these religious waters, of which the sources are not all known, will find proofs that Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, and Swedenborg had identical principles and aimed at identical ends. “The last of them all, Swedenborg, will perhaps be the Buddha of the North. Obscure and diffuse as his writings are, we find in them the elements of a magnificent conception of society. His Theocracy is sublime, and his creed is the only acceptable one to superior souls. He alone brings man into immediate communion with God, he gives a thirst for God, he has freed the majesty of God from the trappings in which other human dogmas have disguised Him. He left Him where He is, making His myriad creations and creatures gravitate towards Him through successive transformations which promise a more immediate and more natural future than the Catholic idea of Eternity. Swedenborg has absolved God from the reproach attaching to Him in the estimation of tender souls for the perpetuity of revenge to punish the sin of a moment—a system of injustice and cruelty. “Each man may know for himself what hope he has of life eternal, and whether this world has any rational sense. I mean to make the attempt. And this attempt may save the world, just as much as the cross at Jerusalem or the sword at Mecca. These were both the offspring of the desert. Of the thirty-three years of Christ’s life, we only know the history of nine; His life of seclusion prepared Him for His life of glory. And I too crave for the desert!”

Notwithstanding the difficulties of the task, I have felt it my duty to depict Lambert’s boyhood, the unknown life to which I owe the only happy hours, the only pleasant memories, of my early days. Excepting during those two years I had nothing but annoyances and weariness. Though some happiness was mine at a later time, it was always incomplete. 469

I have been diffuse, I know; but in default of entering into the whole wide heart and brain of Louis Lambert—two words which inadequately express the infinite aspects of his inner life—it would be almost impossible to make the second part of his intellectual history intelligible—a phase that was unknown to the world and to me, but of which the mystical outcome was made evident to my eyes in the course of a few hours. Those who have not already dropped this volume, will, I hope, understand the events I still have to tell, forming as they do a sort of second existence lived by this creature—may I not say this creation?—in whom everything was to be so extraordinary, even his end. When Louis returned to Blois, his uncle was eager to procure him some amusement; but the poor priest was regarded as a perfect leper in that godly-minded town. No one would have anything to say to a revolutionary who had taken the oaths. His society, therefore, consisted of a few individuals of what were then called liberal or patriotic, or constitutional opinions, on whom he would call for a rubber of whist or of boston. At the first house where he was introduced by his uncle, Louis met a young lady, whose circumstances obliged her to remain in this circle, so contemned by those of the fashionable world, though her fortune was such as to make it probable that she might by and by marry into the highest aristocracy of the province. Mademoiselle Pauline de Villenoix was sole heiress to the wealth amassed by her grandfather, a Jew named Salomon, who, contrary to the customs of his nation, had, in his old age, married a Christian and a Catholic. He had only one son, who was brought up in his mother’s faith. At his father’s death young Salomon purchased what was known at that time as a savonnette a vilain (literally a cake of soap for a serf), a small estate called Villenoix, which he contrived to get registered with a baronial title, and took its name. He died unmarried, but he left a natural daughter, to whom he bequeathed the greater part of his fortune, including the lands of Villenoix. He appointed one of his uncles, Monsieur Joseph Salomon, to be the girl’s guardian. The old Jew was so devoted to his ward that he seemed willing to make great sacrifices for the sake of marrying her well. But Mademoiselle de 470


Villenoix’s birth, and the cherished prejudice against Jews that prevails in the provinces, would not allow of her being received in