Short Works
by

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
by

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

Balzac

The Girl with the Golden Eyes
by

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

THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN EYES
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

Balzac

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

Balzac

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

Balzac

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus. ballast of heavy bourgeoisie. carved with victories.which still re-echo in every corner of the world. Thus the exorbitant movement of the proletariat. who despise and hold activity in horror. all of bronze. and also the downfall of 1814. The City of Paris has her great mast. working-men and sailor-men touched with tar. would accost every fresh shore. the corrupting influence of the interests which consume the two middle classes. Should you see one there. It is only in the Orient that the human race presents a magnificent figure. then. still full of illusions. whipped on by an inexorable goddess. Necessity —the necessity for money. the cruelties of the artist’s thought. as she suckles her firstborn. her soldiers. in her cabins the lucky passengers. on the deck. innovators or ambitious. to a young man newly embarked from the provinces. any face which is fresh and graceful and reposeful. advance! Follow me!” She carries a huge crew. be sure it belongs either to a young and ardent ecclesiastic or to some good abbe of forty with three chins. is in Paris the most extraordinary of exceptions. to a mother of twenty. cries from the height of her tops. Thus this city can no more be moral. rides with full sail. elegant midshipmen smoke their cigars leaning over the bulwarks. 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. Boys and urchins laughing in the rigging. or for love which needs gold. it is met with rarely. but she cleaves the world. or cordial. and amusement. and for watchman—Napoleon. and in18 . or clean. The barque may roll and pitch. and the excessive pleasure which is sought for incessantly by the great. to a young girl of pure life such as is brought up in certain middle-class families. illuminates it through the hundred mouths of her tribunes. but that is an effect of the constant calm affected by those profound philosophers with their long pipes. which delights in adorning her with fresh streamers. any really young face. explain the normal ugliness of the Parisian physiognomy. their square contour. ask for glory which is pleasure. her arms are one of those oracles which fatality sometimes allows. their short legs. ploughs the seas of science. glory. whilst in Paris the little and the great and the mediocre run and leap and drive. and shooting out their bright lights upon it. with the voice of her scientists and artists: “Onward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and of despising the most superior of men should he wear an old-fashioned waistcoat? … Laurent. 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. he has his victories. after making an excellent meal. In fine. perhaps.” When. song. So. are right to have but one. You. and a love-letter slipped in before it is sealed up again. crudel tirano. is the sign of an incontestable power over the female folk. and has ceased to be suspicious of them. in Paris everything is known. try to act the fop! … You will not even become ridiculous. poor fellow. who have only one woman. Then fops have the courage to cover themselves with ridicule in order to please a woman.” The day after. Paul. spurred and booted. A man who is loved by many women passes for having superior qualities. de Segur. with their high scarfs. 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. My dear fellow. all scented. we will go to the Tuileries and see the adorable girl with the golden eyes. and damning themselves mightily. riding. ambition. they nowhere discovered the sublime Paquita Valdes. de Talleyrand. of looking down at people from over your cravat. and then. diplomacy. It is women who bestow that rank. “but I have the most excellent idea in the world. If they once forsake their own line people no longer attach any value to what they do. “It’s a white Mass. and her heart is full of gratitude towards the man who is ridiculous for love. romance. a letter opened. The old tyrant. M. talking. De Marsay came again to walk on the Terrasse des 37 . or through your eyeglass. on whose account some fifty of the most elegant young men in Paris where to be seen. The fop is love’s colonel. and who. M. de La Fayette signifies America. one of those men condemned inevitably to do one and the same thing. you are hurting me! After breakfast.Balzac neglected for glory. my friend Paul. and a man cannot be a fop there gratis. a fop can be no fop unless he is right in being one. is certain to know the person who writes the letters from London. You will become a foregone conclusion. his regiment of women at his command. foppery. walking. You will come to signify folly as inseparably as M. read of course. laughing. Desaugiers. you will be dead.” said Henri. The postman must be bought or made drunk. This girl receives letters from London. politics.

the golden-eyed girl exchanged certain glances with her lover. 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. De Marsay was on fire to brush the dress of this enchanting girl as they passed one another in their walk. no less impatient. and whose ardor set the seal upon that of her perfect body. whose rays seemed akin to those which the sun emits. who was walking on the arm of his valet.” Before entering the carriage. Paquita. he caught sight of the aged Marquis de San-Real. who distrusted Henri. 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. “if one cannot make you capitulate. The bond. with a little opium one can make you sleep. stepping with all the precautions due to gout and decrepitude. called their conqueror. but one of them was surprised by the duenna. she said a few rapid words to Paquita. when he had repassed Paquita and the duenna. Dona Concha. who by his master’s orders was on watch by the hotel. But at one moment. Seriously. in which all was delight. she dropped her eyes lest she should meet the eyes of Henri.” said De Marsay to himself. he was wild for those eyes. casting a glance of disdain upon the duenna. and saw Paquita Valdes. before the Revolution. made Paquita pass between herself and the old man. We know mythology and the fable of Argus. so flimsy withal. For some days Paquita did not appear in the Tuileries. Laurent.” said Henri to himself. When the two lovers glanced at one another. “I am determined to make this girl my mistress. but his attempts were always vain. in order to find himself on the same side as the girl of the golden eyes. when he returned. Paquita seemed ashamed.Feuillants. in the direction of the Place Louis XV. As he followed her along the terrace. already passion had embellished her for him. “Oh. who threw herself into the coupe with an air of desperation.. for you. but her gaze sank lower to fasten on the feet and form of him whom women. of which the meaning was unmistakable and which enchanted Henri. which united the 38 . came forward hurriedly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

which knows neither what it wants.for the instruction of fools. if you only wanted a thousand-franc note to keep you from blowing your brains out. so that you might be killed according to rule. if you should ever have need of discretion. understand that there are two sorts of discretion—the active and the negative. It consists in compromising a woman with whom we are not concerned.’ But such a ruse is vulgar and dangerous. What have you got for us?” “Some Ostend oysters. Ah! here is Laurent. who rarely denied himself a sarcasm. However gross a folly one utters. Monsieur le Comte. and since I have much love for you—yes. if anybody besides myself took it into his head to say ill of you in your absence.” “Do you bargain with your friends?” “My dear fellow. 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.” said Henri. he would have to deal with the somewhat nasty gentleman who walks in my shoes—there’s what I call a friendship beyond question. It is what is called the woman-screen…. I would measure the ground and load the pistols.” “You will know some day. or whom we do not love. in order to save the honor of the one whom we love well enough to respect. my good fellow. like anybody else. how amusing it is to make a fool of the world by depriving it of the secret of one’s affections. to use discretion. negation. Negative discretion is that of fools who make use of silence. The best form of discretion is that of women when they want to take the change out of their husbands. you would find it here. nor what one wants of 58 . “since all the same. I like you! Upon my word. Well. In short. Let us breakfast! It costs less to give you a tunny omelette than to lavish the resources of my brain on you. the discretion of locked doors—mere impotence! Active discretion proceeds by affirmation. an air of refusal. Paul. Paul? If you had to fight tomorrow. you may some day need. there are always idiots to be found who will believe it. eh. for we haven’t yet done any business of that sort. I derive an immense pleasure in escaping from the stupid jurisdiction of the crowd. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Whatever might be the power of this young man. If he suspected the truth. his hard and fast theories melted away. and which urged Don Juan to search the heart of women. Paquita responded to that passion which is felt by all really great men for the infinite—that mysterious passion so dramatically expressed in Faust. The hope of possessing at last the ideal being with whom the struggle could be constant and tireless ravished De Marsay. and happiness colored his existence to the tint of the rose and white boudoir. for myself. he was ready at that time to pardon the offence in view of a love so single minded. If Paquita owed him no account of the past. I feel for thee! For a certain time I understood nothing of existence. his coldness was dissipated in the atmosphere of that ardent soul. 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. so poetically translated in Manfred. and hitherto I have been the loved one only.” “You will have no regrets?” “Not one”! she said. yet the least recollection of it became in his eyes a crime. In a night her feminine genius had made the most rapid progress. and which mystics find in God alone. whom a somewhat 64 . “Am I the favored one?” said Henri to himself. He would not be surpassed by this girl.” he thought. who. to study her. in his hope to find there that limitless thought in pursuit of which so many hunters after spectres have started. opened his heart. in spite of his satiety of the previous night. He had therefore the sombre strength to withhold a portion of his thought. I would give up everything for you. letting him read her eyes. but now I know what love is. whose golden tint was pure and clear. he was carried beyond the limits within which he had hitherto confined passion. take me away. even while abandoning himself to the most enticing pleasures that ever peri descended from the skies had devised for her beloved. for the first time for long. Experiencing the sting of a higher pleasure. but let me be near you until you break me. “I shall soon see. which wise men think to discover in science. I did not love. and his indifference in the matter of pleasures. If you like. Paquita seemed to have been created for love by a particular effort of nature.inspired. His nerves expanded. take me as a toy.

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

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

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

Both understood each other to perfection. to whom no one denied the gift of rare courage. On the last day of the week. 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. which led to a little gate opening upon a street which was at that hour deserted. Henri knew that Cristemio would like to kill him before he killed Paquita. The driver was evidently one of his friends. of a duel in which ordinary laws were invalid. the second waited in the garden. Henri drove up in a carriage to the little gate in the garden of the Hotel San-Real. the young man. “If you do not love her well.” such was the sense of that brief gaze. and no one could discover either what he did during this period. about eleven o’clock at night. De Marsay was escorted.” said his companion to him. nor where he stayed. the declaration of a savage war. The carriage awaited him. accompanied De Marsay. One of the other three took his stand outside the gate in the street. for the least sound.first time in his life. De Marsay took a keen notice of everything. “The adventure is growing complicated in a most interesting way. “we are betrayed. who carried in his hand a bunch of keys. For more than a week Henri was away from home. On either side there was a provocation. “Where is the gentleman going to?” asked the coachman.” “By whom. I will kill you. and at the moment when Henri put his head out of the window to look once more at the gardens of the hotel. leaning against the wall. Cristemio knew that Henri had sworn Paquita’s death. he encountered the white eyes of Cristemio. The mulatto made him walk cautiously through an avenue of lime trees. if you give her the least pain.” said Henri. with a care almost obsequious. for he stood up on his box. where treason and treachery were admitted means. “Henri. De Marsay was driven to the house of Paul de Manerville. This time the mulatto did not accompany him. with whom he exchanged a glance. trembled. along the dimly lit corridor. Four men accompanied him. like a man who was to listen. at the end of which he issued by a secret door into the garden of the Hotel San-Real. a challenge. the last. my good Ferragus?” 68 . an attentive sentinel.

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

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

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

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

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

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 .

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

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

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

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. she made a gesture of childlike joy which revealed the touching naivete of her nature. reflected the light so little that it was difficult to see their designs. Forced to watch the count. The chamber was one of those which. not without precaution. She gave a sigh and again laid her hands. and changed her ingenuous gaiety to sadness. was never more timidly bold. she was filled with a sudden terror that revived the color driven from her cheeks by her double anguish. stretching out her neck with little darting motions like those of a bird in its cage. But the half-formed smile on her burning lips was quickly suppressed. once slept. When the countess had succeeded in rising to her seat without awakening her keeper. At the slightest rustling of the huge green silk coverlet. the moustache of which was brushing her shoulder. were framed in walnut. to this day octogenarian porters of old chateaus point out to visitors as “the state bedroom where Louis XIII. lighted the room so feebly that its quivering gleam could be compared only to the nebulous stars which appear at moments through 81 . The rafters of the ceiling formed compartments adorned with arabesques in the style of the preceding century. The prisoner reached the prison door in the dead of night and trying to noiselessly turn the key in a pitiless lock. severe in tone. the delicate carvings of which were blackened by time. which preserved the colors of the chestnut wood. Seeing her thus. placed upon the mantel of the vast fireplace.” Fine pictures. but that fate had suddenly mown down her hopes. she stopped as though she had rung a bell. she divided her attention between the folds of the rustling stuff and a large swarthy face. When some noisier breath than usual left her husband’s lips. 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. a thought came to darken that pure brow. under which she had slept but little since her marriage. mostly brown in tone. These decorations. on the fatal conjugal pillow. The silver lamp. even when the sun shone full into that long and wide and lofty chamber. and her long blue eyes resumed their sad expression. it was easy to divine that she had once been all gaiety and light-heartedness.

which covered the foot of this lordly couch the superstition of the Comtes d’Herouville had affixed a large crucifix. giving to every puff of wind a lugubrious meaning. wreathed with garlands. they sparkled and went out at the will of the wind. which was opposite to the bed. which formed a pendant to the bed. Two cupids playing on the walnut headboard. adorned with gold fringes. On one side of the fireplace stood a large box or wardrobe of choice woods magnificently carved.—laces. Take away the bed. and columns of the same wood. such as brides receive even now in the provinces on their wedding day. These old chests. 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. carved in white marble with their mantle and supporters. another erection raised to the glory of Hymen. The folds of these immense curtains were so stiff that in the semi-darkness they might have been taken for some metal fabric. 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. The arms of the family of Herouville. gave the appearance of a tomb to this species of edifice. were the arsenals from which women drew the rich and elegant treasures of their personal adornment. supporting the tester were carved with mythological allegories. now so much in request by antiquaries. bod82 . The fantastic figures crowded on the marble of the fireplace. were so grotesquely hideous that she dared not fix her eyes upon them. or to hear a startling laugh from their gaping and twisted mouths. Modern architects would have been puzzled to decide whether the room had been built for the bed or the bed for the room. fearing to see them move. 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. might have passed for angels. On the green velvet hanging. the explanation of which could have been found either in the Bible or Ovid’s Metamorphoses.the dun gray clouds of an autumn night. The married pair mounted by three steps to this sumptuous couch.—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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pulling away the covering which hid his wife. Affecting a calmness which the tones of his voice.” he said.” Hearing those words. “What then?” she said.” The gloomy look which accompanied these words overcame the countess. “Perhaps it is the beginning of a regular childbirth. sighing. Prompted by the instinct of feeble natures the countess interrupted the count by moans. “Well. “In any case. had a specious softness at this moment which seemed to her of good augury. Seeing her husband pocket that key. The countess. 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. Jealousy 92 . that moan convinced the count of the justice of the suspicions that were rising in his mind. always a terror to her. 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. I must have a proper man here. The countess knew of that room only by hearsay. it is no crime to suffer. wrapped himself in a dressing-gown which lay on a chair. slid back under the great counterpane and was motionless. that she reddened and shuddered. and looks contradicted. “Why are you weeping?” said the count. my pretty one. That voice. he rose hastily. 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. “I see plainly you are afraid of me.” she answered. He mistook the fear of the innocent creature for remorse. terrified at having encountered it. the count cast so horribly suspicious a look upon his wife. his gestures. who fell back in the bed with a moan.beneath their tufted eyebrows and never had his glance been so incisive. the countess had a presentiment of danger. exclaiming:— “I fear a miscarriage! I clambered over the rocks last evening and tired myself. caused more by a sense of her fate than by the agony of the coming crisis. “I suffer much.” he said.” he added. “I will fetch one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

” The bonesetter was puzzled by this sudden change in the count’s intentions. so we have a son.” continued the count. my pretty one. and to Beauvouloir’s great satisfaction. “I have it!” he said to himself. the count replaced the dagger in its sheath. Beauvouloir saw within its red silk meshes a quantity of gold. as he did himself by the bedside. then he said to his wife in a specious voice:— “Well.” So saying the count advanced slowly to the bonesetter. “find yourself for once in your life in the honorable company of a noble and his wife. This man here. The shrewd practitioner turned this idea over in his mind until a light struck him. as if to invite him to sit down.” (pointing to Bertrand) “will explain to you that there are rivers and trees everywhere for miserable wretches who chatter of me. holding out a purse. he’ll trust to the vials of the apothecary. “Though you make me out a villain I am not released from the obligation of paying you like a lord.” As he turned toward the bed. Do you suffer much?” “No. This show of tenderness for the infant alarmed him far more than the impatient cruelty and savage indifference hitherto manifested by the count. I must warn the lady to see to the food and medicine of her babe.Balzac science which makes you the accomplice of men who steal inheritances is all that prevents me from depriving Normandy of her sorcerer.” murmured the countess.” So saying. stopped him with an imperious gesture. the count who had opened a closet. I shall not ask you to be discreet. since you are here. “This great and good noble does not want to make himself odious to his wife. 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. your miserable life shall answer for that of the mother and the child. this is a joyful thing for us. “Could you not. 103 . whose tone in pronouncing the last words seemed to Beauvouloir to point to some better scheme for reaching his infernal ends. which the count now flung to him contemptuously. pushed a chair noisily toward him.

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

tall. The hatred of the father for his son showed itself in every detail. showing her attentions to which self-interest imparted a sort of tenderness. he abstained from looking at him or touching him. sickly constitution was a flagrant offence to his self-love as a father. Such were the circumstances which preceded and accompanied the birth of Etienne d’Herouville. To please him a man should be ugly in face. as it were. The day on which he saw that the mother’s intelligent eye perceived. in whom mental capacity took the place of physical strength. was certain to find in his father a natural enemy. whose debility would bow him. that she alone was the object of these attentions. and ignorant. 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. he also detested weakly ones. The countess saw. Etienne. robust. His struggle with that colossus began therefore from his cradle. as perils threatened him. If he execrated handsome men. without fully comprehending. under pretext of rallying his forces to the support of the king. he announced his departure on the morning after the mass for her churching was solemnized. he seemed to endure it living only through the hope of seeing it die. by a tender law of nature. But even this self-restraint was galling to the count. the danger that threatened her son.Balzac CHAPTER III THE MOTHER’S LOVE FOR SEVERAL DAYS the count remained assiduously beside his wife. to the sedentary occupations of knowledge. and his sole support against that cruel antagonist was the heart of his mother whose love increased. 105 . however. he would rise abruptly and leave the room if the child cried. In his eyes the misfortune of a rickety. in short.

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

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

Suddenly he saw the child. little sensitive!” cried the countess as he fell asleep tired with some play which had driven the sad memories from her mind. One morning the countess. incapable. of struggling against the slightest obstacle. was playing with Etienne on the floor when suddenly she heard the heavy step of a man upon the boards. “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. “Poor. often he tried to divert her with caresses and make her smile at his play. his stammered words. as they do. “Why not have sent me notice of your return?” she said. to everything that seemed to him aggressive. He was like those little insects for whom God seems to temper the violence of the wind and the heat of the sun. 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. dear. and never did his coaxing hands. giving herself up to the glad joy of all mothers when their first child walks for the first time. If he was tired. without resistance or complaint. She looked at him long. but endeavored instantly to undo that involuntary wrong by going up to him and offering her forehead for a kiss. when the count stood before her. Soon his precocious perception of suffering revealed to him the power that he had upon his mother. but less frank. his intelligent laugh fail to rouse her from her reverie. The graceful pose of her child lying on her knees made her smile sadly. She gave a cry. you are alone on earth. Hardly had she risen with a movement of involuntary surprise. tasting one of those pleasures which are a secret between mothers and God. his care for her kept him from complaining. but now the faint color which tinted the whiteness of his skin like the petals of a wild rose. 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.” She sighed and wept. showed that life and health were already there.organs was such that a sudden noise. The evident health in which he found it 108 . he yielded. or the presence of a boisterous person gave him a sort of fever. “My reception would have been more cordial.” he answered bitterly.

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

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

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

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

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

were his loves. the fringes.” Italian “motets. like a bee its honey.” books. a shell. a seaweed. ravishing creatures whose destiny resembled his own. He would spend long days lying upon the shore. all was event and pleasure to that ingenuous young soul. The library of Cardinal d’Herouville came into Etienne’s possession. a moss. the rich meditations of which make us roam like botanists through the vast fields of thought. He often admired. Later. the duchess encouraged Etienne’s tastes. 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. And then to see his mother coming 114 . came to be the inexhaustible and tranquil joys of the young man’s solitary and dreamy life. all-unconscious of the fact. the tremulous motion of the vast and limpid mirror of the waters. seeking perhaps a rhythm in their fragrant depths. the delicacy of their rich tunics of gold or purple. the enthusiasm given by a clear conception of works of genius. The sudden irruption of a gilded insect. which his fragile health forbade him to continue for many hours at a time. 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. their ivory or velvet textures. poems. without purpose. the use of which filled his life. a crab. Flowers. Poesy. it was like the last grace that a great artist touches into a portrait to bring out its latent thought. Etienne’s head was that of a delicate girl placed upon the weakly and deformed body of a man. a thinker as well as a poet. and without explaining his pleasure to himself. a poet.person. he would detect the reason of these innumerable differences in a single nature. These constant and secret researches into matters occult gave to Etienne’s life the apparent somnolence of meditative genius. the slender lines on the petals of dark flowers. These readings. the shimmering of the sun upon the ocean. she brought him Spanish “romanceros. of their calyxes or leaves. the fruitful comparison of human ideas. studying their mysteries. and his rambles among the rocks of his domain. so profusely beautiful. sonnets. 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. green or azure. happy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beauvouloir saw plainly that to a being so delicately organized as Etienne marriage must come as a slow and gentle inspiration. not compelled. in spite of his great skill. As he had said to the father. 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. His science and his incessant 134 . Maitre Antoine Beauvouloir was a father. the opportunity to love must be given to him. or be made aware of the object of his father’s wishes. Above all it was important that the young recluse should not be alarmed at the thought of marriage. communicating new powers to his being and vivifying it with the fires of love. of Dante for Beatrice. A command to love would have dried within him the very sources of his life. A sudden idea which now came to him was inspired more by his devotion to those two beings than by ambition. His wife. Beauvouloir loved his Gabrielle as old men love their only child.CHAPTER V GABRIELLE GREAT PHYSICIAN that he was. of which he knew nothing. disowned by his father and destined to the priesthood. This unknown poet conceived as yet only the beautiful and noble passion of Petrarch for Laura. It was so difficult to foresee the events which would make a son. he had a daughter brought up under conditions which made her the wife for Etienne. Like his mother he was all pure love and soul. to impose a wife on Etienne would be to kill him. 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. and then the event should be awaited.

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

Besides this. married themselves. less enforced prayer.—a retreat where she had lived beneath the eye of a pious old woman and the protection of her father. before which lay the yellow ribbon of a gravelled terrace. 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. was shaded by a wooden gallery. letting her eyes follow those many-shaded green lines. to those of the valley. and her father’s valet. the steeple of which could be seen at the summit of the hill. from the brilliant colors of the foreground to the pure tones of the horizon on which they lost themselves. whither she was always accompanied by her grandmother. where the eye could rove at will. her nurse. The house had been to her a convent. sometimes in the cumuli that floated above it. around which climbing plants were twining. As Gabrielle grew up. points of view. Gabrielle’s 136 . 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. Without being really vast. Following the instincts of her thought. cleverly contrived through the rise and fall of the ground. 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. Still. Watched over by her grandmother and served by her former nurse. Gabrielle could either enter the solitude of a narrow space. such constant care and the purity of the atmosphere had gradually strengthened her fragile youth. or she could hover above a glorious prospect. This absolute solitude. but with more freedom. seeing naught but the thick green and the blue of the sky above the tree-tops.enabled the occupants of the house to go down at all hours to the river-bank fearless of the rays of the sun. The facade of the house. and tossing in this month of May their various blossoms into the very windows of the second floor. had been carefully maintained by Beauvouloir. Gabrielle Beauvouloir never left this modest home except for the parish church. necessitated from her birth by the apparent feebleness of her constitution. as it were. this garden seemed immense from the manner in which its vistas were cut. sometimes in the blue ocean of the atmosphere. the only man she had ever known.

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

Whither was this life of innocence leading Gabrielle? How teach a mind as pure as the water of a tranquil lake. 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. who yielded to vague misery among the shadows. Beauvouloir could not destroy the harmonious grouping of the native woods. All other women would frighten and kill the heir of Herouville. 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. a dawn which pierced the darkness in which her father kept her. Gabrielle lived in a rich and fertile valley. to a deep admiration of nature she joined her girlish adoration of the Creator. She loved God. the graceful upspringing of the wild flowers. Beauvouloir had never withdrawn his daughter from the influence of Divine love. the love expressed in the intertwining growth of the clustering plants. the cool softness of the grassy slopes. she loved the Church and its pomps. the Virgin and the saints. so Beauvouloir argued. 138 . a continual marriage. that man was Etienne. the angelic son of Jeanne de Saint-Savin and the guileless daughter of Gertrude Marana were twin beings. springing thus into the first way open to the feelings of womanhood. and Gabrielle. The infinite love he bore his daughter suggested a bold project to his mind. she was Catholic after the manner of Saint Teresa. One only being in all the world could make her happy. 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. Assuredly. there rose within her soul a distant light. who saw in Jesus an eternal spouse. Across the misty ideas suggested by her long study of this beautiful landscape.such as all great painters have given as backgrounds to their Virgins. Such ever-living poesies have a language heard. rather than understood by the poor girl. 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.

Balzac

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

Balzac

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

Balzac

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.”

144

Balzac

CHAPTER VI LOVE
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

Balzac

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

Balzac

“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

Balzac

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

Balzac

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

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

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

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

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

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. During his stay in Paris the duke had avenged the death of Maximilien by killing his son’s adversary. On learning from d’Artagnon that Etienne was in love with the daughter of a miserable physician. and Mademoiselle de Grandlieu.—he who had let his own wife die beside him without understanding a single sigh of her heart? Never. the heiress of large estates. and might have succeeded with other natures than those of Etienne and Gabrielle. One day they had remained from morn to evening near the window where so many events had 158 . thought to dwell. perhaps. The scheme was excellent. The duke expected to oblige his son to marry her. giving him certain orders to avert what he considered to be an evil. instantly endeavor to detach him from the girl. What could such a man comprehend of love. where both. who was flattered by the prospect of some day bearing the title of Duchesse d’Herouville. of course. 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. would. He wrote to the baron to keep his coming to Herouville a close secret. This announcement excited the anger of the governor to the highest pitch. with them failure was certain. her sister the Marquise de Noirmoutier. he was only the more determined to carry out the marriage. 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.—the baron attributing them wholly to the bonesetter’s ambition. bringing with him the Comtesse de Grandlieu.that his son was falling in love. under pretext of showing them the province of Normandy. what better way than to force her son into a marriage with a noble like himself. 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. giving his son to the daughter of some great house. and he had planned for Etienne an alliance with the heiress of a branch of the house of Grandlieu. not seeking to leave it. The baron himself had no property. The duke ordered out his equipages and started for Rouen.—a tall and disdainful beauty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balzac 169 .

170 .

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

nor anyone associated with ECONARCH Institute assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission. for any purpose. the Editor.DISCLAIMER The Hidden Masterpiece by Honoré de Balzac. Indonesia is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classics literature. and in any way does so at his or her own risk. in any way. to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. the Editor. Neither ECONARCH Institute. ECONARCH Institute. The Hidden Masterpiece by Honoré de Balzac. This Portable Document File is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. in English. Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series. Any person using this document file. Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics 172 . Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley is a publication of ECONaRCH Institute.

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

which has the quality of alluring the artistic mind. step early into the fame which belongs rightly to their future achievements. if chance had not thrown an unexpected assistance in his way. I know not what. the solid assurance of his deliberate step. If talent is to be measured by youthful shyness. slender in fortune. as a pretty woman loses hers among the artifices of coquetry.. and modesty. of his brush. the magnificence of his lace ruffles. 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. self-satisfied and in love with themselves. or the serviceable disposition of those who promote the arts. The young man felt the strong sensation which vibrates in the soul of great artists when. or at least the intimate friend. they approach a man of genius or a masterpiece. In all human sentiments there are. perhaps. till joy is but a memory and glory a lie. Imagine a bald head. The oddity of his dress. primeval flowers bred of noble enthusiasms. led the youth to assume that this remarkable personage must be the patron. The habit of success lessens doubt. He drew back into a corner of the landing and made room for the new-comer. some fibre in his creations. whose heart has not beaten loudly as he approached a master of his art? If there be. But on the contrary he fancied he saw something diabolical in the expression of the old man’s face. the young neophyte might not have dared to enter the presence of the master to whom we owe our admirable portrait of Henry IV. in the flush of youth and of their ardor for art. rich in his spring-time of genius. the brow full and prominent and falling with 174 . Is there a man.—a passion daring yet timid. they are men of genius only in the eyes of fools. I know not what.—something. and dismayed at this moment by his own presumption. some touch. that man will forever lack some heart-string. An old man mounted the spiral stairway. is doubt. Worn down with poverty and discouragement. some sentiment in his poetry. looking at him attentively and hoping to find either the frank good-nature of the artistic temperament. by that indefinable modesty which men born to glory lose in the practice of their art. of the painter. then this unknown young man might claim to be possessed of genuine merit. full of vague confidence and sure discouragement.work. as it were. which droop and fade from year to year. When braggarts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

the will of their owner. or even against. You are intelligent enough to guess at what should follow from the little that I shall show you to-day. running through the whole scale with more rapidity than the organist of a cathedral runs up the gamut of the “O Filii” at Easter. and I am an old man now. false. and you see that the breeze lifts it. gave to this fancy of the youth a semblance of truth which reacted upon his lively imagination. revolting! who can paint with them?” Then he dipped the point of his brush with feverish haste into the various tints.Balzac them.—a painting steeped. Mabuse had but one pupil. who was suffocating in that thick atmosphere. I never took a pupil. Observe that the satiny lustre I am putting on the bosom gives it the plump suppleness of the flesh of a young girl. the convulsive movements which seemed the result of some mental resistance. but each so telling that together they brought out a new painting. half to his neophyte:— “Paf! paf! paf! that is how we butter it on. young man. The old man worked on. and his motions seemed to be jerked out of him with such rapidity and impatience that the young Poussin fancied a demon. as it were.—crude. plunged in passionate contemplation. the extraordinary old man was giving touches here and there to all parts of the picture. He worked with such passionate ardor that the sweat rolled in great drops from his bald brow. Look how the drapery now floats. “See. Here two strokes of the brush. in light. Mabuse alone knew the secret of giving life to form. and I am he.” While he was speaking. 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. Porbus and Poussin stood motionless on either side of the easel. encased with the body of this singular being. The unnatural brightness of his eyes. there one. young man. just now it looked like heavy linen held out by pins. “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.” said the old man without turning round. Ah! my little 181 . muttering half to himself. Young man. was working his hands fantastically like those of a puppet without.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

200 .

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

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

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

on the hill forming the last fold of the Apennines between the gate of San Tomaso and the well-known lighthouse.sion. and as rare as the woman of whom I write! It is to find—not the most fashionable pleasantry. more or less famous. of the kind here in question. that the moment when the perfumed 204 . when silence reigns on the quay and in the groves of the villa. all the morning. To find Paris again! Do you know what that means. from the poet down to the artisan. from whom you drag it word by word. which is to be seen in all the keepsake views of Genoa. for it loses its aroma between Paris and the frontier—but the witty understanding. and to whom the Quais of the left bank of the Seine are not really Paris. it surely is at Genoa. Many Frenchmen. in torrents. 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. two Parisians. This preamble is intended to recall to such Frenchmen as have traveled the extreme pleasure they have felt on occasionally finding their native land. after it has rained as it can rain there. like an oasis. from which water mysteriously flows. If the early night is beautiful anywhere. when the stars are beaming. 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. which out of France are to be regarded as myths. It must be confessed. Emigration is counter to the instincts of the French nation. In 1836. when the Sardinian Court was residing at Genoa. when the clearness of the sea vies with that of the sky. 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. the critical atmosphere in which the French live. and over the marble heads with yawning jaws. taken by the French Consul-General. have owned to pleasure at seeing the custom-house officers of their native land. for that exists only in the Rue Montorgueil— but a meal which reminds you of it! It is to find the wines of France. 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. when the waves of the Mediterranean lap one after another like the avowal of a woman. from the duchess to the boy in the street.

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

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

Michael Angelo took his models in Genoa for the tomb of Giuliano. and perhaps more. the young couple came into it within six months of their marriage. 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 is one of those beautiful Genoese women who. less on account of the touching affection of Onorina Petrotti than by reason of an unknown incident. the women thought it too degrading to be believed. who might have hated the Consul if she had been altogether scorned. Il Signor Pedrotti had indeed no reason to complain of the choice to which he was driven by his beloved child. Pedrotti’s daughter gave him her love as a consolation. This. 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. where. It may be remarked. she lulled these unknown griefs in a cradle of tenderness and Italian caresses. one of those crises of private life which are so instantly buried under the daily tide of interests that. they are very ready to immolate themselves for the common weal. Signor Pedrotti himself was made a Count by the King of Sardinia. when she know that he had loved. In accordance with a promise made by the Ambassador to the Consul-General’s father-inlaw. are the most magnificent creatures in Italy. loved her sposo no less. in passing. All is well if other women are in question.Balzac young man withdrew his former refusal. that women never complain of being the victims of a preference. Onorina Pedrotti. at any rate. the extreme reserve. This involution of causes sometimes affects the most serious events of history. As to the fortune of the Casa Pedrotti. when they are beautiful. the young man was created Baron and Commander of the Legion of Honor. was the opinion of the town of Genoa. for the first and last Count Pedrotti died in January 183l. Women allow precedence in love affairs. at a subsequent date. Powerful protectors in Paris watched over the young diplomate’s fortunes. to some women. the most natural actions seem inexplicable. If it was real. made in the corn trade. estimated at two millions. the melancholy of the French Consul could be explained only by the word passion. Hence the fulness and singular placing of the breast in the figures of 207 . Onorina’s dower was a million of francs.

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

Balzac

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

Balzac

“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

Balzac

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

Balzac

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

Balzac

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

Balzac

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

Balzac

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

Balzac

“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

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

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

in its present form. and that it is society that owes us happiness. The old man concluded that it was impossible to regulate human sympathies and antipathies. after being the witnesses to your marriage. ‘I have a child to succeed me. ‘how are we to perfect legislation in a country which insists on bringing together seven or eight hundred legislators!—After all. and his tone made such an impression that there was no more talk of wives or marriage. My patron was sitting in an armchair by the fire. and which I caught. The letter did not lack dignity.He had turned as pale as death. in the attitude of a man crushed. “ ‘You now know the secret of my life. “ ‘But then. ‘Serizy and I.’ my uncle said. de Serizy changed the subject by relating all he had done to please his wife without ever succeeding. “ ‘And I—have I any children?’ said Comte Octave in a hollow voice. the Code. Now Nature takes no account of the affinities of souls. 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. Hence. ‘I would remark to your Excellency that Nature only owes us life. lifting his hand with a gesture of disgust. or to make households happier by abolishing scandalous unions and giving the sole preference to moral qualities and beauty. whether to hinder the degeneration of the race. was wise in leaving a wide latitude to chance. “When coffee had been served. de Grandville. said he to me on noticing that we were alone. for it is in the nature of women to preserve some virtues even when committing that horrible sin. my dear fellow. her aim is fulfilled by the propagation of the species.’ he added. and flashed a thunderous glare at M.— 226 . “ ‘Forgive me. I did not think I was committing an indiscretion in the presence of these two venerable priests.’ “ ‘Setting aside all the religious question. ‘After three years of married life. if I am sacrificed. by which he hinted at my presence. one evening when I came in I found a letter in which the Countess announced her flight.’ he exclaimed.’ “M. Are you a father?’ asked my uncle.’ the President went on. the two Counts and the two priests stole away. became your accomplices. I did not see Maurice. seeing that poor Octave had fallen into a fit of melancholy which prevented his noticing their disappearance.

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

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

Afterwards. and love perishes under the rod which. Perhaps I was in the wrong? During the difficult beginnings of a household I. “ ‘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. 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. reflection counseled me to continue in ignorance. I have never ceased to worship her. sooner or later. and I regarded it as one of my duties to instruct her. the story is commonplace enough. and Honorine’s misfortunes have since taught me too much about all these things. one by one I recall the pleasures for which Honorine no doubt had no taste.Balzac of fashion. ‘do not make a hero of me. but one word will change it all: I love Honorine.— So far. what precepts he has neglected?’ “I remember only the broad outlines of the reproaches the Count addressed to himself. if you like. “ ‘I recognized afterwards that marriages contracted under such circumstances as ours bear in themselves a rock against which many affections are wrecked. I kept no watch over the Countess. From the day when she left me I have lived on memory. The blow was so terrible. I may have made the mistake of trusting too entirely to that artless nature. as the Colonel of the 229 . “ ‘Oh!’ said he. for a young and handsome wife. do not think me such a fool. gives pain. many prudent calculations. at once discreet and laughter-loving. while happy days last. or. the husband failed to realize Honorine’s girlish dreams? Who can tell. many lives. 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 husband becomes a pedagogue. that for a month I remained stunned. perhaps. but his merciful indulgence struck me then as really worthy of that of Jesus Christ when He rescued the woman taken in adultery. will not accept any superiority above that with which she is endowed by nature. with all the good faith of an anatomist seeking the cause of a disease which might be overlooked by his brethren. assumed a magisterial tone? On the other hand. Maurice. a professor. seeing the amazement in my eyes.

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

and come out again alive. like him.—My dear fellow. as I listened to him. felt my cheeks wet with tears. you. I have defied the gulf of hard work. “ ‘But I—I have nothing. “I remain married only for my wife’s sake. he can protect and defend her.Balzac Honorine as a man of sixty loves a woman whom he must possess at any cost. as he adores her. I have the insolence of the old man and the reserve of a boy. no one can burden his heart or his skin with another’s pain.—You even understand my sorrows only by very vague analogy. but it is not the actual living drama which is at this moment being acted in Paris! The interior drama interests nobody. Where it pities a lover. he knows all the perfect joys of a benefactor whom nothing can disturb. the shape of her face. I should have killed myself. during which we dried them away. and before the Maire’s scarf of office. “ ‘Serizy is happy. which enables me almost to feel. who at this moment shed tears with me. I have not even to face ridicule. burning. The measure of our sufferings is in ourselves. society only laughs at such a desperate conjugal predicament. 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 . for he pours it himself on his fatherly pleasures. it regards a husband as ridiculously inept. You may conceive of my feelings when. and. I know it. 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.” he said to me one day on coming out of court. and yet I feel the strength of a young man. the smile on her lips. fevered. not even ridicule. I have thrown myself into it. and you will one day admit that it is so. he finished his story with this revelation:— “ ‘This is the drama of my soul. can breathe the whiteness of her skin. 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. bereft of sleep!—’ “I cannot remember all the words of this eloquent man. His indulgence allows him to see his wife. And I had to keep silence. it makes sport of those who cannot keep the woman they have secured under the canopy of the Church. after a pause. I. to whom passion gave an eloquence indeed so far above that of the pleader that.

the Chamber. seven hours at night are enough for all that. to secure her against discovery. the Courts. who was appalled by the cold. and revolting aspect of poverty—the coward! The man had. my life is a continual paroxysm of fears. to satisfy her needs. my true life. “ ‘After three months of desperation rather than despair. The child carried her magnanimity to the point of folly! Consequently. terrors as of a murderer who meets a sergeant of police. “ ‘As to the drama—it is this. to guard her in her cage. In short. cruel. so much are my faculties overwrought by the life I lead! Honorine is my real concern. sinister. 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. dear me. was one of those poems which occur only to the heart of a lover through life and death! Love must have its daily food. The wretch left the dear creature expecting an infant. Honorine has sixty thousand francs a year of her own. or her shadow on the window curtains. To recover my wife is my only study. Politics. to supply the little pleasure she allows herself.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.—Why. moods of wild hilarity. and dejection. to be always about her like a sylph without allowing her to see or to suspect me. for if she did. the future would be lost. Then to hide my wife. counted on the easy and luxurious life in Switzerland or Italy which fine ladies indulge in when they leave their husbands. You imagine that I am occupied with the Council of State. And ought I not to protect 232 . the idea of devoting myself to Honorine with God only in my secret. joy. eighteen months after her flight she was deserted by her lover. choosing to take nothing but the dress she wore that day. 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.—For seven years I have never gone to bed without going first to see the light of her night-lamp. without her suspecting that she is in my power. 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. no doubt. and without a penny. “ ‘She left my house.—that is my life.

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

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

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

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

I know the heart of your second—he might fall in love with your wife.’ replied the Count. his cousin. till you get something better. interrupting him. and Master of Appeals. “Three weeks later I went to live in the gardener’s cottage. Hence. It is my distant cousin. Baron de l’Hostal. Have you enough affection for me to show me romantic devotion?’ “ ‘I see what you are coming to. 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. when M. and a carriage came into the courtyard. which had been cleaned. but by Amelie de Courteville. money! I was as 237 . French workmen. Your first secretary tried to open your deed box. and this old house settled on her. not so much by these advantages of which I had never dreamed. a lawyer high in office …” “After a moment of silent surprise. and furnished with the celerity which is explained by three words: Paris. repaired.’ said I. who had left her a daughter and no fortune whatever. 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. ‘I will send you well gloved. as he took me by the hand and introduced me to Madame de Courteville and her daughter. “I was dazzled. “But I will not talk of myself. was the widow of a judge on the bench of the Seine division. one of the utterances for which gamblers listen and pray in the midst of their most impassioned play…. as lovely as imagination could wish for an ideal mistress? “ ‘Baron. The Count had a large family connection on his mother’s side. What could a woman of nine-and-twenty be in comparison with a young girl of twenty. 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. de Grandville’s indiscretion betrayed to you the secret of my life. Maurice. Madame de Courteville. the most capricious. I heard the gate bell ring.” said the Consul after a pause. and the rarest. ‘I guess your purpose.Balzac est birds. Presently the footman announced Madame de Courteville and her daughter.—would not you have enough good reasons for not falling in love with the Countess?’ he said to me in a whisper. the swiftest. I ended by regarding this incident as one of the decrees of fate. Monsieur le Comte.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and received letters which give him great hopes. He takes as many precautions to hide you from all eyes as you take yourself. sublime for seven years past.’ she replied. and you will get it. he has assigned plausible reasons for your disappearance. to see the glimmer of your nightlight! Your large cashmere shawl cost six thousand francs— your old-clothes-seller brings you. my uncle got a place for a penniless youth as secretary to the Commissary of police in this part of Paris. he is only a screen for your husband. opening her eyes with a wide stare of astonishment. “ ‘In Count Octave’s. 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. The delightful seclusion you enjoy is the Count’s work. but who is far greater in his conduct to you than he is in the eyes of the world.’ she said. and his protection extends to the most trivial details of your existence. M. of a man who is acknowledged to be great. but you are alone in your prison by the devices of a sublime magnanimity. however stealthily. and his care will follow you everywhere. you embarked. you are living here like Venus in the toils of Vulcan. ‘I want to know but one thing more. the money you earn is paid by him.Balzac respected of men. Your husband has saved you in the eyes of the world. ‘You have been tricked. If you leave this house this evening.’ 253 . is not the real owner. who might have forgotten you. You and he are two lofty natures. In short. That young man told me everything. madame. The Count says that he has sent agents to various spots. your husband will know where you are gone.—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. as second hand. Lenormand. things fresh from the best makers. the usher of the Court. and at every hour.’ I replied. “ ‘In my own house. the ship in which you sailed for Havana to secure the fortune to be left to you by an old aunt.—Where do you suppose yourself to be living?’ I asked her. he professes to hope that you were not lost in the wreck of the Cecile. escorted by two ladies of her family and an old man-servant. he obeys you …’ “ ‘That is enough. From whom have you obtained all these details?’ “ ‘Well. In short.

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

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

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

but you will acknowledge that literature could never find such language in its assumed pathos. and the efforts made in their compositions by writers who do not lack skill. and that. and the waves are driven now to one shore. I shall be a mother. ‘I have at home. I shall ride.’ said he. as virtuous. Conscience is the interpreter of God to man. he is not better informed than my own conscience. to wipe his name out of the Golden Book and the list of peers? My sufferings. but it forgets that the forgiveness must be accepted. haughty 257 .’ “ ‘And you would accept the equal chances. addressing Camille. religiously. 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. Yes. I know that if I am not reconciled to Octave. now to the other. or rather by this anguish:— “ ‘Monsieur Maurice. and from the world’s point of view I ought to go back to Octave. to enable me to wait till to-morrow. there is nothing so terrible as truth. the wind changes every instant.” said the Consul. the world will regard me as pure. Civil law condemns me to obey. all my egoism—for I know that I am an egoist —ought to be sacrificed to the family. I shall be damned. mademoiselle. 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. is it not cruel to refuse him happiness. “ ‘Well. the caresses of my child will wipe away many tears! I shall be very happy. cost what it may.Balzac tossed by such dreadful alternatives the will is like waters of a lake lashed by a tempest. to deprive him of children. “know all the resources of art. my feelings. that is the sentence of religious law. Here is the letter written by this woman. having taken a soothing draught prepared by the chemist. she had now fallen asleep.’ said I. I certainly shall be much looked up to. that much is sublime in marriage. worn out with fatigue. come. the tricks of style. Keeping only to the human aspect of the question. whatever I may have done. “This is her letter. society ratifies the husband’s forgiveness. of which I kept a copy—for you. If my husband does not reject me.— “ ‘I know all your uncle would say to me. my repugnance. Legally. telling me that the Countess had gone to bed at six.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What 269 . and lighted up. she said: “ ‘ “Octave. in her own blue-and-white room. “I will return as your wife when you will. but not in the way you wish to be loved. without deceiving you as to what she will be. she wore a white muslin gown.” she went on. do not curse my memory. for the first time. “I understand: resignation offends you.” she said. but that day she was a bride. Honorine was in a dress that made her bewitching. It was bright with flowers. Religion and pity led me to renounce my vow of solitude. I can be resigned—” “ ‘I made a movement. dressed. for her face was terribly grave. you have my consent.—What shall I be? A mother? I hope it. such as she is.” “ ‘And she sat down in the calm attitude you used to admire. 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. “ ‘ “Yes. My blood ran cold. consult your own mind. I love your soul …. and watched me turning pale with the pain she had inflicted. Three days ago she received me.” she went on. My joy was chilled at once. “ ‘ “Octave. a white sash with long floating ends. understand that I love you enough to die in your service like an Eastern slave. Try to change me. Believe me. and you want what I cannot give—Love. it will be your concern. and without a regret. and do not set down to obstinacy what I should call the worship of the Ideal. and in it were some sprays of Cape heath. there were fires beneath the ice. the Honorine of long past days. It will be my expiation. You know what she is in such simplicity. And this was how. holding them in her own.Balzac me. but if I should die. and. I do love you. Still.” “ ‘She did more. I hope it eagerly. she knelt before me on a cushion. 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. Now you demand your wife. here I give you Honorine. my dear. “ ‘ “At first. Her hair framed that face that you know in its light curls. you are here!” She paused. But understand clearly that this submission has its dangers. On seeing the effect of her words she took both my hands. “you asked no more. Well.

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

It is my soul that acts a part. or I shall drag my husband with me. the care of my child. Bianchon. 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. and not with tender lips. You will find with this a codicil in which I have expressed my wish. “Make me die of some plausible complaint. it must eat into something. as I could in my solitude. do you understand? So I am afraid lest he should follow me. my burning eyes are cooled with water. for perhaps I am fatuously vain. and it has attacked my life. I smile on two children. with the Holy Infant. that enchanted blossom with glorious colors.— Poor Octave! I wish him a better wife than I am.Balzac smile. I now write to beg you in that case to be the little Count’s guardian. 271 .” “ ‘So it is quite understood by M. and has the eyes of a lynx. to renew my strength. the dead one. “ ‘I said to the doctors. who discovered my secret. I can never weep or give myself up to dreams but when I am alone. but do not produce it excepting in case of need. and a spotless winged angel to come and go as she wished. “ ‘Since my spiritual spy is married. “ ‘The intimacy of marriage without love is a position in which my soul feels degraded every hour. hinder her from cherishing in her heart the mysterious flower of the Ideal—of that heavenly perfection in which I believed. 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. It is not the lip of one I love that drinks my tears and kisses them. but it is the elder. The dead child calls me. and whose perfume disgusts us with reality. and I am going to him. and that of Octave’s happiness never leave me a moment to refresh myself. The incessant need for watchfulness startles my heart with constant alarms. Desplein. The exigencies of society. and myself that I am dying of the softening of some bone which science has fully described. Octave believes that I adore him. I am a Saint-Theresa who has not been suffered to live on ecstasy in the depths of a convent. My devotion may perhaps leave Octave inconsolable but willing to live. for he deserves to be well loved. that will triumph! I told you so before. I have not succeeded in implanting in my soul the sharpeared vigilance that lies with facility.

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

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

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

Comte Octave de Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life Bianchon. Bauvan. Bianchon narrated the following: 275 . 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.Balzac Addendum The following personages appear in other stories of the Human Comedy. M.

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 . Abbe A Second Home The Government Clerks The Member for Arcis Gaudissart. Abbe The Government Clerks A Start in Life Granville.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. Felix Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life Cousin Pons Cesar Birotteau Gaudissart the Great Gaudron.

Balzac Cousin Pons Lora. Abbe A Start in Life A Bachelor’s Establishment Cesar Birotteau Popinot. Comte Hugret de A Start in Life A Bachelor’s Establishment Modeste Mignon Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life Touches. 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 . Leon de The Unconscious Humorists A Bachelor’s Establishment A Start in Life Pierre Grassou Cousin Betty Beatrix Loraux. Jean-Jules Cesar Birotteau The Commission in Lunacy The Seamy Side of History The Middle Classes Serizy.

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 .

ECONARCH Institute. the Editor. Neither 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. Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics 282 . Indonesia is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classics literature. Juana by Honoré de Balzac. in any way.DISCLAIMER Juana by Honoré de Balzac. the Editor. to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. Any person using this document file. Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series. in English. 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. and in any way does so at his or her own risk. for any purpose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

for it contained the echoes of her pain and the agonies of its own emotion. Joy was more violent in her soul than suffering.” he repeated. the merchant and his wife were reading their evening prayers. suddenly the noise of a carriage drawn by several horses resounded in the street. calmly. exhausted and half dead. but has any harm come to her. due to anxiety. magnificently dressed in spite of the mud upon the wheels of her travelling-carriage. she had strength to endure suffering. and into that venerable salon rushed a woman. and Spain.It was nine o’clock. “how have you kept her safe? Tarragona is taken. “My daughter! my daughter!” cried the Marana.” “Yes. she arrived in Tarragona. The flush in her cheeks. “She is there. in spite of her thirty-six years. furnished too with gold which enabled her to cross France with the velocity of a rocket. pointing to the door of the little chamber. “Ten days to reach Tarragona!” Then without caring for crown or court.—the Marana who. furnished with an almost imperial safe-conduct. the Marana seized the calloused hand of the old 306 . France. “O God! send me to hell if it so pleases thee!” cried the Marana. “But. had left Naples. the prayerbook fell from the hands of the old couple. the Marana who. of course. after a pause during which he recovered from the emotion caused by the abrupt entrance. but none to bear this joy. “She is there. the skies of Naples. is she still—” “Perfectly well.” said Perez. was still in all the glory of her ravishing beauty. on hearing from her royal lover of the events in Spain and the siege of Tarragona. At this voice. paled suddenly. “Tarragona! I must get to Tarragona before the town is taken!” she cried.” she said. and the abrupt invasion of their solitude. the Marana. “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. loud and hasty raps echoed from the shop where the servant hurried to open the door. which had just crossed Italy. the climax of her life of luxury.” replied the merchant. and the look and voice of the mother. being at that time the mistress of a king.” said Dona Lagounia. into a chair. dropping. It was. the fetes. “Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

the habits of his province. and should forget the things behind her to relearn life. and his own insufficient education. Love creates in a wife a new woman. If Juana had loved Diard she would have esteemed him. Woman is a saintly and noble creature. This repulsion was natural. and Juana had had time to think of her coming destiny. How could she love Diard. was bound to him forever. there is no past for her. but almost always misunderstood. In this sense the famous words which a modern poet has put into the lips of Marion Delorme is infused 313 . His manners. who felt neither esteem nor love for Diard. the woman of the day before no longer exists on the morrow. she rejected the very thought precisely because he had married her.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. An awful destiny! Juana. by a rash but necessary promise. Reborn into virtue and chastity. were a mixture of the worst army tone. born with an invincible instinct for luxury and good taste. a young girl all grace and elegance. and nearly always misjudged because she is misunderstood. devoid of all distinction. the woman wraps herself in purity and whiteness. Putting on the nuptial robe of a passion in which life itself is concerned. she is all future. he was passionately in love with Juana di Mancini. her very nature tending toward the sphere of the higher social classes? As for esteeming him. The man was neither handsome nor well-made.

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

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

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

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

all that is gilded or tarnished. noble of yesterday or noble from the fourth century. Works of art purchased the night before were said to be spoils from Spain. her husband received none of it. “That Diard is shrewd. the sneerers of Paris did not see without malicious smiles and words the pictures with which the former quartermaster adorned his handsome mansion. which he himself made still more questionable. but this respect stopped short with her. brought him great troubles. it must be said. But the public.” Worthy people continued to think that those which remained in the Diard salons were not honorably acquired. all that sneers at a parvenu. all that clothes itself and gabbles. all those minds know. he has sold his pictures. Hence comments and satires without end. which triumphed over everything. even Parisian calumny. from the last house in the faubourg Saint-Germain to the last in the rue Saint-Lazare. 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. Juana’s feminine perception and her keen eye hovering over her salons. brought her nothing but pain. that world of insolence and humble desires. an ocean which has made two nations. between the heights of the Luxembourg and the heights of Montmartre. only said. In the first place. in spite of the virtues which our imaginations attribute to soldiers. determined to see things in the worst light. Now in Paris.human science. Juana comprehended this reproach. Diard’s mongrel position. in a single evening. all those tongues say. of envy and cringing. all that wants to demolish power and worships power if it resists. Diard’s comrades. Perhaps there is useful instruction to be derived from the almost imperceptible connection of acts which led to the finale of this history. and by her advice Diard sent back to Tarragona all the pictures he had brought from there. all that fears to commit itself. And yet. that Juana met on all sides the respect inspired by her pure and religious life. All that world of great and small pretensions. This lack of esteem was perfectly natural.—all those ears hear. clothes itself to go out and goes out to gabble. 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 . and this accusation was the revenge of those who were jealous of his present fortune. young or old.

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

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

each social nature pricked her with its own particular pin. the yoke of such conventionalities can only be cast off by great and unthinkable powers. polished contempt against which a new-made man has seldom any weapons. So goes the world. or they grow the stronger. She judged her husband incapable of rising to the honored ranks of the social order. A passionate Provencal. the speech of Diard. “my good fellow” when he met him. in short. when she gained a clear and lucid perception of society. The few persons of really good society whom Diard knew. an awful moment. and to a soul which preferred the thrust of a dagger. treated him with that elegant. These details but faintly picture the many tortures to which Juana was subjected. Henceforth Juana felt pity for him. was all heart to his former friends. and called him. a general of the empire. The future was very gloomy for this young woman. Juana had ceased to think of herself. insolently. and fault after fault he committed. he accepted everybody. In the first place he had to struggle against his own habits and character. She lived in constant apprehension of some disaster. He succored the shabby and spattered man as readily as the needy of rank. She used her influence to make Diard resign his 321 . The courage or the ardor of this man lessened under the reiterated blows which his own faults dealt to his self-appreciation.Balzac At a game of life like this men are either unmanned. A moment came. Observing this on one occasion. the semi-Italian gesticulations. and gave his hand in his gilded salons to many a poor devil. his style of dress. 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. they came upon her one by one. frank in his vices as in his virtues. but she had strength of mind and will to disguise her anguish beneath a smile.—all contributed to repulse the respect which careful observation of matters of good taste and dignity might otherwise obtain for vulgar persons. This presentiment was in her soul as a contagion is in the air. and she felt that he would one day descend to where his instincts led him. this man whose fibres vibrated like the strings of a harp. The manners. a variety of the human species of which no type will presently remain. refused his hand to Diard. or they give themselves to evil. and felt in one instant all the sorrows which were gathering themselves together to fall upon her head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

340 .

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

the Editor. Indonesia is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classics literature. in English. Neither ECONARCH Institute. ECONARCH Institute. Any person using this document file. Maitre Cornelius by Honoré de Balzac. and in any way does so at his or her own risk. in any way. This Portable Document File is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics 342 . 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 Katharine Prescott Wormeley is a publication of ECONaRCH Institute. Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series. the Editor.DISCLAIMER Maitre Cornelius by Honoré de Balzac. for any purpose. to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them.

and Friendship. Memory. as the goldsmiths do.— a fancy of the fashions of the day. will know that I am only seeking to pay my debt to Talent. that I am striving. 343 .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. dear count. to enhance a modern work with an ancient jewel.—but you and a few others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. But at this particular spot a deep silence reigned. because in these two houses lived two passions which never rejoiced. and called to mind the many tales furnished by the life of Maitre Cornelius. A young man would be readily impressed by this sudden contrast. was also under a ban.Balzac of tyrants. 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. At this period a man of war. which had little depth. Each was sinister in aspect. The bays. After the conclusion of the church services. and even a lover. trembled at the mere word “magic.” Few indeed were the minds and the imaginations which disbelieved in occult facts and tales of the marvellous. The building opposite to them. how355 . resembling a small fortress. had in Dauphine by Madame de Sassenage. Beneath the shadow of the steeples of Saint-Martin. separated from the others in the same street and standing at the crooked end of it. it is no wonder that the daring young seigneur stopped short before the house of the silversmith. who were supping. the young man had heard the joyous uproar of many feasts given throughout the town in honor of the day. these two mute dwellings. The ill-joined shutters sent out streaks of light. Casting a glance at the window of the room where he supposed his love to be. and the comforting odor of roasted meats pervaded the town. As six o’clock was striking from the great tower of the Abbey SaintMartin. and both could be well defended against an angry populace. seemed afflicted with leprosy. one of the daughters whom Louis XI. the inhabitants were regaling themselves. The lover of the Comtesse de Saint-Vallier. All along his way. Beyond them stretched the silent country. the chimneys smoked. gave a great power of resistance to the iron shutters of the windows and doors. with murmurs of satisfaction which fancy can picture better than words can paint. he continued his way to the adjoining house. The riots and the civil wars so frequent in those tumultuous times were ample justification for these precautions.—tales which caused such singular horror to the countess. About to fling himself into an enterprise that was horribly hazardous. the home of the criminals of the State.

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. 356 . 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. and the hesitation that now took possession of the lover. and to make them share the alarms of that olden time. the terror of the countess.

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

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

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

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

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

Those who dabbled in alchemy declared that Maitre Cornelius had the power of making gold. she appeared so seldom in the market. This mental deliberation was so painfully interesting that he did not feel the cold wind as it whistled round the corner of the building. more rapacious than her brother whom she actually surpassed in penurious inventions. 362 . Their daily existence had something mysterious and problematical about it. Cornelius was a chimerical being. Though quite decided through the violence of his love to enter that house. he was capable of roasting her alive in an iron cage. and age intensified it. and stay there long enough to accomplish his design. The caprices of this white light gave a sinister expression to both edifices. in a crisis of his life. and tinting with a mixture of light and shade the hollows and reliefs of the carvings. though she was perhaps more miserly. In case of mishap. the home of his mistress. The moonbeams were creeping round their angles. and many of them came into the town to look at his house out of mere curiosity. and then at the evil house.and closer. According to many of the country-people to whom the townsfolk talked of him. If her husband suspected the nocturnal visit of a lover. he hesitated to take the final step. 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. The young man called to mind the many traditions which made Cornelius a personage both curious and formidable. 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 must lay aside his name. all the while aware that he should certainly take it. 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. But where is the man who. Men of science averred that he had found the Universal Panacea. His sister herself excited his suspicions. The old woman rarely took bread from the baker. The young seigneur whom we left in front of that house looked about him. as already he had laid aside the handsome garments of nobility. On entering that house. it seemed as if Nature herself encouraged the superstitions that hung about the miser’s dwelling. first at the hotel de Poitiers. and chilled his legs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sire. As soon as I missed the jewels I went up to the room of that apprentice. smiled. tired out. This time we don’t lack proof. the glory of your reign is concerned in it! there ought not to be robbers in the land under so great a king. a past-master in thieving. riding away in company with the grand provost. sire. I will wager the Jew’s letter and seal were forged! In short.” Louis XI. They have been ravished from me. 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. “This is your business. Happily. you are the accomplice of fellows who come in boats. or to-night. But when he got back to his room. Why. you are too great a king! there is no sum that can pay for your justice. To-morrow. we shall know all. and leave no traces! But we hold this fellow as a key. the bold scoundrel! ah! a fine morsel he’ll be for the gallows. He was sound asleep. A deep silence reigned. night after night.” He rose. I’ll roast him alive. he got down into my strong-room by the chimney. With a little bit of questioning beforehand. crack! they get off with everything. the beggar. and his clothes were covered with marks of his clambering over the roof and down the chimney. assuredly. I found myself this morning robbed of those jewels you admired so much. mounted on his mule.hold in my hands. He meant to stay with me. who waited for him by that embankment you have been making. I felt one under my feet when I entered the room. gentlemen. who is. Ah. and ruin me. He had a silk ladder. The courtiers envied the frank speech and privileges of the old silversmith.” The king was not listening. He had forced the lock of his door. Presently he saw Cornelius. and the courtiers left him alone. He had fallen into one of those gloomy meditations which became so frequent during the last years of his life. the moon was down and he couldn’t find all the screws. He must have had accomplices. the bold wretch! But where are the jewels? The country-folks coming into town early saw him on the roof. walked a few steps away. “take you hold of it. “Where are those thousand gold crowns?” he called to him. who promptly disappeared down the 374 . “Ah! sire. rather.” he said at length to Tristan. Just fancy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

or. which enables them to put a little real life into their existence. looking at the seigneurs who were serving him.” When dinner was over. Several times during dinner he said to his daughter:— “Who. meaning engaged) in litigious affairs. “Notre Dame! with a sum like that what absolutions could be bought in Rome! And I might. played the incognito openly. made insipid by the lack of opposition. so that he shouldered the anxieties of Maitre Cornelius eagerly. as he expected. however. messieurs!” he continued. and the grand provost. and he was always ready to mingle his royal majesty with the burgher life. was really only a passion for the “incognito. Louis XI. better still. took his daughter. with an escort of soldiers. where he found. a fine fortification ready-made for this kingdom.Balzac CHAPTER IV THE HIDDEN TREASURE LOUIS XI. —a sort of momentary abdication. Louis XI. and rode to the hotel de Poitiers in Tours. Twelve hundred thousand crowns. the Comte de SaintVallier awaiting his wife. 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. Pasques-Dieu! bank the Loire.” one of the greatest pleasures of princes. severely blamed by some historians. could have robbed my silversmith? The robberies now amount to over twelve hundred thousand crowns in eight years.. conquer Piedmont. his doctor. endeavoring to please the people of the middle classes. On these occasions he was always the good fellow. This taste. whom he made his allies against feudality. think you. perhaps to make away with her life. and also the secret sorrows of the Comtesse de Saint-Vallier. was fond of intervening in the affairs of his subjects. 389 .

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

Nevertheless he hurried back. sire?” she cried. the guilty man!” cried Louis XI. nuts. In any other circumstances the king would have laughed at his silversmith’s cry. Make that old hag you call your sister come here. from time immemorial. not the least impressed by his royal majesty. bearing one of those stout linen bags which. but the bitter smile on Louis’s withered lips determined him. That is one of my secrets. to and from market. piteously. “If you are robbed again to-night. Cornelius almost hesitated to leave the king alone in the room with his hoards. The housekeeper opened it and showed it to the king. followed by the old woman. or wheat. have been used in Touraine to carry or bring.” she answered.” he added. thinking he had in some way offended his dangerous master. my crony. on whom she cast the rapid. but he had suddenly become thoughtful. is it only a royal notion to examine my flour?” At last she reappeared. “Devil or angel. “Have you any flour?” demanded the king. and said to the king:— “Sire. “Old fool!” said Cornelius. Shall the king lack flour?” “Our good flour!” she grumbled. I order you to remain in ignorance.” “Then the devil is in my house!” cried the miser. we have laid in our stock for the winter. 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. Cornelius was frightened. “Oh yes. I have him. “What do you want to do with our flour. savage look with which old maids appear to squirt 391 . and why did he prowl about at night?” “If you have not guessed why. “Then.” said the king. The bag was half full of flour. and was casting on the Fleming those glances peculiar to men of talent and power which seem to penetrate the brain.” said the king. I shall know to-morrow who did it. what did that robber whom you have taken under your protection come to do here. “Well. “go and execute the orders of our gracious master. as she went downstairs. fruits.Balzac “If the robber opened this box. go and fetch some. abruptly. sire. “Ah! my flour!” Then she returned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balzac 401 .

402 .

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

for any purpose. 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 in any way does so at his or her own risk. Any person using this document file. Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics 404 . in any way. in English. Translated by Clara Bell and James Waring is a publication of ECONaRCH Institute. Neither ECONARCH Institute. the Editor. to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. ECONARCH Institute. Indonesia is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classics literature. This Portable Document File is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. the Editor. Louis Lambert by Honoré de Balzac. Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series.DISCLAIMER Louis Lambert by Honoré de Balzac.

Balzac Louis Lambert by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Clara Bell and James Waring Dedication “Et nunc et semper dilectoe dicatum. While devoting himself to these studies under no sort of guidance. and he obtained them by those winning ways peculiar to children. he reached the age of ten. which no one can resist. and never contradicted him in anything. including so many books. their only child. a little town in the Vendomois. 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. had sealed his fate. One thing resulted from this first reading of the Bible: Louis went all over Montoire begging for books. indeed. and intended that his son should succeed him. where his father owned a tannery of no great magnitude. At the age of five Louis had begun by reading the Old and New Testaments. 405 . the tanner and his wife adored Louis. For. but his precocious bent for study modified the paternal decision. and these two Books.” LOUIS LAMBERT was born at Montoire.

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. indeed. its physiognomy and history. to escape his mother’s remonstrances. and they saw no means allowed by law for evading the conscription but that of making him a priest. not far from Blois. he set out every morning with part of a loaf and his books. rich families secured them long beforehand to have them ready when the lots were drawn. history. but instead of indulging. This comparison may well be applied to Louis Lambert’s adventure. the parish priest of Mer. Lambert owed the favor and patronage of this celebrated lady to chance. for she believed such persistent study to be injurious. he devoured books of every kind. they sent him to his maternal uncle. so. 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. He has told me that he found indescribable delight in reading dictionaries for lack of other books. in the sweets of the delightful far niente that tempts us at every age. appear to be merely the result of physical phenomena. philosophy. What scholar has not many a time found pleasure in seeking the probable meaning of some unknown word? The analysis of a word. or shall we not say to Providence. after the manner of schoolboys. and. such vicissitudes. and physics. 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 . Louis left him early in 1811 to enter the college at Vendome. After remaining for about three years with his uncle. who can smooth the path of forlorn genius? To us. 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 I readily believed him. The poor tanner’s modest fortune did not allow of their purchasing a substitute for their son. feeding indiscriminately on religious works. another small town on the Loire. where he was maintained at the cost of Madame de Stael. who do not see below the surface of human things.At that period substitutes for the army were scarce. of which we find many examples in the lives of great men. in 1807. indeed. and went to read and meditate in the woods. This arrangement at once satisfied Louis’ passion for knowledge.

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

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

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

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

but it evidently occupied her thoughts. then she probably forgot him. early in 1811. could with difficulty recall these words spoken by the Baroness as describing Lambert. though retentive. Lambert would leave it at the end of 1814. she thought. The only person now living who preserves any recollection of the incident. Before her departure she instructed a friend of hers. after diverting him from a career in which he might have found happiness. 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. and manners.Balzac affected in her questions. The transient favor she showed him was regarded as a feminine caprice. and began to talk to him. The circumstances of the time. for she made him out to be a second Moses snatched from the waters. and Louis Lambert’s character. Monsieur de Corbigny. one of the fancies characteristic of artist souls. may to a great extent absolve Ma411 . and to preserve him for the glorious destiny which. on her return home she said but little about it. Madame de Stael determined to save Louis Lambert alike from serving the Emperor or the Church. “He is a real seer. “Do you pray to God?” said the child. is far from being so trustworthy as my friend’s. and I have forgotten the whole of the dialogue excepting those first words.” Louis failed to justify in the eyes of the world the high hopes he had inspired in his protectress. then she sat down by Lambert. looks. Unfortunately. and with a keen glance at Lambert. “Why? yes!” “And do you understand Him?” The Baroness was silent for a moment. my memory. when he had finished the course of Philosophy. to send her Moses in due course to the High School at Vendome. Having entered this college at the age of fourteen. and whom I catechised to be informed of what few words Madame de Stael had let drop.— “Do you understand all this?” she asked. Such a meeting was of a kind to strike Madame de Stael very greatly. notwithstanding an effusiveness which in her became mere loquacity. awaited him.

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

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

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

and despising those pariahs who. Usually during the evening playhour before prayers. Which of us was so unhappy as to have forgotten how his heart beat at the sight of this booth. to spend his little pocket-money. twelve times a year. the whole catalogue of the most treasured possessions of boys. ink of all colors. 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. including everything from sauce for the pigeons we were obliged to kill off. 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. hands. 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. pens. would be the first to hear on trustworthy authority: “There will be a new boy to-morrow!” and then suddenly the shout. a purse of gold. and the four plots in which we were distributed as by a monastic rule. No young duchess. “A New Boy!—A New Boy!” rang through 415 . was ever more spitefully criticised than the new boy by the youths in his division. with its monastic buildings in the heart of a little town. and Nuns. will easily conceive of the excitement that we felt at the arrival of a new boy. pencils. the budget of her personal fancies. each of which would absorb the whole sum. 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. Jacobin pigeons. open periodically during play-hours on Sundays. to the earthenware pots in which we set aside the rice from supper to be eaten at next morning’s breakfast. each in his turn. a passenger suddenly embarked on the ship. in short. found themselves penniless? Any one who forms a clear idea of this huge college. on her first appearance at Court. of whom big and little boys could procure—according to his prospectus—boxes. to whom her husband. during the first days of happiness. Mass-books—an article in small demand—penknives. stilts. balls and marbles. by the avarice or poverty of their parents. paper. helping. to which we went. dream of so many different purchases.Balzac This shop was kept by a sort of cheap-jack. tools.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

with a certain pride. apparently. rapturously devour stories in which truth assumes the most grotesque forms. whose works I have since had the curiosity to read. as soon as his mind reveals to him his twofold existence. he allows bodily action to predominate. each conscious of the other’s presence. having quite forgotten each other’s existence. His passion for mystery. If. instead of confirming his intellectual being. may be told in a few paragraphs. Our life. According to Swedenborg. was merely vegetating. and yet not apart. as well as children. 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.Balzac his accepting. 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. full of the marvels which make men. for lack of a lucid appreciation of his destiny. and the credulity natural to the young. Lambert’s influence over my imagination left traces that still abide. he must strive to foster the delicate angelic essence that exists within him. often led us to discuss Heaven and Hell. Then Louis. would try to make me share in his beliefs concerning angels. In each of us there are two distinct beings. In his least logical arguments there were still amazing observations as to the powers of man. I used to listen hungrily to his tales. which gave his words that color of truth without which nothing can be done in any art. and bathing in an ocean of thought. If a man desires to earn his call to be an angel. but we lived through our heart and brain. like two fish swimming in the same waters. all his powers will be ab431 . 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. by expounding Swedenborg. the angel is an individual in whom the inner being conquers the external being. the life of privation to which we were condemned in consequence of our idleness and our indifference to learning. both buried in one book.

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

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

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

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

after a pause. of which the name is yet to be discovered. since I was in my cell. 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.fragment—as Cuvier did in another branch of inquiry—as a clue to the reconstruction of a complete system. with my eyes shut. which seem to prove that man has a double life? May there not be a new science lying beneath them?” he added. striking his brow with his hand. and yet I saw the landscape—and this upsets many systems. or the facts took place either in some nerve centre. This last hypothesis gives rise to some strange questions. I have hit on evidence to show the superiority that distinguishes our latent senses from our corporeal senses! Homo duplex! “And yet. “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. At last. there must be inner faculties independent of the external laws of physics. I saw. or else in the cerebral centre. colored objects. in the dark. and after a few minutes’ reflection. If I was here while I was asleep in my cubicle. 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. if I heard sounds in the most perfect silence and without the conditions requisite for the production of sound. with a doubtful shrug. where our feelings dwell and move. At this moment we were sitting together on an old oak-stump. at least they prove a frequent severance of our two natures. if without stirring I traversed wide tracts of space. I walked. then. color is caused only by light. “If not the elements of a science. sound acts only at certain angles or on surfaces. Material nature must be penetrable by the spirit. I saw. Motion is inconceivable but in space. where ideas are formed. then. the fact I have been thinking out for a very long time.” he went on. If. at any rate the revelation of stupendous powers in man. if my spirit and my body can be severed during sleep. “How is it that men have hitherto given so little thought to the phenomena of sleep. I heard. Louis said to me: “If the landscape did not come to me—which it is absurd to imagine—I must have come here. in myself. “per436 .

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

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

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

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

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

with the ardent insistency of conviction. proves by a mass of evidence in daily life how true were Lambert’s deductions as to Action and Reaction. like Swedenborg. and the twofold action of the human organism. “A desire. a special analysis for each. and accomplishes everything before expressing itself in any physical phenomenon—must. their existence in our human nature. he asserted. and they had with equal steps arrived at the same strange truths. is fettered in its manifestation.” Hence the sum-total of our Volitions and our Ideas constitutes Action. They both died young. and a rectification of various systems in which truth and falsehood are mingled. demanding. recognizing the startling coincidences between the views of that celebrated physiologist and those of Louis Lambert. the nameless entity which sees. When I subsequently read the observations made by Bichat on the duality of our external senses. the visible man. be free from the physical conditions by which the external Being of Reaction. and designated this vital antithesis Action and Reaction. “is a fact completely accomplished in our will before it is accomplished externally. and the sum-total of our external acts he called Reaction. he proposed to class the phenomena of human life in two series of distinct results.” he said.the nerve fluid corresponds to that of the Mind? Finally. I was really bewildered by my recollections. foresees the end. were. In fact. nay. car442 . in conformity with its nature. Certain men. he assumed. 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. having had a glimpse of some phenomena of the natural working of the Being of Action. From this followed a multitude of logical explanation as to those results of our twofold nature which appear the strangest. which is now ascertained beyond dispute. acts. Nature has in every case been pleased to give a twofold purpose to the various apparatus that constitute her creatures. 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. The inner Being. having observed in almost every type of created thing two separate motions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He presently came back and said: “I did not have to go so far as the graveyard. 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. as our actions are accomplished in our minds before they are reproduced by the outer man. the disputed receipts were found. the old man’s demeanor and countenance showed that such an apparition was habitual with him. In fact. and are the outcome of its intellect. or Laplace. What name can be given to the chance which brought within his ken so many facts and books bearing on such phenomena. physics. in his sixteenth year. for in the course of that philosopher’s life he repeatedly gave proof of the power of sight developed in his Inner Being. and as his intelligence was developed. She tells me that you will find some receipts in the hands of a notary at Blois. when Louis was nine years old. Lambert was naturally led to seek in the laws of nature for the causes of the miracle which. but was it not in trying to make gold that the alchemists unconsciously created chemistry? At the same time. Lavoisier. under his father’s roof and to his own knowledge. which will enable you to gain your suit. have causes by which they are preconceived. studied comparative anatomy. contributed largely to his belief in Swedenborg’s miraculous visions. His chimerical notions about angels perhaps overruled his work too long. As he grew older. presentiments or predictions are the perception of these causes”—I think we may deplore in him a genius equal to Pascal. at a later period. had captivated his attention. your mother came to meet me.ishment of the others. in his childhood. and the lawsuit was not attempted. who thought him daft. such a psychological dictum as this:— ”The events which bear witness to the action of the human race. I found her by the brook. 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 other sciences bearing on his discoveries. He had too much good sense to dwell among the clouds of theories 450 . geometry.” The words were spoken in a firm tone. This event. Lambert.

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

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

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

he could have written Zadig as wittily as Voltaire. which he spoke of as the great era of the Mind. Louis was capable of the highest flights. though at that time. he would enter on an inquiry into miracles. which will serve as a clue to all the others. “The Apocalypse is written ecstasy. and show the lucidity of his judgment. amply prove that Material force will never prevail against the force of Ideas or the Will of man?” he would say. One of his most remarkable literary observations. His rectitude of character made him desire above all else in a work that it should bear the stamp of utility. To give a notion of his talents in a few words.” said he.” I need say nothing of his views on poetry or history. at the same time. each man may draw conclusions in favor of his own. nor of his judgment on the masterpieces of our language. adapted after their own fashion by the beauty-loving Hellenes. is this. as we conversed. And he never rose to such poetic heights as when.” He regarded the Bible as a part of the traditional history of the antediluvian nations which had taken for its share the new humanity. “From this effect. he could have thought out the dialogue between Sylla and Eucrates as powerfully as Montesquieu. There would be little interest in the record of opinions now almost universally held. produced by the Will of all. his refined taste demanded novelty of thought as well as of form. which has ever dwelt in my memory. He discerned the strongest evidence of his theory in most of the martyrdoms endured during the first century of our era. “It is impossible. they are earlier than our sacred books. He thought that the mythology of the Greeks was borrowed both from the Hebrew Scriptures and from the sacred Books of India. 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. The man who is candid enough to admit this historical fact sees the whole world expand before him. worked by the power of Will during that great age of faith. in the evening. “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.tory of the Primitive Church. they might seem remarkable. from the lips of a boy. “to doubt the priority of the Asiatic Scriptures. indeed men had existed before that cataclysm or shock? A serious 454 .

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

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

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

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

Balzac

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

460

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.

461

“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-

462

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

463

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

464

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

465

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

466

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.

467

“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

468

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

Balzac

Villenoix’s birth, and the cherished prejudice against Jews that prevails in the provinces, would not allow of her being received in the very exclusive circle which, rightly or wrongly, considers itself noble, notwithstanding her own large fortune and her guardian’s. Monsieur Joseph Salomon was resolved that if she could not secure a country squire, his niece should go to Paris and make choice of a husband among the peers of France, liberal or monarchical; as to happiness, that he believed he could secure her by the terms of the marriage contract. Mademoiselle de Villenoix was now twenty. Her remarkable beauty and gifts of mind were surer guarantees of happiness than those offered by money. Her features were of the purest type of Jewish beauty; the oval lines, so noble and maidenly, have an indescribable stamp of the ideal, and seem to speak of the joys of the East, its unchangeably blue sky, the glories of its lands, and the fabulous riches of life there. She had fine eyes, shaded by deep eyelids, fringed with thick, curled lashes. Biblical innocence sat on her brow. Her complexion was of the pure whiteness of the Levite’s robe. She was habitually silent and thoughtful, but her movements and gestures betrayed a quiet grace, as her speech bore witness to a woman’s sweet and loving nature. She had not, indeed, the rosy freshness, the fruit-like bloom which blush on a girl’s cheek during her careless years. Darker shadows, with here and there a redder vein, took the place of color, symptomatic of an energetic temper and nervous irritability, such as many men do not like to meet with in a wife, while to others they are an indication of the most sensitive chastity and passion mingled with pride. As soon as Louis saw Mademoiselle de Villenoix, he discerned the angel within. The richest powers of his soul, and his tendency to ecstatic reverie, every faculty within him was at once concentrated in boundless love, the first love of a young man, a passion which is strong indeed in all, but which in him was raised to incalculable power by the perennial ardor of his senses, the character of his ideas, and the manner in which he lived. This passion became a gulf, into which the hapless fellow threw everything; a gulf whither the mind dare not venture, since his, flexible and firm as it was, was lost there. There all was mysterious, for everything went on in that moral world, closed to most men, whose laws were revealed to him—perhaps to his sorrow. 471

When an accident threw me in the way of his uncle, the good man showed me into the room which Lambert had at that time lived in. I wanted to find some vestiges of his writings, if he should have left any. There among his papers, untouched by the old man from that fine instinct of grief that characterized the aged, I found a number of letters, too illegible ever to have been sent to Mademoiselle de Villenoix. My familiarity with Lambert’s writing enabled me in time to decipher the hieroglyphics of this shorthand, the result of impatience and a frenzy of passion. Carried away by his feelings, he had written without being conscious of the irregularity of words too slow to express his thoughts. He must have been compelled to copy these chaotic attempts, for the lines often ran into each other; but he was also afraid perhaps of not having sufficiently disguised his feelings, and at first, at any rate, he had probably written his love-letters twice over. It required all the fervency of my devotion to his memory, and the sort of fanaticism which comes of such a task, to enable me to divine and restore the meaning of the five letters that here follow. These documents, preserved by me with pious care, are the only material evidence of his overmastering passion. Mademoiselle de Villenoix had no doubt destroyed the real letters that she received, eloquent witnesses to the delirium she inspired. The first of these papers, evidently a rough sketch, betrays by its style and by its length the many emendations, the heartfelt alarms, the innumerable terrors caused by a desire to please; the changes of expression and the hesitation between the whirl of ideas that beset a man as he indites his first love-letter—a letter he never will forget, each line the result of a reverie, each word the subject of long cogitation, while the most unbridled passion known to ma