Short Works

Honoré de Balzac
Translated by Ellen Marriage

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

The Girl with the Golden Eyes

Honoré de Balzac
Translated by Ellen Marriage

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


The Girl with the Golden Eyes

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a tinge of contempt and. produced two cigars from his pocket. in some sort.“You would be the death of me more speedily. Paquita had established herself by both of these reasons. then he 56 . which conclude the letters of the Nouvelle Heloise. “for now I know I am certain to die on your account. when. gazed stupidly at the retreating carriage. whereas serious and philosophical writers never employ its images except as the consequence or the corollary of a vast thought. seized as he was by the satiety of his happiness. But at this moment.” Henri submitted. in one’s youth. therefore. True love rules above all through recollection. feeling in souls who are not illuminated by that celestial light. indescribable sentiments which render him ignoble and ashamed. nor perfumed with that holy essence from which the performance of sentiment springs. and the adventures of Lord Edward are one of the most Europeanly delicate ideas of the whole work. the persuasive grip of comparisons. perhaps. Henri. doubtless suggested to Rousseau the adventures of Lord Edward. If Rousseau is obviously inspired by the work of Richardson. he has recommended it to posterity by great ideas which it is difficult to liberate by analysis.” she said. a desire for liberty. a whim to go elsewhere. that delicious melancholy of the body. He found himself on the Boulevard Montmartre at the break of day. he departs from it in a thousand details. I know not what ingratitude. how can she ever be loved? In Henri’s case. he could hardly analyze his heart. but real. found himself beneath the domination of that confused sentiment which is unknown to true love. one reads this work with the object of finding in it the lurid representation of the most physical of our feelings. even by recalling to his lips the taste of the liveliest gratifications that he had ever grasped. The certainty of this confused. A woman who is not engraven upon the soul by excess of pleasure or by strength of emotion. There was needful. In the man who had just gorged himself with pleasure there occurs a propensity to forgetfulness. in fine. of disgust for his idol. which leave his achievement magnificently original. 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 awoke the driver. he felt the grip of that sort of voracious hunger which old soldiers can remember having experienced on the morrow of victory. to Europe by her education. The idea of death. and putting his hands in his trousers’ pockets with a devil-may-care air which did him small honor. no! I will not say a word. which for some queer reason—of which no rhymer has yet taken advantage—is as profound as that of innocence. Life is a river which is of use for the promotion of commerce. over whom at that time all the elegant youth of Paris was mad.” “The girl of the golden eyes! I have forgotten her. how glad I shall be to sleep. Perhaps it is an instance of the proverbial axiom. In the name of all that is most sacred in life—of cigars! I am no professor of social economy 57 . Faith! I have other fish to fry!” “Ah! you are playing at discretion. coquetry or duty. who held to the houris of Asia by her mother. was driven home. to the tropics by her birth. seemed to him merely one of those deceptions by which women seek to make themselves interesting. “She is from Havana—the most Spanish region to be found in the New World. “Well. with a laugh. therefore. So she preferred to feign terror rather than cast in my teeth indisposition or difficulty. Of the girl with the golden eyes.Balzac went off. About noon De Marsay awoke and stretched himself.” he said to himself. he hardly thought.” “Why not?” asked De Marsay.” He saw a hackney coach standing at the corner of Frascati’s waiting for some gambler. smoking his cigar. went to bed. He was delighted.” his friend remarked. like a Parisian woman. for at such a time nothing is more agreeable than to eat in company. “My dear fellow. I am not disposed to make you a gratuitous present of the treasures of my policy. discretion is the best form of calculation. By her golden eyes. expressed in the midst of their pleasure. extremes meet. and slept the sleep of the dissipated. Listen—however. “we all imagined that you had been shut up for the last ten days with the girl of the golden eyes. “What a good thing a cigar is! That’s one thing a man will never tire of. You never teach me anything. and the fear of which had more than once darkened the brow of that beautiful creature. to see Paul de Manerville standing in front of him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. Gratien-Henri-Victor-Jean-Joseph Ferragus Dudley. Part one is entitled Ferragus and part two is The Duchesse de Langeais. Bourignard. 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 . The three stories are frequently combined under the title The Thirteen.Balzac Addendum The Girl with the Golden Eyes is the third part of a trilogy.

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. 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 .

Balzac 75 .

76 .

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

ECONARCH Institute. the Editor. Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley is a publication of ECONaRCH Institute. Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series. Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics 78 .DISCLAIMER The Hated Son by Honoré de Balzac. 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. for any purpose. The Hated Son by Honoré de Balzac. the Editor. to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. 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. This Portable Document File is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Any person using this document file. in English.

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

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

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

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

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

and power. casting shadows among its bony outlines. his hair. the black and crinkled lids of the yellow eyes. 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. which resembled the beak of a bird of prey. The distrust resulting from this new misfortune made him suspicious to the point of not believing himself capable of inspiring a true passion.” but. the rigidity of the wrinkles. gave it a vague resemblance to the vermiculated stone which we see in the buildings of that period. he included in that antipathy all handsome men. despotism. The face was horribly disfigured by a large transversal scar which had the appearance of a second mouth on the right cheek. seemed sadder still. the more to be feared because the narrowness of the skull betrayed an almost total absence of intelligence. The shape of the aquiline nose. Implacable as the war then going on between the Church and Calvinism. 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 . Many furrows. The light from the lamp. where religious intolerance showed its passionate brutality. The misfortune of this wound increased his hatred against the partisans of what the language of that day called “the Religion. like the whitish lichen of old oaks. surrounded without grace a cruel brow. The only passion of his youth was for a celebrated woman called La Belle Romaine.withstanding the tranquillity of sleep. flickering in the draught. Each time that a gust of wind projected the light upon the count’s large face. and a mere brute courage devoid of generosity. so that the fitful movements of its flash upon those features in repose produced the effect of a struggle with angry thought. by a not unnatural turn of mind. produced by the emotions of a warrior life. anxious to distinguish himself in that unhappy religious war the signal for which was given on SaintBartholomew’s day. Before the catastrophe. the disdain expressed in the lower lip. had been grievously wounded at the siege of Rochelle. however. The countess was scarcely reassured by perceiving the cause of that phenomenon. scarcely reached beyond the foot of the bed and illumined the count’s head capriciously. she fancied that her husband was about to fix upon her his two insupportably stern eyes. the prominent bones of a hollow face. the count’s forehead was threatening even while he slept. gray before its time. were all expressive of ambition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

had died in child-bed leaving him a daughter whose health was so frail that it seemed as if the mother had bequeathed to her fruit the germs of death. the opportunity to love must be given to him. 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. of Dante for Beatrice. His wife. Beauvouloir loved his Gabrielle as old men love their only child. to impose a wife on Etienne would be to kill him. not compelled. in spite of his great skill. This unknown poet conceived as yet only the beautiful and noble passion of Petrarch for Laura. A command to love would have dried within him the very sources of his life. Maitre Antoine Beauvouloir was a father. or be made aware of the object of his father’s wishes. His science and his incessant 134 . 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. and then the event should be awaited. As he had said to the father. disowned by his father and destined to the priesthood. 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. of which he knew nothing. Beauvouloir saw plainly that to a being so delicately organized as Etienne marriage must come as a slow and gentle inspiration. It was so difficult to foresee the events which would make a son. A sudden idea which now came to him was inspired more by his devotion to those two beings than by ambition.CHAPTER V GABRIELLE GREAT PHYSICIAN that he was.

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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



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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balzac 169 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

200 .

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

DISCLAIMER Honorine by Honoré de Balzac. Neither ECONARCH Institute. Electronic Classics Literature: Honoré de Balzac Series. ECONARCH Institute. Honorine by Honoré de Balzac. 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. the Editor. in English. Any person using this document file. to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. Copyright © 2009 Rowland Classics 202 . for any purpose. the Editor. in any way. Indonesia is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classics literature. nor anyone associated with ECONARCH Institute assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission. Translated by Clara Bell is a publication of ECONaRCH Institute.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bauvan. 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. Comte Octave de Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life Bianchon. M. Bianchon narrated the following: 275 .

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

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

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

Balzac 279 .

280 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That Diard is shrewd. This lack of esteem was perfectly natural. All that world of great and small pretensions. he has sold his pictures. Works of art purchased the night before were said to be spoils from Spain. determined to see things in the worst light. Diard’s comrades. brought him great troubles. her husband received none of it.human science. all that wants to demolish power and worships power if it resists. of envy and cringing. which triumphed over everything.—all those ears hear. noble of yesterday or noble from the fourth century. that world of insolence and humble desires. all those minds know. all those tongues say. in spite of the virtues which our imaginations attribute to soldiers. And yet. and this accusation was the revenge of those who were jealous of his present fortune. in a single evening. 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. In the first place. even Parisian calumny. where the 318 . between the heights of the Luxembourg and the heights of Montmartre. Some jealous women asked how it was that a diard (!) had been able to marry so rich and beautiful a young girl. Juana comprehended this reproach. all that fears to commit itself. Diard’s mongrel position. But the public. that Juana met on all sides the respect inspired by her pure and religious life. which he himself made still more questionable. young or old. but this respect stopped short with her. from the last house in the faubourg Saint-Germain to the last in the rue Saint-Lazare. Now in Paris. Perhaps there is useful instruction to be derived from the almost imperceptible connection of acts which led to the finale of this history. it must be said. the sneerers of Paris did not see without malicious smiles and words the pictures with which the former quartermaster adorned his handsome mansion. only said. and by her advice Diard sent back to Tarragona all the pictures he had brought from there. Hence comments and satires without end. brought her nothing but pain. an ocean which has made two nations. clothes itself to go out and goes out to gabble.” Worthy people continued to think that those which remained in the Diard salons were not honorably acquired. all that is gilded or tarnished. Juana’s feminine perception and her keen eye hovering over her salons. all that clothes itself and gabbles. all that sneers at a parvenu. such as Paris contributes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diard at first made a fortune at the difficulty. his former companion. a revenge at cards often exceeds the amount of all preceding losses. She was then thirty-three years old. but nevertheless they played together. Therefore as soon as she appeared. Montefiore had already mentioned his intention of visiting Bordeaux. In two months he won three hundred thousand dollars. greatly developed. but my money is in Bordeaux.” said the ex-quartermaster. “My dear Montefiore. She was glad to lead a retired life. after making a tour of the salon. was in all its lustre. he still hoped to recover himself by some one of the endless caprices of play. but her wants all provided for until her husband’s return. but with the selfpossession and rapid bird’s-eye view of a man accustomed to catch at all resources. “I owe you a hundred thousand francs. she arranged with a “traiteur” the day after Diard’s departure to send in their meals. But these burning expectations depended on the marquis’s reply. and more especially for his love of play. Towards the end of the second month the Marquis de Montefiore appeared at the same baths. he kept it all. and to make them read the two masterpieces of the two languages. To spare herself the troubles of material life. much talk was made in Bordeaux about the beautiful Spanish stranger. Had he paid his debt on the spot. Diard. and at once formed a plan to teach the children Spanish and Italian. and desired to add his spoils to those of others. 330 . but it never occurred to him to send any money to his wife. Diard would have been left without the power to take his revenge. his handsome face. and she thus found herself without money. his fortunate marriage with an Englishwoman. expecting to make some great stroke of fortune on a vast stake. and Diard lost every penny that he possessed. Her beauty. renewed acquaintance with Montefiore. confident in his luck. encountered him. At the first advances made to her Juana ceased to walk abroad. where I have left my wife. A gambler with four hundred thousand francs in hand is always in a position to do as he pleases. Her maid then sufficed for the service of the house. simply and naturally economical. The marquis was at this time celebrated for his wealth. Her pleasures consisted in taking walks with the children. Diard. and confined herself wholly to her own large garden. and more. The latter received him very coldly.” Diard had the money in bank-bills in his pocket.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

340 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


Villenoix’s birth, and the cherished prejudice against Jews that prevails in the provinces, would not allow of her being received in 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 man feels the necessity of the most reserved utterance, and like a gia