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Title: Lost Illusions
Author: Balzac, Honoré de, 1799-1850
Language: English
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                           LOST ILLUSIONS


                          HONORE DE BALZAC


  The trilogy known as Lost Illusions consists of:
       Two Poets
       A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
       Eve and David

  In many references parts one and three are combined under
  the title Lost Illusions and A Distinguished Provincial at
  Paris is given its individual title. Following this trilogy
  is a sequel, Scenes from a Courtesan's Life, which is set
  directly following the end of Eve and David.

                           LOST ILLUSIONS


The longest, without exception, of Balzac's books, and one which
contains hardly any passage that is not very nearly of his best,
_Illusions Perdues_ suffers, I think, a little in point of composition
from the mixture of the Angouleme scenes of its first and third parts
with the purely Parisian interest of _Un Grand Homme de Province_. It
is hardly possible to exaggerate the gain in distinctness and lucidity
of arrangement derived from putting _Les Deux Poetes_ and _Eve et
David_ (a much better title than that which has been preferred in the
_Edition Definitive_) together in one volume, and reserving the
greatness and decadence of Lucien de Rubempre for another. It is
distinctly awkward that this should be divided, as it is itself an
enormous episode, a sort of Herodotean parenthesis, rather than an
integral part of the story. And, as a matter of fact, it joins on much
more to the _Splendeurs et Miseres des Courtisanes_ than to its actual
companions. In fact, it is an instance of the somewhat haphazard and
arbitrary way in which the actual division of the _Comedie_ has
worked, that it should, dealing as it does wholly and solely with
Parisian life, be put in the _Scenes de la Vie de Province_, and
should be separated from its natural conclusion not merely as a matter
of volumes, but as a matter of divisions. In making the arrangement,
however, it is necessary to remember Balzac's own scheme, especially
as the connection of the three parts in other ways is too close to
permit the wrenching of them asunder altogether and finally. This
caution given, all that is necessary can be done by devoting the first
part of the introduction entirely to the first and third or Angouleme
parts, and by consecrating the latter part to the egregious Lucien by

There is a double gain in doing this, for, independently of the
connection as above referred to, Lucien has little to do except as an
opportunity for the display of virtue by his sister and David Sechard;
and the parts in which they appear are among the most interesting of
Balzac's work. The "Idyllic" charm of this marriage for love, combined
as it is with exhibitions of the author's power in more than one of
the ways in which he loved best to show it, has never escaped
attention from Balzac's most competent critics. He himself had
speculated in print and paper before David Sechard was conceived; he
himself had for all "maniacs," all men of one idea, the fraternal
enthusiasm of a fellow-victim. He could never touch a miser without a
sort of shudder of interest; and that singular fancy of his for
describing complicated legal and commercial undertakings came in too.
Nor did he spare, in this wide-ranging book, to bring in other
favorite matters of his, the _hobereau_--or squireen--aristocracy, the
tittle-tattle of the country town and so forth.

The result is a book of multifarious interest, not hampered, as some
of its fellows are, by an uncertainty on the author's part as to what
particular hare he is coursing. Part of the interest, after the
description of the printing office and of old Sechard's swindling of
his son, is a doubling, it is true, upon that of _La muse du
Departement_, and is perhaps a little less amusingly done; but it is
blended with better matters. Sixte du Chatelet is a considerable
addition to Balzac's gallery of the aristocracy in transition--of the
Bonaparte _parvenus_ whom perhaps he understood even better than the
old nobility, for they were already in his time becoming adulterated
and alloyed; or than the new folk of business and finance, for they
were but in their earliest stages. Nor is the rest of the society of
Madame de Bargeton inferior.

But the real interest both of _Les Deux Poetes_, and still more of
_Eve et David_, between which two, be it always remembered, comes in
the _Distinguished Provincial_, lies in the characters who gave their
name to the last part. In David, the man of one idea, who yet has room
for an honest love and an all-deserved friendship, Balzac could not go
wrong. David Sechard takes a place by himself among the sheep of the
_Comedie_. Some may indeed say that this phrase is unfortunate, that
Balzac's sheep have more qualities of the mutton than innocence. It is
not quite to be denied. But David is very far indeed from being a good
imbecile, like Cesar Birotteau, or a man intoxicated out of
common-sense by a passion respectable in itself, like Goriot. His
sacrifice of his mania in time is something--nay, it is very much; and
his disinterested devotion to his brother-in-law does not quite pass
the limits of sense.

But what shall we say of Eve? She is good of course, good as gold, as
Eugenie Grandet herself; and the novelist has been kind enough to
allow her to be happier. But has he quite interested us in her love
for David? Has he even persuaded us that the love existed in a form
deserving the name? Did not Eve rather take her husband to protect
him, to look after him, than either to love, honor, and obey in the
orthodox sense, or to love for love's sake only, as some still take
their husbands and wives even at the end of the nineteenth century?
This is a question which each reader must answer for himself; but few
are likely to refuse assent to the sentence, "Happy the husband who
has such a wife as Eve Chardon!"

The central part of _Illusions Perdues_, which in reason stands by
itself, and may do so ostensibly with considerably less than the
introduction explanatory which Balzac often gives to his own books, is
one of the most carefully worked out and diversely important of his
novels. It should, of course, be read before _Splendeurs et Miseres
des Courtisanes_, which is avowedly its second part, a small piece of
_Eve et David_ serving as the link between them. But it is almost
sufficient by and to itself. _Lucien de Rubempre ou le Journalisme_
would be the most straightforward and descriptive title for it, and
one which Balzac in some of his moods would have been content enough
to use.

The story of it is too continuous and interesting to need elaborate
argument, for nobody is likely to miss any important link in it. But
Balzac has nowhere excelled in finesse and success of analysis, the
double disillusion which introduces itself at once between Madame de
Bargeton and Lucien, and which makes any _redintegratio amoris_ of a
valid kind impossible, because each cannot but be aware that the other
has anticipated the rupture. It will not, perhaps, be a matter of such
general agreement whether he has or has not exceeded the fair license
of the novelist in attributing to Lucien those charms of body and
gifts of mind which make him, till his moral weakness and
worthlessness are exposed, irresistible, and enable him for a time to
repair his faults by a sort of fairy good-luck. The sonnets of _Les
Marguerites_, which were given to the author by poetical friends
--Gautier, it is said, supplied the "Tulip"--are undoubtedly good and
sufficient. But Lucien's first article, which is (according to a
practice the rashness of which cannot be too much deprecated) given
likewise, is certainly not very wonderful; and the Paris press must
have been rather at a low ebb if it made any sensation. As we are not
favored with any actual portrait of Lucien, detection is less possible
here, but the novelist has perhaps a very little abused the privilege
of making a hero, "Like Paris handsome, and like Hector brave," or
rather "Like Paris handsome, and like Phoebus clever." There is no
doubt, however, that the interest of the book lies partly in the vivid
and severe picture of journalism given in it, and partly in the way in
which the character of Lucien is adjusted to show up that of the
abstract journalist still farther.

How far is the picture true? It must be said, in fairness to Balzac,
that a good many persons of some competence in France have pronounced
for its truth there; and if that be so, all one can say is, "So much
the worse for French journalists." It is also certain that a lesser,
but still not inconsiderable number of persons in England--generally
persons who, not perhaps with Balzac's genius, have like Balzac
published books, and are not satisfied with their reception by the
press--agree more or less as to England. For myself, I can only say
that I do not believe things have ever been quite so bad in England,
and that I am quite sure there never has been any need for them to be.
There are, no doubt, spiteful, unprincipled, incompetent practitioners
of journalism as of everything else; and it is of course obvious that
while advertisements, the favor of the chiefs of parties, and so
forth, are temptations to newspaper managers not to hold up a very
high standard of honor, anonymity affords to newspaper writers a
dangerously easy shield to cover malice or dishonesty. But I can only
say that during long practice in every kind of political and literary
journalism, I never was seriously asked to write anything I did not
think, and never had the slightest difficulty in confining myself to
what I did think.

In fact Balzac, like a good many other men of letters who abuse
journalism, put himself very much out of court by continually
practising it, not merely during his struggling period, but long after
he had made his name, indeed almost to the very last. And it is very
hard to resist the conclusion that when he charged journalism
generally not merely with envy, hatred, malice, and all
uncharitableness, but with hopeless and pervading dishonesty, he had
little more ground for it than an inability to conceive how any one,
except from vile reasons of this kind, could fail to praise Honore de

At any rate, either his art by itself, or his art assisted and
strengthened by that personal feeling which, as we have seen counted
for much with him, has here produced a wonderfully vivid piece of
fiction--one, I think, inferior in success to hardly anything he
has done. Whether, as at a late period a very well-informed,
well-affected, and well-equipped critic hinted, his picture of the
Luciens and the Lousteaus did not a little to propagate both is
another matter. The seriousness with which Balzac took the accusation
perhaps shows a little sense of galling. But putting this aside, _Un
Grand Homme de Province a Paris_ must be ranked, both for comedy and
tragedy, both for scheme and execution, in the first rank of his work.

The bibliography of this long and curious book--almost the only one
which contains some verse, some of Balzac's own, some given to him by
his more poetical friends--occupies full ten pages of M. de
Lovenjoul's record. The first part, which bore the general title, was
a book from the beginning, and appeared in 1837 in the _Scenes de la
Vie de Province_. It had five chapters, and the original verse it
contained had appeared in the _Annalaes Romantiques_ ten years earlier
with slight variants. The second part, _Un Grand Homme de Province_,
likewise appeared as a book, independently published by Souverain in
1839 in two volumes and forty chapters. But two of these chapters had
been inserted a few days before the publications in the _Estafette_.
Here Canalis was more distinctly identified with Lamartine than in the
subsequent texts. The third part, unlike its forerunners, appeared
serially in two papers, _L'Etat_ and _Le Parisien_, in the year 1843,
under the title of _David Sechard, ou les Souffrances d'un Inventeur_,
and next year became a book under the first title only. But before
this last issue it had been united to the other two parts, and had
appeared as _Eve et David_ in the first edition of the _Comedie.

     George Saintsbury


                              TWO POETS
                       (Lost Illusions Part I)


                           HONORE DE BALZAC

                            Translated By
                            Ellen Marriage


  To Monsieur Victor Hugo,

  It was your birthright to be, like a Rafael or a Pitt, a great
  poet at an age when other men are children; it was your fate, the
  fate of Chateaubriand and of every man of genius, to struggle
  against jealousy skulking behind the columns of a newspaper, or
  crouching in the subterranean places of journalism. For this
  reason I desired that your victorious name should help to win a
  victory for this work that I inscribe to you, a work which, if
  some persons are to be believed, is an act of courage as well as a
  veracious history. If there had been journalists in the time of
  Moliere, who can doubt but that they, like marquises, financiers,
  doctors, and lawyers, would have been within the province of the
  writer of plays? And why should Comedy, _qui castigat ridendo
  mores_, make an exception in favor of one power, when the Parisian
  press spares none? I am happy, monsieur, in this opportunity of
  subscribing myself your sincere admirer and friend,


                              TWO POETS

At the time when this story opens, the Stanhope press and the
ink-distributing roller were not as yet in general use in small
provincial printing establishments. Even at Angouleme, so closely
connected through its paper-mills with the art of typography in Paris,
the only machinery in use was the primitive wooden invention to which
the language owes a figure of speech--"the press groans" was no mere
rhetorical expression in those days. Leather ink-balls were still used
in old-fashioned printing houses; the pressman dabbed the ink by hand
on the characters, and the movable table on which the form of type was
placed in readiness for the sheet of paper, being made of marble,
literally deserved its name of "impression-stone." Modern machinery
has swept all this old-world mechanism into oblivion; the wooden press
which, with all its imperfections, turned out such beautiful work for
the Elzevirs, Plantin, Aldus, and Didot is so completely forgotten,
that something must be said as to the obsolete gear on which
Jerome-Nicolas Sechard set an almost superstitious affection, for it
plays a part in this chronicle of great small things.

Sechard had been in his time a journeyman pressman, a "bear" in
compositors' slang. The continued pacing to and fro of the pressman
from ink-table to press, from press to ink-table, no doubt suggested
the nickname. The "bears," however, make matters even by calling the
compositors monkeys, on account of the nimble industry displayed by
those gentlemen in picking out the type from the hundred and fifty-two
compartments of the cases.

In the disastrous year 1793, Sechard, being fifty years old and a
married man, escaped the great Requisition which swept the bulk of
French workmen into the army. The old pressman was the only hand left
in the printing-house; and when the master (otherwise the "gaffer")
died, leaving a widow, but no children, the business seemed to be on
the verge of extinction; for the solitary "bear" was quite incapable
of the feat of transformation into a "monkey," and in his quality of
pressman had never learned to read or write. Just then, however, a
Representative of the People being in a mighty hurry to publish the
Decrees of the Convention, bestowed a master printer's license on
Sechard, and requisitioned the establishment. Citizen Sechard accepted
the dangerous patent, bought the business of his master's widow with
his wife's savings, and took over the plant at half its value. But he
was not even at the beginning. He was bound to print the Decrees of
the Republic without mistakes and without delay.

In this strait Jerome-Nicolas Sechard had the luck to discover a noble
Marseillais who had no mind to emigrate and lose his lands, nor yet to
show himself openly and lose his head, and consequently was fain to
earn a living by some lawful industry. A bargain was struck. M. le
Comte de Maucombe, disguised in a provincial printer's jacket, set up,
read, and corrected the decrees which forbade citizens to harbor
aristocrats under pain of death; while the "bear," now a "gaffer,"
printed the copies and duly posted them, and the pair remained safe
and sound.

In 1795, when the squall of the Terror had passed over, Nicolas
Sechard was obliged to look out for another jack-of-all-trades to be
compositor, reader, and foreman in one; and an Abbe who declined the
oath succeeded the Comte de Maucombe as soon as the First Consul
restored public worship. The Abbe became a Bishop at the Restoration,
and in after days the Count and the Abbe met and sat together on the
same bench of the House of Peers.

In 1795 Jerome-Nicolas had not known how to read or write; in 1802 he
had made no progress in either art; but by allowing a handsome margin
for "wear and tear" in his estimates, he managed to pay a foreman's
wages. The once easy-going journeyman was a terror to his "bears" and
"monkeys." Where poverty ceases, avarice begins. From the day when
Sechard first caught a glimpse of the possibility of making a fortune,
a growing covetousness developed and sharpened in him a certain
practical faculty for business--greedy, suspicious, and keen-eyed. He
carried on his craft in disdain of theory. In course of time he had
learned to estimate at a glance the cost of printing per page or per
sheet in every kind of type. He proved to unlettered customers that
large type costs more to move; or, if small type was under discussion,
that it was more difficult to handle. The setting-up of the type was
the one part of his craft of which he knew nothing; and so great was
his terror lest he should not charge enough, that he always made a
heavy profit. He never took his eyes off his compositors while they
were paid by the hour. If he knew that a paper manufacturer was in
difficulties, he would buy up his stock at a cheap rate and warehouse
the paper. So from this time forward he was his own landlord, and
owned the old house which had been a printing office from time

He had every sort of luck. He was left a widower with but one son. The
boy he sent to the grammar school; he must be educated, not so much
for his own sake as to train a successor to the business; and Sechard
treated the lad harshly so as to prolong the time of parental rule,
making him work at case on holidays, telling him that he must learn to
earn his own living, so as to recompense his poor old father, who was
slaving his life out to give him an education.

Then the Abbe went, and Sechard promoted one of his four compositors
to be foreman, making his choice on the future bishop's recommendation
of the man as an honest and intelligent workman. In these ways the
worthy printer thought to tide over the time until his son could take
a business which was sure to extend in young and clever hands.

David Sechard's school career was a brilliant one. Old Sechard, as a
"bear" who had succeeded in life without any education, entertained a
very considerable contempt for attainments in book learning; and when
he sent his son to Paris to study the higher branches of typography,
he recommended the lad so earnestly to save a good round sum in the
"working man's paradise" (as he was pleased to call the city), and so
distinctly gave the boy to understand that he was not to draw upon the
paternal purse, that it seemed as if old Sechard saw some way of
gaining private ends of his own by that sojourn in the Land of
Sapience. So David learned his trade, and completed his education at
the same time, and Didot's foreman became a scholar; and yet when he
left Paris at the end of 1819, summoned home by his father to take the
helm of business, he had not cost his parent a farthing.

Now Nicolas Sechard's establishment hitherto had enjoyed a monopoly of
all the official printing in the department, besides the work of the
prefecture and the diocese--three connections which should prove
mighty profitable to an active young printer; but precisely at this
juncture the firm of Cointet Brothers, paper manufacturers, applied to
the authorities for the second printer's license in Angouleme.
Hitherto old Sechard had contrived to reduce this license to a dead
letter, thanks to the war crisis of the Empire, and consequent atrophy
of commercial enterprise; but he had neglected to buy up the right
himself, and this piece of parsimony was the ruin of the old business.
Sechard thought joyfully when he heard the news that the coming
struggle with the Cointets would be fought out by his son and not by

"I should have gone to the wall," he thought, "but a young fellow from
the Didots will pull through."

The septuagenarian sighed for the time when he could live at ease in
his own fashion. If his knowledge of the higher branches of the craft
of printing was scanty, on the other hand, he was supposed to be past
master of an art which workmen pleasantly call "tipple-ography," an
art held in high esteem by the divine author of _Pantagruel_; though of
late, by reason of the persecution of societies yclept of Temperance,
the cult has fallen, day by day, into disuse.

Jerome-Nicolas Sechard, bound by the laws of etymology to be a dry
subject, suffered from an inextinguishable thirst. His wife, during
her lifetime, managed to control within reasonable bounds the passion
for the juice of the grape, a taste so natural to the bear that M. de
Chateaubriand remarked it among the ursine tribes of the New World.
But philosophers inform us that old age is apt to revert to the habits
of youth, and Sechard senior is a case in point--the older he grew,
the better he loved to drink. The master-passion had given a stamp of
originality to an ursine physiognomy; his nose had developed till it
reached the proportions of a double great-canon A; his veined cheeks
looked like vine-leaves, covered, as they were, with bloated patches
of purple, madder red, and often mottled hues; till altogether, the
countenance suggested a huge truffle clasped about by autumn vine
tendrils. The little gray eyes, peering out from beneath thick
eyebrows like bushes covered with snow, were agleam with the cunning
of avarice that had extinguished everything else in the man, down to
the very instinct of fatherhood. Those eyes never lost their cunning
even when disguised in drink. Sechard put you in mind of one of La
Fontaine's Franciscan friars, with the fringe of grizzled hair still
curling about his bald pate. He was short and corpulent, like one of
the old-fashioned lamps for illumination, that burn a vast deal of oil
to a very small piece of wick; for excess of any sort confirms the
habit of body, and drunkenness, like much study, makes the fat man
stouter, and the lean man leaner still.

For thirty years Jerome-Nicolas-Sechard had worn the famous municipal
three-cornered hat, which you may still see here and there on the head
of the towncrier in out-of-the-way places. His breeches and waistcoat
were of greenish velveteen, and he wore an old-fashioned brown
greatcoat, gray cotton stockings, and shoes with silver buckles to
them. This costume, in which the workman shone through the burgess,
was so thoroughly in keeping with the man's character, defects, and
way of life, that he might have come ready dressed into the world. You
could no more imagine him apart from his clothes than you could think
of a bulb without its husk. If the old printer had not long since
given the measure of his blind greed, the very nature of the man came
out in the manner of his abdication.

Knowing, as he did, that his son must have learned his business pretty
thoroughly in the great school of the Didots, he had yet been
ruminating for a long while over the bargain that he meant to drive
with David. All that the father made, the son, of course, was bound to
lose, but in business this worthy knew nothing of father or son. If,
in the first instance, he had looked on David as his only child, later
he came to regard him as the natural purchaser of the business, whose
interests were therefore his own. Sechard meant to sell dear; David,
of course, to buy cheap; his son, therefore, was an antagonist, and it
was his duty to get the better of him. The transformation of sentiment
into self-seeking, ordinarily slow, tortuous, and veiled by hypocrisy
in better educated people, was swift and direct in the old "bear," who
demonstrated the superiority of shrewd tipple-ography over
book-learned typography.

David came home, and the old man received him with all the cordiality
which cunning folk can assume with an eye to business. He was as full
of thought for him as any lover for his mistress; giving him his arm,
telling him where to put his foot down so as to avoid the mud, warming
the bed for him, lighting a fire in his room, making his supper ready.
The next day, after he had done his best to fluster his son's wits
over a sumptuous dinner, Jerome-Nicolas Sechard, after copious
potations, began with a "Now for business," a remark so singularly
misplaced between two hiccoughs, that David begged his parent to
postpone serious matters until the morrow. But the old "bear" was by
no means inclined to put off the long-expected battle; he was too well
prepared to turn his tipsiness to good account. He had dragged the
chain these fifty years, he would not wear it another hour; to-morrow
his son should be the "gaffer."

Perhaps a word or two about the business premises may be said here.
The printing-house had been established since the reign of Louis XIV.
in the angle made by the Rue de Beaulieu and the Place du Murier; it
had been devoted to its present purposes for a long time past. The
ground floor consisted of a single huge room lighted on the side next
the street by an old-fashioned casement, and by a large sash window
that gave upon the yard at the back. A passage at the side led to the
private office; but in the provinces the processes of typography
excite such a lively interest, that customers usually preferred to
enter by way of the glass door in the street front, though they at
once descended three steps, for the floor of the workshop lay below
the level of the street. The gaping newcomer always failed to note the
perils of the passage through the shop; and while staring at the
sheets of paper strung in groves across the ceiling, ran against the
rows of cases, or knocked his hat against the tie-bars that secured
the presses in position. Or the customer's eyes would follow the agile
movements of a compositor, picking out type from the hundred and
fifty-two compartments of his case, reading his copy, verifying the
words in the composing-stick, and leading the lines, till a ream of
damp paper weighted with heavy slabs, and set down in the middle of
the gangway, tripped up the bemused spectator, or he caught his hip
against the angle of a bench, to the huge delight of boys, "bears,"
and "monkeys." No wight had ever been known to reach the further end
without accident. A couple of glass-windowed cages had been built out
into the yard at the back; the foreman sat in state in the one, the
master printer in the other. Out in the yard the walls were agreeably
decorated by trellised vines, a tempting bit of color, considering the
owner's reputation. On the one side of the space stood the kitchen, on
the other the woodshed, and in a ramshackle penthouse against the hall
at the back, the paper was trimmed and damped down. Here, too, the
forms, or, in ordinary language, the masses of set-up type, were
washed. Inky streams issuing thence blended with the ooze from the
kitchen sink, and found their way into the kennel in the street
outside; till peasants coming into the town of a market day believed
that the Devil was taking a wash inside the establishment.

As to the house above the printing office, it consisted of three rooms
on the first floor and a couple of attics in the roof. The first room
did duty as dining-room and lobby; it was exactly the same length as
the passage below, less the space taken up by the old-fashioned wooden
staircase; and was lighted by a narrow casement on the street and a
bull's-eye window looking into the yard. The chief characteristic of
the apartment was a cynic simplicity, due to money-making greed. The
bare walls were covered with plain whitewash, the dirty brick floor
had never been scoured, the furniture consisted of three rickety
chairs, a round table, and a sideboard stationed between the two doors
of a bedroom and a sitting-room. Windows and doors alike were dingy
with accumulated grime. Reams of blank paper or printed matter usually
encumbered the floor, and more frequently than not the remains of
Sechard's dinner, empty bottles and plates, were lying about on the

The bedroom was lighted on the side of the yard by a window with
leaded panes, and hung with the old-world tapestry that decorated
house fronts in provincial towns on Corpus Christi Day. For furniture
it boasted a vast four-post bedstead with canopy, valances and quilt
of crimson serge, a couple of worm-eaten armchairs, two
tapestry-covered chairs in walnut wood, an aged bureau, and a timepiece
on the mantel-shelf. The Seigneur Rouzeau, Jerome-Nicolas' master and
predecessor, had furnished the homely old-world room; it was just as
he had left it.

The sitting-room had been partly modernized by the late Mme. Sechard;
the walls were adorned with a wainscot, fearful to behold, painted
the color of powder blue. The panels were decorated with wall-paper
--Oriental scenes in sepia tint--and for all furniture, half-a-dozen
chairs with lyre-shaped backs and blue leather cushions were ranged
round the room. The two clumsy arched windows that gave upon the Place
du Murier were curtainless; there was neither clock nor candle sconce
nor mirror above the mantel-shelf, for Mme. Sechard had died before
she carried out her scheme of decoration; and the "bear," unable to
conceive the use of improvements that brought in no return in money,
had left it at this point.

Hither, _pede titubante_, Jerome-Nicolas Sechard brought his son, and
pointed to a sheet of paper lying on the table--a valuation of plant
drawn up by the foreman under his direction.

"Read that, my boy," said Jerome-Nicolas, rolling a drunken eye from
the paper to his son, and back to the paper. "You will see what a
jewel of a printing-house I am giving you."

"'Three wooden presses, held in position by iron tie-bars, cast-iron

"An improvement of my own," put in Sechard senior.

"'----Together with all the implements, ink-tables, balls, benches,
et cetera, sixteen hundred francs!' Why, father," cried David, letting
the sheet fall, "these presses of yours are old sabots not worth a
hundred crowns; they are only fit for firewood."

"Sabots?" cried old Sechard, "_Sabots_? There, take the inventory and
let us go downstairs. You will soon see whether your paltry iron-work
contrivances will work like these solid old tools, tried and trusty.
You will not have the heart after that to slander honest old presses
that go like mail coaches, and are good to last you your lifetime
without needing repairs of any sort. Sabots! Yes, sabots that are like
to hold salt enough to cook your eggs with--sabots that your father
has plodded on with these twenty years; they have helped him to make
you what you are."

The father, without coming to grief on the way, lurched down the worn,
knotty staircase that shook under his tread. In the passage he opened
the door of the workshop, flew to the nearest press (artfully oiled
and cleaned for the occasion) and pointed out the strong oaken cheeks,
polished up by the apprentice.

"Isn't it a love of a press?"

A wedding announcement lay in the press. The old "bear" folded down
the frisket upon the tympan, and the tympan upon the form, ran in the
carriage, worked the lever, drew out the carriage, and lifted the
frisket and tympan, all with as much agility as the youngest of the
tribe. The press, handled in this sort, creaked aloud in such fine
style that you might have thought some bird had dashed itself against
the window pane and flown away again.

"Where is the English press that could go at that pace?" the parent
asked of his astonished son.

Old Sechard hurried to the second, and then to the third in order,
repeating the manoeuvre with equal dexterity. The third presenting to
his wine-troubled eye a patch overlooked by the apprentice, with a
notable oath he rubbed it with the skirt of his overcoat, much as a
horse-dealer polishes the coat of an animal that he is trying to sell.

"With those three presses, David, you can make your nine thousand
francs a year without a foreman. As your future partner, I am opposed
to your replacing these presses by your cursed cast-iron machinery,
that wears out the type. You in Paris have been making such a to-do
over that damned Englishman's invention--a foreigner, an enemy of
France who wants to help the ironfounders to a fortune. Oh! you wanted
Stanhopes, did you? Thanks for your Stanhopes, that cost two thousand
five hundred francs apiece, about twice as much as my three jewels put
together, and maul your type to pieces, because there is no give in
them. I haven't book-learning like you, but you keep this well in
mind, the life of the Stanhope is the death of the type. Those three
presses will serve your turn well enough, the printing will be
properly done, and folk here in Angouleme won't ask any more of you.
You may print with presses made of wood or iron or gold or silver,
_they_ will never pay you a farthing more."

"'Item,'" pursued David, "'five thousand pounds weight of type from
M. Vaflard's foundry----'" Didot's apprentice could not help smiling
at the name.

"Laugh away! After twelve years of wear, that type is as good as new.
That is what I call a typefounder! M. Vaflard is an honest man, who
uses hard metal; and, to my way of thinking, the best typefounder is
the one you go to most seldom."

"'----Taken at ten thousand francs,'" continued David. "Ten thousand
francs, father! Why, that is two francs a pound, and the Messrs. Didot
only ask thirty-six sous for their _Cicero_! These nail-heads of yours
will only fetch the price of old metal--fivepence a pound."

"You call M. Gille's italics, running-hand and round-hand,
'nail-heads,' do you? M. Gille, that used to be printer to the Emperor!
And type that costs six francs a pound! masterpieces of engraving,
bought only five years ago. Some of them are as bright yet as when they
came from the foundry. Look here!"

Old Sechard pounced upon some packets of unused sorts, and held them
out for David to see.

"I am not book-learned; I don't know how to read or write; but, all
the same, I know enough to see that M. Gille's sloping letters are the
fathers of your Messrs. Didot's English running-hand. Here is the
round-hand," he went on, taking up an unused pica type.

David saw that there was no way of coming to terms with his father. It
was a case of Yes or No--of taking or leaving it. The very ropes
across the ceiling had gone down into the old "bear's" inventory, and
not the smallest item was omitted; jobbing chases, wetting-boards,
paste-pots, rinsing-trough, and lye-brushes had all been put down and
valued separately with miserly exactitude. The total amounted to
thirty thousand francs, including the license and the goodwill. David
asked himself whether or not this thing was feasible.

Old Sechard grew uneasy over his son's silence; he would rather have
had stormy argument than a wordless acceptance of the situation.
Chaffering in these sorts of bargains means that a man can look after
his interests. "A man who is ready to pay you anything you ask will
pay nothing," old Sechard was saying to himself. While he tried to
follow his son's train of thought, he went through the list of odds
and ends of plant needed by a country business, drawing David now to a
hot-press, now to a cutting-press, bragging of its usefulness and
sound condition.

"Old tools are always the best tools," said he. "In our line of
business they ought to fetch more than the new, like goldbeaters'

Hideous vignettes, representing Hymen and Cupids, skeletons raising
the lids of their tombs to describe a V or an M, and huge borders of
masks for theatrical posters became in turn objects of tremendous
value through old Jerome-Nicolas' vinous eloquence. Old custom, he
told his son, was so deeply rooted in the district that he (David)
would only waste his pains if he gave them the finest things in life.
He himself had tried to sell them a better class of almanac than the
_Double Liegeois_ on grocers' paper; and what came of it?--the original
_Double Liegeois_ sold better than the most sumptuous calendars. David
would soon see the importance of these old-fashioned things when he
found he could get more for them than for the most costly new-fangled

"Aha! my boy, Paris is Paris, and the provinces are the provinces. If
a man came in from L'Houmeau with an order for wedding cards, and you
were to print them without a Cupid and garlands, he would not believe
that he was properly married; you would have them all back again if
you sent them out with a plain M on them after the style of your
Messrs. Didot. They may be fine printers, but their inventions won't
take in the provinces for another hundred years. So there you are."

A generous man is a bad bargain-driver. David's nature was of the
sensitive and affectionate type that shrinks from a dispute, and gives
way at once if an opponent touches his feelings. His loftiness of
feeling, and the fact that the old toper had himself well in hand, put
him still further at a disadvantage in a dispute about money matters
with his own father, especially as he credited that father with the
best intentions, and took his covetous greed for a printer's
attachment to his old familiar tools. Still, as Jerome-Nicolas Sechard
had taken the whole place over from Rouzeau's widow for ten thousand
francs, paid in assignats, it stood to reason that thirty thousand
francs in coin at the present day was an exorbitant demand.

"Father, you are cutting my throat!" exclaimed David.

"_I_," cried the old toper, raising his hand to the lines of cord
across the ceiling, "I who gave you life? Why, David, what do you
suppose the license is worth? Do you know that the sheet of
advertisements alone, at fivepence a line, brought in five hundred
francs last month? You turn up the books, lad, and see what we make by
placards and the registers at the Prefecture, and the work for the
mayor's office, and the bishop too. You are a do-nothing that has no
mind to get on. You are haggling over the horse that will carry you to
some pretty bit of property like Marsac."

Attached to the valuation of plant there was a deed of partnership
between Sechard senior and his son. The good father was to let his
house and premises to the new firm for twelve hundred francs per
annum, reserving one of the two rooms in the roof for himself. So long
as David's purchase-money was not paid in full, the profits were to be
divided equally; as soon as he paid off his father, he was to be made
sole proprietor of the business.

David made a mental calculation of the value of the license, the
goodwill, and the stock of paper, leaving the plant out of account. It
was just possible, he thought, to clear off the debt. He accepted the
conditions. Old Sechard, accustomed to peasants' haggling, knowing
nothing of the wider business views of Paris, was amazed at such a
prompt conclusion.

"Can he have been putting money by?" he asked himself. "Or is he
scheming out, at this moment, some way of not paying me?"

With this notion in his head, he tried to find out whether David had
any money with him; he wanted to be paid something on account. The old
man's inquisitiveness roused his son's distrust; David remained close
buttoned up to the chin.

Next day, old Sechard made the apprentice move all his own household
stuff up into the attic until such time as an empty market cart could
take it out on the return journey into the country; and David entered
into possession of three bare, unfurnished rooms on the day that saw
him installed in the printing-house, without one sou wherewith to pay
his men's wages. When he asked his father, as a partner, to contribute
his share towards the working expenses, the old man pretended not to
understand. He had found the printing-house, he said, and he was not
bound to find the money too. He had paid his share. Pressed close by
his son's reasoning, he answered that when he himself had paid
Rouzeau's widow he had not had a penny left. If he, a poor, ignorant
working man, had made his way, Didot's apprentice should do still
better. Besides, had not David been earning money, thanks to an
education paid for by the sweat of his old father's brow? Now surely
was the time when the education would come in useful.

"What have you done with your 'polls?'" he asked, returning to the
charge. He meant to have light on a problem which his son left
unresolved the day before.

"Why, had I not to live?" David asked indignantly, "and books to buy

"Oh! you bought books, did you? You will make a poor man of business.
A man that buys books is hardly fit to print them," retorted the

Then David endured the most painful of humiliations--the sense of
shame for a parent; there was nothing for it but to be passive while
his father poured out a flood of reasons--sordid, whining,
contemptible, money-getting reasons--in which the niggardly old man
wrapped his refusal. David crushed down his pain into the depths of
his soul; he saw that he was alone; saw that he had no one to look to
but himself; saw, too, that his father was trying to make money out of
him; and in a spirit of philosophical curiosity, he tried to find out
how far the old man would go. He called old Sechard's attention to the
fact that he had never as yet made any inquiry as to his mother's
fortune; if that fortune would not buy the printing-house, it might go
some ways towards paying the working expenses.

"Your mother's fortune?" echoed old Sechard; "why, it was her beauty
and intelligence!"

David understood his father thoroughly after that answer; he
understood that only after an interminable, expensive, and disgraceful
lawsuit could he obtain any account of the money which by rights was
his. The noble heart accepted the heavy burden laid upon it, seeing
clearly beforehand how difficult it would be to free himself from the
engagements into which he had entered with his father.

"I will work," he said to himself. "After all, if I have a rough time
of it, so had the old man; besides, I shall be working for myself,
shall I not?"

"I am leaving you a treasure," said Sechard, uneasy at his son's

David asked what the treasure might be.

"Marion!" said his father.

Marion, a big country girl, was an indispensable part of the
establishment. It was Marion who damped the paper and cut it to size;
Marion did the cooking, washing, and marketing; Marion unloaded the
paper carts, collected accounts, and cleaned the ink-balls; and if
Marion had but known how to read, old Sechard would have put her to
set up type into the bargain.

Old Sechard set out on foot for the country. Delighted as he was with
his sale of the business, he was not quite easy in his mind as to the
payment. To the throes of the vendor, the agony of uncertainty as to
the completion of the purchase inevitably succeeds. Passion of every
sort is essentially Jesuitical. Here was a man who thought that
education was useless, forcing himself to believe in the influence of
education. He was mortgaging thirty thousand francs upon the ideas of
honor and conduct which education should have developed in his son;
David had received a good training, so David would sweat blood and
water to fulfil his engagements; David's knowledge would discover new
resources; and David seemed to be full of fine feelings, so--David
would pay! Many a parent does in this way, and thinks that he has
acted a father's part; old Sechard was quite of that opinion by the
time that he had reached his vineyard at Marsac, a hamlet some four
leagues out of Angouleme. The previous owner had built a nice little
house on the bit of property, and from year to year had added other
bits of land to it, until in 1809 the old "bear" bought the whole, and
went thither, exchanging the toil of the printing press for the labor
of the winepress. As he put it himself, "he had been in that line so
long that he ought to know something about it."

During the first twelvemonth of rural retirement, Sechard senior
showed a careful countenance among his vine props; for he was always
in his vineyard now, just as, in the old days, he had lived in his
shop, day in, day out. The prospect of thirty thousand francs was even
more intoxicating than sweet wine; already in imagination he fingered
the coin. The less the claim to the money, the more eager he grew to
pouch it. Not seldom his anxieties sent him hurrying from Marsac to
Angouleme; he would climb up the rocky staircases into the old city
and walk into his son's workshop to see how business went. There stood
the presses in their places; the one apprentice, in a paper cap, was
cleaning the ink-balls; there was a creaking of a press over the
printing of some trade circular, the old type was still unchanged, and
in the dens at the end of the room he saw his son and the foreman
reading books, which the "bear" took for proof-sheets. Then he would
join David at dinner and go back to Marsac, chewing the cud of uneasy

Avarice, like love, has the gift of second sight, instinctively
guessing at future contingencies, and hugging its presentiments.
Sechard senior living at a distance, far from the workshop and the
machinery which possessed such a fascination for him, reminding him,
as it did, of days when he was making his way, could _feel_ that there
were disquieting symptoms of inactivity in his son. The name of
Cointet Brothers haunted him like a dread; he saw Sechard & Son
dropping into the second place. In short, the old man scented
misfortune in the wind.

His presentiments were too well founded; disaster was hovering over
the house of Sechard. But there is a tutelary deity for misers, and by
a chain of unforeseen circumstances that tutelary deity was so
ordering matters that the purchase-money of his extortionate bargain
was to be tumbled after all into the old toper's pouch.

Indifferent to the religious reaction brought about by the
Restoration, indifferent no less to the Liberal movement, David
preserved a most unlucky neutrality on the burning questions of the
day. In those times provincial men of business were bound to profess
political opinions of some sort if they meant to secure custom; they
were forced to choose for themselves between the patronage of the
Liberals on the one hand or the Royalists on the other. And Love,
moreover, had come to David's heart, and with his scientific
preoccupation and finer nature he had not room for the dogged greed of
which our successful man of business is made; it choked the keen
money-getting instinct which would have led him to study the
differences between the Paris trade and the business of a provincial
printing-house. The shades of opinion so sharply defined in the
country are blurred and lost in the great currents of Parisian
business life. Cointet Brothers set themselves deliberately to
assimilate all shades of monarchical opinion. They let every one know
that they fasted of a Friday and kept Lent; they haunted the
cathedral; they cultivated the society of the clergy; and in
consequence, when books of devotion were once more in demand, Cointet
Brothers were the first in this lucrative field. They slandered David,
accusing him of Liberalism, Atheism, and what not. How, asked they,
could any one employ a man whose father had been a Septembrist, a
Bonapartist, and a drunkard to boot? The old man was sure to leave
plenty of gold pieces behind him. They themselves were poor men with
families to support, while David was a bachelor and could do as he
pleased; he would have plenty one of these days; he could afford to
take things easily; whereas . . . and so forth and so forth.

Such tales against David, once put into circulation, produced their
effect. The monopoly of the prefectorial and diocesan work passed
gradually into the hands of Cointet Brothers; and before long David's
keen competitors, emboldened by his inaction, started a second local
sheet of advertisements and announcements. The older establishment was
left at length with the job-printing orders from the town, and the
circulation of the _Charente Chronicle_ fell off by one-half. Meanwhile
the Cointets grew richer; they had made handsome profits on their
devotional books; and now they offered to buy Sechard's paper, to have
all the trade and judicial announcements of the department in their
own hands.

The news of this proposal sent by David to his father brought the old
vinegrower from Marsac into the Place du Murier with the swiftness of
the raven that scents the corpses on a battlefield.

"Leave me to manage the Cointets," said he to his son; "don't you
meddle in this business."

The old man saw what the Cointets meant; and they took alarm at his
clearsighted sagacity. His son was making a blunder, he said, and he,
Sechard, had come to put a stop to it.

"What was to become of the connection if David gave up the paper? It
all depended upon the paper. All the attorneys and solicitors and men
of business in L'Houmeau were Liberals to a man. The Cointets had
tried to ruin the Sechards by accusing them of Liberalism, and by so
doing gave them a plank to cling to--the Sechards should keep the
Liberal business. Sell the paper indeed! Why, you might as well sell
the stock-in-trade and the license!"

Old Sechard asked the Cointets sixty thousand francs for the printing
business, so as not to ruin his son; he was fond of his son; he was
taking his son's part. The vinegrower brought his son to the front to
gain his point, as a peasant brings in his wife.

His son was unwilling to do this, that, or the other; it varied
according to the offers which he wrung one after another from the
Cointets, until, not without an effort, he drew them on to give
twenty-two thousand francs for the _Charente Chronicle_. But, at the
same time, David must pledge himself thenceforward to print no
newspaper whatsoever, under a penalty of thirty thousand francs for

That transaction dealt the deathblow to the Sechard establishment; but
the old vinegrower did not trouble himself much on that head. Murder
usually follows robbery. Our worthy friend intended to pay himself
with the ready money. To have the cash in his own hands he would have
given in David himself over and above the bargain, and so much the
more willingly since that this nuisance of a son could claim one-half
of the unexpected windfall. Taking this fact into consideration,
therefore, the generous parent consented to abandon his share of the
business but not the business premises; and the rental was still
maintained at the famous sum of twelve hundred francs per annum.

The old man came into town very seldom after the paper was sold to the
Cointets. He pleaded his advanced age, but the truth was that he took
little interest in the establishment now that it was his no longer.
Still, he could not quite shake off his old kindness for his
stock-in-trade; and when business brought him into Angouleme, it would
have been hard to say which was the stronger attraction to the old house
--his wooden presses or the son whom (as a matter of form) he asked for
rent. The old foreman, who had gone over to the rival establishment,
knew exactly how much this fatherly generosity was worth; the old fox
meant to reserve a right to interfere in his son's affairs, and had
taken care to appear in the bankruptcy as a privileged creditor for
arrears of rent.

The causes of David's heedlessness throw a light on the character of
that young man. Only a few days after his establishment in the
paternal printing office, he came across an old school friend in the
direst poverty. Lucien Chardon, a young fellow of one-and-twenty or
thereabouts, was the son of a surgeon-major who had retired with a
wound from the republican army. Nature had meant M. Chardon senior for
a chemist; chance opened the way for a retail druggist's business in
Angouleme. After many years of scientific research, death cut him off
in the midst of his incompleted experiments, and the great discovery
that should have brought wealth to the family was never made. Chardon
had tried to find a specific for the gout. Gout is a rich man's
malady; the rich will pay large sums to recover health when they have
lost it, and for this reason the druggist deliberately selected gout
as his problem. Halfway between the man of science on the one side and
the charlatan on the other, he saw that the scientific method was the
one road to assured success, and had studied the causes of the
complaint, and based his remedy on a certain general theory of
treatment, with modifications in practice for varying temperaments.
Then, on a visit to Paris undertaken to solicit the approval of the
_Academie des Sciences_, he died, and lost all the fruits of his labors.

It may have been that some presentiment of the end had led the country
druggist to do all that in him lay to give his boy and girl a good
education; the family had been living up to the income brought in by
the business; and now when they were left almost destitute, it was an
aggravation of their misfortune that they had been brought up in the
expectations of a brilliant future; for these hopes were extinguished
by their father's death. The great Desplein, who attended Chardon in
his last illness, saw him die in convulsions of rage.

The secret of the army surgeon's ambition lay in his passionate love
for his wife, the last survivor of the family of Rubempre, saved as by
a miracle from the guillotine in 1793. He had gained time by declaring
that she was pregnant, a lie told without the girl's knowledge or
consent. Then, when in a manner he had created a claim to call her his
wife, he had married her in spite of their common poverty. The
children of this marriage, like all children of love, inherited the
mother's wonderful beauty, that gift so often fatal when accompanied
by poverty. The life of hope and hard work and despair, in all of
which Mme. Chardon had shared with such keen sympathy, had left deep
traces in her beautiful face, just as the slow decline of a scanty
income had changed her ways and habits; but both she and her children
confronted evil days bravely enough. She sold the druggist's shop in
the Grand' Rue de L'Houmeau, the principal suburb of Angouleme; but it
was impossible for even one woman to exist on the three hundred francs
of income brought in by the investment of the purchase-money, so the
mother and daughter accepted the position, and worked to earn a
living. The mother went out as a monthly nurse, and for her gentle
manners was preferred to any other among the wealthy houses, where she
lived without expense to her children, and earned some seven francs a
week. To save her son the embarrassment of seeing his mother reduced
to this humble position, she assumed the name of Madame Charlotte; and
persons requiring her services were requested to apply to M. Postel,
M. Chardon's successor in the business. Lucien's sister worked for a
laundress, a decent woman much respected in L'Houmeau, and earned
fifteen daily sous. As Mme. Prieur's forewoman she had a certain
position in the workroom, which raised her slightly above the class of

The two women's slender earnings, together with Mme. Chardon's three
hundred francs of _rentes_, amounted to about eight hundred francs a
year, and on this sum three persons must be fed, clothed, and lodged.
Yet, with all their frugal thrift, the pittance was scarcely
sufficient; nearly the whole of it was needed for Lucien. Mme. Chardon
and her daughter Eve believed in Lucien as Mahomet's wife believed in
her husband; their devotion for his future knew no bounds. Their
present landlord was the successor to the business, for M. Postel let
them have rooms at the further end of a yard at the back of the
laboratory for a very low rent, and Lucien slept in the poor garret
above. A father's passion for natural science had stimulated the boy,
and at first induced him to follow in the same path. Lucien was one of
the most brilliant pupils at the grammar school of Angouleme, and when
David Sechard left, his future friend was in the third form.

When chance brought the school-fellows together again, Lucien was
weary of drinking from the rude cup of penury, and ready for any of
the rash, decisive steps that youth takes at the age of twenty.
David's generous offer of forty francs a month if Lucien would come to
him and learn the work of a printer's reader came in time; David had
no need whatever of a printer's reader, but he saved Lucien from
despair. The ties of a school friendship thus renewed were soon drawn
closer than ever by the similarity of their lot in life and the
dissimilarity of their characters. Both felt high swelling hopes of
manifold success; both consciously possessed the high order of
intelligence which sets a man on a level with lofty heights, consigned
though they were socially to the lowest level. Fate's injustice was a
strong bond between them. And then, by different ways, following each
his own bent of mind, they had attained to poesy. Lucien, destined for
the highest speculative fields of natural science, was aiming with hot
enthusiasm at fame through literature; while David, with that
meditative temperament which inclines to poetry, was drawn by his
tastes towards natural science.

The exchange of roles was the beginning of an intellectual
comradeship. Before long, Lucien told David of his own father's
farsighted views of the application of science to manufacture, while
David pointed out the new ways in literature that Lucien must follow
if he meant to succeed. Not many days had passed before the young
men's friendship became a passion such as is only known in early
manhood. Then it was that David caught a glimpse of Eve's fair face,
and loved, as grave and meditative natures can love. The _et nunc et
semper et in secula seculorum_ of the Liturgy is the device taken by
many a sublime unknown poet, whose works consist in magnificent epics
conceived and lost between heart and heart. With a lover's insight,
David read the secret hopes set by the mother and sister on Lucien's
poet's brow; and knowing their blind devotion, it was very sweet to
him to draw nearer to his love by sharing her hopes and her
self-sacrifice. And in this way Lucien came to be David's chosen
brother. As there are ultras who would fain be more Royalist than the
King, so David outdid the mother and sister in his belief in Lucien's
genius; he spoiled Lucien as a mother spoils her child.

Once, under pressure of the lack of money which tied their hands, the
two were ruminating after the manner of young men over ways of
promptly realizing a large fortune; and, after fruitless shakings of
all the trees already stripped by previous comers, Lucien bethought
himself of two of his father's ideas. M. Chardon had talked of a
method of refining sugar by a chemical process, which would reduce the
cost of production by one-half; and he had another plan for employing
an American vegetable fibre for making paper, something after the
Chinese fashion, and effecting an enormous saving in the cost of raw
material. David, knowing the importance of a question raised already
by the Didots, caught at this latter notion, saw a fortune in it, and
looked upon Lucien as the benefactor whom he could never repay.

Any one may guess how the ruling thoughts and inner life of this pair
of friends unfitted them for carrying on the business of a printing
house. So far from making fifteen to twenty thousand francs, like
Cointet Brothers, printers and publishers to the diocese, and
proprietors of the _Charente Chronicle_ (now the only newspaper in the
department)--Sechard & Son made a bare three hundred francs per month,
out of which the foreman's salary must be paid, as well as Marion's
wages and the rent and taxes; so that David himself was scarcely
making twelve hundred francs per annum. Active and industrious men of
business would have bought new type and new machinery, and made an
effort to secure orders for cheap printing from the Paris book trade;
but master and foreman, deep in absorbing intellectual interests, were
quite content with such orders as came to them from their remaining

In the long length the Cointets had come to understand David's
character and habits. They did not slander him now; on the contrary,
wise policy required that they should allow the business to flicker
on; it was to their interest indeed to maintain it in a small way,
lest it should fall into the hands of some more formidable
competitor; they made a practice of sending prospectuses and circulars
--job-printing, as it is called--to the Sechard's establishment. So it
came about that, all unwittingly, David owed his existence,
commercially speaking, to the cunning schemes of his competitors. The
Cointets, well pleased with his "craze," as they called it, behaved to
all appearance both fairly and handsomely; but, as a matter of fact,
they were adopting the tactics of the mail-coach owners who set up a
sham opposition coach to keep _bona fide_ rivals out of the field.

Inside and outside, the condition of the Sechard printing
establishment bore testimony to the sordid avarice of the old "bear,"
who never spent a penny on repairs. The old house had stood in sun and
rain, and borne the brunt of the weather, till it looked like some
venerable tree trunk set down at the entrance of the alley, so riven
it was with seams and cracks of all sorts and sizes. The house front,
built of brick and stone, with no pretensions to symmetry, seemed to
be bending beneath the weight of a worm-eaten roof covered with the
curved pantiles in common use in the South of France. The decrepit
casements were fitted with the heavy, unwieldy shutters necessary in
that climate, and held in place by massive iron cross bars. It would
have puzzled you to find a more dilapidated house in Angouleme;
nothing but sheer tenacity of mortar kept it together. Try to picture
the workshop, lighted at either end, and dark in the middle; the walls
covered with handbills and begrimed by friction of all the workmen who
had rubbed past them for thirty years; the cobweb of cordage across
the ceiling, the stacks of paper, the old-fashioned presses, the pile
of slabs for weighting the damp sheets, the rows of cases, and the two
dens in the far corners where the master printer and foreman sat--and
you will have some idea of the life led by the two friends.

One day early in May, 1821, David and Lucien were standing together by
the window that looked into the yard. It was nearly two o'clock, and
the four or five men were going out to dinner. David waited until the
apprentice had shut the street door with the bell fastened to it; then
he drew Lucien out into the yard as if the smell of paper, ink, and
presses and old woodwork had grown intolerable to him, and together
they sat down under the vines, keeping the office and the door in
view. The sunbeams, playing among the trellised vine-shoots, hovered
over the two poets, making, as it were, an aureole about their heads,
bringing the contrast between their faces and their characters into a
vigorous relief that would have tempted the brush of some great

David's physique was of the kind that Nature gives to the fighter, the
man born to struggle in obscurity, or with the eyes of all men turned
upon him. The strong shoulders, rising above the broad chest, were in
keeping with the full development of his whole frame. With his thick
crop of black hair, his fleshy, high-colored, swarthy face, supported
by a thick neck, he looked at first sight like one of Boileau's
canons: but on a second glance there was that in the lines about the
thick lips, in the dimple of the chin, in the turn of the square
nostrils, with the broad irregular line of central cleavage, and,
above all, in the eyes, with the steady light of an all-absorbing love
that burned in them, which revealed the real character of the man--the
wisdom of the thinker, the strenuous melancholy of a spirit that
discerns the horizon on either side, and sees clearly to the end of
winding ways, turning the clear light of analysis upon the joys of
fruition, known as yet in idea alone, and quick to turn from them in
disgust. You might look for the flash of genius from such a face; you
could not miss the ashes of the volcano; hopes extinguished beneath a
profound sense of the social annihilation to which lowly birth and
lack of fortune condemns so many a loftier mind. And by the side of
the poor printer, who loathed a handicraft so closely allied to
intellectual work, close to this Silenus, joyless, self-sustained,
drinking deep draughts from the cup of knowledge and of poetry that he
might forget the cares of his narrow lot in the intoxication of soul
and brain, stood Lucien, graceful as some sculptured Indian Bacchus.

For in Lucien's face there was the distinction of line which stamps
the beauty of the antique; the Greek profile, with the velvet
whiteness of women's faces, and eyes full of love, eyes so blue that
they looked dark against a pearly setting, and dewy and fresh as those
of a child. Those beautiful eyes looked out from under their long
chestnut lashes, beneath eyebrows that might have been traced by a
Chinese pencil. The silken down on his cheeks, like his bright curling
hair, shone golden in the sunlight. A divine graciousness transfused
the white temples that caught that golden gleam; a matchless nobleness
had set its seal in the short chin raised, but not abruptly. The smile
that hovered about the coral lips, yet redder as they seemed by force
of contrast with the even teeth, was the smile of some sorrowing
angel. Lucien's hands denoted race; they were shapely hands; hands
that men obey at a sign, and women love to kiss. Lucien was slender
and of middle height. From a glance at his feet, he might have been
taken for a girl in disguise, and this so much the more easily from
the feminine contour of the hips, a characteristic of keen-witted, not
to say, astute, men. This is a trait which seldom misleads, and in
Lucien it was a true indication of character; for when he analyzed the
society of to-day, his restless mind was apt to take its stand on the
lower ground of those diplomatists who hold that success justifies the
use of any means however base. It is one of the misfortunes attendant
upon great intellects that perforce they comprehend all things, both
good and evil.

The two young men judged society by the more lofty standard because
their social position was at the lowest end of the scale, for
unrecognized power is apt to avenge itself for lowly station by
viewing the world from a lofty standpoint. Yet it is, nevertheless,
true that they grew but the more bitter and hopeless after these swift
soaring flights to the upper regions of thought, their world by right.
Lucien had read much and compared; David had thought much and deeply.
In spite of the young printer's look of robust, country-bred health,
his turn of mind was melancholy and somewhat morbid--he lacked
confidence in himself; but Lucien, on the other hand, with a boldness
little to be expected from his feminine, almost effeminate, figure,
graceful though it was, Lucien possessed the Gascon temperament to the
highest degree--rash, brave, and adventurous, prone to make the most
of the bright side, and as little as possible of the dark; his was the
nature that sticks at no crime if there is anything to be gained by
it, and laughs at the vice which serves as a stepping-stone. Just now
these tendencies of ambition were held in check, partly by the fair
illusions of youth, partly by the enthusiasm which led him to prefer
the nobler methods, which every man in love with glory tries first of
all. Lucien was struggling as yet with himself and his own desires,
and not with the difficulties of life; at strife with his own power,
and not with the baseness of other men, that fatal exemplar for
impressionable minds. The brilliancy of his intellect had a keen
attraction for David. David admired his friend, while he kept him out
of the scrapes into which he was led by the _furie francaise_.

David, with his well-balanced mind and timid nature at variance with a
strong constitution, was by no means wanting in the persistence of the
Northern temper; and if he saw all the difficulties before him, none
the less he vowed to himself to conquer, never to give way. In him the
unswerving virtue of an apostle was softened by pity that sprang from
inexhaustible indulgence. In the friendship grown old already, one was
the worshiper, and that one was David; Lucien ruled him like a woman
sure of love, and David loved to give way. He felt that his friend's
physical beauty implied a real superiority, which he accepted, looking
upon himself as one made of coarser and commoner human clay.

"The ox for patient labor in the fields, the free life for the bird,"
he thought to himself. "I will be the ox, and Lucien shall be the

So for three years these friends had mingled the destinies bright with
such glorious promise. Together they read the great works that
appeared above the horizon of literature and science since the Peace
--the poems of Schiller, Goethe, and Byron, the prose writings of
Scott, Jean-Paul, Berzelius, Davy, Cuvier, Lamartine, and many more.
They warmed themselves beside these great hearthfires; they tried
their powers in abortive creations, in work laid aside and taken up
again with new glow of enthusiasm. Incessantly they worked with the
unwearied vitality of youth; comrades in poverty, comrades in the
consuming love of art and science, till they forgot the hard life of
the present, for their minds were wholly bent on laying the
foundations of future fame.

"Lucien," said David, "do you know what I have just received from
Paris?" He drew a tiny volume from his pocket. "Listen!"

And David read, as a poet can read, first Andre de Chenier's Idyll
_Neere_, then _Le Malade_, following on with the Elegy on a Suicide,
another elegy in the classic taste, and the last two _Iambes_.

"So that is Andre de Chenier!" Lucien exclaimed again and again. "It
fills one with despair!" he cried for the third time, when David
surrendered the book to him, unable to read further for emotion.--"A
poet rediscovered by a poet!" said Lucien, reading the signature of
the preface.

"After Chenier had written those poems, he thought that he had written
nothing worth publishing," added David.

Then Lucien in his turn read aloud the fragment of an epic called
_L'Aveugle_ and two or three of the Elegies, till, when he came upon the

     If they know not bliss, is there happiness on earth?

He pressed the book to his lips, and tears came to the eyes of either,
for the two friends were lovers and fellow-worshipers.

The vine-stems were changing color with the spring; covering the
rifted, battered walls of the old house where squalid cracks were
spreading in every direction, with fluted columns and knots and
bas-reliefs and uncounted masterpieces of I know not what order of
architecture, erected by fairy hands. Fancy had scattered flowers and
crimson gems over the gloomy little yard, and Chenier's _Camille_ became
for David the Eve whom he worshiped, for Lucien a great lady to whom
he paid his homage. Poetry had shaken out her starry robe above the
workshop where the "monkeys" and "bears" were grotesquely busy among
types and presses. Five o'clock struck, but the friends felt neither
hunger nor thirst; life had turned to a golden dream, and all the
treasures of the world lay at their feet. Far away on the horizon lay
the blue streak to which Hope points a finger in storm and stress; and
a siren voice sounded in their ears, calling, "Come, spread your
wings; through that streak of gold or silver or azure lies the sure
way of escape from evil fortune!"

Just at that moment the low glass door of the workshop was opened, and
out came Cerizet, an apprentice (David had brought the urchin from
Paris). This youth introduced a stranger, who saluted the friends
politely, and spoke to David.

"This, sir, is a monograph which I am desirous of printing," said he,
drawing a huge package of manuscript from his pocket. "Will you oblige
me with an estimate?"

"We do not undertake work on such a scale, sir," David answered,
without looking at the manuscript. "You had better see the Messieurs
Cointet about it."

"Still we have a very pretty type which might suit it," put in Lucien,
taking up the roll. "We must ask you to be kind enough, sir, to leave
your commission with us and call again to-morrow, and we will give you
an estimate."

"Have I the pleasure of addressing M. Lucien Chardon?"

"Yes, sir," said the foreman.

"I am fortunate in this opportunity of meeting with a young poet
destined to such greatness," returned the author. "Mme. de Bargeton
sent me here."

Lucien flushed red at the name, and stammered out something about
gratitude for the interest which Mme. de Bargeton took in him. David
noticed his friend's embarrassed flush, and left him in conversation
with the country gentleman, the author of a monograph on silkwork
cultivation, prompted by vanity to print the effort for the benefit of
fellow-members of the local agricultural society.

When the author had gone, David spoke.

"Lucien, are you in love with Mme. de Bargeton?"


"But social prejudices set you as far apart as if she were living at
Pekin and you in Greenland."

"The will of two lovers can rise victorious over all things," said
Lucien, lowering his eyes.

"You will forget us," returned the alarmed lover, as Eve's fair face
rose before his mind.

"On the contrary, I have perhaps sacrificed my love to you," cried

"What do you mean?"

"In spite of my love, in spite of the different motives which bid me
obtain a secure footing in her house, I have told her that I will
never go thither again unless another is made welcome too, a man whose
gifts are greater than mine, a man destined for a brilliant future
--David Sechard, my brother, my friend. I shall find an answer waiting
when I go home. All the aristocrats may have been asked to hear me
read my verses this evening, but I shall not go if the answer is
negative, and I will never set foot in Mme. de Bargeton's house

David brushed the tears from his eyes, and wrung Lucien's hand. The
clock struck six.

"Eve must be anxious; good-bye," Lucien added abruptly.

He hurried away. David stood overcome by the emotion that is only felt
to the full at his age, and more especially in such a position as his
--the friends were like two young swans with wings unclipped as yet by
the experiences of provincial life.

"Heart of gold!" David exclaimed to himself, as his eyes followed
Lucien across the workshop.

Lucien went down to L'Houmeau along the broad Promenade de Beaulieu,
the Rue du Minage, and Saint-Peter's Gate. It was the longest way
round, so you may be sure that Mme. de Bargeton's house lay on the
way. So delicious it was to pass under her windows, though she knew
nothing of his presence, that for the past two months he had gone
round daily by the Palet Gate into L'Houmeau.

Under the trees of Beaulieu he saw how far the suburb lay from the
city. The custom of the country, moreover, had raised other barriers
harder to surmount than the mere physical difficulty of the steep
flights of steps which Lucien was descending. Youth and ambition had
thrown the flying-bridge of glory across the gulf between the city and
the suburb, yet Lucien was as uneasy in his mind over his lady's
answer as any king's favorite who has tried to climb yet higher, and
fears that being over-bold he is like to fall. This must seem a dark
saying to those who have never studied the manners and customs of
cities divided into the upper and lower town; wherefore it is
necessary to enter here upon some topographical details, and this so
much the more if the reader is to comprehend the position of one of
the principal characters in the story--Mme. de Bargeton.

The old city of Angouleme is perched aloft on a crag like a
sugar-loaf, overlooking the plain where the Charente winds away through
the meadows. The crag is an outlying spur on the Perigord side of a
long, low ridge of hill, which terminates abruptly just above the road
from Paris to Bordeaux, so that the Rock of Angouleme is a sort of
promontory marking out the line of three picturesque valleys. The
ramparts and great gateways and ruined fortress on the summit of the
crag still remain to bear witness to the importance of this stronghold
during the Religious Wars, when Angouleme was a military position
coveted alike of Catholics and Calvinists, but its old-world strength
is a source of weakness in modern days; Angouleme could not spread
down to the Charente, and shut in between its ramparts and the steep
sides of the crag, the old town is condemned to stagnation of the most
fatal kind.

The Government made an attempt about this very time to extend the town
towards Perigord, building a Prefecture, a Naval School, and barracks
along the hillside, and opening up roads. But private enterprise had
been beforehand elsewhere. For some time past the suburb of L'Houmeau
had sprung up, a mushroom growth at the foot of the crag and along the
river-side, where the direct road runs from Paris to Bordeaux.
Everybody has heard of the great paper-mills of Angouleme, established
perforce three hundred years ago on the Charente and its branch
streams, where there was a sufficient fall of water. The largest State
factory of marine ordnance in France was established at Ruelle, some
six miles away. Carriers, wheelwrights, posthouses, and inns, every
agency for public conveyance, every industry that lives by road or
river, was crowded together in Lower Angouleme, to avoid the
difficulty of the ascent of the hill. Naturally, too, tanneries,
laundries, and all such waterside trades stood within reach of the
Charente; and along the banks of the river lay the stores of brandy
and great warehouses full of the water-borne raw material; all the
carrying trade of the Charente, in short, had lined the quays with

So the Faubourg of L'Houmeau grew into a busy and prosperous city, a
second Angouleme rivaling the upper town, the residence of the powers
that be, the lords spiritual and temporal of Angouleme; though
L'Houmeau, with all its business and increasing greatness, was still a
mere appendage of the city above. The _noblesse_ and officialdom dwelt
on the crag, trade and wealth remained below. No love was lost between
these two sections of the community all the world over, and in
Angouleme it would have been hard to say which of the two camps
detested the other the more cordially. Under the Empire the machinery
worked fairly smoothly, but the Restoration wrought both sides to the
highest pitch of exasperation.

Nearly every house in the upper town of Angouleme is inhabited by
noble, or at any rate by old burgher, families, who live independently
on their incomes--a sort of autochthonous nation who suffer no aliens
to come among them. Possibly, after two hundred years of unbroken
residence, and it may be an intermarriage or two with one of the
primordial houses, a family from some neighboring district may be
adopted, but in the eyes of the aboriginal race they are still
newcomers of yesterday.

Prefects, receivers-general, and various administrations that have
come and gone during the last forty years, have tried to tame the
ancient families perched aloft like wary ravens on their crag; the
said families were always willing to accept invitations to dinners and
dances; but as to admitting the strangers to their own houses, they
were inexorable. Ready to scoff and disparage, jealous and niggardly,
marrying only among themselves, the families formed a serried phalanx
to keep out intruders. Of modern luxury they had no notion; and as for
sending a boy to Paris, it was sending him, they thought to certain
ruin. Such sagacity will give a sufficient idea of the old-world
manners and customs of this society, suffering from thick-headed
Royalism, infected with bigotry rather than zeal, all stagnating
together, motionless as their town founded upon a rock. Yet Angouleme
enjoyed a great reputation in the provinces round about for its
educational advantages, and neighboring towns sent their daughters to
its boarding schools and convents.

It is easy to imagine the influence of the class sentiment which held
Angouleme aloof from L'Houmeau. The merchant classes are rich, the
_noblesse_ are usually poor. Each side takes its revenge in scorn of the
other. The tradespeople in Angouleme espouse the quarrel. "He is a man
of L'Houmeau!" a shopkeeper of the upper town will tell you, speaking
of a merchant in the lower suburb, throwing an accent into the speech
which no words can describe. When the Restoration defined the position
of the French _noblesse_, holding out hopes to them which could only be
realized by a complete and general topsy-turvydom, the distance
between Angouleme and L'Houmeau, already more strongly marked than the
distance between the hill and plain, was widened yet further. The
better families, all devoted as one man to the Government, grew more
exclusive here than in any other part of France. "The man of
L'Houmeau" became little better than a pariah. Hence the deep,
smothered hatred which broke out everywhere with such ugly unanimity
in the insurrection of 1830 and destroyed the elements of a durable
social system in France. As the overweening haughtiness of the Court
nobles detached the provincial _noblesse_ from the throne, so did these
last alienate the _bourgeoisie_ from the royal cause by behavior that
galled their vanity in every possible way.

So "a man of L'Houmeau," a druggist's son, in Mme. de Bargeton's house
was nothing less than a little revolution. Who was responsible for it?
Lamartine and Victor Hugo, Casimir Delavigne and Canalis, Beranger and
Chateaubriand. Davrigny, Benjamin Constant and Lamennais, Cousin and
Michaud,--all the old and young illustrious names in literature in
short, Liberals and Royalists, alike must divide the blame among them.
Mme. de Bargeton loved art and letters, eccentric taste on her part, a
craze deeply deplored in Angouleme. In justice to the lady, it is
necessary to give a sketch of the previous history of a woman born to
shine, and left by unlucky circumstances in the shade, a woman whose
influence decided Lucien's career.

M. de Bargeton was the great-grandson of an alderman of Bordeaux named
Mirault, ennobled under Louis XIII. for long tenure of office. His
son, bearing the name of Mirault de Bargeton, became an officer in the
household troops of Louis XIV., and married so great a fortune that in
the reign of Louis XV. his son dropped the Mirault and was called
simply M. de Bargeton. This M. de Bargeton, the alderman's grandson,
lived up to his quality so strenuously that he ran through the family
property and checked the course of its fortunes. Two of his brothers
indeed, great-uncles of the present Bargeton, went into business
again, for which reason you will find the name of Mirault among
Bordeaux merchants at this day. The lands of Bargeton, in Angoumois in
the barony of Rochefoucauld, being entailed, and the house in
Angouleme, called the Hotel Bargeton, likewise, the grandson of M. de
Bargeton the Waster came in for these hereditaments; though the year
1789 deprived him of all seignorial rights save to the rents paid by
his tenants, which amounted to some ten thousand francs per annum. If
his grandsire had but walked in the ways of his illustrious
progenitors, Bargeton I. and Bargeton II., Bargeton V. (who may be
dubbed Bargeton the Mute by way of distinction) should by rights have
been born to the title of Marquis of Bargeton; he would have been
connected with some great family or other, and in due time he would
have been a duke and a peer of France, like many another; whereas, in
1805, he thought himself uncommonly lucky when he married Mlle.
Marie-Louise-Anais de Negrepelisse, the daughter of a noble long
relegated to the obscurity of his manor-house, scion though he was of
the younger branch of one of the oldest families in the south of
France. There had been a Negrepelisse among the hostages of St. Louis.
The head of the elder branch, however, had borne the illustrious name
of d'Espard since the reign of Henri Quatre, when the Negrepelisse of
that day married an heiress of the d'Espard family. As for M. de
Negrepelisse, the younger son of a younger son, he lived upon his
wife's property, a small estate in the neighborhood of Barbezieux,
farming the land to admiration, selling his corn in the market
himself, and distilling his own brandy, laughing at those who
ridiculed him, so long as he could pile up silver crowns, and now and
again round out his estate with another bit of land.

Circumstances unusual enough in out-of-the-way places in the country
had inspired Mme. de Bargeton with a taste for music and reading.
During the Revolution one Abbe Niollant, the Abbe Roze's best pupil,
found a hiding-place in the old manor-house of Escarbas, and brought
with him his baggage of musical compositions. The old country
gentleman's hospitality was handsomely repaid, for the Abbe undertook
his daughter's education. Anais, or Nais, as she was called must
otherwise have been left to herself, or, worse still, to some
coarse-minded servant-maid. The Abbe was not only a musician, he was
well and widely read, and knew both Italian and German; so Mlle. de
Negrepelise received instruction in those tongues, as well as in
counterpoint. He explained the great masterpieces of the French,
German, and Italian literatures, and deciphered with her the music of
the great composers. Finally, as time hung heavy on his hands in the
seclusion enforced by political storms, he taught his pupil Latin and
Greek and some smatterings of natural science. A mother might have
modified the effects of a man's education upon a young girl, whose
independent spirit had been fostered in the first place by a country
life. The Abbe Niollant, an enthusiast and a poet, possessed the
artistic temperament in a peculiarly high degree, a temperament
compatible with many estimable qualities, but prone to raise itself
above _bourgeois_ prejudices by the liberty of its judgments and
breadth of view. In society an intellect of this order wins pardon for
its boldness by its depth and originality; but in private life it
would seem to do positive mischief, by suggesting wanderings from the
beaten track. The Abbe was by no means wanting in goodness of heart,
and his ideas were therefore the more contagious for this high-spirited
girl, in whom they were confirmed by a lonely life. The Abbe Niollant's
pupil learned to be fearless in criticism and ready in judgement; it
never occurred to her tutor that qualities so necessary in a man are
disadvantages in a woman destined for the homely life of a
house-mother. And though the Abbe constantly impressed it upon his
pupil that it behoved her to be the more modest and gracious with the
extent of her attainments, Mlle. de Negrepelisse conceived an excellent
opinion of herself and a robust contempt for ordinary humanity. All
those about her were her inferiors, or persons who hastened to do her
bidding, till she grew to be as haughty as a great lady, with none of
the charming blandness and urbanity of a great lady. The instincts of
vanity were flattered by the pride that the poor Abbe took in his
pupil, the pride of an author who sees himself in his work, and for
her misfortune she met no one with whom she could measure herself.
Isolation is one of the greatest drawbacks of a country life. We lose
the habit of putting ourselves to any inconvenience for the sake of
others when there is no one for whom to make the trifling sacrifices
of personal effort required by dress and manner. And everything in us
shares in the change for the worse; the form and the spirit
deteriorate together.

With no social intercourse to compel self-repression, Mlle. de
Negrepelisse's bold ideas passed into her manner and the expression of
her face. There was a cavalier air about her, a something that seems
at first original, but only suited to women of adventurous life. So
this education, and the consequent asperities of character, which
would have been softened down in a higher social sphere, could only
serve to make her ridiculous at Angouleme so soon as her adorers
should cease to worship eccentricities that charm only in youth.

As for M. de Negrepelisse, he would have given all his daughter's
books to save the life of a sick bullock; and so miserly was he, that
he would not have given her two farthings over and above the allowance
to which she had a right, even if it had been a question of some
indispensable trifle for her education.

In 1802 the Abbe died, before the marriage of his dear child, a
marriage which he, doubtless, would never have advised. The old father
found his daughter a great care now that the Abbe was gone. The
high-spirited girl, with nothing else to do, was sure to break into
rebellion against his niggardliness, and he felt quite unequal to the
struggle. Like all young women who leave the appointed track of
woman's life, Nais had her own opinions about marriage, and had no
great inclination thereto. She shrank from submitting herself, body
and soul, to the feeble, undignified specimens of mankind whom she had
chanced to meet. She wished to rule, marriage meant obedience; and
between obedience to coarse caprices and a mind without indulgence for
her tastes, and flight with a lover who should please her, she would
not have hesitated for a moment.

M. de Negrepelisse maintained sufficient of the tradition of birth to
dread a _mesalliance_. Like many another parent, he resolved to marry
his daughter, not so much on her account as for his own peace of mind.
A noble or a country gentleman was the man for him, somebody not too
clever, incapable of haggling over the account of the trust; stupid
enough and easy enough to allow Nais to have her own way, and
disinterested enough to take her without a dowry. But where to look
for a son-in-law to suit father and daughter equally well, was the
problem. Such a man would be the phoenix of sons-in-law.

To M. de Negrepelisse pondering over the eligible bachelors of the
province with these double requirements in his mind. M. de Bargeton
seemed to be the only one who answered to this description. M. de
Bargeton, aged forty, considerably shattered by the amorous
dissipations of his youth, was generally held to be a man of
remarkably feeble intellect; but he had just the exact amount of
commonsense required for the management of his fortune, and breeding
sufficient to enable him to avoid blunders or blatant follies in
society in Angouleme. In the bluntest manner M. de Negrepelisse
pointed out the negative virtues of the model husband designed for his
daughter, and made her see the way to manage him so as to secure her
own happiness. So Nais married the bearer of arms, two hundred years
old already, for the Bargeton arms are blazoned thus: _the first or,
three attires gules; the second, three ox's heads cabossed, two and
one, sable; the third, barry of six, azure and argent, in the first,
six shells or, three, two, and one_. Provided with a chaperon, Nais
could steer her fortunes as she chose under the style of the firm, and
with the help of such connections as her wit and beauty would obtain
for her in Paris. Nais was enchanted by the prospect of such liberty.
M. de Bargeton was of the opinion that he was making a brilliant
marriage, for he expected that in no long while M. de Negrepelisse
would leave him the estates which he was rounding out so lovingly; but
to an unprejudiced spectator it certainly seemed as though the duty of
writing the bridegroom's epitaph might devolve upon his father-in-law.

By this time Mme. de Bargeton was thirty-six years old and her husband
fifty-eight. The disparity in age was the more startling since M. de
Bargeton looked like a man of seventy, whereas his wife looked
scarcely half her age. She could still wear rose-color, and her hair
hanging loose upon her shoulders. Although their income did not exceed
twelve thousand francs, they ranked among the half-dozen largest
fortunes in the old city, merchants and officials excepted; for M. and
Mme. de Bargeton were obliged to live in Angouleme until such time as
Mme. de Bargeton's inheritance should fall in and they could go to
Paris. Meanwhile they were bound to be attentive to old M. de
Negrepelisse (who kept them waiting so long that his son-in-law in
fact predeceased him), and Nais' brilliant intellectual gifts, and the
wealth that lay like undiscovered ore in her nature, profited her
nothing, underwent the transforming operation of Time and changed to
absurdities. For our absurdities spring, in fact, for the most part,
from the good in us, from some faculty or quality abnormally
developed. Pride, untempered by intercourse with the great world
becomes stiff and starched by contact with petty things; in a loftier
moral atmosphere it would have grown to noble magnanimity. Enthusiasm,
that virtue within a virtue, forming the saint, inspiring the devotion
hidden from all eyes and glowing out upon the world in verse, turns to
exaggeration, with the trifles of a narrow existence for its object.
Far away from the centres of light shed by great minds, where the air
is quick with thought, knowledge stands still, taste is corrupted like
stagnant water, and passion dwindles, frittered away upon the
infinitely small objects which it strives to exalt. Herein lies the
secret of the avarice and tittle-tattle that poison provincial life.
The contagion of narrow-mindedness and meanness affects the noblest
natures; and in such ways as these, men born to be great, and women
who would have been charming if they had fallen under the forming
influence of greater minds, are balked of their lives.

Here was Mme. de Bargeton, for instance, smiting the lyre for every
trifle, and publishing her emotions indiscriminately to her circle. As
a matter of fact, when sensations appeal to an audience of one, it is
better to keep them to ourselves. A sunset certainly is a glorious
poem; but if a woman describes it, in high-sounding words, for the
benefit of matter-of-fact people, is she not ridiculous? There are
pleasures which can only be felt to the full when two souls meet, poet
and poet, heart and heart. She had a trick of using high-sounding
phrases, interlarded with exaggerated expressions, the kind of stuff
ingeniously nicknamed _tartines_ by the French journalist, who furnishes
a daily supply of the commodity for a public that daily performs the
difficult feat of swallowing it. She squandered superlatives
recklessly in her talk, and the smallest things took giant
proportions. It was at this period of her career that she began to
type-ize, individualize, synthesize, dramatize, superiorize, analyze,
poetize, angelize, neologize, tragedify, prosify, and colossify--you
must violate the laws of language to find words to express the
new-fangled whimsies in which even women here and there indulge. The
heat of her language communicated itself to the brain, and the
dithyrambs on her lips were spoken out of the abundance of her heart.
She palpitated, swooned, and went into ecstasies over anything and
everything, over the devotion of a sister of Charity, and the
execution of the brothers Fauchet, over M. d'Arlincourt's _Ipsiboe_,
Lewis' _Anaconda_, or the escape of La Valette, or the presence of mind
of a lady friend who put burglars to flight by imitating a man's
voice. Everything was heroic, extraordinary, strange, wonderful, and
divine. She would work herself into a state of excitement,
indignation, or depression; she soared to heaven, and sank again,
gazed at the sky, or looked to earth; her eyes were always filled with
tears. She wore herself out with chronic admiration, and wasted her
strength on curious dislikes. Her mind ran on the Pasha of Janina; she
would have liked to try conclusions with him in his seraglio, and had
a great notion of being sewn in a sack and thrown into the water. She
envied that blue-stocking of the desert, Lady Hester Stanhope; she
longed to be a sister of Saint Camilla and tend the sick and die of
yellow fever in a hospital at Barcelona; 'twas a high, a noble
destiny! In short, she thirsted for any draught but the clear spring
water of her own life, flowing hidden among green pastures. She adored
Byron and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, or anybody else with a picturesque or
dramatic career. Her tears were ready to flow for every misfortune;
she sang paeans for every victory. She sympathized with the fallen
Napoleon, and with Mehemet Ali, massacring the foreign usurpers of
Egypt. In short, any kind of genius was accommodated with an aureole,
and she was fully persuaded that gifted immortals lived on incense and

A good many people looked upon her as a harmless lunatic, but in these
extravagances of hers a keener observer surely would have seen the
broken fragments of a magnificent edifice that had crumbled into ruin
before it was completed, the stones of a heavenly Jerusalem--love, in
short, without a lover. And this was indeed the fact.

The story of the first eighteen years of Mme. de Bargeton's married
life can be summed up in a few words. For a long while she lived upon
herself and distant hopes. Then, when she began to see that their
narrow income put the longed-for life in Paris quite out of the
question, she looked about her at the people with whom her life must
be spent, and shuddered at her loneliness. There was not a single man
who could inspire the madness to which women are prone when they
despair of a life become stale and unprofitable in the present, and
with no outlook for the future. She had nothing to look for, nothing
to expect from chance, for there are lives in which chance plays no
part. But when the Empire was in the full noonday of glory, and
Napoleon was sending the flower of his troops to the Peninsula, her
disappointed hopes revived. Natural curiosity prompted her to make an
effort to see the heroes who were conquering Europe in obedience to a
word from the Emperor in the order of the day; the heroes of a modern
time who outdid the mythical feats of paladins of old. The cities of
France, however avaricious or refractory, must perforce do honor to
the Imperial Guard, and mayors and prefects went out to meet them with
set speeches as if the conquerors had been crowned kings. Mme. de
Bargeton went to a _ridotto_ given to the town by a regiment, and fell
in love with an officer of a good family, a sub-lieutenant, to whom
the crafty Napoleon had given a glimpse of the baton of a Marshal of
France. Love, restrained, greater and nobler than the ties that were
made and unmade so easily in those days, was consecrated coldly by the
hands of death. On the battlefield of Wagram a shell shattered the
only record of Mme. de Bargeton's young beauty, a portrait worn on the
heart of the Marquis of Cante-Croix. For long afterwards she wept for
the young soldier, the colonel in his second campaign, for the heart
hot with love and glory that set a letter from Nais above Imperial
favor. The pain of those days cast a veil of sadness over her face, a
shadow that only vanished at the terrible age when a woman first
discovers with dismay that the best years of her life are over, and
she has had no joy of them; when she sees her roses wither, and the
longing for love is revived again with the desire to linger yet for a
little on the last smiles of youth. Her nobler qualities dealt so many
wounds to her soul at the moment when the cold of the provinces seized
upon her. She would have died of grief like the ermine if by chance
she had been sullied by contact with those men whose thoughts are bent
on winning a few sous nightly at cards after a good dinner; pride
saved her from the shabby love intrigues of the provinces. A woman so
much above the level of those about her, forced to decide between the
emptiness of the men whom she meets and the emptiness of her own life,
can make but one choice; marriage and society became a cloister for
Anais. She lived by poetry as the Carmelite lives by religion. All the
famous foreign books published in France for the first time between
1815 and 1821, the great essayists, M. de Bonald and M. de Maistre
(those two eagles of thought)--all the lighter French literature, in
short, that appeared during that sudden outburst of first vigorous
growth might bring delight into her solitary life, but not flexibility
of mind or body. She stood strong and straight like some forest tree,
lightning-blasted but still erect. Her dignity became a stilted
manner, her social supremacy led her into affectation and sentimental
over-refinements; she queened it with her foibles, after the usual
fashion of those who allow their courtiers to adore them.

This was Mme. de Bargeton's past life, a dreary chronicle which must
be given if Lucien's position with regard to the lady is to be
comprehensible. Lucien's introduction came about oddly enough. In the
previous winter a newcomer had brought some interest into Mme. de
Bargeton's monotonous life. The place of controller of excise fell
vacant, and M. de Barante appointed a man whose adventurous life was a
sufficient passport to the house of the sovereign lady who had her
share of feminine curiosity.

M. de Chatelet--he began life as plain Sixte Chatelet, but since 1806
had the wit to adopt the particle--M. du Chatelet was one of the
agreeable young men who escaped conscription after conscription by
keeping very close to the Imperial sun. He had begun his career as
private secretary to an Imperial Highness, a post for which he
possessed every qualification. Personable and of a good figure, a
clever billiard-player, a passable amateur actor, he danced well, and
excelled in most physical exercises; he could, moreover, sing a ballad
and applaud a witticism. Supple, envious, never at a loss, there was
nothing that he did not know--nothing that he really knew. He knew
nothing, for instance, of music, but he could sit down to the piano
and accompany, after a fashion, a woman who consented after much
pressing to sing a ballad learned by heart in a month of hard
practice. Incapable though he was of any feeling for poetry, he would
boldly ask permission to retire for ten minutes to compose an
impromptu, and return with a quatrain, flat as a pancake, wherein
rhyme did duty for reason. M. du Chatelet had besides a very pretty
talent for filling in the ground of the Princess' worsted work after
the flowers had been begun; he held her skeins of silk with infinite
grace, entertained her with dubious nothings more or less
transparently veiled. He was ignorant of painting, but he could copy a
landscape, sketch a head in profile, or design a costume and color it.
He had, in short, all the little talents that a man could turn to such
useful account in times when women exercised more influence in public
life than most people imagine. Diplomacy he claimed to be his strong
point; it usually is with those who have no knowledge, and are
profound by reason of their emptiness; and, indeed, this kind of skill
possesses one signal advantage, for it can only be displayed in the
conduct of the affairs of the great, and when discretion is the
quality required, a man who knows nothing can safely say nothing, and
take refuge in a mysterious shake of the head; in fact; the cleverest
practitioner is he who can swim with the current and keep his head
well above the stream of events which he appears to control, a man's
fitness for this business varying inversely as his specific gravity.
But in this particular art or craft, as in all others, you shall find
a thousand mediocrities for one man of genius; and in spite of
Chatelet's services, ordinary and extraordinary, Her Imperial Highness
could not procure a seat in the Privy Council for her private
secretary; not that he would not have made a delightful Master of
Requests, like many another, but the Princess was of the opinion that
her secretary was better placed with her than anywhere else in the
world. He was made a Baron, however, and went to Cassel as
envoy-extraordinary, no empty form of words, for he cut a very
extraordinary figure there--Napoleon used him as a diplomatic courier
in the thick of a European crisis. Just as he had been promised the
post of minister to Jerome in Westphalia, the Empire fell to pieces;
and balked of his _ambassade de famille_ as he called it, he went off
in despair to Egypt with General de Montriveau. A strange chapter of
accidents separated him from his traveling companion, and for two long
years Sixte du Chatelet led a wandering life among the Arab tribes of
the desert, who sold and resold their captive--his talents being not
of the slightest use to the nomad tribes. At length, about the time
that Montriveau reached Tangier, Chatelet found himself in the
territory of the Imam of Muscat, had the luck to find an English
vessel just about to set sail, and so came back to Paris a year sooner
than his sometime companion. Once in Paris, his recent misfortunes,
and certain connections of long standing, together with services
rendered to great persons now in power, recommended him to the
President of the Council, who put him in M. de Barante's department
until such time as a controllership should fall vacant. So the part
that M. du Chatelet once had played in the history of the Imperial
Princess, his reputation for success with women, the strange story of
his travels and sufferings, all awakened the interest of the ladies of

M. le Baron Sixte du Chatelet informed himself as to the manners and
customs of the upper town, and took his cue accordingly. He appeared
on the scene as a jaded man of the world, broken in health, and weary
in spirit. He would raise his hand to his forehead at all seasons, as
if pain never gave him a moment's respite, a habit that recalled his
travels and made him interesting. He was on visiting terms with the
authorities--the general in command, the prefect, the
receiver-general, and the bishop but in every house he was frigid,
polite, and slightly supercilious, like a man out of his proper place
awaiting the favors of power. His social talents he left to conjecture,
nor did they lose anything in reputation on that account; then when
people began to talk about him and wish to know him, and curiosity was
still lively; when he had reconnoitred the men and found them nought,
and studied the women with the eyes of experience in the cathedral for
several Sundays, he saw that Mme. de. Bargeton was the person with
whom it would be best to be on intimate terms. Music, he thought,
should open the doors of a house where strangers were never received.
Surreptitiously he procured one of Miroir's Masses, learned it upon
the piano; and one fine Sunday when all Angouleme went to the
cathedral, he played the organ, sent those who knew no better into
ecstasies over the performance, and stimulated the interest felt in
him by allowing his name to slip out through the attendants. As he
came out after mass, Mme. de Bargeton complimented him, regretting
that she had no opportunity of playing duets with such a musician; and
naturally, during an interview of her own seeking, he received the
passport, which he could not have obtained if he had asked for it.

So the adroit Baron was admitted to the circle of the queen of
Angouleme, and paid her marked attention. The elderly beau--he was
forty-five years old--saw that all her youth lay dormant and ready to
revive, saw treasures to be turned to account, and possibly a rich
widow to wed, to say nothing of expectations; it would be a marriage
into the family of Negrepelisse, and for him this meant a family
connection with the Marquise d'Espard, and a political career in
Paris. Here was a fair tree to cultivate in spite of the ill-omened,
unsightly mistletoe that grew thick upon it; he would hang his
fortunes upon it, and prune it, and wait till he could gather its
golden fruit.

High-born Angouleme shrieked against the introduction of a Giaour into
the sanctuary, for Mme. de Bargeton's salon was a kind of holy of
holies in a society that kept itself unspotted from the world. The
only outsider intimate there was the bishop; the prefect was admitted
twice or thrice in a year, the receiver-general was never received at
all; Mme. de Bargeton would go to concerts and "at homes" at his
house, but she never accepted invitations to dinner. And now, she who
had declined to open her doors to the receiver-general, welcomed a
mere controller of excise! Here was a novel order of precedence for
snubbed authority; such a thing it had never entered their minds to

Those who by dint of mental effort can understand a kind of pettiness
which, for that matter, can be found on any and every social level,
will realize the awe with which the _bourgeoisie_ of Angouleme regarded
the Hotel de Bargeton. The inhabitant of L'Houmeau beheld the grandeur
of that miniature Louvre, the glory of the Angoumoisin Hotel de
Rambouillet, shining at a solar distance; and yet, within it there was
gathered together all the direst intellectual poverty, all the decayed
gentility from twenty leagues round about.

Political opinion expanded itself in wordy commonplaces vociferated
with emphasis; the _Quotidienne_ was comparatively Laodicean in its
loyalty, and Louis XVIII. a Jacobin. The women, for the most part,
were awkward, silly, insipid, and ill dressed; there was always
something amiss that spoiled the whole; nothing in them was complete,
toilette or talk, flesh or spirit. But for his designs on Mme. de
Bargeton, Chatelet could not have endured the society. And yet the
manners and spirit of the noble in his ruined manor-house, the
knowledge of the traditions of good breeding,--these things covered a
multitude of deficiencies. Nobility of feeling was far more real here
than in the lofty world of Paris. You might compare these country
Royalists, if the metaphor may be allowed, to old-fashioned silver
plate, antiquated and tarnished, but weighty; their attachment to the
House of Bourbon as the House of Bourbon did them honor. The very
fixity of their political opinions was a sort of faithfulness. The
distance that they set between themselves and the _bourgeoisie_, their
very exclusiveness, gave them a certain elevation, and enhanced their
value. Each noble represented a certain price for the townsmen, as
Bambara Negroes, we are told, attach a money value to cowrie shells.

Some of the women, flattered by M. du Chatelet, discerned in him the
superior qualities lacking in the men of their own sect, and the
insurrection of self-love was pacified. These ladies all hoped to
succeed to the Imperial Highness. Purists were of the opinion that you
might see the intruder in Mme. de Bargeton's house, but not elsewhere.
Du Chatelet was fain to put up with a good deal of insolence, but he
held his ground by cultivating the clergy. He encouraged the queen of
Angouleme in foibles bred of the soil; he brought her all the newest
books; he read aloud the poetry that appeared. Together they went into
ecstasies over these poets; she in all sincerity, he with suppressed
yawns; but he bore with the Romantics with a patience hardly to be
expected of a man of the Imperial school, who scarcely could make out
what the young writers meant. Not so Mme. de Bargeton; she waxed
enthusiastic over the renaissance, due to the return of the Bourbon
Lilies; she loved M. de Chateaubriand for calling Victor Hugo "a
sublime child." It depressed her that she could only know genius from
afar, she sighed for Paris, where great men live. For these reasons M.
du Chatelet thought he had done a wonderfully clever thing when he
told the lady that at that moment in Angouleme there was "another
sublime child," a young poet, a rising star whose glory surpassed the
whole Parisian galaxy, though he knew it not. A great man of the
future had been born in L'Houmeau! The headmaster of the school had
shown the Baron some admirable verses. The poor and humble lad was a
second Chatterton, with none of the political baseness and ferocious
hatred of the great ones of earth that led his English prototype to
turn pamphleteer and revile his benefactors. Mme. de Bargeton in her
little circle of five or six persons, who were supposed to share her
tastes for art and letters, because this one scraped a fiddle, and
that splashed sheets of white paper, more or less, with sepia, and the
other was president of a local agricultural society, or was gifted
with a bass voice that rendered _Se fiato in corpo_ like a war whoop
--Mme. de Bargeton amid these grotesque figures was like a famished
actor set down to a stage dinner of pasteboard. No words, therefore,
can describe her joy at these tidings. She must see this poet, this
angel! She raved about him, went into raptures, talked of him for
whole hours together. Before two days were out the sometime diplomatic
courier had negotiated (through the headmaster) for Lucien's
appearance in the Hotel de Bargeton.

Poor helots of the provinces, for whom the distances between class and
class are so far greater than for the Parisian (for whom, indeed,
these distances visibly lessen day by day); souls so grievously
oppressed by the social barriers behind which all sorts and conditions
of men sit crying _Raca_! with mutual anathemas--you, and you alone,
will fully comprehend the ferment in Lucien's heart and brain, when
his awe-inspiring headmaster told him that the great gates of the
Hotel de Bargeton would shortly open and turn upon their hinges at his
fame! Lucien and David, walking together of an evening in the
Promenade de Beaulieu, had looked up at the house with the
old-fashioned gables, and wondered whether their names would ever so
much as reach ears inexorably deaf to knowledge that came from a lowly
origin; and now he (Lucien) was to be made welcome there!

No one except his sister was in the secret. Eve, like the thrifty
housekeeper and divine magician that she was, conjured up a few louis
d'or from her savings to buy thin shoes for Lucien of the best
shoemaker in Angouleme, and an entirely new suit of clothes from the
most renowned tailor. She made a frill for his best shirt, and washed
and pleated it with her own hands. And how pleased she was to see him
so dressed! How proud she felt of her brother, and what quantities of
advice she gave him! Her intuition foresaw countless foolish fears.
Lucien had a habit of resting his elbows on the table when he was in
deep thought; he would even go so far as to draw a table nearer to
lean upon it; Eve told him that he must not forget himself in those
aristocratic precincts.

She went with him as far as St. Peter's Gate, and when they were
almost opposite the cathedral she stopped, and watched him pass down
the Rue de Beaulieu to the Promenade, where M. du Chatelet was waiting
for him. And after he was out of sight, she still stood there, poor
girl! in a great tremor of emotion, as though some great thing had
happened to them. Lucien in Mme. de Bargeton's house!--for Eve it
meant the dawn of success. The innocent creature did not suspect that
where ambition begins, ingenuous feeling ends.

Externals in the Rue du Minage gave Lucien no sense of surprise. This
palace, that loomed so large in his imagination, was a house built of
the soft stone of the country, mellowed by time. It looked dismal
enough from the street, and inside it was extremely plain; there was
the usual provincial courtyard--chilly, prim, and neat; and the house
itself was sober, almost convent-like, but in good repair.

Lucien went up the old staircase with the balustrade of chestnut wood
(the stone steps ceased after the second floor), crossed a shabby
antechamber, and came into the presence in a little wainscoted
drawing-room, beyond a dimly-lit salon. The carved woodwork, in the
taste of the eighteenth century, had been painted gray. There were
monochrome paintings on the frieze panels, and the walls were adorned
with crimson damask with a meagre border. The old-fashioned furniture
shrank piteously from sight under covers of a red-and-white check
pattern. On the sofa, covered with thin mattressed cushions, sat Mme.
de Bargeton; the poet beheld her by the light of two wax candles on a
sconce with a screen fitted to it, that stood before her on a round
table with a green cloth.

The queen did not attempt to rise, but she twisted very gracefully on
her seat, smiling on the poet, who was not a little fluttered by the
serpentine quiverings; her manner was distinguished, he thought. For
Mme. de Bargeton, she was impressed with Lucien's extreme beauty, with
his diffidence, with everything about him; for her the poet already
was poetry incarnate. Lucien scrutinized his hostess with discreet
side glances; she disappointed none of his expectations of a great

Mme. de Bargeton, following a new fashion, wore a coif of slashed
black velvet, a head-dress that recalls memories of mediaeval legend
to a young imagination, to amplify, as it were, the dignity of
womanhood. Her red-gold hair, escaping from under her cap, hung loose;
bright golden color in the light, red in the rounded shadow of the
curls that only partially hid her neck. Beneath a massive white brow,
clean cut and strongly outlined, shone a pair of bright gray eyes
encircled by a margin of mother-of-pearl, two blue veins on each side
of the nose bringing out the whiteness of that delicate setting. The
Bourbon curve of the nose added to the ardent expression of an oval
face; it was as if the royal temper of the House of Conde shone
conspicuous in this feature. The careless cross-folds of the bodice
left a white throat bare, and half revealed the outlines of a still
youthful figure and shapely, well placed contours beneath.

With fingers tapering and well-kept, though somewhat too thin, Mme. de
Bargeton amiably pointed to a seat by her side, M. du Chatelet
ensconced himself in an easy-chair, and Lucien then became aware that
there was no one else in the room.

Mme. de Bargeton's words intoxicated the young poet from L'Houmeau.
For Lucien those three hours spent in her presence went by like a
dream that we would fain have last forever. She was not thin, he
thought; she was slender; in love with love, and loverless; and
delicate in spite of her strength. Her foibles, exaggerated by her
manner, took his fancy; for youth sets out with a love of hyperbole,
that infirmity of noble souls. He did not so much as see that her
cheeks were faded, that the patches of color on the cheek-bone were
faded and hardened to a brick-red by listless days and a certain
amount of ailing health. His imagination fastened at once on the
glowing eyes, on the dainty curls rippling with light, on the dazzling
fairness of her skin, and hovered about those bright points as the
moth hovers about the candle flame. For her spirit made such appeal to
his that he could no longer see the woman as she was. Her feminine
exaltation had carried him away, the energy of her expressions, a
little staled in truth by pretty hard and constant wear, but new to
Lucien, fascinated him so much the more easily because he was
determined to be pleased. He had brought none of his own verses to
read, but nothing was said of them; he had purposely left them behind
because he meant to return; and Mme. de Bargeton did not ask for them,
because she meant that he should come back some future day to read
them to her. Was not this a beginning of an understanding?

As for M. Sixte du Chatelet, he was not over well pleased with all
this. He perceived rather too late in the day that he had a rival in
this handsome young fellow. He went with him as far as the first
flight of steps below Beaulieu to try the effect of a little
diplomacy; and Lucien was not a little astonished when he heard  the
controller of excise pluming himself on having effected the
introduction, and proceeding in this character to give him (Lucien)
the benefit of his advice.

"Heaven send that Lucien might meet with better treatment than he had
done," such was the matter of M. du Chatelet's discourse. "The Court
was less insolent that this pack of dolts in Angouleme. You were
expected to endure deadly insults; the superciliousness you had to put
up with was something abominable. If this kind of folk did not alter
their behavior, there would be another Revolution of '89. As for
himself, if he continued to go to the house, it was because he had
found Mme. de Bargeton to his taste; she was the only woman worth
troubling about in Angouleme; he had been paying court to her for want
of anything better to do, and now he was desperately in love with her.
She would be his before very long, she loved him, everything pointed
that way. The conquest of this haughty queen of the society would be
his one revenge on the whole houseful of booby clodpates."

Chatelet talked of his passion in the tone of a man who would have a
rival's life if he crossed his path. The elderly butterfly of the
Empire came down with his whole weight on the poor poet, and tried to
frighten and crush him by his self-importance. He grew taller as he
gave an embellished account of his perilous wanderings; but while he
impressed the poet's imagination, the lover was by no means afraid of

In spite of the elderly coxcomb, and regardless of his threats and
airs of a _bourgeois_ bravo, Lucien went back again and again to the
house--not too often at first, as became a man of L'Houmeau; but
before very long he grew accustomed to the vast condescension, as it
had seemed to him at the outset, and came more and more frequently.
The druggist's son was a completely insignificant being. If any of the
_noblesse_, men or women, calling upon Nais, found Lucien in the room,
they met him with the overwhelming graciousness that well-bred people
use towards their inferiors. Lucien thought them very kind for a time,
and later found out the real reason for their specious amiability. It
was not long before he detected a patronizing tone that stirred his
gall and confirmed him in his bitter Republicanism, a phase of opinion
through which many a would-be patrician passes by way of prelude to
his introduction to polite society.

But was there anything that he would not have endured for Nais?--for
so he heard her named by the clan. Like Spanish grandees and the old
Austrian nobility at Vienna, these folk, men and women alike, called
each other by their Christian names, a final shade of distinction in
the inmost ring of Angoumoisin aristocracy.

Lucien loved Nais as a young man loves the first woman who flatters
him, for Nais prophesied great things and boundless fame for Lucien.
She used all her skill to secure her hold upon her poet; not merely
did she exalt him beyond measure, but she represented him to himself
as a child without fortune whom she meant to start in life; she
treated him like a child, to keep him near her; she made him her
reader, her secretary, and cared more for him than she would have
thought possible after the dreadful calamity that had befallen her.

She was very cruel to herself in those days, telling herself that it
would be folly to love a young man of twenty, so far apart from her
socially in the first place; and her behavior to him was a bewildering
mixture of familiarity and capricious fits of pride arising from her
fears and scruples. She was sometimes a lofty patroness, sometimes she
was tender and flattered him. At first, while he was overawed by her
rank, Lucien experienced the extremes of dread, hope, and despair, the
torture of a first love, that is beaten deep into the heart with the
hammer strokes of alternate bliss and anguish. For two months Mme. de
Bargeton was for him a benefactress who would take a mother's interest
in him; but confidences came next. Mme. de Bargeton began to address
her poet as "dear Lucien," and then as "dear," without more ado. The
poet grew bolder, and addressed the great lady as Nais, and there
followed a flash of anger that captivates a boy; she reproached him
for calling her by a name in everybody's mouth. The haughty and
high-born Negrepelisse offered the fair angel youth that one of her
appellations which was unsoiled by use; for him she would be "Louise."
Lucien was in the third heaven.

One evening when Lucien came in, he found Mme. de Bargeton looking at
a portrait, which she promptly put away. He wished to see it, and to
quiet the despair of a first fit of jealousy Louise showed him
Cante-Croix's picture, and told with tears the piteous story of a love
so stainless, so cruelly cut short. Was she experimenting with herself?
Was she trying a first unfaithfulness to the memory of the dead? Or
had she taken it into her head to raise up a rival to Lucien in the
portrait? Lucien was too much of a boy to analyze his lady-love; he
gave way to unfeigned despair when she opened the campaign by
entrenching herself behind the more or less skilfully devised scruples
which women raise to have them battered down. When a woman begins to
talk about her duty, regard for appearances or religion, the
objections she raises are so many redoubts which she loves to have
carried by storm. But on the guileless Lucien these coquetries were
thrown away; he would have advanced of his own accord.

"_I_ shall not die for you, I will live for you," he cried audaciously
one evening; he meant to have no more of M. de Cante-Croix, and gave
Louise a glance which told plainly that a crisis was at hand.

Startled at the progress of this new love in herself and her poet,
Louise demanded some verses promised for the first page of her album,
looking for a pretext for a quarrel in his tardiness. But what became
of her when she read the following stanzas, which, naturally, she
considered finer than the finest work of Canalis, the poet of the

  The magic brush, light flying flights of song--
  To these, but not to these alone, belong
    My pages fair;
  Often to me, my mistress' pencil steals
  To tell the secret gladness that she feels,
    The hidden care.

  And when her fingers, slowlier at the last,
  Of a rich Future, now become the Past,
    Seek count of me,
  Oh Love, when swift, thick-coming memories rise,
    I pray of Thee.
  May they bring visions fair as cloudless skies
  Of happy voyage o'er a summer sea!

"Was it really I who inspired those lines?" she asked.

The doubt suggested by coquetry to a woman who amused herself by
playing with fire brought tears to Lucien's eyes; but her first kiss
upon his forehead calmed the storm. Decidedly Lucien was a great man,
and she meant to form him; she thought of teaching him Italian and
German and perfecting his manners. That would be pretext sufficient
for having him constantly with her under the very eyes of her tiresome
courtiers. What an interest in her life! She took up music again for
her poet's sake, and revealed the world of sound to him, playing grand
fragments of Beethoven till she sent him into ecstasy; and, happy in
his delight, turned to the half-swooning poet.

"Is not such happiness as this enough?" she asked hypocritically; and
poor Lucien was stupid enough to answer, "Yes."

In the previous week things had reached such a point, that Louise had
judged it expedient to ask Lucien to dine with M. de Bargeton as a
third. But in spite of this precaution, the whole town knew the state
of affairs; and so extraordinary did it appear, that no one would
believe the truth. The outcry was terrific. Some were of the opinion
that society was on the eve of cataclysm. "See what comes of Liberal
doctrines!" cried others.

Then it was that the jealous du Chatelet discovered that Madame
Charlotte, the monthly nurse, was no other than Mme. Chardon, "the
mother of the Chateaubriand of L'Houmeau," as he put it. The remark
passed muster as a joke. Mme. de Chandour was the first to hurry to
Mme. de Bargeton.

"Nais, dear," she said, "do you know what everybody is talking about
in Angouleme? This little rhymster's mother is the Madame Charlotte
who nursed my sister-in-law through her confinement two months ago."

"What is there extraordinary in that, my dear?" asked Mme. de Bargeton
with her most regal air. "She is a druggist's widow, is she not? A
poor fate for a Rubempre. Suppose that you and I had not a penny in
the world, what should either of us do for a living? How would you
support your children?"

Mme. de Bargeton's presence of mind put an end to the jeremiads of the
_noblesse_. Great natures are prone to make a virtue of misfortune; and
there is something irresistibly attractive about well-doing when
persisted in through evil report; innocence has the piquancy of the

Mme. de Bargeton's rooms were crowded that evening with friends who
came to remonstrate with her. She brought her most caustic wit into
play. She said that as noble families could not produce a Moliere, a
Racine, a Rousseau, a Voltaire, a Massillon, a Beaumarchais, or a
Diderot, people must make up their minds to it, and accept the fact
that great men had upholsterers and clockmakers and cutlers for their
fathers. She said that genius was always noble. She railed at boorish
squires for understanding their real interests so imperfectly. In
short, she talked a good deal of nonsense, which would have let the
light into heads less dense, but left her audience agape at her
eccentricity. And in these ways she conjured away the storm with her
heavy artillery.

When Lucien, obedient to her request, appeared for the first time in
the faded great drawing-room, where the whist-tables were set out, she
welcomed him graciously, and brought him forward, like a queen who
means to be obeyed. She addressed the controller of excise as "M.
Chatelet," and left that gentleman thunderstruck by the discovery that
she knew about the illegal superfetation of the particle. Lucien was
forced upon her circle, and was received as a poisonous element, which
every person in it vowed to expel with the antidote of insolence.

Nais had won a victory, but she had lost her supremacy of empire.
There was a rumor of insurrection. Amelie, otherwise Mme. de Chandour,
harkening to "M. Chatelet's" counsels, determined to erect a rival
altar by receiving on Wednesdays. Now Mme. de Bargeton's salon was
open every evening; and those who frequented it were so wedded to
their ways, so accustomed to meet about the same tables, to play the
familiar game of backgammon, to see the same faces and the same candle
sconces night after night; and afterwards to cloak and shawl, and put
on overshoes and hats in the old corridor, that they were quite as
much attached to the steps of the staircase as to the mistress of the

"All resigned themselves to endure the songster" (_chardonneret_) "of
the sacred grove," said Alexandre de Brebian, which was witticism
number two. Finally, the president of the agricultural society put an
end to the sedition by remarking judicially that "before the
Revolution the greatest nobles admitted men like Dulcos and Grimm and
Crebillon to their society--men who were nobodies, like this little
poet of L'Houmeau; but one thing they never did, they never received
tax-collectors, and, after all, Chatelet is only a tax-collector."

Du Chatelet suffered for Chardon. Every one turned the cold shoulder
upon him; and Chatelet was conscious that he was attacked. When Mme.
de Bargeton called him "M. Chatelet," he swore to himself that he
would possess her; and now he entered into the views of the mistress
of the house, came to the support of the young poet, and declared
himself Lucien's friend. The great diplomatist, overlooked by the
shortsighted Emperor, made much of Lucien, and declared himself his
friend! To launch the poet into society, he gave a dinner, and asked
all the authorities to meet him--the prefect, the receiver-general,
the colonel in command of the garrison, the head of the Naval School,
the president of the Court, and so forth. The poet, poor fellow, was
feted so magnificently, and so belauded, that anybody but a young man
of two-and-twenty would have shrewdly suspected a hoax. After dinner,
Chatelet drew his rival on to recite _The Dying Sardanapalus_, the
masterpiece of the hour; and the headmaster of the school, a man of a
phlegmatic temperament, applauded with both hands, and vowed that
Jean-Baptiste Rousseau had done nothing finer. Sixte, Baron du
Chatelet, thought in his heart that this slip of a rhymster would
wither incontinently in a hothouse of adulation; perhaps he hoped that
when the poet's head was turned with brilliant dreams, he would
indulge in some impertinence that would promptly consign him to the
obscurity from which he had emerged. Pending the decease of genius,
Chatelet appeared to offer up his hopes as a sacrifice at Mme. de
Bargeton's feet; but with the ingenuity of a rake, he kept his own
plan in abeyance, watching the lovers' movements with keenly critical
eyes, and waiting for the opportunity of ruining Lucien.

From this time forward, vague rumors reported the existence of a great
man in Angoumois. Mme. de Bargeton was praised on all sides for the
interest which she took in this young eagle. No sooner was her conduct
approved than she tried to win a general sanction. She announced a
soiree, with ices, tea, and cakes, a great innovation in a city where
tea, as yet, was sold only by druggists as a remedy for indigestion.
The flower of Angoumoisin aristocracy was summoned to hear Lucien read
his great work. Louise had hidden all the difficulties from her
friend, but she let fall a few words touching the social cabal formed
against him; she would not have him ignorant of the perils besetting
his career as a man of genius, nor of the obstacles insurmountable to
weaklings. She drew a lesson from the recent victory. Her white hands
pointed him to glory that lay beyond a prolonged martyrdom; she spoke
of stakes and flaming pyres; she spread the adjectives thickly on her
finest _tartines_, and decorated them with a variety of her most pompous
epithets. It was an infringement of the copyright of the passages of
declamation that disfigure _Corinne_; but Louise grew so much the
greater in her own eyes as she talked, that she loved the Benjamin who
inspired her eloquence the more for it. She counseled him to take a
bold step and renounce his patronymic for the noble name of Rubempre;
he need not mind the little tittle-tattle over a change which the
King, for that matter, would authorize. Mme. de Bargeton undertook to
procure this favor; she was related to the Marquise d'Espard, who was
a Blamont-Chauvry before her marriage, and a _persona grata_ at Court.
The words "King," "Marquise d'Espard," and "the Court" dazzled Lucien
like a blaze of fireworks, and the necessity of the baptism was plain
to him.

"Dear child," said Louise, with tender mockery in her tones, "the
sooner it is done, the sooner it will be sanctioned."

She went through social strata and showed the poet that this step
would raise him many rungs higher in the ladder. Seizing the moment,
she persuaded Lucien to forswear the chimerical notions of '89 as to
equality; she roused a thirst for social distinction allayed by
David's cool commonsense; she pointed out fashionable society as the
goal and the only stage for such a talent as his. The rabid Liberal
became a Monarchist _in petto_; Lucien set his teeth in the apple of
desire of rank, luxury, and fame. He swore to win a crown to lay at
his lady's feet, even if there should be blood-stains on the bays. He
would conquer at any cost, _quibuscumque viis_. To prove his courage, he
told her of his present way of life; Louise had known nothing of its
hardships, for there is an indefinable pudency inseparable from strong
feeling in youth, a delicacy which shrinks from a display of great
qualities; and a young man loves to have the real quality of his
nature discerned through the incognito. He described that life, the
shackles of poverty borne with pride, his days of work for David, his
nights of study. His young ardor recalled memories of the colonel of
six-and-twenty; Mme. de Bargeton's eyes grew soft; and Lucien, seeing
this weakness in his awe-inspiring mistress, seized a hand that she
had abandoned to him, and kissed it with the frenzy of a lover and a
poet in his youth. Louise even allowed him to set his eager, quivering
lips upon her forehead.

"Oh, child! child! if any one should see us, I should look very
ridiculous," she said, shaking off the ecstatic torpor.

In the course of that evening, Mme. de Bargeton's wit made havoc of
Lucien's prejudices, as she styled them. Men of genius, according to
her doctrine, had neither brothers nor sisters nor father nor mother;
the great tasks laid upon them required that they should sacrifice
everything that they might grow to their full stature. Perhaps their
families might suffer at first from the all-absorbing exactions of a
giant brain, but at a later day they were repaid a hundredfold for
self-denial of every kind during the early struggles of the kingly
intellect with adverse fate; they shared the spoils of victory. Genius
was answerable to no man. Genius alone could judge of the means used
to an end which no one else could know. It was the duty of a man of
genius, therefore, to set himself above law; it was his mission to
reconstruct law; the man who is master of his age may take all that he
needs, run any risks, for all is his. She quoted instances. Bernard
Palissy, Louis XI., Fox, Napoleon, Christopher Columbus, and Julius
Caesar,--all these world-famous gamblers had begun life hampered with
debt, or as poor men; all of them had been misunderstood, taken for
madmen, reviled for bad sons, bad brothers, bad fathers; and yet in
after life each one had come to be the pride of his family, of his
country, of the civilized world.

Her arguments fell upon fertile soil in the worst of Lucien's nature,
and spread corruption in his heart; for him, when his desires were
hot, all means were admissible. But--failure is high treason against
society; and when the fallen conqueror has run amuck through _bourgeois_
virtues, and pulled down the pillars of society, small wonder that
society, finding Marius seated among the ruins, should drive him forth
in abhorrence. All unconsciously Lucien stood with the palm of genius
on the one hand and a shameful ending in the hulks upon the other;
and, on high upon the Sinai of the prophets, beheld no Dead Sea
covering the cities of the plain--the hideous winding-sheet of

So well did Louise loosen the swaddling-bands of provincial life that
confined the heart and brain of her poet that the said poet determined
to try an experiment upon her. He wished to feel certain that this
proud conquest was his without laying himself open to the
mortification of a rebuff. The forthcoming soiree gave him his
opportunity. Ambition blended with his love. He loved, and he meant to
rise, a double desire not unnatural in young men with a heart to
satisfy and the battle of life to fight. Society, summoning all her
children to one banquet, arouses ambition in the very morning of life.
Youth is robbed of its charm, and generous thoughts are corrupted by
mercenary scheming. The idealist would fain have it otherwise, but
intrusive fact too often gives the lie to the fiction which we should
like to believe, making it impossible to paint the young man of the
nineteenth century other than he is. Lucien imagined that his scheming
was entirely prompted by good feeling, and persuaded himself that it
was done solely for his friend David's sake.

He wrote a long letter to his Louise; he felt bolder, pen in hand,
than face to face. In a dozen sheets, copied out three several times,
he told her of his father's genius and blighted hopes and of his
grinding poverty. He described his beloved sister as an angel, and
David as another Cuvier, a great man of the future, and a father,
friend, and brother to him in the present. He should feel himself
unworthy of his Louise's love (his proudest distinction) if he did not
ask her to do for David all that she had done for him. He would give
up everything rather than desert David Sechard; David must witness his
success. It was one of those wild letters in which a young man points
a pistol at a refusal, letters full of boyish casuistry and the
incoherent reasoning of an idealist; a delicious tissue of words
embroidered here and there by the naive utterances that women love so
well--unconscious revelations of the writer's heart.

Lucien left the letter with the housemaid, went to the office, and
spent the day in reading proofs, superintending the execution of
orders, and looking after the affairs of the printing-house. He said
not a word to David. While youth bears a child's heart, it is capable
of sublime reticence. Perhaps, too, Lucien began to dread the
Phocion's axe which David could wield when he chose, perhaps he was
afraid to meet those clear-sighted eyes that read the depths of his
soul. But when he read Chenier's poems with David, his secret rose
from his heart to his lips at the sting of a reproach that he felt as
the patient feels the probing of a wound.

And now try to understand the thoughts that troubled Lucien's mind as
he went down from Angouleme. Was the great lady angry with him? Would
she receive David? Had he, Lucien, in his ambition, flung himself
headlong back into the depths of L'Houmeau? Before he set that kiss on
Louise's forehead, he had had time to measure the distance between a
queen and her favorite, so far had he come in five months, and he did
not tell himself that David could cross over the same ground in a
moment. Yet he did not know how completely the lower orders were
excluded from this upper world; he did not so much as suspect that a
second experiment of this kind meant ruin for Mme. de Bargeton. Once
accused and fairly convicted of a liking for _canaille_, Louise would be
driven from the place, her caste would shun her as men shunned a leper
in the Middle Ages. Nais might have broken the moral law, and her
whole circle, the clergy and the flower of the aristocracy, would have
defended her against the world through thick and then; but a breach of
another law, the offence of admitting all sorts of people to her house
--this was sin without remission. The sins of those in power are
always overlooked--once let them abdicate, and they shall pay the
penalty. And what was it but abdication to receive David?

But if Lucien did not see these aspects of the question, his
aristocratic instinct discerned plenty of difficulties of another
kind, and he took alarm. A fine manner is not the invariable outcome
of noble feeling; and while no man at court had a nobler air than
Racine, Corneille looked very much like a cattle-dealer, and Descartes
might have been taken for an honest Dutch merchant; and visitors to La
Brede, meeting Montesquieu in a cotton nightcap, carrying a rake over
his shoulder, mistook him for a gardener. A knowledge of the world,
when it is not sucked in with mother's milk and part of the
inheritance of descent, is only acquired by education, supplemented by
certain gifts of chance--a graceful figure, distinction of feature, a
certain ring in the voice. All these, so important trifles, David
lacked, while Nature had bestowed them upon his friend. Of gentle
blood on the mother's side, Lucien was a Frank, even down to the
high-arched instep. David had inherited the physique of his father the
pressman and the flat foot of the Gael. Lucien could hear the shower
of jokes at David's expense; he could see Mme. de Bargeton's repressed
smile; and at length, without being exactly ashamed of his brother, he
made up his mind to disregard his first impulse and to think twice
before yielding to it in future.

So, after the hour of poetry and self-sacrifice, after the reading of
verse that opened out before the friends the fields of literature in
the light of a newly-risen sun, the hour of worldly wisdom and of
scheming struck for Lucien.

Down once more in L'Houmeau he wished that he had not written that
letter; he wished he could have it back again; for down the vista of
the future he caught a glimpse of the inexorable laws of the world. He
guessed that nothing succeeds like success, and it cost him something
to step down from the first rung of the scaling ladder by which he
meant to reach and storm the heights above. Pictures of his quiet and
simple life rose before him, pictures fair with the brightest colors
of blossoming love. There was David; what a genius David had--David
who had helped him so generously, and would die for him at need; he
thought of his mother, of how great a lady she was in her lowly lot,
and how she thought that he was as good as he was clever; then of his
sister so gracious in submission to her fate, of his own innocent
childhood and conscience as yet unstained, of budding hopes
undespoiled by rough winds, and at these thoughts the past broke into
flowers once more for his memory.

Then he told himself that it was a far finer thing to hew his own way
through serried hostile mobs of aristocrats or philistines by repeated
successful strokes, than to reach the goal through a woman's favor.
Sooner or later his genius should shine out; it had been so with the
others, his predecessors; they had tamed society. Women would love him
when that day came! The example of Napoleon, which, unluckily for this
nineteenth century of ours, has filled a great many ordinary persons
with aspirations after extraordinary destinies,--the example of
Napoleon occurred to Lucien's mind. He flung his schemes to the winds
and blamed himself for thinking of them. For Lucien was so made that
he went from evil to good, or from good to evil, with the same

Lucien had none of the scholar's love for his retreat; for the past
month indeed he had felt something like shame at the sight of the shop
front, where you could read--


in yellow letters on a green ground. It was an offence to him that his
father's name should be thus posted up in a place where every carriage

Every evening, when he closed the ugly iron gate and went up to
Beaulieu to give his arm to Mme. de Bargeton among the dandies of the
upper town, he chafed beyond all reason at the disparity between his
lodging and his fortune.

"I love Mme. de Bargeton; perhaps in a few days she will be mine, yet
here I live in this rat-hole!" he said to himself this evening, as he
went down the narrow passage into the little yard behind the shop.
This evening bundles of boiled herbs were spread out along the wall,
the apprentice was scouring a caldron, and M. Postel himself, girded
about with his laboratory apron, was standing with a retort in his
hand, inspecting some chemical product while keeping an eye upon the
shop door, or if the eye happened to be engaged, he had at any rate an
ear for the bell.

A strong scent of camomile and peppermint pervaded the yard and the
poor little dwelling at the side, which you reached by a short ladder,
with a rope on either side by way of hand-rail. Lucien's room was an
attic just under the roof.

"Good-day, sonny," said M. Postel, that typical, provincial tradesman.
"Are you pretty middling? I have just been experimenting on treacle,
but it would take a man like your father to find what I am looking
for. Ah! he was a famous chemist, he was! If I had only known his gout
specific, you and I should be rolling along in our carriage this day."

The little druggist, whose head was as thick as his heart was kind,
never let a week pass without some allusion to Chardon senior's
unlucky secretiveness as to that discovery, words that Lucien felt
like a stab.

"It is a great pity," Lucien answered curtly. He was beginning to
think his father's apprentice prodigiously vulgar, though he had
blessed the man for his kindness, for honest Postel had helped his
master's widow and children more than once.

"Why, what is the matter with you?" M. Postel inquired, putting down
his test tube on the laboratory table.

"Is there a letter for me?"

"Yes, a letter that smells like balm! it is lying on the corner near
my desk."

Mme. de Bargeton's letter lying among the physic bottles in a
druggist's shop! Lucien sprang in to rescue it.

"Be quick, Lucien! your dinner has been waiting an hour for you, it
will be cold!" a sweet voice called gently through a half-opened
window; but Lucien did not hear.

"That brother of yours has gone crazy, mademoiselle," said Postel,
lifting his face.

The old bachelor looked rather like a miniature brandy cask,
embellished by a painter's fancy, with a fat, ruddy countenance much
pitted with the smallpox; at the sight of Eve his face took a
ceremonious and amiable expression, which said plainly that he had
thoughts of espousing the daughter of his predecessor, but could not
put an end to the strife between love and interest in his heart. He
often said to Lucien, with a smile, "Your sister is uncommonly pretty,
and you are not so bad looking neither! Your father did everything

Eve was tall, dark-haired, dark of complexion, and blue-eyed; but
notwithstanding these signs of virile character, she was gentle,
tender-hearted, and devoted to those she loved. Her frank innocence,
her simplicity, her quiet acceptance of a hard-working life, her
character--for her life was above reproach--could not fail to win
David Sechard's heart. So, since the first time that these two had
met, a repressed and single-hearted love had grown up between them in
the German fashion, quietly, with no fervid protestations. In their
secret souls they thought of each other as if there were a bar between
that kept them apart; as if the thought were an offence against some
jealous husband; and hid their feelings from Lucien as though their
love in some way did him a wrong. David, moreover, had no confidence
in himself, and could not believe that Eve could care for him; Eve was
a penniless girl, and therefore shy. A real work-girl would have been
bolder; but Eve, gently bred, and fallen into poverty, resigned
herself to her dreary lot. Diffident as she seemed, she was in reality
proud, and would not make a single advance towards the son of a father
said to be rich. People who knew the value of a growing property, said
that the vineyard at Marsac was worth more than eighty thousand
francs, to say nothing of the traditional bits of land which old
Sechard used to buy as they came into the market, for old Sechard had
savings--he was lucky with his vintages, and a clever salesman.
Perhaps David was the only man in Angouleme who knew nothing of his
father's wealth. In David's eyes Marsac was a hovel bought in 1810 for
fifteen or sixteen thousand francs, a place that he saw once a year at
vintage time when his father walked him up and down among the vines
and boasted of an output of wine which the young printer never saw,
and he cared nothing about it.

David was a student leading a solitary life; and the love that gained
even greater force in solitude, as he dwelt upon the difficulties in
the way, was timid, and looked for encouragement; for David stood more
in awe of Eve than a simple clerk of some high-born lady. He was
awkward and ill at ease in the presence of his idol, and as eager to
hurry away as he had been to come. He repressed his passion, and was
silent. Often of an evening, on some pretext of consulting Lucien, he
would leave the Place du Murier and go down through the Palet Gate as
far as L'Houmeau, but at the sight of the green iron railings his
heart failed. Perhaps he had come too late, Eve might think him a
nuisance; she would be in bed by this time no doubt; and so he turned
back. But though his great love had only appeared in trifles, Eve read
it clearly; she was proud, without a touch of vanity in her pride, of
the deep reverence in David's looks and words and manner towards her,
but it was the young printer's enthusiastic belief in Lucien that drew
her to him most of all. He had divined the way to win Eve. The mute
delights of this love of theirs differed from the transports of stormy
passion, as wildflowers in the fields from the brilliant flowers in
garden beds. Interchange of glances, delicate and sweet as blue
water-flowers on the surface of the stream; a look in either face,
vanishing as swiftly as the scent of briar-rose; melancholy, tender as
the velvet of moss--these were the blossoms of two rare natures,
springing up out of a rich and fruitful soil on foundations of rock.
Many a time Eve had seen revelations of the strength that lay below
the appearance of weakness, and made such full allowance for all that
David left undone, that the slightest word now might bring about a
closer union of soul and soul.

Eve opened the door, and Lucien sat down without a word at the little
table on an X-shaped trestle. There was no tablecloth; the poor little
household boasted but three silver spoons and forks, and Eve had laid
them all for the dearly loved brother.

"What have you there?" she asked, when she had set a dish on the
table, and put the extinguisher on the portable stove, where it had
been kept hot for him.

Lucien did not answer. Eve took up a little plate, daintily garnished
with vine-leaves, and set it on the table with a jug full of cream.

"There, Lucien, I have had strawberries for you."

But Lucien was so absorbed in his letter that he did not hear a word.
Eve came to sit beside him without a murmur; for in a sister's love
for a brother it is an element of great pleasure to be treated without

"Oh! what is it?" she cried as she saw tears shining in her brother's

"Nothing, nothing, Eve," he said, and putting his arm about her waist,
he drew her towards him and kissed her forehead, her hair, her throat,
with warmth that surprised her.

"You are keeping something from me."

"Well, then--she loves me."

"I knew very well that you kissed me for somebody else," the poor
sister pouted, flushing red.

"We shall all be happy," cried Lucien, swallowing great spoonfuls of

"_We_?" echoed Eve. The same presentiment that had crossed David's mind
prompted her to add, "You will not care so much about us now."

"How can you think that, if you know me?"

Eve put out her hand and grasped his tightly; then she carried off the
empty plate and the brown earthen soup-tureen, and brought the dish
that she had made for him. But instead of eating his dinner, Lucien
read his letter over again; and Eve, discreet maiden, did not ask
another question, respecting her brother's silence. If he wished to
tell her about it, she could wait; if he did not, how could she ask
him to tell her? She waited. Here is the letter:--

  "MY FRIEND,--Why should I refuse to your brother in science the
  help that I have lent you? All merits have equal rights in my
  eyes; but you do not know the prejudices of those among whom I
  live. We shall never make an aristocracy of ignorance understand
  that intellect ennobles. If I have not sufficient influence to
  compel them to accept M. David Sechard, I am quite willing to
  sacrifice the worthless creatures to you. It would be a perfect
  hecatomb in the antique manner. But, dear friend, you would not,
  of course, ask me to leave them all in exchange for the society of
  a person whose character and manner might not please me. I know
  from your flatteries how easily friendship can be blinded. Will
  you think the worse of me if I attach a condition to my consent?
  In the interests of your future I should like to see your friend,
  and know and decide for myself whether you are not mistaken. What
  is this but the mother's anxious care of my dear poet, which I am
  in duty bound to take?

                                       "LOUISE DE NEGREPELISSE."

Lucien had no suspicion of the art with which polite society puts
forward a "Yes" on the way to a "No," and a "No" that leads to a
"Yes." He took this note for a victory. David should go to Mme. de
Bargeton's house! David would shine there in all the majesty of his
genius! He raised his head so proudly in the intoxication of a victory
which increased his belief in himself and his ascendency over others,
his face was so radiant with the brightness of many hopes, that his
sister could not help telling him that he looked handsome.

"If that woman has any sense, she must love you! And if so, to-night
she will be vexed, for all the ladies will try all sorts of coquetries
on you. How handsome you will look when you read your _Saint John in
Patmos_! If only I were a mouse, and could just slip in and see it!
Come, I have put your clothes out in mother's room."

The mother's room bore witness to self-respecting poverty. There were
white curtains to the walnut wood bedstead, and a strip of cheap green
carpet at the foot. A chest of drawers with a wooden top, a
looking-glass, and a few walnut wood chairs completed the furniture.
The clock on the chimney-piece told of the old vanished days of
prosperity. White curtains hung in the windows, a gray flowered paper
covered the walls, and the tiled floor, colored and waxed by Eve
herself, shone with cleanliness. On the little round table in the
middle of the room stood a red tray with a pattern of gilt roses, and
three cups and a sugar-basin of Limoges porcelain. Eve slept in the
little adjoining closet, where there was just room for a narrow bed,
an old-fashioned low chair, and a work-table by the window; there was
about as much space as there is in a ship's cabin, and the door always
stood open for the sake of air. But if all these things spoke of great
poverty, the atmosphere was sedate and studious; and for those who knew
the mother and children, there was something touchingly appropriate in
their surroundings.

Lucien was tying his cravat when David's step sounded outside in the
little yard, and in another moment the young printer appeared. From
his manner and looks he seemed to have come down in a hurry.

"Well, David!" cried the ambitious poet, "we have gained the day! She
loves me! You shall come too."

"No," David said with some confusion, "I came down to thank you for
this proof of friendship, but I have been thinking things over
seriously. My own life is cut out for me, Lucien. I am David Sechard,
printer to His Majesty in Angouleme, with my name at the bottom of the
bills posted on every wall. For people of that class, I am an artisan,
or I am in business, if you like it better, but I am a craftsman who
lives over a shop in the Rue de Beaulieu at the corner of the Place du
Murier. I have not the wealth of a Keller just yet, nor the name of a
Desplein, two sorts of power that the nobles still try to ignore, and
--I am so far agreed with them--this power is nothing without a
knowledge of the world and the manners of a gentleman. How am I to
prove my claim to this sudden elevation? I should only make myself a
laughing-stock for nobles and _bourgeoisie_ to boot. As for you, your
position is different. A foreman is not committed to anything. You are
busy gaining knowledge that will be indispensable by and by; you can
explain your present work by your future. And, in any case, you can
leave your place to-morrow and begin something else; you might study
law or diplomacy, or go into civil service. Nobody had docketed and
pigeon-holed _you_, in fact. Take advantage of your social maiden fame
to walk alone and grasp honors. Enjoy all pleasures gladly, even
frivolous pleasures. I wish you luck, Lucien; I shall enjoy your
success; you will be like a second self for me. Yes, in my own
thoughts I shall live your life. You shall have the holiday life, in
the glare of the world and among the swift working springs of
intrigue. I will lead the work-a-day life, the tradesman's life of
sober toil, and the patient labor of scientific research.

"You shall be our aristocracy," he went on, looking at Eve as he
spoke. "If you totter, you shall have my arm to steady you. If you
have reason to complain of the treachery of others, you will find a
refuge in our hearts, the love there will never change. And influence
and favor and the goodwill of others might fail us if we were two; we
should stand in each other's way; go forward, you can tow me after you
if it comes to that. So far from envying you, I will dedicate my life
to yours. The thing that you have just done for me, when you risked
the loss of your benefactress, your love it may be, rather than
forsake or disown me, that little thing, so great as it was--ah, well,
Lucien, that in itself would bind me to you forever if we were not
brothers already. Have no remorse, no concern over seeming to take the
larger share. This one-sided bargain is exactly to my taste. And,
after all, suppose that you should give me a pang now and again, who
knows that I shall not still be your debtor all my life long?"

He looked timidly towards Eve as he spoke; her eyes were full of
tears, she saw all that lay below the surface.

"In fact," he went on, turning to Lucien, who stood amazed at this,
"you are well made, you have a graceful figure, you wear your clothes
with an air, you look like a gentleman in that blue coat of yours with
the yellow buttons and the plain nankeen trousers; now I should look
like a workingman among those people, I should be awkward and out of
my element, I should say foolish things, or say nothing at all; but as
for you, you can overcome any prejudice as to names by taking your
mother's; you can call yourself Lucien de Rubempre; I am and always
shall be David Sechard. In this society that you frequent, everything
tells for you, everything would tell against me. You were born to
shine in it. Women will worship that angel face of yours; won't they,

Lucien sprang up and flung his arms about David. David's humility had
made short work of many doubts and plenty of difficulties. Was it
possible not to feel twice tenderly towards this friend, who by the
way of friendship had come to think the very thoughts that he, Lucien,
had reached through ambition? The aspirant for love and honors felt
that the way had been made smooth for him; the young man and the
comrade felt all his heart go out towards his friend.

It was one of those moments that come very seldom in our lives, when
all the forces in us are sweetly strung, and every chord vibrating
gives out full resonance.

And yet, this goodness of a noble nature increased Lucien's human
tendency to take himself as the centre of things. Do not all of us say
more or less, "_L'Etat, c'est moi!_" with Louis Quatorze? Lucien's
mother and sister had concentrated all their tenderness on him, David
was his devoted friend; he was accustomed to see the three making
every effort for him in secret, and consequently he had all the faults
of a spoiled eldest son. The noble is eaten up with the egoism which
their unselfishness was fostering in Lucien; and Mme. de Bargeton was
doing her best to develop the same fault by inciting him to forget all
that he owed to his sister, and mother, and David. He was far from
doing so as yet; but was there not ground for the fear that as his
sphere of ambition widened, his whole thought perforce would be how he
might maintain himself in it?

When emotion had subsided, David had a suggestion to make. He thought
that Lucien's poem, _Saint John in Patmos_, was possibly too biblical to
be read before an audience but little familiar with apocalyptic
poetry. Lucien, making his first appearance before the most exacting
public in the Charente, seemed to be nervous. David advised him to
take Andre de Chenier and substitute certain pleasure for a dubious
delight. Lucien was a perfect reader, the listeners would enjoy
listening to him, and his modesty would doubtless serve him well. Like
most young people, the pair were endowing the rest of the world with
their own intelligence and virtues; for if youth that has not yet gone
astray is pitiless for the sins of others, it is ready, on the other
hand, to put a magnificent faith in them. It is only, in fact, after a
good deal of experience of life that we recognize the truth of
Raphael's great saying--"To comprehend is to equal."

The power of appreciating poetry is rare, generally speaking, in
France; _esprit_ soon dries up the source of the sacred tears of
ecstasy; nobody cares to be at the trouble of deciphering the sublime,
of plumbing the depths to discover the infinite. Lucien was about to
have his first experience of the ignorance and indifference of
worldlings. He went round by way of the printing office for David's
volume of poetry.

The two lovers were left alone, and David had never felt more
embarrassed in his life. Countless terrors seized upon him; he half
wished, half feared that Eve would praise him; he longed to run away,
for even modesty is not exempt from coquetry. David was afraid to
utter a word that might seem to beg for thanks; everything that he
could think of put him in some false position, so he held his tongue
and looked guilty. Eve, guessing the agony of modesty, was enjoying
the pause; but when David twisted his hat as if he meant to go, she
looked at him and smiled.

"Monsieur David," she said, "if you are not going to pass the evening
at Mme. de Bargeton's, we can spend the time together. It is fine;
shall we take a walk along the Charente? We will have a talk about

David longed to fling himself at the feet of this delicious girl. Eve
had rewarded him beyond his hopes by that tone in her voice; the
kindness of her accent had solved the difficulties of the position,
her suggestion was something better than praise; it was the first
grace given by love.

"But give me time to dress!" she said, as David made as if to go at

David went out; he who all his life long had not known one tune from
another, was humming to himself; honest Postel hearing him with
surprise, conceived a vehement suspicion of Eve's feelings towards the

The most trifling things that happened that evening made a great
impression on Lucien, and his character was peculiarly susceptible to
first impressions. Like all inexperienced lovers he arrived so early
that Louise was not in the drawing-room; but M. de Bargeton was there,
alone. Lucien had already begun to serve his apprenticeship in the
practice of the small deceits with which the lover of a married woman
pays for his happiness--deceits through which, moreover, she learns
the extent of her power; but so far Lucien had not met the lady's
husband face to face.

M. de Bargeton's intellect was of the limited kind, exactly poised on
the border line between harmless vacancy, with some glimmerings of
sense, and the excessive stupidity that can neither take in nor give
out any idea. He was thoroughly impressed with the idea of doing his
duty in society; and, doing his utmost to be agreeable, had adopted
the smile of an opera dancer as his sole method of expression.
Satisfied, he smiled; dissatisfied, he smiled again. He smiled at good
news and evil tidings; with slight modifications the smile did duty on
all occasions. If he was positively obliged to express his personal
approval, a complacent laugh reinforced the smile; but he never
vouchsafed a word until driven to the last extremity. A _tete-a-tete_
put him in the one embarrassment of his vegetative existence, for then
he was obliged to look for something to say in the vast blank of his
vacant interior. He usually got out of the difficulty by a return to
the artless ways of childhood; he thought aloud, took you into his
confidence concerning the smallest details of his existence, his
physical wants, the small sensations which did duty for ideas with
him. He never talked about the weather, nor did he indulge in the
ordinary commonplaces of conversation--the way of escape provided for
weak intellects; he plunged you into the most intimate and personal

"I took veal this morning to please Mme. de Bargeton, who is very fond
of veal, and my stomach has been very uneasy since," he would tell
you. "I knew how it would be; it never suits me. How do you explain
it?" Or, very likely--

"I am just about to ring for a glass of _eau sucree_; will you have some
at the same time?"

Or, "I am going to take a ride to-morrow; I am going over to see my

These short observations did not permit of discussion; a "Yes" or
"No," extracted from his interlocutor, the conversation dropped dead.
Then M. de Bargeton mutely implored his visitor to come to his
assistance. Turning westward his old asthmatic pug-dog countenance, he
gazed at you with big, lustreless eyes, in a way that said, "You were

The people whom he loved best were bores anxious to talk about
themselves; he listened to them with an unfeigned and delicate
interest which so endeared him to the species that all the twaddlers
of Angouleme credited M. de Bargeton with more understanding than he
chose to show, and were of the opinion that he was underrated. So it
happened that when these persons could find nobody else to listen to
them, they went off to give M. de Bargeton the benefit of the rest of
the story, argument, or what not, sure beforehand of his eulogistic
smile. Madame de Bargeton's rooms were always crowded, and generally
her husband felt quite at ease. He interested himself in the smallest
details; he watched those who came in and bowed and smiled, and
brought the new arrivals to his wife; he lay in wait for departing
visitors, and went with them to the door, taking leave of them with
that eternal smile. When conversation grew lively, and he saw that
every one was interested in one thing or another, he stood, happy and
mute, planted like a swan on both feet, listening, to all appearance,
to a political discussion; or he looked over the card-players' hands
without a notion of what it was all about, for he could not play at
any game; or he walked about and took snuff to promote digestion.
Anais was the bright side of his life; she made it unspeakably
pleasant for him. Stretched out at full length in his armchair, he
watched admiringly while she did her part as hostess, for she talked
for him. It was a pleasure, too, to him to try to see the point in her
remarks; and as it was often a good while before he succeeded, his
smiles appeared after a delay, like the explosion of a shell which has
entered the earth and worked up again. His respect for his wife,
moreover, almost amounted to adoration. And so long as we can adore,
is there not happiness enough in life? Anais' husband was as docile as
a child who asks nothing better than to be told what to do; and,
generous and clever woman as she was, she had taken no undue advantage
of his weaknesses. She had taken care of him as you take care of a
cloak; she kept him brushed, neat, and tidy, looked closely after him,
and humored him; and humored, looked after, brushed, kept tidy, and
cared for, M. de Bargeton had come to feel an almost dog-like
affection for his wife. It is so easy to give happiness that costs
nothing! Mme. de Bargeton, knowing that her husband had no pleasure
but in good cheer, saw that he had good dinners; she had pity upon
him, she had never uttered a word of complaint; indeed, there were
people who could not understand that a woman might keep silence
through pride, and argued that M. de Bargeton must possess good
qualities hidden from public view. Mme. de Bargeton had drilled him
into military subordination; he yielded a passive obedience to his
wife. "Go and call on Monsieur So-and-So or Madame Such-an-One," she
would say, and he went forthwith, like a soldier at the word of
command. He stood at attention in her presence, and waited motionless
for his orders.

There was some talk about this time of nominating the mute gentleman
for a deputy. Lucien as yet had not lifted the veil which hid such an
unimaginable character; indeed, he had scarcely frequented the house
long enough. M. de Bargeton, spread at full length in his great chair,
appeared to see and understand all that was going on; his silence
added to his dignity, and his figure inspired Lucien with a prodigious
awe. It is the wont of imaginative natures to magnify everything, or
to find a soul to inhabit every shape; and Lucien took this gentleman,
not for a granite guard-post, but for a formidable sphinx, and thought
it necessary to conciliate him.

"I am the first comer," he said, bowing with more respect than people
usually showed the worthy man.

"That is natural enough," said M. de Bargeton.

Lucien took the remark for an epigram; the lady's husband was jealous,
he thought; he reddened under it, looked in the glass and tried to
give himself a countenance.

"You live in L'Houmeau," said M. de Bargeton, "and people who live a
long way off always come earlier than those who live near by."

"What is the reason of that?" asked Lucien politely.

"I don't know," answered M. de Bargeton, relapsing into immobility.

"You have not cared to find out," Lucien began again; "any one who
could make an observation could discover the cause."

"Ah!" said M. de Bargeton, "final causes! Eh! eh! . . ."

The conversation came to a dead stop; Lucien racked his brains to
resuscitate it.

"Mme. de Bargeton is dressing, no doubt," he began, shuddering at the
silliness of the question.

"Yes, she is dressing," her husband naturally answered.

Lucien looked up at the ceiling and vainly tried to think of something
else to say. As his eyes wandered over the gray painted joists and the
spaces of plaster between, he saw, not without qualms, that the little
chandelier with the old-fashioned cut-glass pendants had been stripped
of its gauze covering and filled with wax candles. All the covers had
been removed from the furniture, and the faded flowered silk damask
had come to light. These preparations meant something extraordinary.
The poet looked at his boots, and misgivings about his costume arose
in his mind. Grown stupid with dismay, he turned and fixed his eyes on
a Japanese jar standing on a begarlanded console table of the time of
Louis Quinze; then, recollecting that he must conciliate Mme. de
Bargeton's husband, he tried to find out if the good gentleman had a
hobby of any sort in which he might be humored.

"You seldom leave the city, monsieur?" he began, returning to M. de

"Very seldom."

Silence again. M. de Bargeton watched Lucien's slightest movements
like a suspicious cat; the young man's presence disturbed him. Each
was afraid of the other.

"Can he feel suspicious of my attentions?" thought Lucien; "he seems
to be anything but friendly."

Lucien was not a little embarrassed by the uneasy glances that the
other gave him as he went to and fro, when luckily for him, the old
man-servant (who wore livery for the occasion) announced "M. du
Chatelet." The Baron came in, very much at ease, greeted his friend
Bargeton, and favored Lucien with the little nod then in vogue, which
the poet in his mind called purse-proud impertinence.

Sixte du Chatelet appeared in a pair of dazzling white trousers with
invisible straps that kept them in shape. He wore pumps and thread
stockings; the black ribbon of his eyeglass meandered over a white
waistcoat, and the fashion and elegance of Paris was strikingly
apparent in his black coat. He was indeed just the faded beau who
might be expected from his antecedents, though advancing years had
already endowed him with a certain waist-girth which somewhat exceeded
the limits of elegance. He had dyed the hair and whiskers grizzled by
his sufferings during his travels, and this gave a hard look to his
face. The skin which had once been so delicate had been tanned to the
copper-red color of Europeans from India; but in spite of his absurd
pretensions to youth, you could still discern traces of the Imperial
Highness' charming private secretary in du Chatelet's general
appearance. He put up his eyeglass and stared at his rival's nankeen
trousers, at his boots, at his waistcoat, at the blue coat made by the
Angouleme tailor, he looked him over from head to foot, in short, then
he coolly returned his eyeglass to his waistcoat pocket with a gesture
that said, "I am satisfied." And Lucien, eclipsed at this moment by
the elegance of the inland revenue department, thought that it would
be his turn by and by, when he should turn a face lighted up with
poetry upon the assembly; but this prospect did not prevent him from
feeling the sharp pang that succeeded to the uncomfortable sense of M.
de Bargeton's imagined hostility. The Baron seemed to bring all the
weight of his fortune to bear upon him, the better to humiliate him in
his poverty. M. de Bargeton had counted on having no more to say, and
his soul was dismayed by the pause spent by the rivals in mutual
survey; he had a question which he kept for desperate emergencies,
laid up in his mind, as it were, against a rainy day. Now was the
proper time to bring it out.

"Well, monsieur," he said, looking at Chatelet with an important air,
"is there anything fresh? anything that people are talking about?"

"Why, the latest thing is M. Chardon," Chatelet said maliciously. "Ask
him. Have you brought some charming poet for us?" inquired the
vivacious Baron, adjusting the side curl that had gone astray on his

"I should have asked you whether I had succeeded," Lucien answered;
"you have been before me in the field of verse."

"Pshaw!" said the other, "a few vaudevilles, well enough in their way,
written to oblige, a song now and again to suit some occasion, lines
for music, no good without the music, and my long Epistle to a Sister
of Bonaparte (ungrateful that he was), will not hand down my name to

At this moment Mme. de Bargeton appeared in all the glory of an
elaborate toilette. She wore a Jewess' turban, enriched with an
Eastern clasp. The cameos on her neck gleamed through the gauze scarf
gracefully wound about her shoulders; the sleeves of her printed
muslin dress were short so as to display a series of bracelets on her
shapely white arms. Lucien was charmed with this theatrical style of
dress. M. du Chatelet gallantly plied the queen with fulsome
compliments, that made her smile with pleasure; she was so glad to be
praised in Lucien's hearing. But she scarcely gave her dear poet a
glance, and met Chatelet with a mortifying civility that kept him at a

By this time the guests began to arrive. First and foremost appeared
the Bishop and his Vicar-General, dignified and reverend figures both,
though no two men could well be more unlike, his lordship being tall
and attenuated, and his acolyte short and fat. Both churchmen's eyes
were bright; but while the Bishop was pallid, his Vicar-General's
countenance glowed with high health. Both were impassive, and
gesticulated but little; both appeared to be prudent men, and their
silence and reserve were supposed to hide great intellectual powers.

Close upon the two ecclesiastics followed Mme. de Chandour and her
husband, a couple so extraordinary that those who are unfamiliar with
provincial life might be tempted to think that such persons are purely
imaginary. Amelie de Chandour posed as the rival queen of Angouleme;
her husband, M. de Chandour, known in the circle as Stanislas, was a
_ci-devant_ young man, slim still at five-and-forty, with a countenance
like a sieve. His cravat was always tied so as to present two menacing
points--one spike reached the height of his right ear, the other
pointed downwards to the red ribbon of his cross. His coat-tails were
violently at strife. A cut-away waistcoat displayed the ample,
swelling curves of a stiffly-starched shirt fastened by massive gold
studs. His dress, in fact, was exaggerated, till he looked almost like
a living caricature, which no one could behold for the first time with

Stanislas looked himself over from top to toe with a kind of
satisfaction; he verified the number of his waistcoat buttons, and
followed the curving outlines of his tight-fitting trousers with fond
glances that came to a standstill at last on the pointed tips of his
shoes. When he ceased to contemplate himself in this way, he looked
towards the nearest mirror to see if his hair still kept in curl;
then, sticking a finger in his waistcoat pocket, he looked about him
at the women with happy eyes, flinging his head back in three-quarters
profile with all the airs of a king of the poultry-yard, airs which
were prodigiously admired by the aristocratic circle of which he was
the beau. There was a strain of eighteenth century grossness, as a
rule, in his talk; a detestable kind of conversation which procured
him some success with women--he made them laugh. M. du Chatelet was
beginning to give this gentleman some uneasiness; and, as a matter of
fact, since Mme. de Bargeton had taken him up, the lively interest
taken by the women in the Byron of Angouleme was distinctly on the
increase. His coxcomb superciliousness tickled their curiosity; he
posed as the man whom nothing can arouse from his apathy, and his
jaded Sultan airs were like a challenge.

Amelie de Chandour, short, plump, fair-complexioned, and dark-haired,
was a poor actress; her voice was loud, like everything else about
her; her head, with its load of feathers in winter and flowers in
summer, was never still for a moment. She had a fine flow of
conversation, though she could never bring a sentence to an end
without a wheezing accompaniment from an asthma, to which she would
not confess.

M. de Saintot, otherwise Astolphe, President of the Agricultural
Society, a tall, stout, high-colored personage, usually appeared in
the wake of his wife, Elisa, a lady with a countenance like a withered
fern, called Lili by her friends--a baby name singularly at variance
with its owner's character and demeanor. Mme. de Saintot was a solemn
and extremely pious woman, and a very trying partner at a game of
cards. Astolphe was supposed to be a scientific man of the first rank.
He was as ignorant as a carp, but he had compiled the articles on
Sugar and Brandy for a Dictionary of Agriculture by wholesale plunder
of newspaper articles and pillage of previous writers. It was believed
all over the department that M. Saintot was engaged upon a treatise on
modern husbandry; but though he locked himself into his study every
morning, he had not written a couple of pages in a dozen years. If
anybody called to see him, he always contrived to be discovered
rummaging among his papers, hunting for a stray note or mending a pen;
but he spent the whole time in his study on puerilities, reading the
newspaper through from end to end, cutting figures out of corks with
his penknife, and drawing patterns on his blotting-paper. He would
turn over the leaves of his Cicero to see if anything applicable to
the events of the day might catch his eye, and drag his quotation by
the heels into the conversation that evening saying, "There is a
passage in Cicero which might have been written to suit modern times,"
and out came his phrase, to the astonishment of his audience.
"Really," they said among themselves, "Astolphe is a well of
learning." The interesting fact circulated all over the town, and
sustained the general belief in M. de Saintot's abilities.

After this pair came M. de Bartas, known as Adrien among the circle.
It was M. de Bartas who boomed out his song in a bass voice, and made
prodigious claims to musical knowledge. His self-conceit had taken a
stand upon solfeggi; he began by admiring his appearance while he
sang, passed thence to talking about music, and finally to talking of
nothing else. His musical tastes had become a monomania; he grew
animated only on the one subject of music; he was miserable all
evening until somebody begged him to sing. When he had bellowed one of
his airs, he revived again; strutted about, raised himself on his
heels, and received compliments with a deprecating air; but modesty
did not prevent him from going from group to group for his meed of
praise; and when there was no more to be said about the singer, he
returned to the subject of the song, discussing its difficulties or
extolling the composer.

M. Alexandre de Brebian performed heroic exploits in sepia; he
disfigured the walls of his friends' rooms with a swarm of crude
productions, and spoiled all the albums in the department. M.
Alexandre de Brebian and M. de Bartas came together, each with his
friend's wife on his arm, a cross-cornered arrangement which gossip
declared to be carried out to the fullest extent. As for the two
women, Mesdames Charlotte de Brebian and Josephine de Bartas, or
Lolotte and Fifine, as they were called, both took an equal interest
in a scarf, or the trimming of a dress, or the reconciliation of
several irreconcilable colors; both were eaten up with a desire to
look like Parisiennes, and neglected their homes, where everything
went wrong. But if they dressed like dolls in tightly-fitting gowns of
home manufacture, and exhibited outrageous combinations of crude
colors upon their persons, their husbands availed themselves of the
artist's privilege and dressed as they pleased, and curious it was to
see the provincial dowdiness of the pair. In their threadbare clothes
they looked like the supernumeraries that represent rank and fashion
at stage weddings in third-rate theatres.

One of the queerest figures in the rooms was M. le Comte de Senonches,
known by the aristocratic name of Jacques, a mighty hunter, lean and
sunburned, a haughty gentleman, about as amiable as a wild boar, as
suspicious as a Venetian, and jealous as a Moor, who lived on terms of
the friendliest and most perfect intimacy with M. du Hautoy, otherwise
Francis, the friend of the house.

Madame de Senonches (Zephirine) was a tall, fine-looking woman, though
her complexion was spoiled already by pimples due to liver complaint,
on which grounds she was said to be exacting. With a slender figure
and delicate proportions, she could afford to indulge in languid
manners, savoring somewhat of affectation, but revealing passion and
the consciousness that every least caprice will be gratified by love.

Francis, the house friend, was rather distinguished-looking. He had
given up his consulship in Valence, and sacrificed his diplomatic
prospects to live near Zephirine (also known as Zizine) in Angouleme.
He had taken the household in charge, he superintended the children's
education, taught them foreign languages, and looked after the
fortunes of M. and Mme. de Senonches with the most complete devotion.
Noble Angouleme, administrative Angouleme, and _bourgeois_ Angouleme
alike had looked askance for a long while at this phenomenon of the
perfect union of three persons; but finally the mysterious conjugal
trinity appeared to them so rare and pleasing a spectacle, that if M.
du Hautoy had shown any intention of marrying, he would have been
thought monstrously immoral. Mme. de Senonches, however, had a lady
companion, a goddaughter, and her excessive attachment to this Mlle.
de la Haye was beginning to raise surmises of disquieting mysteries;
it was thought, in spite of some impossible discrepancies in dates,
that Francoise de la Haye bore a striking likeness to Francis du

When "Jacques" was shooting in the neighborhood, people used to
inquire after Francis, and Jacques would discourse on his steward's
little ailments, and talk of his wife in the second place. So curious
did this blindness seem in a man of jealous temper, that his greatest
friends used to draw him out on the topic for the amusement of others
who did not know of the mystery. M. du Hautoy was a finical dandy
whose minute care of himself had degenerated into mincing affectation
and childishness. He took an interest in his cough, his appetite, his
digestion, his night's rest. Zephirine had succeeded in making a
valetudinarian of her factotum; she coddled him and doctored him; she
crammed him with delicate fare, as if he had been a fine lady's
lap-dog; she embroidered waistcoats for him, and pocket-handkerchiefs
and cravats until he became so used to wearing finery that she
transformed him into a kind of Japanese idol. Their understanding was
perfect. In season and out of season Zizine consulted Francis with a
look, and Francis seemed to take his ideas from Zizine's eyes. They
frowned and smiled together, and seemingly took counsel of each other
before making the simplest commonplace remark.

The largest landowner in the neighborhood, a man whom every one
envied, was the Marquis de Pimentel; he and his wife, between them,
had an income of forty thousand livres, and spent their winters in
Paris. This evening they had driven into Angouleme in their caleche,
and had brought their neighbors, the Baron and Baroness de Rastignac
and their party, the Baroness' aunt and daughters, two charming young
ladies, penniless girls who had been carefully brought up, and were
dressed in the simple way that sets off natural loveliness.

These personages, beyond question the first in the company, met with a
reception of chilling silence; the respect paid to them was full of
jealousy, especially as everybody saw that Mme. de Bargeton paid
marked attention to the guests. The two families belonged to the very
small minority who hold themselves aloof from provincial gossip,
belong to no clique, live quietly in retirement, and maintain a
dignified reserve. M. de Pimentel and M. de Rastignac, for instance,
were addressed by their names in full, and no length of acquaintance
had brought their wives and daughters into the select coterie of
Angouleme; both families were too nearly connected with the Court to
compromise themselves through provincial follies.

The Prefect and the General in command of the garrison were the last
comers, and with them came the country gentleman who had brought the
treatise on silkworms to David that very morning. Evidently he was the
mayor of some canton or other, and a fine estate was his sufficient
title to gentility; but from his appearance, it was plain that he was
quite unused to polite society. He looked uneasy in his clothes, he
was at a loss to know what to do with his hands, he shifted about from
one foot to another as he spoke, and half rose and sat down again when
anybody spoke to him. He seemed ready to do some menial service; he
was obsequious, nervous, and grave by turns, laughing eagerly at every
joke, listening with servility; and occasionally, imagining that
people were laughing at him, he assumed a knowing air. His treatise
weighed upon his mind; again and again he tried to talk about
silkworms; but the luckless wight happened first upon M. de Bartas,
who talked music in reply, and next on M. de Saintot, who quoted
Cicero to him; and not until the evening was half over did the mayor
meet with sympathetic listeners in Mme. and Mlle. du Brossard, a
widowed gentlewoman and her daughter.

Mme. and Mlle. du Brossard were not the least interesting persons in
the clique, but their story may be told in a single phrase--they were
as poor as they were noble. In their dress there was just that tinge
of pretension which betrayed carefully hidden penury. The daughter, a
big, heavy young woman of seven-and-twenty, was supposed to be a good
performer on the piano, and her mother praised her in season and out
of season in the clumsiest way. No eligible man had any taste which
Camille did not share on her mother's authoritative statement. Mme. du
Brossard, in her anxiety to establish her child, was capable of saying
that her dear Camille liked nothing so much as a roving life from one
garrison to another; and before the evening was out, that she was sure
her dear Camille liked a quiet country farmhouse existence of all
things. Mother and daughter had the pinched sub-acid dignity
characteristic of those who have learned by experience the exact value
of expressions of sympathy; they belonged to a class which the world
delights to pity; they had been the objects of the benevolent interest
of egoism; they had sounded the empty void beneath the consoling
formulas with which the world ministers to the necessities of the

M. de Severac was fifty-nine years old, and a childless widower.
Mother and daughter listened, therefore, with devout admiration to all
that he told them about his silkworm nurseries.

"My daughter has always been fond of animals," said the mother. "And
as women are especially interested in the silk which the little
creatures produce, I shall ask permission to go over to Severac, so
that my Camille may see how the silk is spun. My Camille is so
intelligent, she will grasp anything that you tell her in a moment.
Did she not understand one day the inverse ratio of the squares of

This was the remark that brought the conversation between Mme. du
Brossard and M. de Severac to a glorious close after Lucien's reading
that night.

A few habitues slipped in familiarly among the rest, so did one or two
eldest sons; shy, mute young men tricked out in gorgeous jewelry, and
highly honored by an invitation to this literary solemnity, the
boldest men among them so far shook off the weight of awe as to
chatter a good deal with Mlle. de la Haye. The women solemnly arranged
themselves in a circle, and the men stood behind them. It was a quaint
assemblage of wrinkled countenances and heterogeneous costumes, but
none the less it seemed very alarming to Lucien, and his heart beat
fast when he felt that every one was looking at him. His assurance
bore the ordeal with some difficulty in spite of the encouraging
example of Mme. de Bargeton, who welcomed the most illustrious
personages of Angouleme with ostentatious courtesy and elaborate
graciousness; and the uncomfortable feeling that oppressed him was
aggravated by a trifling matter which any one might have foreseen,
though it was bound to come as an unpleasant shock to a young man with
so little experience of the world. Lucien, all eyes and ears, noticed
that no one except Louise, M. de Bargeton, the Bishop, and some few
who wished to please the mistress of the house, spoke of him as M. de
Rubempre; for his formidable audience he was M. Chardon. Lucien's
courage sank under their inquisitive eyes. He could read his plebeian
name in the mere movements of their lips, and hear the anticipatory
criticisms made in the blunt, provincial fashion that too often
borders on rudeness. He had not expected this prolonged ordeal of
pin-pricks; it put him still more out of humor with himself. He grew
impatient to begin the reading, for then he could assume an attitude
which should put an end to his mental torments; but Jacques was giving
Mme. de Pimentel the history of his last day's sport; Adrien was
holding forth to Mlle. Laure de Rastignac on Rossini, the newly-risen
music star, and Astolphe, who had got by heart a newspaper paragraph
on a patent plow, was giving the Baron the benefit of the description.
Lucien, luckless poet that he was, did not know that there was scarce
a soul in the room besides Mme. de Bargeton who could understand
poetry. The whole matter-of-fact assembly was there by a
misapprehension, nor did they, for the most part, know what they had
come out for to see. There are some words that draw a public as
unfailingly as the clash of cymbals, the trumpet, or the mountebank's
big drum; "beauty," "glory," "poetry," are words that bewitch the
coarsest intellect.

When every one had arrived; when the buzz of talk ceased after
repeated efforts on the part of M. de Bargeton, who, obedient to his
wife, went round the room much as the beadle makes the circle of the
church, tapping the pavement with his wand; when silence, in fact, was
at last secured, Lucien went to the round table near Mme. de Bargeton.
A fierce thrill of excitement ran through him as he did so. He
announced in an uncertain voice that, to prevent disappointment, he
was about to read the masterpieces of a great poet, discovered only
recently (for although Andre de Chenier's poems appeared in 1819, no
one in Angouleme had so much as heard of him). Everybody interpreted
this announcement in one way--it was a shift of Mme. de Bargeton's,
meant to save the poet's self-love and to put the audience at ease.

Lucien began with _Le Malade_, and the poem was received with a murmur
of applause; but he followed it with _L'Aveugle_, which proved too great
a strain upon the average intellect. None but artists or those endowed
with the artistic temperament can understand and sympathize with him
in the diabolical torture of that reading. If poetry is to be rendered
by the voice, and if the listener is to grasp all that it means, the
most devout attention is essential; there should be an intimate
alliance between the reader and his audience, or swift and subtle
communication of the poet's thought and feeling becomes impossible.
Here this close sympathy was lacking, and Lucien in consequence was in
the position of an angel who should endeavor to sing of heaven amid
the chucklings of hell. An intelligent man in the sphere most
stimulating to his faculties can see in every direction, like a snail;
he has the keen scent of a dog, the ears of a mole; he can hear, and
feel, and see all that is going on around him. A musician or a poet
knows at once whether his audience is listening in admiration or fails
to follow him, and feels it as the plant that revives or droops under
favorable or unfavorable conditions. The men who had come with their
wives had fallen to discussing their own affairs; by the acoustic law
before mentioned, every murmur rang in Lucien's ear; he saw all the
gaps caused by the spasmodic workings of jaws sympathetically
affected, the teeth that seemed to grin defiance at him.

When, like the dove in the deluge, he looked round for any spot on
which his eyes might rest, he saw nothing but rows of impatient faces.
Their owners clearly were waiting for him to make an end; they had
come together to discuss questions of practical interest. With the
exceptions of Laure de Rastignac, the Bishop, and two or three of the
young men, they one and all looked bored. As a matter of fact, those
who understand poetry strive to develop the germs of another poetry,
quickened within them by the poet's poetry; but this glacial audience,
so far from attaining to the spirit of the poet, did not even listen
to the letter.

Lucien felt profoundly discouraged; he was damp with chilly
perspiration; a glowing glance from Louise, to whom he turned, gave
him courage to persevere to the end, but this poet's heart was
bleeding from countless wounds.

"Do you find this very amusing, Fifine?" inquired the wizened Lili,
who perhaps had expected some kind of gymnastics.

"Don't ask me what I think, dear; I cannot keep my eyes open when any
one begins to read aloud."

"I hope that Nais will not give us poetry often in the evenings," said
Francis. "If I am obliged to attend while somebody reads aloud after
dinner, it upsets my digestion."

"Poor dearie," whispered Zephirine, "take a glass of eau _sucree_."

"It was very well declaimed," said Alexandre, "but I like whist better

After this dictum, which passed muster as a joke from the play on the
word "whist," several card-players were of the opinion that the
reader's voice needed a rest, and on this pretext one or two couples
slipped away into the card-room. But Louise, and the Bishop, and
pretty Laure de Rastignac besought Lucien to continue, and this time
he caught the attention of his audience with Chenier's spirited
reactionary _Iambes_. Several persons, carried away by his impassioned
delivery, applauded the reading without understanding the sense.
People of this sort are impressed by vociferation, as a coarse palate
is ticked by strong spirits.

During the interval, as they partook of ices, Zephirine despatched
Francis to examine the volume, and informed her neighbor Amelie that
the poetry was in print.

Amelie brightened visibly.

"Why, that is easily explained," said she. "M. de Rubempre works for a
printer. It is as if a pretty woman should make her own dresses," she
added, looking at Lolotte.

"He printed his poetry himself!" said the women among themselves.

"Then, why does he call himself M. de Rubempre?" inquired Jacques. "If
a noble takes a handicraft, he ought to lay his name aside."

"So he did as a matter of fact," said Zizine, "but his name was
plebeian, and he took his mother's name, which is noble."

"Well, if his verses are printed, we can read them for ourselves,"
said Astolphe.

This piece of stupidity complicated the question, until Sixte du
Chatelet condescended to inform these unlettered folk that the
prefatory announcement was no oratorical flourish, but a statement of
fact, and added that the poems had been written by a Royalist brother
of Marie-Joseph Chenier, the Revolutionary leader. All Angouleme,
except Mme. de Rastignac and her two daughters and the Bishop, who had
really felt the grandeur of the poetry, were mystified, and took
offence at the hoax. There was a smothered murmur, but Lucien did not
heed it. The intoxication of the poetry was upon him; he was far away
from the hateful world, striving to render in speech the music that
filled his soul, seeing the faces about him through a cloudy haze. He
read the sombre Elegy on the Suicide, lines in the taste of a by-gone
day, pervaded by sublime melancholy; then he turned to the page where
the line occurs, "Thy songs are sweet, I love to say them over," and
ended with the delicate idyll _Neere_.

Mme. de Bargeton sat with one hand buried in her curls, heedless of
the havoc she wrought among them, gazing before her with unseeing
eyes, alone in her drawing-room, lost in delicious dreaming; for the
first time in her life she had been transported to the sphere which
was hers by right of nature. Judge, therefore, how unpleasantly she
was disturbed by Amelie, who took it upon herself to express the
general wish.

"Nais," this voice broke in, "we came to hear M. Chardon's poetry, and
you are giving us poetry out of a book. The extracts are very nice,
but the ladies feel a patriotic preference for the wine of the
country; they would rather have it."

"The French language does not lend itself very readily to poetry, does
it?" Astolphe remarked to Chatelet. "Cicero's prose is a thousand
times more poetical to my way of thinking."

"The true poetry of France is song, lyric verse," Chatelet answered.

"Which proves that our language is eminently adapted for music," said

"I should like very much to hear the poetry that has cost Nais her
reputation," said Zephirine; "but after receiving Amelie's request in
such a way, it is not very likely that she will give us a specimen."

"She ought to have them recited in justice to herself," said Francis.
"The little fellow's genius is his sole justification."

"You have been in the diplomatic service," said Amelie to M. du
Chatelet, "go and manage it somehow."

"Nothing easier," said the Baron.

The Princess' private secretary, being accustomed to petty manoeuvres
of this kind, went to the Bishop and contrived to bring him to the
fore. At the Bishop's entreaty, Nais had no choice but to ask Lucien
to recite his own verses for them, and the Baron received a
languishing smile from Amelie as the reward of his prompt success.

"Decidedly, the Baron is a very clever man," she observed to Lolotte.

But Amelie's previous acidulous remark about women who made their own
dresses rankled in Lolotte's mind.

"Since when have you begun to recognize the Emperor's barons?" she
asked, smiling.

Lucien had essayed to deify his beloved in an ode, dedicated to her
under a title in favor with all lads who write verse after leaving
school. This ode, so fondly cherished, so beautiful--since it was the
outpouring of all the love in his heart, seemed to him to be the one
piece of his own work that could hold its own with Chenier's verse;
and with a tolerably fatuous glance at Mme. de Bargeton, he announced
"TO HER!" He struck an attitude proudly for the delivery of the
ambitious piece, for his author's self-love felt safe and at ease
behind Mme. de Bargeton's petticoat. And at the selfsame moment Mme.
de Bargeton betrayed her own secret to the women's curious eyes.
Although she had always looked down upon this audience from her own
loftier intellectual heights, she could not help trembling for Lucien.
Her face was troubled, there was a sort of mute appeal for indulgence
in her glances, and while the verses were recited she was obliged to
lower her eyes and dissemble her pleasure as stanza followed stanza.

                               TO HER.

Out of the glowing heart of the torrent of glory and light,
  At the foot of Jehovah's throne where the angels stand afar,
Each on a seistron of gold repeating the prayers of the night,
          Put up for each by his star.

Out from the cherubim choir a bright-haired Angel springs,
  Veiling the glory of God that dwells on a dazzling brow,
Leaving the courts of heaven to sink upon silver wings
          Down to our world below.

God looked in pity on earth, and the Angel, reading His thought,
  Came down to lull the pain of the mighty spirit at strife,
Reverent bent o'er the maid, and for age left desolate brought
          Flowers of the springtime of life.

Bringing a dream of hope to solace the mother's fears,
  Hearkening unto the voice of the tardy repentant cry,
Glad as angels are glad, to reckon Earth's pitying tears,
          Given with alms of a sigh.

One there is, and but one, bright messenger sent from the skies
  Whom earth like a lover fain would hold from the hea'nward flight;
But the angel, weeping, turns and gazes with sad, sweet eyes
          Up to the heaven of light.

Not by the radiant eyes, not by the kindling glow
  Of virtue sent from God, did I know the secret sign,
Nor read the token sent on a white and dazzling brow
          Of an origin divine.

Nay, it was Love grown blind and dazed with excess of light,
  Striving and striving in vain to mingle Earth and Heaven,
Helpless and powerless against the invincible armor bright
          By the dread archangel given.

Ah! be wary, take heed, lest aught should be seen or heard
  Of the shining seraph band, as they take the heavenward way;
Too soon the Angel on Earth will learn the magical word
          Sung at the close of the day.

Then you shall see afar, rifting the darkness of night,
  A gleam as of dawn that spread across the starry floor,
And the seaman that watch for a sign shall mark the track of their flight,
          A luminous pathway in Heaven and a beacon for evermore.

"Do you read the riddle?" said Amelie, giving M. du Chatelet a
coquettish glance.

"It is the sort of stuff that we all of us wrote more or less after we
left school," said the Baron with a bored expression--he was acting
his part of arbiter of taste who has seen everything. "We used to deal
in Ossianic mists, Malvinas and Fingals and cloudy shapes, and
warriors who got out of their tombs with stars above their heads.
Nowadays this poetical frippery has been replaced by Jehovah, angels,
seistrons, the plumes of seraphim, and all the paraphernalia of
paradise freshened up with a few new words such as 'immense, infinite,
solitude, intelligence'; you have lakes, and the words of the
Almighty, a kind of Christianized Pantheism, enriched with the most
extraordinary and unheard-of rhymes. We are in quite another latitude,
in fact; we have left the North for the East, but the darkness is just
as thick as before."

"If the ode is obscure, the declaration is very clear, it seems to
me," said Zephirine.

"And the archangel's armor is a tolerably thin gauze robe," said

Politeness demanded that the audience should profess to be enchanted
with the poem; and the women, furious because they had no poets in
their train to extol them as angels, rose, looked bored by the
reading, murmuring, "Very nice!" "Charming!" "Perfect!" with frigid

"If you love me, do not congratulate the poet or his angel," Lolotte
laid her commands on her dear Adrien in imperious tones, and Adrien
was fain to obey.

"Empty words, after all," Zephirine remarked to Francis, "and love is
a poem that we live."

"You have just expressed the very thing that I was thinking, Zizine,
but I should not have put it so neatly," said Stanislas, scanning
himself from top to toe with loving attention.

"I would give, I don't know how much, to see Nais' pride brought down
a bit," said Amelie, addressing Chatelet. "Nais sets up to be an
archangel, as if she were better than the rest of us, and mixes us up
with low people; his father was an apothecary, and his mother is a
nurse; his sister works in a laundry, and he himself is a printer's

"If his father sold biscuits for worms" (_vers_), said Jacques, "he
ought to have made his son take them."

"He is continuing in his father's line of business, for the stuff that
he has just been reading to us is a drug in the market, it seems,"
said Stanislas, striking one of his most killing attitudes. "Drug for
drug, I would rather have something else."

Every one apparently combined to humiliate Lucien by various
aristocrats' sarcasms. Lili the religious thought it a charitable deed
to use any means of enlightening Nais, and Nais was on the brink of a
piece of folly. Francis the diplomatist undertook the direction of the
silly conspiracy; every one was interested in the progress of the
drama; it would be something to talk about to-morrow. The ex-consul,
being far from anxious to engage in a duel with a young poet who would
fly into a rage at the first hint of insult under his lady's eyes, was
wise enough to see that the only way of dealing Lucien his deathblow
was by the spiritual arm which was safe from vengeance. He therefore
followed the example set by Chatelet the astute, and went to the
Bishop. Him he proceeded to mystify.

He told the Bishop that Lucien's mother was a woman of uncommon powers
and great modesty, and that it was she who found the subjects for her
son's verses. Nothing pleased Lucien so much, according to the
guileful Francis, as any recognition of her talents--he worshiped his
mother. Then, having inculcated these notions, he left the rest to
time. His lordship was sure to bring out the insulting allusion, for
which he had been so carefully prepared, in the course of

When Francis and the Bishop joined the little group where Lucien
stood, the circle who gave him the cup of hemlock to drain by little
sips watched him with redoubled interest. The poet, luckless young
man, being a total stranger, and unaware of the manners and customs of
the house, could only look at Mme. de Bargeton and give embarrassed
answers to embarrassing questions. He knew neither the names nor
condition of the people about him; the women's silly speeches made him
blush for them, and he was at his wits' end for a reply. He felt,
moreover, how very far removed he was from these divinities of
Angouleme when he heard himself addressed sometimes as M. Chardon,
sometimes as M. de Rubempre, while they addressed each other as
Lolotte, Adrien, Astolphe, Lili and Fifine. His confusion rose to a
height when, taking Lili for a man's surname, he addressed the coarse
M. de Senonches as M. Lili; that Nimrod broke in upon him with a
"_MONSIEUR LULU?_" and Mme. de Bargeton flushed red to the eyes.

"A woman must be blind indeed to bring this little fellow among us!"
muttered Senonches.

Zephirine turned to speak to the Marquise de Pimentel--"Do you not see
a strong likeness between M. Chardon and M. de Cante-Croix, madame?"
she asked in a low but quite audible voice.

"The likeness is ideal," smiled Mme. de Pimentel.

"Glory has a power of attraction to which we can confess," said Mme.
de Bargeton, addressing the Marquise. "Some women are as much
attracted by greatness as others by littleness," she added, looking at

The was beyond Zephirine's comprehension; she thought her consul a
very great man; but the Marquise laughed, and her laughter ranged her
on Nais' side.

"You are very fortunate, monsieur," said the Marquis de Pimentel,
addressing Lucien for the purpose of calling him M. de Rubempre, and
not M. Chardon, as before; "you should never find time heavy on your

"Do you work quickly?" asked Lolotte, much in the way that she would
have asked a joiner "if it took long to make a box."

The bludgeon stroke stunned Lucien, but he raised his head at Mme. de
Bargeton's reply--

"My dear, poetry does not grow in M. de Rubempre's head like grass in
our courtyards."

"Madame, we cannot feel too reverently towards the noble spirits in
whom God has set some ray of this light," said the Bishop, addressing
Lolotte. "Yes, poetry is something holy. Poetry implies suffering. How
many silent nights those verses that you admire have cost! We should
bow in love and reverence before the poet; his life here is almost
always a life of sorrow; but God doubtless reserves a place in heaven
for him among His prophets. This young man is a poet," he added laying
a hand on Lucien's head; "do you not see the sign of Fate set on that
high forehead of his?"

Glad to be so generously championed, Lucien made his acknowledgments
in a grateful look, not knowing that the worthy prelate was to deal
his deathblow.

Mme. de Bargeton's eyes traveled round the hostile circle. Her glances
went like arrows to the depths of her rivals' hearts, and left them
twice as furious as before.

"Ah, monseigneur," cried Lucien, hoping to break thick heads with his
golden sceptre, "but ordinary people have neither your intellect nor
your charity. No one heeds our sorrows, our toil is unrecognized. The
gold-digger working in the mine does not labor as we to wrest
metaphors from the heart of the most ungrateful of all languages. If
this is poetry--to give ideas such definite and clear expressions that
all the world can see and understand--the poet must continually range
through the entire scale of human intellects, so that he can satisfy
the demands of all; he must conceal hard thinking and emotion, two
antagonistic powers, beneath the most vivid color; he must know how to
make one word cover a whole world of thought; he must give the results
of whole systems of philosophy in a few picturesque lines; indeed, his
songs are like seeds that must break into blossom in other hearts
wherever they find the soil prepared by personal experience. How can
you express unless you first have felt? And is not passion suffering.
Poetry is only brought forth after painful wanderings in the vast
regions of thought and life. There are men and women in books, who
seem more really alive to us than men and women who have lived and
died--Richardson's Clarissa, Chenier's Camille, the Delia of Tibullus,
Ariosto's Angelica, Dante's Francesca, Moliere's Alceste,
Beaumarchais' Figaro, Scott's Rebecca the Jewess, the Don Quixote of
Cervantes,--do we not owe these deathless creations to immortal

"And what are you going to create for us?" asked Chatelet.

"If I were to announce such conceptions, I should give myself out for
a man of genius, should I not?" answered Lucien. "And besides, such
sublime creations demand a long experience of the world and a study of
human passion and interests which I could not possibly have made; but
I have made a beginning," he added, with bitterness in his tone, as he
took a vengeful glance round the circle; "the time of gestation is

"Then it will be a case of difficult labor," interrupted M. du Hautoy.

"Your excellent mother might assist you," suggested the Bishop.

The epigram, innocently made by the good prelate, the long-looked-for
revenge, kindled a gleam of delight in all eyes. The smile of
satisfied caste that traveled from mouth to mouth was aggravated by M.
de Bargeton's imbecility; he burst into a laugh, as usual, some
moments later.

"Monseigneur, you are talking a little above our heads; these ladies
do not understand your meaning," said Mme. de Bargeton, and the words
paralyzed the laughter, and drew astonished eyes upon her. "A poet who
looks to the Bible for his inspiration has a mother indeed in the
Church.--M. de Rubempre, will you recite _Saint John in Patmos_ for us,
or _Belshazzar's Feast_, so that his lordship may see that Rome is still
the _Magna Parens_ of Virgil?"

The women exchanged smiles at the Latin words.

The bravest and highest spirits know times of prostration at the
outset of life. Lucien had sunk to the depths at the blow, but he
struck the bottom with his feet, and rose to the surface again, vowing
to subjugate this little world. He rose like a bull, stung to fury by
a shower of darts, and prepared to obey Louise by declaiming _Saint
John in Patmos_; but by this time the card-tables had claimed their
complement of players, who returned to the accustomed groove to find
amusement there which poetry had not afforded them. They felt besides
that the revenge of so many outraged vanities would be incomplete
unless it were followed up by contemptuous indifference; so they
showed their tacit disdain for the native product by leaving Lucien
and Mme. de Bargeton to themselves. Every one appeared to be absorbed
in his own affairs; one chattered with the prefect about a new
crossroad, another proposed to vary the pleasures of the evening with
a little music. The great world of Angouleme, feeling that it was no
judge of poetry, was very anxious, in the first place, to hear the
verdict of the Pimentels and the Rastignacs, and formed a little group
about them. The great influence wielded in the department by these two
families was always felt on every important occasion; every one was
jealous of them, every one paid court to them, foreseeing that they
might some day need that influence.

"What do you think of our poet and his poetry?" Jacques asked of the
Marquise. Jacques used to shoot over the lands belonging to the
Pimentel family.

"Why, it is not bad for provincial poetry," she said, smiling; "and
besides, such a beautiful poet cannot do anything amiss."

Every one thought the decision admirable; it traveled from lip to lip,
gaining malignance by the way. Then Chatelet was called upon to
accompany M. du Bartas on the piano while he mangled the great solo
from _Figaro_; and the way being opened to music, the audience, as in
duty bound listened while Chatelet in turn sang one of Chateaubriand's
ballads, a chivalrous ditty made in the time of the Empire. Duets
followed, of the kind usually left to boarding-school misses, and
rescued from the schoolroom by Mme. du Brossard, who meant to make a
brilliant display of her dear Camille's talents for M. de Severac's

Mme. du Bargeton, hurt by the contempt which every one showed her
poet, paid back scorn for scorn by going to her boudoir during these
performances. She was followed by the prelate. His Vicar-General had
just been explaining the profound irony of the epigram into which he
had been entrapped, and the Bishop wished to make amends. Mlle. de
Rastignac, fascinated by the poetry, also slipped into the boudoir
without her mother's knowledge.

Louise drew Lucien to her mattress-cushioned sofa; and with no one to
see or hear, she murmured in his ear, "Dear angel, they did not
understand you; but, 'Thy songs are sweet, I love to say them over.'"

And Lucien took comfort from the pretty speech, and forgot his woes
for a little.

"Glory is not to be had cheaply," Mme. de Bargeton continued, taking
his hand and holding it tightly in her own. "Endure your woes, my
friend, you will be great one day; your pain is the price of your
immortality. If only I had a hard struggle before me! God preserve you
from the enervating life without battles, in which the eagle's wings
have no room to spread themselves. I envy you; for if you suffer, at
least you live. You will put out your strength, you will feel the hope
of victory; your strife will be glorious. And when you shall come to
your kingdom, and reach the imperial sphere where great minds are
enthroned, then remember the poor creatures disinherited by fate,
whose intellects pine in an oppressive moral atmosphere, who die and
have never lived, knowing all the while what life might be; think of
the piercing eyes that have seen nothing, the delicate senses that
have only known the scent of poison flowers. Then tell in your song of
plants that wither in the depths of the forest, choked by twining
growths and rank, greedy vegetation, plants that have never been
kissed by the sunlight, and die, never having put forth a blossom. It
would be a terribly gloomy poem, would it not, a fanciful subject?
What a sublime poem might be made of the story of some daughter of the
desert transported to some cold, western clime, calling for her
beloved sun, dying of a grief that none can understand, overcome with
cold and longing. It would be an allegory; many lives are like that."

"You would picture the spirit which remembers Heaven," said the
Bishop; "some one surely must have written such a poem in the days of
old; I like to think that I see a fragment of it in the Song of

"Take that as your subject," said Laure de Rastignac, expressing her
artless belief in Lucien's powers.

"The great sacred poem of France is still unwritten," remarked the
Bishop. "Believe me, glory and success await the man of talent who
shall work for religion."

"That task will be his," said Mme. de Bargeton rhetorically. "Do you
not see the first beginnings of the vision of the poem, like the flame
of dawn, in his eyes?"

"Nais is treating us very badly," said Fifine; "what can she be

"Don't you hear?" said Stanislas. "She is flourishing away, using big
words that you cannot make head or tail of."

Amelie, Fifine, Adrien, and Francis appeared in the doorway with Mme.
de Rastignac, who came to look for her daughter.

"Nais," cried the two ladies, both delighted to break in upon the
quiet chat in the boudoir, "it would be very nice of you to come and
play something for us."

"My dear child, M. de Rubempre is just about to recite his _Saint John
in Patmos_, a magnificent biblical poem."

"Biblical!" echoed Fifine in amazement.

Amelie and Fifine went back to the drawing-room, taking the word back
with them as food for laughter. Lucien pleaded a defective memory and
excused himself. When he reappeared, nobody took the slightest notice
of him; every one was chatting or busy at the card-tables; the poet's
aureole had been plucked away, the landowners had no use for him, the
more pretentious sort looked upon him as an enemy to their ignorance,
while the women were jealous of Mme. de Bargeton, the Beatrice of this
modern Dante, to use the Vicar-General's phrase, and looked at him
with cold, scornful eyes.

"So this is society!" Lucien said to himself as he went down to
L'Houmeau by the steps of Beaulieu; for there are times when we choose
to take the longest way, that the physical exercise of walking may
promote the flow of ideas.

So far from being disheartened, the fury of repulsed ambition gave
Lucien new strength. Like all those whose instincts bring them to a
higher social sphere which they reach before they can hold their own
in it, Lucien vowed to make any sacrifice to the end that he might
remain on that higher social level. One by one he drew out the
poisoned shafts on his way home, talking aloud to himself, scoffing at
the fools with whom he had to do, inventing neat answers to their
idiotic questions, desperately vexed that the witty responses occurred
to him so late in the day. By the time that he reached the Bordeaux
road, between the river and the foot of the hill, he thought that he
could see Eve and David sitting on a baulk of timber by the river in
the moonlight, and went down the footpath towards them.

While Lucien was hastening to the torture in Mme. de Bargeton's rooms,
his sister had changed her dress for a gown of pink cambric covered
with narrow stripes, a straw hat, and a little silk shawl. The simple
costume seemed like a rich toilette on Eve, for she was one of those
women whose great nature lends stateliness to the least personal
detail; and David felt prodigiously shy of her now that she had
changed her working dress. He had made up his mind that he would speak
of himself; but now as he gave his arm to this beautiful girl, and
they walked through L'Houmeau together, he could find nothing to say
to her. Love delights in such reverent awe as redeemed souls know on
beholding the glory of God. So, in silence, the two lovers went across
the Bridge of Saint Anne, and followed the left bank of the Charente.
Eve felt embarrassed by the pause, and stopped to look along the
river; a joyous shaft of sunset had turned the water between the
bridge and the new powder mills into a sheet of gold.

"What a beautiful evening it is!" she said, for the sake of saying
something; "the air is warm and fresh, and full of the scent of
flowers, and there is a wonderful sky."

"Everything speaks to our heart," said David, trying to proceed to
love by way of analogy. "Those who love find infinite delight in
discovering the poetry of their own inmost souls in every chance
effect of the landscape, in the thin, clear air, in the scent of the
earth. Nature speaks for them."

"And loosens their tongues, too," Eve said merrily. "You were very
silent as we came through L'Houmeau. Do you know, I felt quite

"You looked so beautiful, that I could not say anything," David
answered candidly.

"Then, just now I am not so beautiful?" inquired she.

"It is not that," he said; "but I was so happy to have this walk alone
with you, that----" he stopped short in confusion, and looked at the
hillside and the road to Saintes.

"If the walk is any pleasure to you, I am delighted; for I owe you an
evening, I think, when you have given up yours for me. When you
refused to go to Mme. de Bargeton's, you were quite as generous as
Lucien when he made the demand at the risk of vexing her."

"No, not generous, only wise," said David. "And now that we are quite
alone under the sky, with no listeners except the bushes and the reeds
by the edge of the Charente, let me tell you about my anxiety as to
Lucien's present step, dear Eve. After all that I have just said, I
hope that you will look on my fears as a refinement of friendship. You
and your mother have done all that you could to put him above his
social position; but when you stimulated his ambition, did you not
unthinkingly condemn him to a hard struggle? How can he maintain
himself in the society to which his tastes incline him? I know Lucien;
he likes to reap, he does not like toil; it is his nature. Social
claims will take up the whole of his time, and for a man who has
nothing but his brains, time is capital. He likes to shine; society
will stimulate his desires until no money will satisfy them; instead
of earning money, he will spend it. You have accustomed him to believe
in his great powers, in fact, but the world at large declines to
believe in any man's superior intellect until he has achieved some
signal success. Now success in literature is only won in solitude and
by dogged work. What will Mme. de Bargeton give your brother in return
for so many days spent at her feet? Lucien has too much spirit to
accept help from her; and he cannot afford, as we know, to cultivate
her society, twice ruinous as it is for him. Sooner or later that
woman will throw over this dear brother of ours, but not before she
has spoiled him for hard work, and given him a taste for luxury and a
contempt for our humdrum life. She will develop his love of enjoyment,
his inclination for idleness, that debauches a poetic soul. Yes, it
makes me tremble to think that this great lady may make a plaything of
Lucien. If she cares for him sincerely, he will forget everything else
for her; or if she does not love him, she will make him unhappy, for
he is wild about her."

"You have sent a chill of dread through my heart," said Eve, stopping
as they reached the weir. "But so long as mother is strong enough for
her tiring life, so long as I live, we shall earn enough, perhaps,
between us to keep Lucien until success comes. My courage will never
fail," said Eve, brightening. "There is no hardship in work when we
work for one we love; it is not drudgery. It makes me happy to think
that I toil so much, if indeed it is toil, for him. Oh, do not be in
the least afraid, we will earn money enough to send Lucien into the
great world. There lies his road to success."

"And there lies his road to ruin," returned David. "Dear Eve, listen
to me. A man needs an independent fortune, or the sublime cynicism of
poverty, for the slow execution of great work. Believe me, Lucien's
horror of privation is so great, the savor of banquets, the incense of
success is so sweet in his nostrils, his self-love has grown so much
in Mme. de Bargeton's boudoir, that he will do anything desperate
sooner than fall back, and you will never earn enough for his

"Then you are only a false friend to him!" Eve cried in despair, "or
you would not discourage us in this way."

"Eve! Eve!" cried David, "if only I could be a brother to Lucien! You
alone can give me that title; he could accept anything from me then; I
should claim the right of devoting my life to him with the love that
hallows your self-sacrifice, but with some worldly wisdom too. Eve, my
darling, give Lucien a store from which he need not blush to draw! His
brother's purse will be like his own, will it not? If you only knew
all my thoughts about Lucien's position! If he means to go to Mme. de
Bargeton's, he must not be my foreman any longer, poor fellow! He
ought not to live in L'Houmeau; you ought not to be a working girl;
and your mother must give up her employment as well. If you would
consent to be my wife, the difficulties will all be smoothed away.
Lucien might live on the second floor in the Place du Murier until I
can build rooms for him over the shed at the back of the yard (if my
father will allow it, that is.). And in that way we would arrange a
free and independent life for him. The wish to support Lucien will
give me a better will to work than I ever should have had for myself
alone; but it rests with you to give me the right to devote myself to
him. Some day, perhaps, he will go to Paris, the only place that can
bring out all that is in him, and where his talents will be
appreciated and rewarded. Living in Paris is expensive, and the
earnings of all three of us will be needed for his support. And
besides, will not you and your mother need some one to lean upon then?
Dear Eve, marry me for love of Lucien; perhaps afterwards you will
love me when you see how I shall strive to help him and to make you
happy. We are, both of us, equally simple in our tastes; we have few
wants; Lucien's welfare shall be the great object of our lives. His
heart shall be our treasure-house, we will lay up all our fortune, and
think and feel and hope in him."

"Worldly considerations keep us apart," said Eve, moved by this love
that tried to explain away its greatness. "You are rich and I am poor.
One must love indeed to overcome such a difficulty."

"Then you do not care enough for me?" cried the stricken David.

"But perhaps your father would object----"

"Never mind," said David; "if asking my father is all that is
necessary, you will be my wife. Eve, my dear Eve, how you have
lightened life for me in a moment; and my heart has been very heavy
with thoughts that I could not utter, I did not know how to speak of
them. Only tell me that you care for me a little, and I will take
courage to tell you the rest."

"Indeed," she said, "you make me quite ashamed; but confidence for
confidence, I will tell you this, that I have never thought of any one
but you in my life. I looked upon you as one of those men to whom a
woman might be proud to belong, and I did not dare to hope so great a
thing for myself, a penniless working girl with no prospects."

"That is enough, that is enough," he answered, sitting down on the bar
by the weir, for they had gone to and fro like mad creatures over the
same length of pathway.

"What is the matter?" she asked, her voice expressing for the first
time a woman's sweet anxiety for one who belongs to her.

"Nothing but good," he answered. "It is the sight of a whole lifetime
of happiness that dazzles me, as it were; it is overwhelming. Why am I
happier than you?" he asked, with a touch of sadness. "For I know that
I am happier."

Eve looked at David with mischievous, doubtful eyes that asked an

"Dear Eve, I am taking more than I give. So I shall always love you
more than you love me, because I have more reason to love. You are an
angel; I am a man."

"I am not so learned," Eve said, smiling. "I love you----"

"As much as you love Lucien?" he broke in.

"Enough to be your wife, enough to devote myself to you, to try not to
add anything to your burdens, for we shall have some struggles; it
will not be quite easy at first."

"Dear Eve, have you known that I loved you since the first day I saw

"Where is the woman who does not feel that she is loved?"

"Now let me get rid of your scruples as to my imaginary riches. I am a
poor man, dear. Yes, it pleased my father to ruin me; he made a
speculation of me, as a good many so-called benefactors do. If I make
a fortune, it will be entirely through you. That is not a lover's
speech, but sober, serious earnest. I ought to tell you about my
faults, for they are exceedingly bad ones in a man who has his way to
make. My character and habits and favorite occupations all unfit me
for business and money-getting, and yet we can only make money by some
kind of industry; if I have some faculty for the discovery of
gold-mines, I am singularly ill-adapted for getting the gold out of
them. But you who, for your brother's sake, went into the smallest
details, with a talent for thrift, and the patient watchfulness of the
born man of business, you will reap the harvest that I shall sow. The
present state of things, for I have been like one of the family for a
long time, weighs so heavily upon me, that I have spent days and nights
in search of some way of making a fortune. I know something of chemistry,
and a knowledge of commercial requirements has put me on the scent of
a discovery that is likely to pay. I can say nothing as yet about it;
there will be a long while to wait; perhaps for some years we may have
a hard time of it; but I shall find out how to make a commercial
article at last. Others are busy making the same researches, and if I
am first in the field, we shall have a large fortune. I have said
nothing to Lucien, his enthusiastic nature would spoil everything; he
would convert my hopes into realities, and begin to live like a lord,
and perhaps get into debt. So keep my secret for me. Your sweet and
dear companionship will be consolation in itself during the long time
of experiment, and the desire to gain wealth for you and Lucien will
give me persistence and tenacity----"

"I had guessed this too," Eve said, interrupting him; "I knew that you
were one of those inventors, like my poor father, who must have a
woman to take care of them."

"Then you love me! Ah! say so without fear to me, who saw a symbol of
my love for you in your name. Eve was the one woman in the world; if
it was true in the outward world for Adam, it is true again in the
inner world of my heart for me. My God! do you love me?"

"Yes," said she, lengthening out the word as if to make it cover the
extent of feeling expressed by a single syllable.

"Well, let us sit here," he said, and taking Eve's hand, he went to a
great baulk of timber lying below the wheels of a paper-mill. "Let me
breathe the evening air, and hear the frogs croak, and watch the
moonlight quivering upon the river; let me take all this world about
us into my soul, for it seems to me that my happiness is written large
over it all; I am seeing it for the first time in all its splendor,
lighted up by love, grown fair through you. Eve, dearest, this is the
first moment of pure and unmixed joy that fate has given to me! I do
not think that Lucien can be as happy as I am."

David felt Eve's hand, damp and quivering in his own, and a tear fell
upon it.

"May I not know the secret?" she pleaded coaxingly.

"You have a right to know it, for your father was interested in the
matter, and to-day it is a pressing question, and for this reason.
Since the downfall of the Empire, calico has come more and more into
use, because it is so much cheaper than linen. At the present moment,
paper is made of a mixture of hemp and linen rags, but the raw
material is dear, and the expense naturally retards the great advance
which the French press is bound to make. Now you cannot increase the
output of linen rags, a given population gives a pretty constant
result, and it only increases with the birth-rate. To make any
perceptible difference in the population for this purpose, it would
take a quarter of a century and a great revolution in habits of life,
trade, and agriculture. And if the supply of linen rags is not enough
to meet one-half nor one-third of the demand, some cheaper material
than linen rags must be found for cheap paper. This deduction is based
on facts that came under my knowledge here. The Angouleme
paper-makers, the last to use pure linen rags, say that the proportion
of cotton in the pulp has increased to a frightful extent of late

In answer to a question from Eve, who did not know what "pulp" meant,
David gave an account of paper-making, which will not be out of place
in a volume which owes its existence in book form to the paper
industry no less than to the printing-press; but the long digression,
doubtless, had best be condensed at first.

Paper, an invention not less marvelous than the other dependent
invention of printing, was known in ancient times in China. Thence by
the unrecognized channels of commerce the art reached Asia Minor,
where paper was made of cotton reduced to pulp and boiled. Parchment
had become so extremely dear that a cheap substitute was discovered in
an imitation of the cotton paper known in the East as _charta
bombycina_. The imitation, made from rags, was first made at Basel, in
1170, by a colony of Greek refugees, according to some authorities; or
at Padua, in 1301, by an Italian named Pax, according to others. In
these ways the manufacture of paper was perfected slowly and in
obscurity; but this much is certain, that so early as the reign of
Charles VI., paper pulp for playing-cards was made in Paris.

When those immortals, Faust, Coster, and Gutenberg, invented the Book,
craftsmen as obscure as many a great artist of those times
appropriated paper to the uses of typography. In the fifteenth
century, that naive and vigorous age, names were given to the various
formats as well as to the different sizes of type, names that bear the
impress of the naivete of the times; and the various sheets came to be
known by the different watermarks on their centres; the grapes, the
figure of our Saviour, the crown, the shield, or the flower-pot, just
as at a later day, the eagle of Napoleon's time gave the name to the
"double-eagle" size. And in the same way the types were called Cicero,
Saint-Augustine, and Canon type, because they were first used to print
the treatises of Cicero and theological and liturgical works. Italics
are so called because they were invented in Italy by Aldus of Venice.

Before the invention of machine-made paper, which can be woven in any
length, the largest sized sheets were the _grand jesus_ and the double
columbier (this last being scarcely used now except for atlases or
engravings), and the size of paper for printers' use was determined by
the dimensions of the impression-stone. When David explained these
things to Eve, web-paper was almost undreamed of in France, although,
about 1799, Denis Robert d'Essonne had invented a machine for turning
out a ribbon of paper, and Didot-Saint-Leger had since tried to
perfect it. The vellum paper invented by Ambroise Didot only dates
back as far as 1780.

This bird's eye view of the history of the invention shows
incontestably that great industrial and intellectual advances are made
exceedingly slowly, and little by little, even as Nature herself
proceeds. Perhaps articulate speech and the art of writing were
gradually developed in the same groping way as typography and

"Rag-pickers collect all the rags and old linen of Europe," the
printer concluded, "and buy any kind of tissue. The rags are sorted
and warehoused by the wholesale rag merchants, who supply the
paper-mills. To give you some idea of the extent of the trade, you
must know, mademoiselle, that in 1814 Cardon the banker, owner of the
pulping troughs of Bruges and Langlee (where Leorier de l'Isle
endeavored in 1776 to solve the very problem that occupied your
father), Cardon brought an action against one Proust for an error in
weights of two millions in a total of ten million pounds' weight of
rags, worth about four million francs! The manufacturer washes the
rags and reduces them to a thin pulp, which is strained, exactly as a
cook strains sauce through a tamis, through an iron frame with a fine
wire bottom where the mark which give its name to the size of the
paper is woven. The size of this _mould_, as it is called, regulates the
size of the sheet.

"When I was with the Messieurs Didot," David continued, "they were
very much interested in this question, and they are still interested;
for the improvement which your father endeavored to make is a great
commercial requirement, and one of the crying needs of the time. And
for this reason: although linen lasts so much longer than cotton, that
it is in reality cheaper in the end, the poor would rather make the
smaller outlay in the first instance, and, by virtue of the law of _Vae
victis!_ pay enormously more before they have done. The middle classes
do the same. So there is a scarcity of linen. In England, where
four-fifths of the population use cotton to the exclusion of linen,
they make nothing but cotton paper. The cotton paper is very soft and
easily creased to begin with, and it has a further defect: it is so
soluble that if you seep a book made of cotton paper in water for
fifteen minutes, it turns to a pulp, while an old book left in water
for a couple of hours is not spoilt. You could dry the old book, and
the pages, though yellow and faded, would still be legible, the work
would not be destroyed.

"There is a time coming when legislation will equalize our fortunes,
and we shall all be poor together; we shall want our linen and our
books to be cheap, just as people are beginning to prefer small
pictures because they have not wall space enough for large ones. Well,
the shirts and the books will not last, that is all; it is the same on
all sides, solidity is drying out. So this problem is one of the first
importance for literature, science, and politics.

"One day, in my office, there was a hot discussion going on about the
material that the Chinese use for making paper. Their paper is far
better than ours, because the raw material is better; and a good deal
was said about this thin, light Chinese paper, for if it is light and
thin, the texture is close, there are no transparent spots in it. In
Paris there are learned men among the printers' readers; Fourier and
Pierre Leroux are Lachevardiere's readers at this moment; and the
Comte de Saint-Simon, who happened to be correcting proofs for us,
came in in the middle of the discussion. He told us at once that,
according to Kempfer and du Halde, the _Broussonetia_ furnishes the
substance of the Chinese paper; it is a vegetable substance (like
linen or cotton for that matter). Another reader maintained that
Chinese paper was principally made of an animal substance, to wit, the
silk that is abundant there. They made a bet about it in my presence.
The Messieurs Didot are printers to the Institute, so naturally they
referred the question to that learned body. M. Marcel, who used to be
superintendent of the Royal Printing Establishment, was umpire, and he
sent the two readers to M. l'Abbe Grozier, Librarian at the Arsenal.
By the Abbe's decision they both lost their wages. The paper was not
made of silk nor yet from the _Broussonetia_; the pulp proved to be the
triturated fibre of some kind of bamboo. The Abbe Grozier had a
Chinese book, an iconographical and technological work, with a great
many pictures in it, illustrating all the different processes of
paper-making, and he showed us a picture of the workshop with the
bamboo stalks lying in a heap in the corner; it was extremely well

"Lucien told me that your father, with the intuition of a man of
talent, had a glimmering of a notion of some way of replacing linen
rags with an exceedingly common vegetable product, not previously
manufactured, but taken direct from the soil, as the Chinese use
vegetable fibre at first hand. I have classified the guesses made by
those who came before me, and have begun to study the question. The
bamboo is a kind of reed; naturally I began to think of the reeds that
grow here in France.

"Labor is very cheap in China, where a workman earns three halfpence a
day, and this cheapness of labor enables the Chinese to manipulate
each sheet of paper separately. They take it out of the mould, and
press it between heated tablets of white porcelain, that is the secret
of the surface and consistence, the lightness and satin smoothness of
the best paper in the world. Well, here in Europe the work must be
done by machinery; machinery must take the place of cheap Chinese
labor. If we could but succeed in making a cheap paper of as good a
quality, the weight and thickness of printed books would be reduced by
more than one-half. A set of Voltaire, printed on our woven paper and
bound, weighs about two hundred and fifty pounds; it would only weigh
fifty if we used Chinese paper. That surely would be a triumph, for
the housing of many books has come to be a difficulty; everything has
grown smaller of late; this is not an age of giants; men have shrunk,
everything about them shrinks, and house-room into the bargain. Great
mansions and great suites of rooms will be abolished sooner or later
in Paris, for no one will afford to live in the great houses built by
our forefathers. What a disgrace for our age if none of its books
should last! Dutch paper--that is, paper made from flax--will be quite
unobtainable in ten years' time. Well, your brother told me of this
idea of your father's, this plan for using vegetable fibre in
paper-making, so you see that if I succeed, you have a right to----"

Lucien came up at that moment and interrupted David's generous

"I do not know whether you have found the evening pleasant," said he;
"it has been a cruel time for me."

"Poor Lucien! what can have happened?" cried Eve, as she saw her
brother's excited face.

The poet told the history of his agony, pouring out a flood of
clamorous thoughts into those friendly hearts, Eve and David listening
in pained silence to a torrent of woes that exhibited such greatness
and such pettiness.

"M. de Bargeton is an old dotard. The indigestion will carry him off
before long, no doubt," Lucien said, as he made an end, "and then I
will look down on these proud people; I will marry Mme. de Bargeton. I
read to-night in her eyes a love as great as mine for her. Yes, she
felt all that I felt; she comforted me; she is as great and noble as
she is gracious and beautiful. She will never give me up."

"It is time that life was made smooth for him, is it not?" murmured
David, and for answer Eve pressed his arm without speaking. David
guessed her thoughts, and began at once to tell Lucien about his own

If Lucien was full of his troubles, the lovers were quite as full of
themselves. So absorbed were they, so eager that Lucien should approve
their happiness, that neither Eve nor David so much as noticed his
start of surprise at the news. Mme. de Bargeton's lover had been
dreaming of a great match for his sister; he would reach a high
position first, and then secure himself by an alliance with some
family of influence, and here was one more obstacle in his way to
success! His hopes were dashed to the ground. "If Mme. de Bargeton
consents to be Mme. de Rubempre, she would never care to have David
Sechard for a brother-in-law!"

This stated clearly and precisely was the thought that tortured
Lucien's inmost mind. "Louise is right!" he thought bitterly. "A man
with a career before him is never understood by his family."

If the marriage had not been announced immediately after Lucien's
fancy had put M. de Bargeton to death, he would have been radiant with
heartfelt delight at the news. If he had thought soberly over the
probable future of a beautiful and penniless girl like Eve Chardon, he
would have seen that this marriage was a piece of unhoped-for good
fortune. But he was living just now in a golden dream; he had soared
above all barriers on the wings of an _if_; he had seen a vision of
himself, rising above society; and it was painful to drop so suddenly
down to hard fact.

Eve and David both thought that their brother was overcome with the
sense of such generosity; to them, with their noble natures, the
silent consent was a sign of true friendship. David began to describe
with kindly and cordial eloquence the happy fortunes in store for them
all. Unchecked by protests put in by Eve, he furnished his first floor
with a lover's lavishness, built a second floor with boyish good faith
for Lucien, and rooms above the shed for Mme. Chardon--he meant to be
a son to her. In short, he made the whole family so happy and his
brother-in-law so independent, that Lucien fell under the spell of
David's voice and Eve's caresses; and as they went through the shadows
beside the still Charente, a gleam in the warm, star-lit night, he
forgot the sharp crown of thorns that had been pressed upon his head.
"M. de Rubempre" discovered David's real nature, in fact. His facile
character returned almost at once to the innocent, hard-working
burgher life that he knew; he saw it transfigured and free from care.
The buzz of the aristocratic world grew more and more remote; and when
at length they came upon the paved road of L'Houmeau, the ambitious
poet grasped his brother's hand, and made a third in the joy of the
happy lovers.

"If only your father makes no objection to the marriage," he said.

"You know how much he troubles himself about me; the old man lives for
himself," said David. "But I will go over to Marsac to-morrow and see
him, if it is only to ask leave to build."

David went back to the house with the brother and sister, and asked
Mme. Chardon's consent to his marriage with the eagerness of a man who
would fain have no delay. Eve's mother took her daughter's hand, and
gladly laid it in David's; and the lover, grown bolder on this, kissed
his fair betrothed on the forehead, and she flushed red, and smiled at

"The betrothal of the poor," the mother said, raising her eyes as if
to pray for heaven's blessing upon them.--"You are brave, my boy," she
added, looking at David, "but we have fallen on evil fortune, and I am
afraid lest our bad luck should be infectious."

"We shall be rich and happy," David said earnestly. "To begin with,
you must not go out nursing any more, and you must come and live with
your daughter and Lucien in Angouleme."

The three began at once to tell the astonished mother all their
charming plans, and the family party gave themselves up to the
pleasure of chatting and weaving a romance, in which it is so pleasant
to enjoy future happiness, and to store the unsown harvest. They had
to put David out at the door; he could have wished the evening to last
for ever, and it was one o'clock in the morning when Lucien and his
future brother-in-law reached the Palet Gate. The unwonted movement
made honest Postel uneasy; he opened the window, and looking through
the Venetian shutters, he saw a light in Eve's room.

"What can be happening at the Chardons'?" thought he, and seeing
Lucien come in, he called out to him--

"What is the matter, sonny? Do you want me to do anything?"

"No, sir," returned the poet; "but as you are our friend, I can tell
you about it; my mother has just given her consent to my sister's
engagement to David Sechard."

For all answer, Postel shut the window with a bang, in despair that he
had not asked for Mlle. Chardon earlier.

David, however, did not go back into Angouleme; he took the road to
Marsac instead, and walked through the night the whole way to his
father's house. He went along by the side of the croft just as the sun
rose, and caught sight of the old "bear's" face under an almond-tree
that grew out of the hedge.

"Good day, father," called David.

"Why, is it you, my boy? How come you to be out on the road at this
time of day? There is your way in," he added, pointing to a little
wicket gate. "My vines have flowered and not a shoot has been frosted.
There will be twenty puncheons or more to the acre this year; but then
look at all the dung that has been put on the land!"

"Father, I have come on important business."

"Very well; how are your presses doing? You must be making heaps of
money as big as yourself."

"I shall some day, father, but I am not very well off just now."

"They all tell me that I ought not to put on so much manure," replied
his father. "The gentry, that is M. le Marquis, M. le Comte, and
Monsieur What-do-you-call-'em, say that I am letting down the quality
of the wine. What is the good of book-learning except to muddle your
wits? Just you listen: these gentlemen get seven, or sometimes eight
puncheons of wine to the acre, and they sell them for sixty francs
apiece, that means four hundred francs per acre at most in a good
year. Now, I make twenty puncheons, and get thirty francs apiece for
them--that is six hundred francs! And where are they, the fools?
Quality, quality, what is quality to me? They can keep their quality
for themselves, these Lord Marquises. Quality means hard cash for me,
that is what it means, You were saying?----"

"I am going to be married, father, and I have come to ask for----"

"Ask me for what? Nothing of the sort, my boy. Marry; I give you my
consent, but as for giving you anything else, I haven't a penny to
bless myself with. Dressing the soil is the ruin of me. These two
years I have been paying money out of pocket for top-dressing, and
taxes, and expenses of all kinds; Government eats up everything,
nearly all the profit goes to the Government. The poor growers have
made nothing these last two seasons. This year things don't look so
bad; and, of course, the beggarly puncheons have gone up to eleven
francs already. We work to put money into the coopers' pockets. Why,
are you going to marry before the vintage?----"

"I only came to ask for your consent, father."

"Oh! that is another thing. And who is the victim, if one may ask?"

"I am going to marry Mlle. Eve Chardon."

"Who may she be? What kind of victual does she eat?"

"She is the daughter of the late M. Chardon, the druggist in

"You are going to marry a girl out of L'Houmeau! _you_! a burgess of
Angouleme, and printer to His Majesty! This is what comes of
book-learning! Send a boy to school, forsooth! Oh! well, then she is
very rich, is she, my boy?" and the old vinegrower came up closer with
a cajoling manner; "if you are marrying a girl out of L'Houmeau, it
must be because she has lots of cash, eh? Good! you will pay me my rent
now. There are two years and one-quarter owing, you know, my boy; that
is two thousand seven hundred francs altogether; the money will come
just in the nick of time to pay the cooper. If it was anybody else, I
should have a right to ask for interest; for, after all, business is
business, but I will let you off the interest. Well, how much has

"Just as much as my mother had."

The old vinegrower very nearly said, "Then she has only ten thousand
francs!" but he recollected just in time that he had declined to give
an account of her fortune to her son, and exclaimed, "She has

"My mother's fortune was her beauty and intelligence," said David.

"You just go into the market and see what you can get for it! Bless my
buttons! what bad luck parents have with their children. David, when I
married, I had a paper cap on my head for my whole fortune, and a pair
of arms; I was a poor pressman; but with the fine printing-house that
I gave you, with your industry, and your education, you might marry a
burgess' daughter, a woman with thirty or forty thousand francs. Give
up your fancy, and I will find you a wife myself. There is some one
about three miles away, a miller's widow, thirty-two years old, with a
hundred thousand francs in land. There is your chance! You can add her
property to Marsac, for they touch. Ah! what a fine property we should
have, and how I would look after it! They say she is going to marry
her foreman Courtois, but you are the better man of the two. I would
look after the mill, and she should live like a lady up in Angouleme."

"I am engaged, father."

"David, you know nothing of business; you will ruin yourself, I see.
Yes, if you marry this girl out of L'Houmeau, I shall square accounts
and summons you for the rent, for I see that no good will come of
this. Oh! my presses, my poor presses! it took some money to grease
you and keep you going. Nothing but a good year can comfort me after

"It seems to me, father, that until now I have given you very little

"And paid mighty little rent," put in his parent.

"I came to ask you something else besides. Will you build a second
floor to your house, and some rooms above the shed?"

"Deuce a bit of it; I have not the cash, and that you know right well.
Besides, it would be money thrown clean away, for what would it bring
in? Oh! you get up early of a morning to come and ask me to build you
a place that would ruin a king, do you? Your name may be David, but I
have not got Solomon's treasury. Why, you are mad! or they changed my
child at nurse. There is one for you that will have grapes on it," he
said, interrupting himself to point out a shoot. "Offspring of this
sort don't disappoint their parents; you dung the vines, and they
repay you for it. I sent you to school; I spent any amount of money to
make a scholar of you; I sent you to the Didots to learn your
business; and all this fancy education ends in a daughter-in-law out
of L'Houmeau without a penny to her name. If you had not studied
books, if I had kept you under my eye, you would have done as I
pleased, and you would be marrying a miller's widow this day with a
hundred thousand francs in hand, to say nothing of the mill. Oh! your
cleverness leads you to imagine that I am going to reward this fine
sentiment by building palaces for you, does it? . . . Really, anybody
might think that the house that has been a house these two hundred
years was nothing but a pigsty, not fit for the girl out of L'Houmeau
to sleep in! What next! She is the Queen of France, I suppose."

"Very well, father, I will build the second floor myself; the son will
improve his father's property. It is not the usual way, but it happens
so sometimes."

"What, my lad! you can find money for building, can you, though you
can't find money to pay the rent, eh! You sly dog, to come round your

The question thus raised was hard to lay, for the old man was only too
delighted to seize an opportunity of posing as a good father without
disbursing a penny; and all that David could obtain was his bare
consent to the marriage and free leave to do what he liked in the
house--at his own expense; the old "bear," that pattern of a thrifty
parent, kindly consenting not to demand the rent and drain the savings
to which David imprudently owned. David went back again in low
spirits. He saw that he could not reckon on his father's help in

In Angouleme that day people talked of nothing but the Bishop's
epigram and Mme. de Bargeton's reply. Every least thing that happened
that evening was so much exaggerated and embellished and twisted out
of all knowledge, that the poet became the hero of the hour. While
this storm in a teacup raged on high, a few drops fell among the
_bourgeoisie_; young men looked enviously after Lucien as he passed on
his way through Beaulieu, and he overheard chance phrases that filled
him with conceit.

"There is a lucky young fellow!" said an attorney's clerk, named
Petit-Claud, a plain-featured youth who had been at school with
Lucien, and treated him with small, patronizing airs.

"Yes, he certainly is," answered one of the young men who had been
present on the occasion of the reading; "he is a good-looking fellow,
he has some brains, and Mme. de Bargeton is quite wild about him."

Lucien had waited impatiently until he could be sure of finding Louise
alone. He had to break the tidings of his sister's marriage to the
arbitress of his destinies. Perhaps after yesterday's soiree, Louise
would be kinder than usual, and her kindness might lead to a moment of
happiness. So he thought, and he was not mistaken; Mme. de Bargeton
met him with a vehemence of sentiment that seemed like a touching
progress of passion to the novice in love. She abandoned her hands,
her beautiful golden hair, to the burning kisses of the poet who had
passed through such an ordeal.

"If only you could have seen your face whilst you were reading," cried
Louise, using the familiar _tu_, the caress of speech, since yesterday,
while her white hands wiped the pearls of sweat from the brows on
which she set a poet's crown. "There were sparks of fire in those
beautiful eyes! From your lips, as I watched them, there fell the
golden chains that suspend the hearts of men upon the poet's mouth.
You shall read Chenier through to me from beginning to end; he is the
lover's poet. You shall not be unhappy any longer; I will not have it.
Yes, dear angel, I will make an oasis for you, there you shall live
your poet's life, sometimes busy, sometimes languid; indolent, full of
work, and musing by turns; but never forget that you owe your laurels
to me, let that thought be my noble guerdon for the sufferings which I
must endure. Poor love! the world will not spare me any more than it
has spared you; the world is avenged on all happiness in which it has
no share. Yes, I shall always be a mark for envy--did you not see that
last night? The bloodthirsty insects are quick enough to drain every
wound that they pierce. But I was happy; I lived. It is so long since
all my heartstrings vibrated."

The tears flowed fast, and for all answer Lucien took Louise's hand
and gave it a lingering kiss. Every one about him soothed and caressed
the poet's vanity; his mother and his sister and David and Louise now
did the same. Every one helped to raise the imaginary pedestal on
which he had set himself. His friends's kindness and the fury of his
enemies combined to establish him more firmly in an ureal world. A
young imagination readily falls in with the flattering estimates of
others, a handsome young fellow so full of promise finds others eager
to help him on every side, and only after one or two sharp and bitter
lessons does he begin to see himself as an ordinary mortal.

"My beautiful Louise, do you mean in very truth to be my Beatrice, a
Beatrice who condescends to be loved?"

Louise raised the fine eyes, hitherto down-dropped.

"If you show yourself worthy--some day!" she said, with an angelic
smile which belied her words. "Are you not happy? To be the sole
possessor of a heart, to speak freely at all times, with the certainty
of being understood, is not this happiness?"

"Yes," he answered, with a lover's pout of vexation.

"Child!" she exclaimed, laughing at him. "Come, you have something to
tell me, have you not? You came in absorbed in thought, my Lucien."

Lucien, in fear and trembling, confided to his beloved that David was
in love with his sister Eve, and that his sister Eve was in love with
David, and that the two were to be married shortly.

"Poor Lucien!" said Louise, "he was afraid he should be beaten and
scolded, as if it was he himself that was going to be married! Why,
where is the harm?" she continued, her fingers toying with Lucien's
hair. "What is your family to me when you are an exception? Suppose
that my father were to marry his cook, would that trouble you much?
Dear boy, lovers are for each other their whole family. Have I a
greater interest than my Lucien in the world? Be great, find the way
to win fame, that is our affair!"

This selfish answer made Lucien the happiest of mortals. But in the
middle of the fantastic reasonings, with which Louise convinced him
that they two were alone in the world, in came M. de Bargeton. Lucien
frowned and seemed to be taken aback, but Louise made him a sign, and
asked him to stay to dinner and to read Andre de Chenier aloud to them
until people arrived for their evening game at cards.

"You will give her pleasure," said M. de Bargeton, "and me also.
Nothing suits me better than listening to reading aloud after dinner."

Cajoled by M. de Bargeton, cajoled by Louise, waited upon with the
respect which servants show to a favored guest of the house, Lucien
remained in the Hotel de Bargeton, and began to think of the luxuries
which he enjoyed for the time being as the rightful accessories of
Lucien de Rubempre. He felt his position so strong through Louise's
love and M. de Bargeton's weakness, that as the rooms filled, he
assumed a lordly air, which that fair lady encouraged. He tasted the
delights of despotic sway which Nais had acquired by right of
conquest, and liked to share with him; and, in short, that evening he
tried to act up to the part of the lion of the little town. A few of
those who marked these airs drew their own conclusions from them, and
thought that, according to the old expression, he had come to the last
term with the lady. Amelie, who had come with M. du Chatelet, was sure
of the deplorable fact, in a corner of the drawing-room, where the
jealous and envious gathered together.

"Do not think of calling Nais to account for the vanity of a
youngster, who is as proud as he can be because he has got into
society, where he never expected to set foot," said Chatelet. "Don't
you see that this Chardon takes the civility of a woman of the world
for an advance? He does not know the difference between the silence of
real passion and the patronizing graciousness due to his good looks
and youth and talent. It would be too bad if women were blamed for all
the desires which they inspire. _He_ certainly is in love with her, but
as for Nais----"

"Oh! Nais," echoed the perfidious Amelie, "Nais is well enough
pleased. A young man's love has so many attractions--at her age. A
woman grows young again in his company; she is a girl, and acts a
girl's hesitation and manners, and does not dream that she is
ridiculous. Just look! Think of a druggist's son giving himself a
conqueror's airs with Mme. de Bargeton."

"Love knows nought of high or low degree," hummed Adrien.

There was not a single house in Angouleme next day where the degree of
intimacy between M. Chardon (alias de Rubempre) and Mme. de Bargeton
was not discussed; and though the utmost extent of their guilt
amounted to two or three kisses, the world already chose to believe
the worst of both. Mme. de Bargeton paid the penalty of her
sovereignty. Among the various eccentricities of society, have you
never noticed its erratic judgments and the unaccountable differences
in the standard it requires of this or that man or woman? There are
some persons who may do anything; they may behave totally
irrationally, anything becomes them, and it is who shall be first to
justify their conduct; then, on the other hand, there are those on
whom the world is unaccountably severe, they must do everything well,
they are not allowed to fail nor to make mistakes, at their peril they
do anything foolish; you might compare these last to the much-admired
statues which must come down at once from their pedestal if the frost
chips off a nose or a finger. They are not permitted to be human; they
are required to be for ever divine and for ever impeccable. So one
glance exchanged between Mme. de Bargeton and Lucien outweighed twelve
years of Zizine's connection with Francis in the social balance; and a
squeeze of the hand drew down all the thunders of the Charente upon
the lovers.

David had brought a little secret hoard back with him from Paris, and
it was this sum that he set aside for the expenses of his marriage and
for the building of the second floor in his father's house. His
father's house it was; but, after all, was he not working for himself?
It would all be his again some day, and his father was sixty-eight
years old. So David build a timbered second story for Lucien, so as
not to put too great a strain on the old rifted house-walls. He took
pleasure in making the rooms where the fair Eve was to spend her life
as brave as might be.

It was a time of blithe and unmixed happiness for the friends. Lucien
was tired of the shabbiness of provincial life, and weary of the
sordid frugality that looked on a five-franc piece as a fortune, but
he bore the hardships and the pinching thrift without grumbling. His
moody looks had been succeeded by an expression of radiant hope. He
saw the star shining above his head, he had dreams of a great time to
come, and built the fabric of his good fortune on M. de Bargeton's
tomb. M. de Bargeton, troubled with indigestion from time to time,
cherished the happy delusion that indigestion after dinner was a
complaint to be cured by a hearty supper.

By the beginning of September, Lucien had ceased to be a printer's
foreman; he was M. de Rubempre, housed sumptuously in comparison with
his late quarters in the tumbledown attic with the dormer-window,
where "young Chardon" had lived in L'Houmeau; he was not even a "man
of L'Houmeau"; he lived in the heights of Angouleme, and dined four
times a week with Mme. de Bargeton. A friendship had grown up between
M. de Rubempre and the Bishop, and he went to the palace. His
occupations put him upon a level with the highest rank; his name would
be one day among the great names of France; and, in truth, as he went
to and fro in his apartments, the pretty sitting-room, the charming
bedroom, and the tastefully furnished study, he might console himself
for the thought that he drew thirty francs every month out of his
mother's and sister's hard earnings; for he saw the day approaching
when _An Archer of Charles IX._, the historical romance on which he had
been at work for two years, and a volume of verse entitled
_Marguerites_, should spread his fame through the world of literature,
and bring in money enough to repay them all, his mother and sister and
David. So, grown great in his own eyes, and giving ear to the echoes
of his name in the future, he could accept present sacrifices with
noble assurance; he smiled at his poverty, he relished the sense of
these last days of penury.

Eve and David had set Lucien's happiness before their own. They had
put off their wedding, for it took some time to paper and paint their
rooms, and to buy the furniture, and Lucien's affairs had been settled
first. No one who knew Lucien could wonder at their devotion. Lucien
was so engaging, he had such winning ways, his impatience and his
desires were so graciously expressed, that his cause was always won
before he opened his mouth to speak. This unlucky gift of fortune, if
it is the salvation of some, is the ruin of many more. Lucien and his
like find a world predisposed in favor of youth and good looks, and
ready to protect those who give it pleasure with the selfish
good-nature that flings alms to a beggar, if he appeals to the feelings
and awakens emotion; and in this favor many a grown child is content to
bask instead of putting it to a profitable use. With mistaken notions
as to the significance and the motive of social relations they imagine
that they shall always meet with deceptive smiles; and so at last the
moment comes for them when the world leaves them bald, stripped bare,
without fortune or worth, like an elderly coquette by the door of a
salon, or a stray rag in the gutter.

Eve herself had wished for the delay. She meant to establish the
little household on the most economical footing, and to buy only
strict necessaries; but what could two lovers refuse to a brother who
watched his sister at her work, and said in tones that came from the
heart, "How I wish I could sew!" The sober, observant David had shared
in the devotion; and yet, since Lucien's triumph, David had watched
him with misgivings; he was afraid that Lucien would change towards
them, afraid that he would look down upon their homely ways. Once or
twice, to try his brother, David had made him choose between home
pleasures and the great world, and saw that Lucien gave up the
delights of vanity for them, and exclaimed to himself, "They will not
spoil him for us!" Now and again the three friends and Mme. Chardon
arranged picnic parties in provincial fashion--a walk in the woods
along the Charente, not far from Angouleme, and dinner out on the
grass, David's apprentice bringing the basket of provisions to some
place appointed before-hand; and at night they would come back, tired
somewhat, but the whole excursion had not cost three francs. On great
occasion, when they dined at a _restaurat_, as it is called, a sort of a
country inn, a compromise between a provincial wineshop and a Parisian
_guinguette_, they would spend as much as five francs, divided between
David and the Chardons. David gave his brother infinite credit for
forsaking Mme. de Bargeton and grand dinners for these days in the
country, and the whole party made much of the great man of Angouleme.

Matters had gone so far, that the new home was very nearly ready, and
David had gone over to Marsac to persuade his father to come to the
wedding, not without a hope that the old man might relent at the sight
of his daughter-in-law, and give something towards the heavy expenses
of the alterations, when there befell one of those events which
entirely change the face of things in a small town.

Lucien and Louise had a spy in Chatelet, a spy who watched, with the
persistence of a hate in which avarice and passion are blended, for an
opportunity of making a scandal. Sixte meant that Mme. de Bargeton
should compromise herself with Lucien in such a way that she should be
"lost," as the saying goes; so he posed as Mme. de Bargeton's humble
confidant, admired Lucien in the Rue du Minage, and pulled him to
pieces everywhere else. Nais had gradually given him _les petites
entrees_, in the language of the court, for the lady no longer
mistrusted her elderly admirer; but Chatelet had taken too much for
granted--love was still in the Platonic stage, to the great despair of
Louise and Lucien.

There are, for that matter, love affairs which start with a good or a
bad beginning, as you prefer to take it. Two creatures launch into the
tactics of sentiment; they talk when they should be acting, and
skirmish in the open instead of settling down to a siege. And so they
grow tired of one another, expend their longings in empty space; and,
having time for reflection, come to their own conclusions about each
other. Many a passion that has taken the field in gorgeous array, with
colors flying and an ardor fit to turn the world upside down, has
turned home again without a victory, inglorious and crestfallen,
cutting but a foolish figure after these vain alarums and excursions.
Such mishaps are sometimes due to the diffidence of youth, sometimes
to the demurs of an inexperienced woman, for old players at this game
seldom end in a fiasco of this kind.

Provincial life, moreover, is singularly well calculated to keep
desire unsatisfied and maintain a lover's arguments on the
intellectual plane, while, at the same time, the very obstacles placed
in the way of the sweet intercourse which binds lovers so closely each
to each, hurry ardent souls on towards extreme measures. A system of
espionage of the most minute and intricate kind underlies provincial
life; every house is transparent, the solace of close friendships
which break no moral law is scarcely allowed; and such outrageously
scandalous constructions are put upon the most innocent human
intercourse, that many a woman's character is taken away without
cause. One here and there, weighed down by her unmerited punishment,
will regret that she has never known to the full the forbidden
felicity for which she is suffering. The world, which blames and
criticises with a superficial knowledge of the patent facts in which a
long inward struggle ends, is in reality a prime agent in bringing
such scandals about; and those whose voices are loudest in
condemnation of the alleged misconduct of some slandered woman never
give a thought to the immediate provocation of the overt step. That
step many a woman only takes after she has been unjustly accused and
condemned, and Mme. de Bargeton was now on the verge of this anomalous

The obstacles at the outset of a passion of this kind are alarming to
inexperience, and those in the way of the two lovers were very like
the bonds by which the population of Lilliput throttled Gulliver, a
multiplicity of nothings, which made all movement impossible, and
baffle the most vehement desires. Mme. de Bargeton, for instance, must
always be visible. If she had denied herself to visitors when Lucien
was with her, it would have been all over with her; she might as well
have run away with him at once. It is true that they sat in the
boudoir, now grown so familiar to Lucien that he felt as if he had a
right to be there; but the doors stood scrupulously open, and
everything was arranged with the utmost propriety. M. de Bargeton
pervaded the house like a cockchafer; it never entered his head that
his wife could wish to be alone with Lucien. If he had been the only
person in the way, Nais could have got rid of him, sent him out of the
house, or given him something to do; but he was not the only one;
visitors flocked in upon her, and so much the more as curiosity
increased, for your provincial has a natural bent for teasing, and
delights to thwart a growing passion. The servants came and went about
the house promiscuously and without a summons; they had formed the
habits with a mistress who had nothing to conceal; any change now made
in her household ways was tantamount to a confession, and Angouleme
still hung in doubt.

Mme. de Bargeton could not set foot outside her house but the whole
town knew whither she was going. To take a walk alone with Lucien out
of Angouleme would have been a decided measure, indeed; it would have
been less dangerous to shut herself up with him in the house. There
would have been comments the next day if Lucien had stayed on till
midnight after the rooms were emptied. Within as without her house,
Mme. de Bargeton lived in public.

These details describe life in the provinces; an intrigue is either
openly avoided or impossible anywhere.

Like all women carried away for the first time by passion, Louise
discovered the difficulties of her position one by one. They
frightened her, and her terror reacted upon the fond talk that fills
the fairest hours which lovers spend alone together. Mme. de Bargeton
had no country house whither she could take her beloved poet, after
the manner of some women who will forge ingenious pretexts for burying
themselves in the wilderness; but, weary of living in public, and
pushed to extremities by a tyranny which afforded no pleasures sweet
enough to compensate for the heaviness of the yoke, she even thought
of Escarbas, and of going to see her aged father--so much irritated
was she by these paltry obstacles.

Chatelet did not believe in such innocence. He lay in wait, and
watched Lucien into the house, and followed a few minutes later,
always taking M. de Chandour, the most indiscreet person in the
clique, along with him; and, putting that gentleman first, hoped to
find a surprise by such perseverance in pursuit of the chance. His own
part was a very difficult one to play, and its success was the more
doubtful because he was bound to appear neutral if he was to prompt
the other actors who were to play in his drama. So, to give himself a
countenance, he had attached himself to the jealous Amelie, the better
to lull suspicion in Lucien and in Mme. de Bargeton, who was not
without perspicacity. In order to spy upon the pair, he had contrived
of late to open up a stock controversy on the point with M. de
Chandour. Chatelet said that Mme. de Bargeton was simply amusing
herself with Lucien; she was too proud, too high-born, to stoop to the
apothecary's son. The role of incredulity was in accordance with the
plan which he had laid down, for he wished to appear as Mme. de
Bargeton's champion. Stanislas de Chandour held that Mme. de Bargeton
had not been cruel to her lover, and Amelie goaded them to argument,
for she longed to know the truth. Each stated his case, and (as not
unfrequently happens in small country towns) some intimate friends of
the house dropped in in the middle of the argument. Stanislas and
Chatelet vied with each other in backing up their opinions by
observations extremely pertinent. It was hardly to be expected that
the champions should not seek to enlist partisans. "What do you
yourself think?" they asked, each of his neighbor. These polemics kept
Mme. de Bargeton and Lucien well in sight.

At length one day Chatelet called attention to the fact that whenever
he went with M. de Chandour to Mme. de Bargeton's and found Lucien
there, there was not a sign nor a trace of anything suspicious; the
boudoir door stood open, the servants came and went, there was nothing
mysterious to betray the sweet crime of love, and so forth and so
forth. Stanislas, who did not lack a certain spice of stupidity in his
composition, vowed that he would cross the room on tiptoe the next
day, and the perfidious Amelie held him to his bargain.

For Lucien that morrow was the day on which a young man tugs out some
of the hairs of his head, and inwardly vows that he will give up the
foolish business of sighing. He was accustomed to his situation. The
poet, who had seated himself so bashfully in the boudoir-sanctuary of
the queen of Angouleme, had been transformed into an urgent lover. Six
months had been enough to bring him on a level with Louise, and now he
would fain be her lord and master. He left home with a settled
determination to be extravagant in his behavior; he would say that it
was a matter of life or death to him; he would bring all the resources
of torrid eloquence into play; he would cry that he had lost his head,
that he could not think, could not write a line. The horror that some
women feel for premeditation does honor to their delicacy; they would
rather surrender upon the impulse of passion, than in fulfilment of a
contract. In general, prescribed happiness is not the kind that any of
us desire.

Mme. de Bargeton read fixed purpose in Lucien's eyes and forehead, and
in the agitation in his face and manner, and proposed to herself to
baffle him, urged thereto partly by a spirit of contradiction, partly
also by an exalted conception of love. Being given to exaggeration,
she set an exaggerated value upon her person. She looked upon herself
as a sovereign lady, a Beatrice, a Laura. She enthroned herself, like
some dame of the Middle Ages, upon a dais, looking down upon the
tourney of literature, and meant that Lucien, as in duty bound, should
win her by his prowess in the field; he must eclipse "the sublime
child," and Lamartine, and Sir Walter Scott, and Byron. The noble
creature regarded her love as a stimulating power; the desire which
she had kindled in Lucien should give him the energy to win glory for
himself. This feminine Quixotry is a sentiment which hallows love and
turns it to worthy uses; it exalts and reverences love. Mme. de
Bargeton having made up her mind to play the part of Dulcinea in
Lucien's life for seven or eight years to come, desired, like many
other provincials, to give herself as the reward of prolonged service,
a trial of constancy which should give her time to judge her lover.

Lucien began the strife by a piece of vehement petulence, at which a
woman laughs so long as she is heart-free, and saddens only when she
loves; whereupon Louise took a lofty tone, and began one of her long
orations, interlarded with high-sounding words.

"Was that your promise to me, Lucien?" she said, as she made an end.
"Do not sow regrets in the present time, so sweet as it is, to poison
my after life. Do not spoil the future, and, I say it with pride, do
not spoil the present! Is not my whole heart yours? What more must you
have? Can it be that your love is influenced by the clamor of the
senses, when it is the noblest privilege of the beloved to silence
them? For whom do you take me? Am I not your Beatrice? If I am not
something more than a woman for you, I am less than a woman."

"That is just what you might say to a man if you cared nothing at all
for him," cried Lucien, frantic with passion.

"If you cannot feel all the sincere love underlying my ideas, you will
never be worthy of me."

"You are throwing doubts on my love to dispense yourself from
responding to it," cried Lucien, and he flung himself weeping at her

The poor boy cried in earnest at the prospect of remaining so long at
the gate of paradise. The tears of the poet, who feels that he is
humbled through his strength, were mingled with childish crying for a

"You have never loved me!" he cried.

"You do not believe what you say," she answered, flattered by his

"Then give me proof that you are mine," said the disheveled poet.

Just at that moment Stanislas came up unheard by either of the pair.
He beheld Lucien in tears, half reclining on the floor, with his head
on Louise's knee. The attitude was suspicious enough to satisfy
Stanislas; he turned sharply round upon Chatelet, who stood at the
door of the salon. Mme. de Bargeton sprang up in a moment, but the
spies beat a precipate retreat like intruders, and she was not quick
enough for them.

"Who came just now?" she asked the servants.

"M. de Chandour and M. du Chatelet," said Gentil, her old footman.

Mme. de Bargeton went back, pale and trembling, to her boudoir.

"If they saw you just now, I am lost," she told Lucien.

"So much the better!" exclaimed the poet, and she smiled to hear the
cry, so full of selfish love.

A story of this kind is aggravated in the provinces by the way in
which it is told. Everybody knew in a moment that Lucien had been
detected at Nais feet. M. de Chandour, elated by the important part he
played in the affair, went first to tell the great news at the club,
and thence from house to house, Chatelet hastening to say that _he_ had
seen nothing; but by putting himself out of court, he egged Stanislas
on to talk, he drew him on to add fresh details; and Stanislas,
thinking himself very witty, added a little to the tale every time
that he told it. Every one flocked to Amelie's house that evening, for
by that time the most exaggerated versions of the story were in
circulation among the Angouleme nobility, every narrator having
followed Stanislas' example. Women and men were alike impatient to
know the truth; and the women who put their hands before their faces
and shrieked the loudest were none other than Mesdames Amelie,
Zephirine, Fifine, and Lolotte, all with more or less heavy
indictments of illicit love laid to their charge. There were
variations in every key upon the painful theme.

"Well, well," said one of the ladies, "poor Nais! have you heard about
it? I do not believe it myself; she has a whole blameless record
behind her; she is far too proud to be anything but a patroness to M.
Chardon. Still, if it is true, I pity her with all my heart."

"She is all the more to be pitied because she is making herself
frightfully ridiculous; she is old enough to be M. Lulu's mother, as
Jacques called him. The little poet it twenty-two at most; and Nais,
between ourselves, is quite forty."

"For my own part," said M. du Chatelet, "I think that M. de Rubempre's
position in itself proves Nais' innocence. A man does not go down on
his knees to ask for what he has had already."

"That is as may be!" said Francis, with levity that brought
Zephirine's disapproving glance down on him.

"Do just tell us how it really was," they besought Stanislas, and
formed a small, secret committee in a corner of the salon.

Stanislas, in the long length, had put together a little story full of
facetious suggestions, and accompanied it with pantomime, which made
the thing prodigiously worse.

"It is incredible!"

"At midday?"

"Nais was the last person whom I should have suspected!"

"What will she do now?"

Then followed more comments, and suppositions without end. Chatelet
took Mme. de Bargeton's part; but he defended her so ill, that he
stirred the fire of gossip instead of putting it out.

Lili, disconsolate over the fall of the fairest angel in the
Angoumoisin hierarchy, went, dissolved in tears, to carry the news to
the palace. When the delighted Chatelet was convinced that the whole
town was agog, he went off to Mme. de Bargeton's, where, alas! there
was but one game of whist that night, and diplomatically asked Nais
for a little talk in the boudoir. They sat down on the sofa, and
Chatelet began in an undertone--

"You know what Angouleme is talking about, of course?"


"Very well, I am too much your friend to leave you in ignorance. I am
bound to put you in a position to silence slanders, invented, no
doubt, by Amelie, who has the overweening audacity to regard herself
as your rival. I came to call on you this morning with that monkey of
a Stanislas; he was a few paces ahead of me, and he came so far"
(pointing to the door of the boudoir); "he says that he _saw_ you and
M. de Rubempre in such a position that he could not enter; he turned
round upon me, quite bewildered as I was, and hurried me away before I
had time to think; we were out in Beaulieu before he told me why he
had beaten a retreat. If I had known, I would not have stirred out of
the house till I had cleared up the matter and exonerated you, but it
would have proved nothing to go back again then.

"Now, whether Stanislas' eyes deceived him, or whether he is right, _he
must have made a mistake_. Dear Nais, do not let that dolt trifle with
your life, your honor, your future; stop his mouth at once. You know
my position here. I have need of all these people, but still I am
entirely yours. Dispose of a life that belongs to you. You have
rejected my prayers, but my heart is always yours; I am ready to prove
my love for you at any time and in any way. Yes, I will watch over you
like a faithful servant, for no reward, but simply for the sake of the
pleasure that it is to me to do anything for you, even if you do not
know of it. This morning I have said everywhere that I was at the door
of the salon, and had seen nothing. If you are asked to give the name
of the person who told you about this gossip, pray make use of me. I
should be very proud to be your acknowledged champion; but, between
ourselves, M. de Bargeton is the proper person to ask Stanislas for an
explanation. . . . Suppose that young Rubempre had behaved foolishly,
a woman's character ought not to be at the mercy of the first
hare-brained boy who flings himself at her feet. That is what I have
been saying."

Nais bowed in acknowledgment, and looked thoughtful. She was weary to
disgust of provincial life. Chatelet had scarcely begun before her
mind turned to Paris. Meanwhile Mme. de Bargeton's adorer found the
silence somewhat awkward.

"Dispose of me, I repeat," he added.

"Thank you," answered the lady.

"What do you think of doing?"

"I shall see."

A prolonged pause.

"Are you so fond of that young Rubempre?"

A proud smile stole over her lips, she folded her arms, and fixed her
gaze on the curtains. Chatelet went out; he could not read that high

Later in the evening, when Lucien had taken his leave, and likewise
the four old gentlemen who came for their whist, without troubling
themselves about ill-founded tittle-tattle, M. de Bargeton was
preparing to go to bed, and had opened his mouth to bid his wife
good-night, when she stopped him.

"Come here, dear, I have something to say to you," she said, with a
certain solemnity.

M. de Bargeton followed her into the boudoir.

"Perhaps I have done wrongly," she said, "to show a warm interest in
M. de Rubempre, which he, as well as the stupid people here in the
town, has misinterpreted. This morning Lucien threw himself here at my
feet with a declaration, and Stanislas happened to come in just as I
told the boy to get up again. A woman, under any circumstances, has
claims which courtesy prescribes to a gentleman; but in contempt of
these, Stanislas has been saying that he came unexpectedly and found
us in an equivocal position. I was treating the boy as he deserved. If
the young scatterbrain knew of the scandal caused by his folly, he
would go, I am convinced, to insult Stanislas, and compel him to
fight. That would simply be a public proclamation of his love. I need
not tell you that your wife is pure; but if you think, you will see
that it is something dishonoring for both you and me if M. de Rubempre
defends her. Go at once to Stanislas and ask him to give you
satisfaction for his insulting language; and mind, you must not accept
any explanation short of a full and public retraction in the presence
of witnesses of credit. In this way you will win back the respect of
all right-minded people; you will behave like a man of spirit and a
gentleman, and you will have a right to my esteem. I shall send Gentil
on horseback to the Escarbas; my father must be your second; old as he
is, I know that he is the man to trample this puppet under foot that
has smirched the reputation of a Negrepelisse. You have the choice of
weapons, choose pistols; you are an admirable shot."

"I am going," said M. de Bargeton, and he took his hat and his walking

"Good, that is how I like a man to behave, dear; you are a gentleman,"
said his wife. She felt touched by his conduct, and made the old man
very happy and proud by putting up her forehead for a kiss. She felt
something like a maternal affection for the great child; and when the
carriage gateway had shut with a clang behind him, the tears came into
her eyes in spite of herself.

"How he loves me!" she thought. "He clings to life, poor, dear man,
and yet he would give his life for me."

It did not trouble M. de Bargeton that he must stand up and face his
man on the morrow, and look coolly into the muzzle of a pistol pointed
straight at him; no, only one thing in the business made him feel
uncomfortable, and on the way to M. de Chandour's house he quaked

"What shall I say?" he thought within himself; "Nais really ought to
have told me what to say," and the good gentleman racked his brains to
compose a speech that should not be ridiculous.

But people of M. de Bargeton's stamp, who live perforce in silence
because their capacity is limited and their outlook circumscribed,
often behave at great crises with a ready-made solemnity. If they say
little, it naturally follows that they say little that is foolish;
their extreme lack of confidence leads them to think a good deal over
the remarks that they are obliged to make; and, like Balaam's ass,
they speak marvelously to the point if a miracle loosens their
tongues. So M. de Bargeton bore himself like a man of uncommon sense
and spirit, and justified the opinion of those who held that he was a
philosopher of the school of Pythagoras.

He reached Stanislas' house at nine o'clock, bowed silently to Amelie
before a whole room full of people, and greeted others in turn with
that simple smile of his, which under the present circumstances seemed
profoundly ironical. There followed a great silence, like the pause
before a storm. Chatelet had made his way back again, and now looked
in a very significant fashion from M. de Bargeton to Stanislas, whom
the injured gentleman accosted politely.

Chatelet knew what a visit meant at this time of night, when old M. de
Bargeton was invariably in his bed. It was evidently Nais who had set
the feeble arm in motion. Chatelet was on such a footing in that house
that he had some right to interfere in family concerns. He rose to his
feet and took M. de Bargeton aside, saying, "Do you wish to speak to

"Yes," said the old gentleman, well pleased to find a go-between who
perhaps might say his say for him.

"Very well; go into Amelie's bedroom," said the controller of excise,
likewise well pleased at the prospect of a duel which possibly might
make Mme. de Bargeton a widow, while it put a bar between her and
Lucien, the cause of the quarrel. Then Chatelet went to M. de

"Stanislas," he said, "here comes Bargeton to call you to account, no
doubt, for the things you have been saying about Nais. Go into your
wife's room, and behave, both of you, like gentlemen. Keep the thing
quiet, and make a great show of politeness, behave with phlegmatic
British dignity, in short."

In another minute Stanislas and Chatelet went to Bargeton.

"Sir," said the injured husband, "do you say that you discovered Mme.
de Bargeton and M. de Rubempre in an equivocal position?"

"M. Chardon," corrected Stanislas, with ironical stress; he did not
take Bargeton seriously.

"So be it," answered the other. "If you do not withdraw your
assertions at once before the company now in your house, I must ask
you to look for a second. My father-in-law, M. de Negrepelisse, will
wait upon you at four o'clock to-morrow morning. Both of us may as
well make our final arrangements, for the only way out of the affair
is the one that I have indicated. I choose pistols, as the insulted

This was the speech that M. de Bargeton had ruminated on the way; it
was the longest that he had ever made in life. He brought it out
without excitement or vehemence, in the simplest way in the world.
Stanislas turned pale. "After all, what did I see?" said he to

Put between the shame of eating his words before the whole town, and
fear, that caught him by the throat with burning fingers; confronted
by this mute personage, who seemed in no humor to stand nonsense,
Stanislas chose the more remote peril.

"All right. To-morrow morning," he said, thinking that the matter
might be arranged somehow or other.

The three went back to the room. Everybody scanned their faces as they
came in; Chatelet was smiling, M. de Bargeton looked exactly as if he
were in his own house, but Stanislas looked ghastly pale. At the sight
of his face, some of the women here and there guessed the nature of
the conference, and the whisper, "They are going to fight!" circulated
from ear to ear. One-half of the room was of the opinion that
Stanislas was in the wrong, his white face and his demeanor convicted
him of a lie; the other half admired M. de Bargeton's attitude.
Chatelet was solemn and mysterious. M. de Bargeton stayed a few
minutes, scrutinized people's faces, and retired.

"Have you pistols?" Chatelet asked in a whisper of Stanislas, who
shook from head to foot.

Amelie knew what it all meant. She felt ill, and the women flocked
about her to take her into her bedroom. There was a terrific
sensation; everybody talked at once. The men stopped in the
drawing-room, and declared, with one voice, that M. de Bargeton was
within his right.

"Would you have thought the old fogy capable of acting like this?"
asked M. de Saintot.

"But he was a crack shot when he was young," said the pitiless
Jacques. "My father often used to tell me of Bargeton's exploits."

"Pooh! Put them at twenty paces, and they will miss each other if you
give them cavalry pistols," said Francis, addressing Chatelet.

Chatelet stayed after the rest had gone to reassure Stanislas and his
wife, and to explain that all would go off well. In a duel between a
man of sixty and a man of thirty-five, all the advantage lay with the

Early next morning, as Lucien sat at breakfast with David, who had
come back alone from Marsac, in came Mme. Chardon with a scared face.

"Well, Lucien," she said, "have you heard the news? Everyone is
talking of it, even the people in the market. M. de Bargeton all but
killed M. de Chandour this morning in M. Tulloy's meadow; people are
making puns on the name. (Tue Poie.) It seems that M. de Chandour said
that he found you with Mme. de Bargeton yesterday."

"It is a lie! Mme. de Bargeton is innocent," cried Lucien.

"I heard about the duel from a countryman, who saw it all from his
cart. M. de Negrepelisse came over at three o'clock in the morning to
be M. de Bargeton's second; he told M. de Chandour that if anything
happened to his son-in-law, he should avenge him. A cavalry officer
lent the pistols. M. de Negrepelisse tried them over and over again.
M. du Chatelet tried to prevent them from practising with the pistols,
but they referred the question to the officer; and he said that,
unless they meant to behave like children, they ought to have pistols
in working order. The seconds put them at twenty-five paces. M. de
Bargeton looked as if he had just come out for a walk. He was the
first to fire; the ball lodged in M. de Chandour's neck, and he
dropped before he could return the shot. The house-surgeon at the
hospital has just said that M. de Chandour will have a wry neck for
the rest of his days. I came to tell you how it ended, lest you should
go to Mme. de Bargeton's or show yourself in Angouleme, for some of M.
de Chandour's friends might call you out."

As she spoke, the apprentice brought in Gentil, M. de Bargeton's
footman. The man had come with a note for Lucien; it was from Louise.

"You have doubtless heard the news," she wrote, "of the duel between
Chandour and my husband. We shall not be at home to any one to-day. Be
careful; do not show yourself. I ask this in the name of the affection
you bear me. Do you not think that it would be best to spend this
melancholy day in listening to your Beatrice, whose whole life has
been changed by this event, who has a thousand things to say to you?"

"Luckily, my marriage is fixed for the day after to-morrow," said
David, "and you will have an excuse for not going to see Mme. de
Bargeton quite so often."

"Dear David," returned Lucien, "she asks me to go to her to-day; and I
ought to do as she wishes, I think; she knows better than we do how I
should act in the present state of things."

"Then is everything ready here?" asked Mme. Chardon.

"Come and see," cried David, delighted to exhibit the transformation
of the first floor. Everything there was new and fresh; everything was
pervaded by the sweet influences of early married days, still crowned
by the wreath of orange blossoms and the bridal veil; days when the
springtide of love finds its reflection in material things, and
everything is white and spotless and has not lost its bloom.

"Eve's home will be fit for a princess," said the mother, "but you
have spent too much, you have been reckless."

David smiled by way of answer. But Mme. Chardon had touched the sore
spot in a hidden wound which caused the poor lover cruel pangs. The
cost of carrying out his ideas had far exceeded his estimates; he
could not afford to build above the shed. His mother-in-law must wait
awhile for the home he had meant to make for her. There is nothing
more keenly painful to a generous nature than a failure to keep such
promises as these; it is like mortification to the little vanities of
affection, as they may be styled. David sedulously hid his
embarrassment to spare Lucien; he was afraid that Lucien might be
overwhelmed by the sacrifices made for his sake.

"Eve and her girl friends have been working very hard, too," said Mme.
Chardon. "The wedding clothes and the house linen are all ready. The
girls are so fond of her, that, without letting her know about it,
they have covered the mattresses with white twill and a rose-colored
piping at the edges. So pretty! It makes one wish one were going to be

Mother and daughter had spent all their little savings to furnish
David's home with the things of which a young bachelor never thinks.
They knew that he was furnishing with great splendor, for something
had been said about ordering a dinner-service from Limoges, and the
two women had striven to make Eve's contributions to the housekeeping
worthy of David's. This little emulation in love and generosity could
but bring the husband and wife into difficulties at the very outset of
their married life, with every sign of homely comfort about them,
comfort that might be regarded as positive luxury in a place so behind
the times as the Angouleme of those days.

As soon as Lucien saw his mother and David enter the bedroom with the
blue-and-white draperies and neat furniture that he knew, he slipped
away to Mme. de Bargeton. He found Nais at table with her husband; M.
de Bargeton's early morning walk had sharpened his appetite, and he
was breakfasting quite unconcernedly after all that had passed. Lucien
saw the dignified face of M. de Negrepelisse, the old provincial
noble, a relic of the old French _noblesse_, sitting beside Nais.

When Gentil announced M. de Rubempre, the white-headed old man gave
him a keen, curious glance; the father was anxious to form his own
opinions of this man whom his daughter had singled out for notice.
Lucien's extreme beauty made such a vivid impression upon him, that he
could not repress an approving glance; but at the same time he seemed
to regard the affair as a flirtation, a mere passing fancy on his
daughter's part. Breakfast over, Louise could leave her father and M.
de Bargeton together; she beckoned Lucien to follow her as she

"Dear," she said, and the tones of her voice were half glad, half
melancholy, "I am going to Paris, and my father is taking Bargeton
back with him to the Escarbas, where he will stay during my absence.
Mme. d'Espard (she was a Blamont-Chauvry before her marriage) has
great influence herself, and influential relations. The d'Espards are
connections of ours; they are the older branch of the Negrepelisses;
and if she vouchsafes to acknowledge the relationship, I intend to
cultivate her a good deal; she may perhaps procure a place for
Bargeton. At my solicitation, it might be desired at Court that he
should represent the Charente, and that would be a step towards his
election here. If he were a deputy, it would further other steps that
I wish to take in Paris. You, my darling, have brought about this
change in my life. After this morning's duel, I am obliged to shut up
my house for some time; for there will be people who will side with
the Chandours against us. In our position, and in a small town,
absence is the only way of softening down bad feeling. But I shall
either succeed, and never see Angouleme again, or I shall not succeed,
and then I mean to wait in Paris until the time comes when I can spend
my summers at the Escarbas and the winters in Paris. It is the only
life for a woman of quality, and I have waited too long before
entering upon it. The one day will be enough for our preparations;
to-morrow night I shall set out, and you are coming with me, are you
not? You shall start first. I will overtake you between Mansle and
Ruffec, and we shall soon be in Paris. There, beloved, is the life for
a man who has anything in him. We are only at our ease among our
equals; we are uncomfortable in any other society. Paris, besides, is
the capital of the intellectual world, the stage on which you will
succeed; overleap the gulf that separates us quickly. You must not
allow your ideas to grow rancid in the provinces; put yourself into
communication at once with the great men who represent the nineteenth
century. Try to stand well with the Court and with those in power. No
honor, no distinction, comes to seek out the talent that perishes for
lack of light in a little town; tell me, if you can, the name of any
great work of art executed in the provinces! On the contrary, see how
Jean-Jacques, himself sublime in his poverty, felt the irresistible
attraction of that sun of the intellectual world, which produces
ever-new glories and stimulates the intellect--Paris, where men rub
against one another. What is it but your duty to hasten to take your
place in the succession of pleiades that rise from generation to
generation? You have no idea how it contributes to the success of a
clever young man to be brought into a high light, socially speaking.
I will introduce you to Mme. d'Espard; it is not easy to get into her
set; but you meet all the greatest people at her house, Cabinet
ministers and ambassadors, and great orators from the Chamber of
Deputies, and peers and men of influence, and wealthy or famous people.
A young man with good looks and more than sufficient genius could fail
to excite interest only by very bad management.

"There is no pettiness about those who are truly great; they will lend
you their support; and when you yourself have a high position, your
work will rise immensely in public opinion. The great problem for the
artist is the problem of putting himself in evidence. In these ways
there will be hundreds of chances of making your way, of sinecures, of
a pension from the civil list. The Bourbons are so fond of encouraging
letters and the arts, and you therefore must be a religious poet and a
Royalist poet at the same time. Not only is it the right course, but
it is the way to get on in life. Do the Liberals and the Opposition
give places and rewards, and make the fortunes of men of letters? Take
the right road and reach the goal of genius. You have my secret, do
not breathe a syllable of it, and prepare to follow me.--Would you
rather not go?" she added, surprised that her lover made no answer.

To Lucien, listening to the alluring words, and bewildered by the
rapid bird's-eye view of Paris which they brought before him, it
seemed as if hitherto he had been using only half his brain and
suddenly had found the other half, so swiftly his ideas widened. He
saw himself stagnating in Angouleme like a frog under a stone in a
marsh. Paris and her splendors rose before him; Paris, the Eldorado of
provincial imaginings, with golden robes and the royal diadem about
her brows, and arms outstretched to talent of every kind. Great men
would greet him there as one of their order. Everything smiled upon
genius. There, there were no jealous booby-squires to invent stinging
gibes and humiliate a man of letters; there was no stupid indifference
to poetry in Paris. Paris was the fountain-head of poetry; there the
poet was brought into the light and paid for his work. Publishers
should no sooner read the opening pages of _An Archer of Charles IX._
than they should open their cash-boxes with "How much do you want?"
And besides all this, he understood that this journey with Mme. de
Bargeton would virtually give her to him; that they should live

So at the words, "Would you rather not go?" tears came into his eyes,
he flung his arms about Louise, held her tightly to his heart, and
marbled her throat with impassioned kisses. Suddenly he checked
himself, as if memory had dealt him a blow.

"Great heavens!" he cried, "my sister is to be married on the day
after to-morrow!"

That exclamation was the last expiring cry of noble and single-hearted
boyhood. The so-powerful ties that bind young hearts to home, and a
first friendship, and all early affections, were to be severed at one
ruthless blow.

"Well," cried the haughty Negrepelisse, "and what has your sister's
marriage to do with the progress of our love? Have you set your mind
so much on being best man at a wedding party of tradespeople and
workingmen, that you cannot give up these exalted joys for my sake? A
great sacrifice, indeed!" she went on, scornfully. "This morning I
sent my husband out to fight in your quarrel. There, sir, go; I am
mistaken in you."

She sank fainting upon the sofa. Lucien went to her, entreating her
pardon, calling execrations upon his family, his sister, and David.

"I had such faith in you!" she said. "M. de Cante-Croix had an adored
mother; but to win a letter from me, and the words, 'I am satisfied,'
he fell in the thick of the fight. And now, when I ask you to take a
journey with me, you cannot think of giving up a wedding dinner for my

Lucien was ready to kill himself; his desperation was so unfeigned,
that Louise forgave him, though at the same time she made him feel
that he must redeem his mistake.

"Come, come," she said, "be discreet, and to-morrow at midnight be
upon the road, a hundred paces out of Mansle."

Lucien felt the globe shrink under his feet; he went back to David's
house, hopes pursuing him as the Furies followed Orestes, for he had
glimmerings of endless difficulties, all summed up in the appalling
words, "Where is the money to come from?"

He stood in such terror of David's perspicacity, that he locked
himself into his pretty new study until he could recover himself, his
head was swimming in this new position. So he must leave the rooms
just furnished for him at such a cost, and all the sacrifices that had
been made for him had been made in vain. Then it occurred to Lucien
that his mother might take the rooms and save David the heavy expense
of building at the end of the yard, as he had meant to do; his
departure would be, in fact, a convenience to the family. He
discovered any quantity of urgent reasons for his sudden flight; for
there is no such Jesuit as the desire of your heart. He hurried down
at once to tell the news to his sister in L'Houmeau and to take
counsel with her. As he reached Postel's shop, he bethought himself
that if all other means failed, he could borrow enough to live upon
for a year from his father's successor.

"Three francs per day will be abundance for me if I live with Louise,"
he thought; "it is only a thousand francs for a whole year. And in six
months' time I shall have plenty of money."

Then, under seal and promise of secrecy, Eve and her mother heard
Lucien's confidences. Both the women began to cry as they heard of the
ambitious plans; and when he asked the reason of their trouble, they
told him that every penny they possessed had been spent on
table-linen, house-linen, Eve's wedding clothes, and on a host of
things that David had overlooked. They had been so glad to do this, for
David had made a marriage-settlement of ten thousand francs on Eve.
Lucien then spoke of his idea of a loan, and Mme. Chardon undertook to
ask M. Postel to lend them a thousand francs for a twelve-month.

"But, Lucien," said Eve, as a thought clutched at her heart, "you will
not be here at my wedding! Oh! come back, I will put it off for a few
days. Surely she will give you leave to come back in a fortnight, if
only you go with her now? Surely, she would spare you to us for a
week, Lucien, when we brought you up for her? We shall have no luck if
you are not at the wedding. . . . But will a thousand francs be enough
for you?" she asked, suddenly interrupting herself. "Your coat suits
you divinely, but you have only that one! You have only two fine
shirts, the other six are coarse linen; and three of your white ties
are just common muslin, there are only two lawn cravats, and your
pocket-handkerchiefs are not good ones. Where will you find a sister
in Paris who will get up your linen in one day as you want it? You
will want ever so much more. Then you have just the one pair of new
nankeen trousers, last year's trousers are tight for you; you will be
obliged to have clothes made in Paris, and Paris prices are not like
Angouleme prices. You have only two presentable white waistcoats; I
have mended the others already. Come, I advise you to take two
thousand francs."

David came in as she spoke, and apparently heard the last two words,
for he looked at the brother and sister and said nothing.

"Do not keep anything from me," he said at last.

"Well," exclaimed Eve, "he is going away with _her_."

Mme. Chardon came in again, and, not seeing David, began at once:

"Postel is willing to lend you the thousand francs, Lucien," she said,
"but only for six months; and even then he wants you to let him have a
bill endorsed by your brother-in-law, for he says that you are giving
him no security."

She turned and saw David, and there was a deep silence in the room.
The Chardons thought how they had abused David's goodness, and felt
ashamed. Tears stood in the young printer's eyes.

"Then you will not be here at our wedding," he began. "You are not
going to live with us! And here have I been squandering all that I
had! Oh! Lucien, as I came along, bringing Eve her little bits of
wedding jewelry, I did not think that I should be sorry I spent the
money on them." He brushed his hand over his eyes as he drew the
little cases from his pocket.

He set down the tiny morocco-covered boxes on the table in front of
his mother-in-law.

"Oh! why do you think so much for me?" protested Eve, giving him a
divinely sweet smile that belied her words.

"Mamma, dear," said David, "just tell M. Postel that I will put my
name to the bill, for I can tell from your face, Lucien, that you have
quite made up your mind to go."

Lucien's head sank dejectedly; there was a little pause, then he said,
"Do not think hardly of me, my dear, good angels."

He put his arms about Eve and David, and drew them close, and held
them tightly to him as he added, "Wait and see what comes of it, and
you shall know how much I love you. What is the good of our high
thinking, David, if it does not enable us to disregard the petty
ceremonial in which the law entangles our affections? Shall I not be
with you in spirit, in spite of the distance between us? Shall we not
be united in thought? Have I not a destiny to fulfil? Will publishers
come here to seek my _Archer of Charles IX._ and the _Marguerites_? A
little sooner or a little later I shall be obliged in any case to do
as I am doing to-day, should I not? And shall I ever find a better
opportunity than this? Does not my success entirely depend upon my
entrance on life in Paris through the Marquise d'Espard's salon?"

"He is right," said Eve; "you yourself were saying, were you not, that
he ought to go to Paris at once?"

David took Eve's hand in his, and drew her into the narrow little room
where she had slept for seven years.

"Love, you were saying just now that he would want two thousand
francs?" he said in her ear. "Postel is only lending one thousand."

Eve gave her betrothed a look, and he read all her anguish in her

"Listen, my adored Eve, we are making a bad start in life. Yes, my
expenses have taken all my capital; I have just two thousand francs
left, and half of it will be wanted to carry on the business. If we
give your brother the thousand francs, it will mean that we are giving
away our bread, that we shall live in anxiety. If I were alone, I know
what I should do; but we are two. Decide for us."

Eve, distracted, sprang to her lover's arms, and kissed him tenderly,
as she answered through her tears:

"Do as you would do if you were alone; I will work to earn the money."

In spite of the most impassioned kiss ever given and taken by
betrothed lovers, David left Eve overcome with trouble, and went out
to Lucien.

"Do not worry yourself," he said; "you shall have your two thousand

"Go in to see Postel," said Mme. Chardon, "for you must both give your
signatures to the bill."

When Lucien and David came back again unexpectedly, they found Eve and
her mother on their knees in prayer. The women felt sure that Lucien's
return would bring the realization of many hopes; but at the moment
they could only feel how much they were losing in the parting, and the
happiness to come seemed too dearly bought by an absence that broke up
their life together, and would fill the coming days with innumerable
fears for Lucien.

"If you could ever forget this sight," David said in Lucien's ear,
"you would be the basest of men."

David, no doubt, thought that these brave words were needed; Mme. de
Bargeton's influence seemed to him less to be feared than his friend's
unlucky instability of character, Lucien was so easily led for good or
evil. Eve soon packed Lucien's clothes; the Fernando Cortez of
literature carried but little baggage. He was wearing his best
overcoat, his best waistcoat, and one of the two fine shirts. The
whole of his linen, the celebrated coat, and his manuscript made up so
small a package that to hide it from Mme. de Bargeton, David proposed
to send it by coach to a paper merchant with whom he had dealings, and
wrote and advised him to that effect, and asked him to keep the parcel
until Lucien sent for it.

In spite of Mme. de Bargeton's precautions, Chatelet found out that
she was leaving Angouleme; and with a view to discovering whether she
was traveling alone or with Lucien, he sent his man to Ruffec with
instructions to watch every carriage that changed horses at that

"If she is taking her poet with her," thought he, "I have her now."

Lucien set out before daybreak the next morning. David went with him.
David had hired a cabriolet, pretending that he was going to Marsac on
business, a little piece of deception which seemed probable under the
circumstances. The two friends went to Marsac, and spent part of the
day with the old "bear." As evening came on they set out again, and in
the beginning of the dawn they waited in the road, on the further side
of Mansle, for Mme. de Bargeton. When the seventy-year old traveling
carriage, which he had many a time seen in the coach-house, appeared
in sight, Lucien felt more deeply moved than he had ever been in his
life before; he sprang into David's arms.

"God grant that this may be for your good!" said David, and he climbed
into the shabby cabriolet and drove away with a feeling of dread
clutching at his heart; he had terrible presentiments of the fate
awaiting Lucien in Paris.


The following personages appear in other stories of the Human Comedy.

Bargeton, Madame de (see Chatelet, Baronne du)

  Eve and David
  A Man of Business
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Middle Classes

Chardon, Madame (nee Rubempre)
  Eve and David
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Chatelet, Sixte, Baron du
  A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Thirteen

Chatelet, Marie-Louise-Anais de Negrepelisse, Baronne du
  A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
  The Government Clerks

Cointet, Boniface
  Eve and David
  The Firm of Nucingen
  The Member for Arcis

Cointet, Jean
  Eve and David

  Eve and David

Courtois, Madame
  Eve and David

  The Atheist's Mass
  Cousin Pons
  The Thirteen
  The Government Clerks
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  The Seamy Side of History
  Modeste Mignon
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

  A Distinguished Provincial at Paris

Grozier, Abbe
  The Commission in Lunacy

Hautoy, Francis du
  Eve and David

Maucombe, Comte de

  Letters of Two Brides

Montriveau, General Marquis Armand de
  The Thirteen
  Father Goriot
  A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
  Another Study of Woman
  The Member for Arcis

Negrepelisse, De
  The Commission in Lunacy
  A Distinguished Provincial at Paris

  Eve and David

Pimentel, Marquis and Marquise de
  Eve and David

  Eve and David

Prieur, Madame
  Eve and David

Rastignac, Baron and Baronne de (Eugene's parents)
  Father Goriot

Rastignac, Laure-Rose and Agathe de
  Father Goriot
  The Member for Arcis

Rubempre, Lucien-Chardon de
  Eve and David
  A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
  The Government Clerks
  Ursule Mirouet
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Sechard, Jerome-Nicolas
  Eve and David

Sechard, David
  Eve and David
  A Distinguished Provincial At Paris
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Sechard, Madame David
  Eve and David
  A Distinguished Provincial At Paris
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Senonches, Jacques de
  Eve and David

Senonches, Madame Jacques de
  Eve and David

Stanhope, Lady Esther
  The Lily of the Valley


                       (Lost Illusions Part II)


                           HONORE DE BALZAC

                            Translated By
                            Ellen Marriage

                                PART I

Mme. de Bargeton and Lucien de Rubempre had left Angouleme behind, and
were traveling together upon the road to Paris. Not one of the party
who made that journey alluded to it afterwards; but it may be believed
that an infatuated youth who had looked forward to the delights of an
elopement, must have found the continual presence of Gentil, the
man-servant, and Albertine, the maid, not a little irksome on the way.
Lucien, traveling post for the first time in his life, was horrified
to see pretty nearly the whole sum on which he meant to live in Paris
for a twelvemonth dropped along the road. Like other men who combine
great intellectual powers with the charming simplicity of childhood,
he openly expressed his surprise at the new and wonderful things which
he saw, and thereby made a mistake. A man should study a woman very
carefully before he allows her to see his thoughts and emotions as
they arise in him. A woman, whose nature is large as her heart is
tender, can smile upon childishness, and make allowances; but let her
have ever so small a spice of vanity herself, and she cannot forgive
childishness, or littleness, or vanity in her lover. Many a woman is
so extravagant a worshiper that she must always see the god in her
idol; but there are yet others who love a man for his sake and not for
their own, and adore his failings with his greater qualities.

Lucien had not guessed as yet that Mme. de Bargeton's love was grafted
on pride. He made another mistake when he failed to discern the
meaning of certain smiles which flitted over Louise's lips from time
to time; and instead of keeping himself to himself, he indulged in the
playfulness of the young rat emerging from his hole for the first

The travelers were set down before daybreak at the sign of the
Gaillard-Bois in the Rue de l'Echelle, both so tired out with the
journey that Louise went straight to bed and slept, first bidding
Lucien to engage the room immediately overhead. Lucien slept on till
four o'clock in the afternoon, when he was awakened by Mme. de
Bargeton's servant, and learning the hour, made a hasty toilet and
hurried downstairs.

Louise was sitting in the shabby inn sitting-room. Hotel accommodation
is a blot on the civilization of Paris; for with all its pretensions
to elegance, the city as yet does not boast a single inn where a
well-to-do traveler can find the surroundings to which he is accustomed
at home. To Lucien's just-awakened, sleep-dimmed eyes, Louise was
hardly recognizable in this cheerless, sunless room, with the shabby
window-curtains, the comfortless polished floor, the hideous furniture
bought second-hand, or much the worse for wear.

Some people no longer look the same when detached from the background
of faces, objects, and surroundings which serve as a setting, without
which, indeed, they seem to lose something of their intrinsic worth.
Personality demands its appropriate atmosphere to bring out its
values, just as the figures in Flemish interiors need the arrangement
of light and shade in which they are placed by the painter's genius if
they are to live for us. This is especially true of provincials. Mme.
de Bargeton, moreover, looked more thoughtful and dignified than was
necessary now, when no barriers stood between her and happiness.

Gentil and Albertine waited upon them, and while they were present
Lucien could not complain. The dinner, sent in from a neighboring
restaurant, fell far below the provincial average, both in quantity
and quality; the essential goodness of country fare was wanting, and
in point of quantity the portions were cut with so strict an eye to
business that they savored of short commons. In such small matters
Paris does not show its best side to travelers of moderate fortune.
Lucien waited till the meal was over. Some change had come over
Louise, he thought, but he could not explain it.

And a change had, in fact, taken place. Events had occurred while he
slept; for reflection is an event in our inner history, and Mme. de
Bargeton had been reflecting.

About two o'clock that afternoon, Sixte du Chatelet made his
appearance in the Rue de l'Echelle and asked for Albertine. The
sleeping damsel was roused, and to her he expressed his wish to speak
with her mistress. Mme. de Bargeton had scarcely time to dress before
he came back again. The unaccountable apparition of M. du Chatelet
roused the lady's curiosity, for she had kept her journey a profound
secret, as she thought. At three o'clock the visitor was admitted.

"I have risked a reprimand from headquarters to follow you," he said,
as he greeted her; "I foresaw coming events. But if I lose my post for
it, YOU, at any rate, shall not be lost."

"What do you mean?" exclaimed Mme. de Bargeton.

"I can see plainly that you love Lucien," he continued, with an air of
tender resignation. "You must love indeed if _you_ can act thus
recklessly, and disregard the conventions which you know so well. Dear
adored Nais, can you really imagine that Mme. d'Espard's salon, or any
other salon in Paris, will not be closed to you as soon as it is known
that you have fled from Angouleme, as it were, with a young man,
especially after the duel between M. de Bargeton and M. de Chandour?
The fact that your husband has gone to the Escarbas looks like a
separation. Under such circumstances a gentleman fights first and
afterwards leaves his wife at liberty. By all means, give M. de
Rubempre your love and your countenance; do just as you please; but
you must not live in the same house. If anybody here in Paris knew
that you had traveled together, the whole world that you have a mind
to see would point the finger at you.

"And, Nais, do not make these sacrifices for a young man whom you have
as yet compared with no one else; he, on his side, has been put to no
proof; he may forsake you for some Parisienne, better able, as he may
fancy, to further his ambitions. I mean no harm to the man you love,
but you will permit me to put your own interests before his, and to
beg you to study him, to be fully aware of the serious nature of this
step that you are taking. And, then, if you find all doors closed
against you, and that none of the women call upon you, make sure at
least that you will feel no regret for all that you have renounced for
him. Be very certain first that he for whom you will have given up so
much will always be worthy of your sacrifices and appreciate them.

"Just now," continued Chatelet, "Mme. d'Espard is the more prudish and
particular because she herself is separated from her husband, nobody
knows why. The Navarreins, the Lenoncourts, the Blamont-Chauvrys, and
the rest of the relations have all rallied round her; the most
strait-laced women are seen at her house, and receive her with respect,
and the Marquis d'Espard has been put in the wrong. The first call that
you pay will make it clear to you that I am right; indeed, knowing
Paris as I do, I can tell you beforehand that you will no sooner enter
the Marquise's salon than you will be in despair lest she should find
out that you are staying at the Gaillard-Bois with an apothecary's
son, though he may wish to be called M. de Rubempre.

"You will have rivals here, women far more astute and shrewd than
Amelie; they will not fail to discover who you are, where you are,
where you come from, and all that you are doing. You have counted upon
your incognito, I see, but you are one of those women for whom an
incognito is out of the question. You will meet Angouleme at every
turn. There are the deputies from the Charente coming up for the
opening of the session; there is the Commandant in Paris on leave.
Why, the first man or woman from Angouleme who happens to see you
would cut your career short in a strange fashion. You would simply be
Lucien's mistress.

"If you need me at any time, I am staying with the Receiver-General in
the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, two steps away from Mme. d'Espard's.
I am sufficiently acquainted with the Marechale de Carigliano, Mme. de
Serizy, and the President of the Council to introduce you to those
houses; but you will meet so many people at Mme. d'Espard's, that you
are not likely to require me. So far from wishing to gain admittance
to this set or that, every one will be longing to make your

Chatelet talked on; Mme. de Bargeton made no interruption. She was
struck with his perspicacity. The queen of Angouleme had, in fact,
counted upon preserving her incognito.

"You are right, my dear friend," she said at length; "but what am I to

"Allow me to find suitable furnished lodgings for you," suggested
Chatelet; "that way of living is less expensive than an inn. You will
have a home of your own; and, if you will take my advice, you will
sleep in your new rooms this very night."

"But how did you know my address?" queried she.

"Your traveling carriage is easily recognized; and, besides, I was
following you. At Sevres your postilion told mine that he had brought
you here. Will you permit me to act as your harbinger? I will write as
soon as I have found lodgings."

"Very well, do so," said she. And in those seemingly insignificant
words, all was said. The Baron du Chatelet had spoken the language of
worldly wisdom to a woman of the world. He had made his appearance
before her in faultless dress, a neat cab was waiting for him at the
door; and Mme. de Bargeton, standing by the window thinking over the
position, chanced to see the elderly dandy drive away.

A few moments later Lucien appeared, half awake and hastily dressed.
He was handsome, it is true; but his clothes, his last year's nankeen
trousers, and his shabby tight jacket were ridiculous. Put Antinous or
the Apollo Belvedere himself into a water-carrier's blouse, and how
shall you recognize the godlike creature of the Greek or Roman chisel?
The eyes note and compare before the heart has time to revise the
swift involuntary judgment; and the contrast between Lucien and
Chatelet was so abrupt that it could not fail to strike Louise.

Towards six o'clock that evening, when dinner was over, Mme. de
Bargeton beckoned Lucien to sit beside her on the shabby sofa, covered
with a flowered chintz--a yellow pattern on a red ground.

"Lucien mine," she said, "don't you think that if we have both of us
done a foolish thing, suicidal for both our interests, it would only
be common sense to set matters right? We ought not to live together in
Paris, dear boy, and we must not allow anyone to suspect that we
traveled together. Your career depends so much upon my position that I
ought to do nothing to spoil it. So, to-night, I am going to remove
into lodgings near by. But you will stay on here, we can see each
other every day, and nobody can say a word against us."

And Louise explained conventions to Lucien, who opened wide eyes. He
had still to learn that when a woman thinks better of her folly, she
thinks better of her love; but one thing he understood--he saw that he
was no longer the Lucien of Angouleme. Louise talked of herself, of
_her_ interests, _her_ reputation, and of the world; and, to veil her
egoism, she tried to make him believe that this was all on his
account. He had no claim upon Louise thus suddenly transformed into
Mme. de Bargeton, and, more serious still, he had no power over her.
He could not keep back the tears that filled his eyes.

"If I am your glory," cried the poet, "you are yet more to me--you are
my one hope, my whole future rests with you. I thought that if you
meant to make my successes yours, you would surely make my adversity
yours also, and here we are going to part already."

"You are judging my conduct," said she; "you do not love me."

Lucien looked at her with such a dolorous expression, that in spite of
herself, she said:

"Darling, I will stay if you like. We shall both be ruined, we shall
have no one to come to our aid. But when we are both equally wretched,
and every one shuts their door upon us both, when failure (for we must
look all possibilities in the face), when failure drives us back to
the Escarbas, then remember, love, that I foresaw the end, and that at
the first I proposed that we should make your way by conforming to
established rules."

"Louise," he cried, with his arms around her, "you are wise; you
frighten me! Remember that I am a child, that I have given myself up
entirely to your dear will. I myself should have preferred to overcome
obstacles and win my way among men by the power that is in me; but if
I can reach the goal sooner through your aid, I shall be very glad to
owe all my success to you. Forgive me! You mean so much to me that I
cannot help fearing all kinds of things; and, for me, parting means
that desertion is at hand, and desertion is death."

"But, my dear boy, the world's demands are soon satisfied," returned
she. "You must sleep here; that is all. All day long you will be with
me, and no one can say a word."

A few kisses set Lucien's mind completely at rest. An hour later
Gentil brought in a note from Chatelet. He told Mme. de Bargeton that
he had found lodgings for her in the Rue Nueve-de-Luxembourg. Mme. de
Bargeton informed herself of the exact place, and found that it was
not very far from the Rue de l'Echelle. "We shall be neighbors," she
told Lucien.

Two hours afterwards Louise stepped into the hired carriage sent by
Chatelet for the removal to the new rooms. The apartments were of the
class that upholsterers furnish and let to wealthy deputies and
persons of consideration on a short visit to Paris--showy and
uncomfortable. It was eleven o'clock when Lucien returned to his inn,
having seen nothing as yet of Paris except the part of the Rue
Saint-Honore which lies between the Rue Neuve-de-Luxembourg and the Rue
de l'Echelle. He lay down in his miserable little room, and could not
help comparing it in his own mind with Louise's sumptuous apartments.

Just as he came away the Baron du Chatelet came in, gorgeously arrayed
in evening dress, fresh from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to
inquire whether Mme. de Bargeton was satisfied with all that he had
done on her behalf. Nais was uneasy. The splendor was alarming to her
mind. Provincial life had reacted upon her; she was painfully
conscientious over her accounts, and economical to a degree that is
looked upon as miserly in Paris. She had brought with her twenty
thousand francs in the shape of a draft on the Receiver-General,
considering that the sum would more than cover the expenses of four
years in Paris; she was afraid already lest she should not have
enough, and should run into debt; and now Chatelet told her that her
rooms would only cost six hundred francs per month.

"A mere trifle," added he, seeing that Nais was startled. "For five
hundred francs a month you can have a carriage from a livery stable;
fifty louis in all. You need only think of your dress. A woman moving
in good society could not well do less; and if you mean to obtain a
Receiver-General's appointment for M. de Bargeton, or a post in the
Household, you ought not to look poverty-stricken. Here, in Paris,
they only give to the rich. It is most fortunate that you brought
Gentil to go out with you, and Albertine for your own woman, for
servants are enough to ruin you here. But with your introductions you
will seldom be home to a meal."

Mme. de Bargeton and the Baron de Chatelet chatted about Paris.
Chatelet gave her all the news of the day, the myriad nothings that
you are bound to know, under penalty of being a nobody. Before very
long the Baron also gave advice as to shopping, recommending Herbault
for toques and Juliette for hats and bonnets; he added the address of
a fashionable dressmaker to supersede Victorine. In short, he made the
lady see the necessity of rubbing off Angouleme. Then he took his
leave after a final flash of happy inspiration.

"I expect I shall have a box at one of the theatres to-morrow," he
remarked carelessly; "I will call for you and M. de Rubempre, for you
must allow me to do the honors of Paris."

"There is more generosity in his character than I thought," said Mme.
de Bargeton to herself when Lucien was included in the invitation.

In the month of June ministers are often puzzled to know what to do
with boxes at the theatre; ministerialist deputies and their
constituents are busy in their vineyards or harvest fields, and their
more exacting acquaintances are in the country or traveling about; so
it comes to pass that the best seats are filled at this season with
heterogeneous theatre-goers, never seen at any other time of year, and
the house is apt to look as if it were tapestried with very shabby
material. Chatelet had thought already that this was his opportunity
of giving Nais the amusements which provincials crave most eagerly,
and that with very little expense.

The next morning, the very first morning in Paris, Lucien went to the
Rue Nueve-de-Luxembourg and found that Louise had gone out. She had
gone to make some indispensable purchases, to take counsel of the
mighty and illustrious authorities in the matter of the feminine
toilette, pointed out to her by Chatelet, for she had written to tell
the Marquise d'Espard of her arrival. Mme. de Bargeton possessed the
self-confidence born of a long habit of rule, but she was exceedingly
afraid of appearing to be provincial. She had tact enough to know how
greatly the relations of women among themselves depend upon first
impressions; and though she felt that she was equal to taking her
place at once in such a distinguished set as Mme. de d'Espard's, she
felt also that she stood in need of goodwill at her first entrance
into society, and was resolved, in the first place, that she would
leave nothing undone to secure success. So she felt boundlessly
thankful to Chatelet for pointing out these ways of putting herself in
harmony with the fashionable world.

A singular chance so ordered it that the Marquise was delighted to
find an opportunity of being useful to a connection of her husband's
family. The Marquis d'Espard had withdrawn himself without apparent
reason from society, and ceased to take any active interest in
affairs, political or domestic. His wife, thus left mistress of her
actions, felt the need of the support of public opinion, and was glad
to take the Marquis' place and give her countenance to one of her
husband's relations. She meant to be ostentatiously gracious, so as to
put her husband more evidently in the wrong; and that very day she
wrote, "Mme. de Bargeton _nee_ Negrepelisse" a charming billet, one of
the prettily worded compositions of which time alone can discover the

"She was delighted that circumstances had brought a relative, of whom
she had heard, whose acquaintance she had desired to make, into closer
connection with her family. Friendships in Paris were not so solid but
that she longed to find one more to love on earth; and if this might
not be, there would only be one more illusion to bury with the rest.
She put herself entirely at her cousin's disposal. She would have
called upon her if indisposition had not kept her to the house, and
she felt that she lay already under obligations to the cousin who had
thought of her."

Lucien, meanwhile, taking his first ramble along the Rue de la Paix
and through the Boulevards, like all newcomers, was much more
interested in the things that he saw than in the people he met. The
general effect of Paris is wholly engrossing at first. The wealth in
the shop windows, the high houses, the streams of traffic, the
contrast everywhere between the last extremes of luxury and want
struck him more than anything else. In his astonishment at the crowds
of strange faces, the man of imaginative temper felt as if he himself
had shrunk, as it were, immensely. A man of any consequence in his
native place, where he cannot go out but he meets with some
recognition of his importance at every step, does not readily accustom
himself to the sudden and total extinction of his consequence. You are
somebody in your own country, in Paris you are nobody. The transition
between the first state and the last should be made gradually, for the
too abrupt fall is something like annihilation. Paris could not fail
to be an appalling wilderness for a young poet, who looked for an echo
for all his sentiments, a confidant for all his thoughts, a soul to
share his least sensations.

Lucien had not gone in search of his luggage and his best blue coat;
and painfully conscious of the shabbiness, to say no worse, of his
clothes, he went to Mme. de Bargeton, feeling that she must have
returned. He found the Baron du Chatelet, who carried them both off to
dinner at the _Rocher de Cancale_. Lucien's head was dizzy with the
whirl of Paris, the Baron was in the carriage, he could say nothing to
Louise, but he squeezed her hand, and she gave a warm response to the
mute confidence.

After dinner Chatelet took his guests to the Vaudeville. Lucien, in
his heart, was not over well pleased to see Chatelet again, and cursed
the chance that had brought the Baron to Paris. The Baron said that
ambition had brought him to town; he had hopes of an appointment as
secretary-general to a government department, and meant to take a seat
in the Council of State as Master of Requests. He had come to Paris to
ask for fulfilment of the promises that had been given him, for a man
of his stamp could not be expected to remain a comptroller all his
life; he would rather be nothing at all, and offer himself for
election as deputy, or re-enter diplomacy. Chatelet grew visibly
taller; Lucien dimly began to recognize in this elderly beau the
superiority of the man of the world who knows Paris; and, most of all,
he felt ashamed to owe his evening's amusement to his rival. And while
the poet looked ill at ease and awkward Her Royal Highness'
ex-secretary was quite in his element. He smiled at his rival's
hesitations, at his astonishment, at the questions he put, at the
little mistakes which the latter ignorantly made, much as an old salt
laughs at an apprentice who has not found his sea legs; but Lucien's
pleasure at seeing a play for the first time in Paris outweighed the
annoyance of these small humiliations.

That evening marked an epoch in Lucien's career; he put away a good
many of his ideas as to provincial life in the course of it. His
horizon widened; society assumed different proportions. There were
fair Parisiennes in fresh and elegant toilettes all about him; Mme. de
Bargeton's costume, tolerably ambitious though it was, looked dowdy by
comparison; the material, like the fashion and the color, was out of
date. That way of arranging her hair, so bewitching in Angouleme,
looked frightfully ugly here among the daintily devised coiffures
which he saw in every direction.

"Will she always look like that?" said he to himself, ignorant that
the morning had been spent in preparing a transformation.

In the provinces comparison and choice are out of the question; when a
face has grown familiar it comes to possess a certain beauty that is
taken for granted. But transport the pretty woman of the provinces to
Paris, and no one takes the slightest notice of her; her prettiness is
of the comparative degree illustrated by the saying that among the
blind the one-eyed are kings. Lucien's eyes were now busy comparing
Mme. de Bargeton with other women, just as she herself had contrasted
him with Chatelet on the previous day. And Mme. de Bargeton, on her
part, permitted herself some strange reflections upon her lover. The
poet cut a poor figure notwithstanding his singular beauty. The
sleeves of his jacket were too short; with his ill-cut country gloves
and a waistcoat too scanty for him, he looked prodigiously ridiculous,
compared with the young men in the balcony--"positively pitiable,"
thought Mme. de Bargeton. Chatelet, interested in her without
presumption, taking care of her in a manner that revealed a profound
passion; Chatelet, elegant, and as much at home as an actor treading
the familiar boards of his theatre, in two days had recovered all the
ground lost in the past six months.

Ordinary people will not admit that our sentiments towards each other
can totally change in a moment, and yet certain it is, that two lovers
not seldom fly apart even more quickly than they drew together. In
Mme. de Bargeton and in Lucien a process of disenchantment was at
work; Paris was the cause. Life had widened out before the poet's
eyes, as society came to wear a new aspect for Louise. Nothing but an
accident now was needed to sever finally the bond that united them;
nor was that blow, so terrible for Lucien, very long delayed.

Mme. de Bargeton set Lucien down at his inn, and drove home with
Chatelet, to the intense vexation of the luckless lover.

"What will they say about me?" he wondered, as he climbed the stairs
to his dismal room.

"That poor fellow is uncommonly dull," said Chatelet, with a smile,
when the door was closed.

"That is the way with those who have a world of thoughts in their
heart and brain. Men who have so much in them to give out in great
works long dreamed of, profess a certain contempt for conversation, a
commerce in which the intellect spends itself in small change,"
returned the haughty Negrepelisse. She still had courage to defend
Lucien, but less for Lucien's sake than for her own.

"I grant it you willingly," replied the Baron, "but we live with human
beings and not with books. There, dear Nais! I see how it is, there is
nothing between you yet, and I am delighted that it is so. If you
decide to bring an interest of a kind hitherto lacking into your life,
let it not be this so-called genius, I implore you. How if you have
made a mistake? Suppose that in a few days' time, when you have
compared him with men whom you will meet, men of real ability, men who
have distinguished themselves in good earnest; suppose that you should
discover, dear and fair siren, that it is no lyre-bearer that you have
borne into port on your dazzling shoulders, but a little ape, with no
manners and no capacity; a presumptuous fool who may be a wit in
L'Houmeau, but turns out a very ordinary specimen of a young man in
Paris? And, after all, volumes of verse come out every week here, the
worst of them better than all M. Chardon's poetry put together. For
pity's sake, wait and compare! To-morrow, Friday, is Opera night," he
continued as the carriage turned into the Rue Nueve-de-Luxembourg;
"Mme. d'Espard has the box of the First Gentlemen of the Chamber, and
will take you, no doubt. I shall go to Mme. de Serizy's box to behold
you in your glory. They are giving _Les Danaides_."

"Good-bye," said she.

Next morning Mme. de Bargeton tried to arrange a suitable toilette in
which to call on her cousin, Mme. d'Espard. The weather was rather
chilly. Looking through the dowdy wardrobe from Angouleme, she found
nothing better than a certain green velvet gown, trimmed fantastically
enough. Lucien, for his part, felt that he must go at once for his
celebrated blue best coat; he felt aghast at the thought of his tight
jacket, and determined to be well dressed, lest he should meet the
Marquise d'Espard or receive a sudden summons to her house. He must
have his luggage at once, so he took a cab, and in two hours' time
spent three or four francs, matter for much subsequent reflection on
the scale of the cost of living in Paris. Having dressed himself in
his best, such as it was, he went to the Rue Nueve-de-Luxembourg, and
on the doorstep encountered Gentil in company with a gorgeously
be-feathered chasseur.

"I was just going round to you, sir, madame gave me a line for you,"
said Gentil, ignorant of Parisian forms of respect, and accustomed to
homely provincial ways. The chasseur took the poet for a servant.

Lucien tore open the note, and learned that Mme. de Bargeton had gone
to spend the day with the Marquise d'Espard. She was going to the
Opera in the evening, but she told Lucien to be there to meet her. Her
cousin permitted her to give him a seat in her box. The Marquise
d'Espard was delighted to procure the young poet that pleasure.

"Then she loves me! my fears were all nonsense!" said Lucien to
himself. "She is going to present me to her cousin this very evening."

He jumped for joy. He would spend the day that separated him from the
happy evening as joyously as might be. He dashed out in the direction
of the Tuileries, dreaming of walking there until it was time to dine
at Very's. And now, behold Lucien frisking and skipping, light of foot
because light of heart, on his way to the Terrasse des Feuillants to
take a look at the people of quality on promenade there. Pretty women
walk arm-in-arm with men of fashion, their adorers, couples greet each
other with a glance as they pass; how different it is from the terrace
at Beaulieu! How far finer the birds on this perch than the Angouleme
species! It is as if you beheld all the colors that glow in the
plumage of the feathered tribes of India and America, instead of the
sober European families.

Those were two wretched hours that Lucien spent in the Garden of the
Tuileries. A violent revulsion swept through him, and he sat in
judgment upon himself.

In the first place, not a single one of these gilded youths wore a
swallow-tail coat. The few exceptions, one or two poor wretches, a
clerk here and there, an annuitant from the Marais, could be ruled out
on the score of age; and hard upon the discovery of a distinction
between morning and evening dress, the poet's quick sensibility and
keen eyes saw likewise that his shabby old clothes were not fit to be
seen; the defects in his coat branded that garment as ridiculous; the
cut was old-fashioned, the color was the wrong shade of blue, the
collar outrageously ungainly, the coat tails, by dint of long wear,
overlapped each other, the buttons were reddened, and there were fatal
white lines along the seams. Then his waistcoat was too short, and so
grotesquely provincial, that he hastily buttoned his coat over it;
and, finally, no man of any pretension to fashion wore nankeen
trousers. Well-dressed men wore charming fancy materials or immaculate
white, and every one had straps to his trousers, while the shrunken
hems of Lucien's nether garments manifested a violent antipathy for
the heels of boots which they wedded with obvious reluctance. Lucien
wore a white cravat with embroidered ends; his sister had seen that M.
du Hautoy and M. de Chandour wore such things, and hastened to make
similar ones for her brother. Here, no one appeared to wear white
cravats of a morning except a few grave seniors, elderly capitalists,
and austere public functionaries, until, in the street on the other
side of the railings, Lucien noticed a grocer's boy walking along the
Rue de Rivoli with a basket on his head; him the man of Angouleme
detected in the act of sporting a cravat, with both ends adorned by
the handiwork of some adored shop-girl. The sight was a stab to
Lucien's breast; penetrating straight to that organ as yet undefined,
the seat of our sensibility, the region whither, since sentiment has
had any existence, the sons of men carry their hands in any excess of
joy or anguish. Do not accuse this chronicle of puerility. The rich,
to be sure, never having experienced sufferings of this kind, may
think them incredibly petty and small; but the agonies of less
fortunate mortals are as well worth our attention as crises and
vicissitudes in the lives of the mighty and privileged ones of earth.
Is not the pain equally great for either? Suffering exalts all things.
And, after all, suppose that we change the terms and for a suit of
clothes, more or less fine, put instead a ribbon, or a star, or a
title; have not brilliant careers been tormented by reason of such
apparent trifles as these? Add, moreover, that for those people who
must seem to have that which they have not, the question of clothes is
of enormous importance, and not unfrequently the appearance of
possession is the shortest road to possession at a later day.

A cold sweat broke out over Lucien as he bethought himself that
to-night he must make his first appearance before the Marquise in this
dress--the Marquise d'Espard, relative of a First Gentleman of the
Bedchamber, a woman whose house was frequented by the most illustrious
among illustrious men in every field.

"I look like an apothecary's son, a regular shop-drudge," he raged
inwardly, watching the youth of the Faubourg Saint-Germain pass under
his eyes; graceful, spruce, fashionably dressed, with a certain
uniformity of air, a sameness due to a fineness of contour, and a
certain dignity of carriage and expression; though, at the same time,
each one differed from the rest in the setting by which he had chosen
to bring his personal characteristics into prominence. Each one made
the most of his personal advantages. Young men in Paris understand the
art of presenting themselves quite as well as women. Lucien had
inherited from his mother the invaluable physical distinction of race,
but the metal was still in the ore, and not set free by the
craftsman's hand.

His hair was badly cut. Instead of holding himself upright with an
elastic corset, he felt that he was cooped up inside a hideous
shirt-collar; he hung his dejected head without resistance on the part
of a limp cravat. What woman could guess that a handsome foot was
hidden by the clumsy boots which he had brought from Angouleme? What
young man could envy him his graceful figure, disguised by the
shapeless blue sack which hitherto he had mistakenly believed to be a
coat? What bewitching studs he saw on those dazzling white shirt
fronts, his own looked dingy by comparison; and how marvelously all
these elegant persons were gloved, his own gloves were only fit for a
policeman! Yonder was a youth toying with a cane exquisitely mounted;
there, another with dainty gold studs in his wristbands. Yet another
was twisting a charming riding-whip while he talked with a woman;
there were specks of mud on the ample folds of his white trousers, he
wore clanking spurs and a tight-fitting jacket, evidently he was about
to mount one of the two horses held by a hop-o'-my-thumb of a tiger. A
young man who went past drew a watch no thicker than a five-franc
piece from his pocket, and looked at it with the air of a person who
is either too early or too late for an appointment.

Lucien, seeing these petty trifles, hitherto unimagined, became aware
of a whole world of indispensable superfluities, and shuddered to
think of the enormous capital needed by a professional pretty fellow!
The more he admired these gay and careless beings, the more conscious
he grew of his own outlandishness; he knew that he looked like a man
who has no idea of the direction of the streets, who stands close to
the Palais Royal and cannot find it, and asks his way to the Louvre of
a passer-by, who tells him, "Here you are." Lucien saw a great gulf
fixed between him and this new world, and asked himself how he might
cross over, for he meant to be one of these delicate, slim youths of
Paris, these young patricians who bowed before women divinely dressed
and divinely fair. For one kiss from one of these, Lucien was ready to
be cut in pieces like Count Philip of Konigsmark. Louise's face rose
up somewhere in the shadowy background of memory--compared with these
queens, she looked like an old woman. He saw women whose names will
appear in the history of the nineteenth century, women no less famous
than the queens of past times for their wit, their beauty, or their
lovers; one who passed was the heroine Mlle. des Touches, so well
known as Camille Maupin, the great woman of letters, great by her
intellect, great no less by her beauty. He overheard the name
pronounced by those who went by.

"Ah!" he thought to himself, "she is Poetry."

What was Mme. de Bargeton in comparison with this angel in all the
glory of youth, and hope, and promise of the future, with that sweet
smile of hers, and the great dark eyes with all heaven in them, and
the glowing light of the sun? She was laughing and chatting with Mme.
Firmiani, one of the most charming women in Paris. A voice indeed
cried, "Intellect is the lever by which to move the world," but
another voice cried no less loudly that money was the fulcrum.

He would not stay any longer on the scene of his collapse and defeat,
and went towards the Palais Royal. He did not know the topography of
his quarter yet, and was obliged to ask his way. Then he went to
Very's and ordered dinner by way of an initiation into the pleasures
of Paris, and a solace for his discouragement. A bottle of Bordeaux,
oysters from Ostend, a dish of fish, a partridge, a dish of macaroni
and dessert,--this was the _ne plus ultra_ of his desire. He enjoyed
this little debauch, studying the while how to give the Marquise
d'Espard proof of his wit, and redeem the shabbiness of his grotesque
accoutrements by the display of intellectual riches. The total of the
bill drew him down from these dreams, and left him the poorer by fifty
of the francs which were to have gone such a long way in Paris. He
could have lived in Angouleme for a month on the price of that dinner.
Wherefore he closed the door of the palace with awe, thinking as he
did so that he should never set foot in it again.

"Eve was right," he said to himself, as he went back under the stone
arcading for some more money. "There is a difference between Paris
prices and prices in L'Houmeau."

He gazed in at the tailors' windows on the way, and thought of the
costumes in the Garden of the Tuileries.

"No," he exclaimed, "I will _not_ appear before Mme. d'Espard dressed
out as I am."

He fled to his inn, fleet as a stag, rushed up to his room, took out a
hundred crowns, and went down again to the Palais Royal, where his
future elegance lay scattered over half a score of shops. The first
tailor whose door he entered tried as many coats upon him as he would
consent to put on, and persuaded his customer that all were in the
very latest fashion. Lucien came out the owner of a green coat, a pair
of white trousers, and a "fancy waistcoat," for which outfit he gave
two hundred francs. Ere long he found a very elegant pair of
ready-made shoes that fitted his foot; and, finally, when he had made
all necessary purchases, he ordered the tradespeople to send them to his
address, and inquired for a hairdresser. At seven o'clock that evening
he called a cab and drove away to the Opera, curled like a Saint John
of a Procession Day, elegantly waistcoated and gloved, but feeling a
little awkward in this kind of sheath in which he found himself for
the first time.

In obedience to Mme. de Bargeton's instructions, he asked for the box
reserved for the First Gentleman of the Bedchamber. The man at the box
office looked at him, and beholding Lucien in all the grandeur assumed
for the occasion, in which he looked like a best man at a wedding,
asked Lucien for his order.

"I have no order."

"Then you cannot go in," said the man at the box office drily.

"But I belong to Mme. d'Espard's party."

"It is not our business to know that," said the man, who could not
help exchanging a barely perceptible smile with his colleague.

A carriage stopped under the peristyle as he spoke. A chasseur, in a
livery which Lucien did not recognize, let down the step, and two
women in evening dress came out of the brougham. Lucien had no mind to
lay himself open to an insolent order to get out of the way from the
official. He stepped aside to let the two ladies pass.

"Why, that lady is the Marquise d'Espard, whom you say you know, sir,"
said the man ironically.

Lucien was so much the more confounded because Mme. de Bargeton did
not seem to recognize him in his new plumage; but when he stepped up
to her, she smiled at him and said:

"This has fallen out wonderfully--come!"

The functionaries at the box office grew serious again as Lucien
followed Mme. de Bargeton. On their way up the great staircase the
lady introduced M. de Rubempre to her cousin. The box belonging to the
First Gentleman of the Bedchamber is situated in one of the angles at
the back of the house, so that its occupants see and are seen all over
the theatre. Lucien took his seat on a chair behind Mme. de Bargeton,
thankful to be in the shadow.

"M. de Rubempre," said the Marquise with flattering graciousness,
"this is your first visit to the Opera, is it not? You must have a
view of the house; take this seat, sit in front of the box; we give
you permission."

Lucien obeyed as the first act came to an end.

"You have made good use of your time," Louise said in his ear, in her
first surprise at the change in his appearance.

Louise was still the same. The near presence of the Marquise d'Espard,
a Parisian Mme. de Bargeton, was so damaging to her; the brilliancy of
the Parisienne brought out all the defects in her country cousin so
clearly by contrast; that Lucien, looking out over the fashionable
audience in the superb building, and then at the great lady, was twice
enlightened, and saw poor Anais de Negrepelisse as she really was, as
Parisians saw her--a tall, lean, withered woman, with a pimpled face
and faded complexion; angular, stiff, affected in her manner; pompous
and provincial in her speech; and, and above all these things, dowdily
dressed. As a matter of fact, the creases in an old dress from Paris
still bear witness to good taste, you can tell what the gown was meant
for; but an old dress made in the country is inexplicable, it is a
thing to provoke laughter. There was neither charm nor freshness about
the dress or its wearer; the velvet, like the complexion had seen
wear. Lucien felt ashamed to have fallen in love with this cuttle-fish
bone, and vowed that he would profit by Louise's next fit of virtue to
leave her for good. Having an excellent view of the house, he could
see the opera-glasses pointed at the aristocratic box par excellence.
The best-dressed women must certainly be scrutinizing Mme. de
Bargeton, for they smiled and talked among themselves.

If Mme. d'Espard knew the object of their sarcasms from those feminine
smiles and gestures, she was perfectly insensible to them. In the
first place, anybody must see that her companion was a poor relation
from the country, an affliction with which any Parisian family may be
visited. And, in the second, when her cousin had spoken to her of her
dress with manifest misgivings, she had reassured Anais, seeing that,
when once properly dressed, her relative would very easily acquire the
tone of Parisian society. If Mme. de Bargeton needed polish, on the
other hand she possessed the native haughtiness of good birth, and
that indescribable something which may be called "pedigree." So, on
Monday her turn would come. And, moreover, the Marquise knew that as
soon as people learned that the stranger was her cousin, they would
suspend their banter and look twice before they condemned her.

Lucien did not foresee the change in Louise's appearance shortly to be
worked by a scarf about her throat, a pretty dress, an elegant
coiffure, and Mme. d'Espard's advice. As they came up the staircase
even now, the Marquise told her cousin not to hold her handkerchief
unfolded in her hand. Good or bad taste turns upon hundreds of such
almost imperceptible shades, which a quick-witted woman discerns at
once, while others will never grasp them. Mme. de Bargeton,
plentifully apt, was more than clever enough to discover her
shortcomings. Mme. d'Espard, sure that her pupil would do her credit,
did not decline to form her. In short, the compact between the two
women had been confirmed by self-interest on either side.

Mme. de Bargeton, enthralled, dazzled, and fascinated by her cousin's
manner, wit, and acquaintances, had suddenly declared herself a votary
of the idol of the day. She had discerned the signs of the occult
power exerted by the ambitious great lady, and told herself that she
could gain her end as the satellite of this star, so she had been
outspoken in her admiration. The Marquise was not insensible to the
artlessly admitted conquest. She took an interest in her cousin,
seeing that she was weak and poor; she was, besides, not indisposed to
take a pupil with whom to found a school, and asked nothing better
than to have a sort of lady-in-waiting in Mme. de Bargeton, a
dependent who would sing her praises, a treasure even more scarce
among Parisian women than a staunch and loyal critic among the
literary tribe. The flutter of curiosity in the house was too marked
to be ignored, however, and Mme. d'Espard politely endeavored to turn
her cousin's mind from the truth.

"If any one comes to our box," she said, "perhaps we may discover the
cause to which we owe the honor of the interest that these ladies are

"I have a strong suspicion that it is my old velvet gown and
Angoumoisin air which Parisian ladies find amusing," Mme. de Bargeton
answered, laughing.

"No, it is not you; it is something that I cannot explain," she added,
turning to the poet, and, as she looked at him for the first time, it
seemed to strike her that he was singularly dressed.

"There is M. du Chatelet," exclaimed Lucien at that moment, and he
pointed a finger towards Mme. de Serizy's box, which the renovated
beau had just entered.

Mme. de Bargeton bit her lips with chagrin as she saw that gesture,
and saw besides the Marquise's ill-suppressed smile of contemptuous
astonishment. "Where does the young man come from?" her look said, and
Louise felt humbled through her love, one of the sharpest of all pangs
for a Frenchwoman, a mortification for which she cannot forgive her

In these circles where trifles are of such importance, a gesture or a
word at the outset is enough to ruin a newcomer. It is the principal
merit of fine manners and the highest breeding that they produce the
effect of a harmonious whole, in which every element is so blended
that nothing is startling or obtrusive. Even those who break the laws
of this science, either through ignorance or carried away by some
impulse, must comprehend that it is with social intercourse as with
music, a single discordant note is a complete negation of the art
itself, for the harmony exists only when all its conditions are
observed down to the least particular.

"Who is that gentleman?" asked Mme. d'Espard, looking towards
Chatelet. "And have you made Mme. de Serizy's acquaintance already?"

"Oh! is that the famous Mme. de Serizy who has had so many adventures
and yet goes everywhere?"

"An unheard-of-thing, my dear, explicable but unexplained. The most
formidable men are her friends, and why? Nobody dares to fathom the
mystery. Then is this person the lion of Angouleme?"

"Well, M. le Baron du Chatelet has been a good deal talked about,"
answered Mme. de Bargeton, moved by vanity to give her adorer the
title which she herself had called in question. "He was M. de
Montriveau's traveling companion."

"Ah!" said the Marquise d'Espard, "I never hear that name without
thinking of the Duchesse de Langeais, poor thing. She vanished like a
falling star.--That is M. de Rastignac with Mme. de Nucingen," she
continued, indicating another box; "she is the wife of a contractor, a
banker, a city man, a broker on a large scale; he forced his way into
society with his money, and they say that he is not very scrupulous as
to his methods of making it. He is at endless pains to establish his
credit as a staunch upholder of the Bourbons, and has tried already to
gain admittance into my set. When his wife took Mme. de Langeais' box,
she thought that she could take her charm, her wit, and her success as
well. It is the old fable of the jay in the peacock's feathers!"

"How do M. and Mme. de Rastignac manage to keep their son in Paris,
when, as we know, their income is under a thousand crowns?" asked
Lucien, in his astonishment at Rastignac's elegant and expensive

"It is easy to see that you come from Angouleme," said Mme. d'Espard,
ironically enough, as she continued to gaze through her opera-glass.

Her remark was lost upon Lucien; the all-absorbing spectacle of the
boxes prevented him from thinking of anything else. He guessed that he
himself was an object of no small curiosity. Louise, on the other
hand, was exceedingly mortified by the evident slight esteem in which
the Marquise held Lucien's beauty.

"He cannot be so handsome as I thought him," she said to herself; and
between "not so handsome" and "not so clever as I thought him" there
was but one step.

The curtain fell. Chatelet was now paying a visit to the Duchesse de
Carigliano in an adjourning box; Mme. de Bargeton acknowledged his bow
by a slight inclination of the head. Nothing escapes a woman of the
world; Chatelet's air of distinction was not lost upon Mme. d'Espard.
Just at that moment four personages, four Parisian celebrities, came
into the box, one after another.

The most striking feature of the first comer, M. de Marsay, famous for
the passions which he had inspired, was his girlish beauty; but its
softness and effeminacy were counteracted by the expression of his
eyes, unflinching, steady, untamed, and hard as a tiger's. He was
loved and he was feared. Lucien was no less handsome; but Lucien's
expression was so gentle, his blue eyes so limpid, that he scarcely
seemed to possess the strength and the power which attract women so
strongly. Nothing, moreover, so far had brought out the poet's merits;
while de Marsay, with his flow of spirits, his confidence in his power
to please, and appropriate style of dress, eclipsed every rival by his
presence. Judge, therefore, the kind of figure that Lucien, stiff,
starched, unbending in clothes as new and unfamiliar as his
surroundings, was likely to cut in de Marsay's vicinity. De Marsay
with his wit and charm of manner was privileged to be insolent. From
Mme. d'Espard's reception of this personage his importance was at once
evident to Mme. de Bargeton.

The second comer was a Vandenesse, the cause of the scandal in which
Lady Dudley was concerned. Felix de Vandenesse, amiable, intellectual,
and modest, had none of the characteristics on which de Marsay prided
himself, and owed his success to diametrically opposed qualities. He
had been warmly recommended to Mme. d'Espard by her cousin Mme. de

The third was General de Montriveau, the author of the Duchesse de
Langeais' ruin.

The fourth, M. de Canalis, one of the most famous poets of the day,
and as yet a newly risen celebrity, was prouder of his birth than of
his genius, and dangled in Mme. d'Espard's train by way of concealing
his love for the Duchesse de Chaulieu. In spite of his graces and the
affectation that spoiled them, it was easy to discern the vast,
lurking ambitions that plunged him at a later day into the storms of
political life. A face that might be called insignificantly pretty and
caressing manners thinly disguised the man's deeply-rooted egoism and
habit of continually calculating the chances of a career which at that
time looked problematical enough; though his choice of Mme. de
Chaulieu (a woman past forty) made interest for him at Court, and
brought him the applause of the Faubourg Saint-Germain and the gibes
of the Liberal party, who dubbed him "the poet of the sacristy."

Mme. de Bargeton, with these remarkable figures before her, no longer
wondered at the slight esteem in which the Marquise held Lucien's good
looks. And when conversation began, when intellects so keen, so
subtle, were revealed in two-edged words with more meaning and depth
in them than Anais de Bargeton heard in a month of talk at Angouleme;
and, most of all, when Canalis uttered a sonorous phrase, summing up a
materialistic epoch, and gilding it with poetry--then Anais felt all
the truth of Chatelet's dictum of the previous evening. Lucien was
nothing to her now. Every one cruelly ignored the unlucky stranger; he
was so much like a foreigner listening to an unknown language, that
the Marquise d'Espard took pity upon him. She turned to Canalis.

"Permit me to introduce M. de Rubempre," she said. "You rank too high
in the world of letters not to welcome a _debutant_. M. de Rubempre is
from Angouleme, and will need your influence, no doubt, with the
powers that bring genius to light. So far, he has no enemies to help
him to success by their attacks upon him. Is there enough originality
in the idea of obtaining for him by friendship all that hatred has
done for you to tempt you to make the experiment?"

The four newcomers all looked at Lucien while the Marquise was
speaking. De Marsay, only a couple of paces away, put up an eyeglass
and looked from Lucien to Mme. de Bargeton, and then again at Lucien,
coupling them with some mocking thought, cruelly mortifying to both.
He scrutinized them as if they had been a pair of strange animals, and
then he smiled. The smile was like a stab to the distinguished
provincial. Felix de Vandenesse assumed a charitable air. Montriveau
looked Lucien through and through.

"Madame," M. de Canalis answered with a bow, "I will obey you, in
spite of the selfish instinct which prompts us to show a rival no
favor; but you have accustomed us to miracles."

"Very well, do me the pleasure of dining with me on Monday with M. de
Rubempre, and you can talk of matters literary at your ease. I will
try to enlist some of the tyrants of the world of letters and the
great people who protect them, the author of _Ourika_, and one or two
young poets with sound views."

"Mme. la Marquise," said de Marsay, "if you give your support to this
gentleman for his intellect, I will support him for his good looks. I
will give him advice which will put him in a fair way to be the
luckiest dandy in Paris. After that, he may be a poet--if he has a

Mme. de Bargeton thanked her cousin by a grateful glance.

"I did not know that you were jealous of intellect," Montriveau said,
turning to de Marsay; "good fortune is the death of a poet."

"Is that why your lordship is thinking of marriage?" inquired the
dandy, addressing Canalis, and watching Mme. d'Espard to see if the
words went home.

Canalis shrugged his shoulders, and Mme. d'Espard, Mme. de Chaulieu's
niece, began to laugh. Lucien in his new clothes felt as if he were an
Egyptian statue in its narrow sheath; he was ashamed that he had
nothing to say for himself all this while. At length he turned to the

"After all your kindness, madame, I am pledged to make no failures,"
he said in those soft tones of his.

Chatelet came in as he spoke; he had seen Montriveau, and by hook or
crook snatched at the chance of a good introduction to the Marquise
d'Espard through one of the kings of Paris. He bowed to Mme. de
Bargeton, and begged Mme. d'Espard to pardon him for the liberty he
took in invading her box; he had been separated so long from his
traveling companion! Montriveau and Chatelet met for the first time
since they parted in the desert.

"To part in the desert, and meet again in the opera-house!" said

"Quite a theatrical meeting!" said Canalis.

Montriveau introduced the Baron du Chatelet to the Marquise, and the
Marquise received Her Royal Highness' ex-secretary the more graciously
because she had seen that he had been very well received in three
boxes already. Mme. de Serizy knew none but unexceptionable people,
and moreover he was Montriveau's traveling companion. So potent was
this last credential, that Mme. de Bargeton saw from the manner of the
group that they accepted Chatelet as one of themselves without demur.
Chatelet's sultan's airs in Angouleme were suddenly explained.

At length the Baron saw Lucien, and favored him with a cool,
disparaging little nod, indicative to men of the world of the
recipient's inferior station. A sardonic expression accompanied the
greeting, "How does _he_ come here?" he seemed to say. This was not lost
on those who saw it; for de Marsay leaned towards Montriveau, and said
in tones audible to Chatelet:

"Do ask him who the queer-looking young fellow is that looks like a
dummy at a tailor's shop-door."

Chatelet spoke a few words in his traveling companion's ear, and while
apparently renewing his acquaintance, no doubt cut his rival to

If Lucien was surprised at the apt wit and the subtlety with which
these gentlemen formulated their replies, he felt bewildered with
epigram and repartee, and, most of all, by their offhand way of
talking and their ease of manner. The material luxury of Paris had
alarmed him that morning; at night he saw the same lavish expenditure
of intellect. By what mysterious means, he asked himself, did these
people make such piquant reflections on the spur of the moment, those
repartees which he could only have made after much pondering? And not
only were they at ease in their speech, they were at ease in their
dress, nothing looked new, nothing looked old, nothing about them was
conspicuous, everything attracted the eyes. The fine gentleman of
to-day was the same yesterday, and would be the same to-morrow. Lucien
guessed that he himself looked as if he were dressed for the first
time in his life.

"My dear fellow," said de Marsay, addressing Felix de Vandenesse,
"that young Rastignac is soaring away like a paper-kite. Look at him
in the Marquise de Listomere's box; he is making progress, he is
putting up his eyeglass at us! He knows this gentleman, no doubt,"
added the dandy, speaking to Lucien, and looking elsewhere.

"He can scarcely fail to have heard the name of a great man of whom we
are proud," said Mme. de Bargeton. "Quite lately his sister was
present when M. de Rubempre read us some very fine poetry."

Felix de Vandenesse and de Marsay took leave of the Marquise d'Espard,
and went off to Mme. de Listomere, Vandenesse's sister. The second act
began, and the three were left to themselves again. The curious women
learned how Mme. de Bargeton came to be there from some of the party,
while the others announced the arrival of a poet, and made fun of his
costume. Canalis went back to the Duchesse de Chaulieu, and no more
was seen of him.

Lucien was glad when the rising of the curtain produced a diversion.
All Mme. de Bargeton's misgivings with regard to Lucien were increased
by the marked attention which the Marquise d'Espard had shown to
Chatelet; her manner towards the Baron was very different from the
patronizing affability with which she treated Lucien. Mme. de
Listomere's box was full during the second act, and, to all
appearance, the talk turned upon Mme. de Bargeton and Lucien. Young
Rastignac evidently was entertaining the party; he had raised the
laughter that needs fresh fuel every day in Paris, the laughter that
seizes upon a topic and exhausts it, and leaves it stale and
threadbare in a moment. Mme. d'Espard grew uneasy. She knew that an
ill-natured speech is not long in coming to the ears of those whom it
will wound, and waited till the end of the act.

After a revulsion of feeling such as had taken place in Mme. de
Bargeton and Lucien, strange things come to pass in a brief space of
time, and any revolution within us is controlled by laws that work
with great swiftness. Chatelet's sage and politic words as to Lucien,
spoken on the way home from the Vaudeville, were fresh in Louise's
memory. Every phrase was a prophecy, it seemed as if Lucien had set
himself to fulfil the predictions one by one. When Lucien and Mme. de
Bargeton had parted with their illusions concerning each other, the
luckless youth, with a destiny not unlike Rousseau's, went so far in
his predecessor's footsteps that he was captivated by the great lady
and smitten with Mme. d'Espard at first sight. Young men and men who
remember their young emotions can see that this was only what might
have been looked for. Mme. d'Espard with her dainty ways, her delicate
enunciation, and the refined tones of her voice; the fragile woman so
envied, of such high place and high degree, appeared before the poet
as Mme. de Bargeton had appeared to him in Angouleme. His fickle
nature prompted him to desire influence in that lofty sphere at once,
and the surest way to secure such influence was to possess the woman
who exerted it, and then everything would be his. He had succeeded at
Angouleme, why should he not succeed in Paris?

Involuntarily, and despite the novel counter fascination of the stage,
his eyes turned to the Celimene in her splendor; he glanced furtively
at her every moment; the longer he looked, the more he desired to look
at her. Mme. de Bargeton caught the gleam in Lucien's eyes, and saw
that he found the Marquise more interesting than the opera. If Lucien
had forsaken her for the fifty daughters of Danaus, she could have
borne his desertion with equanimity; but another glance--bolder, more
ardent and unmistakable than any before--revealed the state of
Lucien's feelings. She grew jealous, but not so much for the future as
for the past.

"He never gave me such a look," she thought. "Dear me! Chatelet was

Then she saw that she had made a mistake; and when a woman once begins
to repent of her weaknesses, she sponges out the whole past. Every one
of Lucien's glances roused her indignation, but to all outward
appearance she was calm. De Marsay came back in the interval, bringing
M. de Listomere with him; and that serious person and the young
coxcomb soon informed the Marquise that the wedding guest in his
holiday suit, whom she had the bad luck to have in her box, had as
much right to the appellation of Rubempre as a Jew to a baptismal
name. Lucien's father was an apothecary named Chardon. M. de
Rastignac, who knew all about Angouleme, had set several boxes
laughing already at the mummy whom the Marquise styled her cousin, and
at the Marquise's forethought in having an apothecary at hand to
sustain an artificial life with drugs. In short, de Marsay brought a
selection from the thousand-and-one jokes made by Parisians on the
spur of the moment, and no sooner uttered than forgotten. Chatelet was
at the back of it all, and the real author of this Punic faith.

Mme. d'Espard turned to Mme. de Bargeton, put up her fan, and said,
"My dear, tell me if your protege's name is really M. de Rubempre?"

"He has assumed his mother's name," said Anais, uneasily.

"But who was his father?"

"His father's name was Chardon."

"And what was this Chardon?"

"A druggist."

"My dear friend, I felt quite sure that all Paris could not be
laughing at any one whom I took up. I do not care to stay here when
wags come in in high glee because there is an apothecary's son in my
box. If you will follow my advice, we will leave it, and at once."

Mme. d'Espard's expression was insolent enough; Lucien was at a loss
to account for her change of countenance. He thought that his
waistcoat was in bad taste, which was true; and that his coat looked
like a caricature of the fashion, which was likewise true. He
discerned, in bitterness of soul, that he must put himself in the
hands of an expert tailor, and vowed that he would go the very next
morning to the most celebrated artist in Paris. On Monday he would
hold his own with the men in the Marquise's house.

Yet, lost in thought though he was, he saw the third act to an end,
and, with his eyes fixed on the gorgeous scene upon the stage, dreamed
out his dream of Mme. d'Espard. He was in despair over her sudden
coldness; it gave a strange check to the ardent reasoning through
which he advanced upon this new love, undismayed by the immense
difficulties in the way, difficulties which he saw and resolved to
conquer. He roused himself from these deep musings to look once more
at his new idol, turned his head, and saw that he was alone; he had
heard a faint rustling sound, the door closed--Madame d'Espard had
taken her cousin with her. Lucien was surprised to the last degree by
the sudden desertion; he did not think long about it, however, simply
because it was inexplicable.

When the carriage was rolling along the Rue de Richelieu on the way to
the Faubourg Saint-Honore, the Marquise spoke to her cousin in a tone
of suppressed irritation.

"My dear child, what are you thinking about? Pray wait till an
apothecary's son has made a name for himself before you trouble
yourself about him. The Duchesse de Chaulieu does not acknowledge
Canalis even now, and he is famous and a man of good family. This
young fellow is neither your son nor your lover, I suppose?" added the
haughty dame, with a keen, inquisitive glance at her cousin.

"How fortunate for me that I kept the little scapegrace at a
distance!" thought Madame de Bargeton.

"Very well," continued the Marquise, taking the expression in her
cousin's eyes for an answer, "drop him, I beg of you. Taking an
illustrious name in that way!--Why, it is a piece of impudence that
will meet with its desserts in society. It is his mother's name, I
dare say; but just remember, dear, that the King alone can confer, by
a special ordinance, the title of de Rubempre on the son of a daughter
of the house. If she made a _mesalliance_, the favor would be enormous,
only to be granted to vast wealth, or conspicuous services, or very
powerful influence. The young man looks like a shopman in his Sunday
suit; evidently he is neither wealthy nor noble; he has a fine head,
but he seems to me to be very silly; he has no idea what to do, and
has nothing to say for himself; in fact, he has no breeding. How came
you to take him up?"

Mme. de Bargeton renounced Lucien as Lucien himself had renounced her;
a ghastly fear lest her cousin should learn the manner of her journey
shot through her mind.

"Dear cousin, I am in despair that I have compromised you."

"People do not compromise me," Mme. d'Espard said, smiling; "I am only
thinking of you."

"But you have asked him to dine with you on Monday."

"I shall be ill," the Marquise said quickly; "you can tell him so, and
I shall leave orders that he is not to be admitted under either name."

During the interval Lucien noticed that every one was walking up and
down the lobby. He would do the same. In the first place, not one of
Mme. d'Espard's visitors recognized him nor paid any attention to him,
their conduct seemed nothing less than extraordinary to the provincial
poet; and, secondly, Chatelet, on whom he tried to hang, watched him
out of the corner of his eye and fought shy of him. Lucien walked to
and fro, watching the eddying crowd of men, till he felt convinced
that his costume was absurd, and he went back to his box, ensconced
himself in a corner, and stayed there till the end. At times he
thought of nothing but the magnificent spectacle of the ballet in the
great Inferno scene in the fifth act; sometimes the sight of the house
absorbed him, sometimes his own thoughts; he had seen society in
Paris, and the sight had stirred him to the depths.

"So this is my kingdom," he said to himself; "this is the world that I
must conquer."

As he walked home through the streets he thought over all that had
been said by Mme. d'Espard's courtiers; memory reproducing with
strange faithfulness their demeanor, their gestures, their manner of
coming and going.

Next day, towards noon, Lucien betook himself to Staub, the great
tailor of that day. Partly by dint of entreaties, and partly by virtue
of cash, Lucien succeeded in obtaining a promise that his clothes
should be ready in time for the great day. Staub went so far as to
give his word that a perfectly elegant coat, a waistcoat, and a pair
of trousers should be forthcoming. Lucien then ordered linen and
pocket-handkerchiefs, a little outfit, in short, of a linen-draper,
and a celebrated bootmaker measured him for shoes and boots. He bought
a neat walking cane at Verdier's; he went to Mme. Irlande for gloves
and shirt studs; in short, he did his best to reach the climax of
dandyism. When he had satisfied all his fancies, he went to the Rue
Neuve-de-Luxembourg, and found that Louise had gone out.

"She was dining with Mme. la Marquise d'Espard," her maid said, "and
would not be back till late."

Lucien dined for two francs at a restaurant in the Palais Royal, and
went to bed early. The next day was Sunday. He went to Louise's
lodging at eleven o'clock. Louise had not yet risen. At two o'clock he
returned once more.

"Madame cannot see anybody yet," reported Albertine, "but she gave me
a line for you."

"Cannot see anybody yet?" repeated Lucien. "But I am not anybody----"

"I do not know," Albertine answered very impertinently; and Lucien,
less surprised by Albertine's answer than by a note from Mme. de
Bargeton, took the billet, and read the following discouraging

"Mme. d'Espard is not well; she will not be able to see you on Monday.
I am not feeling very well myself, but I am about to dress and go to
keep her company. I am in despair over this little disappointment; but
your talents reassure me, you will make your way without

"And no signature!" Lucien said to himself. He found himself in the
Tuileries before he knew whither he was walking.

With the gift of second-sight which accompanies genius, he began to
suspect that the chilly note was but a warning of the catastrophe to
come. Lost in thought, he walked on and on, gazing at the monuments in
the Place Louis Quinze.

It was a sunny day; a stream of fine carriages went past him on the
way to the Champs Elysees. Following the direction of the crowd of
strollers, he saw the three or four thousand carriages that turn the
Champs Elysees into an improvised Longchamp on Sunday afternoons in
summer. The splendid horses, the toilettes, and liveries bewildered
him; he went further and further, until he reached the Arc de
Triomphe, then unfinished. What were his feelings when, as he
returned, he saw Mme. de Bargeton and Mme. d'Espard coming towards him
in a wonderfully appointed caleche, with a chasseur behind it in
waving plumes and that gold-embroidered green uniform which he knew
only too well. There was a block somewhere in the row, and the
carriages waited. Lucien beheld Louise transformed beyond recognition.
All the colors of her toilette had been carefully subordinated to her
complexion; her dress was delicious, her hair gracefully and
becomingly arranged, her hat, in exquisite taste, was remarkable even
beside Mme. d'Espard, that leader of fashion.

There is something in the art of wearing a hat that escapes
definition. Tilted too far to the back of the head, it imparts a bold
expression to the face; bring it too far forward, it gives you a
sinister look; tipped to one side, it has a jaunty air; a well-dressed
woman wears her hat exactly as she means to wear it, and exactly at
the right angle. Mme. de Bargeton had solved this curious problem at
sight. A dainty girdle outlined her slender waist. She had adopted her
cousin's gestures and tricks of manner; and now, as she sat by Mme.
d'Espard's side, she played with a tiny scent bottle that dangled by a
slender gold chain from one of her fingers, displayed a little
well-gloved hand without seeming to do so. She had modeled herself on
Mme. d'Espard without mimicking her; the Marquise had found a cousin
worthy of her, and seemed to be proud of her pupil.

The men and women on the footways all gazed at the splendid carriage,
with the bearings of the d'Espards and Blamont-Chauvrys upon the
panels. Lucien was amazed at the number of greetings received by the
cousins; he did not know that the "all Paris," which consists in some
score of salons, was well aware already of the relationship between
the ladies. A little group of young men on horseback accompanied the
carriage in the Bois; Lucien could recognize de Marsay and Rastignac
among them, and could see from their gestures that the pair of
coxcombs were complimenting Mme. de Bargeton upon her transformation.
Mme. d'Espard was radiant with health and grace. So her indisposition
was simply a pretext for ridding herself of him, for there had been no
mention of another day!

The wrathful poet went towards the caleche; he walked slowly, waited
till he came in full sight of the two ladies, and made them a bow.
Mme. de Bargeton would not see him; but the Marquise put up her
eyeglass, and deliberately cut him. He had been disowned by the
sovereign lords of Angouleme, but to be disowned by society in Paris
was another thing; the booby-squires by doing their utmost to mortify
Lucien admitted his power and acknowledged him as a man; for Mme.
d'Espard he had positively no existence. This was a sentence, it was a
refusal of justice. Poor poet! a deadly cold seized on him when he saw
de Marsay eying him through his glass; and when the Parisian lion let
that optical instrument fall, it dropped in so singular a fashion that
Lucien thought of the knife-blade of the guillotine.

The caleche went by. Rage and a craving for vengeance took possession
of his slighted soul. If Mme. de Bargeton had been in his power, he
could have cut her throat at that moment; he was a Fouquier-Tinville
gloating over the pleasure of sending Mme. d'Espard to the scaffold.
If only he could have put de Marsay to the torture with refinements of
savage cruelty! Canalis went by on horseback, bowing to the prettiest
women, his dress elegant, as became the most dainty of poets.

"Great heavens!" exclaimed Lucien. "Money, money at all costs! money
is the one power before which the world bends the knee." ("No!" cried
conscience, "not money, but glory; and glory means work! Work! that
was what David said.") "Great heavens! what am I doing here? But I
will triumph. I will drive along this avenue in a caleche with a
chasseur behind me! I will possess a Marquise d'Espard." And flinging
out the wrathful words, he went to Hurbain's to dine for two francs.

Next morning, at nine o'clock, he went to the Rue Neuve-de-Luxembourg
to upbraid Louise for her barbarity. But Mme. de Bargeton was not at
home to him, and not only so, but the porter would not allow him to go
up to her rooms; so he stayed outside in the street, watching the
house till noon. At twelve o'clock Chatelet came out, looked at Lucien
out of the corner of his eye, and avoided him.

Stung to the quick, Lucien hurried after his rival; and Chatelet,
finding himself closely pursued, turned and bowed, evidently intending
to shake him off by this courtesy.

"Spare me just a moment for pity's sake, sir," said Lucien; "I want
just a word or two with you. You have shown me friendship, I now ask
the most trifling service of that friendship. You have just come from
Mme. de Bargeton; how have I fallen into disgrace with her and Mme.
d'Espard?--please explain."

"M. Chardon, do you know why the ladies left you at the Opera that
evening?" asked Chatelet, with treacherous good-nature.

"No," said the poor poet.

"Well, it was M. de Rastignac who spoke against you from the
beginning. They asked him about you, and the young dandy simply said
that your name was Chardon, and not de Rubempre; that your mother was
a monthly nurse; that your father, when he was alive, was an
apothecary in L'Houmeau, a suburb of Angouleme; and that your sister,
a charming girl, gets up shirts to admiration, and is just about to be
married to a local printer named Sechard. Such is the world! You no
sooner show yourself than it pulls you to pieces.

"M. de Marsay came to Mme. d'Espard to laugh at you with her; so the
two ladies, thinking that your presence put them in a false position,
went out at once. Do not attempt to go to either house. If Mme. de
Bargeton continued to receive your visits, her cousin would have
nothing to do with her. You have genius; try to avenge yourself. The
world looks down upon you; look down in your turn upon the world. Take
refuge in some garret, write your masterpieces, seize on power of any
kind, and you will see the world at your feet. Then you can give back
the bruises which you have received, and in the very place where they
were given. Mme. de Bargeton will be the more distant now because she
has been friendly. That is the way with women. But the question now
for you is not how to win back Anais' friendship, but how to avoid
making an enemy of her. I will tell you of a way. She has written
letters to you; send all her letters back to her, she will be sensible
that you are acting like a gentleman; and at a later time, if you
should need her, she will not be hostile. For my own part, I have so
high an opinion of your future, that I have taken your part
everywhere; and if I can do anything here for you, you will always
find me ready to be of use."

The elderly beau seemed to have grown young again in the atmosphere of
Paris. He bowed with frigid politeness; but Lucien, woe-begone,
haggard, and undone, forgot to return the salutation. He went back to
his inn, and there found the great Staub himself, come in person, not
so much to try his customer's clothes as to make inquiries of the
landlady with regard to that customer's financial status. The report
had been satisfactory. Lucien had traveled post; Mme. de Bargeton
brought him back from Vaudeville last Thursday in her carriage. Staub
addressed Lucien as "Monsieur le Comte," and called his customer's
attention to the artistic skill with which he had brought a charming
figure into relief.

"A young man in such a costume has only to walk in the Tuileries," he
said, "and he will marry an English heiress within a fortnight."

Lucien brightened a little under the influences of the German tailor's
joke, the perfect fit of his new clothes, the fine cloth, and the
sight of a graceful figure which met his eyes in the looking-glass.
Vaguely he told himself that Paris was the capital of chance, and for
the moment he believed in chance. Had he not a volume of poems and a
magnificent romance entitled _The Archer of Charles IX._ in manuscript?
He had hope for the future. Staub promised the overcoat and the rest
of the clothes the next day.

The next day the bootmaker, linen-draper, and tailor all returned
armed each with his bill, which Lucien, still under the charm of
provincial habits, paid forthwith, not knowing how otherwise to rid
himself of them. After he had paid, there remained but three hundred
and sixty francs out of the two thousand which he had brought with him
from Angouleme, and he had been but one week in Paris! Nevertheless,
he dressed and went to take a stroll in the Terrassee des Feuillants.
He had his day of triumph. He looked so handsome and so graceful, he
was so well dressed, that women looked at him; two or three were so
much struck with his beauty, that they turned their heads to look
again. Lucien studied the gait and carriage of the young men on the
Terrasse, and took a lesson in fine manners while he meditated on his
three hundred and sixty francs.

That evening, alone in his chamber, an idea occurred to him which
threw a light on the problem of his existence at the Gaillard-Bois,
where he lived on the plainest fare, thinking to economize in this
way. He asked for his account, as if he meant to leave, and discovered
that he was indebted to his landlord to the extent of a hundred
francs. The next morning was spent in running around the Latin
Quarter, recommended for its cheapness by David. For a long while he
looked about till, finally, in the Rue de Cluny, close to the
Sorbonne, he discovered a place where he could have a furnished room
for such a price as he could afford to pay. He settled with his
hostess of the Gaillard-Bois, and took up his quarters in the Rue de
Cluny that same day. His removal only cost him the cab fare.

When he had taken possession of his poor room, he made a packet of
Mme. de Bargeton's letters, laid them on the table, and sat down to
write to her; but before he wrote he fell to thinking over that fatal
week. He did not tell himself that he had been the first to be
faithless; that for a sudden fancy he had been ready to leave his
Louise without knowing what would become of her in Paris. He saw none
of his own shortcomings, but he saw his present position, and blamed
Mme. de Bargeton for it. She was to have lighted his way; instead she
had ruined him. He grew indignant, he grew proud, he worked himself
into a paroxysm of rage, and set himself to compose the following

  "What would you think, madame, of a woman who should take a fancy
  to some poor and timid child full of the noble superstitions which
  the grown man calls 'illusions;' and using all the charms of
  woman's coquetry, all her most delicate ingenuity, should feign a
  mother's love to lead that child astray? Her fondest promises, the
  card-castles which raised his wonder, cost her nothing; she leads
  him on, tightens her hold upon him, sometimes coaxing, sometimes
  scolding him for his want of confidence, till the child leaves his
  home and follows her blindly to the shores of a vast sea. Smiling,
  she lures him into a frail skiff, and sends him forth alone and
  helpless to face the storm. Standing safe on the rock, she laughs
  and wishes him luck. You are that woman; I am that child.

  "The child has a keepsake in his hands, something which might
  betray the wrongs done by your beneficence, your kindness in
  deserting him. You might have to blush if you saw him struggling
  for life, and chanced to recollect that once you clasped him to
  your breast. When you read these words the keepsake will be in
  your own safe keeping; you are free to forget everything.

  "Once you pointed out fair hopes to me in the skies, I awake to
  find reality in the squalid poverty of Paris. While you pass, and
  others bow before you, on your brilliant path in the great world,
  I, I whom you deserted on the threshold, shall be shivering in the
  wretched garret to which you consigned me. Yet some pang may
  perhaps trouble your mind amid festivals and pleasures; you may
  think sometimes of the child whom you thrust into the depths. If
  so, madame, think of him without remorse. Out of the depths of his
  misery the child offers you the one thing left to him--his
  forgiveness in a last look. Yes, madame, thanks to you, I have
  nothing left. Nothing! was not the world created from nothing?
  Genius should follow the Divine example; I begin with God-like
  forgiveness, but as yet I know not whether I possess the God-like
  power. You need only tremble lest I should go astray; for you
  would be answerable for my sins. Alas! I pity you, for you will
  have no part in the future towards which I go, with work as my

After penning this rhetorical effusion, full of the sombre dignity
which an artist of one-and-twenty is rather apt to overdo, Lucien's
thoughts went back to them at home. He saw the pretty rooms which
David had furnished for him, at the cost of part of his little store,
and a vision rose before him of quiet, simple pleasures in the past.
Shadowy figures came about him; he saw his mother and Eve and David,
and heard their sobs over his leave-taking, and at that he began to
cry himself, for he felt very lonely in Paris, and friendless and

Two or three days later he wrote to his sister:--

  "MY DEAR EVE,--When a sister shares the life of a brother who
  devotes himself to art, it is her sad privilege to take more
  sorrow than joy into her life; and I am beginning to fear that I
  shall be a great trouble to you. Have I not abused your goodness
  already? have not all of you sacrificed yourselves to me? It is
  the memory of the past, so full of family happiness, that helps me
  to bear up in my present loneliness. Now that I have tasted the
  first beginnings of poverty and the treachery of the world of
  Paris, how my thoughts have flown to you, swift as an eagle back
  to its eyrie, so that I might be with true affection again. Did
  you see sparks in the candle? Did a coal pop out of the fire? Did
  you hear singing in your ears? And did mother say, 'Lucien is
  thinking of us,' and David answer, 'He is fighting his way in the

  "My Eve, I am writing this letter for your eyes only. I cannot
  tell any one else all that has happened to me, good and bad,
  blushing for both, as I write, for good here is as rare as evil
  ought to be. You shall have a great piece of news in a very few
  words. Mme. de Bargeton was ashamed of me, disowned me, would not
  see me, and gave me up nine days after we came to Paris. She saw
  me in the street and looked another way; when, simply to follow
  her into the society to which she meant to introduce me, I had
  spent seventeen hundred and sixty francs out of the two thousand I
  brought from Angouleme, the money so hardly scraped together. 'How
  did you spend it?' you will ask. Paris is a strange bottomless
  gulf, my poor sister; you can dine here for less than a franc, yet
  the simplest dinner at a fashionable restaurant costs fifty
  francs; there are waistcoats and trousers to be had for four
  francs and two francs each; but a fashionable tailor never charges
  less than a hundred francs. You pay for everything; you pay a
  halfpenny to cross the kennel in the street when it rains; you
  cannot go the least little way in a cab for less than thirty-two

  "I have been staying in one of the best parts of Paris, but now I
  am living at the Hotel de Cluny, in the Rue de Cluny, one of the
  poorest and darkest slums, shut in between three churches and the
  old buildings of the Sorbonne. I have a furnished room on the
  fourth floor; it is very bare and very dirty, but, all the same, I
  pay fifteen francs a month for it. For breakfast I spend a penny
  on a roll and a halfpenny for milk, but I dine very decently for
  twenty-two sous at a restaurant kept by a man named Flicoteaux in
  the Place de la Sorbonne itself. My expenses every month will not
  exceed sixty francs, everything included, until the winter begins
  --at least I hope not. So my two hundred and forty francs ought to
  last me for the first four months. Between now and then I shall
  have sold _The Archer of Charles IX._ and the _Marguerites_ no doubt.
  Do not be in the least uneasy on my account. If the present is
  cold and bare and poverty-stricken, the blue distant future is
  rich and splendid; most great men have known the vicissitudes
  which depress but cannot overwhelm me.

  "Plautus, the great comic Latin poet, was once a miller's lad.
  Machiavelli wrote _The Prince_ at night, and by day was a common
  working-man like any one else; and more than all, the great
  Cervantes, who lost an arm at the battle of Lepanto, and helped to
  win that famous day, was called a 'base-born, handless dotard' by
  the scribblers of his day; there was an interval of ten years
  between the appearance of the first part and the second of his
  sublime _Don Quixote_ for lack of a publisher. Things are not so bad
  as that nowadays. Mortifications and want only fall to the lot of
  unknown writers; as soon as a man's name is known, he grows rich,
  and I will be rich. And besides, I live within myself, I spend
  half the day at the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve, learning all
  that I want to learn; I should not go far unless I knew more than
  I do. So at this moment I am almost happy. In a few days I have
  fallen in with my life very gladly. I begin the work that I love
  with daylight, my subsistence is secure, I think a great deal, and
  I study. I do not see that I am open to attack at any point, now
  that I have renounced a world where my vanity might suffer at any
  moment. The great men of every age are obliged to lead lives
  apart. What are they but birds in the forest? They sing, nature
  falls under the spell of their song, and no one should see them.
  That shall be my lot, always supposing that I can carry out my
  ambitious plans.

  "Mme. de Bargeton I do not regret. A woman who could behave as she
  behaved does not deserve a thought. Nor am I sorry that I left
  Angouleme. She did wisely when she flung me into the sea of Paris
  to sink or swim. This is the place for men of letters and thinkers
  and poets; here you cultivate glory, and I know how fair the
  harvest is that we reap in these days. Nowhere else can a writer
  find the living works of the great dead, the works of art which
  quicken the imagination in the galleries and museums here; nowhere
  else will you find great reference libraries always open in which
  the intellect may find pasture. And lastly, here in Paris there is
  a spirit which you breathe in the air; it infuses the least
  details, every literary creation bears traces of its influence.
  You learn more by talk in a cafe, or at a theatre, in one half
  hour, than you would learn in ten years in the provinces. Here, in
  truth, wherever you go, there is always something to see,
  something to learn, some comparison to make. Extreme cheapness and
  excessive dearness--there is Paris for you; there is honeycomb
  here for every bee, every nature finds its own nourishment. So,
  though life is hard for me just now, I repent of nothing. On the
  contrary, a fair future spreads out before me, and my heart
  rejoices though it is saddened for the moment. Good-bye my dear
  sister. Do not expect letters from me regularly; it is one of the
  peculiarities of Paris that one really does not know how the time
  goes. Life is so alarmingly rapid. I kiss the mother and you and
  David more tenderly than ever.


The name of Flicoteaux is engraved on many memories. Few indeed were
the students who lived in the Latin Quarter during the last twelve
years of the Restoration and did not frequent that temple sacred to
hunger and impecuniosity. There a dinner of three courses, with a
quarter bottle of wine or a bottle of beer, could be had for eighteen
sous; or for twenty-two sous the quarter bottle becomes a bottle.
Flicoteaux, that friend of youth, would beyond a doubt have amassed a
colossal fortune but for a line on his bill of fare, a line which
rival establishments are wont to print in capital letters, thus--BREAD
AT DISCRETION, which, being interpreted, should read "indiscretion."

Flicoteaux has been nursing-father to many an illustrious name.
Verily, the heart of more than one great man ought to wax warm with
innumerable recollections of inexpressible enjoyment at the sight of
the small, square window panes that look upon the Place de la
Sorbonne, and the Rue Neuve-de-Richelieu. Flicoteaux II. and
Flicoteaux III. respected the old exterior, maintaining the dingy hue
and general air of a respectable, old-established house, showing
thereby the depth of their contempt for the charlatanism of the
shop-front, the kind of advertisement which feasts the eyes at the
expense of the stomach, to which your modern restaurant almost always
has recourse. Here you beheld no piles of straw-stuffed game never
destined to make the acquaintance of the spit, no fantastical fish to
justify the mountebank's remark, "I saw a fine carp to-day; I expect
to buy it this day week." Instead of the prime vegetables more
fittingly described by the word primeval, artfully displayed in the
window for the delectation of the military man and his fellow
country-woman the nursemaid, honest Flicoteaux exhibited full
salad-bowls adorned with many a rivet, or pyramids of stewed prunes to
rejoice the sight of the customer, and assure him that the word
"dessert," with which other handbills made too free, was in this case
no charter to hoodwink the public. Loaves of six pounds' weight, cut
in four quarters, made good the promise of "bread at discretion." Such
was the plenty of the establishment, that Moliere would have celebrated
it if it had been in existence in his day, so comically appropriate is
the name.

Flicoteaux still subsists; so long as students are minded to live,
Flicoteaux will make a living. You feed there, neither more nor less;
and you feed as you work, with morose or cheerful industry, according
to the circumstances and the temperament.

At that time his well-known establishment consisted of two
dining-halls, at right angles to each other; long, narrow, low-ceiled
rooms, looking respectively on the Rue Neuve-de-Richelieu and the Place
de la Sorbonne. The furniture must have come originally from the
refectory of some abbey, for there was a monastic look about the
lengthy tables, where the serviettes of regular customers, each thrust
through a numbered ring of crystallized tin plate, were laid by their
places. Flicoteaux I. only changed the serviettes of a Sunday; but
Flicoteaux II. changed them twice a week, it is said, under pressure of
competition which threatened his dynasty.

Flicoteaux's restaurant is no banqueting-hall, with its refinements
and luxuries; it is a workshop where suitable tools are provided, and
everybody gets up and goes as soon as he has finished. The coming and
going within are swift. There is no dawdling among the waiters; they
are all busy; every one of them is wanted.

The fare is not very varied. The potato is a permanent institution;
there might not be a single tuber left in Ireland, and prevailing
dearth elsewhere, but you would still find potatoes at Flicoteaux's.
Not once in thirty years shall you miss its pale gold (the color
beloved of Titian), sprinkled with chopped verdure; the potato enjoys
a privilege that women might envy; such as you see it in 1814, so
shall you find it in 1840. Mutton cutlets and fillet of beef at
Flicoteaux's represent black game and fillet of sturgeon at Very's;
they are not on the regular bill of fare, that is, and must be ordered
beforehand. Beef of the feminine gender there prevails; the young of
the bovine species appears in all kinds of ingenious disguises. When
the whiting and mackerel abound on our shores, they are likewise seen
in large numbers at Flicoteaux's; his whole establishment, indeed, is
directly affected by the caprices of the season and the vicissitudes
of French agriculture. By eating your dinners at Flicoteaux's you
learn a host of things of which the wealthy, the idle, and folk
indifferent to the phases of Nature have no suspicion, and the student
penned up in the Latin Quarter is kept accurately informed of the
state of the weather and good or bad seasons. He knows when it is a
good year for peas or French beans, and the kind of salad stuff that
is plentiful; when the Great Market is glutted with cabbages, he is at
once aware of the fact, and the failure of the beetroot crop is
brought home to his mind. A slander, old in circulation in Lucien's
time, connected the appearance of beef-steaks with a mortality among

Few Parisian restaurants are so well worth seeing. Every one at
Flicoteaux's is young; you see nothing but youth; and although earnest
faces and grave, gloomy, anxious faces are not lacking, you see hope
and confidence and poverty gaily endured. Dress, as a rule, is
careless, and regular comers in decent clothes are marked exceptions.
Everybody knows at once that something extraordinary is afoot: a
mistress to visit, a theatre party, or some excursion into higher
spheres. Here, it is said, friendships have been made among students
who became famous men in after days, as will be seen in the course of
this narrative; but with the exception of a few knots of young fellows
from the same part of France who make a group about the end of a
table, the gravity of the diners is hardly relaxed. Perhaps this
gravity is due to the catholicity of the wine, which checks good
fellowship of any kind.

Flicoteaux's frequenters may recollect certain sombre and mysterious
figures enveloped in the gloom of the chilliest penury; these beings
would dine there daily for a couple of years and then vanish, and the
most inquisitive regular comer could throw no light on the
disappearance of such goblins of Paris. Friendships struck up over
Flicoteaux's dinners were sealed in neighboring cafes in the flames of
heady punch, or by the generous warmth of a small cup of black coffee
glorified by a dash of something hotter and stronger.

Lucien, like all neophytes, was modest and regular in his habits in
those early days at the Hotel de Cluny. After the first unlucky
venture in fashionable life which absorbed his capital, he threw
himself into his work with the first earnest enthusiasm, which is
frittered away so soon over the difficulties or in the by-paths of
every life in Paris. The most luxurious and the very poorest lives are
equally beset with temptations which nothing but the fierce energy of
genius or the morose persistence of ambition can overcome.

Lucien used to drop in at Flicoteaux's about half-past four, having
remarked the advantages of an early arrival; the bill-of-fare was more
varied, and there was still some chance of obtaining the dish of your
choice. Like all imaginative persons, he had taken a fancy to a
particular seat, and showed discrimination in his selection. On the
very first day he had noticed a table near the counter, and from the
faces of those who sat about it, and chance snatches of their talk, he
recognized brothers of the craft. A sort of instinct, moreover,
pointed out the table near the counter as a spot whence he could
parlay with the owners of the restaurant. In time an acquaintance
would grow up, he thought, and then in the day of distress he could no
doubt obtain the necessary credit. So he took his place at a small
square table close to the desk, intended probably for casual comers,
for the two clean serviettes were unadorned with rings. Lucien's
opposite neighbor was a thin, pallid youth, to all appearance as poor
as himself; his handsome face was somewhat worn, already it told of
hopes that had vanished, leaving lines upon his forehead and barren
furrows in his soul, where seeds had been sown that had come to
nothing. Lucien felt drawn to the stranger by these tokens; his
sympathies went out to him with irresistible fervor.

After a week's exchange of small courtesies and remarks, the poet from
Angouleme found the first person with whom he could chat. The
stranger's name was Etienne Lousteau. Two years ago he had left his
native place, a town in Berri, just as Lucien had come from Angouleme.
His lively gestures, bright eyes, and occasionally curt speech
revealed a bitter apprenticeship to literature. Etienne had come from
Sancerre with his tragedy in his pocket, drawn to Paris by the same
motives that impelled Lucien--hope of fame and power and money.

Sometimes Etienne Lousteau came for several days together; but in a
little while his visits became few and far between, and he would stay
away for five or six days in succession. Then he would come back, and
Lucien would hope to see his poet next day, only to find a stranger in
his place. When two young men meet daily, their talk harks back to
their last conversation; but these continual interruptions obliged
Lucien to break the ice afresh each time, and further checked an
intimacy which made little progress during the first few weeks. On
inquiry of the damsel at the counter, Lucien was told that his future
friend was on the staff of a small newspaper, and wrote reviews of
books and dramatic criticism of pieces played at the Ambigu-Comique,
the Gaite, and the Panorama-Dramatique. The young man became a
personage all at once in Lucien's eyes. Now, he thought, he would lead
the conversation on rather more personal topics, and make some effort
to gain a friend so likely to be useful to a beginner. The journalist
stayed away for a fortnight. Lucien did not know that Etienne only
dined at Flicoteaux's when he was hard up, and hence his gloomy air of
disenchantment and the chilly manner, which Lucien met with gracious
smiles and amiable remarks. But, after all, the project of a
friendship called for mature deliberation. This obscure journalist
appeared to lead an expensive life in which _petits verres_, cups of
coffee, punch-bowls, sight-seeing, and suppers played a part. In the
early days of Lucien's life in the Latin Quarter, he behaved like a
poor child bewildered by his first experience of Paris life; so that
when he had made a study of prices and weighed his purse, he lacked
courage to make advances to Etienne; he was afraid of beginning a
fresh series of blunders of which he was still repenting. And he was
still under the yoke of provincial creeds; his two guardian angels,
Eve and David, rose up before him at the least approach of an evil
thought, putting him in mind of all the hopes that were centered on
him, of the happiness that he owed to the old mother, of all the
promises of his genius.

He spent his mornings in studying history at the Bibliotheque
Sainte-Genevieve. His very first researches made him aware of frightful
errors in the memoirs of _The Archer of Charles IX._ When the library
closed, he went back to his damp, chilly room to correct his work,
cutting out whole chapters and piecing it together anew. And after
dining at Flicoteaux's, he went down to the Passage du Commerce to see
the newspapers at Blosse's reading-room, as well as new books and
magazines and poetry, so as to keep himself informed of the movements
of the day. And when, towards midnight, he returned to his wretched
lodgings, he had used neither fuel nor candle-light. His reading in
those days made such an enormous change in his ideas, that he revised
the volume of flower-sonnets, his beloved _Marguerites_, working them
over to such purpose, that scarce a hundred lines of the original
verses were allowed to stand.

So in the beginning Lucien led the honest, innocent life of the
country lad who never leaves the Latin Quarter; devoting himself
wholly to his work, with thoughts of the future always before him; who
finds Flicoteaux's ordinary luxurious after the simple home-fare; and
strolls for recreation along the alleys of the Luxembourg, the blood
surging back to his heart as he gives timid side glances to the pretty
women. But this could not last. Lucien, with his poetic temperament
and boundless longings, could not withstand the temptations held out
by the play-bills.

The Theatre-Francais, the Vaudeville, the Varietes, the Opera-Comique
relieved him of some sixty francs, although he always went to the pit.
What student could deny himself the pleasure of seeing Talma in one of
his famous roles? Lucien was fascinated by the theatre, that first
love of all poetic temperaments; the actors and actresses were
awe-inspiring creatures; he did not so much as dream of the possibility
of crossing the footlights and meeting them on familiar terms. The men
and women who gave him so much pleasure were surely marvelous beings,
whom the newspapers treated with as much gravity as matters of
national interest. To be a dramatic author, to have a play produced on
the stage! What a dream was this to cherish! A dream which a few bold
spirits like Casimir Delavigne had actually realized. Thick swarming
thoughts like these, and moments of belief in himself, followed by
despair gave Lucien no rest, and kept him in the narrow way of toil
and frugality, in spite of the smothered grumblings of more than one
frenzied desire.

Carrying prudence to an extreme, he made it a rule never to enter the
precincts of the Palais Royal, that place of perdition where he had
spent fifty francs at Very's in a single day, and nearly five hundred
francs on his clothes; and when he yielded to temptation, and saw
Fleury, Talma, the two Baptistes, or Michot, he went no further than
the murky passage where theatre-goers used to stand in a string from
half-past five in the afternoon till the hour when the doors opened,
and belated comers were compelled to pay ten sous for a place near the
ticket-office. And after waiting for two hours, the cry of "All
tickets are sold!" rang not unfrequently in the ears of disappointed
students. When the play was over, Lucien went home with downcast eyes,
through streets lined with living attractions, and perhaps fell in
with one of those commonplace adventures which loom so large in a
young and timorous imagination.

One day Lucien counted over his remaining stock of money, and took
alarm at the melting of his funds; a cold perspiration broke out upon
him when he thought that the time had come when he must find a
publisher, and try also to find work for which a publisher would pay
him. The young journalist, with whom he had made a one-sided
friendship, never came now to Flicoteaux's. Lucien was waiting for a
chance--which failed to present itself. In Paris there are no chances
except for men with a very wide circle of acquaintance; chances of
success of every kind increase with the number of your connections;
and, therefore, in this sense also the chances are in favor of the big
battalions. Lucien had sufficient provincial foresight still left, and
had no mind to wait until only a last few coins remained to him. He
resolved to face the publishers.

So one tolerably chilly September morning Lucien went down the Rue de
la Harpe, with his two manuscripts under his arm. As he made his way
to the Quai des Augustins, and went along, looking into the
booksellers' windows on one side and into the Seine on the other, his
good genius might have counseled him to pitch himself into the water
sooner than plunge into literature. After heart-searching hesitations,
after a profound scrutiny of the various countenances, more or less
encouraging, soft-hearted, churlish, cheerful, or melancholy, to be
seen through the window panes, or in the doorways of the booksellers'
establishments, he espied a house where the shopmen were busy packing
books at a great rate. Goods were being despatched. The walls were
plastered with bills:

                      JUST OUT.

     LE SOLITAIRE, by M. le Vicomte d'Arlincourt.
         Third edition.
     LEONIDE, by Victor Ducange; five volumes
         12mo, printed on fine paper. 12 francs.
     INDUCTIONS MORALES, by Keratry.

"They are lucky, that they are!" exclaimed Lucien.

The placard, a new and original idea of the celebrated Ladvocat, was
just beginning to blossom out upon the walls. In no long space Paris
was to wear motley, thanks to the exertions of his imitators, and the
Treasury was to discover a new source of revenue.

Anxiety sent the blood surging to Lucien's heart, as he who had been
so great at Angouleme, so insignificant of late in Paris, slipped past
the other houses, summoned up all his courage, and at last entered the
shop thronged with assistants, customers, and booksellers--"And
authors too, perhaps!" thought Lucien.

"I want to speak with M. Vidal or M. Porchon," he said, addressing a
shopman. He had read the names on the sign-board--VIDAL & PORCHON (it
ran), _French and foreign booksellers' agents_.

"Both gentlemen are engaged," said the man.

"I will wait."

Left to himself, the poet scrutinized the packages, and amused himself
for a couple of hours by scanning the titles of books, looking into
them, and reading a page or two here and there. At last, as he stood
leaning against a window, he heard voices, and suspecting that the
green curtains hid either Vidal or Porchon, he listened to the

"Will you take five hundred copies of me? If you will, I will let you
have them at five francs, and give fourteen to the dozen."

"What does that bring them in at?"

"Sixteen sous less."

"Four francs four sous?" said Vidal or Porchon, whichever it was.

"Yes," said the vendor.

"Credit your account?" inquired the purchaser.

"Old humbug! you would settle with me in eighteen months' time, with
bills at a twelvemonth."

"No. Settled at once," returned Vidal or Porchon.

"Bills at nine months?" asked the publisher or author, who evidently
was selling his book.

"No, my dear fellow, twelve months," returned one of the firm of
booksellers' agents.

There was a pause.

"You are simply cutting my throat!" said the visitor.

"But in a year's time shall we have placed a hundred copies of
_Leonide_?" said the other voice. "If books went off as fast as the
publishers would like, we should be millionaires, my good sir; but
they don't, they go as the public pleases. There is some one now
bringing out an edition of Scott's novels at eighteen sous per volume,
three livres twelve sous per copy, and you want me to give you more
for your stale remainders? No. If you mean me to push this novel of
yours, you must make it worth my while.--Vidal!"

A stout man, with a pen behind his ear, came down from his desk.

"How many copies of Ducange did you place last journey?" asked Porchon
of his partner.

"Two hundred of _Le Petit Vieillard de Calais_, but to sell them I was
obliged to cry down two books which pay in less commission, and
uncommonly fine 'nightingales' they are now.

(A "nightingale," as Lucien afterwards learned, is a bookseller's name
for books that linger on hand, perched out of sight in the loneliest
nooks in the shop.)

"And besides," added Vidal, "Picard is bringing out some novels, as
you know. We have been promised twenty per cent on the published price
to make the thing a success."

"Very well, at twelve months," the publisher answered in a piteous
voice, thunderstruck by Vidal's confidential remark.

"Is it an offer?" Porchon inquired curtly.

"Yes." The stranger went out. After he had gone, Lucien heard Porchon
say to Vidal:

"We have three hundred copies on order now. We will keep him waiting
for his settlement, sell the _Leonides_ for five francs net, settlement
in six months, and----"

"And that will be fifteen hundred francs into our pockets," said

"Oh, I saw quite well that he was in a fix. He is giving Ducange four
thousand francs for two thousand copies."

Lucien cut Vidal short by appearing in the entrance of the den.

"I have the honor of wishing you a good day, gentlemen," he said,
addressing both partners. The booksellers nodded slightly.

"I have a French historical romance after the style of Scott. It is
called _The Archer of Charles IX._; I propose to offer it to you----"

Porchon glanced at Lucien with lustreless eyes, and laid his pen down
on the desk. Vidal stared rudely at the author.

"We are not publishing booksellers, sir; we are booksellers' agents,"
he said. "When we bring out a book ourselves, we only deal in
well-known names; and we only take serious literature besides--history
and epitomes."

"But my book is very serious. It is an attempt to set the struggle
between Catholics and Calvinists in its true light; the Catholics were
supporters of absolute monarchy, and the Protestants for a republic."

"M. Vidal!" shouted an assistant. Vidal fled.

"I don't say, sir, that your book is not a masterpiece," replied
Porchon, with scanty civility, "but we only deal in books that are
ready printed. Go and see somebody that buys manuscripts. There is old
Doguereau in the Rue du Coq, near the Louvre, he is in the romance
line. If you had only spoken sooner, you might have seen Pollet, a
competitor of Doguereau and of the publisher in the Wooden Galleries."

"I have a volume of poetry----"

"M. Porchon!" somebody shouted.

"_Poetry_!" Porchon exclaimed angrily. "For what do you take me?" he
added, laughing in Lucien's face. And he dived into the regions of the
back shop.

Lucien went back across the Pont Neuf absorbed in reflection. From all
that he understood of this mercantile dialect, it appeared that books,
like cotton nightcaps, were to be regarded as articles of merchandise
to be sold dear and bought cheap.

"I have made a mistake," said Lucien to himself; but, all the same,
this rough-and-ready practical aspect of literature made an impression
upon him.

In the Rue du Coq he stopped in front of a modest-looking shop, which
he had passed before. He saw the inscription DOGUEREAU, BOOKSELLER,
painted above it in yellow letters on a green ground, and remembered
that he had seen the name at the foot of the title-page of several
novels at Blosse's reading-room. In he went, not without the inward
trepidation which a man of any imagination feels at the prospect of a
battle. Inside the shop he discovered an odd-looking old man, one of
the queer characters of the trade in the days of the Empire.

Doguereau wore a black coat with vast square skirts, when fashion
required swallow-tail coats. His waistcoat was of some cheap material,
a checked pattern of many colors; a steel chain, with a copper key
attached to it, hung from his fob and dangled down over a roomy pair
of black nether garments. The booksellers' watch must have been the
size of an onion. Iron-gray ribbed stockings, and shoes with silver
buckles completed is costume. The old man's head was bare, and
ornamented with a fringe of grizzled locks, quite poetically scanty.
"Old Doguereau," as Porchon styled him, was dressed half like a
professor of belles-lettres as to his trousers and shoes, half like a
tradesman with respect to the variegated waistcoat, the stockings, and
the watch; and the same odd mixture appeared in the man himself. He
united the magisterial, dogmatic air, and the hollow countenance of
the professor of rhetoric with the sharp eyes, suspicious mouth, and
vague uneasiness of the bookseller.

"M. Doguereau?" asked Lucien.

"That is my name, sir."

"You are very young," remarked the bookseller.

"My age, sir, has nothing to do with the matter."

"True," and the old bookseller took up the manuscript. "Ah, begad! _The
Archer of Charles IX._, a good title. Let us see now, young man, just
tell me your subject in a word or two."

"It is a historical work, sir, in the style of Scott. The character of
the struggle between the Protestants and Catholics is depicted as a
struggle between two opposed systems of government, in which the
throne is seriously endangered. I have taken the Catholic side."

"Eh! but you have ideas, young man. Very well, I will read your book,
I promise you. I would rather have had something more in Mrs.
Radcliffe's style; but if you are industrious, if you have some notion
of style, conceptions, ideas, and the art of telling a story, I don't
ask better than to be of use to you. What do we want but good

"When can I come back?"

"I am going into the country this evening; I shall be back again the
day after to-morrow. I shall have read your manuscript by that time;
and if it suits me, we might come to terms that very day."

Seeing his acquaintance so easy, Lucien was inspired with the unlucky
idea of bringing the _Marguerites_ upon the scene.

"I have a volume of poetry as well, sir----" he began.

"Oh! you are a poet! Then I don't want your romance," and the old man
handed back the manuscript. "The rhyming fellows come to grief when
they try their hands at prose. In prose you can't use words that mean
nothing; you absolutely must say something."

"But Sir Walter Scott, sir, wrote poetry as well as----"

"That is true," said Doguereau, relenting. He guessed that the young
fellow before him was poor, and kept the manuscript. "Where do you
live? I will come and see you."

Lucien, all unsuspicious of the idea at the back of the old man's
head, gave his address; he did not see that he had to do with a
bookseller of the old school, a survival of the eighteenth century,
when booksellers tried to keep Voltaires and Montesquieus starving in
garrets under lock and key.

"The Latin Quarter. I am coming back that very way," said Doguereau,
when he had read the address.

"Good man!" thought Lucien, as he took his leave. "So I have met with
a friend to young authors, a man of taste who knows something. That is
the kind of man for me! It is just as I said to David--talent soon
makes its way in Paris."

Lucien went home again happy and light of heart; he dreamed of glory.
He gave not another thought to the ominous words which fell on his ear
as he stood by the counter in Vidal and Porchon's shop; he beheld
himself the richer by twelve hundred francs at least. Twelve hundred
francs! It meant a year in Paris, a whole year of preparation for the
work that he meant to do. What plans he built on that hope! What sweet
dreams, what visions of a life established on a basis of work!
Mentally he found new quarters, and settled himself in them; it would
not have taken much to set him making a purchase or two. He could only
stave off impatience by constant reading at Blosse's.

Two days later old Doguereau come to the lodgings of his budding Sir
Walter Scott. He was struck with the pains which Lucien had taken with
the style of this his first work, delighted with the strong contrasts
of character sanctioned by the epoch, and surprised at the spirited
imagination which a young writer always displays in the scheming of a
first plot--he had not been spoiled, thought old Daddy Doguereau. He
had made up his mind to give a thousand francs for _The Archer of
Charles IX._; he would buy the copyright out and out, and bind Lucien
by an engagement for several books, but when he came to look at the
house, the old fox thought better of it.

"A young fellow that lives here has none but simple tastes," said he
to himself; "he is fond of study, fond of work; I need not give more
than eight hundred francs."

"Fourth floor," answered the landlady, when he asked for M. Lucien de
Rubempre. The old bookseller, peering up, saw nothing but the sky
above the fourth floor.

"This young fellow," thought he, "is a good-looking lad; one might go
so far as to say that he is very handsome. If he were to make too much
money, he would only fall into dissipated ways, and then he would not
work. In the interests of us both, I shall only offer six hundred
francs, in coin though, not paper."

He climbed the stairs and gave three raps at the door. Lucien came to
open it. The room was forlorn in its bareness. A bowl of milk and a
penny roll stood on the table. The destitution of genius made an
impression on Daddy Doguereau.

"Let him preserve these simple habits of life, this frugality, these
modest requirements," thought he.--Aloud he said: "It is a pleasure to
me to see you. Thus, sir, lived Jean-Jacques, whom you resemble in
more ways than one. Amid such surroundings the fire of genius shines
brightly; good work is done in such rooms as these. This is how men of
letters should work, instead of living riotously in cafes and
restaurants, wasting their time and talent and our money."

He sat down.

"Your romance is not bad, young man. I was a professor of rhetoric
once; I know French history, there are some capital things in it. You
have a future before you, in fact."

"Oh! sir."

"No; I tell you so. We may do business together. I will buy your

Lucien's heart swelled and throbbed with gladness. He was about to
enter the world of literature; he should see himself in print at last.

"I will give you four hundred francs," continued Doguereau in honeyed
accents, and he looked at Lucien with an air which seemed to betoken
an effort of generosity.

"The volume?" queried Lucien.

"For the romance," said Doguereau, heedless of Lucien's surprise. "In
ready money," he added; "and you shall undertake to write two books
for me every year for six years. If the first book is out of print in
six months, I will give you six hundred francs for the others. So, if
you write two books each year, you will be making a hundred francs a
month; you will have a sure income, you will be well off. There are
some authors whom I only pay three hundred francs for a romance; I
give two hundred for translations of English books. Such prices would
have been exorbitant in the old days."

"Sir, we cannot possibly come to an understanding. Give me back my
manuscript, I beg," said Lucien, in a cold chill.

"Here it is," said the old bookseller. "You know nothing of business,
sir. Before an author's first book can appear, a publisher is bound to
sink sixteen hundred francs on the paper and the printing of it. It is
easier to write a romance than to find all that money. I have a
hundred romances in manuscript, and I have not a hundred and sixty
thousand francs in my cash box, alas! I have not made so much in all
these twenty years that I have been a bookseller. So you don't make a
fortune by printing romances, you see. Vidal and Porchon only take
them of us on conditions that grow harder and harder day by day. You
have only your time to lose, while I am obliged to disburse two
thousand francs. If we fail, _habent sua fata libelli_, I lose two
thousand francs; while, as for you, you simply hurl an ode at the
thick-headed public. When you have thought over this that I have the
honor of telling you, you will come back to me.--_You will come back to
me_!" he asserted authoritatively, by way of reply to a scornful
gesture made involuntarily by Lucien. "So far from finding a publisher
obliging enough to risk two thousand francs for an unknown writer, you
will not find a publisher's clerk that will trouble himself to look
through your screed. Now that I have read it I can point out a good
many slips in grammar. You have put _observer_ for _faire observer_ and
_malgre que_. _Malgre_ is a preposition, and requires an object."

Lucien appeared to be humiliated.

"When I see you again, you will have lost a hundred francs," he added.
"I shall only give a hundred crowns."

With that he rose and took his leave. On the threshold he said, "If
you had not something in you, and a future before you; if I did not
take an interest in studious youth, I should not have made you such a
handsome offer. A hundred francs per month! Think of it! After all, a
romance in a drawer is not eating its head off like a horse in a
stable, nor will it find you in victuals either, and that's a fact."

Lucien snatched up his manuscript and dashed it on the floor.

"I would rather burn it, sir!" he exclaimed.

"You have a poet's head," returned his senior.

Lucien devoured his bread and supped his bowl of milk, then he went
downstairs. His room was not large enough for him; he was turning
round and round in it like a lion in a cage at the Jardin des Plantes.

At the Bibliotheque Saint-Genevieve, whither Lucien was going, he had
come to know a stranger by sight; a young man of five-and-twenty or
thereabouts, working with the sustained industry which nothing can
disturb nor distract, the sign by which your genuine literary worker
is known. Evidently the young man had been reading there for some
time, for the librarian and attendants all knew him and paid him
special attention; the librarian would even allow him to take away
books, with which Lucien saw him return in the morning. In the
stranger student he recognized a brother in penury and hope.

Pale-faced and slight and thin, with a fine forehead hidden by masses
of black, tolerably unkempt hair, there was something about him that
attracted indifferent eyes: it was a vague resemblance which he bore
to portraits of the young Bonaparte, engraved from Robert Lefebvre's
picture. That engraving is a poem of melancholy intensity, of
suppressed ambition, of power working below the surface. Study the
face carefully, and you will discover genius in it and discretion, and
all the subtlety and greatness of the man. The portrait has speaking
eyes like a woman's; they look out, greedy of space, craving
difficulties to vanquish. Even if the name of Bonaparte were not
written beneath it, you would gaze long at that face.

Lucien's young student, the incarnation of this picture, usually wore
footed trousers, shoes with thick soles to them, an overcoat of coarse
cloth, a black cravat, a waistcoat of some gray-and-white material
buttoned to the chin, and a cheap hat. Contempt for superfluity in
dress was visible in his whole person. Lucien also discovered that the
mysterious stranger with that unmistakable stamp which genius sets
upon the forehead of its slaves was one of Flicoteaux's most regular
customers; he ate to live, careless of the fare which appeared to be
familiar to him, and drank water. Wherever Lucien saw him, at the
library or at Flicoteaux's, there was a dignity in his manner,
springing doubtless from the consciousness of a purpose that filled
his life, a dignity which made him unapproachable. He had the
expression of a thinker, meditation dwelt on the fine nobly carved
brow. You could tell from the dark bright eyes, so clear-sighted and
quick to observe, that their owner was wont to probe to the bottom of
things. He gesticulated very little, his demeanor was grave. Lucien
felt an involuntary respect for him.

Many times already the pair had looked at each other at the
Bibliotheque or at Flicoteaux's; many times they had been on the point
of speaking, but neither of them had ventured so far as yet. The
silent young man went off to the further end of the library, on the
side at right angles to the Place de la Sorbonne, and Lucien had no
opportunity of making his acquaintance, although he felt drawn to a
worker whom he knew by indescribable tokens for a character of no
common order. Both, as they came to know afterwards, were
unsophisticated and shy, given to fears which cause a pleasurable
emotion to solitary creatures. Perhaps they never would have been
brought into communication if they had not come across each other that
day of Lucien's disaster; for as Lucien turned into the Rue des Gres,
he saw the student coming away from the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve.

"The library is closed; I don't know why, monsieur," said he.

Tears were standing in Lucien's eyes; he expressed his thanks by one
of those gestures that speak more eloquently than words, and unlock
hearts at once when two men meet in youth. They went together along
the Rue des Gres towards the Rue de la Harpe.

"As that is so, I shall go to the Luxembourg for a walk," said Lucien.
"When you have come out, it is not easy to settle down to work again."

"No; one's ideas will not flow in the proper current," remarked the
stranger. "Something seems to have annoyed you, monsieur?"

"I have just had a queer adventure," said Lucien, and he told the
history of his visit to the Quai, and gave an account of his
subsequent dealings with the old bookseller. He gave his name and said
a word or two of his position. In one month or thereabouts he had
spent sixty francs on his board, thirty for lodging, twenty more
francs in going to the theatre, and ten at Blosse's reading room--one
hundred and twenty francs in all, and now he had just a hundred and
twenty francs in hand.

"Your story is mine, monsieur, and the story of ten or twelve hundred
young fellows besides who come from the country to Paris every year.
There are others even worse off than we are. Do you see that theatre?"
he continued, indicating the turrets of the Odeon. "There came one day
to lodge in one of the houses in the square a man of talent who had
fallen into the lowest depths of poverty. He was married, in addition
to the misfortunes which we share with him, to a wife whom he loved;
and the poorer or the richer, as you will, by two children. He was
burdened with debt, but he put his faith in his pen. He took a comedy
in five acts to the Odeon; the comedy was accepted, the management
arranged to bring it out, the actors learned their parts, the stage
manager urged on the rehearsals. Five several bits of luck, five
dramas to be performed in real life, and far harder tasks than the
writing of a five-act play. The poor author lodged in a garret; you
can see the place from here. He drained his last resources to live
until the first representation; his wife pawned her clothes, they all
lived on dry bread. On the day of the final rehearsal, the household
owed fifty francs in the Quarter to the baker, the milkwoman, and the
porter. The author had only the strictly necessary clothes--a coat, a
shirt, trousers, a waistcoat, and a pair of boots. He felt sure of his
success; he kissed his wife. The end of their troubles was at hand.
'At last! There is nothing against us now,' cried he.--'Yes, there is
fire,' said his wife; 'look, the Odeon is on fire!'--The Odeon was on
fire, monsieur. So do not you complain. You have clothes, you have
neither wife nor child, you have a hundred and twenty francs for
emergencies in your pocket, and you owe no one a penny.--Well, the
piece went through a hundred and fifty representations at the Theatre
Louvois. The King allowed the author a pension. 'Genius is patience,'
as Buffon said. And patience after all is a man's nearest approach to
Nature's processes of creation. What is Art, monsieur, but Nature

By this time the young men were striding along the walks of the
Luxembourg, and in no long time Lucien learned the name of the
stranger who was doing his best to administer comfort. That name has
since grown famous. Daniel d'Arthez is one of the most illustrious of
living men of letters; one of the rare few who show us an example of
"a noble gift with a noble nature combined," to quote a poet's fine

"There is no cheap route to greatness," Daniel went on in his kind
voice. "The works of Genius are watered with tears. The gift that is
in you, like an existence in the physical world, passes through
childhood and its maladies. Nature sweeps away sickly or deformed
creatures, and Society rejects an imperfectly developed talent. Any
man who means to rise above the rest must make ready for a struggle
and be undaunted by difficulties. A great writer is a martyr who does
not die; that is all.--There is the stamp of genius on your forehead,"
d'Arthez continued, enveloping Lucien by a glance; "but unless you
have within you the will of genius, unless you are gifted with angelic
patience, unless, no matter how far the freaks of Fate have set you
from your destined goal, you can find the way to your Infinite as the
turtles in the Indies find their way to the ocean, you had better give
up at once."

"Then do you yourself expect these ordeals?" asked Lucien.

"Trials of every kind, slander and treachery, and effrontery and
cunning, the rivals who act unfairly, and the keen competition of the
literary market," his companion said resignedly. "What is a first
loss, if only your work was good?"

"Will you look at mine and give me your opinion?" asked Lucien.

"So be it," said d'Arthez. "I am living in the Rue des Quatre-Vents.
Desplein, one of the most illustrious men of genius in our time, the
greatest surgeon that the world has known, once endured the martyrdom
of early struggles with the first difficulties of a glorious career in
the same house. I think of that every night, and the thought gives me
the stock of courage that I need every morning. I am living in the
very room where, like Rousseau, he had no Theresa. Come in an hour's
time. I shall be in."

The poets grasped each other's hands with a rush of melancholy and
tender feeling inexpressible in words, and went their separate ways;
Lucien to fetch his manuscript, Daniel d'Arthez to pawn his watch and
buy a couple of faggots. The weather was cold, and his new-found
friend should find a fire in his room.

Lucien was punctual. He noticed at once that the house was of an even
poorer class than the Hotel de Cluny. A staircase gradually became
visible at the further end of a dark passage; he mounted to the fifth
floor, and found d'Arthez's room.

A bookcase of dark-stained wood, with rows of labeled cardboard cases
on the shelves, stood between the two crazy windows. A gaunt, painted
wooden bedstead, of the kind seen in school dormitories, a
night-table, picked up cheaply somewhere, and a couple of horsehair
armchairs, filled the further end of the room. The wall-paper, a
Highland plaid pattern, was glazed over with the grime of years.
Between the window and the grate stood a long table littered with
papers, and opposite the fireplace there was a cheap mahogany chest of
drawers. A second-hand carpet covered the floor--a necessary luxury,
for it saved firing. A common office armchair, cushioned with leather,
crimson once, but now hoary with wear, was drawn up to the table. Add
half-a-dozen rickety chairs, and you have a complete list of the
furniture. Lucien noticed an old-fashioned candle-sconce for a
card-table, with an adjustable screen attached, and wondered to see
four wax candles in the sockets. D'Arthez explained that he could not
endure the smell of tallow, a little trait denoting great delicacy of
sense perception, and the exquisite sensibility which accompanies it.

The reading lasted for seven hours. Daniel listened conscientiously,
forbearing to interrupt by word or comment--one of the rarest proofs
of good taste in a listener.

"Well?" queried Lucien, laying the manuscript on the chimney-piece.

"You have made a good start on the right way," d'Arthez answered
judicially, "but you must go over your work again. You must strike out
a different style for yourself if you do not mean to ape Sir Walter
Scott, for you have taken him for your model. You begin, for instance,
as he begins, with long conversations to introduce your characters,
and only when they have said their say does description and action

"This opposition, necessary in all work of a dramatic kind, comes
last. Just put the terms of the problem the other way round. Give
descriptions, to which our language lends itself so admirably, instead
of diffuse dialogue, magnificent in Scott's work, but colorless in
your own. Lead naturally up to your dialogue. Plunge straight into the
action. Treat your subject from different points of view, sometimes in
a side-light, sometimes retrospectively; vary your methods, in fact,
to diversify your work. You may be original while adapting the Scots
novelist's form of dramatic dialogue to French history. There is no
passion in Scott's novels; he ignores passion, or perhaps it was
interdicted by the hypocritical manners of his country. Woman for him
is duty incarnate. His heroines, with possibly one or two exceptions,
are all alike; he has drawn them all from the same model, as painters
say. They are, every one of them, descended from Clarissa Harlowe. And
returning continually, as he did, to the same idea of woman, how could
he do otherwise than produce a single type, varied only by degrees of
vividness in the coloring? Woman brings confusion into Society through
passion. Passion gives infinite possibilities. Therefore depict
passion; you have one great resource open to you, foregone by the
great genius for the sake of providing family reading for prudish
England. In France you have the charming sinner, the brightly-colored
life of Catholicism, contrasted with sombre Calvinistic figures on a
background of the times when passions ran higher than at any other
period of our history.

"Every epoch which has left authentic records since the time of
Charles the Great calls for at least one romance. Some require four or
five; the periods of Louis XIV., of Henry IV., of Francis I., for
instance. You would give us in this way a picturesque history of
France, with the costumes and furniture, the houses and their
interiors, and domestic life, giving us the spirit of the time instead
of a laborious narration of ascertained facts. Then there is further
scope for originality. You can remove some of the popular delusions
which disfigure the memories of most of our kings. Be bold enough in
this first work of yours to rehabilitate the great magnificent figure
of Catherine, whom you have sacrificed to the prejudices which still
cloud her name. And finally, paint Charles IX. for us as he really
was, and not as Protestant writers have made him. Ten years of
persistent work, and fame and fortune will be yours."

By this time it was nine o'clock; Lucien followed the example set in
secret by his future friend by asking him to dine at Eldon's, and
spent twelve francs at that restaurant. During the dinner Daniel
admitted Lucien into the secret of his hopes and studies. Daniel
d'Arthez would not allow that any writer could attain to a pre-eminent
rank without a profound knowledge of metaphysics. He was engaged in
ransacking the spoils of ancient and modern philosophy, and in the
assimilation of it all; he would be like Moliere, a profound
philosopher first, and a writer of comedies afterwards. He was
studying the world of books and the living world about him--thought
and fact. His friends were learned naturalists, young doctors of
medicine, political writers and artists, a number of earnest students
full of promise.

D'Arthez earned a living by conscientious and ill-paid work; he wrote
articles for encyclopaedias, dictionaries of biography and natural
science, doing just enough to enable him to live while he followed his
own bent, and neither more nor less. He had a piece of imaginative
work on hand, undertaken solely for the sake of studying the resources
of language, an important psychological study in the form of a novel,
unfinished as yet, for d'Arthez took it up or laid it down as the
humor took him, and kept it for days of great distress. D'Arthez's
revelations of himself were made very simply, but to Lucien he seemed
like an intellectual giant; and by eleven o'clock, when they left the
restaurant, he began to feel a sudden, warm friendship for this
nature, unconscious of its loftiness, this unostentatious worth.

Lucien took d'Arthez's advice unquestioningly, and followed it out to
the letter. The most magnificent palaces of fancy had been suddenly
flung open to him by a nobly-gifted mind, matured already by thought
and critical examinations undertaken for their own sake, not for
publication, but for the solitary thinker's own satisfaction. The
burning coal had been laid on the lips of the poet of Angouleme, a
word uttered by a hard student in Paris had fallen upon ground
prepared to receive it in the provincial. Lucien set about recasting
his work.

In his gladness at finding in the wilderness of Paris a nature
abounding in generous and sympathetic feeling, the distinguished
provincial did, as all young creatures hungering for affection are
wont to do; he fastened, like a chronic disease, upon this one friend
that he had found. He called for D'Arthez on his way to the
Bibliotheque, walked with him on fine days in the Luxembourg Gardens,
and went with his friend every evening as far as the door of his
lodging-house after sitting next to him at Flicoteaux's. He pressed
close to his friend's side as a soldier might keep by a comrade on the
frozen Russian plains.

During those early days of his acquaintance, he noticed, not without
chagrin, that his presence imposed a certain restraint on the circle
of Daniel's intimates. The talk of those superior beings of whom
d'Arthez spoke to him with such concentrated enthusiasm kept within
the bounds of a reserve but little in keeping with the evident warmth
of their friendships. At these times Lucien discreetly took his leave,
a feeling of curiosity mingling with the sense of something like pain
at the ostracism to which he was subjected by these strangers, who all
addressed each other by their Christian names. Each one of them, like
d'Arthez, bore the stamp of genius upon his forehead.

After some private opposition, overcome by d'Arthez without Lucien's
knowledge, the newcomer was at length judged worthy to make one of the
_cenacle_ of lofty thinkers. Henceforward he was to be one of a little
group of young men who met almost every evening in d'Arthez's room,
united by the keenest sympathies and by the earnestness of their
intellectual life. They all foresaw a great writer in d'Arthez; they
looked upon him as their chief since the loss of one of their number,
a mystical genius, one of the most extraordinary intellects of the
age. This former leader had gone back to his province for reasons on
which it serves no purpose to enter, but Lucien often heard them speak
of this absent friend as "Louis." Several of the group were destined
to fall by the way; but others, like d'Arthez, have since won all the
fame that was their due. A few details as to the circle will readily
explain Lucien's strong feeling of interest and curiosity.

One among those who still survive was Horace Bianchon, then a
house-student at the Hotel-Dieu; later, a shining light at the Ecole
de Paris, and now so well known that it is needless to give any
description of his appearance, genius, or character.

Next came Leon Giraud, that profound philosopher and bold theorist,
turning all systems inside out, criticising, expressing, and
formulating, dragging them all to the feet of his idol--Humanity;
great even in his errors, for his honesty ennobled his mistakes. An
intrepid toiler, a conscientious scholar, he became the acknowledged
head of a school of moralists and politicians. Time alone can
pronounce upon the merits of his theories; but if his convictions have
drawn him into paths in which none of his old comrades tread, none the
less he is still their faithful friend.

Art was represented by Joseph Bridau, one of the best painters among
the younger men. But for a too impressionable nature, which made havoc
of Joseph's heart, he might have continued the traditions of the great
Italian masters, though, for that matter, the last word has not yet
been said concerning him. He combines Roman outline with Venetian
color; but love is fatal to his work, love not merely transfixes his
heart, but sends his arrow through the brain, deranges the course of
his life, and sets the victim describing the strangest zigzags. If the
mistress of the moment is too kind or too cruel, Joseph will send into
the Exhibition sketches where the drawing is clogged with color, or
pictures finished under the stress of some imaginary woe, in which he
gave his whole attention to the drawing, and left the color to take
care of itself. He is a constant disappointment to his friends and the
public; yet Hoffmann would have worshiped him for his daring
experiments in the realms of art. When Bridau is wholly himself he is
admirable, and as praise is sweet to him, his disgust is great when
one praises the failures in which he alone discovers all that is
lacking in the eyes of the public. He is whimsical to the last degree.
His friends have seen him destroy a finished picture because, in his
eyes, it looked too smooth. "It is overdone," he would say; "it is
niggling work."

With his eccentric, yet lofty nature, with a nervous organization and
all that it entails of torment and delight, the craving for perfection
becomes morbid. Intellectually he is akin to Sterne, though he is not
a literary worker. There is an indescribable piquancy about his
epigrams and sallies of thought. He is eloquent, he knows how to love,
but the uncertainty that appears in his execution is a part of the
very nature of the man. The brotherhood loved him for the very
qualities which the philistine would style defects.

Last among the living comes Fulgence Ridal. No writer of our times
possesses more of the exuberant spirit of pure comedy than this poet,
careless of fame, who will fling his more commonplace productions to
theatrical managers, and keep the most charming scenes in the seraglio
of his brain for himself and his friends. Of the public he asks just
sufficient to secure his independence, and then declines to do
anything more. Indolent and prolific as Rossini, compelled, like great
poet-comedians, like Moliere and Rabelais, to see both sides of
everything, and all that is to be said both for and against, he is a
sceptic, ready to laugh at all things. Fulgence Ridal is a great
practical philosopher. His worldly wisdom, his genius for observation,
his contempt for fame ("fuss," as he calls it) have not seared a kind
heart. He is as energetic on behalf of another as he is careless where
his own interests are concerned; and if he bestirs himself, it is for
a friend. Living up to his Rabelaisian mask, he is no enemy to good
cheer, though he never goes out of his way to find it; he is
melancholy and gay. His friends dubbed him the "Dog of the Regiment."
You could have no better portrait of the man than his nickname.

Three more of the band, at least as remarkable as the friends who have
just been sketched in outline, were destined to fall by the way. Of
these, Meyraux was the first. Meyraux died after stirring up the
famous controversy between Cuvier and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, a great
question which divided the whole scientific world into two opposite
camps, with these two men of equal genius as leaders. This befell some
months before the death of the champion of rigorous analytical science
as opposed to the pantheism of one who is still living to bear an
honored name in Germany. Meyraux was the friend of that "Louis" of
whom death was so soon to rob the intellectual world.

With these two, both marked by death, and unknown to-day in spite of
their wide knowledge and their genius, stands a third, Michel
Chrestien, the great Republican thinker, who dreamed of European
Federation, and had no small share in bringing about the
Saint-Simonian movement of 1830. A politician of the calibre of
Saint-Just and Danton, but simple, meek as a maid, and brimful of
illusions and loving-kindness; the owner of a singing voice which
would have sent Mozart, or Weber, or Rossini into ecstasies, for his
singing of certain songs of Beranger's could intoxicate the heart in
you with poetry, or hope, or love--Michel Chrestien, poor as Lucien,
poor as Daniel d'Arthez, as all the rest of his friends, gained a
living with the haphazard indifference of a Diogenes. He indexed
lengthy works, he drew up prospectuses for booksellers, and kept his
doctrines to himself, as the grave keeps the secrets of the dead. Yet
the gay bohemian of intellectual life, the great statesman who might
have changed the face of the world, fell as a private soldier in the
cloister of Saint-Merri; some shopkeeper's bullet struck down one of
the noblest creatures that ever trod French soil, and Michel Chrestien
died for other doctrines than his own. His Federation scheme was more
dangerous to the aristocracy of Europe than the Republican propaganda;
it was more feasible and less extravagant than the hideous doctrines
of indefinite liberty proclaimed by the young madcaps who assume the
character of heirs of the Convention. All who knew the noble plebeian
wept for him; there is not one of them but remembers, and often
remembers, a great obscure politician.

Esteem and friendship kept the peace between the extremes of hostile
opinion and conviction represented in the brotherhood. Daniel d'Arthez
came of a good family in Picardy. His belief in the Monarchy was quite
as strong as Michel Chrestien's faith in European Federation. Fulgence
Ridal scoffed at Leon Giraud's philosophical doctrines, while Giraud
himself prophesied for d'Arthez's benefit the approaching end of
Christianity and the extinction of the institution of the family.
Michel Chrestien, a believer in the religion of Christ, the divine
lawgiver, who taught the equality of men, would defend the immortality
of the soul from Bianchon's scalpel, for Horace Bianchon was before
all things an analyst.

There was plenty of discussion, but no bickering. Vanity was not
engaged, for the speakers were also the audience. They would talk over
their work among themselves and take counsel of each other with the
delightful openness of youth. If the matter in hand was serious, the
opponent would leave his own position to enter into his friend's point
of view; and being an impartial judge in a matter outside his own
sphere, would prove the better helper; envy, the hideous treasure of
disappointment, abortive talent, failure, and mortified vanity, was
quite unknown among them. All of them, moreover, were going their
separate ways. For these reasons, Lucien and others admitted to their
society felt at their ease in it. Wherever you find real talent, you
will find frank good fellowship and sincerity, and no sort of
pretension, the wit that caresses the intellect and never is aimed at

When the first nervousness, caused by respect, wore off, it was
unspeakably pleasant to make one of this elect company of youth.
Familiarity did not exclude in each a consciousness of his own value,
nor a profound esteem for his neighbor; and finally, as every member
of the circle felt that he could afford to receive or to give, no one
made a difficulty of accepting. Talk was unflagging, full of charm,
and ranging over the most varied topics; words light as arrows sped to
the mark. There was a strange contrast between the dire material
poverty in which the young men lived and the splendor of their
intellectual wealth. They looked upon the practical problems of
existence simply as matter for friendly jokes. The cold weather
happened to set in early that year. Five of d'Arthez's friends
appeared one day, each concealing firewood under his cloak; the same
idea had occurred to the five, as it sometimes happens that all the
guests at a picnic are inspired with the notion of bringing a pie as
their contribution.

All of them were gifted with the moral beauty which reacts upon the
physical form, and, no less than work and vigils, overlays a youthful
face with a shade of divine gold; purity of life and the fire of
thought had brought refinement and regularity into features somewhat
pinched and rugged. The poet's amplitude of brow was a striking
characteristic common to them all; the bright, sparkling eyes told of
cleanliness of life. The hardships of penury, when they were felt at
all, were born so gaily and embraced with such enthusiasm, that they
had left no trace to mar the serenity peculiar to the faces of the
young who have no grave errors laid to their charge as yet, who have
not stooped to any of the base compromises wrung from impatience of
poverty by the strong desire to succeed. The temptation to use any
means to this end is the greater since that men of letters are lenient
with bad faith and extend an easy indulgence to treachery.

There is an element in friendship which doubles its charm and renders
it indissoluble--a sense of certainty which is lacking in love. These
young men were sure of themselves and of each other; the enemy of one
was the enemy of all; the most urgent personal considerations would
have been shattered if they had clashed with the sacred solidarity of
their fellowship. All alike incapable of disloyalty, they could oppose
a formidable No to any accusation brought against the absent and
defend them with perfect confidence. With a like nobility of nature
and strength of feeling, it was possible to think and speak freely on
all matters of intellectual or scientific interest; hence the honesty
of their friendships, the gaiety of their talk, and with this
intellectual freedom of the community there was no fear of being
misunderstood; they stood upon no ceremony with each other; they
shared their troubles and joys, and gave thought and sympathy from
full hearts. The charming delicacy of feeling which makes the tale of
_Deux Amis_ a treasury for great souls, was the rule of their daily
life. It may be imagined, therefore, that their standard of
requirements was not an easy one; they were too conscious of their
worth, too well aware of their happiness, to care to trouble their
life with the admixture of a new and unknown element.

This federation of interests and affection lasted for twenty years
without a collision or disappointment. Death alone could thin the
numbers of the noble Pleiades, taking first Louis Lambert, later
Meyraux and Michel Chrestien.

When Michel Chrestien fell in 1832 his friends went, in spite of the
perils of the step, to find his body at Saint-Merri; and Horace
Bianchon, Daniel d'Arthez, Leon Giraud, Joseph Bridau, and Fulgence
Ridal performed the last duties to the dead, between two political
fires. By night they buried their beloved in the cemetery of
Pere-Lachaise; Horace Bianchon, undaunted by the difficulties, cleared
them away one after another--it was he indeed who besought the
authorities for permission to bury the fallen insurgent and confessed
to his old friendship with the dead Federalist. The little group of
friends present at the funeral with those five great men will never
forget that touching scene.

As you walk in the trim cemetery you will see a grave purchased in
perpetuity, a grass-covered mound with a dark wooden cross above it,
and the name in large red letters--MICHEL CHRESTIEN. There is no other
monument like it. The friends thought to pay a tribute to the sternly
simple nature of the man by the simplicity of the record of his death.

So, in that chilly garret, the fairest dreams of friendship were
realized. These men were brothers leading lives of intellectual
effort, loyally helping each other, making no reservations, not even
of their worst thoughts; men of vast acquirements, natures tried in
the crucible of poverty. Once admitted as an equal among such elect
souls, Lucien represented beauty and poetry. They admired the sonnets
which he read to them; they would ask him for a sonnet as he would ask
Michel Chrestien for a song. And, in the desert of Paris, Lucien found
an oasis in the Rue des Quatre-Vents.

At the beginning of October, Lucien had spent the last of his money on
a little firewood; he was half-way through the task of recasting his
work, the most strenuous of all toil, and he was penniless. As for
Daniel d'Arthez, burning blocks of spent tan, and facing poverty like
a hero, not a word of complaint came from him; he was as sober as any
elderly spinster, and methodical as a miser. This courage called out
Lucien's courage; he had only newly come into the circle, and shrank
with invincible repugnance from speaking of his straits. One morning
he went out, manuscript in hand, and reached the Rue du Coq; he would
sell _The Archer of Charles IX._ to Doguereau; but Doguereau was out.
Lucien little knew how indulgent great natures can be to the
weaknesses of others. Every one of the friends had thought of the
peculiar troubles besetting the poetic temperament, of the prostration
which follows upon the struggle, when the soul has been overwrought by
the contemplation of that nature which it is the task of art to
reproduce. And strong as they were to endure their own ills, they felt
keenly for Lucien's distress; they guessed that his stock of money was
failing; and after all the pleasant evenings spent in friendly talk
and deep meditations, after the poetry, the confidences, the bold
flights over the fields of thought or into the far future of the
nations, yet another trait was to prove how little Lucien had
understood these new friends of his.

"Lucien, dear fellow," said Daniel, "you did not dine at Flicoteaux's
yesterday, and we know why."

Lucien could not keep back the overflowing tears.

"You showed a want of confidence in us," said Michel Chrestien; "we
shall chalk that up over the chimney, and when we have scored ten we

"We have all of us found a bit of extra work," said Bianchon; "for my
own part, I have been looking after a rich patient for Desplein;
d'Arthez has written an article for the _Revue Encyclopedique_;
Chrestien thought of going out to sing in the Champs Elysees of an
evening with a pocket-handkerchief and four candles, but he found a
pamphlet to write instead for a man who has a mind to go into
politics, and gave his employer six hundred francs worth of
Machiavelli; Leon Giraud borrowed fifty francs of his publisher,
Joseph sold one or two sketches; and Fulgence's piece was given on
Sunday, and there was a full house."

"Here are two hundred francs," said Daniel, "and let us say no more
about it."

"Why, if he is not going to hug us all as if we had done something
extraordinary!" cried Chrestien.

Lucien, meanwhile, had written to the home circle. His letter was a
masterpiece of sensibility and goodwill, as well as a sharp cry wrung
from him by distress. The answers which he received the next day will
give some idea of the delight that Lucien took in this living
encyclopedia of angelic spirits, each of whom bore the stamp of the
art or science which he followed:--

                    _David Sechard to Lucien._

  "MY DEAR LUCIEN,--Enclosed herewith is a bill at ninety days,
  payable to your order, for two hundred francs. You can draw on M.
  Metivier, paper merchant, our Paris correspondent in the Rue
  Serpente. My good Lucien, we have absolutely nothing. Eve has
  undertaken the charge of the printing-house, and works at her task
  with such devotion, patience, and industry, that I bless heaven
  for giving me such an angel for a wife. She herself says that it
  is impossible to send you the least help. But I think, my friend
  now that you are started in so promising a way, with such great
  and noble hearts for your companions, that you can hardly fail to
  reach the greatness to which you were born, aided as you are by
  intelligence almost divine in Daniel d'Arthez and Michel Chrestien
  and Leon Giraud, and counseled by Meyraux and Bianchon and Ridal,
  whom we have come to know through your dear letter. So I have
  drawn this bill without Eve's knowledge, and I will contrive
  somehow to meet it when the time comes. Keep on your way, Lucien;
  it is rough, but it will be glorious. I can bear anything but the
  thought of you sinking into the sloughs of Paris, of which I saw
  so much. Have sufficient strength of mind to do as you are doing,
  and keep out of scrapes and bad company, wild young fellows and
  men of letters of a certain stamp, whom I learned to take at their
  just valuation when I lived in Paris. Be a worthy compeer of the
  divine spirits whom we have learned to love through you. Your life
  will soon meet with its reward. Farewell, dearest brother; you
  have sent transports of joy to my heart. I did not expect such
  courage of you.


                    _Eve Sechard to Lucien._

  "DEAR,--your letter made all of us cry. As for the noble hearts to
  whom your good angel surely led you, tell them that a mother and a
  poor young wife will pray for them night and morning; and if the
  most fervent prayers can reach the Throne of God, surely they will
  bring blessings upon you all. Their names are engraved upon my
  heart. Ah! some day I shall see your friends; I will go to Paris,
  if I have to walk the whole way, to thank them for their
  friendship for you, for to me the thought has been like balm to
  smarting wounds. We are working like day laborers here, dear. This
  husband of mine, the unknown great man whom I love more and more
  every day, as I discover moment by moment the wealth of his
  nature, leaves the printing-house more and more to me. Why, I
  guess. Our poverty, yours, and ours, and our mother's, is
  heartbreaking to him. Our adored David is a Prometheus gnawed by a
  vulture, a haggard, sharp-beaked regret. As for himself, noble
  fellow, he scarcely thinks of himself; he is hoping to make a
  fortune for _us_. He spends his whole time in experiments in
  paper-making; he begged me to take his place and look after the
  business, and gives me as much help as his preoccupation allows.
  Alas! I shall be a mother soon. That should have been a crowning
  joy; but as things are, it saddens me. Poor mother! she has grown
  young again; she has found strength to go back to her tiring
  nursing. We should be happy if it were not for these money cares.
  Old Father Sechard will not give his son a farthing. David went
  over to see if he could borrow a little for you, for we were in
  despair over your letter. 'I know Lucien,' David said; 'he will
  lose his head and do something rash.'--I gave him a good scolding.
  'My brother disappoint us in any way!' I told him, 'Lucien knows
  that I should die of sorrow.'--Mother and I have pawned a few
  things; David does not know about it, mother will redeem them as
  soon as she has made a little money. In this way we have managed
  to put together a hundred francs, which I am sending you by the
  coach. If I did not answer your last letter, do not remember it
  against me, dear; we were working all night just then. I have been
  working like a man. Oh, I had no idea that I was so strong!

  "Mme. de Bargeton is a heartless woman; she has no soul; even if
  she cared for you no longer, she owed it to herself to use her
  influence for you and to help you when she had torn you from us to
  plunge you into that dreadful sea of Paris. Only by the special
  blessing of Heaven could you have met with true friends there
  among those crowds of men and innumerable interests. She is not
  worth a regret. I used to wish that there might be some devoted
  woman always with you, a second myself; but now I know that your
  friends will take my place, and I am happy. Spread your wings, my
  dear great genius, you will be our pride as well as our beloved.


  "My darling," the mother wrote, "I can only add my blessing to all
  that your sister says, and assure you that you are more in my
  thoughts and in my prayers (alas!) than those whom I see daily;
  for some hearts, the absent are always in the right, and so it is
  with the heart of your mother."

So two days after the loan was offered so graciously, Lucien repaid
it. Perhaps life had never seemed so bright to him as at that moment;
but the touch of self-love in his joy did not escape the delicate
sensibility and searching eyes of his friends.

"Any one might think that you were afraid to owe us anything,"
exclaimed Fulgence.

"Oh! the pleasure that he takes in returning the money is a very
serious symptom to my mind," said Michel Chrestien. "It confirms some
observations of my own. There is a spice of vanity in Lucien."

"He is a poet," said d'Arthez.

"But do you grudge me such a very natural feeling?" asked Lucien.

"We should bear in mind that he did not hide it," said Leon Giraud;
"he is still open with us; but I am afraid that he may come to feel
shy of us."

"And why?" Lucien asked.

"We can read your thoughts," answered Joseph Bridau.

"There is a diabolical spirit in you that will seek to justify courses
which are utterly contrary to our principles. Instead of being a
sophist in theory, you will be a sophist in practice."

"Ah! I am afraid of that," said d'Arthez. "You will carry on admirable
debates in your own mind, Lucien, and take up a lofty position in
theory, and end by blameworthy actions. You will never be at one with

"What ground have you for these charges?"

"Thy vanity, dear poet, is so great that it intrudes itself even into
thy friendships!" cried Fulgence. "All vanity of that sort is a
symptom of shocking egoism, and egoism poisons friendship."

"Oh! dear," said Lucien, "you cannot know how much I love you all."

"If you loved us as we love you, would you have been in such a hurry
to return the money which we had such pleasure in lending? or have
made so much of it?"

"We don't lend here; we give," said Joseph Bridau roughly.

"Don't think us unkind, dear boy," said Michel Chrestien; "we are
looking forward. We are afraid lest some day you may prefer a petty
revenge to the joys of pure friendship. Read Goethe's _Tasso_, the great
master's greatest work, and you will see how the poet-hero loved
gorgeous stuffs and banquets and triumph and applause. Very well, be
Tasso without his folly. Perhaps the world and its pleasures tempt
you? Stay with us. Carry all the cravings of vanity into the world of
imagination. Transpose folly. Keep virtue for daily wear, and let
imagination run riot, instead of doing, as d'Arthez says, thinking
high thoughts and living beneath them."

Lucien hung his head. His friends were right.

"I confess that you are stronger than I," he said, with a charming
glance at them. "My back and shoulders are not made to bear the burden
of Paris life; I cannot struggle bravely. We are born with different
temperaments and faculties, and you know better than I that faults and
virtues have their reverse side. I am tired already, I confess."

"We will stand by you," said d'Arthez; "it is just in these ways that
a faithful friendship is of use."

"The help that I have just received is precarious, and every one of us
is just as poor as another; want will soon overtake me again.
Chrestien, at the service of the first that hires him, can do nothing
with the publishers; Bianchon is quite out of it; d'Arthez's
booksellers only deal in scientific and technical books--they have no
connection with publishers of new literature; and as for Horace and
Fulgence Ridal and Bridau, their work lies miles away from the
booksellers. There is no help for it; I must make up my mind one way
or another."

"Stick by us, and make up your mind to it," said Bianchon. "Bear up
bravely, and trust in hard work."

"But what is hardship for you is death for me," Lucien put in quickly.

"Before the cock crows thrice," smiled Leon Giraud, "this man will
betray the cause of work for an idle life and the vices of Paris."

"Where has work brought you?" asked Lucien, laughing.

"When you start out from Paris for Italy, you don't find Rome
half-way," said Joseph Bridau. "You want your pease to grow ready
buttered for you."

The conversation ended in a joke, and they changed the subject.
Lucien's friends, with their perspicacity and delicacy of heart, tried
to efface the memory of the little quarrel; but Lucien knew
thenceforward that it was no easy matter to deceive them. He soon fell
into despair, which he was careful to hide from such stern mentors as
he imagined them to be; and the Southern temper that runs so easily
through the whole gamut of mental dispositions, set him making the
most contradictory resolutions.

Again and again he talked of making the plunge into journalism; and
time after time did his friends reply with a "Mind you do nothing of
the sort!"

"It would be the tomb of the beautiful, gracious Lucien whom we love
and know," said d'Arthez.

"You would not hold out for long between the two extremes of toil and
pleasure which make up a journalist's life, and resistance is the very
foundation of virtue. You would be so delighted to exercise your power
of life and death over the offspring of the brain, that you would be
an out-and-out journalist in two months' time. To be a journalist
--that is to turn Herod in the republic of letters. The man who will
say anything will end by sticking at nothing. That was Napoleon's
maxim, and it explains itself."

"But you would be with me, would you not?" asked Lucien.

"Not by that time," said Fulgence. "If you were a journalist, you
would no more think of us than the Opera girl in all her glory, with
her adorers and her silk-lined carriage, thinks of the village at home
and her cows and her sabots. You could never resist the temptation to
pen a witticism, though it should bring tears to a friend's eyes. I
come across journalists in theatre lobbies; it makes me shudder to see
them. Journalism is an inferno, a bottomless pit of iniquity and
treachery and lies; no one can traverse it undefiled, unless, like
Dante, he is protected by Virgil's sacred laurel."

But the more the set of friends opposed the idea of journalism, the
more Lucien's desire to know its perils grew and tempted him. He began
to debate within his own mind; was it not ridiculous to allow want to
find him a second time defenceless? He bethought him of the failure of
his attempts to dispose of his first novel, and felt but little
tempted to begin a second. How, besides, was he to live while he was
writing another romance? One month of privation had exhausted his
stock of patience. Why should he not do nobly that which journalists
did ignobly and without principle? His friends insulted him with their
doubts; he would convince them of his strength of mind. Some day,
perhaps, he would be of use to them; he would be the herald of their

"And what sort of a friendship is it which recoils from complicity?"
demanded he one evening of Michel Chrestien; Lucien and Leon Giraud
were walking home with their friend.

"We shrink from nothing," Michel Chrestien made reply. "If you were so
unlucky as to kill your mistress, I would help you to hide your crime,
and could still respect you; but if you were to turn spy, I should
shun you with abhorrence, for a spy is systematically shameless and
base. There you have journalism summed up in a sentence. Friendship
can pardon error and the hasty impulse of passion; it is bound to be
inexorable when a man deliberately traffics in his own soul, and
intellect, and opinions."

"Why cannot I turn journalist to sell my volume of poetry and the
novel, and then give up at once?"

"Machiavelli might do so, but not Lucien de Rubempre," said Leon

"Very well," exclaimed Lucien; "I will show you that I can do as much
as Machiavelli."

"Oh!" cried Michel, grasping Leon's hand, "you have done it, Leon.
--Lucien," he continued, "you have three hundred francs in hand; you
can live comfortably for three months; very well, then, work hard and
write another romance. D'Arthez and Fulgence will help you with the
plot; you will improve, you will be a novelist. And I, meanwhile, will
enter one of those _lupanars_ of thought; for three months I will be a
journalist. I will sell your books to some bookseller or other by
attacking his publications; I will write the articles myself; I will
get others for you. We will organize a success; you shall be a great
man, and still remain our Lucien."

"You must despise me very much, if you think that I should perish
while you escape," said the poet.

"O Lord, forgive him; it is a child!" cried Michel Chrestien.

When Lucien's intellect had been stimulated by the evenings spent in
d'Arthez's garret, he had made some study of the jokes and articles in
the smaller newspapers. He was at least the equal, he felt, of the
wittiest contributors; in private he tried some mental gymnastics of
the kind, and went out one morning with the triumphant idea of finding
some colonel of such light skirmishers of the press and enlisting in
their ranks. He dressed in his best and crossed the bridges, thinking
as he went that authors, journalists, and men of letters, his future
comrades, in short, would show him rather more kindness and
disinterestedness than the two species of booksellers who had so
dashed his hopes. He should meet with fellow-feeling, and something of
the kindly and grateful affection which he found in the _cenacle_ of the
Rue des Quatre-Vents. Tormented by emotion, consequent upon the
presentiments to which men of imagination cling so fondly, half
believing, half battling with their belief in them, he arrived in the
Rue Saint-Fiacre off the Boulevard Montmartre. Before a house,
occupied by the offices of a small newspaper, he stopped, and at the
sight of it his heart began to throb as heavily as the pulses of a
youth upon the threshold of some evil haunt.

Nevertheless, upstairs he went, and found the offices in the low
_entresol_ between the ground floor and the first story. The first room
was divided down the middle by a partition, the lower half of solid
wood, the upper lattice work to the ceiling. In this apartment Lucien
discovered a one-armed pensioner supporting several reams of paper on
his head with his remaining hand, while between his teeth he held the
passbook which the Inland Revenue Department requires every newspaper
to produce with each issue. This ill-favored individual, owner of a
yellow countenance covered with red excrescences, to which he owed his
nickname of "Coloquinte," indicated a personage behind the lattice as
the Cerberus of the paper. This was an elderly officer with a medal on
his chest and a silk skull-cap on his head; his nose was almost hidden
by a pair of grizzled moustaches, and his person was hidden as
completely in an ample blue overcoat as the body of the turtle in its

"From what date do you wish your subscription to commence, sir?"
inquired the Emperor's officer.

"I did not come about a subscription," returned Lucien. Looking about
him, he saw a placard fastened on a door, corresponding to the one by
which he had entered, and read the words--EDITOR'S OFFICE, and below,
in smaller letters, _No admittance except on business_.

"A complaint, I expect?" replied the veteran. "Ah! yes; we have been
hard on Mariette. What would you have? I don't know the why and
wherefore of it yet.--But if you want satisfaction, I am ready for
you," he added, glancing at a collection of small arms and foils
stacked in a corner, the armory of the modern warrior.

"That was still further from my intention, sir. I have come to speak
to the editor."

"Nobody is ever here before four o'clock."

"Look you here, Giroudeau, old chap," remarked a voice, "I make it
eleven columns; eleven columns at five francs apiece is fifty-five
francs, and I have only been paid forty; so you owe me another fifteen
francs, as I have been telling you."

These words proceeded from a little weasel-face, pallid and
semi-transparent as the half-boiled white of an egg; two slits of eyes
looked out of it, mild blue in tint, but appallingly malignant in
expression; and the owner, an insignificant young man, was completely
hidden by the veteran's opaque person. It was a blood-curdling voice,
a sound between the mewing of a cat and the wheezy chokings of a

"Yes, yes, my little militiaman," retorted he of the medal, "but you
are counting the headings and white lines. I have Finot's instructions
to add up the totals of the lines, and to divide them by the proper
number for each column; and after I performed that concentrating
operation on your copy, there were three columns less."

"He doesn't pay for the blanks, the Jew! He reckons them in though
when he sends up the total of his work to his partner, and he gets
paid for them too. I will go and see Etienne Lousteau, Vernou----"

"I cannot go beyond my orders, my boy," said the veteran. "What! do
you cry out against your foster-mother for a matter of fifteen francs?
you that turn out an article as easily as I smoke a cigar. Fifteen
francs! why, you will give a bowl of punch to your friends, or win an
extra game of billiards, and there's an end of it!"

"Finot's savings will cost him very dear," said the contributor as he
took his departure.

"Now, would not anybody think that he was Rousseau and Voltaire rolled
in one?" the cashier remarked to himself as he glanced at Lucien.

"I will come in again at four, sir," said Lucien.

While the argument proceeded, Lucien had been looking about him. He
saw upon the walls the portraits of Benjamin Constant, General Foy,
and the seventeen illustrious orators of the Left, interspersed with
caricatures at the expense of the Government; but he looked more
particularly at the door of the sanctuary where, no doubt, the paper
was elaborated, the witty paper that amused him daily, and enjoyed the
privilege of ridiculing kings and the most portentous events, of
calling anything and everything in question with a jest. Then he
sauntered along the boulevards. It was an entirely novel amusement;
and so agreeable did he find it, that, looking at the turret clocks,
he saw the hour hands were pointing to four, and only then remembered
that he had not breakfasted.

He went at once in the direction of the Rue Saint-Fiacre, climbed the
stair, and opened the door.

The veteran officer was absent; but the old pensioner, sitting on a
pile of stamped papers, was munching a crust and acting as sentinel
resignedly. Coloquinte was as much accustomed to his work in the
office as to the fatigue duty of former days, understanding as much or
as little about it as the why and wherefore of forced marches made by
the Emperor's orders. Lucien was inspired with the bold idea of
deceiving that formidable functionary. He settled his hat on his head,
and walked into the editor's office as if he were quite at home.

Looking eagerly about him, he beheld a round table covered with a
green cloth, and half-a-dozen cherry-wood chairs, newly reseated with
straw. The colored brick floor had not been waxed, but it was clean;
so clean that the public, evidently, seldom entered the room. There
was a mirror above the chimney-piece, and on the ledge below, amid a
sprinkling of visiting-cards, stood a shopkeeper's clock, smothered
with dust, and a couple of candlesticks with tallow dips thrust into
their sockets. A few antique newspapers lay on the table beside an
inkstand containing some black lacquer-like substance, and a
collection of quill pens twisted into stars. Sundry dirty scraps of
paper, covered with almost undecipherable hieroglyphs, proved to be
manuscript articles torn across the top by the compositor to check off
the sheets as they were set up. He admired a few rather clever
caricatures, sketched on bits of brown paper by somebody who evidently
had tried to kill time by killing something else to keep his hand in.

Other works of art were pinned in the cheap sea-green wall-paper.
These consisted of nine pen-and-ink illustrations for _Le Solitaire_.
The work had attained to such an unheard-of European popularity, that
journalists evidently were tired of it.--"The Solitary makes his first
appearance in the provinces; sensation among the women.--The Solitary
perused at a chateau.--Effect of the Solitary on domestic animals.
--The Solitary explained to savage tribes, with the most brilliant
results.--The Solitary translated into Chinese and presented by the
author to the Emperor at Pekin.--The Mont Sauvage, Rape of Elodie."
--(Lucien though this caricature very shocking, but he could not help
laughing at it.)--"The Solitary under a canopy conducted in triumphal
procession by the newspapers.--The Solitary breaks the press to
splinters, and wounds the printers.--Read backwards, the superior
beauties of the Solitary produce a sensation at the Academie."--On a
newspaper-wrapper Lucien noticed a sketch of a contributor holding out
his hat, and beneath it the words, "Finot! my hundred francs," and a
name, since grown more notorious than famous.

Between the window and the chimney-piece stood a writing-table, a
mahogany armchair, and a waste-paper basket on a strip of hearth-rug;
the dust lay thick on all these objects. There were short curtains in
the windows. About a score of new books lay on the writing-table,
deposited there apparently during the day, together with prints,
music, snuff-boxes of the "Charter" pattern, a copy of the ninth
edition of _Le Solitaire_ (the great joke of the moment), and some ten
unopened letters.

Lucien had taken stock of this strange furniture, and made reflections
of the most exhaustive kind upon it, when, the clock striking five, he
returned to question the pensioner. Coloquinte had finished his crust,
and was waiting with the patience of a commissionaire, for the man of
medals, who perhaps was taking an airing on the boulevard.

At this conjuncture the rustle of a dress sounded on the stair, and
the light unmistakable footstep of a woman on the threshold. The
newcomer was passably pretty. She addressed herself to Lucien.

"Sir," she said, "I know why you cry up Mlle. Virginie's hats so much;
and I have come to put down my name for a year's subscription in the
first place; but tell me your conditions----"

"I am not connected with the paper, madame."


"A subscription dating from October?" inquired the pensioner.

"What does the lady want to know?" asked the veteran, reappearing on
the scene.

The fair milliner and the retired military man were soon deep in
converse; and when Lucien, beginning to lose patience, came back to
the first room, he heard the conclusion of the matter.

"Why, I shall be delighted, quite delighted, sir. Mlle. Florentine can
come to my shop and choose anything she likes. Ribbons are in my
department. So it is all quite settled. You will say no more about
Virginie, a botcher that cannot design a new shape, while I have ideas
of my own, I have."

Lucien heard a sound as of coins dropping into a cashbox, and the
veteran began to make up his books for the day.

"I have been waiting here for an hour, sir," Lucien began, looking not
a little annoyed.

"And 'they' have not come yet!" exclaimed Napoleon's veteran, civilly
feigning concern. "I am not surprised at that. It is some time since I
have seen 'them' here. It is the middle of the month, you see. Those
fine fellows only turn up on pay days--the 29th or the 30th."

"And M. Finot?" asked Lucien, having caught the editor's name.

"He is in the Rue Feydeau, that's where he lives. Coloquinte, old
chap, just take him everything that has come in to-day when you go
with the paper to the printers."

"Where is the newspaper put together?" Lucien said to himself.

"The newspaper?" repeated the officer, as he received the rest of the
stamp money from Coloquinte, "the newspaper?--broum! broum!--(Mind you
are round at the printers' by six o'clock to-morrow, old chap, to send
off the porters.)--The newspaper, sir, is written in the street, at
the writers' houses, in the printing-office between eleven and twelve
o'clock at night. In the Emperor's time, sir, these shops for spoiled
paper were not known. Oh! he would have cleared them out with four men
and a corporal; they would not have come over _him_ with their talk. But
that is enough of prattling. If my nephew finds it worth his while,
and so long as they write for the son of the Other (broum! broum!)
----after all, there is no harm in that. Ah! by the way, subscribers
don't seem to me to be advancing in serried columns; I shall leave my

"You seem to know all about the newspaper, sir," Lucien began.

"From a business point of view, broum! broum!" coughed the soldier,
clearing his throat. "From three to five francs per column, according
to ability.--Fifty lines to a column, forty letters to a line; no
blanks; there you are! As for the staff, they are queer fish, little
youngsters whom I wouldn't take on for the commissariat; and because
they make fly tracks on sheets of white paper, they look down,
forsooth, on an old Captain of Dragoons of the Guard, that retired
with a major's rank after entering every European capital with

The soldier of Napoleon brushed his coat, and made as if he would go
out, but Lucien, swept to the door, had courage enough to make a

"I came to be a contributor of the paper," he said. "I am full of
respect, I vow and declare, for a captain of the Imperial Guard, those
men of bronze----"

"Well said, my little civilian, there are several kinds of
contributors; which kind do you wish to be?" replied the trooper,
bearing down on Lucien, and descending the stairs. At the foot of the
flight he stopped, but it was only to light a cigar at the porter's

"If any subscribers come, you see them and take note of them, Mother
Chollet.--Simply subscribers, never know anything but subscribers," he
added, seeing that Lucien followed him. "Finot is my nephew; he is the
only one of my family that has done anything to relieve me in my
position. So when anybody comes to pick a quarrel with Finot, he finds
old Giroudeau, Captain of the Dragoons of the Guard, that set out as a
private in a cavalry regiment in the army of the Sambre-et-Meuse, and
was fencing-master for five years to the First Hussars, army of Italy!
One, two, and the man that had any complaints to make would be turned
off into the dark," he added, making a lunge. "Now writers, my boy,
are in different corps; there is the writer who writes and draws his
pay; there is the writer who writes and gets nothing (a volunteer we
call him); and, lastly, there is the writer who writes nothing, and he
is by no means the stupidest, for he makes no mistakes; he gives
himself out for a literary man, he is on the paper, he treats us to
dinners, he loafs about the theatres, he keeps an actress, he is very
well off. What do you mean to be?"

"The man that does good work and gets good pay."

"You are like the recruits. They all want to be marshals of France.
Take old Giroudeau's word for it, and turn right about, in
double-quick time, and go and pick up nails in the gutter like that
good fellow yonder; you can tell by the look of him that he has been
in the army.--Isn't it a shame that an old soldier who has walked into
the jaws of death hundreds of times should be picking up old iron in
the streets of Paris? Ah! God A'mighty! 'twas a shabby trick to desert
the Emperor.--Well, my boy, the individual you saw this morning has
made his forty francs a month. Are you going to do better? And,
according to Finot, he is the cleverest man on the staff."

"When you enlisted in the Sambre-et-Meuse, did they talk about


"Very well?"

"Very well. Go and see my nephew Finot, a good fellow, as good a
fellow as you will find, if you can find him, that is, for he is like
a fish, always on the move. In his way of business, there is no
writing, you see, it is setting others to write. That sort like
gallivanting about with actresses better than scribbling on sheets of
paper, it seems. Oh! they are queer customers, they are. Hope I may
have the honor of seeing you again."

With that the cashier raised his formidable loaded cane, one of the
defenders of Germainicus, and walked off, leaving Lucien in the
street, as much bewildered by this picture of the newspaper world as
he had formerly been by the practical aspects of literature at Messrs.
Vidal and Porchon's establishment.

Ten several times did Lucien repair to the Rue Feydeau in search of
Andoche Finot, and ten times he failed to find that gentleman. He went
first thing in the morning; Finot had not come in. At noon, Finot had
gone out; he was breakfasting at such and such a cafe. At the cafe, in
answer to inquiries of the waitress, made after surmounting
unspeakable repugnance, Lucien heard that Finot had just left the
place. Lucien, at length tired out, began to regard Finot as a
mythical and fabulous character; it appeared simpler to waylay Etienne
Lousteau at Flicoteaux's. That youthful journalist would, doubtless,
explain the mysteries that enveloped the paper for which he wrote.

Since the day, a hundred times blessed, when Lucien made the
acquaintance of Daniel d'Arthez, he had taken another seat at
Flicoteaux's. The two friends dined side by side, talking in lowered
voices of the higher literature, of suggested subjects, and ways of
presenting, opening up, and developing them. At the present time
Daniel d'Arthez was correcting the manuscript of _The Archer of Charles
IX._ He reconstructed whole chapters, and wrote the fine passages found
therein, as well as the magnificent preface, which is, perhaps, the
best thing in the book, and throws so much light on the work of the
young school of literature. One day it so happened that Daniel had
been waiting for Lucien, who now sat with his friend's hand in his
own, when he saw Etienne Lousteau turn the door-handle. Lucien
instantly dropped Daniel's hand, and told the waiter that he would
dine at his old place by the counter. D'Arthez gave Lucien a glance of
divine kindness, in which reproach was wrapped in forgiveness. The
glance cut the poet to the quick; he took Daniel's hand and grasped it

"It is an important question of business for me; I will tell you about
it afterwards," said he.

Lucien was in his old place by the time that Lousteau reached the
table; as the first comer, he greeted his acquaintance; they soon
struck up a conversation, which grew so lively that Lucien went off in
search of the manuscript of the _Marguerites_, while Lousteau finished
his dinner. He had obtained leave to lay his sonnets before the
journalist, and mistook the civility of the latter for willingness to
find him a publisher, or a place on the paper. When Lucien came
hurrying back again, he saw d'Arthez resting an elbow on the table in
a corner of the restaurant, and knew that his friend was watching him
with melancholy eyes, but he would not see d'Arthez just then; he felt
the sharp pangs of poverty, the goadings of ambition, and followed

In the late afternoon the journalist and the neophyte went to the
Luxembourg, and sat down under the trees in that part of the gardens
which lies between the broad Avenue de l'Observatoire and the Rue de
l'Ouest. The Rue de l'Ouest at that time was a long morass, bounded by
planks and market-gardens; the houses were all at the end nearest the
Rue de Vaugirard; and the walk through the gardens was so little
frequented, that at the hour when Paris dines, two lovers might fall
out and exchange the earnest of reconciliation without fear of
intruders. The only possible spoil-sport was the pensioner on duty at
the little iron gate on the Rue de l'Ouest, if that gray-headed
veteran should take it into his head to lengthen his monotonous beat.
There, on a bench beneath the lime-trees, Etienne Lousteau sat and
listened to sample-sonnets from the _Marguerites_.

Etienne Lousteau, after a two-years' apprenticeship, was on the staff
of a newspaper; he had his foot in the stirrup; he reckoned some of
the celebrities of the day among his friends; altogether, he was an
imposing personage in Lucien's eyes. Wherefore, while Lucien untied
the string about the _Marguerites_, he judged it necessary to make some
sort of preface.

"The sonnet, monsieur," said he, "is one of the most difficult forms
of poetry. It has fallen almost entirely into disuse. No Frenchman can
hope to rival Petrarch; for the language in which the Italian wrote,
being so infinitely more pliant than French, lends itself to play of
thought which our positivism (pardon the use of the expression)
rejects. So it seemed to me that a volume of sonnets would be
something quite new. Victor Hugo has appropriated the old, Canalis
writes lighter verse, Beranger has monopolized songs, Casimir
Delavigne has taken tragedy, and Lamartine the poetry of meditation."

"Are you a 'Classic' or a 'Romantic'?" inquired Lousteau.

Lucien's astonishment betrayed such complete ignorance of the state of
affairs in the republic of letters, that Lousteau thought it necessary
to enlighten him.

"You have come up in the middle of a pitched battle, my dear fellow;
you must make your decision at once. Literature is divided, in the
first place, into several zones, but our great men are ranged in two
hostile camps. The Royalists are 'Romantics,' the Liberals are
'Classics.' The divergence of taste in matters literary and divergence
of political opinion coincide; and the result is a war with weapons of
every sort, double-edged witticisms, subtle calumnies and nicknames _a
outrance_, between the rising and the waning glory, and ink is shed in
torrents. The odd part of it is that the Royalist-Romantics are all
for liberty in literature, and for repealing laws and conventions;
while the Liberal-Classics are for maintaining the unities, the
Alexandrine, and the classical theme. So opinions in politics on
either side are directly at variance with literary taste. If you are
eclectic, you will have no one for you. Which side do you take?"

"Which is the winning side?"

"The Liberal newspapers have far more subscribers than the Royalist
and Ministerial journals; still, though Canalis is for Church and
King, and patronized by the Court and the clergy, he reaches other
readers.--Pshaw! sonnets date back to an epoch before Boileau's time,"
said Etienne, seeing Lucien's dismay at the prospect of choosing
between two banners. "Be a Romantic. The Romantics are young men, and
the Classics are pedants; the Romantics will gain the day."

The word "pedant" was the latest epithet taken up by Romantic
journalism to heap confusion on the Classical faction.

Lucien began to read, choosing first of all the title-sonnets.

               EASTER DAISIES.

  The daisies in the meadows, not in vain,
  In red and white and gold before our eyes,
  Have written an idyll for man's sympathies,
  And set his heart's desire in language plain.

  Gold stamens set in silver filigrane
  Reveal the treasures which we idolize;
  And all the cost of struggle for the prize
  Is symboled by a secret blood-red stain.

  Was it because your petals once uncurled
  When Jesus rose upon a fairer world,
  And from wings shaken for a heav'nward flight
  Shed grace, that still as autumn reappears
  You bloom again to tell of dead delight,
  To bring us back the flower of twenty years?

Lucien felt piqued by Lousteau's complete indifference during the
reading of the sonnet; he was unfamiliar as yet with the disconcerting
impassibility of the professional critic, wearied by much reading of
poetry, prose, and plays. Lucien was accustomed to applause. He choked
down his disappointment and read another, a favorite with Mme. de
Bargeton and with some of his friends in the Rue des Quatre-Vents.

"This one, perhaps, will draw a word from him," he thought.

               THE MARGUERITE.

  I am the Marguerite, fair and tall I grew
  In velvet meadows, 'mid the flowers a star.
  They sought me for my beauty near and far;
  My dawn, I thought, should be for ever new.
  But now an all unwished-for gift I rue,
  A fatal ray of knowledge shed to mar
  My radiant star-crown grown oracular,
  For I must speak and give an answer true.
  An end of silence and of quiet days,
  The Lover with two words my counsel prays;
  And when my secret from my heart is reft,
  When all my silver petals scattered lie,
  I am the only flower neglected left,
  Cast down and trodden under foot to die.

At the end, the poet looked up at his Aristarchus. Etienne Lousteau
was gazing at the trees in the Pepiniere.

"Well?" asked Lucien.

"Well, my dear fellow, go on! I am listening to you, am I not? That
fact in itself is as good as praise in Paris."

"Have you had enough?" Lucien asked.

"Go on," the other answered abruptly enough.

Lucien proceeded to read the following sonnet, but his heart was dead
within him; Lousteau's inscrutable composure froze his utterance. If
he had come a little further upon the road, he would have known that
between writer and writer silence or abrupt speech, under such
circumstances, is a betrayal of jealousy, and outspoken admiration
means a sense of relief over the discovery that the work is not above
the average after all.

               THE CAMELLIA.

  In Nature's book, if rightly understood,
  The rose means love, and red for beauty glows;
  A pure, sweet spirit in the violet blows,
  And bright the lily gleams in lowlihood.

  But this strange bloom, by sun and wind unwooed,
  Seems to expand and blossom 'mid the snows,
  A lily sceptreless, a scentless rose,
  For dainty listlessness of maidenhood.

  Yet at the opera house the petals trace
  For modesty a fitting aureole;
  An alabaster wreath to lay, methought,
  In dusky hair o'er some fair woman's face
  Which kindles ev'n such love within the soul
  As sculptured marble forms by Phidias wrought.

"What do you think of my poor sonnets?" Lucien asked, coming straight
to the point.

"Do you want the truth?"

"I am young enough to like the truth, and so anxious to succeed that I
can hear it without taking offence, but not without despair," replied

"Well, my dear fellow, the first sonnet, from its involved style, was
evidently written at Angouleme; it gave you so much trouble, no doubt,
that you cannot give it up. The second and third smack of Paris
already; but read us one more sonnet," he added, with a gesture that
seemed charming to the provincial.

Encouraged by the request, Lucien read with more confidence, choosing
a sonnet which d'Arthez and Bridau liked best, perhaps on account of
its color.

               THE TULIP.

  I am the Tulip from Batavia's shore;
  The thrifty Fleming for my beauty rare
  Pays a king's ransom, when that I am fair,
  And tall, and straight, and pure my petal's core.

  And, like some Yolande of the days of yore,
  My long and amply folded skirts I wear,
  O'er-painted with the blazon that I bear
  --Gules, a fess azure; purpure, fretty, or.

  The fingers of the Gardener divine
  Have woven for me my vesture fair and fine,
  Of threads of sunlight and of purple stain;
  No flower so glorious in the garden bed,
  But Nature, woe is me, no fragrance shed
  Within my cup of Orient porcelain.

"Well?" asked Lucien after a pause, immeasurably long, as it seemed to

"My dear fellow," Etienne said, gravely surveying the tips of Lucien's
boots (he had brought the pair from Angouleme, and was wearing them
out). "My dear fellow, I strongly recommend you to put your ink on
your boots to save blacking, and to take your pens for toothpicks, so
that when you come away from Flicoteaux's you can swagger along this
picturesque alley looking as if you had dined. Get a situation of any
sort or description. Run errands for a bailiff if you have the heart,
be a shopman if your back is strong enough, enlist if you happen to
have a taste for military music. You have the stuff of three poets in
you; but before you can reach your public, you will have time to die
of starvation six times over, if you intend to live on the proceeds of
your poetry, that is. And from your too unsophisticated discourse, it
would seem to be your intention to coin money out of your inkstand.

"I say nothing as to your verses; they are a good deal better than all
the poetical wares that are cumbering the ground in booksellers'
backshops just now. Elegant 'nightingales' of that sort cost a little
more than the others, because they are printed on hand-made paper, but
they nearly all of them come down at last to the banks of the Seine.
You may study their range of notes there any day if you care to make
an instructive pilgrimage along the Quais from old Jerome's stall by
the Pont Notre Dame to the Pont Royal. You will find them all there
--all the _Essays in Verse_, the _Inspirations_, the lofty flights,
the hymns, and songs, and ballads, and odes; all the nestfuls hatched
during the last seven years, in fact. There lie their muses, thick
with dust, bespattered by every passing cab, at the mercy of every
profane hand that turns them over to look at the vignette on the

"You know nobody; you have access to no newspaper, so your _Marguerites_
will remain demurely folded as you hold them now. They will never open
out to the sun of publicity in fair fields with broad margins enameled
with the florets which Dauriat the illustrious, the king of the Wooden
Galleries, scatters with a lavish hand for poets known to fame. I came
to Paris as you came, poor boy, with a plentiful stock of illusions,
impelled by irrepressible longings for glory--and I found the
realities of the craft, the practical difficulties of the trade, the
hard facts of poverty. In my enthusiasm (it is kept well under control
now), my first ebullition of youthful spirits, I did not see the
social machinery at work; so I had to learn to see it by bumping
against the wheels and bruising myself against the shafts, and chains.
Now you are about to learn, as I learned, that between you and all
these fair dreamed-of things lies the strife of men, and passions, and

"Willy-nilly, you must take part in a terrible battle; book against
book, man against man, party against party; make war you must, and
that systematically, or you will be abandoned by your own party. And
they are mean contests; struggles which leave you disenchanted, and
wearied, and depraved, and all in pure waste; for it often happens
that you put forth all your strength to win laurels for a man whom you
despise, and maintain, in spite of yourself, that some second-rate
writer is a genius.

"There is a world behind the scenes in the theatre of literature. The
public in front sees unexpected or well-deserved success, and
applauds; the public does _not_ see the preparations, ugly as they
always are, the painted supers, the _claqueurs_ hired to applaud, the
stage carpenters, and all that lies behind the scenes. You are still
among the audience. Abdicate, there is still time, before you set your
foot on the lowest step of the throne for which so many ambitious
spirits are contending, and do not sell your honor, as I do, for a
livelihood." Etienne's eyes filled with tears as he spoke.

"Do you know how I make a living?" he continued passionately. "The
little stock of money they gave me at home was soon eaten up. A piece
of mine was accepted at the Theatre-Francais just as I came to an end
of it. At the Theatre-Francais the influence of a first gentleman of
the bedchamber, or of a prince of the blood, would not be enough to
secure a turn of favor; the actors only make concessions to those who
threaten their self-love. If it is in your power to spread a report
that the _jeune premier_ has the asthma, the leading lady a fistula
where you please, and the soubrette has foul breath, then your piece
would be played to-morrow. I do not know whether in two years' time, I
who speak to you now, shall be in a position to exercise such power.
You need so many to back you. And where and how am I to gain my bread

"I tried lots of things; I wrote a novel, anonymously; old Doguereau
gave me two hundred francs for it, and he did not make very much out
of it himself. Then it grew plain to me that journalism alone could
give me a living. The next thing was to find my way into those shops.
I will not tell you all the advances I made, nor how often I begged in
vain. I will say nothing of the six months I spent as extra hand on a
paper, and was told that I scared subscribers away, when as a fact I
attracted them. Pass over the insults I put up with. At this moment I
am doing the plays at the Boulevard theatres, almost _gratis_, for a
paper belonging to Finot, that stout young fellow who breakfasts two
or three times a month, even now, at the Cafe Voltaire (but you don't
go there). I live by selling tickets that managers give me to bribe a
good word in the paper, and reviewers' copies of books. In short,
Finot once satisfied, I am allowed to write for and against various
commercial articles, and I traffic in tribute paid in kind by various
tradesmen. A facetious notice of a Carminative Toilet Lotion, _Pate des
Sultanes_, Cephalic Oil, or Brazilian Mixture brings me in twenty or
thirty francs.

"I am obliged to dun the publishers when they don't send in a
sufficient number of reviewers' copies; Finot, as editor, appropriates
two and sells them, and I must have two to sell. If a book of capital
importance comes out, and the publisher is stingy with copies, his
life is made a burden to him. The craft is vile, but I live by it, and
so do scores of others. Do not imagine that things are any better in
public life. There is corruption everywhere in both regions; every man
is corrupt or corrupts others. If there is any publishing enterprise
somewhat larger than usual afoot, the trade will pay me something to
buy neutrality. The amount of my income varies, therefore, directly
with the prospectuses. When prospectuses break out like a rash, money
pours into my pockets; I stand treat all round. When trade is dull, I
dine at Flicoteaux's.

"Actresses will pay you likewise for praise, but the wiser among them
pay for criticism. To be passed over in silence is what they dread the
most; and the very best thing of all, from their point of view, is
criticism which draws down a reply; it is far more effectual than bald
praise, forgotten as soon as read, and it costs more in consequence.
Celebrity, my dear fellow, is based upon controversy. I am a hired
bravo; I ply my trade among ideas and reputations, commercial,
literary, and dramatic; I make some fifty crowns a month; I can sell a
novel for five hundred francs; and I am beginning to be looked upon as
a man to be feared. Some day, instead of living with Florine at the
expense of a druggist who gives himself the airs of a lord, I shall be
in a house of my own; I shall be on the staff of a leading newspaper,
I shall have a _feuilleton_; and on that day, my dear fellow, Florine
will become a great actress. As for me, I am not sure what I shall be
when that time comes, a minister or an honest man--all things are
still possible."

He raised his humiliated head, and looked out at the green leaves,
with an expression of despairing self-condemnation dreadful to see.

"And I had a great tragedy accepted!" he went on. "And among my papers
there is a poem, which will die. And I was a good fellow, and my heart
was clean! I used to dream lofty dreams of love for great ladies,
queens in the great world; and--my mistress is an actress at the
Panorama-Dramatique. And lastly, if a bookseller declines to send a
copy of a book to my paper, I will run down work which is good, as I

Lucien was moved to tears, and he grasped Etienne's hand in his. The
journalist rose to his feet, and the pair went up and down the broad
Avenue de l'Observatoire, as if their lungs craved ampler breathing

"Outside the world of letters," Etienne Lousteau continued, "not a
single creature suspects that every one who succeeds in that world
--who has a certain vogue, that is to say, or comes into fashion, or
gains reputation, or renown, or fame, or favor with the public (for by
these names we know the rungs of the ladder by which we climb to the
higher heights above and beyond them),--every one who comes even thus
far is the hero of a dreadful Odyssey. Brilliant portents rise above
the mental horizon through a combination of a thousand accidents;
conditions change so swiftly that no two men have been known to reach
success by the same road. Canalis and Nathan are two dissimilar cases;
things never fall out in the same way twice. There is d'Arthez, who
knocks himself to pieces with work--he will make a famous name by some
other chance.

"This so much desired reputation is nearly always crowned
prostitution. Yes; the poorest kind of literature is the hapless
creature freezing at the street corner; second-rate literature is the
kept-mistress picked out of the brothels of journalism, and I am her
bully; lastly, there is lucky literature, the flaunting, insolent
courtesan who has a house of her own and pays taxes, who receives
great lords, treating or ill-treating them as she pleases, who has
liveried servants and a carriage, and can afford to keep greedy
creditors waiting. Ah! and for yet others, for me not so very long
ago, for you to-day--she is a white-robed angel with many-colored
wings, bearing a green palm branch in the one hand, and in the other a
flaming sword. An angel, something akin to the mythological
abstraction which lives at the bottom of a well, and to the poor and
honest girl who lives a life of exile in the outskirts of the great
city, earning every penny with a noble fortitude and in the full light
of virtue, returning to heaven inviolate of body and soul; unless,
indeed, she comes to lie at the last, soiled, despoiled, polluted, and
forgotten, on a pauper's bier. As for the men whose brains are
encompassed with bronze, whose hearts are still warm under the snows
of experience, they are found but seldom in the country that lies at
our feet," he added, pointing to the great city seething in the late
afternoon light.

A vision of d'Arthez and his friends flashed upon Lucien's sight, and
made appeal to him for a moment; but Lousteau's appalling lamentation
carried him away.

"They are very few and far between in that great fermenting vat; rare
as love in love-making, rare as fortunes honestly made in business,
rare as the journalist whose hands are clean. The experience of the
first man who told me all that I am telling you was thrown away upon
me, and mine no doubt will be wasted upon you. It is always the same
old story year after year; the same eager rush to Paris from the
provinces; the same, not to say a growing, number of beardless,
ambitious boys, who advance, head erect, and the heart that Princess
Tourandocte of the _Mille et un Jours_--each one of them fain to be her
Prince Calaf. But never a one of them reads the riddle. One by one
they drop, some into the trench where failures lie, some into the mire
of journalism, some again into the quagmires of the book-trade.

"They pick up a living, these beggars, what with biographical notices,
penny-a-lining, and scraps of news for the papers. They become
booksellers' hacks for the clear-headed dealers in printed paper, who
would sooner take the rubbish that goes off in a fortnight than a
masterpiece which requires time to sell. The life is crushed out of
the grubs before they reach the butterfly stage. They live by shame
and dishonor. They are ready to write down a rising genius or to
praise him to the skies at a word from the pasha of the
_Constitutionnel_, the _Quotidienne_, or the _Debats_, at a sign from a
publisher, at the request of a jealous comrade, or (as not seldom
happens) simply for a dinner. Some surmount the obstacles, and these
forget the misery of their early days. I, who am telling you this,
have been putting the best that is in me into newspaper articles for
six months past for a blackguard who gives them out as his own and has
secured a _feuilleton_ in another paper on the strength of them. He has
not taken me on as his collaborator, he has not give me so much as a
five-franc piece, but I hold out a hand to grasp his when we meet; I
cannot help myself."

"And why?" Lucien, asked, indignantly.

"I may want to put a dozen lines into his _feuilleton_ some day,"
Lousteau answered coolly. "In short, my dear fellow, in literature you
will not make money by hard work, that is not the secret of success;
the point is to exploit the work of somebody else. A newspaper
proprietor is a contractor, we are the bricklayers. The more mediocre
the man, the better his chance of getting on among mediocrities; he
can play the toad-eater, put up with any treatment, and flatter all
the little base passions of the sultans of literature. There is Hector
Merlin, who came from Limoges a short time ago; he is writing
political articles already for a Right Centre daily, and he is at work
on our little paper as well. I have seen an editor drop his hat and
Merlin pick it up. The fellow was careful never to give offence, and
slipped into the thick of the fight between rival ambitions. I am
sorry for you. It is as if I saw in you the self that I used to be,
and sure am I that in one or two years' time you will be what I am
now.--You will think that there is some lurking jealousy or personal
motive in this bitter counsel, but it is prompted by the despair of a
damned soul that can never leave hell.--No one ventures to utter such
things as these. You hear the groans of anguish from a man wounded to
the heart, crying like a second Job from the ashes, 'Behold my

"But whether I fight upon this field or elsewhere, fight I must," said

"Then, be sure of this," returned Lousteau, "if you have anything in
you, the war will know no truce, the best chance of success lies in an
empty head. The austerity of your conscience, clear as yet, will relax
when you see that a man holds your future in his two hands, when a
word from such a man means life to you, and he will not say that word.
For, believe me, the most brutal bookseller in the trade is not so
insolent, so hard-hearted to a newcomer as the celebrity of the day.
The bookseller sees a possible loss of money, while the writer of
books dreads a possible rival; the first shows you the door, the
second crushes the life out of you. To do really good work, my boy,
means that you will draw out the energy, sap, and tenderness of your
nature at every dip of the pen in the ink, to set it forth for the
world in passion and sentiment and phrases. Yes; instead of acting,
you will write; you will sing songs instead of fighting; you will love
and hate and live in your books; and then, after all, when you shall
have reserved your riches for your style, your gold and purple for
your characters, and you yourself are walking the streets of Paris in
rags, rejoicing in that, rivaling the State Register, you have
authorized the existence of beings styled Adolphe, Corinne or
Clarissa, Rene or Manon; when you shall have spoiled your life and
your digestion to give life to that creation, then you shall see it
slandered, betrayed, sold, swept away into the back waters of oblivion
by journalists, and buried out of sight by your best friends. How can
you afford to wait until the day when your creation shall rise again,
raised from the dead--how? when? and by whom? Take a magnificent book,
the _pianto_ of unbelief; _Obermann_ is a solitary wanderer in the desert
places of booksellers' warehouses, he has been a 'nightingale,'
ironically so called, from the very beginning: when will his Easter
come? Who knows? Try, to begin with, to find somebody bold enough to
print the _Marguerites_; not to pay for them, but simply to print them;
and you will see some queer things."

The fierce tirade, delivered in every tone of the passionate feeling
which it expressed, fell upon Lucien's spirit like an avalanche, and
left a sense of glacial cold. For one moment he stood silent; then, as
he felt the terrible stimulating charm of difficulty beginning to work
upon him, his courage blazed up. He grasped Lousteau's hand.

"I will triumph!" he cried aloud.

"Good!" said the other, "one more Christian given over to the wild
beasts in the arena.--There is a first-night performance at the
Panorama-Dramatique, my dear fellow; it doesn't begin till eight, so
you can change your coat, come properly dressed in fact, and call for
me. I am living on the fourth floor above the Cafe Servel, Rue de la
Harpe. We will go to Dauriat's first of all. You still mean to go on,
do you not? Very well, I will introduce you to one of the kings of the
trade to-night, and to one or two journalists. We will sup with my
mistress and several friends after the play, for you cannot count that
dinner as a meal. Finot will be there, editor and proprietor of my
paper. As Minette says in the Vaudeville (do you remember?), 'Time is
a great lean creature.' Well, for the like of us, Chance is a great
lean creature, and must be tempted."

"I shall remember this day as long as I live," said Lucien.

"Bring your manuscript with you, and be careful of your dress, not on
Florine's account, but for the booksellers' benefit."

The comrade's good-nature, following upon the poet's passionate
outcry, as he described the war of letters, moved Lucien quite as
deeply as d'Arthez's grave and earnest words on a former occasion. The
prospect of entering at once upon the strife with men warmed him. In
his youth and inexperience he had no suspicion how real were the moral
evils denounced by the journalist. Nor did he know that he was
standing at the parting of two distinct ways, between two systems,
represented by the brotherhood upon one hand, and journalism upon the
other. The first way was long, honorable, and sure; the second beset
with hidden dangers, a perilous path, among muddy channels where
conscience is inevitably bespattered. The bent of Lucien's character
determined for the shorter way, and the apparently pleasanter way, and
to snatch at the quickest and promptest means. At this moment he saw
no difference between d'Arthez's noble friendship and Lousteau's easy
comaraderie; his inconstant mind discerned a new weapon in journalism;
he felt that he could wield it, so he wished to take it.

He was dazzled by the offers of this new friend, who had struck a hand
in his in an easy way, which charmed Lucien. How should he know that
while every man in the army of the press needs friends, every leader
needs men. Lousteau, seeing that Lucien was resolute, enlisted him as
a recruit, and hoped to attach him to himself. The relative positions
of the two were similar--one hoped to become a corporal, the other to
enter the ranks.

Lucien went back gaily to his lodgings. He was as careful over his
toilet as on that former unlucky occasion when he occupied the
Marquise d'Espard's box; but he had learned by this time how to wear
his clothes with a better grace. They looked as though they belonged
to him. He wore his best tightly-fitting, light-colored trousers, and
a dress-coat. His boots, a very elegant pair adorned with tassels, had
cost him forty francs. His thick, fine, golden hair was scented and
crimped into bright, rippling curls. Self-confidence and belief in his
future lighted up his forehead. He paid careful attention to his
almost feminine hands, the filbert nails were a spotless pink, and the
white contours of his chin were dazzling by contrast with a black
satin stock. Never did a more beautiful youth come down from the hills
of the Latin Quarter.

Glorious as a Greek god, Lucien took a cab, and reached the Cafe
Servel at a quarter to seven. There the portress gave him some
tolerably complicated directions for the ascent of four pairs of
stairs. Provided with these instructions, he discovered, not without
difficulty, an open door at the end of a long, dark passage, and in
another moment made the acquaintance of the traditional room of the
Latin Quarter.

A young man's poverty follows him wherever he goes--into the Rue de la
Harpe as into the Rue de Cluny, into d'Arthez's room, into Chrestien's
lodging; yet everywhere no less the poverty has its own peculiar
characteristics, due to the idiosyncrasies of the sufferer. Poverty in
this case wore a sinister look.

A shabby, cheap carpet lay in wrinkles at the foot of a curtainless
walnut-wood bedstead; dingy curtains, begrimed with cigar smoke and
fumes from a smoky chimney, hung in the windows; a Carcel lamp,
Florine's gift, on the chimney-piece, had so far escaped the
pawnbroker. Add a forlorn-looking chest of drawers, and a table
littered with papers and disheveled quill pens, and the list of
furniture was almost complete. All the books had evidently arrived in
the course of the last twenty-four hours; and there was not a single
object of any value in the room. In one corner you beheld a collection
of crushed and flattened cigars, coiled pocket-handkerchiefs, shirts
which had been turned to do double duty, and cravats that had reached
a third edition; while a sordid array of old boots stood gaping in
another angle of the room among aged socks worn into lace.

The room, in short, was a journalist's bivouac, filled with odds and
ends of no value, and the most curiously bare apartment imaginable. A
scarlet tinder-box glowed among a pile of books on the nightstand. A
brace of pistols, a box of cigars, and a stray razor lay upon the
mantel-shelf; a pair of foils, crossed under a wire mask, hung against
a panel. Three chairs and a couple of armchairs, scarcely fit for the
shabbiest lodging-house in the street, completed the inventory.

The dirty, cheerless room told a tale of a restless life and a want of
self-respect; some one came hither to sleep and work at high pressure,
staying no longer than he could help, longing, while he remained, to
be out and away. What a difference between this cynical disorder and
d'Arthez's neat and self-respecting poverty! A warning came with the
thought of d'Arthez; but Lucien would not heed it, for Etienne made a
joking remark to cover the nakedness of a reckless life.

"This is my kennel; I appear in state in the Rue de Bondy, in the new
apartments which our druggist has taken for Florine; we hold the
house-warming this evening."

Etienne Lousteau wore black trousers and beautifully-varnished boots;
his coat was buttoned up to his chin; he probably meant to change his
linen at Florine's house, for his shirt collar was hidden by a velvet
stock. He was trying to renovate his hat by an application of the

"Let us go," said Lucien.

"Not yet. I am waiting for a bookseller to bring me some money; I have
not a farthing; there will be play, perhaps, and in any case I must
have gloves."

As he spoke, the two new friends heard a man's step in the passage

"There he is," said Lousteau. "Now you will see, my dear fellow, the
shape that Providence takes when he manifests himself to poets. You
are going to behold Dauriat, the fashionable bookseller of the Quai
des Augustins, the pawnbroker, the marine store dealer of the trade,
the Norman ex-greengrocer.--Come along, old Tartar!" shouted Lousteau.

"Here am I," said a voice like a cracked bell.

"Brought the money with you?"

"Money? There is no money now in the trade," retorted the other, a
young man who eyed Lucien curiously.

"_Imprimis_, you owe me fifty francs," Lousteau continued.

"There are two copies of _Travels in Egypt_ here, a marvel, so they say,
swarming with woodcuts, sure to sell. Finot has been paid for two
reviews that I am to write for him. _Item_ two works, just out, by
Victor Ducange, a novelist highly thought of in the Marais. _Item_ a
couple of copies of a second work by Paul de Kock, a beginner in the
same style. _Item_ two copies of _Yseult of Dole_, a charming provincial
work. Total, one hundred francs, my little Barbet."

Barbet made a close survey of edges and binding.

"Oh! they are in perfect condition," cried Lousteau. "The _Travels_ are
uncut, so is the Paul de Kock, so is the Ducange, so is that other
thing on the chimney-piece, _Considerations on Symbolism_. I will throw
that in; myths weary me to that degree that I will let you have the
thing to spare myself the sight of the swarms of mites coming out of

"But," asked Lucien, "how are you going to write your reviews?"

Barbet, in profound astonishment, stared at Lucien; then he looked at
Etienne and chuckled.

"One can see that the gentleman has not the misfortune to be a
literary man," said he.

"No, Barbet--no. He is a poet, a great poet; he is going to cut out
Canalis, and Beranger, and Delavigne. He will go a long way if he does
not throw himself into the river, and even so he will get as far as
the drag-nets at Saint-Cloud."

"If I had any advice to give the gentleman," remarked Barbet, "it
would be to give up poetry and take to prose. Poetry is not wanted on
the Quais just now."

Barbet's shabby overcoat was fastened by a single button; his collar
was greasy; he kept his hat on his head as he spoke; he wore low
shoes, an open waistcoat gave glimpses of a homely shirt of coarse
linen. Good-nature was not wanting in the round countenance, with its
two slits of covetous eyes; but there was likewise the vague
uneasiness habitual to those who have money to spend and hear constant
applications for it. Yet, to all appearance, he was plain-dealing and
easy-natured, his business shrewdness was so well wadded round with
fat. He had been an assistant until he took a wretched little shop on
the Quai des Augustins two years since, and issued thence on his
rounds among journalists, authors, and printers, buying up free copies
cheaply, making in such ways some ten or twenty francs daily. Now, he
had money saved; he knew instinctively where every man was pressed; he
had a keen eye for business. If an author was in difficulties, he
would discount a bill given by a publisher at fifteen or twenty per
cent; then the next day he would go to the publisher, haggle over the
price of some work in demand, and pay him with his own bills instead
of cash. Barbet was something of a scholar; he had had just enough
education to make him careful to steer clear of modern poetry and
modern romances. He had a liking for small speculations, for books of
a popular kind which might be bought outright for a thousand francs
and exploited at pleasure, such as the _Child's History of France_,
_Book-keeping in Twenty Lessons_, and _Botany for Young Ladies_. Two
or three times already he had allowed a good book to slip through his
fingers; the authors had come and gone a score of times while he
hesitated, and could not make up his mind to buy the manuscript. When
reproached for his pusillanimity, he was wont to produce the account
of a notorious trial taken from the newspapers; it cost him nothing,
and had brought him in two or three thousand francs.

Barbet was the type of bookseller that goes in fear and trembling;
lives on bread and walnuts; rarely puts his name to a bill; filches
little profits on invoices; makes deductions, and hawks his books
about himself; heaven only knows where they go, but he sells them
somehow, and gets paid for them. Barbet was the terror of printers,
who could not tell what to make of him; he paid cash and took off the
discount; he nibbled at their invoices whenever he thought they were
pressed for money; and when he had fleeced a man once, he never went
back to him--he feared to be caught in his turn.

"Well," said Lousteau, "shall we go on with our business?"

"Eh! my boy," returned Barbet in a familiar tone; "I have six thousand
volumes of stock on hand at my place, and paper is not gold, as the
old bookseller said. Trade is dull."

"If you went into his shop, my dear Lucien," said Etienne, turning to
his friend, "you would see an oak counter from some bankrupt wine
merchant's sale, and a tallow dip, never snuffed for fear it should
burn too quickly, making darkness visible. By that anomalous light you
descry rows of empty shelves with some difficulty. An urchin in a blue
blouse mounts guard over the emptiness, and blows his fingers, and
shuffles his feet, and slaps his chest, like a cabman on the box. Just
look about you! there are no more books there than I have here. Nobody
could guess what kind of shop he keeps."

"Here is a bill at three months for a hundred francs," said Barbet,
and he could not help smiling as he drew it out of his pocket; "I will
take your old books off your hands. I can't pay cash any longer, you
see; sales are too slow. I thought that you would be wanting me; I had
not a penny, and I made a bill simply to oblige you, for I am not fond
of giving my signature."

"So you want my thanks and esteem into the bargain, do you?"

"Bills are not met with sentiment," responded Barbet; "but I will
accept your esteem, all the same."

"But I want gloves, and the perfumers will be base enough to decline
your paper," said Lousteau. "Stop, there is a superb engraving in the
top drawer of the chest there, worth eighty francs, proof before
letters and after letterpress, for I have written a pretty droll
article upon it. There was something to lay hold of in _Hippocrates
refusing the Presents of Artaxerxes_. A fine engraving, eh? Just the
thing to suit all the doctors, who are refusing the extravagant gifts
of Parisian satraps. You will find two or three dozen novels
underneath it. Come, now, take the lot and give me forty francs."

"_Forty francs_!" exclaimed the bookseller, emitting a cry like the
squall of a frightened fowl. "Twenty at the very most! And then I may
never see the money again," he added.

"Where are your twenty francs?" asked Lousteau.

"My word, I don't know that I have them," said Barbet, fumbling in his
pockets. "Here they are. You are plundering me; you have an ascendency
over me----"

"Come, let us be off," said Lousteau, and taking up Lucien's
manuscript, he drew a line upon it in ink under the string.

"Have you anything else?" asked Barbet.

"Nothing, you young Shylock. I am going to put you in the way of a bit
of very good business," Etienne continued ("in which you shall lose a
thousand crowns, to teach you to rob me in this fashion"), he added
for Lucien's ear.

"But how about your reviews?" said Lucien, as they rolled away to the
Palais Royal.

"Pooh! you do not know how reviews are knocked off. As for the _Travels
in Egypt_, I looked into the book here and there (without cutting the
pages), and I found eleven slips in grammar. I shall say that the
writer may have mastered the dicky-bird language on the flints that
they call 'obelisks' out there in Egypt, but he cannot write in his
own, as I will prove to him in a column and a half. I shall say that
instead of giving us the natural history and archaeology, he ought to
have interested himself in the future of Egypt, in the progress of
civilization, and the best method of strengthening the bond between
Egypt and France. France has won and lost Egypt, but she may yet
attach the country to her interests by gaining a moral ascendency over
it. Then some patriotic penny-a-lining, interlarded with diatribes on
Marseilles, the Levant and our trade."

"But suppose that he had taken that view, what would you do?"

"Oh well, I should say that instead of boring us with politics, he
should have written about art, and described the picturesque aspects
of the country and the local color. Then the critic bewails himself.
Politics are intruded everywhere; we are weary of politics--politics
on all sides. I should regret those charming books of travel that
dwelt upon the difficulties of navigation, the fascination of steering
between two rocks, the delights of crossing the line, and all the
things that those who never will travel ought to know. Mingle this
approval with scoffing at the travelers who hail the appearance of a
bird or a flying-fish as a great event, who dilate upon fishing, and
make transcripts from the log. Where, you ask, is that perfectly
unintelligible scientific information, fascinating, like all that is
profound, mysterious, and incomprehensible. The reader laughs, that is
all that he wants. As for novels, Florine is the greatest novel reader
alive; she gives me a synopsis, and I take her opinion and put a
review together. When a novelist bores her with 'author's stuff,' as
she calls it, I treat the work respectfully, and ask the publisher for
another copy, which he sends forthwith, delighted to have a favorable

"Goodness! and what of criticism, the critic's sacred office?" cried
Lucien, remembering the ideas instilled into him by the brotherhood.

"My dear fellow," said Lousteau, "criticism is a kind of brush which
must not be used upon flimsy stuff, or it carries it all away with it.
That is enough of the craft, now listen! Do you see that mark?" he
continued, pointing to the manuscript of the _Marguerites_. "I have put
ink on the string and paper. If Dauriat reads your manuscript, he
certainly could not tie the string and leave it just as it was before.
So your book is sealed, so to speak. This is not useless to you for
the experiment that you propose to make. And another thing: please to
observe that you are not arriving quite alone and without a sponsor in
the place, like the youngsters who make the round of half-a-score of
publishers before they find one that will offer them a chair."

Lucien's experience confirmed the truth of this particular. Lousteau
paid the cabman, giving him three francs--a piece of prodigality
following upon such impecuniosity astonishing Lucien more than a
little. Then the two friends entered the Wooden Galleries, where
fashionable literature, as it is called, used to reign in state.

                                PART II

The Wooden Galleries of the Palais Royal used to be one of the most
famous sights of Paris. Some description of the squalid bazar will not
be out of place; for there are few men of forty who will not take an
interest in recollections of a state of things which will seem
incredible to a younger generation.

The great dreary, spacious Galerie d'Orleans, that flowerless
hothouse, as yet was not; the space upon which it now stands was
covered with booths; or, to be more precise, with small, wooden dens,
pervious to the weather, and dimly illuminated on the side of the
court and the garden by borrowed lights styled windows by courtesy,
but more like the filthiest arrangements for obscuring daylight to be
found in little wineshops in the suburbs.

The Galleries, parallel passages about twelve feet in height, were
formed by a triple row of shops. The centre row, giving back and front
upon the Galleries, was filled with the fetid atmosphere of the place,
and derived a dubious daylight through the invariably dirty windows of
the roof; but so thronged were these hives, that rents were
excessively high, and as much as a thousand crowns was paid for a
space scarce six feet by eight. The outer rows gave respectively upon
the garden and the court, and were covered on that side by a slight
trellis-work painted green, to protect the crazy plastered walls from
continual friction with the passers-by. In a few square feet of earth
at the back of the shops, strange freaks of vegetable life unknown to
science grew amid the products of various no less flourishing
industries. You beheld a rosebush capped with printed paper in such a
sort that the flowers of rhetoric were perfumed by the cankered
blossoms of that ill-kept, ill-smelling garden. Handbills and ribbon
streamers of every hue flaunted gaily among the leaves; natural
flowers competed unsuccessfully for an existence with odds and ends of
millinery. You discovered a knot of ribbon adorning a green tuft; the
dahlia admired afar proved on a nearer view to be a satin rosette.

The Palais seen from the court or from the garden was a fantastic
sight, a grotesque combination of walls of plaster patchwork which had
once been whitewashed, of blistered paint, heterogeneous placards, and
all the most unaccountable freaks of Parisian squalor; the green
trellises were prodigiously the dingier for constant contact with a
Parisian public. So, upon either side, the fetid, disreputable
approaches might have been there for the express purpose of warning
away fastidious people; but fastidious folk no more recoiled before
these horrors than the prince in the fairy stories turns tail at sight
of the dragon or of the other obstacles put between him and the
princess by the wicked fairy.

There was a passage through the centre of the Galleries then as now;
and, as at the present day, you entered them through the two
peristyles begun before the Revolution, and left unfinished for lack
of funds; but in place of the handsome modern arcade leading to the
Theatre-Francais, you passed along a narrow, disproportionately lofty
passage, so ill-roofed that the rain came through on wet days. All the
roofs of the hovels indeed were in very bad repair, and covered here
and again with a double thickness of tarpaulin. A famous silk mercer
once brought an action against the Orleans family for damages done in
the course of a night to his stock of shawls and stuffs, and gained
the day and a considerable sum. It was in this last-named passage,
called "The Glass Gallery" to distinguish it from the Wooden
Galleries, that Chevet laid the foundations of his fortunes.

Here, in the Palais, you trod the natural soil of Paris, augmented by
importations brought in upon the boots of foot passengers; here, at
all seasons, you stumbled among hills and hollows of dried mud swept
daily by the shopman's besom, and only after some practice could you
walk at your ease. The treacherous mud-heaps, the window-panes
incrusted with deposits of dust and rain, the mean-looking hovels
covered with ragged placards, the grimy unfinished walls, the general
air of a compromise between a gypsy camp, the booths of a country
fair, and the temporary structures that we in Paris build round about
public monuments that remain unbuilt; the grotesque aspect of the mart
as a whole was in keeping with the seething traffic of various kinds
carried on within it; for here in this shameless, unblushing haunt,
amid wild mirth and a babel of talk, an immense amount of business was
transacted between the Revolution of 1789 and the Revolution of 1830.

For twenty years the Bourse stood just opposite, on the ground floor
of the Palais. Public opinion was manufactured, and reputations made
and ruined here, just as political and financial jobs were arranged.
People made appointments to meet in the Galleries before or after
'Change; on showery days the Palais Royal was often crowded with
weather-bound capitalists and men of business. The structure which had
grown up, no one knew how, about this point was strangely resonant,
laughter was multiplied; if two men quarreled, the whole place rang
from one end to the other with the dispute. In the daytime milliners
and booksellers enjoyed a monopoly of the place; towards nightfall it
was filled with women of the town. Here dwelt poetry, politics, and
prose, new books and classics, the glories of ancient and modern
literature side by side with political intrigue and the tricks of the
bookseller's trade. Here all the very latest and newest literature
were sold to a public which resolutely decline to buy elsewhere.
Sometimes several thousand copies of such and such a pamphlet by
Paul-Louis Courier would be sold in a single evening; and people
crowded thither to buy _Les aventures de la fille d'un Roi_--that
first shot fired by the Orleanists at The Charter promulgated by
Louis XVIII.

When Lucien made his first appearance in the Wooden Galleries, some
few of the shops boasted proper fronts and handsome windows, but these
in every case looked upon the court or the garden. As for the centre
row, until the day when the whole strange colony perished under the
hammer of Fontaine the architect, every shop was open back and front
like a booth in a country fair, so that from within you could look out
upon either side through gaps among the goods displayed or through the
glass doors. As it was obviously impossible to kindle a fire, the
tradesmen were fain to use charcoal chafing-dishes, and formed a sort
of brigade for the prevention of fires among themselves; and, indeed,
a little carelessness might have set the whole quarter blazing in
fifteen minutes, for the plank-built republic, dried by the heat of
the sun, and haunted by too inflammable human material, was bedizened
with muslin and paper and gauze, and ventilated at times by a thorough

The milliners' windows were full of impossible hats and bonnets,
displayed apparently for advertisement rather than for sale, each on a
separate iron spit with a knob at the top. The galleries were decked
out in all the colors of the rainbow. On what heads would those dusty
bonnets end their careers?--for a score of years the problem had
puzzled frequenters of the Palais. Saleswomen, usually plain-featured,
but vivacious, waylaid the feminine foot passenger with cunning
importunities, after the fashion of market-women, and using much the
same language; a shop-girl, who made free use of her eyes and tongue,
sat outside on a stool and harangued the public with "Buy a pretty
bonnet, madame?--Do let me sell you something!"--varying a rich and
picturesque vocabulary with inflections of the voice, with glances,
and remarks upon the passers-by. Booksellers and milliners lived on
terms of mutual understanding.

But it was in the passage known by the pompous title of the "Glass
Gallery" that the oddest trades were carried on. Here were
ventriloquists and charlatans of every sort, and sights of every
description, from the kind where there is nothing to see to panoramas
of the globe. One man who has since made seven or eight hundred
thousand francs by traveling from fair to fair began here by hanging
out a signboard, a revolving sun in a blackboard, and the inscription
in red letters: "Here Man may see what God can never see. Admittance,
two sous." The showman at the door never admitted one person alone,
nor more than two at a time. Once inside, you confronted a great
looking-glass; and a voice, which might have terrified Hoffmann of
Berlin, suddenly spoke as if some spring had been touched, "You see
here, gentlemen, something that God can never see through all
eternity, that is to say, your like. God has not His like." And out
you went, too shamefaced to confess to your stupidity.

Voices issued from every narrow doorway, crying up the merits of
Cosmoramas, views of Constantinople, marionettes, automatic
chess-players, and performing dogs who would pick you out the prettiest
woman in the company. The ventriloquist Fritz-James flourished here in
the Cafe Borel before he went to fight and fall at Montmartre with the
young lads from the Ecole polytechnique. Here, too, there were fruit
and flower shops, and a famous tailor whose gold-laced uniforms shone
like the sun when the shops were lighted at night.

Of a morning the galleries were empty, dark, and deserted; the
shopkeepers chatted among themselves. Towards two o'clock in the
afternoon the Palais began to fill; at three, men came in from the
Bourse, and Paris, generally speaking, crowded the place. Impecunious
youth, hungering after literature, took the opportunity of turning
over the pages of the books exposed for sale on the stalls outside the
booksellers' shops; the men in charge charitably allowed a poor
student to pursue his course of free studies; and in this way a
duodecimo volume of some two hundred pages, such as _Smarra_ or _Pierre
Schlemihl_, or _Jean Sbogar_ or _Jocko_, might be devoured in a couple of
afternoons. There was something very French in this alms given to the
young, hungry, starved intellect. Circulating libraries were not as
yet; if you wished to read a book, you were obliged to buy it, for
which reason novels of the early part of the century were sold in
numbers which now seem well-nigh fabulous to us.

But the poetry of this terrible mart appeared in all its splendor at
the close of the day. Women of the town, flocking in and out from the
neighboring streets, were allowed to make a promenade of the Wooden
Galleries. Thither came prostitutes from every quarter of Paris to "do
the Palais." The Stone Galleries belonged to privileged houses, which
paid for the right of exposing women dressed like princesses under
such and such an arch, or in the corresponding space of garden; but
the Wooden Galleries were the common ground of women of the streets.
This was _the_ Palais, a word which used to signify the temple of
prostitution. A woman might come and go, taking away her prey
whithersoever seemed good to her. So great was the crowd attracted
thither at night by the women, that it was impossible to move except
at a slow pace, as in a procession or at a masked ball. Nobody
objected to the slowness; it facilitated examination. The women
dressed in a way that is never seen nowadays. The bodices cut
extremely low both back and front; the fantastical head-dresses,
designed to attract notice; here a cap from the Pays de Caux, and
there a Spanish mantilla; the hair crimped and curled like a poodle's,
or smoothed down in bandeaux over the forehead; the close-fitting
white stockings and limbs, revealed it would not be easy to say how,
but always at the right moment--all this poetry of vice has fled. The
license of question and reply, the public cynicism in keeping with the
haunt, is now unknown even at masquerades or the famous public balls.
It was an appalling, gay scene. The dazzling white flesh of the
women's necks and shoulders stood out in magnificent contrast against
the men's almost invariably sombre costumes. The murmur of voices, the
hum of the crowd, could be heard even in the middle of the garden as a
sort of droning bass, interspersed with _fioriture_ of shrill laughter
or clamor of some rare dispute. You saw gentlemen and celebrities
cheek by jowl with gallows-birds. There was something indescribably
piquant about the anomalous assemblage; the most insensible of men
felt its charm, so much so, that, until the very last moment, Paris
came hither to walk up and down on the wooden planks laid over the
cellars where men were at work on the new buildings; and when the
squalid wooden erections were finally taken down, great and unanimous
regret was felt.

Ladvocat the bookseller had opened a shop but a few days since in the
angle formed by the central passage which crossed the galleries; and
immediately opposite another bookseller, now forgotten, Dauriat, a
bold and youthful pioneer, who opened up the paths in which his rival
was to shine. Dauriat's shop stood in the row which gave upon the
garden; Ladvocat's, on the opposite side, looked out upon the court.
Dauriat's establishment was divided into two parts; his shop was
simply a great trade warehouse, and the second room was his private

Lucien, on this first visit to the Wooden Galleries, was bewildered by
a sight which no novice can resist. He soon lost the guide who
befriended him.

"If you were as good-looking as yonder young fellow, I would give you
your money's worth," a woman said, pointing out Lucien to an old man.

Lucien slunk through the crowd like a blind man's dog, following the
stream in a state of stupefaction and excitement difficult to
describe. Importuned by glances and white-rounded contours, dazzled by
the audacious display of bared throat and bosom, he gripped his roll
of manuscript tightly lest somebody should steal it--innocent that he

"Well, what is it, sir!" he exclaimed, thinking, when some one caught
him by the arm, that his poetry had proved too great a temptation to
some author's honesty, and turning, he recognized Lousteau.

"I felt sure that you would find your way here at last," said his

The poet was standing in the doorway of a shop crowded with persons
waiting for an audience with the sultan of the publishing trade.
Printers, paper-dealers, and designers were catechizing Dauriat's
assistants as to present or future business.

Lousteau drew Lucien into the shop. "There! that is Finot who edits my
paper," he said; "he is talking with Felicien Vernou, who has
abilities, but the little wretch is as dangerous as a hidden disease."

"Well, old boy, there is a first night for you," said Finot, coming up
with Vernou. "I have disposed of the box."

"Sold it to Braulard?"

"Well, and if I did, what then? You will get a seat. What do you want
with Dauriat? Oh, it is agreed that we are to push Paul de Kock,
Dauriat has taken two hundred copies, and Victor Ducange is refusing
to give him his next. Dauriat wants to set up another man in the same
line, he says. You must rate Paul de Kock above Ducange."

"But I have a piece on with Ducange at the Gaite," said Lousteau.

"Very well, tell him that I wrote the article. It can be supposed that
I wrote a slashing review, and you toned it down; and he will owe you

"Couldn't you get Dauriat's cashier to discount this bit of a bill for
a hundred francs?" asked Etienne Lousteau. "We are celebrating
Florine's house-warming with a supper to-night, you know."

"Ah! yes, you are treating us all," said Finot, with an apparent
effort of memory. "Here, Gabusson," he added, handing Barbet's bill to
the cashier, "let me have ninety francs for this individual.--Fill in
your name, old man."

Lousteau signed his name while the cashier counted out the money; and
Lucien, all eyes and ears, lost not a syllable of the conversation.

"That is not all, my friend," Etienne continued; "I don't thank you,
we have sworn an eternal friendship. I have taken it upon myself to
introduce this gentleman to Dauriat, and you must incline his ear to
listen to us."

"What is on foot?" asked Finot.

"A volume of poetry," said Lucien.

"Oh!" said Finot, with a shrug of the shoulders.

"Your acquaintance cannot have had much to do with publishers, or he
would have hidden his manuscript in the loneliest spot in his
dwelling," remarked Vernou, looking at Lucien as he spoke.

Just at that moment a good-looking young man came into the shop, gave
a hand to Finot and Lousteau, and nodded slightly to Vernou. The
newcomer was Emile Blondet, who had made his first appearance in the
_Journal des Debats_, with articles revealing capacities of the very
highest order.

"Come and have supper with us at midnight, at Florine's," said

"Very good," said the newcomer. "But who is going to be there?"

"Oh, Florine and Matifat the druggist," said Lousteau, "and du Bruel,
the author who gave Florine the part in which she is to make her first
appearance, a little old fogy named Cardot, and his son-in-law
Camusot, and Finot, and----"

"Does your druggist do things properly?"

"He will not give us doctored wine," said Lucien.

"You are very witty, monsieur," Blondet returned gravely. "Is he
coming, Lousteau?"


"Then we shall have some fun."

Lucien had flushed red to the tips of his ears. Blondet tapped on the
window above Dauriat's desk.

"Is your business likely to keep you long, Dauriat?"

"I am at your service, my friend."

"That's right," said Lousteau, addressing his protege. "That young
fellow is hardly any older than you are, and he is on the _Debats_! He
is one of the princes of criticism. They are afraid of him, Dauriat
will fawn upon him, and then we can put in a word about our business
with the pasha of vignettes and type. Otherwise we might have waited
till eleven o'clock, and our turn would not have come. The crowd of
people waiting to speak with Dauriat is growing bigger every moment."

Lucien and Lousteau followed Blondet, Finot, and Vernou, and stood in
a knot at the back of the shop.

"What is he doing?" asked Blondet of the head-clerk, who rose to bid
him good-evening.

"He is buying a weekly newspaper. He wants to put new life into it,
and set up a rival to the _Minerve_ and the _Conservateur_; Eymery has
rather too much of his own way in the _Minerve_, and the _Conservateur_ is
too blindly Romantic."

"Is he going to pay well?"

"Only too much--as usual," said the cashier.

Just as he spoke another young man entered; this was the writer of a
magnificent novel which had sold very rapidly and met with the
greatest possible success. Dauriat was bringing out a second edition.
The appearance of this odd and extraordinary looking being, so
unmistakably an artist, made a deep impression on Lucien's mind.

"That is Nathan," Lousteau said in his ear.

Nathan, then in the prime of his youth, came up to the group of
journalists, hat in hand; and in spite of his look of fierce pride he
was almost humble to Blondet, whom as yet he only knew by sight.
Blondet did not remove his hat, neither did Finot.

"Monsieur, I am delighted to avail myself of an opportunity yielded by

("He is so nervous that he is committing a pleonasm," said Felicien in
an aside to Lousteau.)

"----to give expression to my gratitude for the splendid review which
you were so good as to give me in the _Journal des Debats_. Half the
success of my book is owing to you."

"No, my dear fellow, no," said Blondet, with an air of patronage
scarcely masked by good-nature. "You have talent, the deuce you have,
and I'm delighted to make your acquaintance."

"Now that your review has appeared, I shall not seem to be courting
power; we can feel at ease. Will you do me the honor and the pleasure
of dining with me to-morrow? Finot is coming.--Lousteau, old man, you
will not refuse me, will you?" added Nathan, shaking Etienne by the
hand.--"Ah, you are on the way to a great future, monsieur," he added,
turning again to Blondet; "you will carry on the line of Dussaults,
Fievees, and Geoffrois! Hoffmann was talking about you to a friend of
mine, Claude Vignon, his pupil; he said that he could die in peace,
the _Journal des Debats_ would live forever. They ought to pay you
tremendously well."

"A hundred francs a column," said Blondet. "Poor pay when one is
obliged to read the books, and read a hundred before you find one
worth interesting yourself in, like yours. Your work gave me pleasure,
upon my word."

"And brought him in fifteen hundred francs," said Lousteau for
Lucien's benefit.

"But you write political articles, don't you?" asked Nathan.

"Yes; now and again."

Lucien felt like an embryo among these men; he had admired Nathan's
book, he had reverenced the author as an immortal; Nathan's abject
attitude before this critic, whose name and importance were both
unknown to him, stupefied Lucien.

"How if I should come to behave as he does?" he thought. "Is a man
obliged to part with his self-respect?--Pray put on your hat again,
Nathan; you have written a great book, and the critic has only written
a review of it."

These thoughts set the blood tingling in his veins. Scarce a minute
passed but some young author, poverty-stricken and shy, came in, asked
to speak with Dauriat, looked round the crowded shop despairingly, and
went out saying, "I will come back again." Two or three politicians
were chatting over the convocation of the Chambers and public business
with a group of well-known public men. The weekly newspaper for which
Dauriat was in treaty was licensed to treat of matters political, and
the number of newspapers suffered to exist was growing smaller and
smaller, till a paper was a piece of property as much in demand as a
theatre. One of the largest shareholders in the _Constitutionnel_ was
standing in the midst of the knot of political celebrities. Lousteau
performed the part of cicerone to admiration; with every sentence he
uttered Dauriat rose higher in Lucien's opinion. Politics and
literature seemed to converge in Dauriat's shop. He had seen a great
poet prostituting his muse to journalism, humiliating Art, as woman
was humiliated and prostituted in those shameless galleries without,
and the provincial took a terrible lesson to heart. Money! That was
the key to every enigma. Lucien realized the fact that he was unknown
and alone, and that the fragile clue of an uncertain friendship was
his sole guide to success and fortune. He blamed the kind and loyal
little circle for painting the world for him in false colors, for
preventing him from plunging into the arena, pen in hand. "I should be
a Blondet at this moment!" he exclaimed within himself.

Only a little while ago they had sat looking out over Paris from the
Gardens of the Luxembourg, and Lousteau had uttered the cry of a
wounded eagle; then Lousteau had been a great man in Lucien's eyes,
and now he had shrunk to scarce visible proportions. The really
important man for him at this moment was the fashionable bookseller,
by whom all these men lived; and the poet, manuscript in hand, felt a
nervous tremor that was almost like fear. He noticed a group of busts
mounted on wooden pedestals, painted to resemble marble; Byron stood
there, and Goethe and M. de Canalis. Dauriat was hoping to publish a
volume by the last-named poet, who might see, on his entrance into the
shop, the estimation in which he was held by the trade. Unconsciously
Lucien's own self-esteem began to shrink, and his courage ebbed. He
began to see how large a part this Dauriat would play in his
destinies, and waited impatiently for him to appear.

"Well, children," said a voice, and a short, stout man appeared, with
a puffy face that suggested a Roman pro-consul's visage, mellowed by
an air of good-nature which deceived superficial observers. "Well,
children, here am I, the proprietor of the only weekly paper in the
market, a paper with two thousand subscribers!"

"Old joker! The registered number is seven hundred, and that is over
the mark," said Blondet.

"Twelve thousand, on my sacred word of honor--I said two thousand for
the benefit of the printers and paper-dealers yonder," he added,
lowering his voice, then raising it again. "I thought you had more
tact, my boy," he added.

"Are you going to take any partners?" inquired Finot.

"That depends," said Dauriat. "Will you take a third at forty thousand

"It's a bargain, if you will take Emile Blondet here on the staff, and
Claude Vignon, Scribe, Theodore Leclercq, Felicien Vernou, Jay, Jouy,
Lousteau, and----"

"And why not Lucien de Rubempre?" the provincial poet put in boldly.

"----and Nathan," concluded Finot.

"Why not the people out there in the street?" asked Dauriat, scowling
at the author of the _Marguerites_.--"To whom have I the honor of
speaking?" he added, with an insolent glance.

"One moment, Dauriat," said Lousteau. "I have brought this gentleman
to you. Listen to me, while Finot is thinking over your proposals."

Lucien watched this Dauriat, who addressed Finot with the familiar tu,
which even Finot did not permit himself to use in reply; who called
the redoubtable Blondet "my boy," and extended a hand royally to
Nathan with a friendly nod. The provincial poet felt his shirt wet
with perspiration when the formidable sultan looked indifferent and
ill pleased.

"Another piece of business, my boy!" exclaimed Dauriat. "Why, I have
eleven hundred manuscripts on hand, as you know! Yes, gentlemen, I
have eleven hundred manuscripts submitted to me at this moment; ask
Gabusson. I shall soon be obliged to start a department to keep
account of the stock of manuscripts, and a special office for reading
them, and a committee to vote on their merits, with numbered counters
for those who attend, and a permanent secretary to draw up the minutes
for me. It will be a kind of local branch of the Academie, and the
Academicians will be better paid in the Wooden Galleries than at the

"'Tis an idea," said Blondet.

"A bad idea," returned Dauriat. "It is not my business to take stock
of the lucubrations of those among you who take to literature because
they cannot be capitalists, and there is no opening for them as
bootmakers, nor corporals, nor domestic servants, nor officials, nor
bailiffs. Nobody comes here until he has made a name for himself! Make
a name for yourself, and you will find gold in torrents. I have made
three great men in the last two years; and lo and behold three
examples of ingratitude! Here is Nathan talking of six thousand francs
for the second edition of his book, which cost me three thousand
francs in reviews, and has not brought in a thousand yet. I paid a
thousand francs for Blondet's two articles, besides a dinner, which
cost me five hundred----"

"But if all booksellers talked as you do, sir, how could a man publish
his first book at all?" asked Lucien. Blondet had gone down
tremendously in his opinion since he had heard the amount given by
Dauriat for the articles in the _Debats_.

"That is not my affair," said Dauriat, looking daggers at this
handsome young fellow, who was smiling pleasantly at him. "I do not
publish books for amusement, nor risk two thousand francs for the sake
of seeing my money back again. I speculate in literature, and publish
forty volumes of ten thousand copies each, just as Panckouke does and
the Baudoins. With my influence and the articles which I secure, I can
push a business of a hundred thousand crowns, instead of a single
volume involving a couple of thousand francs. It is just as much
trouble to bring out a new name and to induce the public to take up an
author and his book, as to make a success with the _Theatres etrangers_,
_Victoires et Conquetes_, or _Memoires sur la Revolution_, books that
bring in a fortune. I am not here as a stepping-stone to future fame,
but to make money, and to find it for men with distinguished names.
The manuscripts for which I give a hundred thousand francs pay me
better than work by an unknown author who asks six hundred. If I am
not exactly a Maecenas, I deserve the gratitude of literature; I have
doubled the prices of manuscripts. I am giving you this explanation
because you are a friend of Lousteau's my boy," added Dauriat,
clapping Lucien on the shoulder with odious familiarity. "If I were to
talk to all the authors who have a mind that I should be their
publisher, I should have to shut up shop; I should pass my time very
agreeably no doubt, but the conversations would cost too much. I am
not rich enough yet to listen to all the monologues of self-conceit.
Nobody does, except in classical tragedies on the stage."

The terrible Dauriat's gorgeous raiment seemed in the provincial
poet's eyes to add force to the man's remorseless logic.

"What is it about?" he continued, addressing Lucien's protector.

"It is a volume of magnificent poetry."

At that word, Dauriat turned to Gabusson with a gesture worthy of

"Gabusson, my friend," he said, "from this day forward, when anybody
begins to talk of works in manuscript here--Do you hear that, all of
you?" he broke in upon himself; and three assistants at once emerged
from among the piles of books at the sound of their employer's
wrathful voice. "If anybody comes here with manuscripts," he
continued, looking at the finger-nails of a well-kept hand, "ask him
whether it is poetry or prose; and if he says poetry, show him the
door at once. Verses mean reverses in the booktrade."

"Bravo! well put, Dauriat," cried the chorus of journalists.

"It is true!" cried the bookseller, striding about his shop with
Lucien's manuscript in his hand. "You have no idea, gentlemen, of the
amount of harm that Byron, Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Casimir Delavigne,
Canalis, and Beranger have done by their success. The fame of them has
brought down an invasion of barbarians upon us. I know _this_: there
are a thousand volumes of manuscript poetry going the round of the
publishers at this moment, things that nobody can make head nor tail
of, stories in verse that begin in the middle, like _The Corsair_ and
_Lara_. They set up to be original, forsooth, and indulge in stanzas
that nobody can understand, and descriptive poetry after the pattern
of the younger men who discovered Delille, and imagine that they are
doing something new. Poets have been swarming like cockchafers for two
years past. I have lost twenty thousand francs through poetry in the
last twelvemonth. You ask Gabusson! There may be immortal poets
somewhere in the world; I know of some that are blooming and rosy, and
have no beards on their chins as yet," he continued, looking at
Lucien; "but in the trade, young man, there are only four poets
--Beranger, Casimir Delavigne, Lamartine, and Victor Hugo; as for
Canalis--he is a poet made by sheer force of writing him up."

Lucien felt that he lacked the courage to hold up his head and show
his spirit before all these influential persons, who were laughing
with all their might. He knew very well that he should look hopelessly
ridiculous, and yet he felt consumed by a fierce desire to catch the
bookseller by the throat, to ruffle the insolent composure of his
cravat, to break the gold chain that glittered on the man's chest,
trample his watch under his feet, and tear him in pieces. Mortified
vanity opened the door to thoughts of vengeance, and inwardly he swore
eternal enmity to that bookseller. But he smiled amiably.

"Poetry is like the sun," said Blondet, "giving life alike to primeval
forests and to ants and gnats and mosquitoes. There is no virtue but
has a vice to match, and literature breeds the publisher."

"And the journalist," said Lousteau.

Dauriat burst out laughing.

"What is this after all?" he asked, holding up the manuscript.

"A volume of sonnets that will put Petrarch to the blush," said

"What do you mean?"

"Just what I say," answered Lousteau, seeing the knowing smile that
went round the group. Lucien could not take offence but he chafed

"Very well, I will read them," said Dauriat, with a regal gesture that
marked the full extent of the concession. "If these sonnets of yours
are up to the level of the nineteenth century, I will make a great
poet of you, my boy."

"If he has brains to equal his good looks, you will run no great
risks," remarked one of the greatest public speakers of the day, a
deputy who was chatting with the editor of the _Minerve_, and a writer
for the _Constitutionnel_.

"Fame means twelve thousand francs in reviews, and a thousand more for
dinners, General," said Dauriat. "If M. Benjamin de Constant means to
write a paper on this young poet, it will not be long before I make a
bargain with him."

At the title of General, and the distinguished name of Benjamin
Constant, the bookseller's shop took the proportions of Olympus for
the provincial great man.

"Lousteau, I want a word with you," said Finot; "but I shall see you
again later, at the theatre.--Dauriat, I will take your offer, but on
conditions. Let us step into your office."

"Come in, my boy," answered Dauriat, allowing Finot to pass before
him. Then, intimating to some ten persons still waiting for him that
he was engaged, he likewise was about to disappear when Lucien
impatiently stopped him.

"You are keeping my manuscript. When shall I have an answer?"

"Oh, come back in three or four days, my little poet, and we will

Lousteau hurried Lucien away; he had not time to take leave of Vernou
and Blondet and Raoul Nathan, nor to salute General Foy nor Benjamin
Constant, whose book on the Hundred Days was just about to appear.
Lucien scarcely caught a glimpse of fair hair, a refined oval-shaped
face, keen eyes, and the pleasant-looking mouth belonging to the man
who had played the part of a Potemkin to Mme. de Stael for twenty
years, and now was at war with the Bourbons, as he had been at war
with Napoleon. He was destined to win his cause and to die stricken to
earth by his victory.

"What a shop!" exclaimed Lucien, as he took his place in the cab
beside Lousteau.

"To the Panorama-Dramatique; look sharp, and you shall have thirty
sous," Etienne Lousteau called to the cabman.--"Dauriat is a rascal
who sells books to the amount of fifteen or sixteen hundred thousand
francs every year. He is a kind of Minister of Literature," Lousteau
continued. His self-conceit had been pleasantly tickled, and he was
showing off before Lucien. "Dauriat is just as grasping as Barbet, but
it is on a wholesale scale. Dauriat can be civil, and he is generous,
but he has a great opinion of himself; as for his wit, it consists in
a faculty for picking up all that he hears, and his shop is a capital
place to frequent. You meet all the best men at Dauriat's. A young
fellow learns more there in an hour than by poring over books for
half-a-score of years. People talk about articles and concoct
subjects; you make the acquaintance of great or influential people who
may be useful to you. You must know people if you mean to get on
nowadays.--It is all luck, you see. And as for sitting by yourself in
a corner alone with your intellect, it is the most dangerous thing of

"But what insolence!" said Lucien.

"Pshaw! we all of us laugh at Dauriat," said Etienne. "If you are in
need of him, he tramples upon you; if he has need of the _Journal des
Debats_, Emile Blondet sets him spinning like a top. Oh, if you take
to literature, you will see a good many queer things. Well, what was
I telling you, eh?"

"Yes, you were right," said Lucien. "My experience in that shop was
even more painful than I expected, after your programme."

"Why do you choose to suffer? You find your subject, you wear out your
wits over it with toiling at night, you throw your very life into it:
and after all your journeyings in the fields of thought, the monument
reared with your life-blood is simply a good or a bad speculation for
a publisher. Your work will sell or it will not sell; and therein, for
them, lies the whole question. A book means so much capital to risk,
and the better the book, the less likely it is to sell. A man of
talent rises above the level of ordinary heads; his success varies in
direct ratio with the time required for his work to be appreciated.
And no publisher wants to wait. To-day's book must be sold by
to-morrow. Acting on this system, publishers and booksellers do not
care to take real literature, books that call for the high praise that
comes slowly."

"D'Arthez was right," exclaimed Lucien.

"Do you know d'Arthez?" asked Lousteau. "I know of no more dangerous
company than solitary spirits like that fellow yonder, who fancy that
they can draw the world after them. All of us begin by thinking that
we are capable of great things; and when once a youthful imagination
is heated by this superstition, the candidate for posthumous honors
makes no attempt to move the world while such moving of the world is
both possible and profitable; he lets the time go by. I am for
Mahomet's system--if the mountain does not come to me, I am for going
to the mountain."

The common-sense so trenchantly put in this sally left Lucien halting
between the resignation preached by the brotherhood and Lousteau's
militant doctrine. He said not a word till they reached the Boulevard
du Temple.

The Panorama-Dramatique no longer exists. A dwelling-house stands on
the site of the once charming theatre in the Boulevard du Temple,
where two successive managements collapsed without making a single
hit; and yet Vignol, who has since fallen heir to some of Potier's
popularity, made his _debut_ there; and Florine, five years later a
celebrated actress, made her first appearance in the theatre opposite
the Rue Charlot. Play-houses, like men, have their vicissitudes. The
Panorama-Dramatique suffered from competition. The machinations of its
rivals, the Ambigu, the Gaite, the Porte Saint-Martin, and the
Vaudeville, together with a plethora of restrictions and a scarcity of
good plays, combined to bring about the downfall of the house. No
dramatic author cared to quarrel with a prosperous theatre for the
sake of the Panorama-Dramatique, whose existence was, to say the
least, problematical. The management at this moment, however, was
counting on the success of a new melodramatic comedy by M. du Bruel, a
young author who, after working in collaboration with divers
celebrities, had now produced a piece professedly entirely his own. It
had been specially composed for the leading lady, a young actress who
began her stage career as a supernumerary at the Gaite, and had been
promoted to small parts for the last twelvemonth. But though Mlle.
Florine's acting had attracted some attention, she obtained no
engagement, and the Panorama accordingly had carried her off. Coralie,
another actress, was to make her _debut_ at the same time.

Lucien was amazed at the power wielded by the press. "This gentleman
is with me," said Etienne Lousteau, and the box-office clerks bowed
before him as one man.

"You will find it no easy matter to get seats," said the head-clerk.
"There is nothing left now but the stage box."

A certain amount of time was wasted in controversies with the
box-keepers in the lobbies, when Etienne said, "Let us go behind
the scenes; we will speak to the manager, he will take us into the
stage-box; and besides, I will introduce you to Florine, the heroine
of the evening."

At a sign from Etienne Lousteau, the doorkeeper of the orchestra took
out a little key and unlocked a door in the thickness of the wall.
Lucien, following his friend, went suddenly out of the lighted
corridor into the black darkness of the passage between the house and
the wings. A short flight of damp steps surmounted, one of the
strangest of all spectacles opened out before the provincial poet's
eyes. The height of the roof, the slenderness of the props, the
ladders hung with Argand lamps, the atrocious ugliness of scenery
beheld at close quarters, the thick paint on the actors' faces, and
their outlandish costumes, made of such coarse materials, the stage
carpenters in greasy jackets, the firemen, the stage manager strutting
about with his hat on his head, the supernumeraries sitting among the
hanging back-scenes, the ropes and pulleys, the heterogeneous
collection of absurdities, shabby, dirty, hideous, and gaudy, was
something so altogether different from the stage seen over the
footlights, that Lucien's astonishment knew no bounds. The curtain was
just about to fall on a good old-fashioned melodrama entitled _Bertram_,
a play adapted from a tragedy by Maturin which Charles Nodier,
together with Byron and Sir Walter Scott, held in the highest esteem,
though the play was a failure on the stage in Paris.

"Keep a tight hold of my arm, unless you have a mind to fall through a
trap-door, or bring down a forest on your head; you will pull down a
palace, or carry off a cottage, if you are not careful," said Etienne.
--"Is Florine in her dressing-room, my pet?" he added, addressing an
actress who stood waiting for her cue.

"Yes, love. Thank you for the things you said about me. You are so
much nicer since Florine has come here."

"Come, don't spoil your entry, little one. Quick with you, look sharp,
and say, 'Stop, wretched man!' nicely, for there are two thousand
francs of takings."

Lucien was struck with amazement when the girl's whole face suddenly
changed, and she shrieked, "Stop, wretched man!" a cry that froze the
blood in your veins. She was no longer the same creature.

"So this is the stage," he said to Lousteau.

"It is like the bookseller's shop in the Wooden Galleries, or a
literary paper," said Etienne Lousteau; "it is a kitchen, neither more
nor less."

Nathan appeared at this moment.

"What brings you here?" inquired Lousteau.

"Why, I am doing the minor theatres for the _Gazette_ until something
better turns up."

"Oh! come to supper with us this evening; speak well of Florine, and I
will do as much for you."

"Very much at your service," returned Nathan.

"You know; she is living in the Rue du Bondy now."

"Lousteau, dear boy, who is the handsome young man that you have
brought with you?" asked the actress, now returned to the wings.

"A great poet, dear, that will have a famous name one of these days.
--M. Nathan, I must introduce M. Lucien de Rubempre to you, as you are
to meet again at supper."

"You have a good name, monsieur," said Nathan.

"Lucien, M. Raoul Nathan," continued Etienne.

"I read your book two days ago; and, upon my word, I cannot understand
how you, who have written such a book, and such poetry, can be so
humble to a journalist."

"Wait till your first book comes out," said Nathan, and a shrewd smile
flitted over his face.

"I say! I say! here are Ultras and Liberals actually shaking hands!"
cried Vernou, spying the trio.

"In the morning I hold the views of my paper," said Nathan, "in the
evening I think as I please; all journalists see double at night."

Felicien Vernou turned to Lousteau.

"Finot is looking for you, Etienne; he came with me, and--here he is!"

"Ah, by the by, there is not a place in the house, is there?" asked

"You will always find a place in our hearts," said the actress, with
the sweetest smile imaginable.

"I say, my little Florville, are you cured already of your fancy? They
told me that a Russian prince had carried you off."

"Who carries off women in these days" said Florville (she who had
cried, "Stop, wretched man!"). "We stayed at Saint-Mande for ten days,
and my prince got off with paying the forfeit money to the management.
The manager will go down on his knees to pray for some more Russian
princes," Florville continued, laughing; "the forfeit money was so
much clear gain."

"And as for you, child," said Finot, turning to a pretty girl in a
peasant's costume, "where did you steal these diamond ear-drops? Have
you hooked an Indian prince?"

"No, a blacking manufacturer, an Englishman, who has gone off already.
It is not everybody who can find millionaire shopkeepers, tired of
domestic life, whenever they like, as Florine does and Coralie. Aren't
they just lucky?"

"Florville, you will make a bad entry," said Lousteau; "the blacking
has gone to your head!"

"If you want a success," said Nathan, "instead of screaming, 'He is
saved!' like a Fury, walk on quite quietly, go to the staircase, and
say, 'He is saved,' in a chest voice, like Pasta's '_O patria_,' in
_Tancreda_.--There, go along!" and he pushed her towards the stage.

"It is too late," said Vernou, "the effect has hung fire."

"What did she do? the house is applauding like mad," asked Lousteau.

"Went down on her knees and showed her bosom; that is her great
resource," said the blacking-maker's widow.

"The manager is giving up the stage box to us; you will find me there
when you come," said Finot, as Lousteau walked off with Lucien.

At the back of the stage, through a labyrinth of scenery and
corridors, the pair climbed several flights of stairs and reached a
little room on a third floor, Nathan and Felicien Vernou following

"Good-day or good-night, gentlemen," said Florine. Then, turning to a
short, stout man standing in a corner, "These gentlemen are the rulers
of my destiny," she said, my future is in their hands; but they will
be under our table to-morrow morning, I hope, if M. Lousteau has
forgotten nothing----"

"Forgotten! You are going to have Blondet of the _Debats_," said
Etienne, "the genuine Blondet, the very Blondet--Blondet himself, in

"Oh! Lousteau, you dear boy! stop, I must give you a kiss," and she
flung her arms about the journalist's neck. Matifat, the stout person
in the corner, looked serious at this.

Florine was thin; her beauty, like a bud, gave promise of the flower
to come; the girl of sixteen could only delight the eyes of artists
who prefer the sketch to the picture. All the quick subtlety of her
character was visible in the features of the charming actress, who at
that time might have sat for Goethe's Mignon. Matifat, a wealthy
druggist of the Rue des Lombards, had imagined that a little Boulevard
actress would have no very expensive tastes, but in eleven months
Florine had cost him sixty thousand francs. Nothing seemed more
extraordinary to Lucien than the sight of an honest and worthy
merchant standing like a statue of the god Terminus in the actress'
narrow dressing-room, a tiny place some ten feet square, hung with a
pretty wall-paper, and adorned with a full-length mirror, a sofa, and
two chairs. There was a fireplace in the dressing-closet, a carpet on
the floor, and cupboards all round the room. A dresser was putting the
finishing touches to a Spanish costume; for Florine was to take the
part of a countess in an imbroglio.

"That girl will be the handsomest actress in Paris in five years'
time," said Nathan, turning to Felicien Vernou.

"By the by, darlings, you will take care of me to-morrow, won't you?"
said Florine, turning to the three journalists. "I have engaged cabs
for to-night, for I am going to send you home as tipsy as Shrove
Tuesday. Matifat has sent in wines--oh! wines worthy of Louis XVIII.,
and engaged the Prussian ambassador's cook."

"We expect something enormous from the look of the gentleman,"
remarked Nathan.

"And he is quite aware that he is treating the most dangerous men in
Paris," added Florine.

Matifat was looking uneasily at Lucien; he felt jealous of the young
man's good looks.

"But here is some one that I do not know," Florine continued,
confronting Lucien. "Which of you has imported the Apollo Belvedere
from Florence? He is as charming as one of Girodet's figures."

"He is a poet, mademoiselle, from the provinces. I forgot to present
him to you; you are so beautiful to-night that you put the _Complete
Guide to Etiquette_ out of a man's head----"

"Is he so rich that he can afford to write poetry?" asked Florine.

"Poor as Job," said Lucien.

"It is a great temptation for some of us," said the actress.

Just then the author of the play suddenly entered, and Lucien beheld
M. du Bruel, a short, attenuated young man in an overcoat, a composite
human blend of the jack-in-office, the owner of house-property, and
the stockbroker.

"Florine, child," said this personage, "are you sure of your part, eh?
No slips of memory, you know. And mind that scene in the second act,
make the irony tell, bring out that subtle touch; say, 'I do not love
you,' just as we agreed."

"Why do you take parts in which you have to say such things?" asked

The druggist's remark was received with a general shout of laughter.

"What does it matter to you," said Florine, "so long as I don't say
such things to you, great stupid?--Oh! his stupidity is the pleasure
of my life," she continued, glancing at the journalist. "Upon my word,
I would pay him so much for every blunder, if it would not be the ruin
of me."

"Yes, but you will look at me when you say it, as you do when you are
rehearsing, and it gives me a turn," remonstrated the druggist.

"Very well, then, I will look at my friend Lousteau here."

A bell rang outside in the passage.

"Go out, all of you!" cried Florine; "let me read my part over again
and try to understand it."

Lucien and Lousteau were the last to go. Lousteau set a kiss on
Florine's shoulder, and Lucien heard her say, "Not to-night.
Impossible. That stupid old animal told his wife that he was going out
into the country."

"Isn't she charming?" said Etienne, as they came away.

"But--but that Matifat, my dear fellow----"

"Oh! you know nothing of Parisian life, my boy. Some things cannot be
helped. Suppose that you fell in love with a married woman, it comes
to the same thing. It all depends on the way that you look at it."

Etienne and Lucien entered the stage-box, and found the manager there
with Finot. Matifat was in the ground-floor box exactly opposite with
a friend of his, a silk-mercer named Camusot (Coralie's protector),
and a worthy little old soul, his father-in-law. All three of these
city men were polishing their opera-glasses, and anxiously scanning
the house; certain symptoms in the pit appeared to disturb them. The
usual heterogeneous first-night elements filled the boxes--journalists
and their mistresses, _lorettes_ and their lovers, a sprinkling of the
determined playgoers who never miss a first night if they can help it,
and a very few people of fashion who care for this sort of sensation.
The first box was occupied by the head of a department, to whom du
Bruel, maker of vaudevilles, owed a snug little sinecure in the

Lucien had gone from surprise to surprise since the dinner at
Flicoteaux's. For two months Literature had meant a life of poverty
and want; in Lousteau's room he had seen it at its cynical worst; in
the Wooden Galleries he had met Literature abject and Literature
insolent. The sharp contrasts of heights and depths; of compromise
with conscience; of supreme power and want of principle; of treachery
and pleasure; of mental elevation and bondage--all this made his head
swim, he seemed to be watching some strange unheard-of drama.

Finot was talking with the manager. "Do you think du Bruel's piece
will pay?" he asked.

"Du Bruel has tried to do something in Beaumarchais' style. Boulevard
audiences don't care for that kind of thing; they like harrowing
sensations; wit is not much appreciated here. Everything depends on
Florine and Coralie to-night; they are bewitchingly pretty and
graceful, wear very short skirts, and dance a Spanish dance, and
possibly they may carry off the piece with the public. The whole
affair is a gambling speculation. A few clever notices in the papers,
and I may make a hundred thousand crowns, if the play takes."

"Oh! come, it will only be a moderate success, I can see," said Finot.

"Three of the theatres have got up a plot," continued the manager;
"they will even hiss the piece, but I have made arrangements to defeat
their kind intentions. I have squared the men in their pay; they will
make a muddle of it. A couple of city men yonder have taken a hundred
tickets apiece to secure a triumph for Florine and Coralie, and given
them to acquaintances able and ready to act as chuckers out. The
fellows, having been paid twice, will go quietly, and a scene of that
sort always makes a good impression on the house."

"Two hundred tickets! What invaluable men!" exclaimed Finot.

"Yes. With two more actresses as handsomely kept as Florine and
Coralie, I should make something out of the business."

For the past two hours the word money had been sounding in Lucien's
ears as the solution of every difficulty. In the theatre as in the
publishing trade, and in the publishing trade as in the
newspaper-office--it was everywhere the same; there was not a word of
art or of glory. The steady beat of the great pendulum, Money, seemed
to fall like hammer-strokes on his heart and brain. And yet while the
orchestra played the overture, while the pit was full of noisy tumult
of applause and hisses, unconsciously he drew a comparison between
this scene and others that came up in his mind. Visions arose before
him of David and the printing-office, of the poetry that he came to
know in that atmosphere of pure peace, when together they beheld the
wonders of Art, the high successes of genius, and visions of glory
borne on stainless wings. He thought of the evenings spent with
d'Arthez and his friends, and tears glittered in his eyes.

"What is the matter with you?" asked Etienne Lousteau.

"I see poetry fallen into the mire."

"Ah! you have still some illusions left, my dear fellow."

"Is there nothing for it but to cringe and submit to thickheads like
Matifat and Camusot, as actresses bow down to journalists, and we
ourselves to the booksellers?"

"My boy, do you see that dull-brained fellow?" said Etienne, lowering
his voice, and glancing at Finot. "He has neither genius nor
cleverness, but he is covetous; he means to make a fortune at all
costs, and he is a keen man of business. Didn't you see how he made
forty per cent out of me at Dauriat's, and talked as if he were doing
me a favor?--Well, he gets letters from not a few unknown men of
genius who go down on their knees to him for a hundred francs."

The words recalled the pen-and-ink sketch that lay on the table in the
editor's office and the words, "Finot, my hundred francs!" Lucien's
inmost soul shrank from the man in disgust.

"I would sooner die," he said.

"Sooner live," retorted Etienne.

The curtain rose, and the stage-manager went off to the wings to give
orders. Finot turned to Etienne.

"My dear fellow, Dauriat has passed his word; I am proprietor of
one-third of his weekly paper. I have agreed to give thirty thousand
francs in cash, on condition that I am to be editor and director. 'Tis
a splendid thing. Blondet told me that the Government intends to take
restrictive measures against the press; there will be no new papers
allowed; in six months' time it will cost a million francs to start a
new journal, so I struck a bargain though I have only ten thousand
francs in hand. Listen to me. If you can sell one-half of my share,
that is one-sixth of the paper, to Matifat for thirty thousand francs,
you shall be editor of my little paper with a salary of two hundred
and fifty francs per month. I want in any case to have the control of
my old paper, and to keep my hold upon it; but nobody need know that,
and your name will appear as editor. You will be paid at the rate of
five francs per column; you need not pay contributors more than three
francs, and you keep the difference. That means another four hundred
and fifty francs per month. But, at the same time, I reserve the right
to use the paper to attack or defend men or causes, as I please; and
you may indulge your own likes and dislikes so long as you do not
interfere with my schemes. Perhaps I may be a Ministerialist, perhaps
Ultra, I do not know yet; but I mean to keep up my connections with
the Liberal party (below the surface). I can speak out with you; you
are a good fellow. I might, perhaps, give you the Chambers to do for
another paper on which I work; I am afraid I can scarcely keep on with
it now. So let Florine do this bit of jockeying; tell her to put the
screw on her druggist. If I can't find the money within forty-eight
hours, I must cry off my bargain. Dauriat sold another third to his
printer and paper-dealer for thirty thousand francs; so he has his own
third _gratis_, and ten thousand francs to the good, for he only gave
fifty thousand for the whole affair. And in another year's time the
magazine will be worth two hundred thousand francs, if the Court buys
it up; if the Court has the good sense to suppress newspapers, as they

"You are lucky," said Lousteau.

"If you had gone through all that I have endured, you would not say
that of me. I had my fill of misery in those days, you see, and there
was no help for it. My father is a hatter; he still keeps a shop in
the Rue du Coq. Nothing but millions of money or a social cataclysm
can open out the way to my goal; and of the two alternatives, I don't
know now that the revolution is not the easier. If I bore your
friend's name, I should have a chance to get on. Hush, here comes the
manager. Good-bye," and Finot rose to his feet, "I am going to the
Opera. I shall very likely have a duel on my hands to-morrow, for I
have put my initials to a terrific attack on a couple of dancers under
the protection of two Generals. I am giving it them hot and strong at
the Opera."

"Aha?" said the manager.

"Yes. They are stingy with me," returned Finot, "now cutting off a
box, and now declining to take fifty subscriptions. I have sent in my
_ultimatum_; I mean to have a hundred subscriptions out of them and a
box four times a month. If they take my terms, I shall have eight
hundred readers and a thousand paying subscribers, so we shall have
twelve hundred with the New Year."

"You will end by ruining us," said the manager.

"_You_ are not much hurt with your ten subscriptions. I had two good
notices put into the _Constitutionnel_."

"Oh! I am not complaining of you," cried the manager.

"Good-bye till to-morrow evening, Lousteau," said Finot. "You can give
me your answer at the Francais; there is a new piece on there; and as
I shall not be able to write the notice, you can take my box. I will
give you preference; you have worked yourself to death for me, and I
am grateful. Felicien Vernou offered twenty thousand francs for a
third share of my little paper, and to work without a salary for a
twelvemonth; but I want to be absolute master. Good-bye."

"He is not named Finot" (_finaud_, slyboots) "for nothing," said Lucien.

"He is a gallows-bird that will get on in the world," said Etienne,
careless whether the wily schemer overheard the remark or not, as he
shut the door of the box.

"_He_!" said the manager. "He will be a millionaire; he will enjoy the
respect of all who know him; he may perhaps have friends some day----"

"Good heavens! what a den!" said Lucien. "And are you going to drag
that excellent creature into such a business?" he continued, looking
at Florine, who gave them side glances from the stage.

"She will carry it through too. You do not know the devotion and the
wiles of these beloved beings," said Lousteau.

"They redeem their failings and expiate all their sins by boundless
love, when they love," said the manager. "A great love is all the
grander in an actress by reason of its violent contrast with her

"And he who finds it, finds a diamond worthy of the proudest crown
lying in the mud," returned Lousteau.

"But Coralie is not attending to her part," remarked the manager.
"Coralie is smitten with our friend here, all unsuspicious of his
conquest, and Coralie will make a fiasco; she is missing her cues,
this is the second time she had not heard the prompter. Pray, go into
the corner, monsieur," he continued. "If Coralie is smitten with you,
I will go and tell her that you have left the house."

"No! no!" cried Lousteau; "tell Coralie that this gentleman is coming
to supper, and that she can do as she likes with him, and she will
play like Mlle. Mars."

The manager went, and Lucien turned to Etienne. "What! do you mean to
say that you will ask that druggist, through Mlle. Florine, to pay
thirty thousand francs for one-half a share, when Finot gave no more
for the whole of it? And ask without the slightest scruple?----"

Lousteau interrupted Lucien before he had time to finish his
expostulation. "My dear boy, what country can you come from? The
druggist is not a man; he is a strong box delivered into our hands by
his fancy for an actress."

"How about your conscience?"

"Conscience, my dear fellow, is a stick which every one takes up to
beat his neighbor and not for application to his own back. Come, now!
who the devil are you angry with? In one day chance has worked a
miracle for you, a miracle for which I have been waiting these two
years, and you must needs amuse yourself by finding fault with the
means? What! you appear to me to possess intelligence; you seem to be
in a fair way to reach that freedom from prejudice which is a first
necessity to intellectual adventurers in the world we live in; and are
you wallowing in scruples worthy of a nun who accuses herself of
eating an egg with concupiscence? . . . If Florine succeeds, I shall
be editor of a newspaper with a fixed salary of two hundred and fifty
francs per month; I shall take the important plays and leave the
vaudevilles to Vernou, and you can take my place and do the Boulevard
theatres, and so get a foot in the stirrup. You will make three francs
per column and write a column a day--thirty columns a month means
ninety francs; you will have some sixty francs worth of books to sell
to Barbet; and lastly, you can demand ten tickets a month of each of
your theatres--that is, forty tickets in all--and sell them for forty
francs to a Barbet who deals in them (I will introduce you to the
man), so you will have two hundred francs coming in every month. Then
if you make yourself useful to Finot, you might get a hundred francs
for an article in this new weekly review of his, in which case you
would show uncommon talent, for all the articles are signed, and you
cannot put in slip-shod work as you can on a small paper. In that case
you would be making a hundred crowns a month. Now, my dear boy, there
are men of ability, like that poor d'Arthez, who dines at Flicoteaux's
every day, who may wait for ten years before they will make a hundred
crowns; and you will be making four thousand francs a year by your
pen, to say nothing of the books you will write for the trade, if you
do work of that kind.

"Now, a sub-prefect's salary only amounts to a thousand crowns, and
there he stops in his arrondissement, wearing away time like the rung
of a chair. I say nothing of the pleasure of going to the theatre
without paying for your seat, for that is a delight which quickly
palls; but you can go behind the scenes in four theatres. Be hard and
sarcastic for a month or two, and you will be simply overwhelmed with
invitations from actresses, and their adorers will pay court to you;
you will only dine at Flicoteaux's when you happen to have less than
thirty sous in your pocket and no dinner engagement. At the
Luxembourg, at five o'clock, you did not know which way to turn; now,
you are on the eve of entering a privileged class, you will be one of
the hundred persons who tell France what to think. In three days'
time, if all goes well, you can, if you choose, make a man's life a
curse to him by putting thirty jokes at his expense in print at the
rate of three a day; you can, if you choose, draw a revenue of
pleasure from the actresses at your theatres; you can wreck a good
play and send all Paris running after a bad one. If Dauriat declines
to pay you for your _Marguerites_, you can make him come to you, and
meekly and humbly implore you to take two thousand francs for them. If
you have the ability, and knock off two or three articles that
threaten to spoil some of Dauriat's speculations, or to ruin a book on
which he counts, you will see him come climbing up your stairs like a
clematis, and always at the door of your dwelling. As for your novel,
the booksellers who would show you more or less politely to the door
at this moment will be standing outside your attic in a string, and
the value of the manuscript, which old Doguereau valued at four
hundred francs will rise to four thousand. These are the advantages of
the journalist's profession. So let us do our best to keep all
newcomers out of it. It needs an immense amount of brains to make your
way, and a still greater amount of luck. And here are you quibbling
over your good fortune! If we had not met to-day, you see, at
Flicoteaux's, you might have danced attendance on the booksellers for
another three years, or starved like d'Arthez in a garret. By the time
that d'Arthez is as learned as Bayle and as great a writer of prose as
Rousseau, we shall have made our fortunes, you and I, and we shall
hold his in our hands--wealth and fame to give or to hold. Finot will
be a deputy and proprietor of a great newspaper, and we shall be
whatever we meant to be--peers of France, or prisoner for debt in

"So Finot will sell his paper to the highest bidder among the
Ministers, just as he sells favorable notices to Mme. Bastienne and
runs down Mlle. Virginie, saying that Mme. Bastienne's bonnets are
superior to the millinery which they praised at first!" said Lucien,
recollecting that scene in the office.

"My dear fellow, you are a simpleton," Lousteau remarked drily. "Three
years ago Finot was walking on the uppers of his boots, dining for
eighteen sous at Tabar's, and knocking off a tradesman's prospectus
(when he could get it) for ten francs. His clothes hung together by
some miracle as mysterious as the Immaculate Conception. _Now_, Finot
has a paper of his own, worth about a hundred thousand francs. What
with subscribers who pay and take no copies, genuine subscriptions,
and indirect taxes levied by his uncle, he is making twenty thousand
francs a year. He dines most sumptuously every day; he has set up a
cabriolet within the last month; and now, at last, behold him the
editor of a weekly review with a sixth share, for which he will not
pay a penny, a salary of five hundred francs per month, and another
thousand francs for supplying matter which costs him nothing, and for
which the firm pays. You yourself, to begin with, if Finot consents to
pay you fifty francs per sheet, will be only too glad to let him have
two or three articles for nothing. When you are in his position, you
can judge Finot; a man can only be tried by his peers. And for you, is
there not an immense future opening out before you, if you will
blindly minister to his enmity, attack at Finot's bidding, and praise
when he gives the word? Suppose that you yourself wish to be revenged
upon somebody, you can break a foe or friend on the wheel. You have
only to say to me, 'Lousteau, let us put an end to So-and-so,' and we
will kill him by a phrase put in the paper morning by morning; and
afterwards you can slay the slain with a solemn article in Finot's
weekly. Indeed, if it is a matter of capital importance to you, Finot
would allow you to bludgeon your man in a big paper with ten or twelve
thousand subscribers, _if_ you make yourself indispensable to Finot."

"Then are you sure that Florine can bring her druggist to make the
bargain?" asked Lucien, dazzled by these prospects.

"Quite sure. Now comes the interval, I will go and tell her everything
at once in a word or two; it will be settled to-night. If Florine once
has her lesson by heart, she will have all my wit and her own

"And there sits that honest tradesman, gaping with open-mouthed
admiration at Florine, little suspecting that you are about to get
thirty thousand francs out of him!----"

"More twaddle! Anybody might think that the man was going to be
robbed!" cried Lousteau. "Why, my dear boy, if the minister buys the
newspaper, the druggist may make twenty thousand francs in six months
on an investment of thirty thousand. Matifat is not looking at the
newspaper, but at Florine's prospects. As soon as it is known that
Matifat and Camusot--(for they will go shares)--that Matifat and
Camusot are proprietors of a review, the newspapers will be full of
friendly notices of Florine and Coralie. Florine's name will be made;
she will perhaps obtain an engagement in another theatre with a salary
of twelve thousand francs. In fact, Matifat will save a thousand
francs every month in dinners and presents to journalists. You know
nothing of men, nor of the way things are managed."

"Poor man!" said Lucien, "he is looking forward to an evening's

"And he will be sawn in two with arguments until Florine sees Finot's
receipt for a sixth share of the paper. And to-morrow I shall be
editor of Finot's paper, and making a thousand francs a month. The end
of my troubles is in sight!" cried Florine's lover.

Lousteau went out, and Lucien sat like one bewildered, lost in the
infinite of thought, soaring above this everyday world. In the Wooden
Galleries he had seen the wires by which the trade in books is moved;
he has seen something of the kitchen where great reputations are made;
he had been behind the scenes; he had seen the seamy side of life, the
consciences of men involved in the machinery of Paris, the mechanism
of it all. As he watched Florine on the stage he almost envied
Lousteau his good fortune; already, for a few moments he had forgotten
Matifat in the background. He was not left alone for long, perhaps for
not more than five minutes, but those minutes seemed an eternity.

Thoughts rose within him that set his soul on fire, as the spectacle
on the stage had heated his senses. He looked at the women with their
wanton eyes, all the brighter for the red paint on their cheeks, at
the gleaming bare necks, the luxuriant forms outlined by the
lascivious folds of the basquina, the very short skirts, that
displayed as much as possible of limbs encased in scarlet stockings
with green clocks to them--a disquieting vision for the pit.

A double process of corruption was working within him in parallel
lines, like two channels that will spread sooner or later in flood
time and make one. That corruption was eating into Lucien's soul, as
he leaned back in his corner, staring vacantly at the curtain, one arm
resting on the crimson velvet cushion, and his hand drooping over the
edge. He felt the fascination of the life that was offered to him, of
the gleams of light among its clouds; and this so much the more keenly
because it shone out like a blaze of fireworks against the blank
darkness of his own obscure, monotonous days of toil.

Suddenly his listless eyes became aware of a burning glance that
reached him through a rent in the curtain, and roused him from his
lethargy. Those were Coralie's eyes that glowed upon him. He lowered
his head and looked across at Camusot, who just then entered the
opposite box.

That amateur was a worthy silk-mercer of the Rue des Bourdonnais,
stout and substantial, a judge in the commercial court, a father of
four children, and the husband of a second wife. At the age of
fifty-six, with a cap of gray hair on his head, he had the smug
appearance of a man who has his eighty thousand francs of income; and
having been forced to put up with a good deal that he did not like in
the way of business, has fully made up his mind to enjoy the rest of
his life, and not to quit this earth until he has had his share of
cakes and ale. A brow the color of fresh butter and florid cheeks like
a monk's jowl seemed scarcely big enough to contain his exuberant
jubilation. Camusot had left his wife at home, and they were applauding
Coralie to the skies. All the rich man's citizen vanity was summed up
and gratified in Coralie; in Coralie's lodging he gave himself the airs
of a great lord of a bygone day; now, at this moment, he felt that half
of her success was his; the knowledge that he had paid for it
confirmed him in this idea. Camusot's conduct was sanctioned by the
presence of his father-in-law, a little old fogy with powdered hair
and leering eyes, highly respected nevertheless.

Again Lucien felt disgust rising within him. He thought of the year
when he loved Mme. de Bargeton with an exalted and disinterested love;
and at that thought love, as a poet understands it, spread its white
wings about him; countless memories drew a circle of distant blue
horizon about the great man of Angouleme, and again he fell to

Up went the curtain, and there stood Coralie and Florine upon the

"He is thinking about as much of you as of the Grand Turk, my dear
girl," Florine said in an aside while Coralie was finishing her

Lucien could not help laughing. He looked at Coralie. She was one of
the most charming and captivating actresses in Paris, rivaling Mme.
Perrin and Mlle. Fleuriet, and destined likewise to share their fate.
Coralie was a woman of a type that exerts at will a power of
fascination over men. With an oval face of deep ivory tint, a mouth
red as a pomegranate, and a chin subtly delicate in its contour as the
edge of a porcelain cup, Coralie was a Jewess of the sublime type. The
jet black eyes behind their curving lashes seemed to scorch her
eyelids; you could guess how soft they might grow, or how sparks of
the heat of the desert might flash from them in response to a summons
from within. The circles of olive shadow about them were bounded by
thick arching lines of eyebrow. Magnificent mental power, well-nigh
amounting to genius, seemed to dwell in the swarthy forehead beneath
the double curve of ebony hair that lay upon it like a crown, and
gleamed in the light like a varnished surface; but like many another
actress, Coralie had little wit in spite of her aptness at greenroom
repartee, and scarcely any education in spite of her boudoir
experience. Her brain was prompted by her senses, her kindness was the
impulsive warm-heartedness of girls of her class. But who could
trouble over Coralie's psychology when his eyes were dazzled by those
smooth, round arms of hers, the spindle-shaped fingers, the fair white
shoulders, and breast celebrated in the Song of Songs, the flexible
curving lines of throat, the graciously moulded outlines beneath the
scarlet silk stockings? And this beauty, worthy of an Eastern poet,
was brought into relief by the conventional Spanish costume of the
stage. Coralie was the delight of the pit; all eyes dwelt on the
outlines moulded by the clinging folds of her bodice, and lingered
over the Andalusian contour of the hips from which her skirt hung,
fluttering wantonly with every movement. To Lucien, watching this
creature, who played for him alone, caring no more for Camusot than a
street-boy in the gallery cares for an apple-paring, there came a
moment when he set desire above love, and enjoyment above desire, and
the demon of Lust stirred strange thoughts in him.

"I know nothing of the love that wallows in luxury and wine and
sensual pleasure," he said within himself. "I have lived more with
ideas than with realities. You must pass through all experience if you
mean to render all experience. This will be my first great supper, my
first orgy in a new and strange world; why should I not know, for
once, the delights which the great lords of the eighteenth century
sought so eagerly of wantons of the Opera? Must one not first learn of
courtesans and actresses the delights, the perfections, the
transports, the resources, the subtleties of love, if only to
translate them afterwards into the regions of a higher love than this?
And what is all this, after all, but the poetry of the senses? Two
months ago these women seemed to me to be goddesses guarded by dragons
that no one dared approach; I was envying Lousteau just now, but here
is another handsomer than Florine; why should I not profit by her
fancy, when the greatest nobles buy a night with such women with their
richest treasures? When ambassadors set foot in these depths, they
fling aside all thought of yesterday or to-morrow. I should be a fool
to be more squeamish than princes, especially as I love no one as

Lucien had quite forgotten Camusot. To Lousteau he had expressed the
utmost disgust for this most hateful of all partitions, and now he
himself had sunk to the same level, and, carried away by the casuistry
of his vehement desire, had given the reins to his fancy.

"Coralie is raving about you," said Lousteau as he came in. "Your
countenance, worthy of the greatest Greek sculptors, has worked
unutterable havoc behind the scenes. You are in luck my dear boy.
Coralie is eighteen years old, and in a few days' time she may be
making sixty thousand francs a year by her beauty. She is an honest
girl still. Since her mother sold her three years ago for sixty
thousand francs, she has tried to find happiness, and found nothing
but annoyance. She took to the stage in a desperate mood; she has a
horror of her first purchaser, de Marsay; and when she came out of the
galleys, for the king of dandies soon dropped her, she picked up old
Camusot. She does not care much about him, but he is like a father to
her, and she endures him and his love. Several times already she has
refused the handsomest proposals; she is faithful to Camusot, who lets
her live in peace. So you are her first love. The first sight of you
went to her heart like a pistol-shot, Florine has gone to her
dressing-room to bring the girl to reason. She is crying over your
cruelty; she has forgotten her part, the play will go to pieces, and
good-day to the engagement at the Gymnase which Camusot had planned
for her."

"Pooh! . . . Poor thing!" said Lucien. Every instinct of vanity was
tickled by the words; he felt his heart swell high with self-conceit.
"More adventures have befallen me in this one evening, my dear fellow,
than in all the first eighteen years of my life." And Lucien related
the history of his love affairs with Mme. de Bargeton, and of the
cordial hatred he bore the Baron du Chatelet.

"Stay though! the newspaper wants a _bete noire_; we will take him up.
The Baron is a buck of the Empire and a Ministerialist; he is the man
for us; I have seen him many a time at the Opera. I can see your great
lady as I sit here; she is often in the Marquise d'Espard's box. The
Baron is paying court to your lady love, a cuttlefish bone that she
is. Wait! Finot has just sent a special messenger round to say that
they are short of copy at the office. Young Hector Merlin has left
them in the lurch because they did not pay for white lines. Finot, in
despair, is knocking off an article against the Opera. Well now, my
dear fellow, you can do this play; listen to it and think it over, and
I will go to the manager's office and think out three columns about
your man and your disdainful fair one. They will be in no pleasant
predicament to-morrow."

"So this is how a newspaper is written?" said Lucien.

"It is always like this," answered Lousteau. "These ten months that I
have been a journalist, they have always run short of copy at eight
o'clock in the evening."

Manuscript sent to the printer is spoken of as "copy," doubtless
because the writers are supposed to send in a fair copy of their work;
or possibly the word is ironically derived from the Latin word _copia_,
for copy is invariably scarce.

"We always mean to have a few numbers ready in advance, a grand idea
that will never be realized," continued Lousteau. "It is ten o'clock,
you see, and not a line has been written. I shall ask Vernou and
Nathan for a score of epigrams on deputies, or on 'Chancellor Cruzoe,'
or on the Ministry, or on friends of ours if it needs must be. A man
in this pass would slaughter his parent, just as a privateer will load
his guns with silver pieces taken out of the booty sooner than perish.
Write a brilliant article, and you will make brilliant progress in
Finot's estimation; for Finot has a lively sense of benefits to come,
and that sort of gratitude is better than any kind of pledge,
pawntickets always excepted, for they invariably represent something

"What kind of men can journalists be? Are you to sit down at a table
and be witty to order?"

"Just exactly as a lamp begins to burn when you apply a match--so long
as there is any oil in it."

Lousteau's hand was on the lock when du Bruel came in with the

"Permit me, monsieur, to take a message to Coralie; allow me to tell
her that you will go home with her after supper, or my play will be
ruined. The wretched girl does not know what she is doing or saying;
she will cry when she ought to laugh and laugh when she ought to cry.
She has been hissed once already. You can still save the piece, and,
after all, pleasure is not a misfortune."

"I am not accustomed to rivals, sir," Lucien answered.

"Pray don't tell her that!" cried the manager. "Coralie is just the
girl to fling Camusot overboard and ruin herself in good earnest. The
proprietor of the _Golden Cocoon_, worthy man, allows her two thousand
francs a month, and pays for all her dresses and _claqueurs_."

"As your promise pledges me to nothing, save your play," said Lucien,
with a sultan's airs.

"But don't look as if you meant to snub that charming creature,"
pleaded du Bruel.

"Dear me! am I to write the notice of your play and smile on your
heroine as well?" exclaimed the poet.

The author vanished with a signal to Coralie, who began to act
forthwith in a marvelous way. Vignol, who played the part of the
alcalde, and revealed for the first time his genius as an actor of old
men, came forward amid a storm of applause to make an announcement to
the house.

"The piece which we have the honor of playing for you this evening,
gentlemen, is the work of MM. Raoul and de Cursy."

"Why, Nathan is partly responsible," said Lousteau. "I don't wonder
that he looked in."

"Coralie_! Coralie_!" shouted the enraptured house. "Florine, too!"
roared a voice of thunder from the opposite box, and other voices took
up the cry, "Florine and Coralie!"

The curtain rose, Vignol reappeared between the two actresses; Matifat
and Camusot flung wreaths on the stage, and Coralie stooped for her
flowers and held them out to Lucien.

For him those two hours spent in the theatre seemed to be a dream. The
spell that held him had begun to work when he went behind the scenes;
and, in spite of its horrors, the atmosphere of the place, its
sensuality and dissolute morals had affected the poet's still
untainted nature. A sort of malaria that infects the soul seems to
lurk among those dark, filthy passages filled with machinery, and lit
with smoky, greasy lamps. The solemnity and reality of life disappear,
the most sacred things are matter for a jest, the most impossible
things seem to be true. Lucien felt as if he had taken some narcotic,
and Coralie had completed the work. He plunged into this joyous

The lights in the great chandelier were extinguished; there was no one
left in the house except the boxkeepers, busy taking away footstools
and shutting doors, the noises echoing strangely through the empty
theatre. The footlights, blown out as one candle, sent up a fetid reek
of smoke. The curtain rose again, a lantern was lowered from the
ceiling, and firemen and stage carpenters departed on their rounds.
The fairy scenes of the stage, the rows of fair faces in the boxes,
the dazzling lights, the magical illusion of new scenery and costume
had all disappeared, and dismal darkness, emptiness, and cold reigned
in their stead. It was hideous. Lucien sat on in bewilderment.

"Well! are you coming, my boy?" Lousteau's voice called from the
stage. "Jump down."

Lucien sprang over. He scarcely recognized Florine and Coralie in
their ordinary quilted paletots and cloaks, with their faces hidden by
hats and thick black veils. Two butterflies returned to the chrysalis
stage could not be more completely transformed.

"Will you honor me by giving me your arm?" Coralie asked tremulously.

"With pleasure," said Lucien. He could feel the beating of her heart
throbbing against his like some snared bird as she nestled closely to
his side, with something of the delight of a cat that rubs herself
against her master with eager silken caresses.

"So we are supping together!" she said.

The party of four found two cabs waiting for them at the door in the
Rue des Fosses-du-Temple. Coralie drew Lucien to one of the two, in
which Camusot and his father-in-law old Cardot were seated already.
She offered du Bruel a fifth place, and the manager drove off with
Florine, Matifat, and Lousteau.

"These hackney cabs are abominable things," said Coralie.

"Why don't you have a carriage?" returned du Bruel.

"_Why_?" she asked pettishly. "I do not like to tell you before M.
Cardot's face; for he trained his son-in-law, no doubt. Would you
believe it, little and old as he is, M. Cardot only gives Florine five
hundred francs a month, just about enough to pay for her rent and her
grub and her clothes. The old Marquis de Rochegude offered me a
brougham two months ago, and he has six hundred thousand francs a
year, but I am an artist and not a common hussy."

"You shall have a carriage the day after to-morrow, miss," said
Camusot benignly; "you never asked me for one."

"As if one _asked_ for such a thing as that? What! you love a woman and
let her paddle about in the mud at the risk of breaking her legs?
Nobody but a knight of the yardstick likes to see a draggled skirt

As she uttered the sharp words that cut Camusot to the quick, she
groped for Lucien's knee, and pressed it against her own, and clasped
her fingers upon his hand. She was silent. All her power to feel
seemed to be concentrated upon the ineffable joy of a moment which
brings compensation for the whole wretched past of a life such as
these poor creatures lead, and develops within their souls a poetry of
which other women, happily ignorant of these violent revulsions, know

"You played like Mlle. Mars herself towards the end," said du Bruel.

"Yes," said Camusot, "something put her out at the beginning; but from
the middle of the second act to the very end, she was enough to drive
you wild with admiration. Half of the success of your play was due to

"And half of her success is due to me," said du Bruel.

"This is all much ado about nothing," said Coralie in an unfamiliar
voice. And, seizing an opportunity in the darkness, she carried
Lucien's hand to her lips and kissed it and drenched it with tears.
Lucien felt thrilled through and through by that touch, for in the
humility of the courtesan's love there is a magnificence which might
set an example to angels.

"Are you writing the dramatic criticism, monsieur?" said du Bruel,
addressing Lucien; "you can write a charming paragraph about our dear

"Oh! do us that little service!" pleaded Camusot, down on his knees,
metaphorically speaking, before the critic. "You will always find me
ready to do you a good turn at any time."

"Do leave him his independence," Coralie exclaimed angrily; "he will
write what he pleases. Papa Camusot, buy carriages for me instead of

"You shall have them on very easy terms," Lucien answered politely. "I
have never written for newspapers before, so I am not accustomed to
their ways, my maiden pen is at your disposal----"

"That is funny," said du Bruel.

"Here we are in the Rue de Bondy," said Cardot. Coralie's sally had
quite crushed the little old man.

"If you are giving me the first fruits of your pen, the first love
that has sprung up in my heart shall be yours," whispered Coralie in
the brief instant that they remained alone together in the cab; then
she went up to Florine's bedroom to change her dress for a toilette
previously sent.

Lucien had no idea how lavishly a prosperous merchant will spend money
upon an actress or a mistress when he means to enjoy a life of
pleasure. Matifat was not nearly so rich a man as his friend Camusot,
and he had done his part rather shabbily, yet the sight of the
dining-room took Lucien by surprise. The walls were hung with green
cloth with a border of gilded nails, the whole room was artistically
decorated, lighted by handsome lamps, stands full of flowers stood in
every direction. The drawing-room was resplendent with the furniture
in fashion in those days--a Thomire chandelier, a carpet of Eastern
design, and yellow silken hangings relieved by a brown border. The
candlesticks, fire-irons, and clock were all in good taste; for
Matifat had left everything to Grindot, a rising architect, who was
building a house for him, and the young man had taken great pains with
the rooms when he knew that Florine was to occupy them.

Matifat, a tradesman to the backbone, went about carefully, afraid to
touch the new furniture; he seemed to have the totals of the bills
always before his eyes, and to look upon the splendors about him as so
much jewelry imprudently withdrawn from the case.

"And I shall be obliged to do as much for Florentine!" old Cardot's
eyes seemed to say.

Lucien at once began to understand Lousteau's indifference to the
state of his garret. Etienne was the real king of these festivals;
Etienne enjoyed the use of all these fine things. He was standing just
now on the hearthrug with his back to the fire, as if he were the
master of the house, chatting with the manager, who was congratulating
du Bruel.

"Copy, copy!" called Finot, coming into the room. "There is nothing in
the box; the printers are setting up my article, and they will soon
have finished."

"We will manage," said Etienne. "There is a fire burning in Florine's
boudoir; there is a table there; and if M. Matifat will find us paper
and ink, we will knock off the newspaper while Florine and Coralie are

Cardot, Camusot, and Matifat disappeared in search of quills,
penknives, and everything necessary. Suddenly the door was flung open,
and Tullia, one of the prettiest opera-dancers of the day, dashed into
the room.

"They agree to take the hundred copies, dear boy!" she cried,
addressing Finot; "they won't cost the management anything, for the
chorus and the orchestra and the _corps de ballet_ are to take them
whether they like it or not; but your paper is so clever that nobody
will grumble. And you are going to have your boxes. Here is the
subscription for the first quarter," she continued, holding out a
couple of banknotes; "so don't cut me up!"

"It is all over with me!" groaned Finot; "I must suppress my
abominable diatribe, and I haven't another notion in my head."

"What a happy inspiration, divine Lais!" exclaimed Blondet, who had
followed the lady upstairs and brought Nathan, Vernou and Claude
Vignon with him. "Stop to supper, there is a dear, or I will crush
thee, butterfly as thou art. There will be no professional jealousies,
as you are a dancer; and as to beauty, you have all of you too much
sense to show jealousy in public."

"Oh dear!" cried Finot, "Nathan, Blondet, du Bruel, help friends! I
want five columns."

"I can make two of the play," said Lucien.

"I have enough for one," added Lousteau.

"Very well; Nathan, Vernou, and du Bruel will make the jokes at the
end; and Blondet, good fellow, surely will vouchsafe a couple of short
columns for the first sheet. I will run round to the printer. It is
lucky that you brought your carriage, Tullia."

"Yes, but the Duke is waiting below in it, and he has a German
Minister with him."

"Ask the Duke and the Minister to come up," said Nathan.

"A German? They are the ones to drink, and they listen too; he shall
hear some astonishing things to send home to his Government," cried

"Is there any sufficiently serious personage to go down to speak to
him?" asked Finot. "Here, du Bruel, you are an official; bring up the
Duc de Rhetore and the Minister, and give your arm to Tullia. Dear me!
Tullia, how handsome you are to-night!"

"We shall be thirteen at table!" exclaimed Matifat, paling visibly.

"No, fourteen," said a voice in the doorway, and Florentine appeared.
"I have come to look after 'milord Cardot,'" she added, speaking with
a burlesque English accent.

"And besides," said Lousteau, "Claude Vignon came with Blondet."

"I brought him here to drink," returned Blondet, taking up an
inkstand. "Look here, all of you, you must use all your wit before
those fifty-six bottles of wine drive it out. And, of all things, stir
up du Bruel; he is a vaudevillist, he is capable of making bad jokes
if you get him to concert pitch."

And Lucien wrote his first newspaper article at the round table in
Florine's boudoir, by the light of the pink candles lighted by
Matifat; before such a remarkable audience he was eager to show what
he could do.

                    THE PANORAMA-DRAMATIQUE.

  First performance of the _Alcalde in a Fix_, an imbroglio in three
  acts.--First appearance of Mademoiselle Florine.--Mademoiselle

  People are coming and going, walking and talking, everybody is
  looking for something, nobody finds anything. General hubbub. The
  Alcalde has lost his daughter and found his cap, but the cap does
  not fit; it must belong to some thief. Where is the thief? People
  walk and talk, and come and go more than ever. Finally the Alcalde
  finds a man without his daughter, and his daughter without the
  man, which is satisfactory for the magistrate, but not for the
  audience. Quiet being resorted, the Alcalde tries to examine the
  man. Behold a venerable Alcalde, sitting in an Alcalde's great
  armchair, arranging the sleeves of his Alcalde's gown. Only in
  Spain do Alcaldes cling to their enormous sleeves and wear plaited
  lawn ruffles about the magisterial throat, a good half of an
  Alcalde's business on the stage in Paris. This particular Alcalde,
  wheezing and waddling about like an asthmatic old man, is Vignol,
  on whom Potier's mantle has fallen; a young actor who personates
  old age so admirably that the oldest men in the audience cannot
  help laughing. With that quavering voice of his, that bald
  forehead, and those spindle shanks trembling under the weight of a
  senile frame, he may look forward to a long career of decrepitude.
  There is something alarming about the young actor's old age; he is
  so very old; you feel nervous lest senility should be infectious.
  And what an admirable Alcalde he makes! What a delightful, uneasy
  smile! what pompous stupidity! what wooden dignity! what judicial
  hesitation! How well the man knows that black may be white, or
  white black! How eminently well he is fitted to be Minister to a
  constitutional monarch! The stranger answers every one of his
  inquiries by a question; Vignol retorts in such a fashion, that
  the person under examination elicits all the truth from the
  Alcalde. This piece of pure comedy, with a breath of Moliere
  throughout, puts the house in good humor. The people on the stage
  all seemed to understand what they were about, but I am quite
  unable to clear up the mystery, or to say wherein it lay; for the
  Alcalde's daughter was there, personified by a living, breathing
  Andalusian, a Spaniard with a Spaniard's eyes, a Spaniard's
  complexion, a Spaniard's gait and figure, a Spaniard from top to
  toe, with her poniard in her garter, love in her heart, and a
  cross on the ribbon about her neck. When the act was over, and
  somebody asked me how the piece was going, I answered, "She wears
  scarlet stockings with green clocks to them; she has a little
  foot, no larger than _that_, in her patent leather shoes, and the
  prettiest pair of ankles in Andalusia!" Oh! that Alcalde's
  daughter brings your heart into your mouth; she tantalizes you so
  horribly, that you long to spring upon the stage and offer her
  your thatched hovel and your heart, or thirty thousand livres per
  annum and your pen. The Andalusian is the loveliest actress in
  Paris. Coralie, for she must be called by her real name, can be a
  countess or a _grisette_, and in which part she would be more
  charming one cannot tell. She can be anything that she chooses;
  she is born to achieve all possibilities; can more be said of a
  boulevard actress?

  With the second act, a Parisian Spaniard appeared upon the scene,
  with her features cut like a cameo and her dangerous eyes. "Where
  does she come from?" I asked in my turn, and was told that she
  came from the greenroom, and that she was Mademoiselle Florine;
  but, upon my word, I could not believe a syllable of it, such
  spirit was there in her gestures, such frenzy in her love. She is
  the rival of the Alcalde's daughter, and married to a grandee cut
  out to wear an Almaviva's cloak, with stuff sufficient in it for a
  hundred boulevard noblemen. Mlle. Florine wore neither scarlet
  stockings with green clocks, nor patent leather shoes, but she
  appeared in a mantilla, a veil which she put to admirable uses,
  like the great lady that she is! She showed to admiration that the
  tigress can be a cat. I began to understand, from the sparkling
  talk between the two, that some drama of jealousy was going on;
  and just as everything was put right, the Alcalde's stupidity
  embroiled everybody again. Torchbearers, rich men, footmen,
  Figaros, grandees, alcaldes, dames, and damsels--the whole company
  on the stage began to eddy about, and come and go, and look for
  one another. The plot thickened, again I left it to thicken; for
  Florine the jealous and the happy Coralie had entangled me once
  more in the folds of mantilla and basquina, and their little feet
  were twinkling in my eyes.

  I managed, however, to reach the third act without any mishap. The
  commissary of police was not compelled to interfere, and I did
  nothing to scandalize the house, wherefore I begin to believe in
  the influence of that "public and religious morality," about which
  the Chamber of Deputies is so anxious, that any one might think
  there was no morality left in France. I even contrived to gather
  that a man was in love with two women who failed to return his
  affection, or else that two women were in love with a man who
  loved neither of them; the man did not love the Alcalde, or the
  Alcalde had no love for the man, who was nevertheless a gallant
  gentleman, and in love with somebody, with himself, perhaps, or
  with heaven, if the worst came to the worst, for he becomes a
  monk. And if you want to know any more, you can go to the
  Panorama-Dramatique. You are hereby given fair warning--you must
  go once to accustom yourself to those irresistible scarlet
  stockings with the green clocks, to little feet full of promises,
  to eyes with a ray of sunlight shining through them, to the subtle
  charm of a Parisienne disguised as an Andalusian girl, and of an
  Andalusian masquerading as a Parisienne. You must go a second time
  to enjoy the play, to shed tears over the love-distracted grandee,
  and die of laughing at the old Alcalde. The play is twice a
  success. The author, who writes it, it is said, in collaboration
  with one of the great poets of the day, was called before the
  curtain, and appeared with a love-distraught damsel on each arm,
  and fairly brought down the excited house. The two dancers seemed
  to have more wit in their legs than the author himself; but when
  once the fair rivals left the stage, the dialogue seemed witty at
  once, a triumphant proof of the excellence of the piece. The
  applause and calls for the author caused the architect some
  anxiety; but M. de Cursy, the author, being accustomed to volcanic
  eruptions of the reeling Vesuvius beneath the chandelier, felt no
  tremor. As for the actresses, they danced the famous bolero of
  Seville, which once found favor in the sight of a council of
  reverend fathers, and escaped ecclesiastical censure in spite of
  its wanton dangerous grace. The bolero in itself would be enough
  to attract old age while there is any lingering heat of youth in
  the veins, and out of charity I warn these persons to keep the
  lenses of their opera-glasses well polished.

While Lucien was writing a column which was to set a new fashion in
journalism and reveal a fresh and original gift, Lousteau indited an
article of the kind described as _moeurs_--a sketch of contemporary
manners, entitled _The Elderly Beau_.

"The buck of the Empire," he wrote, "is invariably long, slender, and
well preserved. He wears a corset and the Cross of the Legion of
Honor. His name was originally Potelet, or something very like it; but
to stand well with the Court, he conferred a _du_ upon himself, and
_du_ Potelet he is until another revolution. A baron of the Empire, a
man of two ends, as his name (_Potelet_, a post) implies, he is paying
his court to the Faubourg Saint-Germain, after a youth gloriously and
usefully spent as the agreeable trainbearer of a sister of the man
whom decency forbids me to mention by name. Du Potelet has forgotten
that he was once in waiting upon Her Imperial Highness; but he still
sings the songs composed for the benefactress who took such a tender
interest in his career," and so forth and so forth. It was a tissue of
personalities, silly enough for the most part, such as they used to
write in those days. Other papers, and notably the _Figaro_, have
brought the art to a curious perfection since. Lousteau compared the
Baron to a heron, and introduced Mme. de Bargeton, to whom he was
paying his court, as a cuttlefish bone, a burlesque absurdity which
amused readers who knew neither of the personages. A tale of the loves
of the Heron, who tried in vain to swallow the Cuttlefish bone, which
broke into three pieces when he dropped it, was irresistibly
ludicrous. Everybody remembers the sensation which the pleasantry made
in the Faubourg Saint-Germain; it was the first of a series of similar
articles, and was one of the thousand and one causes which provoked
the rigorous press legislation of Charles X.

An hour later, Blondet, Lousteau, and Lucien came back to the
drawing-room, where the other guests were chatting. The Duke was there
and the Minister, the four women, the three merchants, the manager,
and Finot. A printer's devil, with a paper cap on his head, was
waiting even then for copy.

"The men are just going off, if I have nothing to take them," he said.

"Stay a bit, here are ten francs, and tell them to wait," said Finot.

"If I give them the money, sir, they would take to tippleography, and
good-night to the newspaper."

"That boy's common-sense is appalling to me," remarked Finot; and the
Minister was in the middle of a prediction of a brilliant future for
the urchin, when the three came in. Blondet read aloud an extremely
clever article against the Romantics; Lousteau's paragraph drew
laughter, and by the Duc de Rhetore's advice an indirect eulogium of
Mme. d'Espard was slipped in, lest the whole Faubourg Saint-Germain
should take offence.

"What have _you_ written?" asked Finot, turning to Lucien.

And Lucien read, quaking for fear, but the room rang with applause
when he finished; the actresses embraced the neophyte; and the two
merchants, following suit, half choked the breath out of him. There
were tears in du Bruel's eyes as he grasped his critic's hand, and the
manager invited him to dinner.

"There are no children nowadays," said Blondet. "Since M. de
Chateaubriand called Victor Hugo a 'sublime child,' I can only tell
you quite simply that you have spirit and taste, and write like a

"He is on the newspaper," said Finot, as he thanked Etienne, and gave
him a shrewd glance.

"What jokes have you made?" inquired Lousteau, turning to Blondet and
du Bruel.

"Here are du Bruel's," said Nathan.

  *** "Now, that M. le Vicomte d'A---- is attracting so much
  attention, they will perhaps let _me_ alone," M. le Vicomte
  Demosthenes was heard to say yesterday.

  *** An Ultra, condemning M. Pasquier's speech, said his programme
  was only a continuation of Decaze's policy. "Yes," said a lady,
  "but he stands on a Monarchical basis, he has just the kind of leg
  for a Court suit."

"With such a beginning, I don't ask more of you," said Finot; "it will
be all right.--Run round with this," he added, turning to the boy;
"the paper is not exactly a genuine article, but it is our best number
yet," and he turned to the group of writers. Already Lucien's
colleagues were privately taking his measure.

"That fellow has brains," said Blondet.

"His article is well written," said Claude Vignon.

"Supper!" cried Matifat.

The Duke gave his arm to Florine, Coralie went across to Lucien, and
Tullia went in to supper between Emile Blondet and the German

"I cannot understand why you are making an onslaught on Mme. de
Bargeton and the Baron du Chatelet; they say that he is
prefect-designate of the Charente, and will be Master of Requests
some day."

"Mme. de Bargeton showed Lucien the door as if he had been an
imposter," said Lousteau.

"Such a fine young fellow!" exclaimed the Minister.

Supper, served with new plate, Sevres porcelain, and white damask, was
redolent of opulence. The dishes were from Chevet, the wines from a
celebrated merchant on the Quai Saint-Bernard, a personal friend of
Matifat's. For the first time Lucien beheld the luxury of Paris
displayed; he went from surprise to surprise, but he kept his
astonishment to himself, like a man who had spirit and taste and wrote
like a gentleman, as Blondet had said.

As they crossed the drawing-room, Coralie bent to Florine, "Make
Camusot so drunk that he will be compelled to stop here all night,"
she whispered.

"So you have hooked your journalist, have you?" returned Florine,
using the idiom of women of her class.

"No, dear; I love him," said Coralie, with an adorable little shrug of
the shoulders.

Those words rang in Lucien's ears, borne to them by the fifth deadly
sin. Coralie was perfectly dressed. Every woman possesses some
personal charm in perfection, and Coralie's toilette brought her
characteristic beauty into prominence. Her dress, moreover, like
Florine's, was of some exquisite stuff, unknown as yet to the public,
a _mousseline de soie_, with which Camusot had been supplied a few days
before the rest of the world; for, as owner of the _Golden Cocoon_, he
was a kind of Providence in Paris to the Lyons silkweavers.

Love and toilet are like color and perfume for a woman, and Coralie in
her happiness looked lovelier than ever. A looked-for delight which
cannot elude the grasp possesses an immense charm for youth; perhaps
in their eyes the secret of the attraction of a house of pleasure lies
in the certainty of gratification; perhaps many a long fidelity is
attributable to the same cause. Love for love's sake, first love
indeed, had blent with one of the strange violent fancies which
sometimes possess these poor creatures; and love and admiration of
Lucien's great beauty taught Coralie to express the thoughts in her

"I should love you if you were ill and ugly," she whispered as they
sat down.

What a saying for a poet! Camusot utterly vanished, Lucien had
forgotten his existence, he saw Coralie, and had eyes for nothing
else. How should he draw back--this creature, all sensation, all
enjoyment of life, tired of the monotony of existence in a country
town, weary of poverty, harassed by enforced continence, impatient of
the claustral life of the Rue de Cluny, of toiling without reward? The
fascination of the under world of Paris was upon him; how should he
rise and leave this brilliant gathering? Lucien stood with one foot in
Coralie's chamber and the other in the quicksands of Journalism. After
so much vain search, and climbing of so many stairs, after standing
about and waiting in the Rue de Sentier, he had found Journalism a
jolly boon companion, joyous over the wine. His wrongs had just been
avenged. There were two for whom he had vainly striven to fill the cup
of humiliation and pain which he had been made to drink to the dregs,
and now to-morrow they should receive a stab in their very hearts.
"Here is a real friend!" he thought, as he looked at Lousteau. It
never crossed his mind that Lousteau already regarded him as a
dangerous rival. He had made a blunder; he had done his very best when
a colorless article would have served him admirably well. Blondet's
remark to Finot that it would be better to come to terms with a man of
that calibre, had counteracted Lousteau's gnawing jealousy. He
reflected that it would be prudent to keep on good terms with Lucien,
and, at the same time, to arrange with Finot to exploit this
formidable newcomer--he must be kept in poverty. The decision was made
in a moment, and the bargain made in a few whispered words.

"He has talent."

"He will want the more."



"A supper among French journalists always fills me with dread," said
the German diplomatist, with serene urbanity; he looked as he spoke at
Blondet, whom he had met at the Comtesse de Montcornet's. "It is laid
upon you, gentlemen, to fulfil a prophecy of Blucher's."

"What prophecy?" asked Nathan.

"When Blucher and Sacken arrived on the heights of Montmartre in 1814
(pardon me, gentlemen, for recalling a day unfortunate for France),
Sacken (a rough brute), remarked, 'Now we will set Paris alight!'
--'Take very good care that you don't,' said Blucher. 'France will die
of _that_, nothing else can kill her,' and he waved his hand over the
glowing, seething city, that lay like a huge canker in the valley of
the Seine.--There are no journalists in our country, thank Heaven!"
continued the Minister after a pause. "I have not yet recovered from
the fright that the little fellow gave me, a boy of ten, in a paper
cap, with the sense of an old diplomatist. And to-night I feel as if I
were supping with lions and panthers, who graciously sheathe their
claws in my honor."

"It is clear," said Blondet, "that we are at liberty to inform Europe
that a serpent dropped from your Excellency's lips this evening, and
that the venomous creature failed to inoculate Mlle. Tullia, the
prettiest dancer in Paris; and to follow up the story with a
commentary on Eve, and the Scriptures, and the first and last
transgression. But have no fear, you are our guest."

"It would be funny," said Finot.

"We would begin with a scientific treatise on all the serpents found
in the human heart and human body, and so proceed to the _corps
diplomatique_," said Lousteau.

"And we could exhibit one in spirits, in a bottle of brandied
cherries," said Vernou.

"Till you yourself would end by believing in the story," added Vignon,
looking at the diplomatist.

"Gentlemen," cried the Duc de Rhetore, "let sleeping claws lie."

"The influence and power of the press is only dawning," said Finot.
"Journalism is in its infancy; it will grow. In ten years' time,
everything will be brought into publicity. The light of thought will
be turned on all subjects, and----"

"The blight of thought will be over it all," corrected Blondet.

"Here is an apothegm," cried Claude Vignon.

"Thought will make kings," said Lousteau.

"And undo monarchs," said the German.

"And therefore," said Blondet, "if the press did not exist, it would
be necessary to invent it forthwith. But here we have it, and live by

"You will die of it," returned the German diplomatist. "Can you not
see that if you enlighten the masses, and raise them in the political
scale, you make it all the harder for the individual to rise above
their level? Can you not see that if you sow the seeds of reasoning
among the working-classes, you will reap revolt, and be the first to
fall victims? What do they smash in Paris when a riot begins?"

"The street-lamps!" said Nathan; "but we are too modest to fear for
ourselves, we only run the risk of cracks."

"As a nation, you have too much mental activity to allow any
government to run its course without interference. But for that, you
would make the conquest of Europe a second time, and win with the pen
all that you failed to keep with the sword."

"Journalism is an evil," said Claude Vignon. "The evil may have its
uses, but the present Government is resolved to put it down. There
will be a battle over it. Who will give way? That is the question."

"The Government will give way," said Blondet. "I keep telling people
that with all my might! Intellectual power is _the_ great power in
France; and the press has more wit than all men of intellect put
together, and the hypocrisy of Tartufe besides."

"Blondet! Blondet! you are going too far!" called Finot. "Subscribers
are present."

"You are the proprietor of one of those poison shops; you have reason
to be afraid; but I can laugh at the whole business, even if I live by

"Blondet is right," said Claude Vignon. "Journalism, so far from being
in the hands of a priesthood, came to be first a party weapon, and
then a commercial speculation, carried on without conscience or
scruple, like other commercial speculations. Every newspaper, as
Blondet says, is a shop to which people come for opinions of the right
shade. If there were a paper for hunchbacks, it would set forth
plainly, morning and evening, in its columns, the beauty, the utility,
and necessity of deformity. A newspaper is not supposed to enlighten
its readers, but to supply them with congenial opinions. Give any
newspaper time enough, and it will be base, hypocritical, shameless,
and treacherous; the periodical press will be the death of ideas,
systems, and individuals; nay, it will flourish upon their decay. It
will take the credit of all creations of the brain; the harm that it
does is done anonymously. We, for instance--I, Claude Vignon; you,
Blondet; you, Lousteau; and you, Finot--we are all Platos, Aristides,
and Catos, Plutarch's men, in short; we are all immaculate; we may
wash our hands of all iniquity. Napoleon's sublime aphorism, suggested
by his study of the Convention, 'No one individual is responsible for
a crime committed collectively,' sums up the whole significance of a
phenomenon, moral or immoral, whichever you please. However shamefully
a newspaper may behave, the disgrace attaches to no one person."

"The authorities will resort to repressive legislation," interposed du
Bruel. "A law is going to be passed, in fact."

"Pooh!" retorted Nathan. "What is the law in France against the spirit
in which it is received, the most subtle of all solvents?"

"Ideas and opinions can only be counteracted by opinions and ideas,"
Vignon continued. "By sheer terror and despotism, and by no other
means, can you extinguish the genius of the French nation; for the
language lends itself admirably to allusion and ambiguity. Epigram
breaks out the more for repressive legislation; it is like steam in an
engine without a safety-valve.--The King, for example, does right; if
a newspaper is against him, the Minister gets all the credit of the
measure, and _vice versa_. A newspaper invents a scandalous libel--it
has been misinformed. If the victim complains, the paper gets off with
an apology for taking so great a freedom. If the case is taken into
court, the editor complains that nobody asked him to rectify the
mistake; but ask for redress, and he will laugh in your face and treat
his offence as a mere trifle. The paper scoffs if the victim gains the
day; and if heavy damages are awarded, the plaintiff is held up as an
unpatriotic obscurantist and a menace to the liberties of the country.
In the course of an article purporting to explain that Monsieur
So-and-so is as honest a man as you will find in the kingdom, you are
informed that he is not better than a common thief. The sins of the
press? Pooh! mere trifles; the curtailers of its liberties are
monsters; and give him time enough, the constant reader is persuaded
to believe anything you please. Everything which does not suit the
newspaper will be unpatriotic, and the press will be infallible. One
religion will be played off against another, and the Charter against
the King. The press will hold up the magistracy to scorn for meting
out rigorous justice to the press, and applaud its action when it
serves the cause of party hatred. The most sensational fictions will
be invented to increase the circulation; Journalism will descend to
mountebanks' tricks worthy of Bobeche; Journalism would serve up its
father with the Attic salt of its own wit sooner than fail to interest
or amuse the public; Journalism will outdo the actor who put his son's
ashes into the urn to draw real tears from his eyes, or the mistress
who sacrifices everything to her lover."

"Journalism is, in fact, the People in folio form," interrupted

"The people with hypocrisy added and generosity lacking," said Vignon.
"All real ability will be driven out from the ranks of Journalism, as
Aristides was driven into exile by the Athenians. We shall see
newspapers started in the first instance by men of honor, falling
sooner or later into the hands of men of abilities even lower than the
average, but endowed with the resistance of flexibility of
india-rubber, qualities denied to noble genius; nay, perhaps the future
newspaper proprietor will be the tradesman with capital sufficient to
buy venal pens. We see such things already indeed, but in ten years'
time every little youngster that has left school will take himself for
a great man, slash his predecessors from the lofty height of a
newspaper column, drag them down by the feet, and take their place.

"Napoleon did wisely when he muzzled the press. I would wager that the
Opposition papers would batter down a government of their own setting
up, just as they are battering the present government, if any demand
was refused. The more they have, the more they will want in the way of
concessions. The _parvenu_ journalist will be succeeded by the
starveling hack. There is no salve for this sore. It is a kind of
corruption which grows more and more obtrusive and malignant; the
wider it spreads, the more patiently it will be endured, until the day
comes when newspapers shall so increase and multiply in the earth that
confusion will be the result--a second Babel. We, all of us, such as
we are, have reason to know that crowned kings are less ungrateful
than kings of our profession; that the most sordid man of business is
not so mercenary nor so keen in speculation; that our brains are
consumed to furnish their daily supply of poisonous trash. And yet we,
all of us, shall continue to write, like men who work in quicksilver
mines, knowing that they are doomed to die of their trade.

"Look there," he continued, "at that young man sitting beside Coralie
--what is his name? Lucien! He has a beautiful face; he is a poet; and
what is more, he is witty--so much the better for him. Well, he will
cross the threshold of one of those dens where a man's intellect is
prostituted; he will put all his best and finest thought into his
work; he will blunt his intellect and sully his soul; he will be
guilty of anonymous meannesses which take the place of stratagem,
pillage, and ratting to the enemy in the warfare of _condottieri_. And
when, like hundreds more, he has squandered his genius in the service
of others who find the capital and do no work, those dealers in
poisons will leave him to starve if he is thirsty, and to die of
thirst if he is starving."

"Thanks," said Finot.

"But, dear me," continued Claude Vignon, "_I_ knew all this, yet here
am I in the galleys, and the arrival of another convict gives me
pleasure. We are cleverer, Blondet and I, than Messieurs This and
That, who speculate in our abilities, yet nevertheless we are always
exploited by them. We have a heart somewhere beneath the intellect; we
have NOT the grim qualities of the man who makes others work for him.
We are indolent, we like to look on at the game, we are meditative,
and we are fastidious; they will sweat our brains and blame us for

"I thought you would be more amusing than this!" said Florine.

"Florine is right," said Blondet; "let us leave the cure of public
evils to those quacks the statesmen. As Charlet says, 'Quarrel with my
own bread and butter? _Never_!'"

"Do you know what Vignon puts me in mind of?" said Lousteau. "Of one
of those fat women in the Rue du Pelican telling a schoolboy, 'My boy,
you are too young to come here.'"

A burst of laughter followed the sally, but it pleased Coralie. The
merchants meanwhile ate and drank and listened.

"What a nation this is! You see so much good in it and so much evil,"
said the Minister, addressing the Duc de Rhetore.--"You are prodigals
who cannot ruin yourselves, gentlemen."

And so, by the blessing of chance, Lucien, standing on the brink of
the precipice over which he was destined to fall, heard warnings on
all sides. D'Arthez had set him on the right road, had shown him the
noble method of work, and aroused in him the spirit before which all
obstacles disappear. Lousteau himself (partly from selfish motives)
had tried to warn him away by describing Journalism and Literature in
their practical aspects. Lucien had refused to believe that there
could be so much hidden corruption; but now he had heard the
journalists themselves crying woe for their hurt, he had seen them at
their work, had watched them tearing their foster-mother's heart to
read auguries of the future.

That evening he had seen things as they are. He beheld the very
heart's core of corruption of that Paris which Blucher so aptly
described; and so far from shuddering at the sight, he was intoxicated
with enjoyment of the intellectually stimulating society in which he
found himself.

These extraordinary men, clad in armor damascened by their vices,
these intellects environed by cold and brilliant analysis, seemed so
far greater in his eyes than the grave and earnest members of the
brotherhood. And besides all this, he was reveling in his first taste
of luxury; he had fallen under the spell. His capricious instincts
awoke; for the first time in his life he drank exquisite wines, this
was his first experience of cookery carried to the pitch of a fine
art. A minister, a duke, and an opera-dancer had joined the party of
journalists, and wondered at their sinister power. Lucien felt a
horrible craving to reign over these kings, and he thought that he had
power to win his kingdom. Finally, there was this Coralie, made happy
by a few words of his. By the bright light of the wax-candles, through
the steam of the dishes and the fumes of wine, she looked sublimely
beautiful to his eyes, so fair had she grown with love. She was the
loveliest, the most beautiful actress in Paris. The brotherhood, the
heaven of noble thoughts, faded away before a temptation that appealed
to every fibre of his nature. How could it have been otherwise?
Lucien's author's vanity had just been gratified by the praises of
those who know; by the appreciation of his future rivals; the success
of his articles and his conquest of Coralie might have turned an older
head than his.

During the discussion, moreover, every one at table had made a
remarkably good supper, and such wines are not met with every day.
Lousteau, sitting beside Camusot, furtively poured cherry-brandy
several times into his neighbor's wineglass, and challenged him to
drink. And Camusot drank, all unsuspicious, for he thought himself, in
his own way, a match for a journalist. The jokes became more personal
when dessert appeared and the wine began to circulate. The German
Minister, a keen-witted man of the world, made a sign to the Duke and
Tullia, and the three disappeared with the first symptoms of
vociferous nonsense which precede the grotesque scenes of an orgy in
its final stage. Coralie and Lucien had been behaving like children
all the evening; as soon as the wine was uppermost in Camusot's head,
they made good their escape down the staircase and sprang into a cab.
Camusot subsided under the table; Matifat, looking round for him,
thought that he had gone home with Coralie, left his guests to smoke,
laugh, and argue, and followed Florine to her room. Daylight surprised
the party, or more accurately, the first dawn of light discovered one
man still able to speak, and Blondet, that intrepid champion, was
proposing to the assembled sleepers a health to Aurora the

Lucien was unaccustomed to orgies of this kind. His head was very
tolerably clear as he came down the staircase, but the fresh air was
too much for him; he was horribly drunk. When they reached the
handsome house in the Rue de Vendome, where the actress lived, Coralie
and her waiting-woman were obliged to assist the poet to climb to the
first floor. Lucien was ignominiously sick, and very nearly fainted on
the staircase.

"Quick, Berenice, some tea! Make some tea," cried Coralie.

"It is nothing; it is the air," Lucien got out, "and I have never
taken so much before in my life."

"Poor boy! He is as innocent as a lamb," said Berenice, a stalwart
Norman peasant woman as ugly as Coralie was pretty. Lucien, half
unconscious, was laid at last in bed. Coralie, with Berenice's
assistance, undressed the poet with all a mother's tender care.

"It is nothing," he murmured again and again. "It is the air. Thank
you, mamma."

"How charmingly he says 'mamma,'" cried Coralie, putting a kiss on
his hair.

"What happiness to love such an angel, mademoiselle! Where did you
pick him up? I did not think a man could be as beautiful as you are,"
said Berenice, when Lucien lay in bed. He was very drowsy; he knew
nothing and saw nothing; Coralie made him swallow several cups of tea,
and left him to sleep.

"Did the porter see us? Was there anyone else about?" she asked.

"No; I was sitting up for you."

"Does Victoire know anything?"

"Rather not!" returned Berenice.

Ten hours later Lucien awoke to meet Coralie's eyes. She had watched
by him as he slept; he knew it, poet that he was. It was almost noon,
but she still wore the delicate dress, abominably stained, which she
meant to lay up as a relic. Lucien understood all the self-sacrifice
and delicacy of love, fain of its reward. He looked into Coralie's
eyes. In a moment she had flung off her clothing and slipped like a
serpent to Lucien's side.

At five o'clock in the afternoon Lucien was still sleeping, cradled in
this voluptuous paradise. He had caught glimpses of Coralie's chamber,
an exquisite creation of luxury, a world of rose-color and white. He
had admired Florine's apartments, but this surpassed them in its
dainty refinement.

Coralie had already risen; for if she was to play her part as the
Andalusian, she must be at the theatre by seven o'clock. Yet she had
returned to gaze at the unconscious poet, lulled to sleep in bliss;
she could not drink too deeply of this love that rose to rapture,
drawing close the bond between the heart and the senses, to steep both
in ecstasy. For in that apotheosis of human passion, which of those
that were twain on earth that they might know bliss to the full
creates one soul to rise to love in heaven, lay Coralie's
justification. Who, moreover, would not have found excuse in Lucien's
more than human beauty? To the actress kneeling by the bedside, happy
in love within her, it seemed that she had received love's
consecration. Berenice broke in upon Coralie's rapture.

"Here comes Camusot!" cried the maid. "And he knows that you are

Lucien sprang up at once. Innate generosity suggested that he was
doing Coralie an injury. Berenice drew aside a curtain, and he fled
into a dainty dressing-room, whither Coralie and the maid brought his
clothes with magical speed.

Camusot appeared, and only then did Coralie's eyes alight on Lucien's
boots, warming in the fender. Berenice had privately varnished them,
and put them before the fire to dry; and both mistress and maid alike
forgot that tell-tale witness. Berenice left the room with a scared
glance at Coralie. Coralie flung herself into the depths of a settee,
and bade Camusot seat himself in the _gondole_, a round-backed chair
that stood opposite. But Coralie's adorer, honest soul, dared not look
his mistress in the face; he could not take his eyes off the pair of

"Ought I to make a scene and leave Coralie?" he pondered. "Is it worth
while to make a fuss about a trifle? There is a pair of boots wherever
you go. These would be more in place in a shop window or taking a walk
on the boulevard on somebody's feet; here, however, without a pair of
feet in them, they tell a pretty plain tale. I am fifty years old, and
that is the truth; I ought to be as blind as Cupid himself."

There was no excuse for this mean-spirited monologue. The boots were
not the high-lows at present in vogue, which an unobservant man may be
allowed to disregard up to a certain point. They were the
unmistakable, uncompromising hessians then prescribed by fashion, a
pair of extremely elegant betasseled boots, which shone in glistening
contrast against tight-fitting trousers invariably of some light
color, and reflected their surroundings like a mirror. The boots
stared the honest silk-mercer out of countenance, and, it must be
added, they pained his heart.

"What is it?" asked Coralie.


"Ring the bell," said Coralie, smiling to herself at Camusot's want of
spirit.--"Berenice," she said, when the Norman handmaid appeared,
"just bring me a button-hook, for I must put on these confounded boots
again. Don't forget to bring them to my dressing-room to-night."

"What? . . . _your_ boots?" . . . faltered out Camusot, breathing more

"And whose should they be?" she demanded haughtily. "Were you
beginning to believe?--great stupid! Oh! and he would believe it too,"
she went on, addressing Berenice.--"I have a man's part in
What's-his-name's piece, and I have never worn a man's clothes in my
life before. The bootmaker for the theatre brought me these things to
try if I could walk in them, until a pair can be made to measure. He
put them on, but they hurt me so much that I have taken them off, and
after all I must wear them."

"Don't put them on again if they are uncomfortable," said Camusot.
(The boots had made him feel so very uncomfortable himself.)

"Mademoiselle would do better to have a pair made of very thin
morocco, sir, instead of torturing herself as she did just now; but
the management is so stingy. She was crying, sir; if I was a man and
loved a woman, I wouldn't let her shed a tear, I know. You ought to
order a pair for her----"

"Yes, yes," said Camusot. "Are you just getting up, Coralie?"

"Just this moment; I only came in at six o'clock after looking for you
everywhere. I was obliged to keep the cab for seven hours. So much for
your care of me; you forget me for a wine-bottle. I ought to take care
of myself now when I am to play every night so long as the _Alcalde_
draws. I don't want to fall off after that young man's notice of me."

"That is a handsome boy," said Camusot.

"Do you think so? I don't admire men of that sort; they are too much
like women; and they do not understand how to love like you stupid old
business men. You are so bored with your own society."

"Is monsieur dining with madame?" inquired Berenice.

"No, my mouth is clammy."

"You were nicely screwed yesterday. Ah! Papa Camusot, I don't like men
who drink, I tell you at once----"

"You will give that young man a present, I suppose?" interrupted

"Oh! yes. I would rather do that than pay as Florine does. There, go
away with you, good-for-nothing that one loves; or give me a carriage
to save time in future."

"You shall go in your own carriage to-morrow to your manager's dinner
at the _Rocher de Cancale_. The new piece will not be given next

"Come, I am just going to dine," said Coralie, hurrying Camusot out of
the room.

An hour later Berenice came to release Lucien. Berenice, Coralie's
companion since her childhood, had a keen and subtle brain in her
unwieldy frame.

"Stay here," she said. "Coralie is coming back alone; she even talked
of getting rid of Camusot if he is in your way; but you are too much
of an angel to ruin her, her heart's darling as you are. She wants to
clear out of this, she says; to leave this paradise and go and live in
your garret. Oh! there are those that are jealous and envious of you,
and they have told her that you haven't a brass farthing, and live in
the Latin Quarter; and I should go, too, you see, to do the
house-work.--But I have just been comforting her, poor child! I have
been telling her that you were too clever to do anything so silly. I
was right, wasn't I, sir? Oh! you will see that you are her darling, her
love, the god to whom she gives her soul; yonder old fool has nothing
but the body.--If you only knew how nice she is when I hear her say
her part over! My Coralie, my little pet, she is! She deserved that
God in heaven should send her one of His angels. She was sick of the
life.--She was so unhappy with her mother that used to beat her, and
sold her. Yes, sir, sold her own child! If I had a daughter, I would
wait on her hand and foot as I wait on Coralie; she is like my own
child to me.--These are the first good times she has seen since I have
been with her; the first time that she has been really applauded. You
have written something, it seems, and they have got up a famous _claque_
for the second performance. Braulard has been going through the play
with her while you were asleep."

"Who? Braulard?" asked Lucien; it seemed to him that he had heard the
name before.

"He is the head of the _claqueurs_, and she was arranging with him the
places where she wished him to look after her. Florine might try to
play her some shabby trick, and take all for herself, for all she
calls herself her friend. There is such a talk about your article on
the Boulevards.--Isn't it a bed fit for a prince," she said, smoothing
the lace bed-spread.

She lighted the wax-candles, and to Lucien's bewildered fancy, the
house seemed to be some palace in the _Cabinet des Fees_. Camusot had
chosen the richest stuffs from the _Golden Cocoon_ for the hangings and
window-curtains. A carpet fit for a king's palace was spread upon the
floor. The carving of the rosewood furniture caught and imprisoned the
light that rippled over its surface. Priceless trifles gleamed from
the white marble chimney-piece. The rug beside the bed was of swan's
skins bordered with sable. A pair of little, black velvet slippers
lined with purple silk told of happiness awaiting the poet of _The
Marguerites_. A dainty lamp hung from the ceiling draped with silk. The
room was full of flowering plants, delicate white heaths and scentless
camellias, in stands marvelously wrought. Everything called up
associations of innocence. How was it possible in these rooms to see
the life that Coralie led in its true colors? Berenice noticed
Lucien's bewildered expression.

"Isn't it nice?" she said coaxingly. "You would be more comfortable
here, wouldn't you, than in a garret?--You won't let her do anything
rash?" she continued, setting a costly stand before him, covered with
dishes abstracted from her mistress' dinner-table, lest the cook
should suspect that her mistress had a lover in the house.

Lucien made a good dinner. Berenice waiting on him, the dishes were of
wrought silver, the painted porcelain plates had cost a louis d'or
apiece. The luxury was producing exactly the same effect upon him that
the sight of a girl walking the pavement, with her bare flaunting
throat and neat ankles, produces upon a schoolboy.

"How lucky Camusot is!" cried he.

"Lucky?" repeated Berenice. "He would willingly give all that he is
worth to be in your place; he would be glad to barter his gray hair
for your golden head."

She gave Lucien the richest wine that Bordeaux keeps for the
wealthiest English purchaser, and persuaded Lucien to go to bed to
take a preliminary nap; and Lucien, in truth, was quite willing to
sleep on the couch that he had been admiring. Berenice had read his
wish, and felt glad for her mistress.

At half-past ten that night Lucien awoke to look into eyes brimming
over with love. There stood Coralie in most luxurious night attire.
Lucien had been sleeping; Lucien was intoxicated with love, and not
with wine. Berenice left the room with the inquiry, "What time
to-morrow morning?"

"At eleven o'clock. We will have breakfast in bed. I am not at home to
anybody before two o'clock."

At two o'clock in the afternoon Coralie and her lover were sitting
together. The poet to all appearance had come to pay a call. Lucien
had been bathed and combed and dressed. Coralie had sent to
Colliau's for a dozen fine shirts, a dozen cravats and a dozen
pocket-handkerchiefs for him, as well as twelve pairs of gloves in
a cedar-wood box. When a carriage stopped at the door, they both
rushed to the window, and watched Camusot alight from a handsome

"I would not have believed that one could so hate a man and

"I am too poor to allow you to ruin yourself for me," he replied. And
thus Lucien passed under the Caudine Forks.

"Poor pet," said Coralie, holding him tightly to her, "do you love me
so much?--I persuaded this gentleman to call on me this morning," she
continued, indicating Lucien to Camusot, who entered the room. "I
thought that we might take a drive in the Champs Elysees to try the

"Go without me," said Camusot in a melancholy voice; "I shall not dine
with you. It is my wife's birthday, I had forgotten that."

"Poor Musot, how badly bored you will be!" she said, putting her arms
about his neck.

She was wild with joy at the thought that she and Lucien would handsel
this gift together; she would drive with him in the new carriage; and
in her happiness, she seemed to love Camusot, she lavished caresses
upon him.

"If only I could give you a carriage every day!" said the poor fellow.

"Now, sir, it is two o'clock," she said, turning to Lucien, who stood
in distress and confusion, but she comforted him with an adorable

Down the stairs she went, several steps at a time, drawing Lucien
after her; the elderly merchant following in their wake like a seal on
land, and quite unable to catch them up.

Lucien enjoyed the most intoxicating of pleasures; happiness had
increased Coralie's loveliness to the highest possible degree; she
appeared before all eyes an exquisite vision in her dainty toilette.
All Paris in the Champs Elysees beheld the lovers.

In an avenue of the Bois de Boulogne they met a caleche; Mme. d'Espard
and Mme. de Bargeton looked in surprise at Lucien, and met a scornful
glance from the poet. He saw glimpses of a great future before him,
and was about to make his power felt. He could fling them back in a
glance some of the revengeful thoughts which had gnawed his heart ever
since they planted them there. That moment was one of the sweetest in
his life, and perhaps decided his fate. Once again the Furies seized
on Lucien at the bidding of Pride. He would reappear in the world of
Paris; he would take a signal revenge; all the social pettiness
hitherto trodden under foot by the worker, the member of the
brotherhood, sprang up again afresh in his soul.

Now he understood all that Lousteau's attack had meant. Lousteau had
served his passions; while the brotherhood, that collective mentor,
had seemed to mortify them in the interests of tiresome virtues and
work which began to look useless and hopeless in Lucien's eyes. Work!
What is it but death to an eager pleasure-loving nature? And how easy
it is for the man of letters to slide into a _far niente_ existence of
self-indulgence, into the luxurious ways of actresses and women of
easy virtues! Lucien felt an overmastering desire to continue the
reckless life of the last two days.

The dinner at the _Rocher de Cancale_ was exquisite. All Florine's
supper guests were there except the Minister, the Duke, and the
dancer; Camusot, too, was absent; but these gaps were filled by two
famous actors and Hector Merlin and his mistress. This charming woman,
who chose to be known as Mme. du Val-Noble, was the handsomest and
most fashionable of the class of women now euphemistically styled

Lucien had spent the forty-eight hours since the success of his
article in paradise. He was feted and envied; he gained
self-possession; his talk sparkled; he was the brilliant Lucien de
Rubempre who shone for a few months in the world of letters and art.
Finot, with his infallible instinct for discovering ability, scenting
it afar as an ogre might scent human flesh, cajoled Lucien, and did
his best to secure a recruit for the squadron under his command. And
Coralie watched the manoeuvres of this purveyor of brains, saw that
Lucien was nibbling at the bait, and tried to put him on his guard.

"Don't make any engagement, dear boy; wait. They want to exploit you;
we will talk of it to-night."

"Pshaw!" said Lucien. "I am sure I am quite as sharp and shrewd as
they can be."

Finot and Hector Merlin evidently had not fallen out over that affair
of the white lines and spaces in the columns, for it was Finot who
introduced Lucien to the journalist. Coralie and Mme. du Val-Noble
were overwhelmingly amiable and polite to each other, and Mme. du
Val-Noble asked Lucien and Coralie to dine with her.

Hector Merlin, short and thin, with lips always tightly compressed,
was the most dangerous journalist present. Unbounded ambition and
jealousy smouldered within him; he took pleasure in the pain of
others, and fomented strife to turn it to his own account. His
abilities were but slender, and he had little force of character, but
the natural instinct which draws the upstart towards money and power
served him as well as fixity of purpose. Lucien and Merlin at once
took a dislike to one another, for reasons not far to seek. Merlin,
unfortunately, proclaimed aloud the thoughts that Lucien kept to
himself. By the time the dessert was put on the table, the most
touching friendship appeared to prevail among the men, each one of
whom in his heart thought himself a cleverer fellow than the rest; and
Lucien as the newcomer was made much of by them all. They chatted
frankly and unrestrainedly. Hector Merlin, alone, did not join in the
laughter. Lucien asked the reason of his reserve.

"You are just entering the world of letters, I can see," he said. "You
are a journalist with all your illusions left. You believe in
friendship. Here we are friends or foes, as it happens; we strike down
a friend with the weapon which by rights should only be turned against
an enemy. You will find out, before very long, that fine sentiments
will do nothing for you. If you are naturally kindly, learn to be
ill-natured, to be consistently spiteful. If you have never heard this
golden rule before, I give it you now in confidence, and it is no
small secret. If you have a mind to be loved, never leave your
mistress until you have made her shed a tear or two; and if you mean
to make your way in literature, let other people continually feel your
teeth; make no exception even of your friends; wound their
susceptibilities, and everybody will fawn upon you."

Hector Merlin watched Lucien as he spoke, saw that his words went to
the neophyte's heart like a stab, and Hector Merlin was glad. Play
followed, Lucien lost all his money, and Coralie brought him away; and
he forgot for a while, in the delights of love, the fierce excitement
of the gambler, which was to gain so strong a hold upon him.

When he left Coralie in the morning and returned to the Latin Quarter,
he took out his purse and found the money he had lost. At first he
felt miserable over the discovery, and thought of going back at once
to return a gift which humiliated him; but--he had already come as far
as the Rue de la Harpe; he would not return now that he had almost
reached the Hotel de Cluny. He pondered over Coralie's forethought as
he went, till he saw in it a proof of the maternal love which is
blended with passion in women of her stamp. For Coralie and her like,
passion includes every human affection. Lucien went from thought to
thought, and argued himself into accepting the gift. "I love her," he
said; "we shall live together as husband and wife; I will never
forsake her!"

What mortal, short of a Diogenes, could fail to understand Lucien's
feelings as he climbed the dirty, fetid staircase to his lodging,
turned the key that grated in the lock, and entered and looked round
at the unswept brick floor, at the cheerless grate, at the ugly
poverty and bareness of the room.

A package of manuscript was lying on the table. It was his novel; a
note from Daniel d'Arthez lay beside it:--

  "Our friends are almost satisfied with your work, dear poet,"
  d'Arthez wrote. "You will be able to present it with more
  confidence now, they say, to friends and enemies. We saw your
  charming article on the Panorama-Dramatique; you are sure to
  excite as much jealousy in the profession as regret among your
  friends here.                                 DANIEL."

"Regrets! What does he mean?" exclaimed Lucien. The polite tone of the
note astonished him. Was he to be henceforth a stranger to the
brotherhood? He had learned to set a higher value on the good opinion
and the friendship of the circle in the Rue des Quatre-Vents since he
had tasted of the delicious fruits offered to him by the Eve of the
theatrical underworld. For some moments he stood in deep thought; he
saw his present in the garret, and foresaw his future in Coralie's
rooms. Honorable resolution struggled with temptation and swayed him
now this way, now that. He sat down and began to look through his
manuscript, to see in what condition his friends had returned it to
him. What was his amazement, as he read chapter after chapter, to find
his poverty transmuted into riches by the cunning of the pen, and the
devotion of the unknown great men, his friends of the brotherhood.
Dialogue, closely packed, nervous, pregnant, terse, and full of the
spirit of the age, replaced his conversations, which seemed poor and
pointless prattle in comparison. His characters, a little uncertain in
the drawing, now stood out in vigorous contrast of color and relief;
physiological observations, due no doubt to Horace Bianchon, supplied
links of interpretations between human character and the curious
phenomena of human life--subtle touches which made his men and women
live. His wordy passages of description were condensed and vivid. The
misshapen, ill-clad child of his brain had returned to him as a lovely
maiden, with white robes and rosy-hued girdle and scarf--an entrancing
creation. Night fell and took him by surprise, reading through rising
tears, stricken to earth by such greatness of soul, feeling the worth
of such a lesson, admiring the alterations, which taught him more of
literature and art than all his four years' apprenticeship of study
and reading and comparison. A master's correction of a line made upon
the study always teaches more than all the theories and criticisms in
the world.

"What friends are these! What hearts! How fortunate I am!" he cried,
grasping his manuscript tightly.

With the quick impulsiveness of a poetic and mobile temperament, he
rushed off to Daniel's lodging. As he climbed the stairs, and thought
of these friends, who refused to leave the path of honor, he felt
conscious that he was less worthy of them than before. A voice spoke
within him, telling him that if d'Arthez had loved Coralie, he would
have had her break with Camusot. And, besides this, he knew that the
brotherhood held journalism in utter abhorrence, and that he himself
was already, to some small extent, a journalist. All of them, except
Meyraux, who had just gone out, were in d'Arthez's room when he
entered it, and saw that all their faces were full of sorrow and

"What is it?" he cried.

"We have just heard news of a dreadful catastrophe; the greatest
thinker of the age, our most loved friend, who was like a light among
us for two years----"

"Louis Lambert!"

"Has fallen a victim to catalepsy. There is no hope for him," said

"He will die, his soul wandering in the skies, his body unconscious on
earth," said Michel Chrestien solemnly.

"He will die as he lived," said d'Arthez.

"Love fell like a firebrand in the vast empire of his brain and burned
him away," said Leon Giraud.

"Yes," said Joseph Bridau, "he has reached a height that we cannot so
much as see."

"_We_ are to be pitied, not Louis," said Fulgence Ridal.

"Perhaps he will recover," exclaimed Lucien.

"From what Meyraux has been telling us, recovery seems impossible,"
answered Bianchon. "Medicine has no power over the change that is
working in his brain."

"Yet there are physical means," said d'Arthez.

"Yes," said Bianchon; "we might produce imbecility instead of

"Is there no way of offering another head to the spirit of evil? I
would give mine to save him!" cried Michel Chrestien.

"And what would become of European federation?" asked d'Arthez.

"Ah! true," replied Michel Chrestien. "Our duty to Humanity comes
first; to one man afterwards."

"I came here with a heart full of gratitude to you all," said Lucien.
"You have changed my alloy into golden coin."

"Gratitude! For what do you take us?" asked Bianchon.

"We had the pleasure," added Fulgence.

"Well, so you are a journalist, are you?" asked Leon Giraud. "The fame
of your first appearance has reached even the Latin Quarter."

"I am not a journalist yet," returned Lucien.

"Aha! So much the better," said Michel Chrestien.

"I told you so!" said d'Arthez. "Lucien knows the value of a clean
conscience. When you can say to yourself as you lay your head on the
pillow at night, 'I have not sat in judgment on another man's work; I
have given pain to no one; I have not used the edge of my wit to deal
a stab to some harmless soul; I have sacrificed no one's success to a
jest; I have not even troubled the happiness of imbecility; I have not
added to the burdens of genius; I have scorned the easy triumphs of
epigram; in short, I have not acted against my convictions,' is not
this a viaticum that gives one daily strength?"

"But one can say all this, surely, and yet work on a newspaper," said
Lucien. "If I had absolutely no other way of earning a living, I
should certainly come to this."

"Oh! oh! oh!" cried Fulgence, his voice rising a note each time; "we
are capitulating, are we?"

"He will turn journalist," Leon Giraud said gravely. "Oh, Lucien, if
you would only stay and work with us! We are about to bring out a
periodical in which justice and truth shall never be violated; we will
spread doctrines that, perhaps, will be of real service to

"You will not have a single subscriber," Lucien broke in with
Machiavellian wisdom.

"There will be five hundred of them," asserted Michel Chrestien, "but
they will be worth five hundred thousand."

"You will need a lot of capital," continued Lucien.

"No, only devotion," said d'Arthez.

"Anybody might take him for a perfumer's assistant," burst out Michel
Chrestien, looking at Lucien's head, and sniffing comically. "You were
seen driving about in a very smart turnout with a pair of
thoroughbreds, and a mistress for a prince, Coralie herself."

"Well, and is there any harm in it?"

"You would not say that if you thought that there was no harm in it,"
said Bianchon.

"I could have wished Lucien a Beatrice," said d'Arthez, "a noble
woman, who would have been a help to him in life----"

"But, Daniel," asked Lucien, "love is love wherever you find it, is it

"Ah!" said the republican member, "on that one point I am an
aristocrat. I could not bring myself to love a woman who must rub
shoulders with all sorts of people in the green-room; whom an actor
kisses on stage; she must lower herself before the public, smile on
every one, lift her skirts as she dances, and dress like a man, that
all the world may see what none should see save I alone. Or if I loved
such a woman, she should leave the stage, and my love should cleanse
her from the stain of it."

"And if she would not leave the stage?"

"I should die of mortification, jealousy, and all sorts of pain. You
cannot pluck love out of your heart as you draw a tooth."

Lucien's face grew dark and thoughtful.

"When they find out that I am tolerating Camusot, how they will
despise me," he thought.

"Look here," said the fierce republican, with humorous fierceness,
"you can be a great writer, but a little play-actor you shall never
be," and he took up his hat and went out.

"He is hard, is Michel Chrestien," commented Lucien.

"Hard and salutary, like the dentist's pincers," said Bianchon.
"Michel foresees your future; perhaps in the street, at this moment,
he is thinking of you with tears in his eyes."

D'Arthez was kind, and talked comfortingly, and tried to cheer Lucien.
The poet spent an hour with his friends, then he went, but his
conscience treated him hardly, crying to him, "You will be a
journalist--a journalist!" as the witch cried to Macbeth that he
should be king hereafter!

Out in the street, he looked up at d'Arthez's windows, and saw a faint
light shining in them, and his heart sank. A dim foreboding told him
that he had bidden his friends good-bye for the last time.

As he turned out of the Place de la Sorbonne into the Rue de Cluny, he
saw a carriage at the door of his lodging. Coralie had driven all the
way from the Boulevard du Temple for the sake of a moment with her
lover and a "good-night." Lucien found her sobbing in his garret. She
would be as wretchedly poor as her poet, she wept, as she arranged his
shirts and gloves and handkerchiefs in the crazy chest of drawers. Her
distress was so real and so great, that Lucien, but even now chidden
for his connection with an actress, saw Coralie as a saint ready to
assume the hair-shirt of poverty. The adorable girl's excuse for her
visit was an announcement that the firm of Camusot, Coralie, and
Lucien meant to invite Matifat, Florine, and Lousteau (the second
trio) to supper; had Lucien any invitations to issue to people who
might be useful to him? Lucien said that he would take counsel of

A few moments were spent together, and Coralie hurried away. She
spared Lucien the knowledge that Camusot was waiting for her below.

Next morning, at eight o'clock, Lucien went to Etienne Lousteau's
room, found it empty, and hurried away to Florine. Lousteau and
Florine, settled into possession of their new quarters like a married
couple, received their friend in the pretty bedroom, and all three
breakfasted sumptuously together.

"Why, I should advise you, my boy, to come with me to see Felicien
Vernou," said Lousteau, when they sat at table, and Lucien had
mentioned Coralie's projected supper; "ask him to be of the party, and
keep well with him, if you can keep well with such a rascal. Felicien
Vernou does a _feuilleton_ for a political paper; he might perhaps
introduce you, and you could blossom out into leaders in it at your
ease. It is a Liberal paper, like ours; you will be a Liberal, that is
the popular party; and besides, if you mean to go over to the
Ministerialists, you would do better for yourself if they had reason
to be afraid of you. Then there is Hector Merlin and his Mme. du
Val-Noble; you meet great people at their house--dukes and dandies and
millionaires; didn't they ask you and Coralie to dine with them?"

"Yes," replied Lucien; "you are going too, and so is Florine." Lucien
and Etienne were now on familiar terms after Friday's debauch and the
dinner at the _Rocher de Cancale_.

"Very well, Merlin is on the paper; we shall come across him pretty
often; he is the chap to follow close on Finot's heels. You would do
well to pay him attention; ask him and Mme. du Val-Noble to supper. He
may be useful to you before long; for rancorous people are always in
need of others, and he may do you a good turn if he can reckon on your

"Your beginning has made enough sensation to smooth your way," said
Florine; "take advantage of it at once, or you will soon be

"The bargain, the great business, is concluded," Lousteau continued.
"That Finot, without a spark of talent in him, is to be editor of
Dauriat's weekly paper, with a salary of six hundred francs per month,
and owner of a sixth share, for which he has not paid one penny. And
I, my dear fellow, am now editor of our little paper. Everything went
off as I expected; Florine managed superbly, she could give points to
Tallyrand himself."

"We have a hold on men through their pleasures," said Florine, "while
a diplomatist only works on their self-love. A diplomatist sees a man
made up for the occasion; we know him in his moments of folly, so our
power is greater."

"And when the thing was settled, Matifat made the first and last joke
of his whole druggist's career," put in Lousteau. "He said, 'This
affair is quite in my line; I am supplying drugs to the public.'"

"I suspect that Florine put him up to it," cried Lucien.

"And by these means, my little dear, your foot is in the stirrup,"
continued Lousteau.

"You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth," remarked Florine.
"What lots of young fellows wait for years, wait till they are sick of
waiting, for a chance to get an article into a paper! You will do like
Emile Blondet. In six months' time you will be giving yourself high
and mighty airs," she added, with a mocking smile, in the language of
her class.

"Haven't I been in Paris for three years?" said Lousteau, "and only
yesterday Finot began to pay me a fixed monthly salary of three
hundred francs, and a hundred francs per sheet for his paper."

"Well; you are saying nothing!" exclaimed Florine, with her eyes
turned on Lucien.

"We shall see," said Lucien.

"My dear boy, if you had been my brother, I could not have done more
for you," retorted Lousteau, somewhat nettled, "but I won't answer for
Finot. Scores of sharp fellows will besiege Finot for the next two
days with offers to work for low pay. I have promised for you, but you
can draw back if you like.--You little know how lucky you are," he
added after a pause. "All those in our set combine to attack an enemy
in various papers, and lend each other a helping hand all round."

"Let us go in the first place to Felicien Vernou," said Lucien. He was
eager to conclude an alliance with such formidable birds of prey.

Lousteau sent for a cab, and the pair of friends drove to Vernou's
house on the second floor up an alley in the Rue Mandar. To Lucien's
great astonishment, the harsh, fastidious, and severe critic's
surroundings were vulgar to the last degree. A marbled paper, cheap
and shabby, with a meaningless pattern repeated at regular intervals,
covered the walls, and a series of aqua tints in gilt frames decorated
the apartment, where Vernou sat at table with a woman so plain that
she could only be the legitimate mistress of the house, and two very
small children perched on high chairs with a bar in front to prevent
the infants from tumbling out. Felicien Vernou, in a cotton
dressing-gown contrived out of the remains of one of his wife's
dresses, was not over well pleased by this invasion.

"Have you breakfasted, Lousteau?" he asked, placing a chair for

"We have just left Florine; we have been breakfasting with her."

Lucien could not take his eyes off Mme. Vernou. She looked like a
stout, homely cook, with a tolerably fair complexion, but commonplace
to the last degree. The lady wore a bandana tied over her night-cap,
the strings of the latter article of dress being tied so tightly under
the chin that her puffy cheeks stood out on either side. A shapeless,
beltless garment, fastened by a single button at the throat, enveloped
her from head to foot in such a fashion that a comparison to a
milestone at once suggested itself. Her health left no room for hope;
her cheeks were almost purple; her fingers looked like sausages. In a
moment it dawned upon Lucien how it was that Vernou was always so ill
at ease in society; here was the living explanation of his
misanthropy. Sick of his marriage, unable to bring himself to abandon
his wife and family, he had yet sufficient of the artistic temper to
suffer continually from their presence; Vernou was an actor by nature
bound never to pardon the success of another, condemned to chronic
discontent because he was never content with himself. Lucien began to
understand the sour look which seemed to add to the bleak expression
of envy on Vernou's face; the acerbity of the epigrams with which his
conversation was sown, the journalist's pungent phrases, keen and
elaborately wrought as a stiletto, were at once explained.

"Let us go into my study," Vernou said, rising from the table; "you
have come on business, no doubt."

"Yes and no," replied Etienne Lousteau. "It is a supper, old chap."

"I have brought a message from Coralie," said Lucien (Mme. Vernou
looked up at once at the name), "to ask you to supper to-night at her
house to meet the same company as before at Florine's, and a few more
besides--Hector Merlin and Mme. du Val-Noble and some others. There
will be play afterwards."

"But we are engaged to Mme. Mahoudeau this evening, dear," put in the

"What does that matter?" returned Vernou.

"She will take offence if we don't go; and you are very glad of her
when you have a bill to discount."

"This wife of mine, my dear boy, can never be made to understand that
a supper engagement for twelve o'clock does not prevent you from going
to an evening party that comes to an end at eleven. She is always with
me while I work," he added.

"You have so much imagination!" said Lucien, and thereby made a mortal
enemy of Vernou.

"Well," continued Lousteau, "you are coming; but that is not all. M.
de Rubempre is about to be one of us, so you must push him in your
paper. Give him out for a chap that will make a name for himself in
literature, so that he can put in at least a couple of articles every

"Yes, if he means to be one of us, and will attack our enemies, as we
will attack his, I will say a word for him at the Opera to-night,"
replied Vernou.

"Very well--good-bye till to-morrow, my boy," said Lousteau, shaking
hands with every sign of cordiality. "When is your book coming out?"

"That depends on Dauriat; it is ready," said Vernou _pater-familias_.

"Are you satisfied?"

"Yes and no----"

"We will get up a success," said Lousteau, and he rose with a bow to
his colleague's wife.

The abrupt departure was necessary indeed; for the two infants,
engaged in a noisy quarrel, were fighting with their spoons, and
flinging the pap in each other's faces.

"That, my boy, is a woman who all unconsciously will work great havoc
in contemporary literature," said Etienne, when they came away. "Poor
Vernou cannot forgive us for his wife. He ought to be relieved of her
in the interests of the public; and a deluge of blood-thirsty reviews
and stinging sarcasms against successful men of every sort would be
averted. What is to become of a man with such a wife and that pair of
abominable brats? Have you seen Rigaudin in Picard's _La Maison en
Loterie_? You have? Well, like Rigaudin, Vernou will not fight himself,
but he will set others fighting; he would give an eye to put out both
eyes in the head of the best friend he has. You will see him using the
bodies of the slain for a stepping-stone, rejoicing over every one's
misfortunes, attacking princes, dukes, marquises, and nobles, because
he himself is a commoner; reviling the work of unmarried men because
he forsooth has a wife; and everlastingly preaching morality, the joys
of domestic life, and the duties of the citizen. In short, this very
moral critic will spare no one, not even infants of tender age. He
lives in the Rue Mandar with a wife who might be the _Mamamouchi_ of the
_Bourgeois gentilhomme_ and a couple of little Vernous as ugly as sin.
He tries to sneer at the Faubourg Saint-Germain, where he will never
set foot, and makes his duchesses talk like his wife. That is the sort
of man to raise a howl at the Jesuits, insult the Court, and credit
the Court party with the design of restoring feudal rights and the
right of primogeniture--just the one to preach a crusade for Equality,
he that thinks himself the equal of no one. If he were a bachelor, he
would go into society; if he were in a fair way to be a Royalist poet
with a pension and the Cross of the Legion of Honor, he would be an
optimist, and journalism offers starting-points by the hundred.
Journalism is the giant catapult set in motion by pigmy hatreds. Have
you any wish to marry after this? Vernou has none of the milk of human
kindness in him, it is all turned to gall; and he is emphatically the
Journalist, a tiger with two hands that tears everything to pieces, as
if his pen had the hydrophobia."

"It is a case of gunophobia," said Lucien. "Has he ability?"

"He is witty, he is a writer of articles. He incubates articles; he
does that all his life and nothing else. The most dogged industry
would fail to graft a book on his prose. Felicien is incapable of
conceiving a work on a large scale, of broad effects, of fitting
characters harmoniously in a plot which develops till it reaches a
climax. He has ideas, but he has no knowledge of facts; his heroes are
utopian creatures, philosophical or Liberal notions masquerading. He
is at pains to write an original style, but his inflated periods would
collapse at a pin-prick from a critic; and therefore he goes in terror
of reviews, like every one else who can only keep his head above water
with the bladders of newspaper puffs."

"What an article you are making out of him!"

"That particular kind, my boy, must be spoken, and never written."

"You are turning editor," said Lucien.

"Where shall I put you down?"

"At Coralie's."

"Ah! we are infatuated," said Lousteau. "What a mistake! Do as I do
with Florine, let Coralie be your housekeeper, and take your fling."

"You would send a saint to perdition," laughed Lucien.

"Well, there is no damning a devil," retorted Lousteau.

The flippant tone, the brilliant talk of this new friend, his views of
life, his paradoxes, the axioms of Parisian Machiavelism,--all these
things impressed Lucien unawares. Theoretically the poet knew that
such thoughts were perilous; but he believed them practically useful.

Arrived in the Boulevard du Temple, the friends agreed to meet at the
office between four and five o'clock. Hector Merlin would doubtless be
there. Lousteau was right. The infatuation of desire was upon Lucien;
for the courtesan who loves knows how to grapple her lover to her by
every weakness in his nature, fashioning herself with incredible
flexibility to his every wish, encouraging the soft, effeminate habits
which strengthen her hold. Lucien was thirsting already for enjoyment;
he was in love with the easy, luxurious, and expensive life which the
actress led.

He found Coralie and Camusot intoxicated with joy. The Gymnase offered
Coralie an engagement after Easter on terms for which she had never
dared to hope.

"And this great success is owing to you," said Camusot.

"Yes, surely. _The Alcalde_ would have fallen flat but for him," cried
Coralie; "if there had been no article, I should have been in for
another six years of the Boulevard theatres."

She danced up to Lucien and flung her arms round him, putting an
indescribable silken softness and sweetness into her enthusiasm. Love
had come to Coralie. And Camusot? his eyes fell. Looking down after
the wont of mankind in moments of sharp pain, he saw the seam of
Lucien's boots, a deep yellow thread used by the best bootmakers of
that time, in strong contrast with the glistening leather. The color
of that seam had tinged his thoughts during a previous conversation
with himself, as he sought to explain the presence of a mysterious
pair of hessians in Coralie's fender. He remembered now that he had
seen the name of "Gay, Rue de la Michodiere," printed in black letters
on the soft white kid lining.

"You have a handsome pair of boots, sir," he said.

"Like everything else about him," said Coralie.

"I should be very glad of your bootmaker's address."

"Oh, how like the Rue des Bourdonnais to ask for a tradesman's
address," cried Coralie. "Do _you_ intend to patronize a young man's
bootmaker? A nice young man you would make! Do keep to your own
top-boots; they are the kind for a steady-going man with a wife and
family and a mistress."

"Indeed, if you would take off one of your boots, sir, I should be
very much obliged," persisted Camusot.

"I could not get it on again without a button-hook," said Lucien,
flushing up.

"Berenice will fetch you one; we can do with some here," jeered

"Papa Camusot!" said Coralie, looking at him with cruel scorn, "have
the courage of your pitiful baseness. Come, speak out! You think that
this gentleman's boots are very like mine, do you not?--I forbid you
to take off your boots," she added, turning to Lucien.--"Yes, M.
Camusot. Yes, you saw some boots lying about in the fender here the
other day, and that is the identical pair, and this gentleman was
hiding in my dressing-room at the time, waiting for them; and he had
passed the night here. That was what you were thinking, _hein_? Think
so; I would rather you did. It is the simple truth. I am deceiving
you. And if I am? I do it to please myself."

She sat down. There was no anger in her face, no embarrassment; she
looked from Camusot to Lucien. The two men avoided each other's eyes.

"I will believe nothing that you do not wish me to believe," said
Camusot. "Don't play with me, Coralie; I was wrong----"

"I am either a shameless baggage that has taken a sudden fancy; or a
poor, unhappy girl who feels what love really is for the first time,
the love that all women long for. And whichever way it is, you must
leave me or take me as I am," she said, with a queenly gesture that
crushed Camusot.

"Is it really true?" he asked, seeing from their faces that this was
no jest, yet begging to be deceived.

"I love mademoiselle," Lucien faltered out.

At that word, Coralie sprang to her poet and held him tightly to her;
then, with her arms still about him, she turned to the silk-mercer, as
if to bid him see the beautiful picture made by two young lovers.

"Poor Musot, take all that you gave to me back again; I do not want to
keep anything of yours; for I love this boy here madly, not for his
intellect, but for his beauty. I would rather starve with him than
have millions with you."

Camusot sank into a low chair, hid his face in his hands, and said not
a word.

"Would you like us to go away?" she asked. There was a note of
ferocity in her voice which no words can describe.

Cold chills ran down Lucien's spine; he beheld himself burdened with a
woman, an actress, and a household.

"Stay here, Coralie; keep it all," the old tradesman said at last, in
a faint, unsteady voice that came from his heart; "I don't want
anything back. There is the worth of sixty thousand francs here in the
furniture; but I could not bear to think of my Coralie in want. And
yet, it will not be long before you come to want. However great this
gentleman's talent may be, he can't afford to keep you. We old fellows
must expect this sort of thing. Coralie, let me come and see you
sometimes; I may be of use to you. And--I confess it; I cannot live
without you."

The poor man's gentleness, stripped as he was of his happiness just as
happiness had reached its height, touched Lucien deeply. Coralie was
quite unsoftened by it.

"Come as often as you wish, poor Musot," she said; "I shall like you
all the better when I don't pretend to love you."

Camusot seemed to be resigned to his fate so long as he was not driven
out of the earthly paradise, in which his life could not have been all
joy; he trusted to the chances of life in Paris and to the temptations
that would beset Lucien's path; he would wait a while, and all that
had been his should be his again. Sooner or later, thought the wily
tradesman, this handsome young fellow would be unfaithful; he would
keep a watch on him; and the better to do this and use his opportunity
with Coralie, he would be their friend. The persistent passion that
could consent to such humiliation terrified Lucien. Camusot's proposal
of a dinner at Very's in the Palais Royal was accepted.

"What joy!" cried Coralie, as soon as Camusot had departed. "You will
not go back now to your garret in the Latin Quarter; you will live
here. We shall always be together. You can take a room in the Rue
Charlot for the sake of appearances, and _vogue le galere_!"

She began to dance her Spanish dance, with an excited eagerness that
revealed the strength of the passion in her heart.

"If I work hard I may make five hundred francs a month," Lucien said.

"And I shall make as much again at the theatre, without counting
extras. Camusot will pay for my dresses as before. He is fond of me!
We can live like Croesus on fifteen hundred francs a month."

"And the horses? and the coachman? and the footman?" inquired

"I will get into debt," said Coralie. And she began to dance with

"I must close with Finot after this," Lucien exclaimed.

"There!" said Coralie, "I will dress and take you to your office. I
will wait outside in the boulevard for you with the carriage."

Lucien sat down on the sofa and made some very sober reflections as he
watched Coralie at her toilet. It would have been wiser to leave
Coralie free than to start all at once with such an establishment; but
Coralie was there before his eyes, and Coralie was so lovely, so
graceful, so bewitching, that the more picturesque aspects of bohemia
were in evidence; and he flung down the gauntlet to fortune.

Berenice was ordered to superintend Lucien's removal and installation;
and Coralie, triumphant, radiant, and happy, carried off her love, her
poet, and must needs go all over Paris on the way to the Rue
Saint-Fiacre. Lucien sprang lightly up the staircase, and entered the
office with an air of being quite at home. Coloquinte was there with
the stamped paper still on his head; and old Giroudeau told him again,
hypocritically enough, that no one had yet come in.

"But the editor and contributors _must_ meet somewhere or other to
arrange about the journal," said Lucien.

"Very likely; but I have nothing to do with the writing of the paper,"
said the Emperor's captain, resuming his occupation of checking off
wrappers with his eternal broum! broum!

Was it lucky or unlucky? Finot chanced to come in at that very moment
to announce his sham abdication and to bid Giroudeau watch over his

"No shilly-shally with this gentleman; he is on the staff," Finot
added for his uncle's benefit, as he grasped Lucien by the hand.

"Oh! is he on the paper?" exclaimed Giroudeau, much surprised at this
friendliness. "Well, sir, you came on without much difficulty."

"I want to make things snug for you here, lest Etienne should
bamboozle you," continued Finot, looking knowingly at Lucien. "This
gentleman will be paid three francs per column all round, including

"You have never taken any one on such terms before," said Giroudeau,
opening his eyes.

"And he will take the four Boulevard theatres. See that nobody sneaks
his boxes, and that he gets his share of tickets.--I should advise
you, nevertheless, to have them sent to your address," he added,
turning to Lucien.--"And he agrees to write besides ten miscellaneous
articles of two columns each, for fifty francs per month, for one
year. Does that suit you?"

"Yes," said Lucien. Circumstances had forced his hand.

"Draw up the agreement, uncle, and we will sign it when we come

"Who is the gentleman?" inquired Giroudeau, rising and taking off his
black silk skull-cap.

"M. Lucien de Rubempre, who wrote the article on _The Alcalde_."

"Young man, you have a gold mine _there_," said the old soldier, tapping
Lucien on the forehead. "I am not literary myself, but I read that
article of yours, and I liked it. That is the kind of thing! There's
gaiety for you! 'That will bring us new subscribers,' says I to
myself. And so it did. We sold fifty more numbers."

"Is my agreement with Lousteau made out in duplicate and ready to
sign?" asked Finot, speaking aside.


"Then ante-date this gentleman's agreement by one day, so that
Lousteau will be bound by the previous contract."

Finot took his new contributor's arm with a friendliness that charmed
Lucien, and drew him out on the landing to say:--

"Your position is made for you. I will introduce you to _my_ staff
myself, and to-night Lousteau will go round with you to the theatres.
You can make a hundred and fifty francs per month on this little paper
of ours with Lousteau as its editor, so try to keep well with him. The
rogue bears a grudge against me as it is, for tying his hands so far
as you are concerned; but you have ability, and I don't choose that
you shall be subjected to the whims of the editor. You might let me
have a couple of sheets every month for my review, and I will pay you
two hundred francs. This is between ourselves, don't mention it to
anybody else; I should be laid open to the spite of every one whose
vanity is mortified by your good fortune. Write four articles, fill
your two sheets, sign two with your own name, and two with a
pseudonym, so that you may not seem to be taking the bread out of
anybody else's mouth. You owe your position to Blondet and Vignon;
they think that you have a future before you. So keep out of scrapes,
and, above all things, be on your guard against your friends. As for
me, we shall always get on well together, you and I. Help me, and I
will help you. You have forty francs' worth of boxes and tickets to
sell, and sixty francs' worth of books to convert into cash. With that
and your work on the paper, you will be making four hundred and fifty
francs every month. If you use your wits, you will find ways of making
another two hundred francs at least among the publishers; they will
pay you for reviews and prospectuses. But you are mine, are you not? I
can count upon you."

Lucien squeezed Finot's hand in transports of joy which no words can

"Don't let any one see that anything has passed between us," said
Finot in his ear, and he flung open a door of a room in the roof at
the end of a long passage on the fifth floor.

A table covered with a green cloth was drawn up to a blazing fire, and
seated in various chairs and lounges Lucien discovered Lousteau,
Felicien Vernou, Hector Merlin, and two others unknown to him, all
laughing or smoking. A real inkstand, full of ink this time, stood on
the table among a great litter of papers; while a collection of pens,
the worse for wear, but still serviceable for journalists, told the
new contributor very plainly that the mighty enterprise was carried on
in this apartment.

"Gentlemen," said Finot, "the object of this gathering is the
installation of our friend Lousteau in my place as editor of the
newspaper which I am compelled to relinquish. But although my opinions
will necessarily undergo a transformation when I accept the editorship
of a review of which the politics are known to you, my _convictions_
remain the same, and we shall be friends as before. I am quite at your
service, and you likewise will be ready to do anything for me.
Circumstances change; principles are fixed. Principles are the pivot
on which the hands of the political barometer turn."

There was an instant shout of laughter.

"Who put that into your mouth?" asked Lousteau.

"Blondet!" said Finot.

"Windy, showery, stormy, settled fair," said Merlin; "we will all row
in the same boat."

"In short," continued Finot, "not to muddle our wits with metaphors,
any one who has an article or two for me will always find Finot.--This
gentleman," turning to Lucien, "will be one of you.--I have arranged
with him, Lousteau."

Every one congratulated Finot on his advance and new prospects.

"So there you are, mounted on our shoulders," said a contributor
whom Lucien did not know. "You will be the Janus of Journal----"

"So long as he isn't the Janot," put in Vernou.

"Are you going to allow us to make attacks on our _betes noires_?"

"Any one you like."

"Ah, yes!" said Lousteau; "but the paper must keep on its lines. M.
Chatelet is very wroth; we shall not let him off for a week yet."

"What has happened?" asked Lucien.

"He came here to ask for an explanation," said Vernou. "The Imperial
buck found old Giroudeau at home; and old Giroudeau told him, with all
the coolness in the world, that Philippe Bridau wrote the article.
Philippe asked the Baron to mention the time and the weapons, and
there it ended. We are engaged at this moment in offering excuses to
the Baron in to-morrow's issue. Every phrase is a stab for him."

"Keep your teeth in him and he will come round to me," said Finot;
"and it will look as if I were obliging him by appeasing you. He can
say a word to the Ministry, and we can get something or other out of
him--an assistant schoolmaster's place, or a tobacconist's license. It
is a lucky thing for us that we flicked him on the raw. Does anybody
here care to take a serious article on Nathan for my new paper?"

"Give it to Lucien," said Lousteau. "Hector and Vernou will write
articles in their papers at the same time."

"Good-day, gentlemen; we shall meet each other face to face at
Barbin's," said Finot, laughing.

Lucien received some congratulations on his admission to the mighty
army of journalists, and Lousteau explained that they could be sure of
him. "Lucien wants you all to sup in a body at the house of the fair

"Coralie is going on at the Gymnase," said Lucien.

"Very well, gentlemen; it is understood that we push Coralie, eh? Put
a few lines about her new engagement in your papers, and say something
about her talent. Credit the management of the Gymnase with tack and
discernment; will it do to say intelligence?"

"Yes, say intelligence," said Merlin; "Frederic has something of

"Oh! Well, then, the manager of the Gymnase is the most perspicacious
and far-sighted of men of business," said Vernou.

"Look here! don't write your articles on Nathan until we have come to
an understanding; you shall hear why," said Etienne Lousteau. "We
ought to do something for our new comrade. Lucien here has two books
to bring out--a volume of sonnets and a novel. The power of the
paragraph should make him a great poet due in three months; and we
will make use of his sonnets (_Marguerites_ is the title) to run down
odes, ballads, and reveries, and all the Romantic poetry."

"It would be a droll thing if the sonnets were no good after all,"
said Vernou.--"What do you yourself think of your sonnets, Lucien?"

"Yes, what do you think of them?" asked one of the two whom Lucien did
not know.

"They are all right, gentlemen; I give you my word," said Lousteau.

"Very well, that will do for me," said Vernou; "I will heave your book
at the poets of the sacristy; I am tired of them."

"If Dauriat declines to take the _Marguerites_ this evening, we will
attack him by pitching into Nathan."

"But what will Nathan say?" cried Lucien.

His five colleagues burst out laughing.

"Oh! he will be delighted," said Vernou. "You will see how we manage
these things."

"So he is one of us?" said one of the two journalists.

"Yes, yes, Frederic; no tricks.--We are all working for you, Lucien,
you see; you must stand by us when your turn comes. We are all friends
of Nathan's, and we are attacking him. Now, let us divide Alexander's
empire.--Frederic, will you take the Francais and the Odeon?"

"If these gentlemen are willing," returned the person addressed as
Frederic. The others nodded assent, but Lucien saw a gleam of jealousy
here and there.

"I am keeping the Opera, the Italiens, and the Opera-Comique," put in

"And how about me? Am I to have no theatres at all?" asked the second

"Oh well, Hector can let you have the Varietes, and Lucien can spare
you the Porte Saint-Martin.--Let him have the Porte Saint-Martin,
Lucien, he is wild about Fanny Beaupre; and you can take the
Cirque-Olympique in exchange. I shall have Bobino and the Funambules
and Madame Saqui. Now, what have we for to-morrow?"




"Gentlemen, be brilliant for my first number. The Baron du Chatelet
and his cuttlefish bone will not last for a week, and the writer of _Le
Solitaire_ is worn out."

"And 'Sosthenes-Demosthenes' is stale too," said Vernou; "everybody
has taken it up."

"The fact is, we want a new set of ninepins," said Frederic.

"Suppose that we take the virtuous representatives of the Right?"
suggested Lousteau. "We might say that M. de Bonald has sweaty feet."

"Let us begin a series of sketches of Ministerialist orators,"
suggested Hector Merlin.

"You do that, youngster; you know them; they are your own party," said
Lousteau; "you could indulge any little private grudges of your own.
Pitch into Beugnot and Syrieys de Mayrinhac and the rest. You might
have the sketches ready in advance, and we shall have something to
fall back upon."

"How if we invented one or two cases of refusal of burial with
aggravating circumstances?" asked Hector.

"Do not follow in the tracks of the big Constitutional papers; they
have pigeon-holes full of ecclesiastical _canards_," retorted Vernou.

"_Canards_?" repeated Lucien.

"That is our word for a scrap of fiction told for true, put in to
enliven the column of morning news when it is flat. We owe the
discovery to Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of the lightning
conductor and the republic. That journalist completely deceived the
Encyclopaedists by his transatlantic _canards_. Raynal gives two of them
for facts in his _Histoire philosophique des Indes_."

"I did not know that," said Vernou. "What were the stories?"

"One was a tale about an Englishman and a negress who helped him to
escape; he sold the woman for a slave after getting her with child
himself to enhance her value. The other was the eloquent defence of a
young woman brought before the authorities for bearing a child out of
wedlock. Franklin owned to the fraud in Necker's house when he came to
Paris, much to the confusion of French philosophism. Behold how the
New World twice set a bad example to the Old!"

"In journalism," said Lousteau, "everything that is probable is true.
That is an axiom."

"Criminal procedure is based on the same rule," said Vernou.

"Very well, we meet here at nine o'clock," and with that they rose,
and the sitting broke up with the most affecting demonstrations of
intimacy and good-will.

"What have you done to Finot, Lucien, that he should make a special
arrangement with you? You are the only one that he has bound to
himself," said Etienne Lousteau, as they came downstairs.

"I? Nothing. It was his own proposal," said Lucien.

"As a matter of fact, if you should make your own terms with him, I
should be delighted; we should, both of us, be the better for it."

On the ground floor they found Finot. He stepped across to Lousteau
and asked him into the so-called private office. Giroudeau immediately
put a couple of stamped agreements before Lucien.

"Sign your agreement," he said, "and the new editor will think the
whole thing was arranged yesterday."

Lucien, reading the document, overheard fragments of a tolerably warm
dispute within as to the line of conduct and profits of the paper.
Etienne Lousteau wanted his share of the blackmail levied by
Giroudeau; and, in all probability, the matter was compromised, for
the pair came out perfectly good friends.

"We will meet at Dauriat's, Lucien, in the Wooden Galleries at eight
o'clock," said Etienne Lousteau.

A young man appeared, meanwhile, in search of employment, wearing the
same nervous shy look with which Lucien himself had come to the office
so short a while ago; and in his secret soul Lucien felt amused as he
watched Giroudeau playing off the same tactics with which the old
campaigner had previously foiled him. Self-interest opened his eyes to
the necessity of the manoeuvres which raised well-nigh insurmountable
barriers between beginners and the upper room where the elect were
gathered together.

"Contributors don't get very much as it is," he said, addressing

"If there were more of you, there would be so much less," retorted the
captain. "So there!"

The old campaigner swung his loaded cane, and went down coughing as
usual. Out in the street he was amazed to see a handsome carriage
waiting on the boulevard for Lucien.

"_You_ are the army nowadays," he said, "and we are the civilians."

"Upon my word," said Lucien, as he drove away with Coralie, "these
young writers seem to me to be the best fellows alive. Here am I a
journalist, sure of making six hundred francs a month if I work like a
horse. But I shall find a publisher for my two books, and I will write
others; for my friends will insure a success. And so, Coralie, '_vogue
le galere_!' as you say."

"You will make your way, dear boy; but you must not be as good-natured
as you are good-looking; it would be the ruin of you. Be ill-natured,
that is the proper thing."

Coralie and Lucien drove in the Bois de Boulogne, and again they met
the Marquise d'Espard, Mme. de Bargeton and the Baron du Chatelet.
Mme. de Bargeton gave Lucien a languishing glance which might be taken
as a greeting. Camusot had ordered the best possible dinner; and
Coralie, feeling that she was rid of her adorer, was more charming to
the poor silk-mercer than she had ever been in the fourteen months
during which their connection lasted; he had never seen her so kindly,
so enchantingly lovely.

"Come," he thought, "let us keep near her anyhow!"

In consequence, Camusot made secret overtures. He promised Coralie an
income of six thousand livres; he would transfer the stock in the
funds into her name (his wife knew nothing about the investment) if
only she would consent to be his mistress still. He would shut his
eyes to her lover.

"And betray such an angel? . . . Why, just look at him, you old
fossil, and look at yourself!" and her eyes turned to her poet.
Camusot had pressed Lucien to drink till the poet's head was rather

There was no help for it; Camusot made up his mind to wait till sheer
want should give him this woman a second time.

"Then I can only be your friend," he said, as he kissed her on the

Lucien went from Coralie and Camusot to the Wooden Galleries. What a
change had been wrought in his mind by his initiation into Journalism!
He mixed fearlessly now with the crowd which surged to and fro in the
buildings; he even swaggered a little because he had a mistress; and
he walked into Dauriat's shop in an offhand manner because he was a

He found himself among distinguished men; gave a hand to Blondet and
Nathan and Finot, and to all the coterie with whom he had been
fraternizing for a week. He was a personage, he thought, and he
flattered himself that he surpassed his comrades. That little flick of
the wine did him admirable service; he was witty, he showed that he
could "howl with the wolves."

And yet, the tacit approval, the praises spoken and unspoken on which
he had counted, were not forthcoming. He noticed the first stirrings
of jealousy among a group, less curious, perhaps, than anxious to know
the place which this newcomer might take, and the exact portion of the
sum-total of profits which he would probably secure and swallow.
Lucien only saw smiles on two faces--Finot, who regarded him as a mine
to be exploited, and Lousteau, who considered that he had proprietary
rights in the poet, looked glad to see him. Lousteau had begun already
to assume the airs of an editor; he tapped sharply on the window-panes
of Dauriat's private office.

"One moment, my friend," cried a voice within as the publisher's face
appeared above the green curtains.

The moment lasted an hour, and finally Lucien and Etienne were
admitted into the sanctum.

"Well, have you thought over our friend's proposal?" asked Etienne
Lousteau, now an editor.

"To be sure," said Dauriat, lolling like a sultan in his chair. "I
have read the volume. And I submitted it to a man of taste, a good
judge; for I don't pretend to understand these things myself. I
myself, my friend, buy reputations ready-made, as the Englishman
bought his love affairs.--You are as great as a poet as you are
handsome as a man, my boy," pronounced Dauriat. "Upon my word and
honor (I don't tell you that as a publisher, mind), your sonnets are
magnificent; no sign of effort about them, as is natural when a man
writes with inspiration and verve. You know your craft, in fact, one
of the good points of the new school. Your volume of _Marguerites_ is a
fine book, but there is no business in it, and it is not worth my
while to meddle with anything but a very big affair. In conscience, I
won't take your sonnets. It would be impossible to push them; there is
not enough in the thing to pay the expenses of a big success. You will
not keep to poetry besides; this book of yours will be your first and
last attempt of the kind. You are young; you bring me the everlasting
volume of early verse which every man of letters writes when he leaves
school, he thinks a lot of it at the time, and laughs at it later on.
Lousteau, your friend, has a poem put away somewhere among his old
socks, I'll warrant. Haven't you a poem that you thought a good deal
of once, Lousteau?" inquired Dauriat, with a knowing glance at the

"How should I be writing prose otherwise, eh?" asked Lousteau.

"There, you see! He has never said a word to me about it, for our
friend understands business and the trade," continued Dauriat. "For me
the question is not whether you are a great poet, I know that," he
added, stroking down Lucien's pride; "you have a great deal, a very
great deal of merit; if I were only just starting in business, I
should make the mistake of publishing your book. But in the first
place, my sleeping partners and those at the back of me are cutting
off my supplies; I dropped twenty thousand francs over poetry last
year, and that is enough for them; they will not hear of any more just
now, and they are my masters. Nevertheless, that is not the question.
I admit that you may be a great poet, but will you be a prolific
writer? Will you hatch sonnets regularly? Will you run into ten
volumes? Is there business in it? Of course not. You will be a
delightful prose writer; you have too much sense to spoil your style
with tagging rhymes together. You have a chance to make thirty
thousand francs per annum by writing for the papers, and you will not
exchange that chance for three thousand francs made with difficulty by
your hemistiches and strophes and tomfoolery----"

"You know that he is on the paper, Dauriat?" put in Lousteau.

"Yes," Dauriat answered. "Yes, I saw his article, and in his own
interests I decline the _Marguerites_. Yes, sir, in six months' time I
shall have paid you more money for the articles that I shall ask you
to write than for your poetry that will not sell."

"And fame?" said Lucien.

Dauriat and Lousteau laughed.

"Oh dear!" said Lousteau, "there be illusions left."

"Fame means ten years of sticking to work, and a hundred thousand
francs lost or made in the publishing trade. If you find anybody mad
enough to print your poetry for you, you will feel some respect for me
in another twelvemonth, when you have had time to see the outcome of
the transaction"

"Have you the manuscript here?" Lucien asked coldly.

"Here it is, my friend," said Dauriat. The publisher's manner towards
Lucien had sweetened singularly.

Lucien took up the roll without looking at the string, so sure he felt
that Dauriat had read his _Marguerites_. He went out with Lousteau,
seemingly neither disconcerted nor dissatisfied. Dauriat went with
them into the shop, talking of his newspaper and Lousteau's daily,
while Lucien played with the manuscript of the _Marguerites_.

"Do you suppose that Dauriat has read your sonnets or sent them to any
one else?" Etienne Lousteau snatched an opportunity to whisper.

"Yes," said Lucien.

"Look at the string." Lucien looked down at the blot of ink, and saw
that the mark on the string still coincided; he turned white with

"Which of the sonnets was it that you particularly liked?" he asked,
turning to the publisher.

"They are all of them remarkable, my friend; but the sonnet on the
_Marguerite_ is delightful, the closing thought is fine, and exquisitely
expressed. I felt sure from that sonnet that your prose work would
command a success, and I spoke to Finot about you at once. Write
articles for us, and we will pay you well for them. Fame is a very
fine thing, you see, but don't forget the practical and solid, and
take every chance that turns up. When you have made money, you can
write poetry."

The poet dashed out of the shop to avoid an explosion. He was furious.
Lousteau followed.

"Well, my boy, pray keep cool. Take men as they are--for means to an
end. Do you wish for revenge?"

"At any price," muttered the poet.

"Here is a copy of Nathan's book. Dauriat has just given it to me. The
second edition is coming out to-morrow; read the book again, and knock
off an article demolishing it. Felicien Vernou cannot endure Nathan,
for he thinks that Nathan's success will injure his own forthcoming
book. It is a craze with these little minds to fancy that there is not
room for two successes under the sun; so he will see that your article
finds a place in the big paper for which he writes."

"But what is there to be said against the book; it is good work!"
cried Lucien.

"Oh, I say! you must learn your trade," said Lousteau, laughing.
"Given that the book was a masterpiece, under the stroke of your pen
it must turn to dull trash, dangerous and unwholesome stuff."

"But how?"

"You turn all the good points into bad ones."

"I am incapable of such a juggler's feat."

"My dear boy, a journalist is a juggler; a man must make up his mind
to the drawbacks of the calling. Look here! I am not a bad fellow;
this is the way _I_ should set to work myself. Attention! You might
begin by praising the book, and amuse yourself a while by saying what
you really think. 'Good,' says the reader, 'this critic is not
jealous; he will be impartial, no doubt,' and from that point your
public will think that your criticism is a piece of conscientious
work. Then, when you have won your reader's confidence, you will
regret that you must blame the tendency and influence of such work
upon French literature. 'Does not France,' you will say, 'sway the
whole intellectual world? French writers have kept Europe in the path
of analysis and philosophical criticism from age to age by their
powerful style and the original turn given by them to ideas.' Here,
for the benefit of the philistine, insert a panegyric on Voltaire,
Rousseau, Diderot, Montesquieu, and Buffon. Hold forth upon the
inexorable French language; show how it spreads a varnish, as it were,
over thought. Let fall a few aphorisms, such as--'A great writer in
France is invariably a great man; he writes in a language which
compels him to think; it is otherwise in other countries'--and so on,
and so on. Then, to prove your case, draw a comparison between
Rabener, the German satirical moralist, and La Bruyere. Nothing gives
a critic such an air as an apparent familiarity with foreign
literature. Kant is Cousin's pedestal.

"Once on that ground you bring out a word which sums up the French men
of genius of the eighteenth century for the benefit of simpletons--you
call that literature the 'literature of ideas.' Armed with this
expression, you fling all the mighty dead at the heads of the
illustrious living. You explain that in the present day a new form of
literature has sprung up; that dialogue (the easiest form of writing)
is overdone, and description dispenses with any need for thinking on
the part of the author or reader. You bring up the fiction of
Voltaire, Diderot, Sterne, and Le Sage, so trenchant, so compact of
the stuff of life; and turn from them to the modern novel, composed of
scenery and word-pictures and metaphor and the dramatic situations, of
which Scott is full. Invention may be displayed in such work, but
there is no room for anything else. 'The romance after the manner of
Scott is a mere passing fashion in literature,' you will say, and
fulminate against the fatal way in which ideas are diluted and beaten
thin; cry out against a style within the reach of any intellect, for
any one can commence author at small expense in a way of literature,
which you can nickname the 'literature of imagery.'

"Then you fall upon Nathan with your argument, and establish it
beyound cavil that he is a mere imitator with an appearance of genius.
The concise grand style of the eighteenth century is lacking; you show
that the author substitutes events for sentiments. Action and stir is
not life; he gives you pictures, but no ideas.

"Come out with such phrases, and people will take them up.--In spite
of the merits of the work, it seems to you to be a dangerous, nay, a
fatal precedent. It throws open the gates of the temple of Fame to the
crowd; and in the distance you descry a legion of petty authors
hastening to imitate this novel and easy style of writing.

"Here you launch out into resounding lamentations over the decadence
and decline of taste, and slip in eulogies of Messieurs Etienne Jouy,
Tissot, Gosse, Duval, Jay, Benjamin Constant, Aignan, Baour-Lormian,
Villemain, and the whole Liberal-Bonapartist chorus who patronize
Vernou's paper. Next you draw a picture of that glorious phalanx of
writers repelling the invasion of the Romantics; these are the
upholders of ideas and style as against metaphor and balderdash; the
modern representatives of the school of Voltaire as opposed to the
English and German schools, even as the seventeen heroic deputies of
the Left fought the battle for the nation against the Ultras of the

"And then, under cover of names respected by the immense majority of
Frenchmen (who will always be against the Government), you can crush
Nathan; for although his work is far above the average, it confirms
the bourgeois taste for literature without ideas. And after that, you
understand, it is no longer a question of Nathan and his book, but of
France and the glory of France. It is the duty of all honest and
courageous pens to make strenuous opposition to these foreign
importations. And with that you flatter your readers. Shrewd French
mother-wit is not easily caught napping. If publishers, by ways which
you do not choose to specify, have stolen a success, the reading
public very soon judges for itself, and corrects the mistakes made by
some five hundred fools, who always rush to the fore.

"Say that the publisher who sold a first edition of the book is
audacious indeed to issue a second, and express regret that so clever
a man does not know the taste of the country better. There is the gist
of it. Just a sprinkle of the salt of wit and a dash of vinegar to
bring out the flavor, and Dauriat will be done to a turn. But mind
that you end with seeming to pity Nathan for a mistake, and speak of
him as of a man from whom contemporary literature may look for great
things if he renounces these ways."

Lucien was amazed at this talk from Lousteau. As the journalist spoke,
the scales fell from his eyes; he beheld new truths of which he had
never before caught so much as a glimpse.

"But all this that you are saying is quite true and just," said he.

"If it were not, how could you make it tell against Nathan's book?"
asked Lousteau. "That is the first manner of demolishing a book, my
boy; it is the pickaxe style of criticism. But there are plenty of
other ways. Your education will complete itself in time. When you are
absolutely obliged to speak of a man whom you do not like, for
proprietors and editors are sometimes under compulsion, you bring out
a neutral special article. You put the title of the book at the head
of it, and begin with general remarks, on the Greeks and the Romans if
you like, and wind up with--'and this brings us to Mr. So-and-so's
book, which will form the subject of a second article.' The second
article never appears, and in this way you snuff out the book between
two promises. But in this case you are writing down, not Nathan, but
Dauriat; he needs the pickaxe style. If the book is really good, the
pickaxe does no harm; but it goes to the core of it if it is bad. In
the first case, no one but the publisher is any the worse; in the
second, you do the public a service. Both methods, moreover, are
equally serviceable in political criticism."

Etienne Lousteau's cruel lesson opened up possibilities for Lucien's
imagination. He understood this craft to admiration.

"Let us go to the office," said Lousteau; "we shall find our friends
there, and we will agree among ourselves to charge at Nathan; they
will laugh, you will see."

Arrived in the Rue Saint-Fiacre, they went up to the room in the roof
where the paper was made up, and Lucien was surprised and gratified no
less to see the alacrity with which his comrades proceeded to demolish
Nathan's book. Hector Merlin took up a piece of paper and wrote a few
lines for his own newspaper.--

  "A second edition of M. Nathan's book is announced. We had
  intended to keep silence with regard to that work, but its
  apparent success obliges us to publish an article, not so much
  upon the book itself as upon certain tendencies of the new school
  of literature."

At the head of the "Facetiae" in the morning's paper, Lousteau
inserted the following note:--

  "M. Dauriat is bringing out a second edition of M. Nathan's book.
  Evidently he does not know the legal maxim, _Non bis in idem_. All
  honor to rash courage."

Lousteau's words had been like a torch for burning; Lucien's hot
desire to be revenged on Dauriat took the place of conscience and
inspiration. For three days he never left Coralie's room; he sat at
work by the fire, waited upon by Berenice; petted, in moments of
weariness, by the silent and attentive Coralie; till, at the end of
that time, he had made a fair copy of about three columns of
criticism, and an astonishingly good piece of work.

It was nine o'clock in the evening when he ran round to the office,
found his associates, and read over his work to an attentive audience.
Felicien said not a syllable. He took up the manuscript, and made off
with it pell-mell down the staircase.

"What has come to him?" cried Lucien.

"He has taken your article straight to the printer," said Hector
Merlin. "'Tis a masterpiece; not a line to add, nor a word to take

"There was no need to do more than show you the way," said Lousteau.

"I should like to see Nathan's face when he reads this to-morrow,"
said another contributor, beaming with gentle satisfaction.

"It is as well to have you for a friend," remarked Hector Merlin.

"Then it will do?" Lucien asked quickly.

"Blondet and Vignon will feel bad," said Lousteau.

"Here is a short article which I have knocked together for you," began
Lucien; "if it takes, I could write you a series."

"Read it over," said Lousteau, and Lucien read the first of the
delightful short papers which made the fortune of the little
newspaper; a series of sketches of Paris life, a portrait, a type, an
ordinary event, or some of the oddities of the great city. This
specimen--"The Man in the Street"--was written in a way that was fresh
and original; the thoughts were struck out by the shock of the words,
the sounding ring of the adverbs and adjectives caught the reader's
ear. The paper was as different from the serious and profound article
on Nathan as the _Lettres persanes_ from the _Esprit des lois_.

"You are a born journalist," said Lousteau. "It shall go in to-morrow.
Do as much of this sort of thing as you like."

"Ah, by the by," said Merlin, "Dauriat is furious about those two
bombshells hurled into his magazine. I have just come from him. He was
hurling imprecations, and in such a rage with Finot, who told him that
he had sold his paper to you. As for me, I took him aside and just
said a word in his ear. 'The _Marguerites_ will cost you dear,' I told
him. 'A man of talent comes to you, you turn the cold shoulder on him,
and send him into the arms of the newspapers.'"

"Dauriat will be dumfounded by the article on Nathan," said Lousteau.
"Do you see now what journalism is, Lucien? Your revenge is beginning
to tell. The Baron Chatelet came here this morning for your address.
There was a cutting article upon him in this morning's issue; he is a
weakling, that buck of the Empire, and he has lost his head. Have you
seen the paper? It is a funny article. Look, 'Funeral of the Heron,
and the Cuttlefish-bone's lament.' Mme. de Bargeton is called the
Cuttlefish-bone now, and no mistake, and Chatelet is known everywhere
as Baron Heron."

Lucien took up the paper, and could not help laughing at Vernou's
extremely clever skit.

"They will capitulate soon," said Hector Merlin.

Lucien merrily assisted at the manufacture of epigrams and jokes at
the end of the paper; and the associates smoked and chatted over the
day's adventures, over the foibles of some among their number, or some
new bit of personal gossip. From their witty, malicious, bantering
talk, Lucien gained a knowledge of the inner life of literature, and
of the manners and customs of the craft.

"While they are setting up the paper, I will go round with you and
introduce you to the managers of your theatres, and take you behind
the scenes," said Lousteau. "And then we will go to the
Panorama-Dramatique, and have a frolic in their dressing-rooms."

Arm-in-arm, they went from theatre to theatre. Lucien was introduced
to this one and that, and enthroned as a dramatic critic. Managers
complimented him, actresses flung him side glances; for every one of
them knew that this was the critic who, by a single article, had
gained an engagement at the Gymnase, with twelve thousand francs a
year, for Coralie, and another for Florine at the Panorama-Dramatique
with eight thousand francs. Lucien was a man of importance. The little
ovations raised Lucien in his own eyes, and taught him to know his
power. At eleven o'clock the pair arrived at the Panorama-Dramatique;
Lucien with a careless air that worked wonders. Nathan was there.
Nathan held out a hand, which Lucien squeezed.

"Ah! my masters, so you have a mind to floor me, have you?" said
Nathan, looking from one to the other.

"Just you wait till to-morrow, my dear fellow, and you shall see how
Lucien has taken you in hand. Upon my word, you will be pleased. A
piece of serious criticism like that is sure to do a book good."

Lucien reddened with confusion.

"Is it severe?" inquired Nathan.

"It is serious," said Lousteau.

"Then there is no harm done," Nathan rejoined. "Hector Merlin in the
greenroom of the Vaudeville was saying that I had been cut up."

"Let him talk, and wait," cried Lucien, and took refuge in Coralie's
dressing-room. Coralie, in her alluring costume, had just come off the

Next morning, as Lucien and Coralie sat at breakfast, a carriage drove
along the Rue de Vendome. The street was quiet enough, so that they
could hear the light sound made by an elegant cabriolet; and there was
that in the pace of the horse, and the manner of pulling up at the
door, which tells unmistakably of a thoroughbred. Lucien went to the
window, and there, in fact, beheld a splendid English horse, and no
less a person than Dauriat flinging the reins to his man as he stepped

"'Tis the publisher, Coralie," said Lucien.

"Let him wait, Berenice," Coralie said at once.

Lucien smiled at her presence of mind, and kissed her with a great
rush of tenderness. This mere girl had made his interests hers in a
wonderful way; she was quick-witted where he was concerned. The
apparition of the insolent publisher, the sudden and complete collapse
of that prince of charlatans, was due to circumstances almost entirely
forgotten, so utterly has the book trade changed during the last
fifteen years.

From 1816 to 1827, when newspaper reading-rooms were only just
beginning to lend new books, the fiscal law pressed more heavily than
ever upon periodical publications, and necessity created the invention
of advertisements. Paragraphs and articles in the newspapers were the
only means of advertisement known in those days; and French newspapers
before the year 1822 were so small, that the largest sheet of those
times was not so large as the smallest daily paper of ours. Dauriat
and Ladvocat, the first publishers to make a stand against the tyranny
of journalists, were also the first to use the placards which caught
the attention of Paris by strange type, striking colors, vignettes,
and (at a later time) by lithograph illustrations, till a placard
became a fairy-tale for the eyes, and not unfrequently a snare for the
purse of the amateur. So much originality indeed was expended on
placards in Paris, that one of that peculiar kind of maniacs, known as
a collector, possesses a complete series.

At first the placard was confined to the shop-windows and stalls upon
the Boulevards in Paris; afterwards it spread all over France, till it
was supplanted to some extent by a return to advertisements in the
newspapers. But the placard, nevertheless, which continues to strike
the eye, after the advertisement and the book which is advertised are
both forgotten, will always be among us; it took a new lease of life
when walls were plastered with posters.

Newspaper advertising, the offspring of heavy stamp duties, a high
rate of postage, and the heavy deposits of caution-money required by
the government as security for good behavior, is within the reach of
all who care to pay for it, and has turned the fourth page of every
journal into a harvest field alike for the speculator and the Inland
Revenue Department. The press restrictions were invented in the time
of M. de Villele, who had a chance, if he had but known it, of
destroying the power of journalism by allowing newspapers to multiply
till no one took any notice of them; but he missed his opportunity,
and a sort of privilege was created, as it were, by the almost
insuperable difficulties put in the way of starting a new venture. So,
in 1821, the periodical press might be said to have power of life and
death over the creations of the brain and the publishing trade. A few
lines among the items of news cost a fearful amount. Intrigues were
multiplied in newspaper offices; and of a night when the columns were
divided up, and this or that article was put in or left out to suit
the space, the printing-room became a sort of battlefield; so much so,
that the largest publishing firms had writers in their pay to insert
short articles in which many ideas are put in little space. Obscure
journalists of this stamp were only paid after the insertion of the
items, and not unfrequently spent the night in the printing-office to
make sure that their contributions were not omitted; sometimes putting
in a long article, obtained heaven knows how, sometimes a few lines of
a puff.

The manners and customs of journalism and of the publishing houses
have since changed so much, that many people nowadays will not believe
what immense efforts were made by writers and publishers of books to
secure a newspaper puff; the martyrs of glory, and all those who are
condemned to the penal servitude of a life-long success, were reduced
to such shifts, and stooped to depths of bribery and corruption as
seem fabulous to-day. Every kind of persuasion was brought to bear on
journalists--dinners, flattery, and presents. The following story will
throw more light on the close connection between the critic and the
publisher than any quantity of flat assertions.

There was once upon a time an editor of an important paper, a clever
writer with a prospect of becoming a statesman; he was young in those
days, and fond of pleasure, and he became the favorite of a well-known
publishing house. One Sunday the wealthy head of the firm was
entertaining several of the foremost journalists of the time in the
country, and the mistress of the house, then a young and pretty woman,
went to walk in her park with the illustrious visitor. The head-clerk
of the firm, a cool, steady, methodical German with nothing but
business in his head, was discussing a project with one of the
journalists, and as they chatted they walked on into the woods beyond
the park. In among the thickets the German thought he caught a glimpse
of his hostess, put up his eyeglass, made a sign to his young
companion to be silent, and turned back, stepping softly.--"What did
you see?" asked the journalist.--"Nothing particular," said the clerk.
"Our affair of the long article is settled. To-morrow we shall have at
least three columns in the _Debats_."

Another anecdote will show the influence of a single article.

A book of M. de Chateaubriand's on the last of the Stuarts was for
some time a "nightingale" on the bookseller's shelves. A single
article in the _Journal des Debats_ sold the work in a week. In those
days, when there were no lending libraries, a publisher would sell an
edition of ten thousand copies of a book by a Liberal if it was well
reviewed by the Opposition papers; but then the Belgian pirated
editions were not as yet.

The preparatory attacks made by Lucien's friends, followed up by his
article on Nathan, proved efficacious; they stopped the sale of his
book. Nathan escaped with the mortification; he had been paid; he had
nothing to lose; but Dauriat was like to lose thirty thousand francs.
The trade in new books may, in fact, be summed up much on this wise. A
ream of blank paper costs fifteen francs, a ream of printed paper is
worth anything between a hundred sous and a hundred crowns, according
to its success; a favorable or unfavorable review at a critical time
often decides the question; and Dauriat having five hundred reams of
printed paper on hand, hurried to make terms with Lucien. The sultan
was now the slave.

After waiting for some time, fidgeting and making as much noise as he
could while parleying with Berenice, he at last obtained speech of
Lucien; and, arrogant publisher though he was, he came in with the
radiant air of a courtier in the royal presence, mingled, however,
with a certain self-sufficiency and easy good humor.

"Don't disturb yourselves, my little dears! How nice they look, just
like a pair of turtle-doves! Who would think now, mademoiselle, that
he, with that girl's face of his, could be a tiger with claws of
steel, ready to tear a reputation to rags, just as he tears your
wrappers, I'll be bound, when you are not quick enough to unfasten
them," and he laughed before he had finished his jest.

"My dear boy----" he began, sitting down beside Lucien.
--"Mademoiselle, I am Dauriat," he said, interrupting himself. He
judged it expedient to fire his name at her like a pistol shot, for
he considered that Coralie was less cordial than she should have been.

"Have you breakfasted, monsieur; will you keep us company?" asked

"Why, yes; it is easier to talk at table," said Dauriat. "Besides, by
accepting your invitation I shall have a right to expect you to dine
with my friend Lucien here, for we must be close friends now, hand and

"Berenice! Bring oysters, lemons, fresh butter, and champagne," said

"You are too clever not to know what has brought me here," said
Dauriat, fixing his eyes on Lucien.

"You have come to buy my sonnets."

"Precisely. First of all, let us lay down our arms on both sides." As
he spoke he took out a neat pocketbook, drew from it three bills for a
thousand francs each, and laid them before Lucien with a suppliant
air. "Is monsieur content?" asked he.

"Yes," said the poet. A sense of beatitude, for which no words exist,
flooded his soul at the sight of that unhoped wealth. He controlled
himself, but he longed to sing aloud, to jump for joy; he was ready to
believe in Aladdin's lamp and in enchantment; he believed in his own
genius, in short.

"Then the _Marguerites_ are mine," continued Dauriat; "but you will
undertake not to attack my publications, won't you?"

"The _Marguerites_ are yours, but I cannot pledge my pen; it is at the
service of my friends, as theirs are mine."

"But you are one of my authors now. All my authors are my friends. So
you won't spoil my business without warning me beforehand, so that I
am prepared, will you?"

"I agree to that."

"To your fame!" and Dauriat raised his glass.

"I see that you have read the _Marguerites_," said Lucien.

Dauriat was not disconcerted.

"My boy, a publisher cannot pay a greater compliment than by buying
your _Marguerites_ unread. In six months' time you will be a great poet.
You will be written up; people are afraid of you; I shall have no
difficulty in selling your book. I am the same man of business that I
was four days ago. It is not I who have changed; it is _you_. Last week
your sonnets were so many cabbage leaves for me; to-day your position
has ranked them beside Delavigne."

"Ah well," said Lucien, "if you have not read my sonnets, you have
read my article." With the sultan's pleasure of possessing a fair
mistress, and the certainty of success, he had grown satirical and
adorably impertinent of late.

"Yes, my friend; do you think I should have come here in such a hurry
but for that? That terrible article of yours is very well written,
worse luck. Oh! you have a very great gift, my boy. Take my advice and
make the most of your vogue," he added, with good humor, which masked
the extreme insolence of the speech. "But have you yourself a copy of
the paper? Have you seen your article in print?"

"Not yet," said Lucien, "though this is the first long piece of prose
which I have published; but Hector will have sent a copy to my address
in the Rue Charlot."

"Here--read!" . . . cried Dauriat, copying Talma's gesture in _Manlius_.

Lucien took the paper but Coralie snatched it from him.

"The first-fruits of your pen belong to me, as you well know," she

Dauriat was unwontedly courtier-like and complimentary. He was afraid
of Lucien, and therefore he asked him to a great dinner which he was
giving to a party of journalists towards the end of the week, and
Coralie was included in the invitation. He took the _Marguerites_ away
with him when he went, asking _his_ poet to look in when he pleased in
the Wooden Galleries, and the agreement should be ready for his
signature. Dauriat never forgot the royal airs with which he
endeavored to overawe superficial observers, and to impress them with
the notion that he was a Maecenas rather than a publisher; at this
moment he left the three thousand francs, waving away in lordly
fashion the receipt which Lucien offered, kissed Coralie's hand, and
took his departure.

"Well, dear love, would you have seen many of these bits of paper if
you had stopped in your hole in the Rue de Cluny, prowling about among
the musty old books in the Bibliotheque de Sainte-Genevieve?" asked
Coralie, for she knew the whole story of Lucien's life by this time.
"Those little friends of yours in the Rue des Quatre-Vents are great
ninnies, it seems to me."

His brothers of the _cenacle_! And Lucien could hear the verdict and

He had seen himself in print; he had just experienced the ineffable
joy of the author, that first pleasurable thrill of gratified vanity
which comes but once. The full import and bearing of his article
became apparent to him as he read and re-read it. The garb of print is
to manuscript as the stage is to women; it brings beauties and defects
to light, killing and giving life; the fine thoughts and the faults
alike stare you in the face.

Lucien, in his excitement and rapture, gave not another thought to
Nathan. Nathan was a stepping-stone for him--that was all; and he
(Lucien) was happy exceedingly--he thought himself rich. The money
brought by Dauriat was a very Potosi for the lad who used to go about
unnoticed through the streets of Angouleme and down the steep path
into L'Houmeau to Postel's garret, where his whole family had lived
upon an income of twelve hundred francs. The pleasures of his life in
Paris must inevitably dim the memories of those days; but so keen were
they, that, as yet, he seemed to be back again in the Place du Murier.
He thought of Eve, his beautiful, noble sister, of David his friend,
and of his poor mother, and he sent Berenice out to change one of the
notes. While she went he wrote a few lines to his family, and on the
maid's return he sent her to the coach-office with a packet of five
hundred francs addressed to his mother. He could not trust himself; he
wanted to sent the money at once; later he might not be able to do it.
Both Lucien and Coralie looked upon this restitution as a meritorious
action. Coralie put her arms about her lover and kissed him, and
thought him a model son and brother; she could not make enough of him,
for generosity is a trait of character which delights these kindly
creatures, who always carry their hearts in their hands.

"We have a dinner now every day for a week," she said; "we will make a
little carnival; you have worked quite hard enough."

Coralie, fain to delight in the beauty of a man whom all other women
should envy her, took Lucien back to Staub. He was not dressed finely
enough for her. Thence the lovers went to drive in the Bois de
Boulogne, and came back to dine at Mme. du Val-Noble's. Rastignac,
Bixiou, des Lupeaulx, Finot, Blondet, Vignon, the Baron de Nucingen,
Beaudenord, Philippe Bridau, Conti, the great musician, all the
artists and speculators, all the men who seek for violent sensations
as a relief from immense labors, gave Lucien a welcome among them. And
Lucien had gained confidence; he gave himself out in talk as though he
had not to live by his wit, and was pronounced to be a "clever fellow"
in the slang of the coterie of semi-comrades.

"Oh! we must wait and see what he has in him," said Theodore Gaillard,
a poet patronized by the Court, who thought of starting a Royalist
paper to be entitled the _Reveil_ at a later day.

After dinner, Merlin and Lucien, Coralie and Mme. du Val-Noble, went
to the Opera, where Merlin had a box. The whole party adjourned
thither, and Lucien triumphant reappeared upon the scene of his first
serious check.

He walked in the lobby, arm in arm with Merlin and Blondet, looking
the dandies who had once made merry at his expense between the eyes.
Chatelet was under his feet. He clashed glances with de Marsay,
Vandenesse, and Manerville, the bucks of that day. And indeed Lucien,
beautiful and elegantly arrayed, had caused a discussion in the
Marquise d'Espard's box; Rastignac had paid a long visit, and the
Marquise and Mme. de Bargeton put up their opera-glasses at Coralie.
Did the sight of Lucien send a pang of regret through Mme. de
Bargeton's heart? This thought was uppermost in the poet's mind. The
longing for revenge aroused in him by the sight of the Corinne of
Angouleme was as fierce as on that day when the lady and her cousin
had cut him in the Champs-Elysees.

"Did you bring an amulet with you from the provinces?"--It was Blondet
who made this inquiry some few days later, when he called at eleven
o'clock in the morning and found that Lucien was not yet risen.--"His
good looks are making ravages from cellar to garret, high and low,"
continued Blondet, kissing Coralie on the forehead. "I have come to
enlist you, dear fellow," he continued, grasping Lucien by the hand.
"Yesterday, at the Italiens, the Comtesse de Montcornet asked me to
bring you to her house. You will not give a refusal to a charming
woman? You meet people of the first fashion there."

"If Lucien is nice, he will not go to see your Countess," put in
Coralie. "What call is there for him to show his face in fine society?
He would only be bored there."

"Have you a vested interest in him? Are you jealous of fine ladies?"

"Yes," cried Coralie. "They are worse than we are."

"How do you know that, my pet?" asked Blondet.

"From their husbands," retorted she. "You are forgetting that I once
had six months of de Marsay."

"Do you suppose, child, that _I_ am particularly anxious to take such
a handsome fellow as your poet to Mme. de Montcornet's house? If you
object, let us consider that nothing has been said. But I don't fancy
that the women are so much in question as a poor devil that Lucien
pilloried in his newspaper; he is begging for mercy and peace. The
Baron du Chatelet is imbecile enough to take the thing seriously. The
Marquise d'Espard, Mme. de Bargeton, and Mme. de Montcornet's set have
taken up the Heron's cause; and I have undertaken to reconcile
Petrarch and his Laura--Mme. de Bargeton and Lucien."

"Aha!" cried Lucien, the glow of the intoxication of revenge throbbing
full-pulsed through every vein. "Aha! so my foot is on their necks!
You make me adore my pen, worship my friends, bow down to the
fate-dispensing power of the press. I have not written a single
sentence as yet upon the Heron and the Cuttlefish-bone.--I will go with
you, my boy," he cried, catching Blondet by the waist; "yes, I will go;
but first, the couple shall feel the weight of _this_, for so light as
it is." He flourished the pen which had written the article upon Nathan.

"To-morrow," he cried, "I will hurl a couple of columns at their
heads. Then, we shall see. Don't be frightened, Coralie, it is not
love but revenge; revenge! And I will have it to the full!"

"What a man it is!" said Blondet. "If you but knew, Lucien, how rare
such explosions are in this jaded Paris, you might appreciate
yourself. You will be a precious scamp" (the actual expression was a
trifle stronger); "you are in a fair way to be a power in the land."

"He will get on," said Coralie.

"Well, he has come a good way already in six weeks."

"And if he should climb so high that he can reach a sceptre by
treading over a corpse, he shall have Coralie's body for a
stepping-stone," said the girl.

"You are a pair of lovers of the Golden Age," said Blondet.--"I
congratulate you on your big article," he added, turning to Lucien.
"There were a lot of new things in it. You are past master!"

Lousteau called with Hector Merlin and Vernou. Lucien was immensely
flattered by this attention. Felicien Vernou brought a hundred francs
for Lucien's article; it was felt that such a contributor must be well
paid to attach him to the paper.

Coralie, looking round at the chapter of journalists, ordered in a
breakfast from the _Cadran bleu_, the nearest restaurant, and asked her
visitors to adjourn to her handsomely furnished dining-room when
Berenice announced that the meal was ready. In the middle of the
repast, when the champagne had gone to all heads, the motive of the
visit came out.

"You do not mean to make an enemy of Nathan, do you?" asked Lousteau.
"Nathan is a journalist, and he has friends; he might play you an ugly
trick with your first book. You have your _Archer of Charles IX._ to
sell, have you not? We went round to Nathan this morning; he is in a
terrible way. But you will set about another article, and puff praise
in his face."

"What! After my article against his book, would you have me say----"
began Lucien.

The whole party cut him short with a shout of laughter.

"Did you ask him to supper here the day after to-morrow?" asked

"You article was not signed," added Lousteau. "Felicien, not being
quite such a new hand as you are, was careful to put an initial C at
the bottom. You can do that now with all your articles in his paper,
which is pure unadulterated Left. We are all of us in the Opposition.
Felicien was tactful enough not to compromise your future opinions.
Hector's shop is Right Centre; you might sign your work on it with an
L. If you cut a man up, you do it anonymously; if you praise him, it
is just as well to put your name to your article."

"It is not the signatures that trouble me," returned Lucien, "but I
cannot see anything to be said in favor of the book."

"Then did you really think as you wrote?" asked Hector.


"Oh! I thought you were cleverer than that, youngster," said Blondet.
"No. Upon my word, as I looked at that forehead of yours, I credited
you with the omnipotence of the great mind--the power of seeing both
sides of everything. In literature, my boy, every idea is reversible,
and no man can take upon himself to decide which is the right or wrong
side. Everything is bi-lateral in the domain of thought. Ideas are
binary. Janus is a fable signifying criticism and the symbol of
Genius. The Almighty alone is triform. What raises Moliere and
Corneille above the rest of us but the faculty of saying one thing
with an Alceste or an Octave, and another with a Philinte or a Cinna?
Rousseau wrote a letter against dueling in the _Nouvelle_ Heloise, and
another in favor of it. Which of the two represented his own opinion?
will you venture to take it upon yourself to decide? Which of us could
give judgement for Clarissa or Lovelace, Hector or Achilles? Who was
Homer's hero? What did Richardson himself think? It is the function of
criticism to look at a man's work in all its aspects. We draw up our
case, in short."

"Do you really stick to your written opinions?" asked Vernou, with a
satirical expression. "Why, we are retailers of phrases; that is how
we make a livelihood. When you try to do a good piece of work--to
write a book, in short--you can put your thoughts, yourself into it,
and cling to it, and fight for it; but as for newspaper articles, read
to-day and forgotten to-morrow, they are worth nothing in my eyes but
the money that is paid for them. If you attach any importance to such
drivel, you might as well make the sign of the Cross and invoke heaven
when you sit down to write a tradesman's circular."

Every one apparently was astonished at Lucien's scruples. The last
rags of the boyish conscience were torn away, and he was invested with
the _toga virilis_ of journalism.

"Do you know what Nathan said by way of comforting himself after your
criticism?" asked Lousteau.

"How should I know?"

"Nathan exclaimed, 'Paragraphs pass away; but a great work lives!' He
will be here to supper in two days, and he will be sure to fall flat
at your feet, and kiss your claws, and swear that you are a great

"That would be a funny thing," was Lucien's comment.

"_Funny_" repeated Blondet. "He can't help himself."

"I am quite willing, my friends," said Lucien, on whom the wine had
begun to take effect. "But what am I to say?"

"Oh well, refute yourself in three good columns in Merlin's paper. We
have been enjoying the sight of Nathan's wrath; we have just been
telling him that he owes us no little gratitude for getting up a hot
controversy that will sell his second edition in a week. In his eyes
at this present moment you are a spy, a scoundrel, a caitiff wretch;
the day after to-morrow you will be a genius, an uncommonly clever
fellow, one of Plutarch's men. Nathan will hug you and call you his
best friend. Dauriat has been to see you; you have your three thousand
francs; you have worked the trick! Now you want Nathan's respect and
esteem. Nobody ought to be let in except the publisher. We must not
immolate any one but an enemy. We should not talk like this if it were
a question of some outsider, some inconvenient person who had made a
name for himself without us and was not wanted; but Nathan is one of
us. Blondet got some one to attack him in the _Mercure_ for the pleasure
of replying in the _Debats_. For which reason the first edition went off
at once."

"My friends, upon my word and honor, I cannot write two words in
praise of that book----"

"You will have another hundred francs," interrupted Merlin. "Nathan
will have brought you in ten louis d'or, to say nothing of an article
that you might put in Finot's paper; you would get a hundred francs
for writing that, and another hundred francs from Dauriat--total,
twenty louis."

"But what am I to say?"

"Here is your way out of the difficulty," said Blondet, after some
thought. "Say that the envy that fastens on all good work, like wasps
on ripe fruit, has attempted to set its fangs in this production. The
captious critic, trying his best to find fault, has been obliged to
invent theories for that purpose, and has drawn a distinction between
two kinds of literature--'the literature of ideas and the literature
of imagery,' as he calls them. On the heads of that, youngster, say
that to give expression to ideas through imagery is the highest form
of art. Try to show that all poetry is summed up in that, and lament
that there is so little poetry in French; quote foreign criticisms on
the unimaginative precision of our style, and then extol M. de Canalis
and Nathan for the services they have done France by infusing a less
prosaic spirit into the language. Knock your previous argument to
pieces by calling attention to the fact that we have made progress
since the eighteenth century. (Discover the 'progress,' a beautiful
word to mystify the bourgeois public.) Say that the new methods in
literature concentrate all styles, comedy and tragedy, description,
character-drawing and dialogues, in a series of pictures set in the
brilliant frame of a plot which holds the reader's interest. The
Novel, which demands sentiment, style, and imagery, is the greatest
creation of modern days; it is the successor of stage comedy grown
obsolete with its restrictions. Facts and ideas are all within the
province of fiction. The intellect of an incisive moralist, like La
Bruyere, the power of treating character as Moliere could treat it,
the grand machinery of a Shakespeare, together with the portrayal of
the most subtle shades of passion (the one treasury left untouched by
our predecessors)--for all this the modern novel affords free scope.
How far superior is all this to the cut-and-dried logic-chopping, the
cold analysis to the eighteenth century!--'The Novel,' say
sententiously, 'is the Epic grown amusing.' Instance _Corinne_, bring
Mme. de Stael up to support your argument. The eighteenth century
called all things in question; it is the task of the nineteenth to
conclude and speak the last word; and the last word of the nineteenth
century has been for realities--realities which live however and move.
Passion, in short, an element unknown in Voltaire's philosophy, has
been brought into play. Here a diatribe against Voltaire, and as for
Rousseau, his characters are polemics and systems masquerading. Julie
and Claire are entelechies--informing spirit awaiting flesh and bones.

"You might slip off on a side issue at this, and say that we owe a new
and original literature to the Peace and the Restoration of the
Bourbons, for you are writing for a Right Centre paper.

"Scoff at Founders of Systems. And cry with a glow of fine enthusiasm,
'Here are errors and misleading statements in abundance in our
contemporary's work, and to what end? To depreciate a fine work, to
deceive the public, and to arrive at this conclusion--"A book that
sells, does not sell."' _Proh pudor_! (Mind you put _Proh pudor_! 'tis a
harmless expletive that stimulates the reader's interest.) Foresee the
approaching decadence of criticism, in fact. Moral--'There is but one
kind of literature, the literature which aims to please. Nathan has
started upon a new way; he understands his epoch and fulfils the
requirements of his age--the demand for drama, the natural demand of a
century in which the political stage has become a permanent puppet
show. Have we not seen four dramas in a score of years--the
Revolution, the Directory, the Empire, and the Restoration?' With
that, wallow in dithyramb and eulogy, and the second edition shall
vanish like smoke. This is the way to do it. Next Saturday put a
review in our magazine, and sign it 'de Rubempre,' out in full.

"In that final article say that 'fine work always brings about
abundant controversy. This week such and such a paper contained such
and such an article on Nathan's book, and such another paper made a
vigorous reply.' Then you criticise the critics 'C' and 'L'; pay me a
passing compliment on the first article in the _Debats_, and end by
averring that Nathan's work is the great book of the epoch; which is
all as if you said nothing at all; they say the same of everything
that comes out.

"And so," continued Blondet, "you will have made four hundred francs
in a week, to say nothing of the pleasure of now and again saying what
you really think. A discerning public will maintain that either C or L
or Rubempre is in the right of it, or mayhap all the three. Mythology,
beyond doubt one of the grandest inventions of the human brain, places
Truth at the bottom of a well; and what are we to do without buckets?
You will have supplied the public with three for one. There you are,
my boy, Go ahead!"

Lucien's head was swimming with bewilderment. Blondet kissed him on
both cheeks.

"I am going to my shop," said he. And every man likewise departed to
his shop. For these "_hommes forts_," a newspaper office was nothing but
a shop.

They were to meet again in the evening at the Wooden Galleries, and
Lucien would sign his treaty of peace with Dauriat. Florine and
Lousteau, Lucien and Coralie, Blondet and Finot, were to dine at the
Palais-Royal; du Bruel was giving the manager of the
Panorama-Dramatique a dinner.

"They are right," exclaimed Lucien, when he was alone with Coralie.
"Men are made to be tools in the hands of stronger spirits. Four
hundred francs for three articles! Doguereau would scarcely give me as
much for a book which cost me two years of work."

"Write criticism," said Coralie, "have a good time! Look at me, I am
an Andalusian girl to-night, to-morrow I may be a gypsy, and a man the
night after. Do as I do, give them grimaces for their money, and let
us live happily."

Lucien, smitten with love of Paradox, set himself to mount and ride
that unruly hybrid product of Pegasus and Balaam's ass; started out at
a gallop over the fields of thought while he took a turn in the Bois,
and discovered new possibilities in Blondet's outline.

He dined as happy people dine, and signed away all his rights in the
_Marguerites_. It never occurred to him that any trouble might arise
from that transaction in the future. He took a turn of work at the
office, wrote off a couple of columns, and came back to the Rue de
Vendome. Next morning he found the germs of yesterday's ideas had
sprung up and developed in his brain, as ideas develop while the
intellect is yet unjaded and the sap is rising; and thoroughly did he
enjoy the projection of this new article. He threw himself into it
with enthusiasm. At the summons of the spirit of contradiction, new
charms met beneath his pen. He was witty and satirical, he rose to yet
new views of sentiment, of ideas and imagery in literature. With
subtle ingenuity, he went back to his own first impressions of
Nathan's work, when he read it in the newsroom of the Cour du
Commerce; and the ruthless, bloodthirsty critic, the lively mocker,
became a poet in the final phrases which rose and fell with majestic
rhythm like the swaying censer before the altar.

"One hundred francs, Coralie!" cried he, holding up eight sheets of
paper covered with writing while she dressed.

The mood was upon him; he went on to indite, stroke by stroke, the
promised terrible article on Chatelet and Mme. de Bargeton. That
morning he experienced one of the keenest personal pleasures of
journalism; he knew what it was to forge the epigram, to whet and
polish the cold blade to be sheathed in a victim's heart, to make of
the hilt a cunning piece of workmanship for the reader to admire. For
the public admires the handle, the delicate work of the brain, while
the cruelty is not apparent; how should the public know that the steel
of the epigram, tempered in the fire of revenge, has been plunged
deftly, to rankle in the very quick of a victim's vanity, and is
reeking from wounds innumerable which it has inflicted? It is a
hideous joy, that grim, solitary pleasure, relished without witnesses;
it is like a duel with an absent enemy, slain at a distance by a
quill; a journalist might really possess the magical power of
talismans in Eastern tales. Epigram is distilled rancor, the
quintessence of a hate derived from all the worst passions of man,
even as love concentrates all that is best in human nature. The man
does not exist who cannot be witty to avenge himself; and, by the same
rule, there is not one to whom love does not bring delight. Cheap and
easy as this kind of wit may be in France, it is always relished.
Lucien's article was destined to raise the previous reputation of the
paper for venomous spite and evil-speaking. His article probed two
hearts to the depths; it dealt a grievous wound to Mme. de Bargeton,
his Laura of old days, as well as to his rival, the Baron du Chatelet.

"Well, let us go for a drive in the Bois," said Coralie, "the horses
are fidgeting. There is no need to kill yourself."

"We will take the article on Nathan to Hector. Journalism is really
very much like Achilles' lance, it salves the wounds that it makes,"
said Lucien, correcting a phrase here and there.

The lovers started forth in splendor to show themselves to the Paris
which had but lately given Lucien the cold shoulder, and now was
beginning to talk about him. To have Paris talking of you! and this
after you have learned how large the great city is, how hard it is to
be anybody there--it was this thought that turned Lucien's head with

"Let us go by way of your tailor's, dear boy, and tell him to be quick
with your clothes, or try them on if they are ready. If you are going
to your fine ladies' houses, you shall eclipse that monster of a de
Marsay and young Rastignac and any Ajuda-Pinto or Maxime de Trailles
or Vandenesse of them all. Remember that your mistress is Coralie! But
you will not play me any tricks, eh?"

Two days afterwards, on the eve of the supper-party at Coralie's
house, there was a new play at the Ambigu, and it fell to Lucien to
write the dramatic criticism. Lucien and Coralie walked together after
dinner from the Rue de Vendome to the Panorama-Dramatique, going along
the Cafe Turc side of the Boulevard du Temple, a lounge much
frequented at that time. People wondered at his luck, and praised
Coralie's beauty. Chance remarks reached his ears; some said that
Coralie was the finest woman in Paris, others that Lucien was a match
for her. The romantic youth felt that he was in his atmosphere. This
was the life for him. The brotherhood was so far away that it was
almost out of sight. Only two months ago, how he had looked up to
those lofty great natures; now he asked himself if they were not just
a trifle ridiculous with their notions and their Puritanism. Coralie's
careless words had lodged in Lucien's mind, and begun already to bear
fruit. He took Coralie to her dressing-room, and strolled about like a
sultan behind the scenes; the actresses gave him burning glances and
flattering speeches.

"I must go to the Ambigu and attend to business," said he.

At the Ambigu the house was full; there was not a seat left for him.
Indignant complaints behind the scenes brought no redress; the
box-office keeper, who did not know him as yet, said that they had sent
orders for two boxes to his paper, and sent him about his business.

"I shall speak of the play as I find it," said Lucien, nettled at

"What a dunce you are!" said the leading lady, addressing the
box-office keeper, "that is Coralie's adorer."

The box-office keeper turned round immediately at this. "I will speak
to the manager at once, sir," he said.

In all these small details Lucien saw the immense power wielded by the
press. His vanity was gratified. The manager appeared to say that the
Duc de Rhetore and Tullia the opera-dancer were in the stage-box, and
they had consented to allow Lucien to join them.

"You have driven two people to distraction," remarked the young Duke,
mentioning the names of the Baron du Chatelet and Mme. de Bargeton.

"Distraction? What will it be to-morrow?" said Lucien. "So far, my
friends have been mere skirmishers, but I have given them red-hot shot
to-night. To-morrow you will know why we are making game of 'Potelet.'
The article is called 'Potelet from 1811 to 1821.' Chatelet will be a
byword, a name for the type of courtiers who deny their benefactor and
rally to the Bourbons. When I have done with him, I am going to Mme.
de Montcornet's."

Lucien's talk was sparkling. He was eager that this great personage
should see how gross a mistake Mesdames d'Espard and de Bargeton had
made when they slighted Lucien de Rubempre. But he showed the tip of
his ear when he asserted his right to bear the name of Rubempre, the
Duc de Rhetore having purposely addressed him as Chardon.

"You should go over to the Royalists," said the Duke. "You have proved
yourself a man of ability; now show your good sense. The one way of
obtaining a patent of nobility and the right to bear the title of your
mother's family, is by asking for it in return for services to be
rendered to the Court. The Liberals will never make a count of you.
The Restoration will get the better of the press, you see, in the long
run, and the press is the only formidable power. They have borne with
it too long as it is; the press is sure to be muzzled. Take advantage
of the last moments of liberty to make yourself formidable, and you
will have everything--intellect, nobility, and good looks; nothing
will be out of your reach. So if you are a Liberal, let it be simply
for the moment, so that you can make a better bargain for your

With that the Duke entreated Lucien to accept an invitation to dinner,
which the German Minister (of Florine's supper-party) was about to
send. Lucien fell under the charm of the noble peer's arguments; the
salons from which he had been exiled for ever, as he thought, but a
few months ago, would shortly open their doors for him! He was
delighted. He marveled at the power of the press; Intellect and the
Press, these then were the real powers in society. Another thought
shaped itself in his mind--Was Etienne Lousteau sorry that he had
opened the gate of the temple to a newcomer? Even now he (Lucien) felt
on his own account that it was strongly advisable to put difficulties
in the way of eager and ambitious recruits from the provinces. If a
poet should come to him as he had flung himself into Etienne's arms,
he dared not think of the reception that he would give him.

The youthful Duke meanwhile saw that Lucien was deep in thought, and
made a pretty good guess at the matter of his meditations. He himself
had opened out wide horizons of public life before an ambitious poet,
with a vacillating will, it is true, but not without aspirations; and
the journalists had already shown the neophyte, from a pinnacle of the
temple, all the kingdoms of the world of letters and its riches.

Lucien himself had no suspicion of a little plot that was being woven,
nor did he imagine that M. de Rhetore had a hand in it. M. de Rhetore
had spoken of Lucien's cleverness, and Mme. d'Espard's set had taken
alarm. Mme. de Bargeton had commissioned the Duke to sound Lucien, and
with that object in view, the noble youth had come to the

Do not believe in stories of elaborate treachery. Neither the great
world nor the world of journalists laid any deep schemes; definite
plans are not made by either; their Machiavelism lives from hand to
mouth, so to speak, and consists, for the most part, in being always
on the spot, always on the alert to turn everything to account, always
on the watch for the moment when a man's ruling passion shall deliver
him into the hands of his enemies. The young Duke had seen through
Lucien at Florine's supper-party; he had just touched his vain
susceptibilities; and now he was trying his first efforts in diplomacy
upon the living subject.

Lucien hurried to the Rue Saint-Fiacre after the play to write his
article. It was a piece of savage and bitter criticism, written in
pure wantonness; he was amusing himself by trying his power. The
melodrama, as a matter of fact, was a better piece than the _Alcalde_;
but Lucien wished to see whether he could damn a good play and send
everybody to see a bad one, as his associates had said.

He unfolded the sheet at breakfast next morning, telling Coralie as he
did so that he had cut up the Ambigu-Comique; and not a little
astonished was he to find below his paper on Mme. de Bargeton and
Chatelet a notice of the Ambigu, so mellowed and softened in the
course of the night, that although the witty analysis was still
preserved, the judgment was favorable. The article was more likely to
fill the house than to empty it. No words can describe his wrath. He
determined to have a word or two with Lousteau. He had already begun
to think himself an indespensable man, and he vowed that he would not
submit to be tyrannized over and treated like a fool. To establish his
power beyond cavil, he wrote the article for Dauriat's review, summing
up and weighing all the various opinions concerning Nathan's book; and
while he was in the humor, he hit off another of his short sketches
for Lousteau's newspaper. Inexperienced journalists, in the first
effervescence of youth, make a labor of love of ephemeral work, and
lavish their best thought unthriftily thereon.

The manager of the Panorama-Dramatique gave a first performance of a
vaudeville that night, so that Florine and Coralie might be free for
the evening. There were to be cards before supper. Lousteau came for
the short notice of the vaudeville; it had been written beforehand
after the general rehearsal, for Etienne wished to have the paper off
his mind. Lucien read over one of the charming sketches of Parisian
whimsicalities which made the fortune of the paper, and Lousteau
kissed him on both eyelids, and called him the providence of

"Then why do you amuse yourself by turning my article inside out?"
asked Lucien. He had written his brilliant sketch simply and solely to
give emphasis to his grievance.

"_I_?" exclaimed Lousteau.

"Well, who else can have altered my article?"

"You do not know all the ins and outs yet, dear fellow. The Ambigu
pays for thirty copies, and only takes nine for the manager and box
office-keeper and their mistresses, and for the three lessees of the
theatre. Every one of the Boulevard theatres pays eight hundred francs
in this way to the paper; and there is quite as much again in boxes
and orders for Finot, to say nothing of the contributions of the
company. And if the minor theatres do this, you may imagine what the
big ones do! Now you understand? We are bound to show a good deal of

"I understand this, that I am not at liberty to write as I think----"

"Eh! what does that matter, so long as you turn an honest penny?"
cried Lousteau. "Besides, my boy, what grudge had you against the
theatre? You must have had some reason for it, or you would not have
cut up the play as you did. If you slash for the sake of slashing, the
paper will get into trouble, and when there is good reason for hitting
hard it will not tell. Did the manager leave you out in the cold?"

"He had not kept a place for me."

"Good," said Lousteau. "I shall let him see your article, and tell him
that I softened it down; you will find it serves you better than if it
had appeared in print. Go and ask him for tickets to-morrow, and he
will sign forty blank orders every month. I know a man who can get rid
of them for you; I will introduce you to him, and he will buy them all
up at half-price. There is a trade done in theatre tickets, just as
Barbet trades in reviewers' copies. This is another Barbet, the leader
of the _claque_. He lives near by; come and see him, there is time

"But, my dear fellow, it is a scandalous thing that Finot should levy
blackmail in matters intellectual. Sooner or later----"

"Really!" cried Lousteau, "where do you come from? For what do you
take Finot? Beneath his pretence of good-nature, his ignorance and
stupidity, and those Turcaret's airs of his, there is all the cunning
of his father the hatter. Did you notice an old soldier of the Empire
in the den at the office? That is Finot's uncle. The uncle is not only
one of the right sort, he has the luck to be taken for a fool; and he
takes all that kind of business upon his shoulders. An ambitious man
in Paris is well off indeed if he has a willing scapegoat at hand. In
public life, as in journalism, there are hosts of emergencies in which
the chiefs cannot afford to appear. If Finot should enter on a
political career, his uncle would be his secretary, and receive all
the contributions levied in his department on big affairs. Anybody
would take Giroudeau for a fool at first sight, but he has just enough
shrewdness to be an inscrutable old file. He is on picket duty; he
sees that we are not pestered with hubbub, beginners wanting a job, or
advertisements. No other paper has his equal, I think."

"He plays his part well," said Lucien; "I saw him at work."

Etienne and Lucien reached a handsome house in the Rue du

"Is M. Braulard in?" Etienne asked of the porter.

"_Monsieur_?" said Lucien. "Then, is the leader of the _claque_

"My dear boy, Braulard has twenty thousand francs of income. All the
dramatic authors of the Boulevards are in his clutches, and have a
standing account with him as if he were a banker. Orders and
complimentary tickets are sold here. Braulard knows where to get rid
of such merchandise. Now for a turn at statistics, a useful science
enough in its way. At the rate of fifty complimentary tickets every
evening for each theatre, you have two hundred and fifty tickets
daily. Suppose, taking one with another, that they are worth a couple
of francs apiece, Braulard pays a hundred and twenty-five francs daily
for them, and takes his chance of making cent per cent. In this way
authors' tickets alone bring him in about four thousand francs every
month, or forty-eight thousand francs per annum. Allow twenty thousand
francs for loss, for he cannot always place all his tickets----"

"Why not?"

"Oh! the people who pay at the door go in with the holders of
complimentary tickets for unreserved seats, and the theatre reserves
the right of admitting those who pay. There are fine warm evenings to
be reckoned with besides, and poor plays. Braulard makes, perhaps,
thirty thousand francs every year in this way, and he has his
_claqueurs_ besides, another industry. Florine and Coralie pay tribute
to him; if they did not, there would be no applause when they come on
or go off."

Lousteau gave this explanation in a low voice as they went up the

"Paris is a queer place," said Lucien; it seemed to him that he saw
self-interest squatting in every corner.

A smart maid-servant opened the door. At the sight of Etienne
Lousteau, the dealer in orders and tickets rose from a sturdy chair
before a large cylinder desk, and Lucien beheld the leader of the
_claque_, Braulard himself, dressed in a gray molleton jacket, footed
trousers, and red slippers; for all the world like a doctor or a
solicitor. He was a typical self-made man, Lucien thought--a
vulgar-looking face with a pair of exceedingly cunning gray eyes,
hands made for hired applause, a complexion over which hard living
had passed like rain over a roof, grizzled hair, and a somewhat husky

"You have come from Mlle. Florine, no doubt, sir, and this gentleman
for Mlle. Coralie," said Braulard; "I know you very well by sight.
Don't trouble yourself, sir," he continued, addressing Lucien; "I am
buying the Gymnase connection, I will look after your lady, and I will
give her notice of any tricks they may try to play on her."

"That is not an offer to be refused, my dear Braulard, but we have
come about the press orders for the Boulevard theatres--I as editor,
and this gentleman as dramatic critic."

"Oh!--ah, yes! Finot has sold his paper. I heard about it. He is
getting on, is Finot. I have asked him to dine with me at the end of
the week; if you will do me the honor and pleasure of coming, you may
bring your ladies, and there will be a grand jollification. Adele
Dupuis is coming, and Ducange, and Frederic du Petit-Mere, and Mlle.
Millot, my mistress. We shall have good fun and better liquor."

"Ducange must be in difficulties. He has lost his lawsuit."

"I have lent him ten thousand francs; if _Calas_ succeeds, it will repay
the loan, so I have been organizing a success. Ducange is a clever
man; he has brains----"

Lucien fancied that he must be dreaming when he heard a _claqueur_
appraising a writer's value.

"Coralie has improved," continued Braulard, with the air of a
competent critic. "If she is a good girl, I will take her part, for
they have got up a cabal against her at the Gymnase. This is how I
mean to do it. I will have a few well-dressed men in the balconies to
smile and make a little murmur, and the applause will follow. That is
a dodge which makes a position for an actress. I have a liking for
Coralie, and you ought to be satisfied, for she has feeling. Aha! I
can hiss any one on the stage if I like."

"But let us settle this business about the tickets," put in Lousteau.

"Very well, I will come to this gentleman's lodging for them at the
beginning of the month. He is a friend of yours, and I will treat him
as I do you. You have five theatres; you will get thirty tickets--that
will be something like seventy-five francs a month. Perhaps you will
be wanting an advance?" added Braulard, lifting a cash-box full of
coin out of his desk.

"No, no," said Lousteau; "we will keep that shift against a rainy

"I will work with Coralie, sir, and we will come to an understanding,"
said Braulard, addressing Lucien, who was looking about him, not
without profound astonishment. There was a bookcase in Braulard's
study, there were framed engravings and good furniture; and as they
passed through the drawing room, he noticed that the fittings were
neither too luxurious nor yet mean. The dining-room seemed to be the
best ordered room, he remarked on this jokingly.

"But Braulard is an epicure," said Lousteau; "his dinners are famous
in dramatic literature, and they are what you might expect from his

"I have good wine," Braulard replied modestly.--"Ah! here are my
lamplighters," he added, as a sound of hoarse voices and strange
footsteps came up from the staircase.

Lucien on his way down saw a march past of _claqueurs_ and retailers of
tickets. It was an ill smelling squad, attired in caps, seedy
trousers, and threadbare overcoats; a flock of gallows-birds with
bluish and greenish tints in their faces, neglected beards, and a
strange mixture of savagery and subservience in their eyes. A horrible
population lives and swarms upon the Paris boulevards; selling watch
guards and brass jewelry in the streets by day, applauding under the
chandeliers of the theatre at night, and ready to lend themselves to
any dirty business in the great city.

"Behold the Romans!" laughed Lousteau; "behold fame incarnate for
actresses and dramatic authors. It is no prettier than our own when
you come to look at it close."

"It is difficult to keep illusions on any subject in Paris," answered
Lucien as they turned in at his door. "There is a tax upon everything
--everything has its price, and anything can be made to order--even

Thirty guests were assembled that evening in Coralie's rooms, her
dining room would not hold more. Lucien had asked Dauriat and the
manager of the Panorama-Dramatique, Matifat and Florine, Camusot,
Lousteau, Finot, Nathan, Hector Merlin and Mme. du Val-Noble, Felicien
Vernou, Blondet, Vignon, Philippe Bridau, Mariette, Giroudeau, Cardot
and Florentine, and Bixiou. He had also asked all his friends of the
Rue des Quatre-Vents. Tullia the dancer, who was not unkind, said
gossip, to du Bruel, had come without her duke. The proprietors of the
newspapers, for whom most of the journalists wrote, were also of the

At eight o'clock, when the lights of the candles in the chandeliers
shone over the furniture, the hangings, and the flowers, the rooms
wore the festal air that gives to Parisian luxury the appearance of a
dream; and Lucien felt indefinable stirrings of hope and gratified
vanity and pleasure at the thought that he was the master of the
house. But how and by whom the magic wand had been waved he no longer
sought to remember. Florine and Coralie, dressed with the fanciful
extravagance and magnificent artistic effect of the stage, smiled on
the poet like two fairies at the gates of the Palace of Dreams. And
Lucien was almost in a dream.

His life had been changed so suddenly during the last few months;  he
had gone so swiftly from the depths of penury to the last extreme of
luxury, that at moments he felt as uncomfortable as a dreaming man who
knows that he is asleep. And yet, he looked round at the fair reality
about him with a confidence to which envious minds might have given
the name of fatuity.

Lucien himself had changed. He had grown paler during these days of
continual enjoyment; languor had lent a humid look to his eyes; in
short, to use Mme. d'Espard's expression, he looked like a man who is
loved. He was the handsomer for it. Consciousness of his powers and
his strength was visible in his face, enlightened as it was by love
and experience. Looking out over the world of letters and of men, it
seemed to him that he might go to and fro as lord of it all. Sober
reflection never entered his romantic head unless it was driven in by
the pressure of adversity, and just now the present held not a care
for him. The breath of praise swelled the sails of his skiff; all the
instruments of success lay there to his hand; he had an establishment,
a mistress whom all Paris envied him, a carriage, and untold wealth in
his inkstand. Heart and soul and brain were alike transformed within
him; why should he care to be over nice about the means, when the
great results were visibly there before his eyes.

As such a style of living will seem, and with good reason, to be
anything but secure to economists who have any experience of Paris, it
will not be superfluous to give a glance to the foundation, uncertain
as it was, upon which the prosperity of the pair was based.

Camusot had given Coralie's tradesmen instructions to grant her credit
for three months at least, and this had been done without her
knowledge. During those three months, therefore, horses and servants,
like everything else, waited as if by enchantment at the bidding of
two children, eager for enjoyment, and enjoying to their hearts'

Coralie had taken Lucien's hand and given him a glimpse of the
transformation scene in the dining-room, of the splendidly appointed
table, of chandeliers, each fitted with forty wax-lights, of the
royally luxurious dessert, and a menu of Chevet's. Lucien kissed her
on the forehead and held her closely to his heart.

"I shall succeed, child," he said, "and then I will repay you for such
love and devotion."

"Pshaw!" said Coralie. "Are you satisfied?"

"I should be very hard to please if I were not."

"Very well, then, that smile of yours pays for everything," she said,
and with a serpentine movement she raised her head and laid her lips
against his.

When they went back to the others, Florine, Lousteau, Matifat, and
Camusot were setting out the card-tables. Lucien's friends began to
arrive, for already these folk began to call themselves "Lucien's
friends"; and they sat over the cards from nine o'clock till midnight.
Lucien was unacquainted with a single game, but Lousteau lost a
thousand francs, and Lucien could not refuse to lend him the money
when he asked for it.

Michel, Fulgence, and Joseph appeared about ten o'clock; and Lucien,
chatting with them in a corner, saw that they looked sober and serious
enough, not to say ill at ease. D'Arthez could not come, he was
finishing his book; Leon Giraud was busy with the first number of his
review; so the brotherhood had sent three artists among their number,
thinking that they would feel less out of their element in an
uproarious supper party than the rest.

"Well, my dear fellows," said Lucien, assuming a slightly patronizing
tone, "the 'comical fellow' may become a great public character yet,
you see."

"I wish I may be mistaken; I don't ask better," said Michel.

"Are you living with Coralie until you can do better?" asked Fulgence.

"Yes," said Lucien, trying to look unconscious. "Coralie had an
elderly adorer, a merchant, and she showed him the door, poor fellow.
I am better off than your brother Philippe," he added, addressing
Joseph Bridau; "he does not know how to manage Mariette."

"You are a man like another now; in short, you will make your way,"
said Fulgence.

"A man that will always be the same for you, under all circumstances,"
returned Lucien.

Michel and Fulgence exchanged incredulous scornful smiles at this.
Lucien saw the absurdity of his remark.

"Coralie is wonderfully beautiful," exclaimed Joseph Bridau. "What a
magnificent portrait she would make!"

"Beautiful and good," said Lucien; "she is an angel, upon my word. And
you shall paint her portrait; she shall sit to you if you like for
your Venetian lady brought by the old woman to the senator."

"All women who love are angelic," said Michel Chrestien.

Just at that moment Raoul Nathan flew upon Lucien, and grasped both
his hands and shook them in a sudden access of violent friendship.

"Oh, my good friend, you are something more than a great man, you have
a heart," cried he, "a much rarer thing than genius in these days. You
are a devoted friend. I am yours, in short, through thick and thin; I
shall never forget all that you have done for me this week."

Lucien's joy had reached the highest point; to be thus caressed by a
man of whom everyone was talking! He looked at his three friends of
the brotherhood with something like a superior air. Nathan's
appearance upon the scene was the result of an overture from Merlin,
who sent him a proof of the favorable review to appear in to-morrow's

"I only consented to write the attack on condition that I should be
allowed to reply to it myself," Lucien said in Nathan's ear. "I am one
of you." This incident was opportune; it justified the remark which
amused Fulgence. Lucien was radiant.

"When d'Arthez's book comes out," he said, turning to the three, "I am
in a position to be useful to him. That thought in itself would induce
me to remain a journalist."

"Can you do as you like?" Michel asked quickly.

"So far as one can when one is indispensable," said Lucien modestly.

It was almost midnight when they sat down to supper, and the fun grew
fast and furious. Talk was less restrained in Lucien's house than at
Matifat's, for no one suspected that the representatives of the
brotherhood and the newspaper writers held divergent opinions. Young
intellects, depraved by arguing for either side, now came into
conflict with each other, and fearful axioms of the journalistic
jurisprudence, then in its infancy, hurtled to and fro. Claude Vignon,
upholding the dignity of criticism, inveighed against the tendency of
the smaller newspapers, saying that the writers of personalities
lowered themselves in the end. Lousteau, Merlin, and Finot took up the
cudgels for the system known by the name of _blague_; puffery, gossip,
and humbug, said they, was the test of talent, and set the hall-mark,
as it were, upon it. "Any man who can stand that test has real power,"
said Lousteau.

"Besides," cried Merlin, "when a great man receives ovations, there
ought to be a chorus in insults to balance, as in a Roman triumph."

"Oho!" put in Lucien; "then every one held up to ridicule in print
will fancy that he has made a success."

"Any one would think that the question interested you," exclaimed

"And how about our sonnets," said Michel Chrestien; "is that the way
they will win us the fame of a second Petrarch?"

"Laura already counts for something in his fame," said Dauriat, a pun
[Laure (l'or)] received with acclamations.

"_Faciamus experimentum in anima vili_," retorted Lucien with a smile.

"And woe unto him whom reviewers shall spare, flinging him crowns at
his first appearance, for he shall be shelved like the saints in their
shrines, and no man shall pay him the slightest attention," said

"People will say, 'Look elsewhere, simpleton; you have had your due
already,' as Champcenetz said to the Marquis de Genlis, who was
looking too fondly at his wife," added Blondet.

"Success is the ruin of a man in France," said Finot. "We are so
jealous of one another that we try to forget, and to make others
forget, the triumphs of yesterday."

"Contradiction is the life of literature, in fact," said Claude

"In art as in nature, there are two principles everywhere at strife,"
exclaimed Fulgence; "and victory for either means death."

"So it is with politics," added Michel Chrestien.

"We have a case in point," said Lousteau. "Dauriat will sell a couple
of thousand copies of Nathan's book in the coming week. And why?
Because the book that was cleverly attacked will be ably defended."

Merlin took up the proof of to-morrow's paper. "How can such an
article fail to sell an edition?" he asked.

"Read the article," said Dauriat. "I am a publisher wherever I am,
even at supper."

Merlin read Lucien's triumphant refutation aloud, and the whole party

"How could that article have been written unless the attack had
preceded it?" asked Lousteau.

Dauriat drew the proof of the third article from his pocket and read
it over, Finot listening closely; for it was to appear in the second
number of his own review, and as editor he exaggerated his enthusiasm.

"Gentlemen," said he, "so and not otherwise would Bossuet have written
if he had lived in our day."

"I am sure of it," said Merlin. "Bossuet would have been a journalist

"To Bossuet the Second!" cried Claude Vignon, raising his glass with
an ironical bow.

"To my Christopher Columbus!" returned Lucien, drinking a health to

"Bravo!" cried Nathan.

"Is it a nickname?" Merlin inquired, looking maliciously from Finot to

"If you go on at this pace, you will be quite beyond us," said
Dauriat; "these gentlemen" (indicating Camusot and Matifat) "cannot
follow you as it is. A joke is like a bit of thread; if it is spun too
fine, it breaks, as Bonaparte said."

"Gentlemen," said Lousteau, "we have been eye-witnesses of a strange,
portentous, unheard-of, and truly surprising phenomenon. Admire the
rapidity with which our friend here has been transformed from a
provincial into a journalist!"

"He is a born journalist," said Dauriat.

"Children!" called Finot, rising to his feet, "all of us here present
have encouraged and protected our amphitryon in his entrance upon a
career in which he has already surpassed our hopes. In two months he
has shown us what he can do in a series of excellent articles known to
us all. I propose to baptize him in form as a journalist."

"A crown of roses! to signalize a double conquest," cried Bixiou,
glancing at Coralie.

Coralie made a sign to Berenice. That portly handmaid went to
Coralie's dressing-room and brought back a box of tumbled artificial
flowers. The more incapable members of the party were grotesquely
tricked out in these blossoms, and a crown of roses was soon woven.
Finot, as high priest, sprinkled a few drops of champagne on Lucien's
golden curls, pronouncing with delicious gravity the words--"In the
name of the Government Stamp, the Caution-money, and the Fine, I
baptize thee, Journalist. May thy articles sit lightly on thee!"

"And may they be paid for, including white lines!" cried Merlin.

Just at that moment Lucien caught sight of three melancholy faces.
Michel Chrestien, Joseph Bridau, and Fulgence Ridal took up their hats
and went out amid a storm of invective.

"Queer customers!" said Merlin.

"Fulgence used to be a good fellow," added Lousteau, "before they
perverted his morals."

"Who are 'they'?" asked Claude Vignon.

"Some very serious young men," said Blondet, "who meet at a
philosophico-religious symposium in the Rue des Quatre-Vents, and
worry themselves about the meaning of human life----"

"Oh! oh!"

"They are trying to find out whether it goes round in a circle, or
makes some progress," continued Blondet. "They were very hard put to
it between the straight line and the curve; the triangle, warranted by
Scripture, seemed to them to be nonsense, when, lo! there arose among
them some prophet or other who declared for the spiral."

"Men might meet to invent more dangerous nonsense than that!"
exclaimed Lucien, making a faint attempt to champion the brotherhood.

"You take theories of that sort for idle words," said Felicien Vernou;
"but a time comes when the arguments take the form of gunshot and the

"They have not come to that yet," said Bixiou; "they have only come as
far as the designs of Providence in the invention of champagne, the
humanitarian significance of breeches, and the blind deity who keeps
the world going. They pick up fallen great men like Vico, Saint-Simon,
and Fourier. I am much afraid that they will turn poor Joseph Bridau's
head among them."

"Bianchon, my old schoolfellow, gives me the cold shoulder now," said
Lousteau; "it is all their doing----"

"Do they give lectures on orthopedy and intellectual gymnastics?"
asked Merlin.

"Very likely," answered Finot, "if Bianchon has any hand in their

"Pshaw!" said Lousteau; "he will be a great physician anyhow."

"Isn't d'Arthez their visible head?" asked Nathan, "a little youngster
that is going to swallow all of us up."

"He is a genius!" cried Lucien.

"Genius, is he! Well, give me a glass of sherry!" said Claude Vignon,

Every one, thereupon, began to explain his character for the benefit
of his neighbor; and when a clever man feels a pressing need of
explaining himself, and of unlocking his heart, it is pretty clear
that wine has got the upper hand. An hour later, all the men in the
company were the best friends in the world, addressing each other as
great men and bold spirits, who held the future in their hands.
Lucien, in his quality of host, was sufficiently clearheaded to
apprehend the meaning of the sophistries which impressed him and
completed his demoralization.

"The Liberal party," announced Finot, "is compelled to stir up
discussion somehow. There is no fault to find with the action of the
Government, and you may imagine what a fix the Opposition is in. Which
of you now cares to write a pamphlet in favor of the system of
primogeniture, and raise a cry against the secret designs of the
Court? The pamphlet will be paid for handsomely."

"I will write it," said Hector Merlin. "It is my own point of view."

"Your party will complain that you are compromising them," said Finot.
"Felicien, you must undertake it; Dauriat will bring it out, and we
will keep the secret."

"How much shall I get?"

"Six hundred francs. Sign it 'Le Comte C, three stars.'"

"It's a bargain," said Felicien Vernou.

"So you are introducing the _canard_ to the political world," remarked

"It is simply the Chabot affair carried into the region of abstract
ideas," said Finot. "Fasten intentions on the Government, and then let
loose public opinion."

"How a Government can leave the control of ideas to such a pack of
scamps as we are, is matter for perpetual and profound astonishment to
me," said Claude Vignon.

"If the Ministry blunders so far as to come down into the arena, we
can give them a drubbing. If they are nettled by it, the thing will
rankle in people's minds, and the Government will lose its hold on the
masses. The newspaper risks nothing, and the authorities have
everything to lose."

"France will be a cipher until newspapers are abolished by law," said
Claude Vignon. "You are making progress hourly," he added, addressing
Finot. "You are a modern order of Jesuits, lacking the creed, the
fixed idea, the discipline, and the union."

They went back to the card-tables; and before long the light of the
candles grew feeble in the dawn.

"Lucien, your friends from the Rue des Quatre-Vents looked as dismal
as criminals going to be hanged," said Coralie.

"They were the judges, not the criminals," replied the poet.

"Judges are more amusing than _that_," said Coralie.

For a month Lucien's whole time was taken up with supper parties,
dinner engagements, breakfasts, and evening parties; he was swept away
by an irresistible current into a vortex of dissipation and easy work.
He no longer thought of the future. The power of calculation amid the
complications of life is the sign of a strong will which poets,
weaklings, and men who live a purely intellectual life can never
counterfeit. Lucien was living from hand to mouth, spending his money
as fast as he made it, like many another journalist; nor did he give
so much as a thought to those periodically recurrent days of reckoning
which chequer the life of the bohemian in Paris so sadly.

In dress and figure he was a rival for the great dandies of the day.
Coralie, like all zealots, loved to adorn her idol. She ruined herself
to give her beloved poet the accoutrements which had so stirred his
envy in the Garden of the Tuileries. Lucien had wonderful canes, and a
charming eyeglass; he had diamond studs, and scarf-rings, and
signet-rings, besides an assortment of waistcoats marvelous to behold,
and in sufficient number to match every color in a variety of costumes.
His transition to the estate of dandy swiftly followed. When he went to
the German Minister's dinner, all the young men regarded him with
suppressed envy; yet de Marsay, Vandenesse, Ajuda-Pinto, Maxime de
Trailles, Rastignac, Beaudenord, Manerville, and the Duc de
Maufrigneuse gave place to none in the kingdom of fashion. Men of
fashion are as jealous among themselves as women, and in the same way.
Lucien was placed between Mme. de Montcornet and Mme. d'Espard, in
whose honor the dinner was given; both ladies overwhelmed him with

"Why did you turn your back on society when you would have been so
well received?" asked the Marquise. "Every one was prepared to make
much of you. And I have a quarrel with you too. You owed me a call--I
am still waiting to receive it. I saw you at the Opera the other day,
and you would not deign to come to see me nor to take any notice of

"Your cousin, madame, so unmistakably dismissed me--"

"Oh! you do not know women," the Marquise d'Espard broke in upon him.
"You have wounded the most angelic heart, the noblest nature that I
know. You do not know all that Louise was trying to do for you, nor
how tactfully she laid her plans for you.--Oh! and she would have
succeeded," the Marquise continued, replying to Lucien's mute
incredulity. "Her husband is dead now; died, as he was bound to die,
of an indigestion; could you doubt that she would be free sooner or
later? And can you suppose that she would like to be Madame Chardon?
It was worth while to take some trouble to gain the title of Comtesse
de Rubempre. Love, you see, is a great vanity, which requires the
lesser vanities to be in harmony with itself--especially in marriage.
I might love you to madness--which is to say, sufficiently to marry
you--and yet I should find it very unpleasant to be called Madame
Chardon. You can see that. And now that you understand the
difficulties of Paris life, you will know how many roundabout ways you
must take to reach your end; very well, then, you must admit that
Louise was aspiring to an all but impossible piece of Court favor; she
was quite unknown, she is not rich, and therefore she could not afford
to neglect any means of success.

"You are clever," the Marquise d'Espard continued; "but we women, when
we love, are cleverer than the cleverest man. My cousin tried to make
that absurd Chatelet useful--Oh!" she broke off, "I owe not a little
amusement to you; your articles on Chatelet made me laugh heartily."

Lucien knew not what to think of all this. Of the treachery and bad
faith of journalism he had had some experience; but in spite of his
perspicacity, he scarcely expected to find bad faith or treachery in
society. There were some sharp lessons in store for him.

"But, madame," he objected, for her words aroused a lively curiosity,
"is not the Heron under your protection?"

"One is obliged to be civil to one's worst enemies in society,"
protested she; "one may be bored, but one must look as if the talk was
amusing, and not seldom one seems to sacrifice friends the better to
serve them. Are you still a novice? You mean to write, and yet you
know nothing of current deceit? My cousin apparently sacrificed you to
the Heron, but how could she dispense with his influence for you? Our
friend stands well with the present ministry; and we have made him see
that your attacks will do him service--up to a certain point, for we
want you to make it up again some of these days. Chatelet has received
compensations for his troubles; for, as des Lupeaulx said, 'While the
newspapers are making Chatelet ridiculous, they will leave the
Ministry in peace.'"

There was a pause; the Marquise left Lucien to his own reflections.

"M. Blondet led me to hope that I should have the pleasure of seeing
you in my house," said the Comtesse de Montcornet. "You will meet a
few artists and men of letters, and some one else who has the keenest
desire to become acquainted with you--Mlle. des Touches, the owner of
talents rare among our sex. You will go to her house, no doubt. Mlle.
de Touches (or Camille Maupin, if you prefer it) is prodigiously rich,
and presides over one of the most remarkable salons in Paris. She has
heard that you are as handsome as you are clever, and is dying to meet

Lucien could only pour out incoherent thanks and glance enviously at
Emile Blondet. There was as great a difference between a great lady
like Mme. de Montcornet and Coralie as between Coralie and a girl out
of the streets. The Countess was young and witty and beautiful, with
the very white fairness of women of the north. Her mother was the
Princess Scherbellof, and the Minister before dinner had paid her the
most respectful attention.

By this time the Marquise had made an end of trifling disdainfully
with the wing of a chicken.

"My poor Louise felt so much affection for you," she said. "She took
me into her confidence; I knew her dreams of a great career for you.
She would have borne a great deal, but what scorn you showed her when
you sent back her letters! Cruelty we can forgive; those who hurt us
must have still some faith in us; but indifference! Indifference is
like polar snows, it extinguishes all life. So, you must see that you
have lost a precious affection through your own fault. Why break with
her? Even if she had scorned you, you had your way to make, had you
not?--your name to win back? Louise thought of all that."

"Then why was she silent?"

"_Eh! mon Dieu!_" cried the Marquise, "it was I myself who advised her
not to take you into her confidence. Between ourselves, you know, you
seemed so little used to the ways of the world, that I took alarm. I
was afraid that your inexperience and rash ardor might wreck our
carefully-made schemes. Can you recollect yourself as you were then?
You must admit that if you could see your double to-day, you would say
the same yourself. You are not like the same man. That was our
mistake. But would one man in a thousand combine such intellectual
gifts with such wonderful aptitude for taking the tone of society? I
did not think that you would be such an astonishing exception. You
were transformed so quickly, you acquired the manner of Paris so
easily, that I did not recognize you in the Bois de Boulogne a month

Lucien heard the great lady with inexpressible pleasure; the
flatteries were spoken with such a petulant, childlike, confiding air,
and she seemed to take such a deep interest in him, that he thought of
his first evening at the Panorama-Dramatique, and began to fancy that
some such miracle was about to take place a second time. Everything
had smiled upon him since that happy evening; his youth, he thought,
was the talisman that worked this change. He would prove this great
lady; she should not take him unawares.

"Then, what were these schemes which have turned to chimeras, madame?"
asked he.

"Louise meant to obtain a royal patent permitting you to bear the name
and title of Rubempre. She wished to put Chardon out of sight. Your
opinions have put that out of the question now, but _then_ it would not
have been so hard to manage, and a title would mean a fortune for you.

"You will look on these things as trifles and visionary ideas," she
continued; "but we know something of life, and we know, too, all the
solid advantages of a Count's title when it is borne by a fashionable
and extremely charming young man. Announce 'M. Chardon' and 'M. le
Comte de Rubempre' before heiresses or English girls with a million to
their fortune, and note the difference of the effect. The Count might
be in debt, but he would find open hearts; his good looks, brought
into relief by his title, would be like a diamond in a rich setting;
M. Chardon would not be so much as noticed. WE have not invented these
notions; they are everywhere in the world, even among the burgeois.
You are turning your back on fortune at this minute. Do you see that
good-looking young man? He is the Vicomte Felix de Vandenesse, one of
the King's private secretaries. The King is fond enough of young men
of talent, and Vandenesse came from the provinces with baggage nearly
as light as yours. You are a thousand times cleverer than he; but do
you belong to a great family, have you a name? You know des Lupeaulx;
his name is very much like yours, for he was born a Chardin; well, he
would not sell his little farm of Lupeaulx for a million, he will be
Comte des Lupeaulx some day, and perhaps his grandson may be a duke.
--You have made a false start; and if you continue in that way, it will
be all over with you. See how much wiser M. Emile Blondet has been! He
is engaged on a Government newspaper; he is well looked on by those in
authority; he can afford to mix with Liberals, for he holds sound
opinions; and soon or later he will succeed. But then he understood
how to choose his opinions and his protectors.

"Your charming neighbor" (Mme. d'Espard glanced at Mme. de Montcornet)
"was a Troisville; there are two peers of France in the family and two
deputies. She made a wealthy marriage with her name; she sees a great
deal of society at her house; she has influence, she will move the
political world for young M. Blondet. Where will a Coralie take you?
In a few years' time you will be hopelessly in debt and weary of
pleasure. You have chosen badly in love, and you are arranging your
life ill. The woman whom you delight to wound was at the Opera the
other night, and this was how she spoke of you. She deplored the way
in which you were throwing away your talent and the prime of youth;
she was thinking of you, and not of herself, all the while."

"Ah! if you were only telling me the truth, madame!" cried Lucien.

"What object should I have in telling lies?" returned the Marquise,
with a glance of cold disdain which annihilated him. He was so dashed
by it, that the conversation dropped, for the Marquise was offended,
and said no more.

Lucien was nettled by her silence, but he felt that it was due to his
own clumsiness, and promised himself that he would repair his error.
He turned to Mme. de Montcornet and talked to her of Blondet,
extolling that young writer for her benefit. The Countess was gracious
to him, and asked him (at a sign from Mme. d'Espard) to spend an
evening at her house. It was to be a small and quiet gathering to
which only friends were invited--Mme. de Bargeton would be there in
spite of her mourning; Lucien would be pleased, she was sure, to meet
Mme. de Bargeton.

"Mme. la Marquise says that all the wrong is on my side," said Lucien;
"so surely it rests with her cousin, does it not, to decide whether
she will meet me?"

"Put an end to those ridiculous attacks, which only couple her name
with the name of a man for whom she does not care at all, and you will
soon sign a treaty of peace. You thought that she had used you ill, I
am told, but I myself have seen her in sadness because you had
forsaken her. Is it true that she left the provinces on your account?"

Lucien smiled; he did not venture to make any other reply.

"Oh! how could you doubt the woman who made such sacrifices for you?
Beautiful and intellectual as she is, she deserves besides to be loved
for her own sake; and Mme. de Bargeton cared less for you than for
your talents. Believe me, women value intellect more than good looks,"
added the Countess, stealing a glance at Emile Blondet.

In the Minister's hotel Lucien could see the differences between the
great world and that other world beyond the pale in which he had
lately been living. There was no sort of resemblance between the two
kinds of splendor, no single point in common. The loftiness and
disposition of the rooms in one of the handsomest houses in the
Faubourg Saint-Germain, the ancient gilding, the breadth of decorative
style, the subdued richness of the accessories, all this was strange
and new to him; but Lucien had learned very quickly to take luxury for
granted, and he showed no surprise. His behavior was as far removed
from assurance or fatuity on the one hand as from complacency and
servility upon the other. His manner was good; he found favor in the
eyes of all who were not prepared to be hostile, like the younger men,
who resented his sudden intrusion into the great world, and felt
jealous of his good looks and his success.

When they rose from table, he offered his arm to Mme. d'Espard, and
was not refused. Rastignac, watching him, saw that the Marquise was
gracious to Lucien, and came in the character of a fellow-countryman
to remind the poet that they had met once before at Mme. du
Val-Noble's. The young patrician seemed anxious to find an ally in
the great man from his own province, asked Lucien to breakfast with
him some morning, and offered to introduce him to some young men of
fashion. Lucien was nothing loath.

"The dear Blondet is coming," said Rastignac.

The two were standing near the Marquis de Ronquerolles, the Duc de
Rhetore, de Marsay, and General Montriveau. The Minister came across
to join the group.

"Well," said he, addressing Lucien with a bluff German heartiness that
concealed his dangerous subtlety; "well, so you have made your peace
with Mme. d'Espard; she is delighted with you, and we all know," he
added, looking round the group, "how difficult it is to please her."

"Yes, but she adores intellect," said Rastignac, "and my illustrious
fellow-countryman has wit enough to sell."

"He will soon find out that he is not doing well for himself," Blondet
put in briskly. "He will come over; he will soon be one of us."

Those who stood about Lucien rang the changes on this theme; the older
and responsible men laid down the law with one or two profound
remarks; the younger ones made merry at the expense of the Liberals.

"He simply tossed up head or tails for Right or Left, I am sure,"
remarked Blondet, "but now he will choose for himself."

Lucien burst out laughing; he thought of his talk with Lousteau that
evening in the Luxembourg Gardens.

"He has taken on a bear-leader," continued Blondet, "one Etienne
Lousteau, a newspaper hack who sees a five-franc piece in a column.
Lousteau's politics consist in a belief that Napoleon will return, and
(and this seems to me to be still more simple) in a confidence in the
gratitude and patriotism of their worships the gentlemen of the Left.
As a Rubempre, Lucien's sympathies should lean towards the
aristocracy; as a journalist, he ought to be for authority, or he will
never be either Rubempre or a secretary-general."

The Minister now asked Lucien to take a hand at whist; but, to the
great astonishment of those present, he declared that he did not know
the game.

"Come early to me on the day of that breakfast affair," Rastignac
whispered, "and I will teach you to play. You are a discredit to the
royal city of Angouleme; and, to repeat M. de Talleyrand's saying, you
are laying up an unhappy old age for yourself."

Des Lupeaulx was announced. He remembered Lucien, whom he had met at
Mme. du Val-Noble's, and bowed with a semblance of friendliness which
the poet could not doubt. Des Lupeaulx was in favor, he was a Master
of Requests, and did the Ministry secret services; he was, moreover,
cunning and ambitious, slipping himself in everywhere; he was
everybody's friend, for he never knew whom he might need. He saw
plainly that this was a young journalist whose social success would
probably equal his success in literature; saw, too, that the poet was
ambitious, and overwhelmed him with protestations and expressions of
friendship and interest, till Lucien felt as if they were old friends
already, and took his promises and speeches for more than their worth.
Des Lupeaulx made a point of knowing a man thoroughly well if he
wanted to get rid of him or feared him as a rival. So, to all
appearance, Lucien was well received. He knew that much of his success
was owing to the Duc de Rhetore, the Minister, Mme. d'Espard, and Mme.
de Montcornet, and went to spend a few moments with the two ladies
before taking leave, and talked his very best for them.

"What a coxcomb!" said des Lupeaulx, turning to the Marquise when he
had gone.

"He will be rotten before he is ripe," de Marsay added, smiling. "You
must have private reasons of your own, madame, for turning his head in
this way."

When Lucien stepped into the carriage in the courtyard, he found
Coralie waiting for him. She had come to fetch him. The little
attention touched him; he told her the history of his evening; and, to
his no small astonishment, the new notions which even now were running
in his head met with Coralie's approval. She strongly advised him to
enlist under the ministerial banner.

"You have nothing to expect from the Liberals but hard knocks," she
said. "They plot and conspire; they murdered the Duc de Berri. Will
they upset the Government? Never! You will never come to anything
through them, while you will be Comte de Rubempre if you throw in your
lot with the other side. You might render services to the State, and
be a peer of France, and marry an heiress. Be an Ultra. It is the
proper thing besides," she added, this being the last word with her on
all subjects. "I dined with the Val-Noble; she told me that Theodore
Gaillard is really going to start his little Royalist _Revue_, so as to
reply to your witticisms and the jokes in the _Miroir_. To hear them
talk, M. Villele's party will be in office before the year is out. Try
to turn the change to account before they come to power; and say
nothing to Etienne and your friends, for they are quite equal to
playing you some ill turn."

A week later, Lucien went to Mme. de Montcornet's house, and saw the
woman whom he had so loved, whom later he had stabbed to the heart
with a jest. He felt the most violent agitation at the sight of her,
for Louise also had undergone a transformation. She was the Louise
that she would always have been but for her detention in the provinces
--she was a great lady. There was a grace and refinement in her
mourning dress which told that she was a happy widow; Lucien fancied
that this coquetry was aimed in some degree at him, and he was right;
but, like an ogre, he had tasted flesh, and all that evening he
vacillated between Coralie's warm, voluptuous beauty and the dried-up,
haughty, cruel Louise. He could not make up his mind to sacrifice the
actress to the great lady; and Mme. de Bargeton--all the old feeling
reviving in her at the sight of Lucien, Lucien's beauty, Lucien's
cleverness--was waiting and expecting that sacrifice all evening; and
after all her insinuating speeches and her fascinations, she had her
trouble for her pains. She left the room with a fixed determination to
be revenged.

"Well, dear Lucien," she had said, and in her kindness there was both
generosity and Parisian grace; "well, dear Lucien, so you, that were
to have been my pride, took me for your first victim; and I forgave
you, my dear, for I felt that in such a revenge there was a trace of
love still left."

With that speech, and the queenly way in which it was uttered, Mme. de
Bargeton recovered her position. Lucien, convinced that he was a
thousand times in the right, felt that he had been put in the wrong.
Not one word of the causes of the rupture! not one syllable of the
terrible farewell letter! A woman of the world has a wonderful genius
for diminishing her faults by laughing at them; she can obliterate
them all with a smile or a question of feigned surprise, and she knows
this. She remembers nothing, she can explain everything; she is
amazed, asks questions, comments, amplifies, and quarrels with you,
till in the end her sins disappear like stains on the application of a
little soap and water; black as ink you knew them to be; and lo! in a
moment, you behold immaculate white innocence, and lucky are you if
you do not find that you yourself have sinned in some way beyond

In a moment old illusions regained their power over Lucien and Louise;
they talked like friends, as before; but when the lady, with a
hesitating sigh, put the question, "Are you happy?" Lucien was not
ready with a prompt, decided answer; he was intoxicated with gratified
vanity; Coralie, who (let us admit it) had made life easy for him, had
turned his head. A melancholy "No" would have made his fortune, but he
must needs begin to explain his position with regard to Coralie. He
said that he was loved for his own sake; he said a good many foolish
things that a man will say when he is smitten with a tender passion,
and thought the while that he was doing a clever thing.

Mme. de Bargeton bit her lips. There was no more to be said. Mme.
d'Espard brought Mme. de Montcornet to her cousin, and Lucien became
the hero of the evening, so to speak. He was flattered, petted, and
made much of by the three women; he was entangled with art which no
words can describe. His social success in this fine and brilliant
circle was at least as great as his triumphs in journalism. Beautiful
Mlle. des Touches, so well known as "Camille Maupin," asked him to one
of her Wednesday dinners; his beauty, now so justly famous, seemed to
have made an impression upon her. Lucien exerted himself to show that
his wit equaled his good looks, and Mlle. des Touches expressed her
admiration with a playful outspokenness and a pretty fervor of
friendship which deceives those who do not know life in Paris to its
depths, nor suspect how continual enjoyment whets the appetite for

"If she should like me as much as I like her, we might abridge the
romance," said Lucien, addressing de Marsay and Rastignac.

"You both of you write romances too well to care to live them,"
returned Rastignac. "Can men and women who write ever fall in love
with each other? A time is sure to come when they begin to make little
cutting remarks."

"It would not be a bad dream for you," laughed de Marsay. "The
charming young lady is thirty years old, it is true, but she has an
income of eighty thousand livres. She is adorably capricious, and her
style of beauty wears well. Coralie is a silly little fool, my dear
boy, well enough for a start, for a young spark must have a mistress;
but unless you make some great conquest in the great world, an actress
will do you harm in the long run. Now, my boy, go and cut out Conti.
Here he is, just about to sing with Camille Maupin. Poetry has taken
precedence of music ever since time began."

But when Lucien heard Mlle. des Touches' voice blending with Conti's,
his hopes fled.

"Conti sings too well," he told des Lupeaulx; and he went back to Mme.
de Bargeton, who carried him off to Mme. d'Espard in another room.

"Well, will you not interest yourself in him?" asked Mme. de Bargeton.

The Marquise spoke with an air half kindly, half insolent. "Let M.
Chardon first put himself in such a position that he will not
compromise those who take an interest in him," she said. "If he wishes
to drop his patronymic and to bear his mother's name, he should at any
rate be on the right side, should he not?"

"In less than two months I will arrange everything," said Lucien.

"Very well," returned Mme. d'Espard. "I will speak to my father and
uncle; they are in waiting, they will speak to the Chancellor for

The diplomatist and the two women had very soon discovered Lucien's
weak side. The poet's head was turned by the glory of the aristocracy;
every man who entered the rooms bore a sounding name mounted in a
glittering title, and he himself was plain Chardon. Unspeakable
mortification filled him at the sound of it. Wherever he had been
during the last few days, that pang had been constantly present with
him. He felt, moreover, a sensation quite as unpleasant when he went
back to his desk after an evening spent in the great world, in which
he made a tolerable figure, thanks to Coralie's carriage and Coralie's

He learned to ride, in order to escort Mme. d'Espard, Mlle. des
Touches, and the Comtesse de Montcornet when they drove in the Bois, a
privilege which he had envied other young men so greatly when he first
came to Paris. Finot was delighted to give his right-hand man an order
for the Opera, so Lucien wasted many an evening there, and
thenceforward he was among the exquisites of the day.

The poet asked Rastignac and his new associates to a breakfast, and
made the blunder of giving it in Coralie's rooms in the Rue de
Vendome; he was too young, too much of a poet, too self-confident, to
discern certain shades and distinctions in conduct; and how should an
actress, a good-hearted but uneducated girl, teach him life? His
guests were anything but charitably disposed towards him; it was
clearly proven to their minds that Lucien the critic and the actress
were in collusion for their mutual interests, and all of the young men
were jealous of an arrangement which all of them stigmatized. The most
pitiless of those who laughed that evening at Lucien's expense was
Rastignac himself. Rastignac had made and held his position by very
similar means; but so careful had he been of appearances, that he
could afford to treat scandal as slander.

Lucien proved an apt pupil at whist. Play became a passion with him;
and so far from disapproving, Coralie encouraged his extravagance with
the peculiar short-sightedness of an all-absorbing love, which sees
nothing beyond the moment, and is ready to sacrifice anything, even
the future, to the present enjoyment. Coralie looked on cards as a
safe-guard against rivals. A great love has much in common with
childhood--a child's heedless, careless, spendthrift ways, a child's
laughter and tears.

In those days there lived and flourished a set of young men, some of
them rich, some poor, and all of them idle, called "free-livers"
(_viveurs_); and, indeed, they lived with incredible insolence
--unabashed and unproductive consumers, and yet more intrepid
drinkers. These spendthrifts mingled the roughest practical jokes with
a life not so much reckless as suicidal; they drew back from no
impossibility, and gloried in pranks which, nevertheless, were
confined within certain limits; and as they showed the most original
wit in their escapades, it was impossible not to pardon them.

No sign of the times more plainly discovered the helotism to which the
Restoration had condemned the young manhood of the epoch. The younger
men, being at a loss to know what to do with themselves, were
compelled to find other outlets for their superabundant energy besides
journalism, or conspiracy, or art, or letters. They squandered their
strength in the wildest excesses, such sap and luxuriant power was
there in young France. The hard workers among these gilded youths
wanted power and pleasure; the artists wished for money; the idle
sought to stimulate their appetites or wished for excitement; one and
all of them wanted a place, and one and all were shut out from
politics and public life. Nearly all the "free-livers" were men of
unusual mental powers; some held out against the enervating life,
others were ruined by it. The most celebrated and the cleverest among
them was Eugene Rastignac, who entered, with de Marsay's help, upon a
political career, in which he has since distinguished himself. The
practical jokes, in which the set indulged became so famous, that not
a few vaudevilles have been founded upon them.

Blondet introduced Lucien to this society of prodigals, of which he
became a brilliant ornament, ranking next to Bixiou, one of the most
mischievous and untiring scoffing wits of his time. All through that
winter Lucien's life was one long fit of intoxication, with intervals
of easy work. He continued his series of sketches of contemporary
life, and very occasionally made great efforts to write a few pages of
serious criticism, on which he brought his utmost power of thought to
bear. But study was the exception, not the rule, and only undertaken
at the bidding of necessity; dinners and breakfasts, parties of
pleasure and play, took up most of his time, and Coralie absorbed all
that was left. He would not think of the morrow. He saw besides that
his so-called friends were leading the same life, earning money easily
by writing publishers' prospectuses and articles paid for by
speculators; all of them lived beyond their incomes, none of them
thought seriously of the future.

Lucien had been admitted into the ranks of journalism and of
literature on terms of equality; he foresaw immense difficulties in
the way if he should try to rise above the rest. Every one was willing
to look upon him as an equal; no one would have him for a superior.
Unconsciously he gave up the idea of winning fame in literature, for
it seemed easier to gain success in politics.

"Intrigue raises less opposition than talent," du Chatelet had said
one day (for Lucien and the Baron had made up their quarrel); "a plot
below the surface rouses no one's attention. Intrigue, moreover, is
superior to talent, for it makes something out of nothing; while, for
the most part, the immense resources of talent only injure a man."

So Lucien never lost sight of his principal idea; and though
to-morrow, following close upon the heels of to-day in the midst of an
orgy, never found the promised work accomplished, Lucien was assiduous
in society. He paid court to Mme. de Bargeton, the Marquise d'Espard,
and the Comtesse de Montcornet; he never missed a single party given
by Mlle. des Touches, appearing in society after a dinner given by
authors or publishers, and leaving the salons for a supper given in
consequence of a bet. The demands of conversation and the excitement
of play absorbed all the ideas and energy left by excess. The poet had
lost the lucidity of judgment and coolness of head which must be
preserved if a man is to see all that is going on around him, and
never to lose the exquisite tact which the _parvenu_ needs at every
moment. How should he know how many a time Mme. de Bargeton left him
with wounded susceptibilities, how often she forgave him or added one
more condemnation to the rest?

Chatelet saw that his rival had still a chance left, so he became
Lucien's friend. He encouraged the poet in dissipation that wasted his
energies. Rastignac, jealous of his fellow-countryman, and thinking,
besides, that Chatelet would be a surer and more useful ally than
Lucien, had taken up the Baron's cause. So, some few days after the
meeting of the Petrarch and Laura of Angouleme, Rastignac brought
about the reconciliation between the poet and the elderly beau at a
sumptuous supper given at the _Rocher de Cancale_. Lucien never returned
home till morning, and rose in the middle of the day; Coralie was
always at his side, he could not forego a single pleasure. Sometimes
he saw his real position, and made good resolutions, but they came to
nothing in his idle, easy life; and the mainspring of will grew slack,
and only responded to the heaviest pressure of necessity.

Coralie had been glad that Lucien should amuse himself; she had
encouraged him in this reckless expenditure, because she thought that
the cravings which she fostered would bind her lover to her. But
tender-hearted and loving as she was, she found courage to advise
Lucien not to forget his work, and once or twice was obliged to remind
him that he had earned very little during the month. Their debts were
growing frightfully fast. The fifteen hundred francs which remained
from the purchase-money of the _Marguerites_ had been swallowed up at
once, together with Lucien's first five hundred livres. In three
months he had only made a thousand francs, yet he felt as though he
had been working tremendously hard. But by this time Lucien had
adopted the "free-livers" pleasant theory of debts.

Debts are becoming to a young man, but after the age of
five-and-twenty they are inexcusable. It should be observed that there
are certain natures in which a really poetic temper is united with a
weakened will; and these while absorbed in feeling, that they may
transmute personal experience, sensation, or impression into some
permanent form are essentially deficient in the moral sense which
should accompany all observation. Poets prefer rather to receive their
own impressions than to enter into the souls of others to study the
mechanism of their feelings and thoughts. So Lucien neither asked his
associates what became of those who disappeared from among them, nor
looked into the futures of his so-called friends. Some of them were
heirs to property, others had definite expectations; yet others either
possessed names that were known in the world, or a most robust belief
in their destiny and a fixed resolution to circumvent the law. Lucien,
too, believed in his future on the strength of various profound
axiomatic sayings of Blondet's: "Everything comes out all right at
last--If a man has nothing, his affairs cannot be embarrassed--We have
nothing to lose but the fortune that we seek--Swim with the stream; it
will take you somewhere--A clever man with a footing in society can
make a fortune whenever he pleases."

That winter, filled as it was with so many pleasures and dissipations,
was a necessary interval employed in finding capital for the new
Royalist paper; Theodore Gaillard and Hector Merlin only brought out
the first number of the _Reveil_ in March 1822. The affair had been
settled at Mme. du Val-Noble's house. Mme. du val-Noble exercised a
certain influence over the great personages, Royalist writers, and
bankers who met in her splendid rooms--"fit for a tale out of the
_Arabian Nights_," as the elegant and clever courtesan herself used to
say--to transact business which could not be arranged elsewhere. The
editorship had been promised to Hector Merlin. Lucien, Merlin's
intimate, was pretty certain to be his right-hand man, and a
_feuilleton_ in a Ministerial paper had been promised to him besides.
All through the dissipations of that winter Lucien had been secretly
making ready for this change of front. Child as he was, he fancied
that he was a deep politician because he concealed the preparation for
the approaching transformation-scene, while he was counting upon
Ministerial largesses to extricate himself from embarrassment and to
lighten Coralie's secret cares. Coralie said nothing of her distress;
she smiled now, as always; but Berenice was bolder, she kept Lucien
informed of their difficulties; and the budding great man, moved,
after the fashion of poets, by the tale of disasters, would vow that
he would begin to work in earnest, and then forget his resolution, and
drown his fleeting cares in excess. One day Coralie saw the poetic
brow overcast, and scolded Berenice, and told her lover that
everything would be settled.

Mme. d'Espard and Mme. de Bargeton were waiting for Lucien's
profession of his new creed, so they said, before applying through
Chatelet for the patent which should permit Lucien to bear the so-much
desired name. Lucien had proposed to dedicate the _Marguerites_ to Mme.
d'Espard, and the Marquise seemed to be not a little flattered by a
compliment which authors have been somewhat chary of paying since they
became a power in the land; but when Lucien went to Dauriat and asked
after his book, that worthy publisher met him with excellent reasons
for the delay in its appearance. Dauriat had this and that in hand,
which took up all his time; a new volume by Canalis was coming out,
and he did not want the two books to clash; M. de Lamartine's second
series of _Meditations_ was in the press, and two important collections
of poetry ought not to appear together.

By this time, however, Lucien's needs were so pressing that he had
recourse to Finot, and received an advance on his work. When, at a
supper-party that evening, the poet journalist explained his position
to his friends in the fast set, they drowned his scruples in
champagne, iced with pleasantries. Debts! There was never yet a man of
any power without debts! Debts represented satisfied cravings,
clamorous vices. A man only succeeds under the pressure of the iron
hand of necessity. Debts forsooth!

"Why, the one pledge of which a great man can be sure, is given him by
his friend the pawnbroker," cried Blondet.

"If you want everything, you must owe for everything," called Bixiou.

"No," corrected des Lupeaulx, "if you owe for everything, you have had

The party contrived to convince the novice that his debts were a
golden spur to urge on the horses of the chariot of his fortunes.
There is always the stock example of Julius Caesar with his debt of
forty millions, and Friedrich II. on an allowance of one ducat a
month, and a host of other great men whose failings are held up for
the corruption of youth, while not a word is said of their
wide-reaching ideas, their courage equal to all odds.

Creditors seized Coralie's horses, carriage, and furniture at last,
for an amount of four thousand francs. Lucien went to Lousteau and
asked his friend to meet his bill for the thousand francs lent to pay
gaming debts; but Lousteau showed him certain pieces of stamped paper,
which proved that Florine was in much the same case. Lousteau was
grateful, however, and offered to take the necessary steps for the
sale of Lucien's _Archer of Charles IX._

"How came Florine to be in this plight?" asked Lucien.

"The Matifat took alarm," said Lousteau. "We have lost him; but if
Florine chooses, she can make him pay dear for his treachery. I will
tell you all about it."

Three days after this bootless errand, Lucien and Coralie were
breakfasting in melancholy spirits beside the fire in their pretty
bedroom. Berenice had cooked a dish of eggs for them over the grate;
for the cook had gone, and the coachman and servants had taken leave.
They could not sell the furniture, for it had been attached; there was
not a single object of any value in the house. A goodly collection of
pawntickets, forming a very instructive octavo volume, represented all
the gold, silver, and jewelry. Berenice had kept back a couple of
spoons and forks, that was all.

Lousteau's newspaper was of service now to Coralie and Lucien, little
as they suspected it; for the tailor, dressmaker, and milliner were
afraid to meddle with a journalist who was quite capable of writing
down their establishments.

Etienne Lousteau broke in upon their breakfast with a shout of
"Hurrah! Long live _The Archer of Charles IX._! And I have converted a
hundred francs worth of books into cash, children. We will go halves."

He handed fifty francs to Coralie, and sent Berenice out in quest of a
more substantial breakfast.

"Hector Merlin and I went to a booksellers' trade dinner yesterday,
and prepared the way for your romance with cunning insinuations.
Dauriat is in treaty, but Dauriat is haggling over it; he won't give
more than four thousand francs for two thousand copies, and you want
six thousand francs. We made you out twice as great as Sir Walter
Scott! Oh! you have such novels as never were in the inwards of you.
It is not a mere book for sale, it is a big business; you are not
simply the writer of one more or less ingenious novel, you are going
to write a whole series. The word 'series' did it! So, mind you, don't
forget that you have a great historical series on hand--_La Grande
Mademoiselle_, or _The France of Louis Quatorze_; _Cotillon I._, or _The
Early Days of Louis Quinze_; _The Queen and the Cardinal_, or _Paris and
the Fronde_; _The Son of the Concini_, or _Richelieu's Intrigue_. These
novels will be announced on the wrapper of the book. We call this
manoeuvre 'giving a success a toss in the coverlet,' for the titles
are all to appear on the cover, till you will be better known for the
books that you have not written than for the work you have done. And
'In the Press' is a way of gaining credit in advance for work that you
will do. Come, now, let us have a little fun! Here comes the
champagne. You can understand, Lucien, that our men opened eyes as big
as saucers. By the by, I see that you have saucers still left."

"They are attached," explained Coralie.

"I understand, and I resume. Show a publisher one manuscript volume
and he will believe in all the rest. A publisher asks to see your
manuscript, and gives you to understand that he is going to read it.
Why disturb his harmless vanity? They never read a manuscript; they
would not publish so many if they did. Well, Hector and I allowed it
to leak out that you might consider an offer of five thousand francs
for three thousand copies, in two editions. Let me have your _Archer_;
the day after to-morrow we are to breakfast with the publishers, and
we will get the upper hand of them."

"Who are they?" asked Lucien.

"Two partners named Fendant and Cavalier; they are two good fellows,
pretty straightforward in business. One of them used to be with Vidal
and Porchon, the other is the cleverest hand on the Quai des
Augustins. They only started in business last year, and have lost a
little on translations of English novels; so now my gentlemen have a
mind to exploit the native product. There is a rumor current that
those dealers in spoiled white paper are trading on other people's
capital; but I don't think it matters very much to you who finds the
money, so long as you are paid."

Two days later, the pair went to a breakfast in the Rue Serpente, in
Lucien's old quarter of Paris. Lousteau still kept his room in the Rue
de la Harpe; and it was in the same state as before, but this time
Lucien felt no surprise; he had been initiated into the life of
journalism; he knew all its ups and downs. Since that evening of his
introduction to the Wooden Galleries, he had been paid for many an
article, and gambled away the money along with the desire to write. He
had filled columns, not once but many times, in the ingenious ways
described by Lousteau on that memorable evening as they went to the
Palais Royal. He was dependent upon Barbet and Braulard; he trafficked
in books and theatre-tickets; he shrank no longer from any attack,
from writing any panegyric; and at this moment he was in some sort
rejoicing to make all he could out of Lousteau before turning his back
on the Liberals. His intimate knowledge of the party would stand him
in good stead in future. And Lousteau, on his side, was privately
receiving five hundred francs of purchase-money, under the name of
commission, from Fendant and Cavalier for introducing the future Sir
Walter Scott to two enterprising tradesmen in search of a French
Author of "Waverley."

The firm of Fendant and Cavalier had started in business without any
capital whatsoever. A great many publishing houses were established at
that time in the same way, and are likely to be established so long as
papermakers and printers will give credit for the time required to
play some seven or eight of the games of chance called "new
publications." At that time, as at present, the author's copyright was
paid for in bills at six, nine, and twelve months--a method of payment
determined by the custom of the trade, for booksellers settle accounts
between themselves by bills at even longer dates. Papermakers and
printers are paid in the same way, so that in practice the
publisher-bookseller has a dozen or a score of works on sale for a
twelvemonth before he pays for them. Even if only two or three of these
hit the public taste, the profitable speculations pay for the bad, and
the publisher pays his way by grafting, as it were, one book upon
another. But if all of them turn out badly; or if, for his misfortune,
the publisher-bookseller happens to bring out some really good literature
which stays on hand until the right public discovers and appreciates
it; or if it costs too much to discount the paper that he receives,
then, resignedly, he files his schedule, and becomes a bankrupt with
an untroubled mind. He was prepared all along for something of the
kind. So, all the chances being in favor of the publishers, they
staked other people's money, not their own upon the gaming-table of
business speculation.

This was the case with Fendant and Cavalier. Cavalier brought his
experience, Fendant his industry; the capital was a joint-stock
affair, and very accurately described by that word, for it consisted
in a few thousand francs scraped together with difficulty by the
mistresses of the pair. Out of this fund they allowed each other a
fairly handsome salary, and scrupulously spent it all in dinners to
journalists and authors, or at the theatre, where their business was
transacted, as they said. This questionably honest couple were both
supposed to be clever men of business, but Fendant was more slippery
than Cavalier. Cavalier, true to his name, traveled about, Fendant
looked after business in Paris. A partnership between two publishers
is always more or less of a duel, and so it was with Fendant and

They had brought out plenty of romances already, such as the _Tour du
Nord_, _Le Marchand de Benares_, _La Fontaine du Sepulcre_, and _Tekeli_,
translations of the works of Galt, an English novelist who never
attained much popularity in France. The success of translations of
Scott had called the attention of the trade to English novels. The
race of publishers, all agog for a second Norman conquest, were
seeking industriously for a second Scott, just as at a rather later
day every one must needs look for asphalt in stony soil, or bitumen in
marshes, and speculate in projected railways. The stupidity of the
Paris commercial world is conspicuous in these attempts to do the same
thing twice, for success lies in contraries; and in Paris, of all
places in the world, success spoils success. So beneath the title of
_Strelitz, or Russia a Hundred Years Ago_, Fendant and Cavalier rashly
added in big letters the words, "In the style of Scott."

Fendant and Cavalier were in great need of a success. A single good
book might float their sunken bales, they thought; and there was the
alluring prospect besides of articles in the newspapers, the great way
of promoting sales in those days. A book is very seldom bought and
sold for its just value, and purchases are determined by
considerations quite other than the merits of the work. So Fendant and
Cavalier thought of Lucien as a journalist, and of his book as a
salable article, which would help them to tide over their monthly

The partners occupied the ground floor of one of the great
old-fashioned houses in the Rue Serpente; their private office had
been contrived at the further end of a suite of large drawing-rooms,
now converted into warehouses for books. Lucien and Etienne found the
publishers in their office, the agreement drawn up, and the bills
ready. Lucien wondered at such prompt action.

Fendant was short and thin, and by no means reassuring of aspect. With
his low, narrow forehead, sunken nose, and hard mouth, he looked like
a Kalmuck Tartar; a pair of small, wide-awake black eyes, the crabbed
irregular outline of his countenance, a voice like a cracked bell--the
man's whole appearance, in fact, combined to give the impression that
this was a consummate rascal. A honeyed tongue compensated for these
disadvantages, and he gained his ends by talk. Cavalier, a stout,
thick-set young fellow, looked more like the driver of a mail coach
than a publisher; he had hair of a sandy color, a fiery red
countenance, and the heavy build and untiring tongue of a commercial

"There is no need to discuss this affair," said Fendant, addressing
Lucien and Lousteau. "I have read the work, it is very literary, and
so exactly the kind of thing we want, that I have sent it off as it is
to the printer. The agreement is drawn on the lines laid down, and
besides, we always make the same stipulations in all cases. The bills
fall due in six, nine, and twelve months respectively; you will meet
with no difficulty in discounting them, and we will refund you the
discount. We have reserved the right of giving a new title to the
book. We don't care for _The Archer of Charles IX._; it doesn't tickle
the reader's curiosity sufficiently; there were several kings of that
name, you see, and there were so many archers in the Middle Ages. If
you had only called it the _Soldier of Napoleon_, now! But _The Archer
of Charles IX._!--why, Cavalier would have to give a course of history
lessons before he could place a copy anywhere in the provinces."

"If you but knew the class of people that we have to do with!"
exclaimed Cavalier.

"_Saint Bartholomew_ would suit better," continued Fendant.

"_Catherine de' Medici, or France under Charles IX._, would sound more
like one of Scott's novels," added Cavalier.

"We will settle it when the work is printed," said Fendant.

"Do as you please, so long as I approve your title," said Lucien.

The agreement was read over, signed in duplicate, and each of the
contracting parties took their copy. Lucien put the bills in his
pocket with unequaled satisfaction, and the four repaired to Fendant's
abode, where they breakfasted on beefsteaks and oysters, kidneys in
champagne, and Brie cheese; but if the fare was something of the
homeliest, the wines were exquisite; Cavalier had an acquaintance a
traveler in the wine trade. Just as they sat down to table the printer
appeared, to Lucien's surprise, with the first two proof-sheets.

"We want to get on with it," Fendant said; "we are counting on your
book; we want a success confoundedly badly."

The breakfast, begun at noon, lasted till five o'clock.

"Where shall we get cash for these things?" asked Lucien as they came
away, somewhat heated and flushed with the wine.

"We might try Barbet," suggested Etienne, and they turned down to the
Quai des Augustins.

"Coralie is astonished to the highest degree over Florine's loss.
Florine only told her about it yesterday; she seemed to lay the blame
of it on you, and was so vexed, that she was ready to throw you over."

"That's true," said Lousteau. Wine had got the better of prudence, and
he unbosomed himself to Lucien, ending up with: "My friend--for you
are my friend, Lucien; you lent me a thousand francs, and you have
only once asked me for the money--shun play! If I had never touched a
card, I should be a happy man. I owe money all round. At this moment I
have the bailiffs at my heels; indeed, when I go to the Palais Royal,
I have dangerous capes to double."

In the language of the fast set, doubling a cape meant dodging a
creditor, or keeping out of his way. Lucien had not heard the
expression before, but he was familiar with the practice by this time.

"Are your debts so heavy?"

"A mere trifle," said Lousteau. "A thousand crowns would pull me
through. I have resolved to turn steady and give up play, and I have
done a little 'chantage' to pay my debts."

"What is 'chantage'?" asked Lucien.

"It is an English invention recently imported. A 'chanteur' is a man
who can manage to put a paragraph in the papers--never an editor nor a
responsible man, for they are not supposed to know anything about it,
and there is always a Giroudeau or a Philippe Bridau to be found. A
bravo of this stamp finds up somebody who has his own reasons for not
wanting to be talked about. Plenty of people have a few peccadilloes,
or some more or less original sin, upon their consciences; there are
plenty of fortunes made in ways that would not bear looking into;
sometimes a man has kept the letter of the law, and sometimes he has
not; and in either case, there is a tidbit of tattle for the inquirer,
as, for instance, that tale of Fouche's police surrounding the spies
of the Prefect of Police, who, not being in the secret of the
fabrication of forged English banknotes, were just about to pounce on
the clandestine printers employed by the Minister, or there is the
story of Prince Galathionne's diamonds, the Maubreuile affair, or the
Pombreton will case. The 'chanteur' gets possession of some
compromising letter, asks for an interview; and if the man that made
the money does not buy silence, the 'chanteur' draws a picture of the
press ready to take the matter up and unravel his private affairs. The
rich man is frightened, he comes down with the money, and the trick

"You are committed to some risky venture, which might easily be
written down in a series of articles; a 'chanteur' waits upon you, and
offers to withdraw the articles--for a consideration. 'Chanteurs' are
sent to men in office, who will bargain that their acts and not their
private characters are to be attacked, or they are heedless of their
characters, and anxious only to shield the woman they love. One of
your acquaintance, that charming Master of Requests des Lupeaulx, is a
kind of agent for affairs of this sort. The rascal has made a position
for himself in the most marvelous way in the very centre of power; he
is the middle-man of the press and the ambassador of the Ministers; he
works upon a man's self-love; he bribes newspapers to pass over a loan
in silence, or to make no comment on a contract which was never put up
for public tender, and the jackals of Liberal bankers get a share out
of it. That was a bit of 'chantage' that you did with Dauriat; he gave
you a thousand crowns to let Nathan alone. In the eighteenth century,
when journalism was still in its infancy, this kind of blackmail was
levied by pamphleteers in the pay of favorites and great lords. The
original inventor was Pietro Aretino, a great Italian. Kings went in
fear of him, as stage-players go in fear of a newspaper to-day."

"What did you do to the Matifat to make the thousand crowns?"

"I attacked Florine in half a dozen papers. Florine complained to
Matifat. Matifat went to Braulard to find out what the attacks meant.
I did my 'chantage' for Finot's benefit, and Finot put Braulard on the
wrong scent; Braulard told the man of drugs that _you_ were demolishing
Florine in Coralie's interest. Then Giroudeau went round to Matifat
and told him (in confidence) that the whole business could be
accommodated if he (Matifat) would consent to sell his sixth share in
Finot's review for ten thousand francs. Finot was to give me a
thousand crowns if the dodge succeeded. Well, Matifat was only too
glad to get back ten thousand francs out of the thirty thousand
invested in a risky speculation, as he thought, for Florine had been
telling him for several days past that Finot's review was doing badly;
and, instead of paying a dividend, something was said of calling up
more capital. So Matifat was just about to close with the offer, when
the manager of the Panorama-Dramatique comes to him with some
accommodation bills that he wanted to negotiate before filing his
schedule. To induce Matifat to take them of him, he let out a word of
Finot's trick. Matifat, being a shrewd man of business, took the hint,
held tight to his sixth, and is laughing in his sleeve at us. Finot
and I are howling with despair. We have been so misguided as to attack
a man who has no affection for his mistress, a heartless, soulless
wretch. Unluckily, too, for us, Matifat's business is not amenable to
the jurisdiction of the press, and he cannot be made to smart for it
through his interests. A druggist is not like a hatter or a milliner,
or a theatre or a work of art; he is above criticism; you can't run
down his opium and dyewoods, nor cocoa beans, paint, and pepper.
Florine is at her wits' end; the Panorama closes to-morrow, and what
will become of her she does not know."

"Coralie's engagement at the Gymnase begins in a few days," said
Lucien; "she might do something for Florine."

"Not she!" said Lousteau. "Coralie is not clever, but she is not quite
simple enough to help herself to a rival. We are in a mess with a
vengeance. And Finot is in such a hurry to buy back his sixth----"


"It is a capital bit of business, my dear fellow. There is a chance of
selling the paper for three hundred thousand francs; Finot would have
one-third, and his partners besides are going to pay him a commission,
which he will share with des Lupeaulx. So I propose to do another turn
of 'chantage.'"

"'Chantage' seems to mean your money or your life?"

"It is better than that," said Lousteau; "it is your money or your
character. A short time ago the proprietor of a minor newspaper was
refused credit. The day before yesterday it was announced in his
columns that a gold repeater set with diamonds belonging to a certain
notability had found its way in a curious fashion into the hands of a
private soldier in the Guards; the story promised to the readers might
have come from the _Arabian Nights_. The notability lost no time in
asking that editor to dine with him; the editor was distinctly a
gainer by the transaction, and contemporary history has lost an
anecdote. Whenever the press makes vehement onslaughts upon some one
in power, you may be sure that there is some refusal to do a service
behind it. Blackmailing with regard to private life is the terror of
the richest Englishman, and a great source of wealth to the press in
England, which is infinitely more corrupt than ours. We are children
in comparison! In England they will pay five or six thousand francs
for a compromising letter to sell again."

"Then how can you lay hold of Matifat?" asked Lucien.

"My dear boy, that low tradesman wrote the queerest letters to
Florine; the spelling, style, and matter of them is ludicrous to the
last degree. We can strike him in the very midst of his Lares and
Penates, where he feels himself safest, without so much as mentioning
his name; and he cannot complain, for he lives in fear and terror of
his wife. Imagine his wrath when he sees the first number of a little
serial entitled the _Amours of a Druggist_, and is given fair warning
that his love-letters have fallen into the hands of certain
journalists. He talks about the 'little god Cupid,' he tells Florine
that she enables him to cross the desert of life (which looks as if he
took her for a camel), and spells 'never' with two v's. There is
enough in that immensely funny correspondence to bring an influx of
subscribers for a fortnight. He will shake in his shoes lest an
anonymous letter should supply his wife with the key to the riddle.
The question is whether Florine will consent to appear to persecute
Matifat. She has some principles, which is to say, some hopes, still
left. Perhaps she means to keep the letters and make something for
herself out of them. She is cunning, as befits my pupil. But as soon
as she finds out that a bailiff is no laughing matter, or Finot gives
her a suitable present or hopes of an engagement, she will give me the
letters, and I will sell them to Finot. Finot will put the
correspondence in his uncle's hands, and Giroudeau will bring Matifat
to terms."

These confidences sobered Lucien. His first thought was that he had
some extremely dangerous friends; his second, that it would be
impolitic to break with them; for if Mme. d'Espard, Mme. de Bargeton,
and Chatelet should fail to keep their word with him, he might need
their terrible power yet. By this time Etienne and Lucien had reached
Barbet's miserable bookshop on the Quai. Etienne addressed Barbet:

"We have five thousand francs' worth of bills at six, nine, and twelve
months, given by Fendant and Cavalier. Are you willing to discount
them for us?"

"I will give you three thousand francs for them," said Barbet with
imperturbable coolness.

"Three thousand francs!" echoed Lucien.

"Nobody else will give you as much," rejoined the bookseller. "The
firm will go bankrupt before three months are out; but I happen to
know that they have some good books that are hanging on hand; they
cannot afford to wait, so I shall buy their stock for cash and pay
them with their own bills, and get the books at a reduction of two
thousand francs. That's how it is."

"Do you mind losing a couple of thousand francs, Lucien?" asked

"Yes!" Lucien answered vehemently. He was dismayed by this first

"You are making a mistake," said Etienne.

"You won't find any one that will take their paper," said Barbet.
"Your book is their last stake, sir. The printer will not trust them;
they are obliged to leave the copies in pawn with him. If they make a
hit now, it will only stave off bankruptcy for another six months,
sooner or later they will have to go. They are cleverer at tippling
than at bookselling. In my own case, their bills mean business; and
that being so, I can afford to give more than a professional
discounter who simply looks at the signatures. It is a
bill-discounter's business to know whether the three names on a bill
are each good for thirty per cent in case of bankruptcy. And here at
the outset you only offer two signatures, and neither of them worth
ten per cent."

The two journalists exchanged glances in surprise. Here was a little
scrub of a bookseller putting the essence of the art and mystery of
bill-discounting in these few words.

"That will do, Barbet," said Lousteau. "Can you tell us of a
bill-broker that will look at us?"

"There is Daddy Chaboisseau, on the Quai Saint-Michel, you know. He
tided Fendant over his last monthly settlement. If you won't listen to
my offer, you might go and see what he says to you; but you would only
come back to me, and then I shall offer you two thousand francs
instead of three."

Etienne and Lucien betook themselves to the Quai Saint-Michel, and
found Chaboisseau in a little house with a passage entry. Chaboisseau,
a bill-discounter, whose dealings were principally with the book
trade, lived in a second-floor lodging furnished in the most eccentric
manner. A brevet-rank banker and millionaire to boot, he had a taste
for the classical style. The cornice was in the classical style; the
bedstead, in the purest classical taste, dated from the time of the
Empire, when such things were in fashion; the purple hangings fell
over the wall like the classic draperies in the background of one of
David's pictures. Chairs and tables, lamps and sconces, and every
least detail had evidently been sought with patient care in furniture
warehouses. There was the elegance of antiquity about the classic
revival as well as its fragile and somewhat arid grace. The man
himself, like his manner of life, was in grotesque contrast with the
airy mythological look of his rooms; and it may be remarked that the
most eccentric characters are found among men who give their whole
energies to money-making.

Men of this stamp are, in a certain sense, intellectual libertines.
Everything is within their reach, consequently their fancy is jaded,
and they will make immense efforts to shake off their indifference.
The student of human nature can always discover some hobby, some
accessible weakness and sensitive spot in their heart. Chaboisseau
might have entrenched himself in antiquity as in an impregnable camp.

"The man will be an antique to match, no doubt," said Etienne,

Chaboisseau, a little old person with powdered hair, wore a greenish
coat and snuff-brown waistcoat; he was tricked out besides in black
small-clothes, ribbed stockings, and shoes that creaked as he came
forward to take the bills. After a short scrutiny, he returned them to
Lucien with a serious countenance.

"MM Fendant and Cavalier are delightful young fellows; they have
plenty of intelligence; but, I have no money," he said blandly.

"My friend here would be willing to meet you in the matter of
discount----" Etienne began.

"I would not take the bills on any consideration," returned the little
broker. The words slid down upon Lousteau's suggestion like the blade
of the guillotine on a man's neck.

The two friends withdrew; but as Chaboisseau went prudently out with
them across the ante-chamber, Lucien noticed a pile of second-hand
books. Chaboisseau had been in the trade, and this was a recent
purchase. Shining conspicuous among them, he noticed a copy of a work
by the architect Ducereau, which gives exceedingly accurate plans of
various royal palaces and chateaux in France.

"Could you let me have that book?" he asked.

"Yes," said Chaboisseau, transformed into a bookseller.

"How much?"

"Fifty francs."

"It is dear, but I want it. And I can only pay you with one of the
bills which you refuse to take."

"You have a bill there for five hundred francs at six months; I will
take that one of you," said Chaboisseau.

Apparently at the last statement of accounts, there had been a balance
of five hundred francs in favor of Fendant and Cavalier.

They went back to the classical department. Chaboisseau made out a
little memorandum, interest so much and commission so much, total
deduction thirty francs, then he subtracted fifty francs for
Ducerceau's book; finally, from a cash-box full of coin, he took four
hundred and twenty francs.

"Look here, though, M. Chaboisseau, the bills are either all of them
good, or all bad alike; why don't you take the rest?"

"This is not discounting; I am paying myself for a sale," said the old

Etienne and Lucien were still laughing at Chaboisseau, without
understanding him, when they reached Dauriat's shop, and Etienne asked
Gabusson to give them the name of a bill-broker. Gabusson thus
appealed to gave them a letter of introduction to a broker in the
Boulevard Poissonniere, telling them at the same time that this was
the "oddest and queerest party" (to use his own expression) that he,
Gabusson, had come across. The friends took a cab by the hour, and
went to the address.

"If Samanon won't take your bills," Gabusson had said, "nobody else
will look at them."

A second-hand bookseller on the ground floor, a second-hand
clothes-dealer on the first story, and a seller of indecent prints on
the second, Samanon carried on a fourth business--he was a
money-lender into the bargain. No character in Hoffmann's romances, no
sinister-brooding miser of Scott's, can compare with this freak of
human and Parisian nature (always admitting that Samanon was human).
In spite of himself, Lucien shuddered at the sight of the dried-up
little old creature, whose bones seemed to be cutting a leather skin,
spotted with all sorts of little green and yellow patches, like a
portrait by Titian or Veronese when you look at it closely. One of
Samanon's eyes was fixed and glassy, the other lively and bright; he
seemed to keep that dead eye for the bill-discounting part of his
profession, and the other for the trade in the pornographic
curiosities upstairs. A few stray white hairs escaping from under a
small, sleek, rusty black wig, stood erect above a sallow forehead
with a suggestion of menace about it; a hollow trench in either cheek
defined the outline of the jaws; while a set of projecting teeth,
still white, seemed to stretch the skin of the lips with the effect
of an equine yawn. The contrast between the ill-assorted eyes and
grinning mouth gave Samanon a passably ferocious air; and the very
bristles on the man's chin looked stiff and sharp as pins.

Nor was there the slightest sign about him of any desire to redeem a
sinister appearance by attention to the toilet; his threadbare jacket
was all but dropping to pieces; a cravat, which had once been black,
was frayed by contact with a stubble chin, and left on exhibition a
throat as wrinkled as a turkey-gobbler's.

This was the individual whom Etienne and Lucien discovered in his
filthy counting-house, busily affixing tickets to the backs of a
parcel of books from a recent sale. In a glance, the friends exchanged
the innumerable questions raised by the existence of such a creature;
then they presented Gabusson's introduction and Fendant and Cavalier's
bills. Samanon was still reading the note when a third comer entered,
the wearer of a short jacket, which seemed in the dimly-lighted shop
to be cut out of a piece of zinc roofing, so solid was it by reason of
alloy with all kinds of foreign matter. Oddly attired as he was, the
man was an artist of no small intellectual power, and ten years later
he was destined to assist in the inauguration of the great but
ill-founded Saint-Simonian system.

"I want my coat, my black trousers, and satin waistcoat," said this
person, pressing a numbered ticket on Samanon's attention. Samanon
touched the brass button of a bell-pull, and a woman came down from
some upper region, a Normande apparently, to judge by her rich, fresh

"Let the gentleman have his clothes," said Samanon, holding out a hand
to the newcomer. "It's a pleasure to do business with you, sir; but
that youngster whom one of your friends introduced to me took me in
most abominably."

"Took _him_ in!" chuckled the newcomer, pointing out Samanon to the two
journalists with an extremely comical gesture. The great man dropped
thirty sous into the money-lender's yellow, wrinkled hand; like the
Neapolitan _lazzaroni_, he was taking his best clothes out of pawn for a
state occasion. The coins dropped jingling into the till.

"What queer business are you up to?" asked Lousteau of the artist, an
opium-eater who dwelt among visions of enchanted palaces till he
either could not or would not create.

"_He_ lends you a good deal more than an ordinary pawnbroker on anything
you pledge; and, besides, he is so awfully charitable, he allows you
to take your clothes out when you must have something to wear. I am
going to dine with the Kellers and my mistress to-night," he
continued; "and to me it is easier to find thirty sous than two
hundred francs, so I keep my wardrobe here. It has brought the
charitable usurer a hundred francs in the last six months. Samanon has
devoured my library already, volume by volume" (_livre a livre_).

"And sou by sou," Lousteau said with a laugh.

"I will let you have fifteen hundred francs," said Samanon, looking

Lucien started, as if the bill-broker had thrust a red-hot skewer
through his heart. Samanon was subjecting the bills and their dates to
a close scrutiny.

"And even then," he added, "I must see Fendant first. He ought to
deposit some books with me. You aren't worth much" (turning to
Lucien); "you are living with Coralie, and your furniture has been

Lousteau, watching Lucien, saw him take up his bills, and dash out
into the street. "He is the devil himself!" exclaimed the poet. For
several seconds he stood outside gazing at the shop front. The whole
place was so pitiful, that a passer-by could not see it without
smiling at the sight, and wondering what kind of business a man could
do among those mean, dirty shelves of ticketed books.

A very few moments later, the great man, in incognito, came out, very
well dressed, smiled at his friends, and turned to go with them in the
direction of the Passage des Panoramas, where he meant to complete his
toilet by the polishing of his boots.

"If you see Samanon in a bookseller's shop, or calling on a
paper-merchant or a printer, you may know that it is all over with
that man," said the artist. "Samanon is the undertaker come to take
the measurements for a coffin."

"You won't discount your bills now, Lucien," said Etienne.

"If Samanon will not take them, nobody else will; he is the _ultima
ratio_," said the stranger. "He is one of Gigonnet's lambs, a spy for
Palma, Werbrust, Gobseck, and the rest of those crocodiles who swim in
the Paris money-market. Every man with a fortune to make, or unmake,
is sure to come across one of them sooner or later."

"If you cannot discount your bills at fifty per cent," remarked
Lousteau, "you must exchange them for hard cash."


"Give them to Coralie; Camusot will cash them for her.--You are
disgusted," added Lousteau, as Lucien cut him short with a start.
"What nonsense! How can you allow such a silly scruple to turn the
scale, when your future is in the balance?"

"I shall take this money to Coralie in any case," began Lucien.

"Here is more folly!" cried Lousteau. "You will not keep your
creditors quiet with four hundred francs when you must have four
thousand. Let us keep a little and get drunk on it, if we lose the
rest at _rouge et noir_."

"That is sound advice," said the great man.

Those words, spoken not four paces from Frascati's, were magnetic in
their effect. The friends dismissed their cab and went up to the

At the outset they won three thousand francs, then they lost and fell
to five hundred; again they won three thousand seven hundred francs,
and again they lost all but a five-franc piece. After another turn of
luck they staked two thousand francs on an even number to double the
stake at a stroke; an even number had not turned up for five times in
succession, and this was the sixth time. They punted the whole sum,
and an odd number turned up once more.

After two hours of all-absorbing, frenzied excitement, the two dashed
down the staircase with the hundred francs kept back for the dinner.
Upon the steps, between two pillars which support the little
sheet-iron veranda to which so many eyes have been upturned in longing
or despair, Lousteau stopped and looked into Lucien's flushed, excited

"Let us just try fifty francs," he said.

And up the stairs again they went. An hour later they owned a thousand
crowns. Black had turned up for the fifth consecutive time; they
trusted that their previous luck would not repeat itself, and put the
whole sum on the red--black turned up for the sixth time. They had
lost. It was now six o'clock.

"Let us just try twenty-five francs," said Lucien.

The new venture was soon made--and lost. The twenty-five francs went
in five stakes. Then Lucien, in a frenzy, flung down his last
twenty-five francs on the number of his age, and won. No words can
describe how his hands trembled as he raked in the coins which the
bank paid him one by one. He handed ten louis to Lousteau.

"Fly!" he cried; "take it to Very's."

Lousteau took the hint and went to order dinner. Lucien, left alone,
laid his thirty louis on the red and won. Emboldened by the inner
voice which a gambler always hears, he staked the whole again on the
red, and again he won. He felt as if there were a furnace within him.
Without heeding the voice, he laid a hundred and twenty louis on the
black and lost. Then to the torturing excitement of suspense succeeded
the delicious feeling of relief known to the gambler who has nothing
left to lose, and must perforce leave the palace of fire in which his
dreams melt and vanish.

He found Lousteau at Very's, and flung himself upon the cookery (to
make use of Lafontaine's expression), and drowned his cares in wine.
By nine o'clock his ideas were so confused that he could not imagine
why the portress in the Rue de Vendome persisted in sending him to the
Rue de la Lune.

"Mlle. Coralie has gone," said the woman. "She has taken lodgings
elsewhere. She left her address with me on this scrap of paper."

Lucien was too far gone to be surprised at anything. He went back to
the cab which had brought him, and was driven to the Rue de la Lune,
making puns to himself on the name of the street as he went.

The news of the failure of the Panorama-Dramatique had come like a
thunder-clap. Coralie, taking alarm, made haste to sell her furniture
(with the consent of her creditors) to little old Cardot, who
installed Florentine in the rooms at once. The tradition of the house
remained unbroken. Coralie paid her creditors and satisfied the
landlord, proceeding with her "washing-day," as she called it, while
Berenice bought the absolutely indispensable necessaries to furnish a
fourth-floor lodging in the Rue de la Lune, a few doors from the
Gymnase. Here Coralie was waiting for Lucien's return. She had brought
her love unsullied out of the shipwreck and twelve hundred francs.

Lucien, more than half intoxicated, poured out his woes to Coralie and

"You did quite right, my angel," said Coralie, with her arms about his
neck. "Berenice can easily negotiate your bills with Braulard."

The next morning Lucien awoke to an enchanted world of happiness made
about him by Coralie. She was more loving and tender in those days
than she had ever been; perhaps she thought that the wealth of love in
her heart should make him amends for the poverty of their lodging. She
looked bewitchingly charming, with the loose hair straying from under
the crushed white silk handkerchief about her head; there was soft
laughter in her eyes; her words were as bright as the first rays of
sunrise that shone in through the windows, pouring a flood of gold
upon such charming poverty.

Not that the room was squalid. The walls were covered with a sea-green
paper, bordered with red; there was one mirror over the chimney-piece,
and a second above the chest of drawers. The bare boards were covered
with a cheap carpet, which Berenice had bought in spite of Coralie's
orders, and paid for out of her own little store. A wardrobe, with a
glass door and a chest, held the lovers' clothing, the mahogany chairs
were covered with blue cotton stuff, and Berenice had managed to save
a clock and a couple of china vases from the catastrophe, as well as
four spoons and forks and half-a-dozen little spoons. The bedroom was
entered from the dining-room, which might have belonged to a clerk
with an income of twelve hundred francs. The kitchen was next the
landing, and Berenice slept above in an attic. The rent was not more
than a hundred crowns.

The dismal house boasted a sham carriage entrance, the porter's box
being contrived behind one of the useless leaves of the gate, and
lighted by a peephole through which that personage watched the comings
and goings of seventeen families, for this hive was a "good-paying
property," in auctioneer's phrase.

Lucien, looking round the room, discovered a desk, an easy-chair,
paper, pens, and ink. The sight of Berenice in high spirits (she was
building hopes on Coralie's _debut_ at the Gymnase), and of Coralie
herself conning her part with a knot of blue ribbon tied about it,
drove all cares and anxieties from the sobered poet's mind.

"So long as nobody in society hears of this sudden comedown, we shall
pull through," he said. "After all, we have four thousand five hundred
francs before us. I will turn my new position in Royalist journalism
to account. To-morrow we shall start the _Reveil_; I am an old hand now,
and I will make something out."

And Coralie, seeing nothing but love in the words, kissed the lips
that uttered them. By this time Berenice had set the table near the
fire and served a modest breakfast of scrambled eggs, a couple of
cutlets, coffee, and cream. Just then there came a knock at the door,
and Lucien, to his astonishment, beheld three of his loyal friends of
old days--d'Arthez, Leon Giraud, and Michel Chrestien. He was deeply
touched, and asked them to share the breakfast.

"No; we have come on more serious business than condolence," said
d'Arthez; "we know the whole story, we have just come from the Rue de
Vendome. You know my opinions, Lucien. Under any other circumstances I
should be glad to hear that you had adopted my political convictions;
but situated as you are with regard to the Liberal Press, it is
impossible for you to go over to the Ultras. Your life will be
sullied, your character blighted for ever. We have come to entreat you
in the name of our friendship, weakened though it may be, not to soil
yourself in this way. You have been prominent in attacking the
Romantics, the Right, and the Government; you cannot now declare for
the Government; the Right, and the Romantics."

"My reasons for the change are based on lofty grounds; the end will
justify the means," said Lucien.

"Perhaps you do not fully comprehend our position on the side of the
Government," said Leon Giraud. "The Government, the Court, the
Bourbons, the Absolutist Party, or to sum up in the general
expression, the whole system opposed to the constitutional system, may
be divided upon the question of the best means of extinguishing the
Revolution, but is unanimous as to the advisability of extinguishing
the newspapers. The _Reveil_, the _Foudre_, and the _Drapeau Blanc_ have
all been founded for the express purpose of replying to the slander,
gibes, and railing of the Liberal press. I cannot approve them, for it
is precisely this failure to recognize the grandeur of our priesthood
that has led us to bring out a serious and self-respecting paper;
which perhaps," he added parenthetically, "may exercise a worthy
influence before very long, and win respect, and carry weight; but
this Royalist artillery is destined for a first attempt at reprisals,
the Liberals are to be paid back in their own coin--shaft for shaft,
wound for wound.

"What can come of it Lucien? The majority of newspaper readers incline
for the Left; and in the press, as in warfare, the victory is with the
big battalions. You will be blackguards, liars, enemies of the people;
the other side will be defenders of their country, martyrs, men to be
held in honor, though they may be even more hypocritical and slippery
than their opponents. In these ways the pernicious influence of the
press will be increased, while the most odious form of journalism will
receive sanction. Insult and personalities will become a recognized
privilege of the press; newspapers have taken this tone in the
subscribers' interests; and when both sides have recourse to the same
weapons, the standard is set and the general tone of journalism taken
for granted. When the evil is developed to its fullest extent,
restrictive laws will be followed by prohibitions; there will be a
return of the censorship of the press imposed after the assassination
of the Duc de Berri, and repealed since the opening of the Chambers.
And do you know what the nation will conclude from the debate? The
people will believe the insinuations of the Liberal press; they will
think that the Bourbons mean to attack the rights of property acquired
by the Revolution, and some fine day they will rise and shake off the
Bourbons. You are not only soiling your life, Lucien, you are going
over to the losing side. You are too young, too lately a journalist,
too little initiated into the secret springs of motive and the tricks
of the craft, you have aroused too much jealousy, not to fall a victim
to the general hue and cry that will be raised against you in the
Liberal newspapers. You will be drawn into the fray by party spirit
now still at fever-heat; though the fever, which spent itself in
violence in 1815 and 1816, now appears in debates in the Chamber and
polemics in the papers."

"I am not quite a featherhead, my friends," said Lucien, "though you
may choose to see a poet in me. Whatever may happen, I shall gain one
solid advantage which no Liberal victory can give me. By the time your
victory is won, I shall have gained my end."

"We will cut off--your hair," said Michel Chrestien, with a laugh.

"I shall have my children by that time," said Lucien; "and if you cut
off my head, it will not matter."

The three could make nothing of Lucien. Intercourse with the great
world had developed in him the pride of caste, the vanities of the
aristocrat. The poet thought, and not without reason, that there was a
fortune in his good looks and intellect, accompanied by the name and
title of Rubempre. Mme. d'Espard and Mme. de Bargeton held him fast by
this clue, as a child holds a cockchafer by a string. Lucien's flight
was circumscribed. The words, "He is one of us, he is sound,"
accidentally overheard but three days ago in Mlle. de Touches' salon,
had turned his head. The Duc de Lenoncourt, the Duc de Navarreins, the
Duc de Grandlieu, Rastignac, Blondet, the lovely Duchesse de
Maufrigneuse, the Comte d'Escrignon, and des Lupeaulx, all the most
influential people at Court in fact, had congratulated him on his
conversion, and completed his intoxication.

"Then there is no more to be said," d'Arthez rejoined. "You, of all
men, will find it hard to keep clean hands and self-respect. I know
you, Lucien; you will feel it acutely when you are despised by the
very men to whom you offer yourself."

The three took leave, and not one of them gave him a friendly
handshake. Lucien was thoughtful and sad for a few minutes.

"Oh! never mind those ninnies," cried Coralie, springing upon his knee
and putting her beautiful arms about his neck. "They take life
seriously, and life is a joke. Besides, you are going to be Count
Lucien de Rubempre. I will wheedle the _Chancellerie_ if there is no
other way. I know how to come round that rake of a des Lupeaulx, who
will sign your patent. Did I not tell you, Lucien, that at the last
you should have Coralie's dead body for a stepping stone?"

Next day Lucien allowed his name to appear in the list of contributors
to the _Reveil_. His name was announced in the prospectus with a
flourish of trumpets, and the Ministry took care that a hundred
thousand copies should be scattered abroad far and wide. There was a
dinner at Robert's, two doors away from Frascati's, to celebrate the
inauguration, and the whole band of Royalist writers for the press
were present. Martainville was there, and Auger and Destains, and a
host of others, still living, who "did Monarchy and religion," to use
the familiar expression coined for them. Nathan had also enlisted
under the banner, for he was thinking of starting a theatre, and not
unreasonably held that it was better to have the licensing authorities
for him than against him.

"We will pay the Liberals out," cried Merlin.

"Gentlemen," said Nathan, "if we are for war, let us have war in
earnest; we must not carry it on with pop-guns. Let us fall upon all
Classicals and Liberals without distinction of age or sex, and put
them all to the sword with ridicule. There must be no quarter."

"We must act honorably; there must be no bribing with copies of books
or presents; no taking money of publishers. We must inaugurate a
Restoration of Journalism."

"Good!" said Martainville. "_Justum et tenacem propositi virum_! Let us
be implacable and virulent. I will give out La Fayette for the prince
of harlequins that he is!"

"And I will undertake the heroes of the _Constitutionnel_," added
Lucien; "Sergeant Mercier, M. Jouy's Complete Works, and 'the
illustrious orators of the Left.'"

A war of extermination was unanimously resolved upon, and by one
o'clock in the morning all shades of opinion were merged and drowned,
together with every glimmer of sense, in a flaming bowl of punch.

"We have had a fine Monarchical and Religious jollification," remarked
an illustrious reveler in the doorway as he went.

That comment appeared in the next day's issue of the _Miroir_ through
the good offices of a publisher among the guests, and became historic.
Lucien was supposed to be the traitor who blabbed. His defection gave
the signal for a terrific hubbub in the Liberal camp; Lucien was the
butt of the Opposition newspapers, and ridiculed unmercifully. The
whole history of his sonnets was given to the public. Dauriat was said
to prefer a first loss of a thousand crowns to the risk of publishing
the verses; Lucien was called "the Poet sans Sonnets;" and one
morning, in that very paper in which he had so brilliant a beginning,
he read the following lines, significant enough for him, but barely
intelligible to other readers:

  *** "If M. Dauriat persistently withholds the Sonnets of the
  future Petrarch from publication, we will act like generous foes.
  We will open our own columns to his poems, which must be piquant
  indeed, to judge by the following specimen obligingly communicated
  by a friend of the author."

And close upon that ominous preface followed a sonnet entitled "The
Thistle" (_le Chardon)_:

  A chance-come seedling, springing up one day
  Among the flowers in a garden fair,
  Made boast that splendid colors bright and rare
  Its claims to lofty lineage should display.

  So for a while they suffered it to stay;
  But with such insolence it flourished there,
  That, out of patience with its braggart's air,
  They bade it prove its claims without delay.

  It bloomed forthwith; but ne'er was blundering clown
  Upon the boards more promptly hooted down;
  The sister flowers began to jeer and laugh.

  The owner flung it out. At close of day
  A solitary jackass came to bray--
  A common Thistle's fitting epitaph.

Lucien read the words through scalding tears.

Vernou touched elsewhere on Lucien's gambling propensities, and spoke
of the forthcoming _Archer of Charles IX._ as "anti-national" in its
tendency, the writer siding with Catholic cut-throats against their
Calvinist victims.

Another week found the quarrel embittered. Lucien had counted upon his
friend Etienne; Etienne owed him a thousand francs, and there had been
besides a private understanding between them; but Etienne Lousteau
during the interval became his sworn foe, and this was the manner of

For the past three months Nathan had been smitten with Florine's
charms, and much at a loss how to rid himself of Lousteau his rival,
who was in fact dependent upon the actress. And now came Nathan's
opportunity, when Florine was frantic with distress over the failure
of the Panorama-Dramatique, which left her without an engagement. He
went as Lucien's colleague to beg Coralie to ask for a part for
Florine in a play of his which was about to be produced at the
Gymnase. Then Nathan went to Florine and made capital with her out of
the service done by the promise of a conditional engagement. Ambition
turned Florine's head; she did not hesitate. She had had time to gauge
Lousteau pretty thoroughly. Lousteau's courses were weakening his
will, and here was Nathan with his ambitions in politics and
literature, and energies strong as his cravings. Florine proposed to
reappear on the stage with renewed eclat, so she handed over Matifat's
correspondence to Nathan. Nathan drove a bargain for them with
Matifat, and took the sixth share of Finot's review in exchange for
the compromising billets. After this, Florine was installed in
sumptuously furnished apartments in the Rue Hauteville, where she took
Nathan for her protector in the face of the theatrical and
journalistic world.

Lousteau was terribly overcome. He wept (towards the close of a dinner
given by his friends to console him in his affliction). In the course
of that banquet it was decided that Nathan had not acted unfairly;
several writers present--Finot and Vernou, for instance,--knew of
Florine's fervid admiration for dramatic literature; but they all
agreed that Lucien had behaved very ill when he arranged that business
at the Gymnase; he had indeed broken the most sacred laws of
friendship. Party-spirit and zeal to serve his new friends had led the
Royalist poet on to sin beyond forgiveness.

"Nathan was carried away by passion," pronounced Bixiou, "while this
'distinguished provincial,' as Blondet calls him, is simply scheming
for his own selfish ends."

And so it came to pass that deep plots were laid by all parties alike
to rid themselves of this little upstart intruder of a poet who wanted
to eat everybody up. Vernou bore Lucien a personal grudge, and
undertook to keep a tight hand on him; and Finot declared that Lucien
had betrayed the secret of the combination against Matifat, and
thereby swindled him (Finot) out of fifty thousand francs. Nathan,
acting on Florine's advice, gained Finot's support by selling him the
sixth share for fifteen thousand francs, and Lousteau consequently
lost his commission. His thousand crowns had vanished away; he could
not forgive Lucien for this treacherous blow (as he supposed it) dealt
to his interests. The wounds of vanity refuse to heal if oxide of
silver gets into them.

No words, no amount of description, can depict the wrath of an author
in a paroxysm of mortified vanity, nor the energy which he discovers
when stung by the poisoned darts of sarcasm; but, on the other hand,
the man that is roused to fighting-fury by a personal attack usually
subsides very promptly. The more phlegmatic race, who take these
things quietly, lay their account with the oblivion which speedily
overtakes the spiteful article. These are the truly courageous men of
letters; and if the weaklings seem at first to be the strong men, they
cannot hold out for any length of time.

During that first fortnight, while the fury was upon him, Lucien
poured a perfect hailstorm of articles into the Royalist papers, in
which he shared the responsibilities of criticism with Hector Merlin.
He was always in the breach, pounding away with all his might in the
_Reveil_, backed up by Martainville, the only one among his associates
who stood by him without an afterthought. Martainville was not in the
secret of certain understandings made and ratified amid after-dinner
jokes, or at Dauriat's in the Wooden Galleries, or behind the scenes
at the Vaudeville, when journalists of either side met on neutral

When Lucien went to the greenroom of the Vaudeville, he met with no
welcome; the men of his own party held out a hand to shake, the others
cut him; and all the while Hector Merlin and Theodore Gaillard
fraternized unblushingly with Finot, Lousteau, and Vernou, and the
rest of the journalists who were known for "good fellows."

The greenroom of the Vaudeville in those days was a hotbed of gossip,
as well as a neutral ground where men of every shade of opinion could
meet; so much so that the President of a court of law, after reproving
a learned brother in a certain council chamber for "sweeping the
greenroom with his gown," met the subject of his strictures, gown to
gown, in the greenroom of the Vaudeville. Lousteau, in time, shook
hands again with Nathan; Finot came thither almost every evening; and
Lucien, whenever he could spare the time, went to the Vaudeville to
watch the enemies, who showed no sign of relenting towards the
unfortunate boy.

In the time of the Restoration party hatred was far more bitter than
in our day. Intensity of feeling is diminished in our high-pressure
age. The critic cuts a book to pieces and shakes hands with the author
afterwards, and the victim must keep on good terms with his
slaughterer, or run the gantlet of innumerable jokes at his expense.
If he refuses, he is unsociable, eaten up with self-love, he is sulky
and rancorous, he bears malice, he is a bad bed-fellow. To-day let an
author receive a treacherous stab in the back, let him avoid the
snares set for him with base hypocrisy, and endure the most unhandsome
treatment, he must still exchange greetings with his assassin, who,
for that matter, claims the esteem and friendship of his victim.
Everything can be excused and justified in an age which has
transformed vice into virtue and virtue into vice. Good-fellowship has
come to be the most sacred of our liberties; the representatives of
the most opposite opinions courteously blunt the edge of their words,
and fence with buttoned foils. But in those almost forgotten days the
same theatre could scarcely hold certain Royalist and Liberal
journalists; the most malignant provocation was offered, glances were
like pistol-shots, the least spark produced an explosion of quarrel.
Who has not heard his neighbor's half-smothered oath on the entrance
of some man in the forefront of the battle on the opposing side? There
were but two parties--Royalists and Liberals, Classics and Romantics.
You found the same hatred masquerading in either form, and no longer
wondered at the scaffolds of the Convention.

Lucien had been a Liberal and a hot Voltairean; now he was a rabid
Royalist and a Romantic. Martainville, the only one among his
colleagues who really liked him and stood by him loyally, was more
hated by the Liberals than any man on the Royalist side, and this fact
drew down all the hate of the Liberals on Lucien's head.
Martainville's staunch friendship injured Lucien. Political parties
show scanty gratitude to outpost sentinels, and leave leaders of
forlorn hopes to their fate; 'tis a rule of warfare which holds
equally good in matters political, to keep with the main body of the
army if you mean to succeed. The spite of the small Liberal papers
fastened at once on the opportunity of coupling the two names, and
flung them into each other's arms. Their friendship, real or
imaginary, brought down upon them both a series of articles written by
pens dipped in gall. Felicien Vernou was furious with jealousy of
Lucien's social success; and believed, like all his old associates, in
the poet's approaching elevation.

The fiction of Lucien's treason was embellished with every kind of
aggravating circumstance; he was called Judas the Less, Martainville
being Judas the Great, for Martainville was supposed (rightly or
wrongly) to have given up the Bridge of Pecq to the foreign invaders.
Lucien said jestingly to des Lupeaulx that he himself, surely, had
given up the Asses' Bridge.

Lucien's luxurious life, hollow though it was, and founded on
expectations, had estranged his friends. They could not forgive him
for the carriage which he had put down--for them he was still rolling
about in it--nor yet for the splendors of the Rue de Vendome which he
had left. All of them felt instinctively that nothing was beyond the
reach of this young and handsome poet, with intellect enough and to
spare; they themselves had trained him in corruption; and, therefore,
they left no stone unturned to ruin him.

Some few days before Coralie's first appearance at the Gymnase, Lucien
and Hector Merlin went arm-in-arm to the Vaudeville. Merlin was
scolding his friend for giving a helping hand to Nathan in Florine's

"You then and there made two mortal enemies of Lousteau and Nathan,"
he said. "I gave you good advice, and you took no notice of it. You
gave praise, you did them a good turn--you will be well punished for
your kindness. Florine and Coralie will never live in peace on the
same stage; both will wish to be first. You can only defend Coralie in
our papers; and Nathan not only has a pull as a dramatic author, he
can control the dramatic criticism in the Liberal newspapers. He has
been a journalist a little longer than you!"

The words responded to Lucien's inward misgivings. Neither Nathan nor
Gaillard was treating him with the frankness which he had a right to
expect, but so new a convert could hardly complain. Gaillard utterly
confounded Lucien by saying roundly that newcomers must give proofs of
their sincerity for some time before their party could trust them.
There was more jealousy than he had imagined in the inner circles of
Royalist and Ministerial journalism. The jealousy of curs fighting for
a bone is apt to appear in the human species when there is a loaf to
divide; there is the same growling and showing of teeth, the same
characteristics come out.

In every possible way these writers of articles tried to injure each
other with those in power; they brought reciprocal accusations of
lukewarm zeal; they invented the most treacherous ways of getting rid
of a rival. There had been none of this internecine warfare among the
Liberals; they were too far from power, too hopelessly out of favor;
and Lucien, amid the inextricable tangle of ambitions, had neither the
courage to draw sword and cut the knot, or the patience to unravel it.
He could not be the Beaumarchais, the Aretino, the Freron of his
epoch; he was not made of such stuff; he thought of nothing but his
one desire, the patent of nobility; for he saw clearly that for him
such a restoration meant a wealthy marriage, and, the title once
secured, chance and his good looks would do the rest. This was all his
plan, and Etienne Lousteau, who had confided so much to him, knew his
secret, knew how to deal a deathblow to the poet of Angouleme. That
very night, as Lucien and Merlin went to the Vaudeville, Etienne had
laid a terrible trap, into which an inexperienced boy could not but

"Here is our handsome Lucien," said Finot, drawing des Lupeaulx in the
direction of the poet, and shaking hands with feline amiability. "I
cannot think of another example of such rapid success," continued
Finot, looking from des Lupeaulx to Lucien. "There are two sorts of
success in Paris: there is a fortune in solid cash, which any one can
amass, and there is the intangible fortune of connections, position,
or a footing in certain circles inaccessible for certain persons,
however rich they may be. Now my friend here----"

"Our friend," interposed des Lupeaulx, smiling blandly.

"Our friend," repeated Finot, patting Lucien's hand, "has made a
brilliant success from this point of view. Truth to tell, Lucien has
more in him, more gift, more wit than the rest of us that envy him,
and he is enchantingly handsome besides; his old friends cannot
forgive him for his success--they call it luck."

"Luck of that sort never comes to fools or incapables," said des
Lupeaulx. "Can you call Bonaparte's fortune luck, eh? There were a
score of applicants for the command of the army in Italy, just as
there are a hundred young men at this moment who would like to have an
entrance to Mlle. des Touches' house; people are coupling her name
with yours already in society, my dear boy," said des Lupeaulx,
clapping Lucien on the shoulder. "Ah! you are in high favor. Mme.
d'Espard, Mme. de Bargeton, and Mme. de Montcornet are wild about you.
You are going to Mme. Firmiani's party to-night, are you not, and to
the Duchesse de Grandlieu's rout to-morrow?"

"Yes," said Lucien.

"Allow me to introduce a young banker to you, a M. du Tillet; you
ought to be acquainted, he has contrived to make a great fortune in a
short time."

Lucien and du Tillet bowed, and entered into conversation, and the
banker asked Lucien to dinner. Finot and des Lupeaulx, a well-matched
pair, knew each other well enough to keep upon good terms; they turned
away to continue their chat on one of the sofas in the greenroom, and
left Lucien with du Tillet, Merlin, and Nathan.

"By the way, my friend," said Finot, "tell me how things stand. Is
there really somebody behind Lucien? For he is the _bete noire_ of my
staff; and before allowing them to plot against him, I thought I
should like to know whether, in your opinion, it would be better to
baffle them and keep well with him."

The Master of Requests and Finot looked at each other very closely for
a moment or two.

"My dear fellow," said des Lupeaulx, "how can you imagine that the
Marquise d'Espard, or Chatelet, or Mme. de Bargeton--who has procured
the Baron's nomination to the prefecture and the title of Count, so as
to return in triumph to Angouleme--how can you suppose that any of
them will forgive Lucien for his attacks on them? They dropped him
down in the Royalist ranks to crush him out of existence. At this
moment they are looking round for any excuse for not fulfilling the
promises they made to that boy. Help them to some; you will do the
greatest possible service to the two women, and some day or other they
will remember it. I am in their secrets; I was surprised to find how
much they hated the little fellow. This Lucien might have rid himself
of his bitterest enemy (Mme. de Bargeton) by desisting from his
attacks on terms which a woman loves to grant--do you take me? He is
young and handsome, he should have drowned her hate in torrents of
love, he would be Comte de Rubempre by this time; the Cuttlefish-bone
would have obtained some sinecure for him, some post in the Royal
Household. Lucien would have made a very pretty reader to Louis
XVIII.; he might have been librarian somewhere or other, Master of
Requests for a joke, Master of Revels, what you please. The young fool
has missed his chance. Perhaps that is his unpardonable sin. Instead
of imposing his conditions, he has accepted them. When Lucien was
caught with the bait of the patent of nobility, the Baron Chatelet
made a great step. Coralie has been the ruin of that boy. If he had
not had the actress for his mistress, he would have turned again to
the Cuttlefish-bone; and he would have had her too."

"Then we can knock him over?"

"How?" des Lupeaulx asked carelessly. He saw a way of gaining credit
with the Marquise d'Espard for this service.

"He is under contract to write for Lousteau's paper, and we can the
better hold him to his agreement because he has not a sou. If we
tickle up the Keeper of the Seals with a facetious article, and prove
that Lucien wrote it, he will consider that Lucien is unworthy of the
King's favor. We have a plot on hand besides. Coralie will be ruined,
and our distinguished provincial will lose his head when his mistress
is hissed off the stage and left without an engagement. When once the
patent is suspended, we will laugh at the victim's aristocratic
pretensions, and allude to his mother the nurse and his father the
apothecary. Lucien's courage is only skindeep, he will collapse; we
will send him back to his provinces. Nathan made Florine sell me
Matifat's sixth share of the review, I was able to buy; Dauriat and I
are the only proprietors now; we might come to an understanding, you
and I, and the review might be taken over for the benefit of the
Court. I stipulated for the restitution of my sixth before I undertook
to protect Nathan and Florine; they let me have it, and I must help
them; but I wished to know first how Lucien stood----"

"You deserve your name," said des Lupeaulx. "I like a man of your

"Very well. Then can you arrange a definite engagement for Florine?"
asked Finot.

"Yes, but rid us of Lucien, for Rastignac and de Marsay never wish to
hear of him again."

"Sleep in peace," returned Finot. "Nathan and Merlin will always have
articles ready for Gaillard, who will promise to take them; Lucien
will never get a line into the paper. We will cut off his supplies.
There is only Martainville's paper left him in which to defend himself
and Coralie; what can a single paper do against so many?"

"I will let you know the weak points of the Ministry; but get Lucien
to write that article and hand over the manuscript," said des
Lupeaulx, who refrained carefully from informing Finot that Lucien's
promised patent was nothing but a joke.

When des Lupeaulx had gone, Finot went to Lucien, and taking the
good-natured tone which deceives so many victims, he explained that
he could not possibly afford to lose his contributor, and at the same
time he shrank from taking proceedings which might ruin him with his
friends of the other side. Finot himself liked a man who was strong
enough to change his opinions. They were pretty sure to come across
one another, he and Lucien, and might be mutually helpful in a
thousand little ways. Lucien, besides, needed a sure man in the
Liberal party to attack the Ultras and men in office who might refuse
to help him.

"Suppose that they play you false, what will you do?" Finot ended.
"Suppose that some Minister fancies that he has you fast by the halter
of your apostasy, and turns the cold shoulder on you? You will be glad
to set on a few dogs to snap at his legs, will you not? Very well. But
you have made a deadly enemy of Lousteau; he is thirsting for your
blood. You and Felicien are not on speaking terms. I only remain to
you. It is a rule of the craft to keep a good understanding with every
man of real ability. In the world which you are about to enter you can
do me services in return for mine with the press. But business first.
Let me have purely literary articles; they will not compromise you,
and we shall have executed our agreement."

Lucien saw nothing but good-fellowship and a shrewd eye to business in
Finot's offer; Finot and des Lupeaulx had flattered him, and he was in
a good humor. He actually thanked Finot!

Ambitious men, like all those who can only make their way by the help
of others and of circumstances, are bound to lay their plans very
carefully and to adhere very closely to the course of conduct on which
they determine; it is a cruel moment in the lives of such aspirants
when some unknown power brings the fabric of their fortunes to some
severe test and everything gives way at once; threads are snapped or
entangled, and misfortune appears on every side. Let a man lose his
head in the confusion, it is all over with him; but if he can resist
this first revolt of circumstances, if he can stand erect until the
tempest passes over, or make a supreme effort and reach the serene
sphere about the storm--then he is really strong. To every man, unless
he is born rich, there comes sooner or later "his fatal week," as it
must be called. For Napoleon, for instance, that week was the Retreat
from Moscow. It had begun now for Lucien.

Social and literary success had come to him too easily; he had had
such luck that he was bound to know reverses and to see men and
circumstances turn against him.

The first blow was the heaviest and the most keenly felt, for it
touched Lucien where he thought himself invulnerable--in his heart and
his love. Coralie might not be clever, but hers was a noble nature,
and she possessed the great actress' faculty of suddenly standing
aloof from self. This strange phenomenon is subject, until it
degenerates into a habit with long practice, to the caprices of
character, and not seldom to an admirable delicacy of feeling in
actresses who are still young. Coralie, to all appearance bold and
wanton, as the part required, was in reality girlish and timid, and
love had wrought in her a revulsion of her woman's heart against the
comedian's mask. Art, the supreme art of feigning passion and feeling,
had not yet triumphed over nature in her; she shrank before a great
audience from the utterance that belongs to Love alone; and Coralie
suffered besides from another true woman's weakness--she needed
success, born stage queen though she was. She could not confront an
audience with which she was out of sympathy; she was nervous when she
appeared on the stage, a cold reception paralyzed her. Each new part
gave her the terrible sensations of a first appearance. Applause
produced a sort of intoxication which gave her encouragement without
flattering her vanity; at a murmur of dissatisfaction or before a
silent house, she flagged; but a great audience following attentively,
admiringly, willing to be pleased, electrified Coralie. She felt at
once in communication with the nobler qualities of all those
listeners; she felt that she possessed the power of stirring their
souls and carrying them with her. But if this action and reaction of
the audience upon the actress reveals the nervous organization of
genius, it shows no less clearly the poor child's sensitiveness and
delicacy. Lucien had discovered the treasures of her nature; had
learned in the past months that this woman who loved him was still so
much of a girl. And Coralie was unskilled in the wiles of an actress
--she could not fight her own battles nor protect herself against the
machinations of jealousy behind the scenes. Florine was jealous of
her, and Florine was as dangerous and depraved as Coralie was simple
and generous. Roles must come to find Coralie; she was too proud to
implore authors or to submit to dishonoring conditions; she would not
give herself to the first journalist who persecuted her with his
advances and threatened her with his pen. Genius is rare enough in the
extraordinary art of the stage; but genius is only one condition of
success among many, and is positively hurtful unless it is accompanied
by a genius for intrigue in which Coralie was utterly lacking.

Lucien knew how much his friend would suffer on her first appearance
at the Gymnase, and was anxious at all costs to obtain a success for
her; but all the money remaining from the sale of the furniture and
all Lucien's earnings had been sunk in costumes, in the furniture of a
dressing-room, and the expenses of a first appearance.

A few days later, Lucien made up his mind to a humiliating step for
love's sake. He took Fendant and Cavalier's bills, and went to the
_Golden Cocoon_ in the Rue des Bourdonnais. He would ask Camusot to
discount them. The poet had not fallen so low that he could make this
attempt quite coolly. There had been many a sharp struggle first, and
the way to that decision had been paved with many dreadful thoughts.
Nevertheless, he arrived at last in the dark, cheerless little private
office that looked out upon a yard, and found Camusot seated gravely
there; this was not Coralie's infatuated adorer, not the easy-natured,
indolent, incredulous libertine whom he had known hitherto as Camusot,
but a heavy father of a family, a merchant grown old in shrewd
expedients of business and respectable virtues, wearing a magistrate's
mask of judicial prudery; this Camusot was the cool, business-like
head of the firm surrounded by clerks, green cardboard boxes,
pigeonholes, invoices, and samples, and fortified by the presence of a
wife and a plainly-dressed daughter. Lucien trembled from head to foot
as he approached; for the worthy merchant, like the money-lenders,
turned cool, indifferent eyes upon him.

"Here are two or three bills, monsieur," he said, standing beside the
merchant, who did not rise from his desk. "If you will take them of
me, you will oblige me extremely."

"You have taken something of _me_, monsieur," said Camusot; "I do not
forget it."

On this, Lucien explained Coralie's predicament. He spoke in a low
voice, bending to murmur his explanation, so that Camusot could hear
the heavy throbbing of the humiliated poet's heart. It was no part of
Camusot's plans that Coralie should suffer a check. He listened,
smiling to himself over the signatures on the bills (for, as a judge
at the Tribunal of Commerce, he knew how the booksellers stood), but
in the end he gave Lucien four thousand five hundred francs for them,
stipulating that he should add the formula "For value received in

Lucien went straight to Braulard, and made arrangements for a good
reception. Braulard promised to come to the dress-rehearsal, to
determine on the points where his "Romans" should work their fleshy
clappers to bring down the house in applause. Lucien gave the rest of
the money to Coralie (he did not tell her how he had come by it), and
allayed her anxieties and the fears of Berenice, who was sorely
troubled over their daily expenses.

Martainville came several times to hear Coralie rehearse, and he knew
more of the stage than most men of his time; several Royalist writers
had promised favorable articles; Lucien had not a suspicion of the
impending disaster.

A fatal event occurred on the evening before Coralie's _debut_.
D'Arthez's book had appeared; and the editor of Merlin's paper,
considering Lucien to be the best qualified man on the staff, gave him
the book to review. He owed his unlucky reputation to those articles
on Nathan's work. There were several men in the office at the time,
for all the staff had been summoned; Martainville was explaining that
the party warfare with the Liberals must be waged on certain lines.
Nathan, Merlin, all the contributors, in fact, were talking of Leon
Giraud's paper, and remarking that its influence was the more
pernicious because the language was guarded, cool, moderate. People
were beginning to speak of the circle in the Rue des Quatre-Vents as a
second Convention. It had been decided that the Royalist papers were
to wage a systematic war of extermination against these dangerous
opponents, who, indeed, at a later day, were destined to sow the
doctrines that drove the Bourbons into exile; but that was only after
the most brilliant of Royalist writers had joined them for the sake of
a mean revenge.

D'Arthez's absolutist opinions were not known; it was taken for
granted that he shared the views of his clique, he fell under the same
anathema, and he was to be the first victim. His book was to be
honored with "a slashing article," to use the consecrated formula.
Lucien refused to write the article. Great was the commotion among the
leading Royalist writers thus met in conclave. Lucien was told plainly
that a renegade could not do as he pleased; if it did not suit his
views to take the side of the Monarchy and Religion, he could go back
to the other camp. Merlin and Martainville took him aside and begged
him, as his friends, to remember that he would simply hand Coralie
over to the tender mercies of the Liberal papers, for she would find
no champions on the Royalist and Ministerial side. Her acting was
certain to provoke a hot battle, and the kind of discussion which
every actress longs to arouse.

"You don't understand it in the least," said Martainville; "if she
plays for three months amid a cross-fire of criticism, she will make
thirty thousand francs when she goes on tour in the provinces at the
end of the season; and here are you about to sacrifice Coralie and
your own future, and to quarrel with your own bread and butter, all
for a scruple that will always stand in your way, and ought to be got
rid of at once."

Lucien was forced to choose between d'Arthez and Coralie. His mistress
would be ruined unless he dealt his friend a death-blow in the _Reveil_
and the great newspaper. Poor poet! He went home with death in his
soul; and by the fireside he sat and read that finest production of
modern literature. Tears fell fast over it as the pages turned. For a
long while he hesitated, but at last he took up the pen and wrote a
sarcastic article of the kind that he understood so well, taking the
book as children might take some bright bird to strip it of its
plumage and torture it. His sardonic jests were sure to tell. Again he
turned to the book, and as he read it over a second time, his better
self awoke. In the dead of night he hurried across Paris, and stood
outside d'Arthez's house. He looked up at the windows and saw the
faint pure gleam of light in the panes, as he had so often seen it,
with a feeling of admiration for the noble steadfastness of that truly
great nature. For some moments he stood irresolute on the curbstone;
he had not courage to go further; but his good angel urged him on. He
tapped at the door and opened, and found d'Arthez sitting reading in a
fireless room.

"What has happened?" asked d'Arthez, for news of some dreadful kind
was visible in Lucien's ghastly face.

"Your book is sublime, d'Arthez," said Lucien, with tears in his eyes,
"and they have ordered me to write an attack upon it."

"Poor boy! the bread that they give you is hard indeed!" said d'Arthez

"I only ask for one favor, keep my visit a secret and leave me to my
hell, to the occupations of the damned. Perhaps it is impossible to
attain to success until the heart is seared and callous in every most
sensitive spot."

"The same as ever!" cried d'Arthez.

"Do you think me a base poltroon? No, d'Arthez; no, I am a boy half
crazed with love," and he told his story.

"Let us look at the article," said d'Arthez, touched by all that
Lucien said of Coralie.

Lucien held out the manuscript; d'Arthez read, and could not help

"Oh, what a fatal waste of intellect!" he began. But at the sight of
Lucien overcome with grief in the opposite armchair, he checked

"Will you leave it with me to correct? I will let you have it again
to-morrow," he went on. "Flippancy depreciates a work; serious and
conscientious criticism is sometimes praise in itself. I know a way to
make your article more honorable both for yourself and for me.
Besides, I know my faults well enough."

"When you climb a hot, shadowless hillside, you sometimes find fruit
to quench your torturing thirst; and I have found it here and now,"
said Lucien, as he sprang sobbing to d'Arthez's arms and kissed his
friend on the forehead. "It seems to me that I am leaving my
conscience in your keeping; some day I will come to you and ask for it

"I look upon a periodical repentance as great hypocrisy," d'Arthez
said solemnly; "repentance becomes a sort of indemnity for wrongdoing.
Repentance is virginity of the soul, which we must keep for God; a man
who repents twice is a horrible sycophant. I am afraid that you regard
repentance as absolution."

Lucien went slowly back to the Rue de la Lune, stricken dumb by those

Next morning d'Arthez sent back his article, recast throughout, and
Lucien sent it in to the review; but from that day melancholy preyed
upon him, and he could not always disguise his mood. That evening,
when the theatre was full, he experienced for the first time the
paroxysm of nervous terror caused by a _debut_; terror aggravated in
his case by all the strength of his love. Vanity of every kind was
involved. He looked over the rows of faces as a criminal eyes the
judges and the jury on whom his life depends. A murmur would have set
him quivering; any slight incident upon the stage, Coralie's exits and
entrances, the slightest modulation of the tones of her voice, would
perturb him beyond all reason.

The play in which Coralie made her first appearance at the Gymnase was
a piece of the kind which sometimes falls flat at first, and
afterwards has immense success. It fell flat that night. Coralie was
not applauded when she came on, and the chilly reception reacted upon
her. The only applause came from Camusot's box, and various persons
posted in the balcony and galleries silenced Camusot with repeated
cries of "Hush!" The galleries even silenced the _claqueurs_ when they
led off with exaggerated salvos. Martainville applauded bravely;
Nathan, Merlin, and the treacherous Florine followed his example; but
it was clear that the piece was a failure. A crowd gathered in
Coralie's dressing-room and consoled her, till she had no courage
left. She went home in despair, less for her own sake than for

"Braulard has betrayed us," Lucien said.

Coralie was heartstricken. The next day found her in a high fever,
utterly unfit to play, face to face with the thought that she had been
cut short in her career. Lucien hid the papers from her, and looked
them over in the dining-room. The reviewers one and all attributed the
failure of the piece to Coralie; she had overestimated her strength;
she might be the delight of a boulevard audience, but she was out of
her element at the Gymnase; she had been inspired by a laudable
ambition, but she had not taken her powers into account; she had
chosen a part to which she was quite unequal. Lucien read on through a
pile of penny-a-lining, put together on the same system as his attack
upon Nathan. Milo of Crotona, when he found his hands fast in the oak
which he himself had cleft, was not more furious than Lucien. He grew
haggard with rage. His friends gave Coralie the most treacherous
advice, in the language of kindly counsel and friendly interest. She
should play (according to these authorities) all kind of roles, which
the treacherous writers of these unblushing _feuilletons_ knew to be
utterly unsuited to her genius. And these were the Royalist papers,
led off by Nathan. As for the Liberal press, all the weapons which
Lucien had used were now turned against him.

Coralie heard a sob, followed by another and another. She sprang out
of bed to find Lucien, and saw the papers. Nothing would satisfy her
but she must read them all; and when she had read them, she went back
to bed, and lay there in silence.

Florine was in the plot; she had foreseen the outcome; she had studied
Coralie's part, and was ready to take her place. The management,
unwilling to give up the piece, was ready to take Florine in Coralie's
stead. When the manager came, he found poor Coralie sobbing and
exhausted on her bed; but when he began to say, in Lucien's presence,
that Florine knew the part, and that the play must be given that
evening, Coralie sprang up at once.

"I will play!" she cried, and sank fainting on the floor.

So Florine took the part, and made her reputation in it; for the piece
succeeded, the newspapers all sang her praises, and from that time
forth Florine was the great actress whom we all know. Florine's
success exasperated Lucien to the highest degree.

"A wretched girl, whom you helped to earn her bread! If the Gymnase
prefers to do so, let the management pay you to cancel your
engagement. I shall be the Comte de Rubempre; I will make my fortune,
and you shall be my wife."

"What nonsense!" said Coralie, looking at him with wan eyes.

"Nonsense!" repeated he. "Very well, wait a few days, and you shall
live in a fine house, you shall have a carriage, and I will write a
part for you!"

He took two thousand francs and hurried to Frascati's. For seven hours
the unhappy victim of the Furies watched his varying luck, and
outwardly seemed cool and self-contained. He experienced both extremes
of fortune during that day and part of the night that followed; at one
time he possessed as much as thirty thousand francs, and he came out
at last without a sou. In the Rue de la Lune he found Finot waiting
for him with a request for one of his short articles. Lucien so far
forgot himself, that he complained.

"Oh, it is not all rosy," returned Finot. "You made your
right-about-face in such a way that you were bound to lose the support
of the Liberal press, and the Liberals are far stronger in print than
all the Ministerialist and Royalist papers put together. A man should
never leave one camp for another until he has made a comfortable berth
for himself, by way of consolation for the losses that he must expect;
and in any case, a prudent politician will see his friends first, and
give them his reasons for going over, and take their opinions. You can
still act together; they sympathize with you, and you agree to give
mutual help. Nathan and Merlin did that before they went over. Hawks
don't pike out hawks' eyes. You were as innocent as a lamb; you will
be forced to show your teeth to your new party to make anything out of
them. You have been necessarily sacrificed to Nathan. I cannot conceal
from you that your article on d'Arthez has roused a terrific hubbub.
Marat is a saint compared with you. You will be attacked, and your
book will be a failure. How far have things gone with your romance?"

"These are the last proof sheets."

"All the anonymous articles against that young d'Arthez in the
Ministerialist and Ultra papers are set down to you. The _Reveil_ is
poking fun at the set in the Rue des Quatre-Vents, and the hits are
the more telling because they are funny. There is a whole serious
political coterie at the back of Leon Giraud's paper; they will come
into power too, sooner or later."

"I have not written a line in the _Reveil_ this week past."

"Very well. Keep my short articles in mind. Write fifty of them
straight off, and I will pay you for them in a lump; but they must be
of the same color as the paper." And Finot, with seeming carelessness,
gave Lucien an edifying anecdote of the Keeper of the Seals, a piece
of current gossip, he said, for the subject of one of the papers.

Eager to retrieve his losses at play, Lucien shook off his dejection,
summoned up his energy and youthful force, and wrote thirty articles
of two columns each. These finished, he went to Dauriat's, partly
because he felt sure of meeting Finot there, and he wished to give the
articles to Finot in person; partly because he wished for an
explanation of the non-appearance of the _Marguerites_. He found the
bookseller's shop full of his enemies. All the talk immediately ceased
as he entered. Put under the ban of journalism, his courage rose, and
once more he said to himself, as he had said in the alley at the
Luxembourg, "I will triumph."

Dauriat was neither amiable or inclined to patronize; he was sarcastic
in tone, and determined not to bate an inch of his rights. The
_Marguerites_ should appear when it suited his purpose; he should wait
until Lucien was in a position to secure the success of the book; it
was his, he had bought it outright. When Lucien asserted that Dauriat
was bound to publish the _Marguerites_ by the very nature of the
contract, and the relative positions of the parties to the agreement,
Dauriat flatly contradicted him, said that no publisher could be
compelled by law to publish at a loss, and that he himself was the
best judge of the expediency of producing the book. There was,
besides, a remedy open to Lucien, as any court of law would admit--the
poet was quite welcome to take his verses to a Royalist publisher upon
the repayment of the thousand crowns.

Lucien went away. Dauriat's moderate tone had exasperated him even
more than his previous arrogance at their first interview. So the
_Marguerites_ would not appear until Lucien had found a host of
formidable supporters, or grown formidable himself! He walked home
slowly, so oppressed and out of heart that he felt ready for suicide.
Coralie lay in bed, looking white and ill.

"She must have a part, or she will die," said Berenice, as Lucien
dressed for a great evening party at Mlle. des Touches' house in the
Rue du Mont Blanc. Des Lupeaulx and Vignon and Blondet were to be
there, as well as Mme. d'Espard and Mme. de Bargeton.

The party was given in honor of Conti, the great composer, owner
likewise of one of the most famous voices off the stage, Cinti, Pasta,
Garcia, Levasseur, and two or three celebrated amateurs in society not
excepted. Lucien saw the Marquise, her cousin, and Mme. de Montcornet
sitting together, and made one of the party. The unhappy young fellow
to all appearances was light-hearted, happy, and content; he jested,
he was the Lucien de Rubempre of his days of splendor, he would not
seem to need help from any one. He dwelt on his services to the
Royalist party, and cited the hue and cry raised after him by the
Liberal press as a proof of his zeal.

"And you will be well rewarded, my friend," said Mme. de Bargeton,
with a gracious smile. "Go to the _Chancellerie_ the day after to-morrow
with 'the Heron' and des Lupeaulx, and you will find your patent
signed by His Majesty. The Keeper of the Seals will take it to-morrow
to the Tuileries, but there is to be a meeting of the Council, and he
will not come back till late. Still, if I hear the result to-morrow
evening, I will let you know. Where are you living?"

"I will come to you," said Lucien, ashamed to confess that he was
living in the Rue de la Lune.

"The Duc de Lenoncourt and the Duc de Navarreins have made mention of
you to the King," added the Marquise; "they praised your absolute and
entire devotion, and said that some distinction ought to avenge your
treatment in the Liberal press. The name and title of Rubempre, to
which you have a claim through your mother, would become illustrious
through you, they said. The King gave his lordship instructions that
evening to prepare a patent authorizing the Sieur Lucien Chardon to
bear the arms and title of the Comtes de Rubempre, as grandson of the
last Count by the mother's side. 'Let us favor the songsters'
(_chardonnerets_) 'of Pindus,' said his Majesty, after reading your
sonnet on the Lily, which my cousin luckily remembered to give the
Duke.--'Especially when the King can work miracles, and change the
song-bird into an eagle,' M. de Navarreins replied."

Lucien's expansion of feeling would have softened the heart of any
woman less deeply wounded than Louise d'Espard de Negrepelisse; but
her thirst for vengeance was only increased by Lucien's graciousness.
Des Lupeaulx was right; Lucien was wanting in tact. It never crossed
his mind that this history of the patent was one of the mystifications
at which Mme. d'Espard was an adept. Emboldened with success and the
flattering distinction shown to him by Mlle. des Touches, he stayed
till two o'clock in the morning for a word in private with his
hostess. Lucien had learned in Royalist newspaper offices that Mlle.
des Touches was the author of a play in which _La petite Fay_, the
marvel of the moment was about to appear. As the rooms emptied, he
drew Mlle. des Touches to a sofa in the boudoir, and told the story of
Coralie's misfortune and his own so touchingly, that Mlle. des Touches
promised to give the heroine's part to his friend.

That promise put new life into Coralie. But the next day, as they
breakfasted together, Lucien opened Lousteau's newspaper, and found
that unlucky anecdote of the Keeper of the Seals and his wife. The
story was full of the blackest malice lurking in the most caustic wit.
Louis XVIII. was brought into the story in a masterly fashion, and
held up to ridicule in such a way that prosecution was impossible.
Here is the substance of a fiction for which the Liberal party
attempted to win credence, though they only succeeded in adding one
more to the tale of their ingenious calumnies.

The King's passion for pink-scented notes and a correspondence full of
madrigals and sparkling wit was declared to be the last phase of the
tender passion; love had reached the Doctrinaire stage; or had passed,
in other words, from the concrete to the abstract. The illustrious
lady, so cruelly ridiculed under the name of Octavie by Beranger, had
conceived (so it was said) the gravest fears. The correspondence was
languishing. The more Octavie displayed her wit, the cooler grew the
royal lover. At last Octavie discovered the cause of her decline; her
power was threatened by the novelty and piquancy of a correspondence
between the august scribe and the wife of his Keeper of the Seals.
That excellent woman was believed to be incapable of writing a note;
she was simply and solely godmother to the efforts of audacious
ambition. Who could be hidden behind her petticoats? Octavie decided,
after making observations of her own, that the King was corresponding
with his Minister.

She laid her plans. With the help of a faithful friend, she arranged
that a stormy debate should detain the Minister at the Chamber; then
she contrived to secure a _tete-a-tete_, and to convince outraged
Majesty of the fraud. Louis XVIII. flew into a royal and truly Bourbon
passion, but the tempest broke on Octavie's head. He would not believe
her. Octavie offered immediate proof, begging the King to write a note
which must be answered at once. The unlucky wife of the Keeper of the
Seals sent to the Chamber for her husband; but precautions had been
taken, and at that moment the Minister was on his legs addressing the
Chamber. The lady racked her brains and replied to the note with such
intellect as she could improvise.

"Your Chancellor will supply the rest," cried Octavie, laughing at the
King's chagrin.

There was not a word of truth in the story; but it struck home to
three persons--the Keeper of the Seals, his wife, and the King. It was
said that des Lupeaulx had invented the tale, but Finot always kept
his counsel. The article was caustic and clever, the Liberal papers
and the Orleanists were delighted with it, and Lucien himself laughed,
and thought of it merely as a very amusing _canard_.

He called next day for des Lupeaulx and the Baron du Chatelet. The
Baron had just been to thank his lordship. The Sieur Chatelet, newly
appointed Councillor Extraordinary, was now Comte du Chatelet, with a
promise of the prefecture of the Charente so soon as the present
prefect should have completed the term of office necessary to receive
the maximum retiring pension. The Comte _du_ Chatelet (for the _du_ had
been inserted in the patent) drove with Lucien to the _Chancellerie_,
and treated his companion as an equal. But for Lucien's articles, he
said, his patent would not have been granted so soon; Liberal
persecution had been a stepping-stone to advancement. Des Lupeaulx was
waiting for them in the Secretary-General's office. That functionary
started with surprise when Lucien appeared and looked at des Lupeaulx.

"What!" he exclaimed, to Lucien's utter bewilderment. "Do you dare to
come here, sir? Your patent was made out, but his lordship has torn it
up. Here it is!" (the Secretary-General caught up the first torn sheet
that came to hand). "The Minister wished to discover the author of
yesterday's atrocious article, and here is the manuscript," added the
speaker, holding out the sheets of Lucien's article. "You call
yourself a Royalist, sir, and you are on the staff of that detestable
paper which turns the Minister's hair gray, harasses the Centre, and
is dragging the country headlong to ruin? You breakfast on the
_Corsair_, the _Miroir_, the _Constitutionnel_, and the _Courier_; you
dine on the _Quotidienne_ and the _Reveil_, and then sup with
Martainville, the worst enemy of the Government! Martainville urges the
Government on to Absolutist measures; he is more likely to bring on
another Revolution than if he had gone over to the extreme Left. You are
a very clever journalist, but you will never make a politician. The
Minister denounced you to the King, and the King was so angry that he
scolded M. le Duc de Navarreins, his First Gentleman of the Bedchamber.
Your enemies will be all the more formidable because they have hitherto
been your friends. Conduct that one expects from an enemy is atrocious
in a friend."

"Why, really, my dear fellow, are you a child?" said des Lupeaulx.
"You have compromised me. Mme. d'Espard, Mme. de Bargeton, and Mme. de
Montcornet, who were responsible for you, must be furious. The Duke is
sure to have handed on his annoyance to the Marquise, and the Marquise
will have scolded her cousin. Keep away from them and wait."

"Here comes his lordship--go!" said the Secretary-General.

Lucien went out into the Place Vendome; he was stunned by this
bludgeon blow. He walked home along the Boulevards trying to think
over his position. He saw himself a plaything in the hands of envy,
treachery, and greed. What was he in this world of contending
ambitions? A child sacrificing everything to the pursuit of pleasure
and the gratification of vanity; a poet whose thoughts never went
beyond the moment, a moth flitting from one bright gleaming object to
another. He had no definite aim; he was the slave of circumstance
--meaning well, doing ill. Conscience tortured him remorselessly. And
to crown it all, he was penniless and exhausted with work and emotion.
His articles could not compare with Merlin's or Nathan's work.

He walked at random, absorbed in these thoughts. As he passed some of
the reading-rooms which were already lending books as well as
newspapers, a placard caught his eyes. It was an advertisement of a
book with a grotesque title, but beneath the announcement he saw his
name in brilliant letters--"By Lucien Chardon de Rubempre." So his
book had come out, and he had heard nothing of it! All the newspapers
were silent. He stood motionless before the placard, his arms hanging
at his sides. He did not notice a little knot of acquaintances
--Rastignac and de Marsay and some other fashionable young men; nor did
he see that Michel Chrestien and Leon Giraud were coming towards him.

"Are you M. Chardon?" It was Michel who spoke, and there was that in
the sound of his voice that set Lucien's heartstrings vibrating.

"Do you not know me?" he asked, turning very pale.

Michel spat in his face.

"Take that as your wages for your article against d'Arthez. If
everybody would do as I do on his own or his friend's behalf, the
press would be as it ought to be--a self-respecting and respected

Lucien staggered back and caught hold of Rastignac.

"Gentlemen," he said, addressing Rastignac and de Marsay, "you will
not refuse to act as my seconds. But first, I wish to make matters
even and apology impossible."

He struck Michel a sudden, unexpected blow in the face. The rest
rushed in between the Republican and Royalist, to prevent a street
brawl. Rastignac dragged Lucien off to the Rue Taitbout, only a few
steps away from the Boulevard de Gand, where this scene took place. It
was the hour of dinner, or a crowd would have assembled at once. De
Marsay came to find Lucien, and the pair insisted that he should dine
with them at the Cafe Anglais, where they drank and made merry.

"Are you a good swordsman?" inquired de Marsay.

"I have never had a foil in my hands."

"A good shot?"

"Never fired a pistol in my life."

"Then you have luck on your side. You are a formidable antagonist to
stand up to; you may kill your man," said de Marsay.

Fortunately, Lucien found Coralie in bed and asleep.

She had played without rehearsal in a one-act play, and taken her
revenge. She had met with genuine applause. Her enemies had not been
prepared for this step on her part, and her success had determined the
manager to give her the heroine's part in Camille Maupin's play. He
had discovered the cause of her apparent failure, and was indignant
with Florine and Nathan. Coralie should have the protection of the

At five o'clock that morning, Rastignac came for Lucien.

"The name of your street my dear fellow, is particularly appropriate
for your lodgings; you are up in the sky," he said, by way of
greeting. "Let us be first upon the ground on the road to
Clignancourt; it is good form, and we ought to set them an example."

"Here is the programme," said de Marsay, as the cab rattled through
the Faubourg Saint-Denis: "You stand up at twenty-five paces, coming
nearer, till you are only fifteen apart. You have, each of you, five
paces to take and three shots to fire--no more. Whatever happens, that
must be the end of it. We load for your antagonist, and his seconds
load for you. The weapons were chosen by the four seconds at a
gunmaker's. We helped you to a chance, I will promise you; horse
pistols are to be the weapons."

For Lucien, life had become a bad dream. He did not care whether he
lived or died. The courage of suicide helped him in some sort to carry
things off with a dash of bravado before the spectators. He stood in
his place; he would not take a step, a piece of recklessness which the
others took for deliberate calculation. They thought the poet an
uncommonly cool hand. Michel Chrestien came as far as his limit; both
fired twice and at the same time, for either party was considered to
be equally insulted. Michel's first bullet grazed Lucien's chin;
Lucien's passed ten feet above Chrestien's head. The second shot hit
Lucien's coat collar, but the buckram lining fortunately saved its
wearer. The third bullet struck him in the chest, and he dropped.

"Is he dead?" asked Michel Chrestien.

"No," said the surgeon, "he will pull through."

"So much the worse," answered Michel.

"Yes; so much the worse," said Lucien, as his tears fell fast.

By noon the unhappy boy lay in bed in his own room. With untold pains
they had managed to remove him, but it had taken five hours to bring
him to the Rue de la Lune. His condition was not dangerous, but
precautions were necessary lest fever should set in and bring about
troublesome complications. Coralie choked down her grief and anguish.
She sat up with him at night through the anxious weeks of his illness,
studying her parts by his bedside. Lucien was in danger for two long
months; and often at the theatre Coralie acted her frivolous role with
one thought in her heart, "Perhaps he is dying at this moment."

Lucien owed his life to the skill and devotion of a friend whom he had
grievously hurt. Bianchon had come to tend him after hearing the story
of the attack from d'Arthez, who told it in confidence, and excused
the unhappy poet. Bianchon suspected that d'Arthez was generously
trying to screen the renegade; but on questioning Lucien during a
lucid interval in the dangerous nervous fever, he learned that his
patient was only responsible for the one serious article in Hector
Merlin's paper.

Before the first month was out, the firm of Fendant and Cavalier filed
their schedule. Bianchon told Coralie that Lucien must on no account
hear the news. The famous _Archer of Charles IX._, brought out with an
absurd title, had been a complete failure. Fendant, being anxious to
realize a little ready money before going into bankruptcy, had sold
the whole edition (without Cavalier's knowledge) to dealers in printed
paper. These, in their turn, had disposed of it at a cheap rate to
hawkers, and Lucien's book at that moment was adorning the bookstalls
along the Quays. The booksellers on the Quai des Augustins, who had
previously taken a quantity of copies, now discovered that after this
sudden reduction of the price they were like to lose heavily on their
purchases; the four duodecimo volumes, for which they had paid four
francs fifty centimes, were being given away for fifty sous. Great was
the outcry in the trade; but the newspapers preserved a profound
silence. Barbet had not foreseen this "clearance;" he had a belief in
Lucien's abilities; for once he had broken his rule and taken two
hundred copies. The prospect of a loss drove him frantic; the things
he said of Lucien were fearful to hear. Then Barbet took a heroic
resolution. He stocked his copies in a corner of his shop, with the
obstinacy of greed, and left his competitors to sell their wares at a
loss. Two years afterwards, when d'Arthez's fine preface, the merits
of the book, and one or two articles by Leon Giraud had raised the
value of the book, Barbet sold his copies, one by one, at ten francs

Lucien knew nothing of all this, but Berenice and Coralie could not
refuse to allow Hector Merlin to see his dying comrade, and Hector
Merlin made him drink, drop by drop, the whole of the bitter draught
brewed by the failure of Fendant and Cavalier, made bankrupts by his
first ill-fated book. Martainville, the one friend who stood by Lucien
through thick and thin, had written a magnificent article on his work;
but so great was the general exasperation against the editor of
_L'Aristarque_, _L'Oriflamme_, and _Le Drapeau Blanc_, that his
championship only injured Lucien. In vain did the athlete return the
Liberal insults tenfold, not a newspaper took up the challenge in
spite of all his attacks.

Coralie, Berenice, and Bianchon might shut the door on Lucien's
so-called friends, who raised a great outcry, but it was impossible
to keep out creditors and writs. After the failure of Fendant and
Cavalier, their bills were taken into bankruptcy according to that
provision of the Code of Commerce most inimical to the claims of third
parties, who in this way lose the benefit of delay.

Lucien discovered that Camusot was proceeding against him with great
energy. When Coralie heard the name, and for the first time learned
the dreadful and humiliating step which her poet had taken for her
sake, the angelic creature loved him ten times more than before, and
would not approach Camusot. The bailiff bringing the warrant of arrest
shrank back from the idea of dragging his prisoner out of bed, and
went back to Camusot before applying to the President of the Tribunal
of Commerce for an order to remove the debtor to a private hospital.
Camusot hurried at once to the Rue de la Lune, and Coralie went down
to him.

When she came up again she held the warrants, in which Lucien was
described as a tradesman, in her hand. How had she obtained those
papers from Camusot? What promise had she given? Coralie kept a sad,
gloomy silence, but when she returned she looked as if all the life
had gone out of her. She played in Camille Maupin's play, and
contributed not a little to the success of that illustrious literary
hermaphrodite; but the creation of this character was the last flicker
of a bright, dying lamp. On the twentieth night, when Lucien had so
far recovered that he had regained his appetite and could walk abroad,
and talked of getting to work again, Coralie broke down; a secret
trouble was weighing upon her. Berenice always believed that she had
promised to go back to Camusot to save Lucien.

Another mortification followed. Coralie was obliged to see her part
given to Florine. Nathan had threatened the Gymnase with war if the
management refused to give the vacant place to Coralie's rival.
Coralie had persisted till she could play no longer, knowing that
Florine was waiting to step into her place. She had overtasked her
strength. The Gymnase had advanced sums during Lucien's illness, she
had no money to draw; Lucien, eager to work though he was, was not yet
strong enough to write, and he helped besides to nurse Coralie and to
relieve Berenice. From poverty they had come to utter distress; but in
Bianchon they found a skilful and devoted doctor, who obtained credit
for them of the druggist. The landlord of the house and the
tradespeople knew by this time how matters stood. The furniture was
attached. The tailor and dressmaker no longer stood in awe of the
journalist, and proceeded to extremes; and at last no one, with the
exception of the pork-butcher and the druggist, gave the two unlucky
children credit. For a week or more all three of them--Lucien,
Berenice, and the invalid--were obliged to live on the various
ingenious preparations sold by the pork-butcher; the inflammatory diet
was little suited to the sick girl, and Coralie grew worse. Sheer want
compelled Lucien to ask Lousteau for a return of the loan of a
thousand francs lost at play by the friend who had deserted him in his
hour of need. Perhaps, amid all his troubles, this step cost him most
cruel suffering.

Lousteau was not to be found in the Rue de la Harpe. Hunted down like
a hare, he was lodging now with this friend, now with that. Lucien
found him at last at Flicoteaux's; he was sitting at the very table at
which Lucien had found him that evening when, for his misfortune, he
forsook d'Arthez for journalism. Lousteau offered him dinner, and
Lucien accepted the offer.

As they came out of Flicoteaux's with Claude Vignon (who happened to
be dining there that day) and the great man in obscurity, who kept his
wardrobe at Samanon's, the four among them could not produce enough
specie to pay for a cup of coffee at the Cafe Voltaire. They lounged
about the Luxembourg in the hope of meeting with a publisher; and, as
it fell out, they met with one of the most famous printers of the day.
Lousteau borrowed forty francs of him, and divided the money into four
equal parts.

Misery had brought down Lucien's pride and extinguished sentiment; he
shed tears as he told the story of his troubles, but each one of his
comrades had a tale as cruel as his own; and when the three versions
had been given, it seemed to the poet that he was the least
unfortunate among the four. All of them craved a respite from
remembrance and thoughts which made trouble doubly hard to bear.

Lousteau hurried to the Palais Royal to gamble with his remaining nine
francs. The great man unknown to fame, though he had a divine
mistress, must needs hie him to a low haunt of vice to wallow in
perilous pleasure. Vignon betook himself to the _Rocher de Cancale_ to
drown memory and thought in a couple of bottles of Bordeaux; Lucien
parted company with him on the threshold, declining to share that
supper. When he shook hands with the one journalist who had not been
hostile to him, it was with a cruel pang in his heart.

"What shall I do?" he asked aloud.

"One must do as one can," the great critic said. "Your book is good,
but it excited jealousy, and your struggle will be hard and long.
Genius is a cruel disease. Every writer carries a canker in his heart,
a devouring monster, like the tapeworm in the stomach, which destroys
all feeling as it arises in him. Which is the stronger? The man or the
disease? One has need be a great man, truly, to keep the balance
between genius and character. The talent grows, the heart withers.
Unless a man is a giant, unless he has the thews of a Hercules, he
must be content either to lose his gift or to live without a heart.
You are slender and fragile, you will give way," he added, as he
turned into the restaurant.

Lucien returned home, thinking over that terrible verdict. He beheld
the life of literature by the light of the profound truths uttered by

"Money! money!" a voice cried in his ears.

Then he drew three bills of a thousand francs each, due respectively
in one, two, and three months, imitating the handwriting of his
brother-in-law, David Sechard, with admirable skill. He endorsed the
bills, and took them next morning to Metivier, the paper-dealer in the
Rue Serpente, who made no difficulty about taking them. Lucien wrote a
few lines to give his brother-in-law notice of this assault upon his
cash-box, promising, as usual in such cases, to be ready to meet the
bills as they fell due.

When all debts, his own and Coralie's, were paid, he put the three
hundred francs which remained into Berenice's hands, bidding her to
refuse him money if he asked her for it. He was afraid of a return of
the gambler's frenzy. Lucien worked away gloomily in a sort of cold,
speechless fury, putting forth all his powers into witty articles,
written by the light of the lamp at Coralie's bedside. Whenever he
looked up in search of ideas, his eyes fell on that beloved face,
white as porcelain, fair with the beauty that belongs to the dying,
and he saw a smile on her pale lips, and her eyes, grown bright with a
more consuming pain than physical suffering, always turned on his

Lucien sent in his work, but he could not leave the house to worry
editors, and his articles did not appear. When he at last made up his
mind to go to the office, he met with a cool reception from Theodore
Gaillard, who had advanced him money, and turned his literary diamonds
to good account afterwards.

"Take care, my dear fellow, you are falling off," he said. "You must
not let yourself down, your work wants inspiration!"

"That little Lucien has written himself out with his romance and his
first articles," cried Felicien Vernou, Merlin, and the whole chorus
of his enemies, whenever his name came up at Dauriat's or the
Vaudeville. "The work he is sending us is pitiable."

"To have written oneself out" (in the slang of journalism), is a
verdict very hard to live down. It passed everywhere from mouth to
mouth, ruining Lucien, all unsuspicious as he was. And, indeed, his
burdens were too heavy for his strength. In the midst of a heavy
strain of work, he was sued for the bills which he had drawn in David
Sechard's name. He had recourse to Camusot's experience, and Coralie's
sometime adorer was generous enough to assist the man she loved. The
intolerable situation lasted for two whole months; the days being
diversified by stamped papers handed over to Desroches, a friend of
Bixiou, Blondet, and des Lupeaulx.

Early in August, Bianchon told them that Coralie's condition was
hopeless--she had only a few days to live. Those days were spent in
tears by Berenice and Lucien; they could not hide their grief from the
dying girl, and she was broken-hearted for Lucien's sake.

Some strange change was working in Coralie. She would have Lucien
bring a priest; she must be reconciled to the Church and die in peace.
Coralie died as a Christian; her repentance was sincere. Her agony and
death took all energy and heart out of Lucien. He sank into a low
chair at the foot of the bed, and never took his eyes off her till
Death brought the end of her suffering. It was five o'clock in the
morning. Some singing-bird lighting upon a flower-pot on the
window-sill, twittered a few notes. Berenice, kneeling by the bedside,
was covering a hand fast growing cold with kisses and tears. On the
chimney-piece there lay eleven sous.

Lucien went out. Despair made him beg for money to lay Coralie in her
grave. He had wild thoughts of flinging himself at the Marquise
d'Espard's feet, of entreating the Comte du Chatelet, Mme. de
Bargeton, Mlle. des Touches, nay, that terrible dandy of a de Marsay.
All his pride had gone with his strength. He would have enlisted as a
common soldier at that moment for money. He walked on with a
slouching, feverish gait known to all the unhappy, reached Camille
Maupin's house, entered, careless of his disordered dress, and sent in
a message. He entreated Mlle. des Touches to see him for a moment.

"Mademoiselle only went to bed at three o'clock this morning," said
the servant, "and no one would dare to disturb her until she rings."

"When does she ring?"

"Never before ten o'clock."

Then Lucien wrote one of those harrowing appeals in which the
well-dressed beggar flings all pride and self-respect to the winds.
One evening, not so very long ago, when Lousteau had told him of the
abject begging letters which Finot received, Lucien had thought it
impossible that any creature would sink so low; and now, carried away
by his pen, he had gone further, it may be, than other unlucky
wretches upon the same road. He did not suspect, in his fever and
imbecility, that he had just written a masterpiece of pathos. On his
way home along the Boulevards, he met Barbet.

"Barbet!" he begged, holding out his hand. "Five hundred francs!"

"No. Two hundred," returned the other.

"Ah! then you have a heart."

"Yes; but I am a man of business as well. I have lost a lot of money
through you," he concluded, after giving the history of the failure of
Fendant and Cavalier, "will you put me in the way of making some?"

Lucien quivered.

"You are a poet. You ought to understand all kinds of poetry,"
continued the little publisher. "I want a few rollicking songs at this
moment to put along with some more by different authors, or they will
be down upon me over the copyright. I want to have a good collection
to sell on the streets at ten sous. If you care to let me have ten
good drinking-songs by to-morrow morning, or something spicy,--you
know the sort of thing, eh!--I will pay you two hundred francs."

When Lucien returned home, he found Coralie stretched out straight and
stiff on a pallet-bed; Berenice, with many tears, had wrapped her in a
coarse linen sheet, and put lighted candles at the four corners of the
bed. Coralie's face had taken that strange, delicate beauty of death
which so vividly impresses the living with the idea of absolute calm;
she looked like some white girl in a decline; it seemed as if those
pale, crimson lips must open and murmur the name which had blended
with the name of God in the last words that she uttered before she

Lucien told Berenice to order a funeral which should not cost more
than two hundred francs, including the service at the shabby little
church of the Bonne-Nouvelle. As soon as she had gone out, he sat down
to a table, and beside the dead body of his love he composed ten
rollicking songs to fit popular airs. The effort cost him untold
anguish, but at last the brain began to work at the bidding of
Necessity, as if suffering were not; and already Lucien had learned to
put Claude Vignon's terrible maxims in practice, and to raise a
barrier between heart and brain. What a night the poor boy spent over
those drinking songs, writing by the light of the tall wax candles
while the priest recited the prayers for the dead!

Morning broke before the last song was finished. Lucien tried it over
to a street-song of the day, to the consternation of Berenice and the
priest, who thought that he was mad:--

    Lads, 'tis tedious waste of time
      To mingle song and reason;
    Folly calls for laughing rhyme,
      Sense is out of season.
  Let Apollo be forgot
    When Bacchus fills the drinking-cup;
  Any catch is good, I wot,
    If good fellows take it up.
      Let philosophers protest,
        Let us laugh,
          And quaff,
      And a fig for the rest!

    As Hippocrates has said,
      Every jolly fellow,
    When a century has sped,
      Still is fit and mellow.
  No more following of a lass
    With the palsy in your legs?
  --While your hand can hold a glass,
    You can drain it to the dregs,
      With an undiminished zest.
        Let us laugh,
          And quaff,
      And a fig for the rest!

    Whence we come we know full well.
      Whiter are we going?
    Ne'er a one of us can tell,
      'Tis a thing past knowing.
  Faith! what does it signify,
    Take the good that Heaven sends;
  It is certain that we die,
    Certain that we live, my friends.
      Life is nothing but a jest.
        Let us laugh,
          And quaff,
      And a fig for the rest!

He was shouting the reckless refrain when d'Arthez and Bianchon
arrived, to find him in a paroxysm of despair and exhaustion, utterly
unable to make a fair copy of his verses. A torrent of tears followed;
and when, amid his sobs, he had told his story, he saw the tears
standing in his friends' eyes.

"This wipes out many sins," said d'Arthez.

"Happy are they who suffer for their sins in this world," the priest
said solemnly.

At the sight of the fair, dead face smiling at Eternity, while
Coralie's lover wrote tavern-catches to buy a grave for her, and
Barbet paid for the coffin--of the four candles lighted about the dead
body of her who had thrilled a great audience as she stood behind the
footlights in her Spanish basquina and scarlet green-clocked
stockings; while beyond in the doorway, stood the priest who had
reconciled the dying actress with God, now about to return to the
church to say a mass for the soul of her who had "loved much,"--all
the grandeur and the sordid aspects of the scene, all that sorrow
crushed under by Necessity, froze the blood of the great writer and
the great doctor. They sat down; neither of them could utter a word.

Just at that moment a servant in livery announced Mlle. des Touches.
That beautiful and noble woman understood everything at once. She
stepped quickly across the room to Lucien, and slipped two
thousand-franc notes into his hand as she grasped it.

"It is too late," he said, looking up at her with dull, hopeless eyes.

The three stayed with Lucien, trying to soothe his despair with
comforting words; but every spring seemed to be broken. At noon all
the brotherhood, with the exception of Michel Chrestien (who, however,
had learned the truth as to Lucien's treachery), was assembled in the
poor little church of the Bonne-Nouvelle; Mlle. de Touches was
present, and Berenice and Coralie's dresser from the theatre, with a
couple of supernumeraries and the disconsolate Camusot. All the men
accompanied the actress to her last resting-place in Pere Lachaise.
Camusot, shedding hot tears, had solemnly promised Lucien to buy the
grave in perpetuity, and to put a headstone above it with the words:


                         AGED NINETEEN YEARS

                             August, 1822

Lucien stayed there, on the sloping ground that looks out over Paris,
until the sun had set.

"Who will love me now?" he thought. "My truest friends despise me.
Whatever I might have done, she who lies here would have thought me
wholly noble and good. I have no one left to me now but my sister and
mother and David. And what do they think of me at home?"

Poor distinguished provincial! He went back to the Rue de la Lune; but
the sight of the rooms was so acutely painful, that he could not stay
in them, and he took a cheap lodging elsewhere in the same street.
Mlle. des Touches' two thousand francs and the sale of the furniture
paid the debts.

Berenice had two hundred francs left, on which they lived for two
months. Lucien was prostrate; he could neither write nor think; he
gave way to morbid grief. Berenice took pity upon him.

"Suppose that you were to go back to your own country, how are you to
get there?" she asked one day, by way of reply to an exclamation of

"On foot."

"But even so, you must live and sleep on the way. Even if you walk
twelve leagues a day, you will want twenty francs at least."

"I will get them together," he said.

He took his clothes and his best linen, keeping nothing but strict
necessaries, and went to Samanon, who offered fifty francs for his
entire wardrobe. In vain he begged the money-lender to let him have
enough to pay his fare by the coach; Samanon was inexorable. In a
paroxysm of fury, Lucien rushed to Frascati's, staked the proceeds of
the sale, and lost every farthing. Back once more in the wretched room
in the Rue de la Lune, he asked Berenice for Coralie's shawl. The good
girl looked at him, and knew in a moment what he meant to do. He had
confessed to his loss at the gaming-table; and now he was going to
hang himself.

"Are you mad, sir? Go out for a walk, and come back again at midnight.
I will get the money for you; but keep to the Boulevards, do not go
towards the Quais."

Lucien paced up and down the Boulevards. He was stupid with grief. He
watched the passers-by and the stream of traffic, and felt that he was
alone, and a very small atom in this seething whirlpool of Paris,
churned by the strife of innumerable interests. His thoughts went back
to the banks of his Charente; a craving for happiness and home awoke
in him; and with the craving, came one of the sudden febrile bursts of
energy which half-feminine natures like his mistake for strength. He
would not give up until he had poured out his heart to David Sechard,
and taken counsel of the three good angels still left to him on earth.

As he lounged along, he caught sight of Berenice--Berenice in her
Sunday clothes, speaking to a stranger at the corner of the Rue de la
Lune and the filthy Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, where she had taken her

"What are you doing?" asked Lucien, dismayed by a sudden suspicion.

"Here are your twenty francs," said the girl, slipping four five-franc
pieces into the poet's hand. "They may cost dear yet; but you can go,"
and she had fled before Lucien could see the way she went; for, in
justice to him, it must be said that the money burned his hand, he
wanted to return it, but he was forced to keep it as the final brand
set upon him by life in Paris.


The following personages appear in other stories of the Human Comedy.

  A Man of Business
  The Seamy Side of History
  The Middle Classes

Beaudenord, Godefroid de
  The Ball at Sceaux
  The Firm of Nucingen

  Lost Illusions

Bianchon, Horace
  Father Goriot
  The Atheist's Mass
  Cesar Birotteau
  The Commission in Lunacy
  Lost Illusions
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  The Secrets of a Princess
  The Government Clerks
  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, M. Bianchon narrated the following:
  Another Study of Woman
  La Grande Breteche

Blondet, Emile
  Jealousies of a Country Town
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  Modeste Mignon
  Another Study of Woman
  The Secrets of a Princess
  A Daughter of Eve
  The Firm of Nucingen
  The Peasantry

Blondet, Virginie
  Jealousies of a Country Town
  The Secrets of a Princess
  The Peasantry
  Another Study of Woman
  The Member for Arcis
  A Daughter of Eve

  Cousin Betty
  Cousin Pons

Bridau, Joseph
  The Purse
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  A Start in Life
  Modeste Mignon
  Another Study of Woman
  Pierre Grassou
  Letters of Two Brides
  Cousin Betty
  The Member for Arcis

Bruel, Jean Francois du
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  The Government Clerks
  A Start in Life
  A Prince of Bohemia
  The Middle Classes
  A Daughter of Eve

Bruel, Claudine Chaffaroux, Madame du
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  A Prince of Bohemia
  Letters of Two Brides
  The Middle Classes

Cabirolle, Agathe-Florentine
  A Start in Life
  Lost Illusions
  A Bachelor's Establishment

  A Bachelor's Establishment
  Cousin Pons
  The Muse of the Department
  Cesar Birotteau
  At the Sign of the Cat and Racket

Canalis, Constant-Cyr-Melchior, Baron de
  Letters of Two Brides
  Modeste Mignon
  The Magic Skin
  Another Study of Woman
  A Start in Life
  The Unconscious Humorists
  The Member for Arcis

Cardot, Jean-Jerome-Severin
  A Start in Life
  Lost Illusions

  A Bachelor's Establishment
  At the Sign of the Cat and Racket
  Cesar Birotteau

Carigliano, Duchesse de
  At the Sign of the Cat and Racket
  The Peasantry
  The Member for Arcis

  The Seamy Side of History

  The Government Clerks
  A Man of Business

Chatelet, Sixte, Baron du
  Lost Illusions
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Thirteen

Chatelet, Marie-Louise-Anais de Negrepelisse, Baronne du
  Lost Illusions
  The Government Clerks

Chrestien, Michel
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  The Secrets of a Princess

Collin, Jacques
  Father Goriot
  Lost Illusions
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Member for Arcis

  A Bachelor's Establishment

Coralie, Mademoiselle
  A Start in Life
  A Bachelor's Establishment

  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  Modeste Mignon

Desroches (son)
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  Colonel Chabert
  A Start in Life
  A Woman of Thirty
  The Commission in Lunacy
  The Government Clerks
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Firm of Nucingen
  A Man of Business
  The Middle Classes

Arthez, Daniel d'
  Letters of Two Brides
  The Member for Arcis
  The Secrets of a Princess

Espard, Jeanne-Clementine-Athenais de Blamont-Chauvry, Marquise d'
  The Commission in Lunacy
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  Letters of Two Brides
  Another Study of Woman
  The Gondreville Mystery
  The Secrets of a Princess
  A Daughter of Eve

Finot, Andoche
  Cesar Birotteau
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Government Clerks
  A Start in Life
  Gaudissart the Great
  The Firm of Nucingen

Foy, Maximilien-Sebastien
  Cesar Birotteau

Gaillard, Theodore
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Unconscious Humorists

Gaillard, Madame Theodore
  Jealousies of a Country Town
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Unconscious Humorists

Galathionne, Prince and Princess (both not in each story)
  The Secrets of a Princess
  The Middle Classes
  Father Goriot
  A Daughter of Eve

  Lost Illusions

Giraud, Leon
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  The Secrets of a Princess
  The Unconscious Humorists

  A Start in Life
  A Bachelor's Establishment

  Cesar Birotteau
  Lost Illusions
  A Start in Life
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Middle Classes
  Cousin Betty

Lambert, Louis
  Louis Lambert
  A Seaside Tragedy

Listomere, Marquis de
  The Lily of the Valley
  A Study of Woman

Listomere, Marquise de
  The Lily of the Valley
  Lost Illusions
  A Study of Woman
  A Daughter of Eve

Lousteau, Etienne
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  A Daughter of Eve
  The Muse of the Department
  Cousin Betty
  A Prince of Bohemia
  A Man of Business
  The Middle Classes
  The Unconscious Humorists

Lupeaulx, Clement Chardin des
  The Muse of the Department
  Eugenie Grandet
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  The Government Clerks
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  Ursule Mirouet

Manerville, Paul Francois-Joseph, Comte de
  The Thirteen
  The Ball at Sceaux
  Lost Illusions
  A Marriage Settlement

Marsay, Henri de
  The Thirteen
  The Unconscious Humorists
  Another Study of Woman
  The Lily of the Valley
  Father Goriot
  Jealousies of a Country Town
  Ursule Mirouet
  A Marriage Settlement
  Lost Illusions
  Letters of Two Brides
  The Ball at Sceaux
  Modeste Mignon
  The Secrets of a Princess
  The Gondreville Mystery
  A Daughter of Eve

Matifat (wealthy druggist)
  Cesar Birotteau
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  Lost Illusions
  The Firm of Nucingen
  Cousin Pons

  Louis Lambert

Montcornet, Marechal, Comte de
  Domestic Peace
  Lost Illusions

  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Peasantry
  A Man of Business
  Cousin Betty

Montriveau, General Marquis Armand de
  The Thirteen
  Father Goriot
  Lost Illusions
  Another Study of Woman
  The Member for Arcis

Nathan, Raoul
  Lost Illusions
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Secrets of a Princess
  A Daughter of Eve
  Letters of Two Brides
  The Seamy Side of History
  The Muse of the Department
  A Prince of Bohemia
  A Man of Business
  The Unconscious Humorists

Nathan, Madame Raoul
  The Muse of the Department
  Lost Illusions
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Government Clerks
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  Ursule Mirouet
  Eugenie Grandet
  The Imaginary Mistress
  A Prince of Bohemia

Negrepelisse, De
  The Commission in Lunacy
  Lost Illusions

Nucingen, Baron Frederic de
  The Firm of Nucingen
  Father Goriot
  Cesar Birotteau
  Lost Illusions
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  Another Study of Woman
  The Secrets of a Princess
  A Man of Business
  Cousin Betty
  The Muse of the Department
  The Unconscious Humorists

Nucingen, Baronne Delphine de
  Father Goriot
  The Thirteen
  Eugenie Grandet
  Cesar Birotteau
  Melmoth Reconciled
  Lost Illusions
  The Commission in Lunacy
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  Modeste Mignon
  The Firm of Nucingen
  Another Study of Woman
  A Daughter of Eve
  The Member for Arcis

Palma (banker)
  The Firm of Nucingen
  Cesar Birotteau
  Lost Illusions
  The Ball at Sceaux

Pombreton, Marquis de
  Lost Illusions
  Jealousies of a Country Town

Rastignac, Eugene de
  Father Goriot
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  The Ball at Sceaux
  The Commission in Lunacy
  A Study of Woman
  Another Study of Woman
  The Magic Skin
  The Secrets of a Princess
  A Daughter of Eve
  The Gondreville Mystery
  The Firm of Nucingen
  Cousin Betty
  The Member for Arcis
  The Unconscious Humorists

Rhetore, Duc Alphonse de
  A Bachelor's Establishment

 Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  Letters of Two Brides
  Albert Savarus
  The Member for Arcis

Ridal, Fulgence
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  The Unconscious Humorists

Rubempre, Lucien-Chardon de
  Lost Illusions
  The Government Clerks
  Ursule Mirouet
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

  The Government Clerks
  A Man of Business
  Cousin Betty

Sechard, David
  Lost Illusions
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Sechard, Madame David
  Lost Illusions
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Tillet, Ferdinand du
  Cesar Birotteau
  The Firm of Nucingen
  The Middle Classes
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  Melmoth Reconciled
  The Secrets of a Princess
  A Daughter of Eve
  The Member for Arcis
  Cousin Betty
  The Unconscious Humorists

Touches, Mademoiselle Felicite des
  Lost Illusions
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  Another Study of Woman
  A Daughter of Eve
  The Muse of the Department

Vandenesse, Comte Felix de
  The Lily of the Valley
  Lost Illusions
  Cesar Birotteau
  Letters of Two Brides
  A Start in Life
  The Marriage Settlement
  The Secrets of a Princess
  Another Study of Woman
  The Gondreville Mystery
  A Daughter of Eve

Vernou, Felicien
  A Bachelor's Establishment
  Lost Illusions
  Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
  A Daughter of Eve
  Cousin Betty

Vignon, Claude
  A Daughter of Eve
  Cousin Betty
  The Unconscious Humorists


                            EVE AND DAVID
                      (Lost Illusions Part III)


                           HONORE DE BALZAC

                            Translated By
                            Ellen Marriage

Lucien had gone to Paris; and David Sechard, with the courage and
intelligence of the ox which painters give the Evangelist for
accompanying symbol, set himself to make the large fortune for which
he had wished that evening down by the Charente, when he sat with Eve
by the weir, and she gave him her hand and her heart. He wanted to
make the money quickly, and less for himself than for Eve's sake and
Lucien's. He would place his wife amid the elegant and comfortable
surroundings that were hers by right, and his strong arm should
sustain her brother's ambitions--this was the programme that he saw
before his eyes in letters of fire.

Journalism and politics, the immense development of the book trade, of
literature and of the sciences; the increase of public interest in
matters touching the various industries in the country; in fact, the
whole social tendency of the epoch following the establishment of the
Restoration produced an enormous increase in the demand for paper. The
supply required was almost ten times as large as the quantity in which
the celebrated Ouvrard speculated at the outset of the Revolution.
Then Ouvrard could buy up first the entire stock of paper and then the
manufacturers; but in the year 1821 there were so many paper-mills in
France, that no one could hope to repeat his success; and David had
neither audacity enough nor capital enough for such speculation.
Machinery for producing paper in any length was just coming into use
in England. It was one of the most urgent needs of the time,
therefore, that the paper trade should keep pace with the requirements
of the French system of civil government, a system by which the right
of discussion was to be extended to every man, and the whole fabric
based upon continual expression of individual opinion; a grave
misfortune, for the nation that deliberates is but little wont to act.

So, strange coincidence! while Lucien was drawn into the great
machinery of journalism, where he was like to leave his honor and his
intelligence torn to shreds, David Sechard, at the back of his
printing-house, foresaw all the practical consequences of the
increased activity of the periodical press. He saw the direction in
which the spirit of the age was tending, and sought to find means to
the required end. He saw also that there was a fortune awaiting the
discoverer of cheap paper, and the event has justified his
clearsightedness. Within the last fifteen years, the Patent Office has
received more than a hundred applications from persons claiming to
have discovered cheap substances to be employed in the manufacture of
paper. David felt more than ever convinced that this would be no
brilliant triumph, it is true, but a useful and immensely profitable
discovery; and after his brother-in-law went to Paris, he became more
and more absorbed in the problem which he had set himself to solve.

The expenses of his marriage and of Lucien's journey to Paris had
exhausted all his resources; he confronted the extreme of poverty at
the very outset of married life. He had kept one thousand francs for
the working expenses of the business, and owed a like sum, for which
he had given a bill to Postel the druggist. So here was a double
problem for this deep thinker; he must invent a method of making cheap
paper, and that quickly; he must make the discovery, in fact, in order
to apply the proceeds to the needs of the household and of the
business. What words can describe the brain that can forget the cruel
preoccupations caused by hidden want, by the daily needs of a family
and the daily drudgery of a printer's business, which requires such
minute, painstaking care; and soar, with the enthusiasm and
intoxication of the man of science, into the regions of the unknown in
quest of a secret which daily eludes the most subtle experiment? And
the inventor, alas! as will shortly be seen, has plenty of woes to