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Title: Petty Troubles of Married Life, Complete
Author: Balzac, Honoré de, 1799-1850
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Petty Troubles of Married Life, Complete" ***

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                          HONORE DE BALZAC

                             PART FIRST



  A friend, in speaking to you of a young woman, says: "Good family,
  well bred, pretty, and three hundred thousand in her own right."
  You have expressed a desire to meet this charming creature.

  Usually, chance interviews are premeditated. And you speak with
  this object, who has now become very timid.

  YOU.--"A delightful evening!"

  SHE.--"Oh! yes, sir."

  You are allowed to become the suitor of this young person.

  THE MOTHER-IN-LAW (to the intended groom).--"You can't imagine how
  susceptible the dear girl is of attachment."

  Meanwhile there is a delicate pecuniary question to be discussed
  by the two families.

  YOUR FATHER (to the mother-in-law).--"My property is valued at
  five hundred thousand francs, my dear madame!"

  YOUR FUTURE MOTHER-IN-LAW.--"And our house, my dear sir, is on a
  corner lot."

  A contract follows, drawn up by two hideous notaries, a small one,
  and a big one.

  Then the two families judge it necessary to convoy you to the
  civil magistrate's and to the church, before conducting the bride
  to her chamber.

  Then what? . . . . . Why, then come a crowd of petty unforeseen
  troubles, like the following:


                      THE UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL.

Is it a petty or a profound trouble? I knew not; it is profound for
your sons-in-law or daughters-in-law, but exceedingly petty for you.

"Petty! You must be joking; why, a child costs terribly dear!"
exclaims a ten-times-too-happy husband, at the baptism of his
eleventh, called the little last newcomer,--a phrase with which women
beguile their families.

"What trouble is this?" you ask me. Well! this is, like many petty
troubles of married life, a blessing for some one.

You have, four months since, married off your daughter, whom we will
call by the sweet name of CAROLINE, and whom we will make the type of
all wives. Caroline is, like all other young ladies, very charming,
and you have found for her a husband who is either a lawyer, a
captain, an engineer, a judge, or perhaps a young viscount. But he is
more likely to be what sensible families must seek,--the ideal of
their desires--the only son of a rich landed proprietor. (See the

This phoenix we will call ADOLPHE, whatever may be his position in the
world, his age, and the color of his hair.

The lawyer, the captain, the engineer, the judge, in short, the
son-in-law, Adolphe, and his family, have seen in Miss Caroline:

I.--Miss Caroline;

II.--The only daughter of your wife and you.

Here, as in the Chamber of Deputies, we are compelled to call for a
division of the house:

1.--As to your wife.

Your wife is to inherit the property of a maternal uncle, a gouty old
fellow whom she humors, nurses, caresses, and muffles up; to say
nothing of her father's fortune. Caroline has always adored her uncle,
--her uncle who trotted her on his knee, her uncle who--her uncle
whom--her uncle, in short,--whose property is estimated at two hundred

Further, your wife is well preserved, though her age has been the
subject of mature reflection on the part of your son-in-law's
grandparents and other ancestors. After many skirmishes between the
mothers-in-law, they have at last confided to each other the little
secrets peculiar to women of ripe years.

"How is it with you, my dear madame?"

"I, thank heaven, have passed the period; and you?"

"I really hope I have, too!" says your wife.

"You can marry Caroline," says Adolphe's mother to your future
son-in-law; "Caroline will be the sole heiress of her mother, of her
uncle, and her grandfather."

2.--As to yourself.

You are also the heir of your maternal grandfather, a good old man
whose possessions will surely fall to you, for he has grown imbecile,
and is therefore incapable of making a will.

You are an amiable man, but you have been very dissipated in your
youth. Besides, you are fifty-nine years old, and your head is bald,
resembling a bare knee in the middle of a gray wig.

III.--A dowry of three hundred thousand.

IV.--Caroline's only sister, a little dunce of twelve, a sickly child,
who bids fair to fill an early grave.

V.--Your own fortune, father-in-law (in certain kinds of society they
say _papa father-in-law_) yielding an income of twenty thousand, and
which will soon be increased by an inheritance.

VI.--Your wife's fortune, which will be increased by two inheritances
--from her uncle and her grandfather. In all, thus:

  Three inheritances and interest,      750,000
  Your fortune,                         250,000
  Your wife's fortune,                  250,000

      Total,                          1,250,000

which surely cannot take wing!

Such is the autopsy of all those brilliant marriages that conduct
their processions of dancers and eaters, in white gloves, flowering at
the button-hole, with bouquets of orange flowers, furbelows, veils,
coaches and coach-drivers, from the magistrate's to the church, from
the church to the banquet, from the banquet to the dance, from the
dance to the nuptial chamber, to the music of the orchestra and the
accompaniment of the immemorial pleasantries uttered by relics of
dandies, for are there not, here and there in society, relics of
dandies, as there are relics of English horses? To be sure, and such
is the osteology of the most amorous intent.

The majority of the relatives have had a word to say about this

Those on the side of the bridegroom:

"Adolphe has made a good thing of it."

Those on the side of the bride:

"Caroline has made a splendid match. Adolphe is an only son, and will
have an income of sixty thousand, _some day or other_!"

Some time afterwards, the happy judge, the happy engineer, the happy
captain, the happy lawyer, the happy only son of a rich landed
proprietor, in short Adolphe, comes to dine with you, accompanied by
his family.

Your daughter Caroline is exceedingly proud of the somewhat rounded
form of her waist. All women display an innocent artfulness, the first
time they find themselves facing motherhood. Like a soldier who makes
a brilliant toilet for his first battle, they love to play the pale,
the suffering; they rise in a certain manner, and walk with the
prettiest affectation. While yet flowers, they bear a fruit; they
enjoy their maternity by anticipation. All those little ways are
exceedingly charming--the first time.

Your wife, now the mother-in-law of Adolphe, subjects herself to the
pressure of tight corsets. When her daughter laughs, she weeps; when
Caroline wishes her happiness public, she tries to conceal hers. After
dinner, the discerning eye of the co-mother-in-law divines the work of

Your wife also is an expectant mother! The news spreads like
lightning, and your oldest college friend says to you laughingly: "Ah!
so you are trying to increase the population again!"

You have some hope in a consultation that is to take place to-morrow.
You, kind-hearted man that you are, you turn red, you hope it is
merely the dropsy; but the doctors confirm the arrival of a _little
last one_!

In such circumstances some timorous husbands go to the country or make
a journey to Italy. In short, a strange confusion reigns in your
household; both you and your wife are in a false position.

"Why, you old rogue, you, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!" says a
friend to you on the Boulevard.

"Well! do as much if you can," is your angry retort.

"It's as bad as being robbed on the highway!" says your son-in-law's
family. "Robbed on the highway" is a flattering expression for the

The family hopes that the child which divides the expected fortune in
three parts, will be, like all old men's children, scrofulous, feeble,
an abortion. Will it be likely to live? The family awaits the delivery
of your wife with an anxiety like that which agitated the house of
Orleans during the confinement of the Duchess de Berri: a second son
would secure the throne to the younger branch without the onerous
conditions of July; Henry V would easily seize the crown. From that
moment the house of Orleans was obliged to play double or quits: the
event gave them the game.

The mother and the daughter are put to bed nine days apart.

Caroline's first child is a pale, cadaverous little girl that will not

Her mother's last child is a splendid boy, weighing twelve pounds,
with two teeth and luxuriant hair.

For sixteen years you have desired a son. This conjugal annoyance is
the only one that makes you beside yourself with joy. For your
rejuvenated wife has attained what must be called the _Indian Summer_
of women; she nurses, she has a full breast of milk! Her complexion is
fresh, her color is pure pink and white. In her forty-second year, she
affects the young woman, buys little baby stockings, walks about
followed by a nurse, embroiders caps and tries on the cunningest
headdresses. Alexandrine has resolved to instruct her daughter by her
example; she is delightful and happy. And yet this is a trouble, a
petty one for you, a serious one for your son-in-law. This annoyance
is of the two sexes, it is common to you and your wife. In short, in
this instance, your paternity renders you all the more proud from the
fact that it is incontestable, my dear sir!


Generally speaking, a young woman does not exhibit her true character
till she has been married two or three years. She hides her faults,
without intending it, in the midst of her first joys, of her first
parties of pleasure. She goes into society to dance, she visits her
relatives to show you off, she journeys on with an escort of love's
first wiles; she is gradually transformed from girlhood to womanhood.
Then she becomes mother and nurse, and in this situation, full of
charming pangs, that leaves neither a word nor a moment for
observation, such are its multiplied cares, it is impossible to judge
of a woman. You require, then, three or four years of intimate life
before you discover an exceedingly melancholy fact, one that gives you
cause for constant terror.

Your wife, the young lady in whom the first pleasures of life and love
supplied the place of grace and wit, so arch, so animated, so
vivacious, whose least movements spoke with delicious eloquence, has
cast off, slowly, one by one, her natural artifices. At last you
perceive the truth! You try to disbelieve it, you think yourself
deceived; but no: Caroline lacks intellect, she is dull, she can
neither joke nor reason, sometimes she has little tact. You are
frightened. You find yourself forever obliged to lead this darling
through the thorny paths, where you must perforce leave your
self-esteem in tatters.

You have already been annoyed several times by replies that, in
society, were politely received: people have held their tongues
instead of smiling; but you were certain that after your departure the
women looked at each other and said: "Did you hear Madame Adolphe?"

"Your little woman, she is--"

"A regular cabbage-head."

"How could he, who is certainly a man of sense, choose--?"

"He should educate, teach his wife, or make her hold her tongue."


Axiom.--In our system of civilization a man is entirely responsible
for his wife.

Axiom.--The husband does not mould the wife.

Caroline has one day obstinately maintained, at the house of Madame de
Fischtaminel, a very distinguished lady, that her little last one
resembled neither its father nor its mother, but looked like a certain
friend of the family. She perhaps enlightens Monsieur de Fischtaminel,
and overthrows the labors of three years, by tearing down the
scaffolding of Madame de Fischtaminel's assertions, who, after this
visit, will treat you will coolness, suspecting, as she does, that you
have been making indiscreet remarks to your wife.

On another occasion, Caroline, after having conversed with a writer
about his works, counsels the poet, who is already a prolific author,
to try to write something likely to live. Sometimes she complains of
the slow attendance at the tables of people who have but one servant
and have put themselves to great trouble to receive her. Sometimes she
speaks ill of widows who marry again, before Madame Deschars who has
married a third time, and on this occasion, an ex-notary,
Nicolas-Jean-Jerome-Nepomucene-Ange-Marie-Victor-Joseph Deschars, a
friend of your father's.

In short, you are no longer yourself when you are in society with your
wife. Like a man who is riding a skittish horse and glares straight
between the beast's two ears, you are absorbed by the attention with
which you listen to your Caroline.

In order to compensate herself for the silence to which young ladies
are condemned, Caroline talks; or rather babbles. She wants to make a
sensation, and she does make a sensation; nothing stops her. She
addresses the most eminent men, the most celebrated women. She
introduces herself, and puts you on the rack. Going into society is
going to the stake.

She begins to think you are cross-grained, moody. The fact is, you are
watching her, that's all! In short, you keep her within a small circle
of friends, for she has already embroiled you with people on whom your
interests depended.

How many times have you recoiled from the necessity of a remonstrance,
in the morning, on awakening, when you had put her in a good humor for
listening! A woman rarely listens. How many times have you recoiled
from the burthen of your imperious obligations!

The conclusion of your ministerial communication can be no other than:
"You have no sense." You foresee the effect of your first lesson.
Caroline will say to herself: "Ah I have no sense! Haven't I though?"

No woman ever takes this in good part. Both of you must draw the sword
and throw away the scabbard. Six weeks after, Caroline may prove to
you that she has quite sense enough to _minotaurize_ you without your
perceiving it.

Frightened at such a prospect, you make use of all the eloquent
phrases to gild this pill. In short, you find the means of flattering
Caroline's various self-loves, for:

Axiom.--A married woman has several self-loves.

You say that you are her best friend, the only one well situated to
enlighten her; the more careful you are, the more watchful and puzzled
she is. At this moment she has plenty of sense.

You ask your dear Caroline, whose waist you clasp, how she, who is so
brilliant when alone with you, who retorts so charmingly (you remind
her of sallies that she has never made, which you put in her mouth,
and, which she smilingly accepts), how she can say this, that, and the
other, in society. She is, doubtless, like many ladies, timid in

"I know," you say, "many very distinguished men who are just the

You cite the case of some who are admirable tea-party oracles, but who
cannot utter half a dozen sentences in the tribune. Caroline should
keep watch over herself; you vaunt silence as the surest method of
being witty. In society, a good listener is highly prized.

You have broken the ice, though you have not even scratched its glossy
surface: you have placed your hand upon the croup of the most
ferocious and savage, the most wakeful and clear-sighted, the most
restless, the swiftest, the most jealous, the most ardent and violent,
the simplest and most elegant, the most unreasonable, the most
watchful chimera of the moral world--THE VANITY OF A WOMAN!

Caroline clasps you in her arms with a saintly embrace, thanks you for
your advice, and loves you the more for it; she wishes to be beholden
to you for everything, even for her intellect; she may be a dunce,
but, what is better than saying fine things, she knows how to do them!
But she desires also to be your pride! It is not a question of taste
in dress, of elegance and beauty; she wishes to make you proud of her
intelligence. You are the luckiest of men in having successfully
managed to escape from this first dangerous pass in conjugal life.

"We are going this evening to Madame Deschars', where they never know
what to do to amuse themselves; they play all sorts of forfeit games
on account of a troop of young women and girls there; you shall see!"
she says.

You are so happy at this turn of affairs, that you hum airs and
carelessly chew bits of straw and thread, while still in your shirt
and drawers. You are like a hare frisking on a flowering dew-perfumed
meadow. You leave off your morning gown till the last extremity, when
breakfast is on the table. During the day, if you meet a friend and he
happens to speak of women, you defend them; you consider women
charming, delicious, there is something divine about them.

How often are our opinions dictated to us by the unknown events of our

You take your wife to Madame Deschars'. Madame Deschars is a mother
and is exceedingly devout. You never see any newspapers at her house:
she keeps watch over her daughters by three different husbands, and
keeps them all the more closely from the fact that she herself has, it
is said, some little things to reproach herself with during the career
of her two former lords. At her house, no one dares risk a jest.
Everything there is white and pink and perfumed with sanctity, as at
the houses of widows who are approaching the confines of their third
youth. It seems as if every day were Sunday there.

You, a young husband, join the juvenile society of young women and
girls, misses and young people, in the chamber of Madame Deschars. The
serious people, politicians, whist-players, and tea-drinkers, are in
the parlor.

In Madame Deschars' room they are playing a game which consists in
hitting upon words with several meanings, to fit the answers that each
player is to make to the following questions:

How do you like it?

What do you do with it?

Where do you put it?

Your turn comes to guess the word, you go into the parlor, take part
in a discussion, and return at the call of a smiling young lady. They
have selected a word that may be applied to the most enigmatical
replies. Everybody knows that, in order to puzzle the strongest heads,
the best way is to choose a very ordinary word, and to invent phrases
that will send the parlor Oedipus a thousand leagues from each of his
previous thoughts.

This game is a poor substitute for lansquenet or dice, but it is not
very expensive.

The word MAL has been made the Sphinx of this particular occasion.
Every one has determined to put you off the scent. The word, among
other acceptations, has that of _mal_ [evil], a substantive that
signifies, in aesthetics, the opposite of good; of _mal_ [pain,
disease, complaint], a substantive that enters into a thousand
pathological expressions; then _malle_ [a mail-bag], and finally
_malle_ [a trunk], that box of various forms, covered with all kinds
of skin, made of every sort of leather, with handles, that journeys
rapidly, for it serves to carry travelling effects in, as a man of
Delille's school would say.

For you, a man of some sharpness, the Sphinx displays his wiles; he
spreads his wings and folds them up again; he shows you his lion's
paws, his woman's neck, his horse's loins, and his intellectual head;
he shakes his sacred fillets, he strikes an attitude and runs away, he
comes and goes, and sweeps the place with his terrible equine tail; he
shows his shining claws, and draws them in; he smiles, frisks, and
murmurs. He puts on the looks of a joyous child and those of a matron;
he is, above all, there to make fun of you.

You ask the group collectively, "How do you like it?"

"I like it for love's sake," says one.

"I like it regular," says another.

"I like it with a long mane."

"I like it with a spring lock."

"I like it unmasked."

"I like it on horseback."

"I like it as coming from God," says Madame Deschars.

"How do you like it?" you say to your wife.

"I like it legitimate."

This response of your wife is not understood, and sends you a journey
into the constellated fields of the infinite, where the mind, dazzled
by the multitude of creations, finds it impossible to make a choice.

"Where do you put it?"

"In a carriage."

"In a garret."

"In a steamboat."

"In the closet."

"On a cart."

"In prison."

"In the ears."

"In a shop."

Your wife says to you last of all: "In bed."

You were on the point of guessing it, but you know no word that fits
this answer, Madame Deschars not being likely to have allowed anything

"What do you do with it?"

"I make it my sole happiness," says your wife, after the answers of
all the rest, who have sent you spinning through a whole world of
linguistic suppositions.

This response strikes everybody, and you especially; so you persist in
seeking the meaning of it. You think of the bottle of hot water that
your wife has put to her feet when it is cold,--of the warming pan,
above all! Now of her night-cap,--of her handkerchief,--of her curling
paper,--of the hem of her chemise,--of her embroidery,--of her flannel
jacket,--of your bandanna,--of the pillow.

In short, as the greatest pleasure of the respondents is to see their
Oedipus mystified, as each word guessed by you throws them into fits
of laughter, superior men, perceiving no word that will fit all the
explanations, will sooner give it up than make three unsuccessful
attempts. According to the law of this innocent game you are condemned
to return to the parlor after leaving a forfeit; but you are so
exceedingly puzzled by your wife's answers, that you ask what the word

"Mal," exclaims a young miss.

You comprehend everything but your wife's replies: she has not played
the game. Neither Madame Deschars, nor any one of the young women
understand. She has cheated. You revolt, there is an insurrection
among the girls and young women. They seek and are puzzled. You want
an explanation, and every one participates in your desire.

"In what sense did you understand the word, my dear?" you say to

"Why, _male_!" [male.]

Madame Deschars bites her lips and manifests the greatest displeasure;
the young women blush and drop their eyes; the little girls open
theirs, nudge each other and prick up their ears. Your feet are glued
to the carpet, and you have so much salt in your throat that you
believe in a repetition of the event which delivered Lot from his

You see an infernal life before you; society is out of the question.

To remain at home with this triumphant stupidity is equivalent to
condemnation to the state's prison.

Axiom.--Moral tortures exceed physical sufferings by all the
difference which exists between the soul and the body.

                      THE ATTENTIONS OF A WIFE.

Among the keenest pleasures of bachelor life, every man reckons the
independence of his getting up. The fancies of the morning compensate
for the glooms of evening. A bachelor turns over and over in his bed:
he is free to gape loud enough to justify apprehensions of murder, and
to scream at a pitch authorizing the suspicion of joys untold. He can
forget his oaths of the day before, let the fire burn upon the hearth
and the candle sink to its socket,--in short, go to sleep again in
spite of pressing work. He can curse the expectant boots which stand
holding their black mouths open at him and pricking up their ears. He
can pretend not to see the steel hooks which glitter in a sunbeam
which has stolen through the curtains, can disregard the sonorous
summons of the obstinate clock, can bury himself in a soft place,
saying: "Yes, I was in a hurry, yesterday, but am so no longer to-day.
Yesterday was a dotard. To-day is a sage: between them stands the
night which brings wisdom, the night which gives light. I ought to go,
I ought to do it, I promised I would--I am weak, I know. But how can I
resist the downy creases of my bed? My feet feel flaccid, I think I
must be sick, I am too happy just here. I long to see the ethereal
horizon of my dreams again, those women without claws, those winged
beings and their obliging ways. In short, I have found the grain of
salt to put upon the tail of that bird that was always flying away:
the coquette's feet are caught in the line. I have her now--"

Your servant, meantime, reads your newspaper, half-opens your letters,
and leaves you to yourself. And you go to sleep again, lulled by the
rumbling of the morning wagons. Those terrible, vexatious, quivering
teams, laden with meat, those trucks with big tin teats bursting with
milk, though they make a clatter most infernal and even crush the
paving stones, seem to you to glide over cotton, and vaguely remind
you of the orchestra of Napoleon Musard. Though your house trembles in
all its timbers and shakes upon its keel, you think yourself a sailor
cradled by a zephyr.

You alone have the right to bring these joys to an end by throwing
away your night-cap as you twist up your napkin after dinner, and by
sitting up in bed. Then you take yourself to task with such reproaches
as these: "Ah, mercy on me, I must get up!" "Early to bed and early to
rise, makes a man healthy--!" "Get up, lazy bones!"

All this time you remain perfectly tranquil. You look round your
chamber, you collect your wits together. Finally, you emerge from the
bed, spontaneously! Courageously! of your own accord! You go to the
fireplace, you consult the most obliging of timepieces, you utter
hopeful sentences thus couched: "Whatshisname is a lazy creature, I
guess I shall find him in. I'll run. I'll catch him if he's gone. He's
sure to wait for me. There is a quarter of an hour's grace in all
appointments, even between debtor and creditor."

You put on your boots with fury, you dress yourself as if you were
afraid of being caught half-dressed, you have the delight of being in
a hurry, you call your buttons into action, you finally go out like a
conqueror, whistling, brandishing your cane, pricking up your ears and
breaking into a canter.

After all, you say to yourself, you are responsible to no one, you are
your own master!

But you, poor married man, you were stupid enough to say to your wife,
"To-morrow, my dear" (sometimes she knows it two days beforehand), "I
have got to get up early." Unfortunate Adolphe, you have especially
proved the importance of this appointment: "It's to--and to--and above
all to--in short to--"

Two hours before dawn, Caroline wakes you up gently and says to you
softly: "Adolphy dear, Adolphy love!"

"What's the matter? Fire?"

"No, go to sleep again, I've made a mistake; but the hour hand was on
it, any way! It's only four, you can sleep two hours more."

Is not telling a man, "You've only got two hours to sleep," the same
thing, on a small scale, as saying to a criminal, "It's five in the
morning, the ceremony will be performed at half-past seven"? Such
sleep is troubled by an idea dressed in grey and furnished with wings,
which comes and flaps, like a bat, upon the windows of your brain.

A woman in a case like this is as exact as a devil coming to claim a
soul he has purchased. When the clock strikes five, your wife's voice,
too well known, alas! resounds in your ear; she accompanies the
stroke, and says with an atrocious calmness, "Adolphe, it's five
o'clock, get up, dear."

"Ye-e-e-s, ah-h-h-h!"

"Adolphe, you'll be late for your business, you said so yourself."

"Ah-h-h-h, ye-e-e-e-s." You turn over in despair.

"Come, come, love. I got everything ready last night; now you must, my
dear; do you want to miss him? There, up, I say; it's broad daylight."

Caroline throws off the blankets and gets up: she wants to show you
that _she_ can rise without making a fuss. She opens the blinds, she
lets in the sun, the morning air, the noise of the street, and then
comes back.

"Why, Adolphe, you _must_ get up! Who ever would have supposed you had
no energy! But it's just like you men! I am only a poor, weak woman,
but when I say a thing, I do it."

You get up grumbling, execrating the sacrament of marriage. There is
not the slightest merit in your heroism; it wasn't you, but your wife,
that got up. Caroline gets you everything you want with provoking
promptitude; she foresees everything, she gives you a muffler in
winter, a blue-striped cambric shirt in summer, she treats you like a
child; you are still asleep, she dresses you and has all the trouble.
She finally thrusts you out of doors. Without her nothing would go
straight! She calls you back to give you a paper, a pocketbook, you
had forgotten. You don't think of anything, she thinks of everything!

You return five hours afterwards to breakfast, between eleven and
noon. The chambermaid is at the door, or on the stairs, or on the
landing, talking with somebody's valet: she runs in on hearing or
seeing you. Your servant is laying the cloth in a most leisurely
style, stopping to look out of the window or to lounge, and coming and
going like a person who knows he has plenty of time. You ask for your
wife, supposing that she is up and dressed.

"Madame is still in bed," says the maid.

You find your wife languid, lazy, tired and asleep. She had been awake
all night to wake you in the morning, so she went to bed again, and is
quite hungry now.

You are the cause of all these disarrangements. If breakfast is not
ready, she says it's because you went out. If she is not dressed, and
if everything is in disorder, it's all your fault. For everything
which goes awry she has this answer: "Well, you would get up so
early!" "He would get up so early!" is the universal reason. She makes
you go to bed early, because you got up early. She can do nothing all
day, because you would get up so unusually early.

Eighteen months afterwards, she still maintains, "Without me, you
would never get up!" To her friends she says, "My husband get up! If
it weren't for me, he never _would_ get up!"

To this a man whose hair is beginning to whiten, replies, "A graceful
compliment to you, madame!" This slightly indelicate comment puts an
end to her boasts.

This petty trouble, repeated several times, teaches you to live alone
in the bosom of your family, not to tell all you know, and to have no
confidant but yourself: and it often seems to you a question whether
the inconveniences of the married state do not exceed its advantages.

                           SMALL VEXATIONS.

You have made a transition from the frolicsome allegretto of the
bachelor to the heavy andante of the father of a family.

Instead of that fine English steed prancing and snorting between the
polished shafts of a tilbury as light as your own heart, and moving
his glistening croup under the quadruple network of the reins and
ribbons that you so skillfully manage with what grace and elegance the
Champs Elysees can bear witness--you drive a good solid Norman horse
with a steady, family gait.

You have learned what paternal patience is, and you let no opportunity
slip of proving it. Your countenance, therefore, is serious.

By your side is a domestic, evidently for two purposes like the
carriage. The vehicle is four-wheeled and hung upon English springs:
it is corpulent and resembles a Rouen scow: it has glass windows, and
an infinity of economical arrangements. It is a barouche in fine
weather, and a brougham when it rains. It is apparently light, but,
when six persons are in it, it is heavy and tires out your only horse.

On the back seat, spread out like flowers, is your young wife in full
bloom, with her mother, a big marshmallow with a great many leaves.
These two flowers of the female species twitteringly talk of you,
though the noise of the wheels and your attention to the horse, joined
to your fatherly caution, prevent you from hearing what they say.

On the front seat, there is a nice tidy nurse holding a little girl in
her lap: by her side is a boy in a red plaited shirt, who is
continually leaning out of the carriage and climbing upon the
cushions, and who has a thousand times drawn down upon himself those
declarations of every mother, which he knows to be threats and nothing
else: "Be a good boy, Adolphe, or else--" "I declare I'll never bring
you again, so there!"

His mamma is secretly tired to death of this noisy little boy: he has
provoked her twenty times, and twenty times the face of the little
girl asleep has calmed her.

"I am his mother," she says to herself. And so she finally manages to
keep her little Adolphe quiet.

You have put your triumphant idea of taking your family to ride into
execution. You left your home in the morning, all the opposite
neighbors having come to their windows, envying you the privilege
which your means give you of going to the country and coming back
again without undergoing the miseries of a public conveyance. So you
have dragged your unfortunate Norman horse through Paris to Vincennes,
from Vincennes to Saint Maur, from Saint Maur to Charenton, from
Charenton opposite some island or other which struck your wife and
mother-in-law as being prettier than all the landscapes through which
you had driven them.

"Let's go to Maison's!" somebody exclaims.

So you go to Maison's, near Alfort. You come home by the left bank of
the Seine, in the midst of a cloud of very black Olympian dust. The
horse drags your family wearily along. But alas! your pride has fled,
and you look without emotion upon his sunken flanks, and upon two
bones which stick out on each side of his belly. His coat is roughened
by the sweat which has repeatedly come out and dried upon him, and
which, no less than the dust, has made him gummy, sticky and shaggy.
The horse looks like a wrathy porcupine: you are afraid he will be
foundered, and you caress him with the whip-lash in a melancholy way
that he perfectly understands, for he moves his head about like an
omnibus horse, tired of his deplorable existence.

You think a good deal of this horse; your consider him an excellent
one and he cost you twelve hundred francs. When a man has the honor of
being the father of a family, he thinks as much of twelve hundred
francs as you think of this horse. You see at once the frightful
amount of your extra expenses, in case Coco should have to lie by. For
two days you will have to take hackney coaches to go to your business.
You wife will pout if she can't go out: but she will go out, and take
a carriage. The horse will cause the purchase of numerous extras,
which you will find in your coachman's bill,--your only coachman, a
model coachman, whom you watch as you do a model anybody.

To these thoughts you give expression in the gentle movement of the
whip as it falls upon the animal's ribs, up to his knees in the black
dust which lines the road in front of La Verrerie.

At this moment, little Adolphe, who doesn't know what to do in this
rolling box, has sadly twisted himself up into a corner, and his
grandmother anxiously asks him, "What is the matter?"

"I'm hungry," says the child.

"He's hungry," says the mother to her daughter.

"And why shouldn't he be hungry? It is half-past five, we are not at
the barrier, and we started at two!"

"Your husband might have treated us to dinner in the country."

"He'd rather make his horse go a couple of leagues further, and get
back to the house."

"The cook might have had the day to herself. But Adolphe is right,
after all: it's cheaper to dine at home," adds the mother-in-law.

"Adolphe," exclaims your wife, stimulated by the word "cheaper," "we
go so slow that I shall be seasick, and you keep driving right in this
nasty dust. What are you thinking of? My gown and hat will be ruined!"

"Would you rather ruin the horse?" you ask, with the air of a man who
can't be answered.

"Oh, no matter for your horse; just think of your son who is dying of
hunger: he hasn't tasted a thing for seven hours. Whip up your old
horse! One would really think you cared more for your nag than for
your child!"

You dare not give your horse a single crack with the whip, for he
might still have vigor enough left to break into a gallop and run

"No, Adolphe tries to vex me, he's going slower," says the young wife
to her mother. "My dear, go as slow as you like. But I know you'll say
I am extravagant when you see me buying another hat."

Upon this you utter a series of remarks which are lost in the racket
made by the wheels.

"What's the use of replying with reasons that haven't got an ounce of
common-sense?" cries Caroline.

You talk, turning your face to the carriage and then turning back to
the horse, to avoid an accident.

"That's right, run against somebody and tip us over, do, you'll be rid
of us. Adolphe, your son is dying of hunger. See how pale he is!"

"But Caroline," puts in the mother-in-law, "he's doing the best he

Nothing annoys you so much as to have your mother-in-law take your
part. She is a hypocrite and is delighted to see you quarreling with
her daughter. Gently and with infinite precaution she throws oil on
the fire.

When you arrive at the barrier, your wife is mute. She says not a
word, she sits with her arms crossed, and will not look at you. You
have neither soul, heart, nor sentiment. No one but you could have
invented such a party of pleasure. If you are unfortunate enough to
remind Caroline that it was she who insisted on the excursion, that
morning, for her children's sake, and in behalf of her milk--she
nurses the baby--you will be overwhelmed by an avalanche of frigid and
stinging reproaches.

You bear it all so as "not to turn the milk of a nursing mother, for
whose sake you must overlook some little things," so your atrocious
mother-in-law whispers in your ear.

All the furies of Orestes are rankling in your heart.

In reply to the sacramental words pronounced by the officer of the
customs, "Have you anything to declare?" your wife says, "I declare a
great deal of ill-humor and dust."

She laughs, the officer laughs, and you feel a desire to tip your
family into the Seine.

Unluckily for you, you suddenly remember the joyous and perverse young
woman who wore a pink bonnet and who made merry in your tilbury six
years before, as you passed this spot on your way to the chop-house on
the river's bank. What a reminiscence! Was Madame Schontz anxious
about babies, about her bonnet, the lace of which was torn to pieces
in the bushes? No, she had no care for anything whatever, not even for
her dignity, for she shocked the rustic police of Vincennes by the
somewhat daring freedom of her style of dancing.

You return home, you have frantically hurried your Norman horse, and
have neither prevented an indisposition of the animal, nor an
indisposition of your wife.

That evening, Caroline has very little milk. If the baby cries and if
your head is split in consequence, it is all your fault, as you
preferred the health of your horse to that of your son who was dying
of hunger, and of your daughter whose supper has disappeared in a
discussion in which your wife was right, _as she always is_.

"Well, well," she says, "men are not mothers!"

As you leave the chamber, you hear your mother-in-law consoling her
daughter by these terrible words: "Come, be calm, Caroline: that's the
way with them all: they are a selfish lot: your father was just like

                            THE ULTIMATUM.

It is eight o'clock; you make your appearance in the bedroom of your
wife. There is a brilliant light. The chambermaid and the cook hover
lightly about. The furniture is covered with dresses and flowers tried
on and laid aside.

The hair-dresser is there, an artist par excellence, a sovereign
authority, at once nobody and everything. You hear the other domestics
going and coming: orders are given and recalled, errands are well or
ill performed. The disorder is at its height. This chamber is a studio
from whence to issue a parlor Venus.

Your wife desires to be the fairest at the ball which you are to
attend. Is it still for your sake, or only for herself, or is it for
somebody else? Serious questions these.

The idea does not even occur to you.

You are squeezed, hampered, harnessed in your ball accoutrement: you
count your steps as you walk, you look around, you observe, you
contemplate talking business on neutral ground with a stock-broker, a
notary or a banker, to whom you would not like to give an advantage
over you by calling at their house.

A singular fact which all have probably observed, but the causes of
which can hardly be determined, is the peculiar repugnance which men
dressed and ready to go to a party have for discussions or to answer
questions. At the moment of starting, there are few husbands who are
not taciturn and profoundly absorbed in reflections which vary with
their characters. Those who reply give curt and peremptory answers.

But women, at this time, are exceedingly aggravating. They consult
you, they ask your advice upon the best way of concealing the stem of
a rose, of giving a graceful fall to a bunch of briar, or a happy turn
to a scarf. As a neat English expression has it, "they fish for
compliments," and sometimes for better than compliments.

A boy just out of school would discern the motive concealed behind the
willows of these pretexts: but your wife is so well known to you, and
you have so often playfully joked upon her moral and physical
perfections, that you are harsh enough to give your opinion briefly
and conscientiously: you thus force Caroline to put that decisive
question, so cruel to women, even those who have been married twenty

"So I don't suit you then?"

Drawn upon the true ground by this inquiry, you bestow upon her such
little compliments as you can spare and which are, as it were, the
small change, the sous, the liards of your purse.

"The best gown you ever wore!" "I never saw you so well dressed."
"Blue, pink, yellow, cherry [take your pick], becomes you charmingly."
"Your head-dress is quite original." "As you go in, every one will
admire you." "You will not only be the prettiest, but the best
dressed." "They'll all be mad not to have your taste." "Beauty is a
natural gift: taste is like intelligence, a thing that we may be proud

"Do you think so? Are you in earnest, Adolphe?"

Your wife is coquetting with you. She chooses this moment to force
from you your pretended opinion of one and another of her friends, and
to insinuate the price of the articles of her dress you so much
admire. Nothing is too dear to please you. She sends the cook out of
the room.

"Let's go," you say.

She sends the chambermaid out after having dismissed the hair-dresser,
and begins to turn round and round before her glass, showing off to
you her most glorious beauties.

"Let's go," you say.

"You are in a hurry," she returns.

And she goes on exhibiting herself with all her little airs, setting
herself off like a fine peach magnificently exhibited in a fruiterer's
window. But since you have dined rather heartily, you kiss her upon
the forehead merely, not feeling able to countersign your opinions.
Caroline becomes serious.

The carriage waits. All the household looks at Caroline as she goes
out: she is the masterpiece to which all have contributed, and
everybody admires the common work.

Your wife departs highly satisfied with herself, but a good deal
displeased with you. She proceeds loftily to the ball, just as a
picture, caressed by the painter and minutely retouched in the studio,
is sent to the annual exhibition in the vast bazaar of the Louvre.
Your wife, alas! sees fifty women handsomer than herself: they have
invented dresses of the most extravagant price, and more or less
original: and that which happens at the Louvre to the masterpiece,
happens to the object of feminine labor: your wife's dress seems pale
by the side of another very much like it, but the livelier color of
which crushes it. Caroline is nobody, and is hardly noticed. When
there are sixty handsome women in a room, the sentiment of beauty is
lost, beauty is no longer appreciated. Your wife becomes a very
ordinary affair. The petty stratagem of her smile, made perfect by
practice, has no meaning in the midst of countenances of noble
expression, of self-possessed women of lofty presence. She is
completely put down, and no one asks her to dance. She tries to force
an expression of pretended satisfaction, but, as she is not satisfied,
she hears people say, "Madame Adolphe is looking very ill to-night."
Women hypocritically ask her if she is indisposed and "Why don't you
dance?" They have a whole catalogue of malicious remarks veneered with
sympathy and electroplated with charity, enough to damn a saint, to
make a monkey serious, and to give the devil the shudders.

You, who are innocently playing cards or walking backwards and
forwards, and so have not seen one of the thousand pin-pricks with
which your wife's self-love has been tattooed, you come and ask her in
a whisper, "What is the matter?"

"Order _my_ carriage!"

This _my_ is the consummation of marriage. For two years she has said
"_my husband's_ carriage," "_the_ carriage," "_our_ carriage," and now
she says "_my_ carriage."

You are in the midst of a game, you say, somebody wants his revenge,
or you must get your money back.

Here, Adolphe, we allow that you have sufficient strength of mind to
say yes, to disappear, and _not_ to order the carriage.

You have a friend, you send him to dance with your wife, for you have
commenced a system of concessions which will ruin you. You already
dimly perceive the advantage of a friend.

Finally, you order the carriage. You wife gets in with concentrated
rage, she hurls herself into a corner, covers her face with her hood,
crosses her arms under her pelisse, and says not a word.

O husbands! Learn this fact; you may, at this fatal moment, repair and
redeem everything: and never does the impetuosity of lovers who have
been caressing each other the whole evening with flaming gaze fail to
do it! Yes, you can bring her home in triumph, she has now nobody but
you, you have one more chance, that of taking your wife by storm! But
no, idiot, stupid and indifferent that you are, you ask her, "What is
the matter?"

Axiom.--A husband should always know what is the matter with his wife,
for she always knows what is not.

"I'm cold," she says.

"The ball was splendid."

"Pooh! nobody of distinction! People have the mania, nowadays, to
invite all Paris into a hole. There were women even on the stairs:
their gowns were horribly smashed, and mine is ruined."

"We had a good time."

"Ah, you men, you play and that's the whole of it. Once married, you
care about as much for your wives as a lion does for the fine arts."

"How changed you are; you were so gay, so happy, so charming when we

"Oh, you never understand us women. I begged you to go home, and you
left me there, as if a woman ever did anything without a reason. You
are not without intelligence, but now and then you are so queer I
don't know what you are thinking about."

Once upon this footing, the quarrel becomes more bitter. When you give
your wife your hand to lift her from the carriage, you grasp a woman
of wood: she gives you a "thank you" which puts you in the same rank
as her servant. You understood your wife no better before than you do
after the ball: you find it difficult to follow her, for instead of
going up stairs, she flies up. The rupture is complete.

The chambermaid is involved in your disgrace: she is received with
blunt No's and Yes's, as dry as Brussells rusks, which she swallows
with a slanting glance at you. "Monsieur's always doing these things,"
she mutters.

You alone might have changed Madame's temper. She goes to bed; she has
her revenge to take: you did not comprehend her. Now she does not
comprehend you. She deposits herself on her side of the bed in the
most hostile and offensive posture: she is wrapped up in her chemise,
in her sack, in her night-cap, like a bale of clocks packed for the
East Indies. She says neither good-night, nor good-day, nor dear, nor
Adolphe: you don't exist, you are a bag of wheat.

Your Caroline, so enticing five hours before in this very chamber
where she frisked about like an eel, is now a junk of lead. Were you
the Tropical Zone in person, astride of the Equator, you could not
melt the ice of this little personified Switzerland that pretends to
be asleep, and who could freeze you from head to foot, if she liked.
Ask her one hundred times what is the matter with her, Switzerland
replies by an ultimatum, like the Diet or the Conference of London.

Nothing is the matter with her: she is tired: she is going to sleep.

The more you insist, the more she erects bastions of ignorance, the
more she isolates herself by chevaux-de-frise. If you get impatient,
Caroline begins to dream! You grumble, you are lost.

Axiom.--Inasmuch as women are always willing and able to explain their
strong points, they leave us to guess at their weak ones.

Caroline will perhaps also condescend to assure you that she does not
feel well. But she laughs in her night-cap when you have fallen
asleep, and hurls imprecations upon your slumbering body.

                            WOMEN'S LOGIC.

You imagine you have married a creature endowed with reason: you are
woefully mistaken, my friend.

Axiom.--Sensitive beings are not sensible beings.

Sentiment is not argument, reason is not pleasure, and pleasure is
certainly not a reason.

"Oh! sir!" she says.

Reply "Ah! yes! Ah!" You must bring forth this "ah!" from the very
depths of your thoracic cavern, as you rush in a rage from the house,
or return, confounded, to your study.

Why? Now? Who has conquered, killed, overthrown you! Your wife's
logic, which is not the logic of Aristotle, nor that of Ramus, nor
that of Kant, nor that of Condillac, nor that of Robespierre, nor that
of Napoleon: but which partakes of the character of all these logics,
and which we must call the universal logic of women, the logic of
English women as it is that of Italian women, of the women of Normandy
and Brittany (ah, these last are unsurpassed!), of the women of Paris,
in short, that of the women in the moon, if there are women in that
nocturnal land, with which the women of the earth have an evident
understanding, angels that they are!

The discussion began after breakfast. Discussions can never take place
in a household save at this hour. A man could hardly have a discussion
with his wife in bed, even if he wanted to: she has too many
advantages over him, and can too easily reduce him to silence. On
leaving the nuptial chamber with a pretty woman in it, a man is apt to
be hungry, if he is young. Breakfast is usually a cheerful meal, and
cheerfulness is not given to argument. In short, you do not open the
business till you have had your tea or your coffee.

You have taken it into your head, for instance, to send your son to
school. All fathers are hypocrites and are never willing to confess
that their own flesh and blood is very troublesome when it walks about
on two legs, lays its dare-devil hands on everything, and is
everywhere at once like a frisky pollywog. Your son barks, mews, and
sings; he breaks, smashes and soils the furniture, and furniture is
dear; he makes toys of everything, he scatters your papers, and he
cuts paper dolls out of the morning's newspaper before you have read

His mother says to him, referring to anything of yours: "Take it!" but
in reference to anything of hers she says: "Take care!"

She cunningly lets him have your things that she may be left in peace.
Her bad faith as a good mother seeks shelter behind her child, your
son is her accomplice. Both are leagued against you like Robert
Macaire and Bertrand against the subscribers to their joint stock
company. The boy is an axe with which foraging excursions are
performed in your domains. He goes either boldly or slyly to maraud in
your wardrobe: he reappears caparisoned in the drawers you laid aside
that morning, and brings to the light of day many articles condemned
to solitary confinement. He brings the elegant Madame Fischtaminel, a
friend whose good graces you cultivate, your girdle for checking
corpulency, bits of cosmetic for dyeing your moustache, old waistcoats
discolored at the arm-holes, stockings slightly soiled at the heels
and somewhat yellow at the toes. It is quite impossible to remark that
these stains are caused by the leather!

Your wife looks at your friend and laughs; you dare not be angry, so
you laugh too, but what a laugh! The unfortunate all know that laugh.

Your son, moreover, gives you a cold sweat, if your razors happen to
be out of their place. If you are angry, the little rebel laughs and
shows his two rows of pearls: if you scold him, he cries. His mother
rushes in! And what a mother she is! A mother who will detest you if
you don't give him the razor! With women there is no middle ground; a
man is either a monster or a model.

At certain times you perfectly understand Herod and his famous decrees
relative to the Massacre of the Innocents, which have only been
surpassed by those of the good Charles X!

Your wife has returned to her sofa, you walk up and down, and stop,
and you boldly introduce the subject by this interjectional remark:

"Caroline, we must send Charles to boarding school."

"Charles cannot go to boarding school," she returns in a mild tone.

"Charles is six years old, the age at which a boy's education begins."

"In the first place," she replies, "it begins at seven. The royal
princes are handed over to their governor by their governess when they
are seven. That's the law and the prophets. I don't see why you
shouldn't apply to the children of private people the rule laid down
for the children of princes. Is your son more forward than theirs? The
king of Rome--"

"The king of Rome is not a case in point."

"What! Is not the king of Rome the son of the Emperor? [Here she
changes the subject.] Well, I declare, you accuse the Empress, do you?
Why, Doctor Dubois himself was present, besides--"

"I said nothing of the kind."

"How you do interrupt, Adolphe."

"I say that the king of Rome [here you begin to raise your voice], the
king of Rome, who was hardly four years old when he left France, is no
example for us."

"That doesn't prevent the fact of the Duke de Bordeaux's having been
placed in the hands of the Duke de Riviere, his tutor, at seven
years." [Logic.]

"The case of the young Duke of Bordeaux is different."

"Then you confess that a boy can't be sent to school before he is
seven years old?" she says with emphasis. [More logic.]

"No, my dear, I don't confess that at all. There is a great deal of
difference between private and public education."

"That's precisely why I don't want to send Charles to school yet. He
ought to be much stronger than he is, to go there."

"Charles is very strong for his age."

"Charles? That's the way with men! Why, Charles has a very weak
constitution; he takes after you. [Here she changes from _tu_ to
_vous_.] But if you are determined to get rid of your son, why put him
out to board, of course. I have noticed for some time that the dear
child annoys you."

"Annoys me? The idea! But we are answerable for our children, are we
not? It is time Charles' education was began: he is getting very bad
habits here, he obeys no one, he thinks himself perfectly free to do
as he likes, he hits everybody and nobody dares to hit him back. He
ought to be placed in the midst of his equals, or he will grow up with
the most detestable temper."

"Thank you: so I am bringing Charles up badly!"

"I did not say that: but you will always have excellent reasons for
keeping him at home."

Here the _vous_ becomes reciprocal and the discussion takes a bitter
turn on both sides. Your wife is very willing to wound you by saying
_vous_, but she feels cross when it becomes mutual.

"The long and the short of it is that you want to get my child away,
you find that he is between us, you are jealous of your son, you want
to tyrannize over me at your ease, and you sacrifice your boy! Oh, I
am smart enough to see through you!"

"You make me out like Abraham with his knife! One would think there
were no such things as schools! So the schools are empty; nobody sends
their children to school!"

"You are trying to make me appear ridiculous," she retorts. "I know
that there are schools well enough, but people don't send boys of six
there, and Charles shall not start now."

"Don't get angry, my dear."

"As if I ever get angry! I am a woman and know how to suffer in

"Come, let us reason together."

"You have talked nonsense enough."

"It is time that Charles should learn to read and write; later in
life, he will find difficulties sufficient to disgust him."

Here, you talk for ten minutes without interruption, and you close
with an appealing "Well?" armed with an intonation which suggests an
interrogation point of the most crooked kind.

"Well!" she replies, "it is not yet time for Charles to go to school."

You have gained nothing at all.

"But, my dear, Monsieur Deschars certainly sent his little Julius to
school at six years. Go and examine the schools and you will find lots
of little boys of six there."

You talk for ten minutes more without the slightest interruption, and
then you ejaculate another "Well?"

"Little Julius Deschars came home with chilblains," she says.

"But Charles has chilblains here."

"Never," she replies, proudly.

In a quarter of an hour, the main question is blocked by a side
discussion on this point: "Has Charles had chilblains or not?"

You bandy contradictory allegations; you no longer believe each other;
you must appeal to a third party.

Axiom.--Every household has its Court of Appeals which takes no notice
of the merits, but judges matters of form only.

The nurse is sent for. She comes, and decides in favor of your wife.
It is fully decided that Charles has never had chilblains.

Caroline glances triumphantly at you and utters these monstrous words:
"There, you see Charles can't possibly go to school!"

You go out breathless with rage. There is no earthly means of
convincing your wife that there is not the slightest reason for your
son's not going to school in the fact that he has never had

That evening, after dinner, you hear this atrocious creature finishing
a long conversation with a woman with these words: "He wanted to send
Charles to school, but I made him see that he would have to wait."

Some husbands, at a conjuncture like this, burst out before everybody;
their wives take their revenge six weeks later, but the husbands gain
this by it, that Charles is sent to school the very day he gets into
any mischief. Other husbands break the crockery, and keep their rage
to themselves. The knowing ones say nothing and bide their time.

A woman's logic is exhibited in this way upon the slightest occasion,
about a promenade or the proper place to put a sofa. This logic is
extremely simple, inasmuch as it consists in never expressing but one
idea, that which contains the expression of their will. Like
everything pertaining to female nature, this system may be resolved
into two algebraic terms--Yes: no. There are also certain little
movements of the head which mean so much that they may take the place
of either.

                       THE JESUITISM OF WOMEN.

The most jesuitical Jesuit of Jesuits is yet a thousand times less
jesuitical than the least jesuitical woman,--so you may judge what
Jesuits women are! They are so jesuitical that the cunningest Jesuit
himself could never guess to what extent of jesuitism a woman may go,
for there are a thousand ways of being jesuitical, and a woman is such
an adroit Jesuit, that she has the knack of being a Jesuit without
having a jesuitical look. You can rarely, though you can sometimes,
prove to a Jesuit that he is one: but try once to demonstrate to a
woman that she acts or talks like a Jesuit. She would be cut to pieces
rather than confess herself one.

She, a Jesuit! The very soul of honor and loyalty! She a Jesuit! What
do you mean by "Jesuit?" She does not know what a Jesuit is: what is a
Jesuit? She has never seen or heard of a Jesuit! It's you who are a
Jesuit! And she proves with jesuitical demonstration that you are a
subtle Jesuit.

Here is one of the thousand examples of a woman's jesuitism, and this
example constitutes the most terrible of the petty troubles of married
life; it is perhaps the most serious.

Induced by a desire the thousandth time expressed by Caroline, who
complained that she had to go on foot or that she could not buy a new
hat, a new parasol, a new dress, or any other article of dress, often

That she could not dress her baby as a sailor, as a lancer, as an
artilleryman of the National Guard, as a Highlander with naked legs
and a cap and feather, in a jacket, in a roundabout, in a velvet sack,
in boots, in trousers: that she could not buy him toys enough, nor
mechanical moving mice and Noah's Arks enough:

That she could not return Madame Deschars or Madame de Fischtaminel
their civilities, a ball, a party, a dinner: nor take a private box at
the theatre, thus avoiding the necessity of sitting cheek by jowl with
men who are either too polite or not enough so, and of calling a cab
at the close of the performance; apropos of which she thus discourses:

"You think it cheaper, but you are mistaken: men are all the same! I
soil my shoes, I spoil my hat, my shawl gets wet and my silk stockings
get muddy. You economize twenty francs by not having a carriage,--no
not twenty, sixteen, for your pay four for the cab--and you lose fifty
francs' worth of dress, besides being wounded in your pride on seeing
a faded bonnet on my head: you don't see why it's faded, but it's
those horrid cabs. I say nothing of the annoyance of being tumbled and
jostled by a crowd of men, for it seems you don't care for that!"

That she could not buy a piano instead of hiring one, nor keep up with
the fashions; (there are some women, she says, who have all the new
styles, but just think what they give in return! She would rather
throw herself out of the window than imitate them! She loves you too
much. Here she sheds tears. She does not understand such women). That
she could not ride in the Champs Elysees, stretched out in her own
carriage, like Madame de Fischtaminel. (There's a woman who
understands life: and who has a well-taught, well-disciplined and very
contented husband: his wife would go through fire and water for him!)

Finally, beaten in a thousand conjugal scenes, beaten by the most
logical arguments (the late logicians Tripier and Merlin were nothing
to her, as the preceding chapter has sufficiently shown you), beaten
by the most tender caresses, by tears, by your own words turned
against you, for under circumstances like these, a woman lies in wait
in her house like a jaguar in the jungle; she does not appear to
listen to you, or to heed you; but if a single word, a wish, a
gesture, escapes you, she arms herself with it, she whets it to an
edge, she brings it to bear upon you a hundred times over; beaten by
such graceful tricks as "If you will do so and so, I will do this and
that;" for women, in these cases, become greater bargainers than the
Jews and Greeks (those, I mean, who sell perfumes and little girls),
than the Arabs (those, I mean, who sell little boys and horses),
greater higglers than the Swiss and the Genevese, than bankers, and,
what is worse than all, than the Genoese!

Finally, beaten in a manner which may be called beaten, you determine
to risk a certain portion of your capital in a business undertaking.
One evening, at twilight, seated side by side, or some morning on
awakening, while Caroline, half asleep, a pink bud in her white linen,
her face smiling in her lace, is beside you, you say to her, "You want
this, you say, or you want that: you told me this or you told me
that:" in short, you hastily enumerate the numberless fancies by which
she has over and over again broken your heart, for there is nothing
more dreadful than to be unable to satisfy the desires of a beloved
wife, and you close with these words:

"Well, my dear, an opportunity offers of quintupling a hundred
thousand francs, and I have decided to make the venture."

She is wide awake now, she sits up in bed, and gives you a kiss, ah!
this time, a real good one!

"You are a dear boy!" is her first word.

We will not mention her last, for it is an enormous and
unpronounceable onomatope.

"Now," she says, "tell me all about it."

You try to explain the nature of the affair. But in the first place,
women do not understand business, and in the next they do not wish to
seem to understand it. Your dear, delighted Caroline says you were
wrong to take her desires, her groans, her sighs for new dresses, in
earnest. She is afraid of your venture, she is frightened at the
directors, the shares, and above all at the running expenses, and
doesn't exactly see where the dividend comes in.

Axiom.--Women are always afraid of things that have to be divided.

In short, Caroline suspects a trap: but she is delighted to know that
she can have her carriage, her box, the numerous styles of dress for
her baby, and the rest. While dissuading you from engaging in the
speculation, she is visibly glad to see you investing your money in

FIRST PERIOD.--"Oh, I am the happiest woman on the face of the earth!
Adolphe has just gone into the most splendid venture. I am going to
have a carriage, oh! ever so much handsomer than Madame de
Fischtaminel's; hers is out of fashion. Mine will have curtains with
fringes. My horses will be mouse-colored, hers are bay,--they are as
common as coppers."

"What is this venture, madame?"

"Oh, it's splendid--the stock is going up; he explained it to me
before he went into it, for Adolphe never does anything without
consulting me."

"You are very fortunate."

"Marriage would be intolerable without entire confidence, and Adolphe
tells me everything."

Thus, Adolphe, you are the best husband in Paris, you are adorable,
you are a man of genius, you are all heart, an angel. You are petted
to an uncomfortable degree. You bless the marriage tie. Caroline
extols men, calling them "kings of creation," women were made for
them, man is naturally generous, and matrimony is a delightful

For three, sometimes six, months, Caroline executes the most brilliant
concertos and solos upon this delicious theme: "I shall be rich! I
shall have a thousand a month for my dress: I am going to keep my

If your son is alluded to, it is merely to ask about the school to
which he shall be sent.

SECOND PERIOD.--"Well, dear, how is your business getting on?--What
has become of it?--How about that speculation which was to give me a
carriage, and other things?--It is high time that affair should come
to something.--It is a good while cooking.--When _will_ it begin to
pay? Is the stock going up?--There's nobody like you for hitting upon
ventures that never amount to anything."

One day she says to you, "Is there really an affair?"

If you mention it eight or ten months after, she returns:

"Ah! Then there really _is_ an affair!"

This woman, whom you thought dull, begins to show signs of
extraordinary wit, when her object is to make fun of you. During this
period, Caroline maintains a compromising silence when people speak of
you, or else she speaks disparagingly of men in general: "Men are not
what they seem: to find them out you must try them." "Marriage has its
good and its bad points." "Men never can finish anything."

THIRD PERIOD.--_Catastrophe_.--This magnificent affair which was to
yield five hundred per cent, in which the most cautious, the best
informed persons took part--peers, deputies, bankers--all of them
Knights of the Legion of Honor--this venture has been obliged to
liquidate! The most sanguine expect to get ten per cent of their
capital back. You are discouraged.

Caroline has often said to you, "Adolphe, what is the matter? Adolphe,
there is something wrong."

Finally, you acquaint Caroline with the fatal result: she begins by
consoling you.

"One hundred thousand francs lost! We shall have to practice the
strictest economy," you imprudently add.

The jesuitism of woman bursts out at this word "economy." It sets fire
to the magazine.

"Ah! that's what comes of speculating! How is it that _you, ordinarily
so prudent_, could go and risk a hundred thousand francs! _You know I
was against it from the beginning!_ BUT YOU WOULD NOT LISTEN TO ME!"

Upon this, the discussion grows bitter.

You are good for nothing--you have no business capacity; women alone
take clear views of things. You have risked your children's bread,
though she tried to dissuade you from it.--You cannot say it was for
her. Thank God, she has nothing to reproach herself with. A hundred
times a month she alludes to your disaster: "If my husband had not
thrown away his money in such and such a scheme, I could have had this
and that." "The next time you want to go into an affair, perhaps
you'll consult me!" Adolphe is accused and convicted of having
foolishly lost one hundred thousand francs, without an object in view,
like a dolt, and without having consulted his wife. Caroline advises
her friends not to marry. She complains of the incapacity of men who
squander the fortunes of their wives. Caroline is vindictive, she
makes herself generally disagreeable. Pity Adolphe! Lament, ye
husbands! O bachelors, rejoice and be exceeding glad!

                        MEMORIES AND REGRETS.

After several years of wedded life, your love has become so placid,
that Caroline sometimes tries, in the evening, to wake you up by
various little coquettish phrases. There is about you a certain
calmness and tranquillity which always exasperates a lawful wife.
Women see in it a sort of insolence: they look upon the indifference
of happiness as the fatuity of confidence, for of course they never
imagine their inestimable equalities can be regarded with disdain:
their virtue is therefore enraged at being so cordially trusted in.

In this situation, which is what every couple must come to, and which
both husband and wife must expect, no husband dares confess that the
constant repetition of the same dish has become wearisome; but his
appetite certainly requires the condiments of dress, the ideas excited
by absence, the stimulus of an imaginary rivalry.

In short, at this period, you walk very comfortably with your wife on
your arm, without pressing hers against your heart with the solicitous
and watchful cohesion of a miser grasping his treasure. You gaze
carelessly round upon the curiosities in the street, leading your wife
in a loose and distracted way, as if you were towing a Norman scow.
Come now, be frank! If, on passing your wife, an admirer were gently
to press her, accidentally or purposely, would you have the slightest
desire to discover his motives? Besides, you say, no woman would seek
to bring about a quarrel for such a trifle. Confess this, too, that
the expression "such a trifle" is exceedingly flattering to both of

You are in this position, but you have as yet proceeded no farther.
Still, you have a horrible thought which you bury in the depths of
your heart and conscience: Caroline has not come up to your
expectations. Caroline has imperfections, which, during the high tides
of the honey-moon, were concealed under the water, but which the ebb
of the gall-moon has laid bare. You have several times run against
these breakers, your hopes have been often shipwrecked upon them, more
than once your desires--those of a young marrying man--(where, alas,
is that time!) have seen their richly laden gondolas go to pieces
there: the flower of the cargo went to the bottom, the ballast of the
marriage remained. In short, to make use of a colloquial expression,
as you talk over your marriage with yourself you say, as you look at
Caroline, "_She is not what I took her to be!_"

Some evening, at a ball, in society, at a friend's house, no matter
where, you meet a sublime young woman, beautiful, intellectual and
kind: with a soul, oh! a soul of celestial purity, and of miraculous
beauty! Yes, there is that unchangeable oval cut of face, those
features which time will never impair, that graceful and thoughtful
brow. The unknown is rich, well-educated, of noble birth: she will
always be what she should be, she knows when to shine, when to remain
in the background: she appears in all her glory and power, the being
you have dreamed of, your wife that should have been, she whom you
feel you could love forever. She would always have flattered your
little vanities, she would understand and admirably serve your
interests. She is tender and gay, too, this young lady who reawakens
all your better feelings, who rekindles your slumbering desires.

You look at Caroline with gloomy despair, and here are the
phantom-like thoughts which tap, with wings of a bat, the beak of
a vulture, the body of a death's-head moth, upon the walls of the
palace in which, enkindled by desire, glows your brain like a lamp
of gold:

FIRST STANZA. Ah, dear me, why did I get married? Fatal idea! I
allowed myself to be caught by a small amount of cash. And is it
really over? Cannot I have another wife? Ah, the Turks manage things
better! It is plain enough that the author of the Koran lived in the

SECOND STANZA. My wife is sick, she sometimes coughs in the morning.
If it is the design of Providence to remove her from the world, let it
be speedily done for her sake and for mine. The angel has lived long

THIRD STANZA. I am a monster! Caroline is the mother of my children!

You go home, that night, in a carriage with your wife: you think her
perfectly horrible: she speaks to you, but you answer in
monosyllables. She says, "What is the matter?" and you answer,
"Nothing." She coughs, you advise her to see the doctor in the
morning. Medicine has its hazards.

FOURTH STANZA. I have been told that a physician, poorly paid by the
heirs of his deceased patient, imprudently exclaimed, "What! they cut
down my bill, when they owe me forty thousand a year." _I_ would not
haggle over fees!

"Caroline," you say to her aloud, "you must take care of yourself;
cross your shawl, be prudent, my darling angel."

Your wife is delighted with you since you seem to take such an
interest in her. While she is preparing to retire, you lie stretched
out upon the sofa. You contemplate the divine apparition which opens
to you the ivory portals of your castles in the air. Delicious
ecstasy! 'Tis the sublime young woman that you see before you! She is
as white as the sail of the treasure-laden galleon as it enters the
harbor of Cadiz. Your wife, happy in your admiration, now understands
your former taciturnity. You still see, with closed eyes, the sublime
young woman; she is the burden of your thoughts, and you say aloud:

FIFTH AND LAST STANZA. Divine! Adorable! Can there be another woman
like her? Rose of Night! Column of ivory! Celestial maiden! Morning
and Evening Star!

Everyone says his prayers; you have said four.

The next morning, your wife is delightful, she coughs no more, she has
no need of a doctor; if she dies, it will be of good health; you
launched four maledictions upon her, in the name of your sublime young
woman, and four times she blessed you for it. Caroline does not know
that in the depths of your heart there wriggles a little red fish like
a crocodile, concealed beneath conjugal love like the other would be
hid in a basin.

A few days before, your wife had spoken of you in rather equivocal
terms to Madame de Fischtaminel: your fair friend comes to visit her,
and Caroline compromises you by a long and humid gaze; she praises you
and says she never was happier.

You rush out in a rage, you are beside yourself, and are glad to meet
a friend, that you may work off your bile.

"Don't you ever marry, George; it's better to see your heirs carrying
away your furniture while the death-rattle is in your throat, better
to go through an agony of two hours without a drop to cool your
tongue, better to be assassinated by inquiries about your will by a
nurse like the one in Henry Monnier's terrible picture of a
'Bachelor's Last Moments!' Never marry under any pretext!"

Fortunately you see the sublime young woman no more. You are saved
from the tortures to which a criminal passion was leading you. You
fall back again into the purgatory of your married bliss; but you
begin to be attentive to Madame de Fischtaminel, with whom you were
dreadfully in love, without being able to get near her, while you were
a bachelor.


When you have arrived at this point in the latitude or longitude of
the matrimonial ocean, there appears a slight chronic, intermittent
affection, not unlike the toothache. Here, I see, you stop me to ask,
"How are we to find the longitude in this sea? When can a husband be
sure he has attained this nautical point? And can the danger be

You may arrive at this point, look you, as easily after ten months as
ten years of wedlock; it depends upon the speed of the vessel, its
style of rigging, upon the trade winds, the force of the currents, and
especially upon the composition of the crew. You have this advantage
over the mariner, that he has but one method of calculating his
position, while husbands have at least a thousand of reckoning theirs.

EXAMPLE: Caroline, your late darling, your late treasure, who is now
merely your humdrum wife, leans much too heavily upon your arm while
walking on the boulevard, or else says it is much more elegant not to
take your arm at all;

Or else she notices men, older or younger as the case may be, dressed
with more or less taste, whereas she formerly saw no one whatever,
though the sidewalk was black with hats and traveled by more boots
than slippers;

Or, when you come home, she says, "It's no one but my husband:"
instead of saying "Ah! 'tis Adolphe!" as she used to say with a
gesture, a look, an accent which caused her admirers to think, "Well,
here's a happy woman at last!" This last exclamation of a woman is
suitable for two eras,--first, while she is sincere; second, while she
is hypocritical, with her "Ah! 'tis Adolphe!" When she exclaims, "It's
only my husband," she no longer deigns to play a part.

Or, if you come home somewhat late--at eleven, or at midnight--you
find her--snoring! Odious symptom!

Or else she puts on her stockings in your presence. Among English
couples, this never happens but once in a lady's married life; the
next day she leaves for the Continent with some captain or other, and
no longer thinks of putting on her stockings at all.

Or else--but let us stop here.

This is intended for the use of mariners and husbands who are

                       THE MATRIMONIAL GADFLY.

Very well! In this degree of longitude, not far from a tropical sign
upon the name of which good taste forbids us to make a jest at once
coarse and unworthy of this thoughtful work, a horrible little
annoyance appears, ingeniously called the Matrimonial Gadfly, the most
provoking of all gnats, mosquitoes, blood-suckers, fleas and
scorpions, for no net was ever yet invented that could keep it off.
The gadfly does not immediately sting you; it begins by buzzing in
your ears, and _you do not at first know what it is_.

Thus, apropos of nothing, in the most natural way in the world,
Caroline says: "Madame Deschars had a lovely dress on, yesterday."

"She is a woman of taste," returns Adolphe, though he is far from
thinking so.

"Her husband gave it to her," resumes Caroline, with a shrug of her


"Yes, a four hundred franc dress! It's the very finest quality of

"Four hundred francs!" cries Adolphe, striking the attitude of the
apostle Thomas.

"But then there are two extra breadths and enough for a high waist!"

"Monsieur Deschars does things on a grand scale," replies Adolphe,
taking refuge in a jest.

"All men don't pay such attentions to their wives," says Caroline,

"What attentions?"

"Why, Adolphe, thinking of extra breadths and of a waist to make the
dress good again, when it is no longer fit to be worn low in the

Adolphe says to himself, "Caroline wants a dress."

Poor man!

Some time afterward, Monsieur Deschars furnishes his wife's chamber
anew. Then he has his wife's diamonds set in the prevailing fashion.
Monsieur Deschars never goes out without his wife, and never allows
his wife to go out without offering her his arm.

If you bring Caroline anything, no matter what, it is never equal to
what Monsieur Deschars has done. If you allow yourself the slightest
gesture or expression a little livelier than usual, if you speak a
little bit loud, you hear the hissing and viper-like remark:

"You wouldn't see Monsieur Deschars behaving like this! Why don't you
take Monsieur Deschars for a model?"

In short, this idiotic Monsieur Deschars is forever looming up in your
household on every conceivable occasion.

The expression--"Do you suppose Monsieur Deschars ever allows himself"
--is a sword of Damocles, or what is worse, a Damocles pin: and your
self-love is the cushion into which your wife is constantly sticking
it, pulling it out, and sticking it in again, under a variety of
unforeseen pretexts, at the same time employing the most winning terms
of endearment, and with the most agreeable little ways.

Adolphe, stung till he finds himself tattooed, finally does what is
done by police authorities, by officers of government, by military
tacticians. He casts his eye on Madame de Fischtaminel, who is still
young, elegant and a little bit coquettish, and places her (this had
been the rascal's intention for some time) like a blister upon
Caroline's extremely ticklish skin.

O you, who often exclaim, "I don't know what is the matter with my
wife!" you will kiss this page of transcendent philosophy, for you
will find in it _the key to every woman's character_! But as to
knowing women as well as I know them, it will not be knowing them
much; they don't know themselves! In fact, as you well know, God was
Himself mistaken in the only one that He attempted to manage and to
whose manufacture He had given personal attention.

Caroline is very willing to sting Adolphe at all hours, but this
privilege of letting a wasp off now and then upon one's consort (the
legal term), is exclusively reserved to the wife. Adolphe is a monster
if he starts off a single fly at Caroline. On her part, it is a
delicious joke, a new jest to enliven their married life, and one
dictated by the purest intentions; while on Adolphe's part, it is a
piece of cruelty worthy a Carib, a disregard of his wife's heart, and
a deliberate plan to give her pain. But that is nothing.

"So you are really in love with Madame de Fischtaminel?" Caroline
asks. "What is there so seductive in the mind or the manners of the

"Why, Caroline--"

"Oh, don't undertake to deny your eccentric taste," she returns,
checking a negation on Adolphe's lips. "I have long seen that you
prefer that Maypole [Madame de Fischtaminel is thin] to me. Very well!
go on; you will soon see the difference."

Do you understand? You cannot suspect Caroline of the slightest
inclination for Monsieur Deschars, a low, fat, red-faced man, formerly
a notary, while you are in love with Madame de Fischtaminel! Then
Caroline, the Caroline whose simplicity caused you such agony,
Caroline who has become familiar with society, Caroline becomes acute
and witty: you have two gadflies instead of one.

The next day she asks you, with a charming air of interest, "How are
you coming on with Madame de Fischtaminel?"

When you go out, she says: "Go and drink something calming, my dear."
For, in their anger with a rival, all women, duchesses even, will use
invectives, and even venture into the domain of Billingsgate; they
make an offensive weapon of anything and everything.

To try to convince Caroline that she is mistaken and that you are
indifferent to Madame de Fischtaminel, would cost you dear. This is a
blunder that no sensible man commits; he would lose his power and
spike his own guns.

Oh! Adolphe, you have arrived unfortunately at that season so
ingeniously called the _Indian Summer of Marriage_.

You must now--pleasing task!--win your wife, your Caroline, over
again, seize her by the waist again, and become the best of husbands
by trying to guess at things to please her, so as to act according to
her whims instead of according to your will. This is the whole
question henceforth.

                             HARD LABOR.

Let us admit this, which, in our opinion, is a truism made as good as

Axiom.--Most men have some of the wit required by a difficult
position, when they have not the whole of it.

As for those husbands who are not up to their situation, it is
impossible to consider their case here: without any struggle whatever
they simply enter the numerous class of the _Resigned_.

Adolphe says to himself: "Women are children: offer them a lump of
sugar, and you will easily get them to dance all the dances that
greedy children dance; but you must always have a sugar plum in hand,
hold it up pretty high, and--take care that their fancy for sweetmeats
does not leave them. Parisian women--and Caroline is one--are very
vain, and as for their voracity--don't speak of it. Now you cannot
govern men and make friends of them, unless you work upon them through
their vices, and flatter their passions: my wife is mine!"

Some days afterward, during which Adolphe has been unusually attentive
to his wife, he discourses to her as follows:

"Caroline, dear, suppose we have a bit of fun: you'll put on your new
gown--the one like Madame Deschars!--and we'll go to see a farce at
the Varieties."

This kind of proposition always puts a wife in the best possible
humor. So away you go! Adolphe has ordered a dainty little dinner for
two, at Borrel's _Rocher de Cancale_.

"As we are going to the Varieties, suppose we dine at the tavern,"
exclaims Adolphe, on the boulevard, with the air of a man suddenly
struck by a generous idea.

Caroline, delighted with this appearance of good fortune, enters a
little parlor where she finds the cloth laid and that neat little
service set, which Borrel places at the disposal of those who are rich
enough to pay for the quarters intended for the great ones of the
earth, who make themselves small for an hour.

Women eat little at a formal dinner: their concealed harness hampers
them, they are laced tightly, and they are in the presence of women
whose eyes and whose tongues are equally to be dreaded. They prefer
fancy eating to good eating, then: they will suck a lobster's claw,
swallow a quail or two, punish a woodcock's wing, beginning with a bit
of fresh fish, flavored by one of those sauces which are the glory of
French cooking. France is everywhere sovereign in matters of taste: in
painting, fashions, and the like. Gravy is the triumph of taste, in
cookery. So that grisettes, shopkeepers' wives and duchesses are
delighted with a tasty little dinner washed down with the choicest
wines, of which, however, they drink but little, the whole concluded
by fruit such as can only be had at Paris; and especially delighted
when they go to the theatre to digest the little dinner, and listen,
in a comfortable box, to the nonsense uttered upon the stage, and to
that whispered in their ears to explain it. But then the bill of the
restaurant is one hundred francs, the box costs thirty, the carriage,
dress, gloves, bouquet, as much more. This gallantry amounts to the
sum of one hundred and sixty francs, which is hard upon four thousand
francs a month, if you go often to the Comic, the Italian, or the
Grand, Opera. Four thousand francs a month is the interest of a
capital of two millions. But then the honor of being a husband is
fully worth the price!

Caroline tells her friends things which she thinks exceedingly
flattering, but which cause a sagacious husband to make a wry face.

"Adolphe has been delightful for some time past. I don't know what I
have done to deserve so much attention, but he overpowers me. He gives
value to everything by those delicate ways which have such an effect
upon us women. After taking me Monday to the _Rocher de Cancale_ to
dine, he declared that Very was as good a cook as Borrel, and he gave
me the little party of pleasure that I told you of all over again,
presenting me at dessert with a ticket for the opera. They sang
'William Tell,' which, you know, is my craze."

"You are lucky indeed," returns Madame Deschars with evident jealousy.

"Still, a wife who discharges all her duties, deserves such luck, it
seems to me."

When this terrible sentiment falls from the lips of a married woman,
it is clear that she _does her duty_, after the manner of school-boys,
for the reward she expects. At school, a prize is the object: in
marriage, a shawl or a piece of jewelry. No more love, then!

"As for me,"--Madame Deschars is piqued--"I am reasonable. Deschars
committed such follies once, but I put a stop to it. You see, my dear,
we have two children, and I confess that one or two hundred francs are
quite a consideration for me, as the mother of a family."

"Dear me, madame," says Madame de Fischtaminel, "it's better that our
husbands should have cosy little times with us than with--"

"Deschars!--" suddenly puts in Madame Deschars, as she gets up and
says good-bye.

The individual known as Deschars (a man nullified by his wife) does
not hear the end of the sentence, by which he might have learned that
a man may spend his money with other women.

Caroline, flattered in every one of her vanities, abandons herself to
the pleasures of pride and high living, two delicious capital sins.
Adolphe is gaining ground again, but alas! (this reflection is worth a
whole sermon in Lent) sin, like all pleasure, contains a spur. Vice is
like an Autocrat, and let a single harsh fold in a rose-leaf irritate
it, it forgets a thousand charming bygone flatteries. With Vice a
man's course must always be crescendo!--and forever.

Axiom.--Vice, Courtiers, Misfortune and Love, care only for the

At the end of a period of time difficult to determine, Caroline looks
in the glass, at dessert, and notices two or three pimples blooming
upon her cheeks, and upon the sides, lately so pure, of her nose. She
is out of humor at the theatre, and you do not know why, you, so
proudly striking an attitude in your cravat, you, displaying your
figure to the best advantage, as a complacent man should.

A few days after, the dressmaker arrives. She tries on a gown, she
exerts all her strength, but cannot make the hooks and eyes meet. The
waiting maid is called. After a two horse-power pull, a regular
thirteenth labor of Hercules, a hiatus of two inches manifests itself.
The inexorable dressmaker cannot conceal from Caroline the fact that
her form is altered. Caroline, the aerial Caroline, threatens to
become like Madame Deschars. In vulgar language, she is getting stout.
The maid leaves her in a state of consternation.

"What! am I to have, like that fat Madame Deschars, cascades of flesh
a la Rubens! That Adolphe is an awful scoundrel. Oh, I see, he wants
to make me an old mother Gigogne, and destroy my powers of

Thenceforward Caroline is willing to go to the opera, she accepts two
seats in a box, but she considers it very distingue to eat sparingly,
and declines the dainty dinners of her husband.

"My dear," she says, "a well-bred woman should not go often to these
places; you may go once for a joke; but as for making a habitual thing
of it--fie, for shame!"

Borrel and Very, those masters of the art, lose a thousand francs a
day by not having a private entrance for carriages. If a coach could
glide under an archway, and go out by another door, after leaving its
fair occupants on the threshold of an elegant staircase, how many of
them would bring the landlord fine, rich, solid old fellows for

Axiom.--Vanity is the death of good living.

Caroline very soon gets tired of the theatre, and the devil alone can
tell the cause of her disgust. Pray excuse Adolphe! A husband is not
the devil.

Fully one-third of the women of Paris are bored by the theatre. Many
of them are tired to death of music, and go to the opera for the
singers merely, or rather to notice the difference between them in
point of execution. What supports the theatre is this: the women are a
spectacle before and after the play. Vanity alone will pay the
exorbitant price of forty francs for three hours of questionable
pleasure, in a bad atmosphere and at great expense, without counting
the colds caught in going out. But to exhibit themselves, to see and
be seen, to be the observed of five hundred observers! What a glorious
mouthful! as Rabelais would say.

To obtain this precious harvest, garnered by self-love, a woman must
be looked at. Now a woman with her husband is very little looked at.
Caroline is chagrined to see the audience entirely taken up with women
who are _not_ with their husbands, with eccentric women, in short.
Now, as the very slight return she gets from her efforts, her dresses,
and her attitudes, does not compensate, in her eyes, for her fatigue,
her display and her weariness, it is very soon the same with the
theatre as it was with the good cheer; high living made her fat, the
theatre is making her yellow.

Here Adolphe--or any other man in Adolphe's place--resembles a certain
Languedocian peasant who suffered agonies from an agacin, or, in
French, corn,--but the term in Lanquedoc is so much prettier, don't
you think so? This peasant drove his foot at each step two inches into
the sharpest stones along the roadside, saying to the agacin, "Devil
take you! Make me suffer again, will you?"

"Upon my word," says Adolphe, profoundly disappointed, the day when he
receives from his wife a refusal, "I should like very much to know
what would please you!"

Caroline looks loftily down upon her husband, and says, after a pause
worthy of an actress, "I am neither a Strasburg goose nor a giraffe!"

"'Tis true, I might lay out four thousand francs a month to better
effect," returns Adolphe.

"What do you mean?"

"With the quarter of that sum, presented to estimable burglars,
youthful jail-birds and honorable criminals, I might become somebody,
a Man in the Blue Cloak on a small scale; and then a young woman is
proud of her husband," Adolphe replies.

This answer is the grave of love, and Caroline takes it in very bad
part. An explanation follows. This must be classed among the thousand
pleasantries of the following chapter, the title of which ought to
make lovers smile as well as husbands. If there are yellow rays of
light, why should there not be whole days of this extremely
matrimonial color?

                            FORCED SMILES.

On your arrival in this latitude, you enjoy numerous little scenes,
which, in the grand opera of marriage, represent the intermezzos, and
of which the following is a type:

You are one evening alone after dinner, and you have been so often
alone already that you feel a desire to say sharp little things to
each other, like this, for instance:

"Take care, Caroline," says Adolphe, who has not forgotten his many
vain efforts to please her. "I think your nose has the impertinence to
redden at home quite well as at the restaurant."

"This is not one of your amiable days!"

General Rule.--No man has ever yet discovered the way to give friendly
advice to any woman, not even to his own wife.

"Perhaps it's because you are laced too tight. Women make themselves
sick that way."

The moment a man utters these words to a woman, no matter whom, that
woman,--who knows that stays will bend,--seizes her corset by the
lower end, and bends it out, saying, with Caroline:

"Look, you can get your hand in! I never lace tight."

"Then it must be your stomach."

"What has the stomach got to do with the nose?"

"The stomach is a centre which communicates with all the organs."

"So the nose is an organ, is it?"


"Your organ is doing you a poor service at this moment." She raises
her eyes and shrugs her shoulders. "Come, Adolphe, what have I done?"

"Nothing. I'm only joking, and I am unfortunate enough not to please
you," returns Adolphe, smiling.

"My misfortune is being your wife! Oh, why am I not somebody else's!"

"That's what _I_ say!"

"If I were, and if I had the innocence to say to you, like a coquette
who wishes to know how far she has got with a man, 'the redness of my
nose really gives me anxiety,' you would look at me in the glass with
all the affectations of an ape, and would reply, 'O madame, you do
yourself an injustice; in the first place, nobody sees it: besides, it
harmonizes with your complexion; then again we are all so after
dinner!' and from this you would go on to flatter me. Do I ever tell
you that you are growing fat, that you are getting the color of a
stone-cutter, and that I prefer thin and pale men?"

They say in London, "Don't touch the axe!" In France we ought to say,
"Don't touch a woman's nose."

"And all this about a little extra natural vermilion!" exclaims
Adolphe. "Complain about it to Providence, whose office it is to put a
little more color in one place than another, not to me, who loves you,
who desires you to be perfect, and who merely says to you, take care!"

"You love me too much, then, for you've been trying, for some time
past, to find disagreeable things to say to me. You want to run me
down under the pretext of making me perfect--people said I _was_
perfect, five years ago."

"I think you are better than perfect, you are stunning!"

"With too much vermilion?"

Adolphe, who sees the atmosphere of the north pole upon his wife's
face, sits down upon a chair by her side. Caroline, unable decently to
go away, gives her gown a sort of flip on one side, as if to produce a
separation. This motion is performed by some women with a provoking
impertinence: but it has two significations; it is, as whist players
would say, either a signal _for trumps_ or a _renounce_. At this time,
Caroline renounces.

"What is the matter?" says Adolphe.

"Will you have a glass of sugar and water?" asks Caroline, busying
herself about your health, and assuming the part of a servant.

"What for?"

"You are not amiable while digesting, you must be in pain. Perhaps you
would like a drop of brandy in your sugar and water? The doctor spoke
of it as an excellent remedy."

"How anxious you are about my stomach!"

"It's a centre, it communicates with the other organs, it will act
upon your heart, and through that perhaps upon your tongue."

Adolphe gets up and walks about without saying a word, but he reflects
upon the acuteness which his wife is acquiring: he sees her daily
gaining in strength and in acrimony: she is getting to display an art
in vexation and a military capacity for disputation which reminds him
of Charles XII and the Russians. Caroline, during this time, is busy
with an alarming piece of mimicry: she looks as if she were going to

"Are you sick?" asks Adolphe, attacked in his generosity, the place
where women always have us.

"It makes me sick at my stomach, after dinner, to see a man going back
and forth so, like the pendulum of a clock. But it's just like you:
you are always in a fuss about something. You are a queer set: all men
are more or less cracked."

Adolphe sits down by the fire opposite to his wife, and remains there
pensive: marriage appears to him like an immense dreary plain, with
its crop of nettles and mullen stalks.

"What, are you pouting?" asks Caroline, after a quarter of an hour's
observation of her husband's countenance.

"No, I am meditating," replied Adolphe.

"Oh, what an infernal temper you've got!" she returns, with a shrug of
the shoulders. "Is it for what I said about your stomach, your shape
and your digestion? Don't you see that I was only paying you back for
your vermilion? You'll make me think that men are as vain as women.
[Adolphe remains frigid.] It is really quite kind in you to take our
qualities. [Profound silence.] I made a joke and you got angry [she
looks at Adolphe], for you are angry. I am not like you: I cannot bear
the idea of having given you pain! Nevertheless, it's an idea that a
man never would have had, that of attributing your impertinence to
something wrong in your digestion. It's not my Dolph, it's his stomach
that was bold enough to speak. I did not know you were a
ventriloquist, that's all."

Caroline looks at Adolphe and smiles: Adolphe is as stiff as if he
were glued.

"No, he won't laugh! And, in your jargon, you call this having
character. Oh, how much better we are!"

She goes and sits down in Adolphe's lap, and Adolphe cannot help
smiling. This smile, extracted as if by a steam engine, Caroline has
been on the watch for, in order to make a weapon of it.

"Come, old fellow, confess that you are wrong," she says. "Why pout?
Dear me, I like you just as you are: in my eyes you are as slender as
when I married you, and slenderer perhaps."

"Caroline, when people get to deceive themselves in these little
matters, where one makes concessions and the other does not get angry,
do you know what it means?"

"What does it mean?" asks Caroline, alarmed at Adolphe's dramatic

"That they love each other less."

"Oh! you monster, I understand you: you were angry so as to make me
believe you loved me!"

Alas! let us confess it, Adolphe tells the truth in the only way he
can--by a laugh.

"Why give me pain?" she says. "If I am wrong in anything, isn't it
better to tell me of it kindly, than brutally to say [here she raises
her voice], 'Your nose is getting red!' No, that is not right! To
please you, I will use an expression of the fair Fischtaminel, 'It's
not the act of a gentleman!'"

Adolphe laughs and pays the expenses of the reconciliation; but
instead of discovering therein what will please Caroline and what will
attach her to him, he finds out what attaches him to her.

                       NOSOGRAPHY OF THE VILLA.

Is it advantageous for a man not to know what will please his wife
after their marriage? Some women (this still occurs in the country)
are innocent enough to tell promptly what they want and what they
like. But in Paris, nearly every woman feels a kind of enjoyment in
seeing a man wistfully obedient to her heart, her desires, her
caprices--three expressions for the same thing!--and anxiously going
round and round, half crazy and desperate, like a dog that has lost
his master.

They call this _being loved_, poor things! And a good many of them say
to themselves, as did Caroline, "How will he manage?"

Adolphe has come to this. In this situation of things, the worthy and
excellent Deschars, that model of the citizen husband, invites the
couple known as Adolphe and Caroline to help him and his wife
inaugurate a delightful country house. It is an opportunity that the
Deschars have seized upon, the folly of a man of letters, a charming
villa upon which he lavished one hundred thousand francs and which has
been sold at auction for eleven thousand. Caroline has a new dress to
air, or a hat with a weeping willow plume--things which a tilbury will
set off to a charm. Little Charles is left with his grandmother. The
servants have a holiday. The youthful pair start beneath the smile of
a blue sky, flecked with milk-while clouds merely to heighten the
effect. They breathe the pure air, through which trots the heavy
Norman horse, animated by the influence of spring. They soon reach
Marnes, beyond Ville d'Avray, where the Deschars are spreading
themselves in a villa copied from one at Florence, and surrounded by
Swiss meadows, though without all the objectionable features of the

"Dear me! what a delightful thing a country house like this must be!"
exclaims Caroline, as she walks in the admirable wood that skirts
Marnes and Ville d'Avray. "It makes your eyes as happy as if they had
a heart in them."

Caroline, having no one to take but Adolphe, takes Adolphe, who
becomes her Adolphe again. And then you should see her run about like
a fawn, and act once more the sweet, pretty, innocent, adorable
school-girl that she was! Her braids come down! She takes off her
bonnet, and holds it by the strings! She is young, pink and white
again. Her eyes smile, her mouth is a pomegranate endowed with
sensibility, with a sensibility which seems quite fresh.

"So a country house would please you very much, would it, darling?"
says Adolphe, clasping Caroline round the waist, and noticing that she
leans upon him as if to show the flexibility of her form.

"What, will you be such a love as to buy me one? But remember, no
extravagance! Seize an opportunity like the Deschars."

"To please you and to find out what is likely to give you pleasure,
such is the constant study of your own Dolph."

They are alone, at liberty to call each other their little names of
endearment, and run over the whole list of their secret caresses.

"Does he really want to please his little girly?" says Caroline,
resting her head on the shoulder of Adolphe, who kisses her forehead,
saying to himself, "Gad! I've got her now!"

Axiom.--When a husband and a wife have got each other, the devil only
knows which has got the other.

The young couple are captivating, whereupon the stout Madame Deschars
gives utterance to a remark somewhat equivocal for her, usually so
stern, prudish and devout.

"Country air has one excellent property: it makes husbands very

M. Deschars points out an opportunity for Adolphe to seize. A house is
to be sold at Ville d'Avray, for a song, of course. Now, the country
house is a weakness peculiar to the inhabitant of Paris. This
weakness, or disease, has its course and its cure. Adolphe is a
husband, but not a doctor. He buys the house and takes possession with
Caroline, who has become once more his Caroline, his Carola, his fawn,
his treasure, his girly girl.

The following alarming symptoms now succeed each other with frightful
rapidity: a cup of milk, baptized, costs five sous; when it is
anhydrous, as the chemists say, ten sous. Meat costs more at Sevres
than at Paris, if you carefully examine the qualities. Fruit cannot be
had at any price. A fine pear costs more in the country than in the
(anhydrous!) garden that blooms in Chevet's window.

Before being able to raise fruit for oneself, from a Swiss meadow
measuring two square yards, surrounded by a few green trees which look
as if they were borrowed from the scenic illusions of a theatre, the
most rural authorities, being consulted on the point, declare that you
must spend a great deal of money, and--wait five years! Vegetables
dash out of the husbandman's garden to reappear at the city market.
Madame Deschars, who possesses a gate-keeper that is at the same time
a gardener, confesses that the vegetables raised on her land, beneath
her glass frames, by dint of compost and top-soil, cost her twice as
much as those she used to buy at Paris, of a woman who had rent and
taxes to pay, and whose husband was an elector. Despite the efforts
and pledges of the gate-keeper-gardener, early peas and things at
Paris are a month in advance of those in the country.

From eight in the evening to eleven our couple don't know what to do,
on account of the insipidity of the neighbors, their small ideas, and
the questions of self-love which arise out of the merest trifles.

Monsieur Deschars remarks, with that profound knowledge of figures
which distinguishes the ex-notary, that the cost of going to Paris and
back, added to the interest of the cost of his villa, to the taxes,
wages of the gate-keeper and his wife, are equal to a rent of three
thousand francs a year. He does not see how he, an ex-notary, allowed
himself to be so caught! For he has often drawn up leases of chateaux
with parks and out-houses, for three thousand a year.

It is agreed by everybody in the parlor of Madame Deschars, that a
country house, so far from being a pleasure, is an unmitigated

"I don't see how they sell a cabbage for one sou at market, which has
to be watered every day from its birth to the time you eat it," says

"The way to get along in the country," replies a little retired
grocer, "is to stay there, to live there, to become country-folks, and
then everything changes."

On going home, Caroline says to her poor Adolphe, "What an idea that
was of yours, to buy a country house! The best way to do about the
country is to go there on visits to other people."

Adolphe remembers an English proverb, which says, "Don't have a
newspaper or a country seat of your own: there are plenty of idiots
who will have them for you."

"Bah!" returns Adolph, who was enlightened once for all upon women's
logic by the Matrimonial Gadfly, "you are right: but then you know the
baby is in splendid health, here."

Though Adolphe has become prudent, this reply awakens Caroline's
susceptibilities. A mother is very willing to think exclusively of her
child, but she does not want him to be preferred to herself. She is
silent; the next day, she is tired to death of the country. Adolphe
being absent on business, she waits for him from five o'clock to
seven, and goes alone with little Charles to the coach office. She
talks for three-quarters of an hour of her anxieties. She was afraid
to go from the house to the office. Is it proper for a young woman to
be left alone, so? She cannot support such an existence.

The country house now creates a very peculiar phase; one which
deserves a chapter to itself.

                       TROUBLE WITHIN TROUBLE.

Axiom.--There are parentheses in worry.

EXAMPLE--A great deal of evil has been said of the stitch in the side;
but it is nothing to the stitch to which we now refer, which the
pleasures of the matrimonial second crop are everlastingly reviving,
like the hammer of a note in the piano. This constitutes an irritant,
which never flourishes except at the period when the young wife's
timidity gives place to that fatal equality of rights which is at once
devastating France and the conjugal relation. Every season has its
peculiar vexation.

Caroline, after a week spent in taking note of her husband's absences,
perceives that he passes seven hours a day away from her. At last,
Adolphe, who comes home as gay as an actor who has been applauded,
observes a slight coating of hoar frost upon Caroline's visage. After
making sure that the coldness of her manner has been observed,
Caroline puts on a counterfeit air of interest,--the well-known
expression of which possesses the gift of making a man inwardly
swear,--and says: "You must have had a good deal of business to-day,

"Oh, lots!"

"Did you take many cabs?"

"I took seven francs' worth."

"Did you find everybody in?"

"Yes, those with whom I had appointments."

"When did you make appointments with them? The ink in your inkstand is
dried up; it's like glue; I wanted to write, and spent a whole hour in
moistening it, and even then only produced a thick mud fit to mark
bundles with for the East Indies."

Here any and every husband looks suspiciously at his better half.

"It is probable that I wrote them at Paris--"

"What business was it, Adolphe?"

"Why, I thought you knew. Shall I run over the list? First, there's
Chaumontel's affair--"

"I thought Monsieur Chaumontel was in Switzerland--"

"Yes, but he has representatives, a lawyer--"

"Didn't you do anything else but business?" asks Caroline,
interrupting Adolphe.

Here she gives him a direct, piercing look, by which she plunges into
her husband's eyes when he least expects it: a sword in a heart.

"What could I have done? Made a little counterfeit money, run into
debt, or embroidered a sampler?"

"Oh, dear, I don't know. And I can't even guess. I am too dull, you've
told me so a hundred times."

"There you go, and take an expression of endearment in bad part. How
like a woman that is!"

"Have you concluded anything?" she asks, pretending to take an
interest in business.

"No, nothing,"

"How many persons have you seen?"

"Eleven, without counting those who were walking in the streets."

"How you answer me!"

"Yes, and how you question me! As if you'd been following the trade of
an examining judge for the last ten years!"

"Come, tell me all you've done to-day, it will amuse me. You ought to
try to please me while you are here! I'm dull enough when you leave me
alone all day long."

"You want me to amuse you by telling you about business?"

"Formerly, you told me everything--"

This friendly little reproach disguises the certitude that Caroline
wishes to enjoy respecting the serious matters which Adolphe wishes to
conceal. Adolphe then undertakes to narrate how he has spent the day.
Caroline affects a sort of distraction sufficiently well played to
induce the belief that she is not listening.

"But you said just now," she exclaims, at the moment when Adolphe is
getting into a snarl, "that you had paid seven francs for cabs, and
you now talk of a hack! You took it by the hour, I suppose? Did you do
your business in a hack?" she asks, railingly.

"Why should hacks be interdicted?" inquires Adolphe, resuming his

"Haven't you been to Madame de Fischtaminel's?" she asks in the middle
of an exceedingly involved explanation, insolently taking the words
out of your mouth.

"Why should I have been there?"

"It would have given me pleasure: I wanted to know whether her parlor
is done."

"It is."

"Ah! then you _have_ been there?"

"No, her upholsterer told me."

"Do you know her upholsterer?"


"Who is it?"


"So you met the upholsterer?"


"You said you only went in carriages."

"Yes, my dear, but to get carriages, you have to go and--"

"Pooh! I dare say Braschon was in the carriage, or the parlor was--one
or the other is equally probable."

"You won't listen," exclaims Adolphe, who thinks that a long story
will lull Caroline's suspicions.

"I've listened too much already. You've been lying for the last hour,
worse than a drummer."

"Well, I'll say nothing more."

"I know enough. I know all I wanted to know. You say you've seen
lawyers, notaries, bankers: now you haven't seen one of them! Suppose
I were to go to-morrow to see Madame de Fischtaminel, do you know what
she would say?"

Here, Caroline watches Adolphe closely: but Adolphe affects a delusive
calmness, in the middle of which Caroline throws out her line to fish
up a clue.

"Why, she would say that she had had the pleasure of seeing you! How
wretched we poor creatures are! We never know what you are doing: here
we are stuck, chained at home, while you are off at your business!
Fine business, truly! If I were in your place, I would invent business
a little bit better put together than yours! Ah, you set us a worthy
example! They say women are perverse. Who perverted them?"

Here Adolphe tries, by looking fixedly at Caroline, to arrest the
torrent of words. Caroline, like a horse who has just been touched up
by the lash, starts off anew, and with the animation of one of
Rossini's codas:

"Yes, it's a very neat idea, to put your wife out in the country so
that you may spend the day as you like at Paris. So this is the cause
of your passion for a country house! Snipe that I was, to be caught in
the trap! You are right, sir, a villa is very convenient: it serves
two objects. But the wife can get along with it as well as the
husband. You may take Paris and its hacks! I'll take the woods and
their shady groves! Yes, Adolphe, I am really satisfied, so let's say
no more about it."

Adolphe listens to sarcasm for an hour by the clock.

"Have you done, dear?" he asks, profiting by an instant in which she
tosses her head after a pointed interrogation.

Then Caroline concludes thus: "I've had enough of the villa, and I'll
never set foot in it again. But I know what will happen: you'll keep
it, probably, and leave me in Paris. Well, at Paris, I can at least
amuse myself, while you go with Madame de Fischtaminel to the woods.
What is a _Villa Adolphini_ where you get nauseated if you go six
times round the lawn? where they've planted chair-legs and
broom-sticks on the pretext of producing shade? It's like a furnace:
the walls are six inches thick! and my gentleman is absent seven hours
a day! That's what a country seat means!"

"Listen to me, Caroline."

"I wouldn't so much mind, if you would only confess what you did
to-day. You don't know me yet: come, tell me, I won't scold you. I
pardon you beforehand for all that you've done."

Adolphe, who knows the consequences of a confession too well to make
one to his wife, replies--"Well, I'll tell you."

"That's a good fellow--I shall love you better."

"I was three hours--"

"I was sure of it--at Madame de Fischtaminel's!"

"No, at our notary's, as he had got me a purchaser; but we could not
come to terms: he wanted our villa furnished. When I left there, I
went to Braschon's, to see how much we owed him--"

"You made up this romance while I was talking to you! Look me in the
face! I'll go to see Braschon to-morrow."

Adolphe cannot restrain a nervous shudder.

"You can't help laughing, you monster!"

"I laugh at your obstinacy."

"I'll go to-morrow to Madame de Fischtaminel's."

"Oh, go wherever you like!"

"What brutality!" says Caroline, rising and going away with her
handkerchief at her eyes.

The country house, so ardently longed for by Caroline, has now become
a diabolical invention of Adolphe's, a trap into which the fawn has

Since Adolphe's discovery that it is impossible to reason with
Caroline, he lets her say whatever she pleases.

Two months after, he sells the villa which cost him twenty-two
thousand francs for seven thousand! But he gains this by the
adventure--he finds out that the country is not the thing that
Caroline wants.

The question is becoming serious. Nature, with its woods, its forests,
its valleys, the Switzerland of the environs of Paris, the artificial
rivers, have amused Caroline for barely six months. Adolphe is tempted
to abdicate and take Caroline's part himself.

                       A HOUSEHOLD REVOLUTION.

One morning, Adolphe is seized by the triumphant idea of letting
Caroline find out for herself what she wants. He gives up to her the
control of the house, saying, "Do as you like." He substitutes the
constitutional system for the autocratic system, a responsible
ministry for an absolute conjugal monarchy. This proof of confidence
--the object of much secret envy--is, to women, a field-marshal's
baton. Women are then, so to speak, mistresses at home.

After this, nothing, not even the memory of the honey-moon, can be
compared to Adolphe's happiness for several days. A woman, under such
circumstances, is all sugar. She is too sweet: she would invent the
art of petting and cosseting and of coining tender little names, if
this matrimonial sugar-plummery had not existed ever since the
Terrestrial Paradise. At the end of the month, Adolphe's condition is
like that of children towards the close of New Year's week. So
Caroline is beginning to say, not in words, but in acts, in manner, in
mimetic expressions: "It's difficult to tell _what_ to do to please a

Giving up the helm of the boat to one's wife, is an exceedingly
ordinary idea, and would hardly deserve the qualification of
"triumphant," which we have given it at the commencement of this
chapter, if it were not accompanied by that of taking it back again.
Adolphe was seduced by a wish, which invariably seizes persons who are
the prey of misfortune, to know how far an evil will go!--to try how
much damage fire will do when left to itself, the individual
possessing, or thinking he possesses, the power to arrest it. This
curiosity pursues us from the cradle to the grave. Then, after his
plethora of conjugal felicity, Adolphe, who is treating himself to a
farce in his own house, goes through the following phases:

FIRST EPOCH. Things go on altogether too well. Caroline buys little
account books to keep a list of her expenses in, she buys a nice
little piece of furniture to store her money in, she feeds Adolphe
superbly, she is happy in his approbation, she discovers that very
many articles are needed in the house. It is her ambition to be an
incomparable housekeeper. Adolphe, who arrogates to himself the right
of censorship, no longer finds the slightest suggestion to make.

When he dresses himself, everything is ready to his hands. Not even in
Armide's garden was more ingenious tenderness displayed than that of
Caroline. For her phoenix husband, she renews the wax upon his razor
strap, she substitutes new suspenders for old ones. None of his
button-holes are ever widowed. His linen is as well cared for as that
of the confessor of the devotee, all whose sins are venial. His
stockings are free from holes. At table, his tastes, his caprices
even, are studied, consulted: he is getting fat! There is ink in his
inkstand, and the sponge is always moist. He never has occasion to
say, like Louis XIV, "I came near having to wait!" In short, he hears
himself continually called _a love of a man_. He is obliged to
reproach Caroline for neglecting herself: she does not pay sufficient
attention to her own needs. Of this gentle reproach Caroline takes

SECOND EPOCH. The scene changes, at table. Everything is exceedingly
dear. Vegetables are beyond one's means. Wood sells as if it came from
Campeche. Fruit? Oh! as to fruit, princes, bankers and great lords
alone can eat it. Dessert is a cause of ruin. Adolphe often hears
Caroline say to Madame Deschars: "How do you manage?" Conferences are
held in your presence upon the proper way to keep cooks under the

A cook who entered your service without effects, without clothes, and
without talent, has come to get her wages in a blue merino gown, set
off by an embroidered neckerchief, her ears embellished with a pair of
ear-rings enriched with small pearls, her feet clothed in comfortable
shoes which give you a glimpse of neat cotton stockings. She has two
trunks full of property, and keeps an account at the savings bank.

Upon this Caroline complains of the bad morals of the lower classes:
she complains of the education and the knowledge of figures which
distinguish domestics. From time to time she utters little axioms like
the following: There are some mistakes you _must_ make!--It's only
those who do nothing who do everything well.--She has the anxieties
that belong to power.--Ah! men are fortunate in not having a house to
keep.--Women bear the burden of the innumerable details.

THIRD EPOCH. Caroline, absorbed in the idea that you should eat merely
to live, treats Adolphe to the delights of a cenobitic table.

Adolphe's stockings are either full of holes or else rough with the
lichen of hasty mendings, for the day is not long enough for all that
his wife has to do. He wears suspenders blackened by use. His linen is
old and gapes like a door-keeper, or like the door itself. At a time
when Adolphe is in haste to conclude a matter of business, it takes
him an hour to dress: he has to pick out his garments one by one,
opening many an article before finding one fit to wear. But Caroline
is charmingly dressed. She has pretty bonnets, velvet boots,
mantillas. She has made up her mind, she conducts her administration
in virtue of this principle: Charity well understood begins at home.
When Adolphe complains of the contrast between his poverty-stricken
wardrobe and Caroline's splendor, she says, "Why, you reproached me
with buying nothing for myself!"

The husband and the wife here begin to bandy jests more or less
acrimonious. One evening Caroline makes herself very agreeable, in
order to insinuate an avowal of a rather large deficit, just as the
ministry begins to eulogize the tax-payers, and boast of the wealth of
the country, when it is preparing to bring forth a bill for an
additional appropriation. There is this further similitude that both
are done in the chamber, whether in administration or in housekeeping.
From this springs the profound truth that the constitutional system is
infinitely dearer than the monarchical system. For a nation as for a
household, it is the government of the happy balance, of mediocrity,
of chicanery.

Adolphe, enlightened by his past annoyances, waits for an opportunity
to explode, and Caroline slumbers in a delusive security.

What starts the quarrel? Do we ever know what electric current
precipitates the avalanche or decides a revolution? It may result from
anything or nothing. But finally, Adolphe, after a period to be
determined in each case by the circumstances of the couple, utters
this fatal phrase, in the midst of a discussion: "Ah! when I was a

Her husband's bachelor life is to a woman what the phrase, "My dear
deceased," is to a widow's second husband. These two stings produce
wounds which are never completely healed.

Then Adolphe goes on like General Bonaparte haranguing the Five
Hundred: "We are on a volcano!--The house no longer has a head, the
time to come to an understanding has arrived.--You talk of happiness,
Caroline, but you have compromised, imperiled it by your exactions,
you have violated the civil code: you have mixed yourself up in the
discussions of business, and you have invaded the conjugal authority.
--We must reform our internal affairs."

Caroline does not shout, like the Five Hundred, "Down with the
dictator!" For people never shout a man down, when they feel that they
can put him down.

"When I was a bachelor I had none but new stockings! I had a clean
napkin every day on my plate. The restaurateur only fleeced me of a
determinate sum. I have given up to you my beloved liberty! What have
you done with it?"

"Am I then so very wrong, Adolphe, to have sought to spare you
numerous cares?" says Caroline, taking an attitude before her husband.
"Take the key of the money-box back,--but do you know what will
happen? I am ashamed, but you will compel me to go on to the stage to
get the merest necessaries of life. Is this what you want? Degrade
your wife, or bring in conflict two contrary, hostile interests--"

Such, for three quarters of the French people is an exact definition
of marriage.

"Be perfectly easy, dear," resumes Caroline, seating herself in her
chair like Marius on the ruins of Carthage, "I will never ask you for
anything. I am not a beggar! I know what I'll do--you don't know me

"Well, what will you do?" asks Adolphe; "it seems impossible to joke
or have an explanation with you women. What will you do?"

"It doesn't concern you at all."

"Excuse me, madame, quite the contrary. Dignity, honor--"

"Oh, have no fear of that, sir. For your sake more than for my own, I
will keep it a dead secret."

"Come, Caroline, my own Carola, what do you mean to do?"

Caroline darts a viper-like glance at Adolphe, who recoils and
proceeds to walk up and down the room.

"There now, tell me, what will you do?" he repeats after much too
prolonged a silence.

"I shall go to work, sir!"

At this sublime declaration, Adolphe executes a movement in retreat,
detecting a bitter exasperation, and feeling the sharpness of a north
wind which had never before blown in the matrimonial chamber.

                      THE ART OF BEING A VICTIM.

On and after the Revolution, our vanquished Caroline adopts an
infernal system, the effect of which is to make you regret your
victory every hour. She becomes the opposition! Should Adolphe have
one more such triumph, he would appear before the Court of Assizes,
accused of having smothered his wife between two mattresses, like
Shakespeare's Othello. Caroline puts on the air of a martyr; her
submission is positively killing. On every occasion she assassinates
Adolphe with a "Just as you like!" uttered in tones whose sweetness is
something fearful. No elegiac poet could compete with Caroline, who
utters elegy upon elegy: elegy in action, elegy in speech: her smile
is elegiac, her silence is elegiac, her gestures are elegiac. Here are
a few examples, wherein every household will find some of its
impressions recorded:

AFTER BREAKFAST. "Caroline, we go to-night to the Deschars' grand ball
you know."

"Yes, love."

AFTER DINNER. "What, not dressed yet, Caroline?" exclaims Adolphe, who
has just made his appearance, magnificently equipped.

He finds Caroline arrayed in a gown fit for an elderly lady of strong
conversational powers, a black moire with an old-fashioned fan-waist.
Flowers, too badly imitated to deserve the name of artificial, give a
gloomy aspect to a head of hair which the chambermaid has carelessly
arranged. Caroline's gloves have already seen wear and tear.

"I am ready, my dear."

"What, in that dress?"

"I have no other. A new dress would have cost three hundred francs."

"Why did you not tell me?"

"I, ask you for anything, after what has happened!"

"I'll go alone," says Adolphe, unwilling to be humiliated in his wife.

"I dare say you are very glad to," returns Caroline, in a captious
tone, "it's plain enough from the way you are got up."

Eleven persons are in the parlor, all invited to dinner by Adolphe.
Caroline is there, looking as if her husband had invited her too. She
is waiting for dinner to be served.

"Sir," says the parlor servant in a whisper to his master, "the cook
doesn't know what on earth to do!"

"What's the matter?"

"You said nothing to her, sir: and she has only two side-dishes, the
beef, a chicken, a salad and vegetables."

"Caroline, didn't you give the necessary orders?"

"How did I know that you had company, and besides I can't take it upon
myself to give orders here! You delivered me from all care on that
point, and I thank heaven for it every day of my life."

Madame de Fischtaminel has called to pay Madame Caroline a visit. She
finds her coughing feebly and nearly bent double over her embroidery.

"Ah, so you are working those slippers for your dear Adolphe?"

Adolphe is standing before the fire-place as complacently as may be.

"No, madame, it's for a tradesman who pays me for them: like the
convicts, my labor enables me to treat myself to some little

Adolphe reddens; he can't very well beat his wife, and Madame de
Fischtaminel looks at him as much as to say, "What does this mean?"

"You cough a good deal, my darling," says Madame de Fischtaminel.

"Oh!" returns Caroline, "what is life to me?"

Caroline is seated, conversing with a lady of your acquaintance, whose
good opinion you are exceedingly anxious to retain. From the depths of
the embrasure where you are talking with some friends, you gather,
from the mere motion of her lips, these words: "My husband would have
it so!" uttered with the air of a young Roman matron going to the
circus to be devoured. You are profoundly wounded in your several
vanities, and wish to attend to this conversation while listening to
your guests: you thus make replies which bring you back such inquiries
as: "Why, what are you thinking of?" For you have lost the thread of
the discourse, and you fidget nervously with your feet, thinking to
yourself, "What is she telling her about me?"

Adolphe is dining with the Deschars: twelve persons are at table, and
Caroline is seated next to a nice young man named Ferdinand, Adolphe's
cousin. Between the first and second course, conjugal happiness is the
subject of conversation.

"There is nothing easier than for a woman to be happy," says Caroline
in reply to a woman who complains of her husband.

"Tell us your secret, madame," says M. de Fischtaminel agreeably.

"A woman has nothing to do but to meddle with nothing to consider
herself as the first servant in the house or as a slave that the
master takes care of, to have no will of her own, and never to make an
observation: thus all goes well."

This, delivered in a bitter tone and with tears in her voice, alarms
Adolphe, who looks fixedly at his wife.

"You forget, madame, the happiness of telling about one's happiness,"
he returns, darting at her a glance worthy of the tyrant in a

Quite satisfied with having shown herself assassinated or on the point
of being so, Caroline turns her head aside, furtively wipes away a
tear, and says:

"Happiness cannot be described!"

This incident, as they say at the Chamber, leads to nothing, but
Ferdinand looks upon his cousin as an angel about to be offered up.

Some one alludes to the frightful prevalence of inflammation of the
stomach, or to the nameless diseases of which young women die.

"Ah, too happy they!" exclaims Caroline, as if she were foretelling
the manner of her death.

Adolphe's mother-in-law comes to see her daughter. Caroline says, "My
husband's parlor:" "Your master's chamber." Everything in the house
belongs to "My husband."

"Why, what's the matter, children?" asks the mother-in-law; "you seem
to be at swords' points."

"Oh, dear me," says Adolphe, "nothing but that Caroline has had the
management of the house and didn't manage it right, that's all."

"She got into debt, I suppose?"

"Yes, dearest mamma."

"Look here, Adolphe," says the mother-in-law, after having waited to
be left alone with her son, "would you prefer to have my daughter
magnificently dressed, to have everything go on smoothly, _without its
costing you anything_?"

Imagine, if you can, the expression of Adolphe's physiognomy, as he
hears _this declaration of woman's rights_!

Caroline abandons her shabby dress and appears in a splendid one. She
is at the Deschars': every one compliments her upon her taste, upon
the richness of her materials, upon her lace, her jewels.

"Ah! you have a charming husband!" says Madame Deschars. Adolphe
tosses his head proudly, and looks at Caroline.

"My husband, madame! I cost that gentleman nothing, thank heaven! All
I have was given me by my mother."

Adolphe turns suddenly about and goes to talk with Madame de

After a year of absolute monarchy, Caroline says very mildly one

"How much have you spent this year, dear?"

"I don't know."

"Examine your accounts."

Adolphe discovers that he has spent a third more than during
Caroline's worst year.

"And I've cost you nothing for my dress," she adds.

Caroline is playing Schubert's melodies. Adolphe takes great pleasure
in hearing these compositions well-executed: he gets up and
compliments Caroline. She bursts into tears.

"What's the matter?"

"Nothing, I'm nervous."

"I didn't know you were subject to that."

"O Adolphe, you won't see anything! Look, my rings come off my
fingers: you don't love me any more--I'm a burden to you--"

She weeps, she won't listen, she weeps afresh at every word Adolphe

"Suppose you take the management of the house back again?"

"Ah!" she exclaims, rising sharply to her feet, like a spring figure
in a box, "now that you've had enough of your experience! Thank you!
Do you suppose it's money that I want? Singular method, yours, of
pouring balm upon a wounded heart. No, go away."

"Very well, just as you like, Caroline."

This "just as you like" is the first expression of indifference
towards a wife: and Caroline sees before her an abyss towards which
she had been walking of her own free will.

                         THE FRENCH CAMPAIGN.

The disasters of 1814 afflict every species of existence. After
brilliant days of conquest, after the period during which obstacles
change to triumphs, and the slightest check becomes a piece of good
fortune, there comes a time when the happiest ideas turn out blunders,
when courage leads to destruction, and when your very fortifications
are a stumbling-block. Conjugal love, which, according to authors, is
a peculiar phase of love, has, more than anything else, its French
Campaign, its fatal 1814. The devil especially loves to dangle his
tail in the affairs of poor desolate women, and to this Caroline has

Caroline is trying to think of some means of bringing her husband
back. She spends many solitary hours at home, and during this time her
imagination works. She goes and comes, she gets up, and often stands
pensively at the window, looking at the street and seeing nothing, her
face glued to the panes, and feeling as if in a desert, in the midst
of her friends, in the bosom of her luxuriously furnished apartments.

Now, in Paris, unless a person occupy a house of his own, enclosed
between a court and a garden, all life is double. At every story, a
family sees another family in the opposite house. Everybody plunges
his gaze at will into his neighbor's domains. There is a necessity for
mutual observation, a common right of search from which none can
escape. At a given time, in the morning, you get up early, the servant
opposite is dusting the parlor, she has left the windows open and has
put the rugs on the railing; you divine a multitude of things, and
vice-versa. Thus, in a given time, you are acquainted with the habits
of the pretty, the old, the young, the coquettish, the virtuous woman
opposite, or the caprices of the coxcomb, the inventions of the old
bachelor, the color of the furniture, and the cat of the two pair
front. Everything furnishes a hint, and becomes matter for divination.
At the fourth story, a grisette, taken by surprise, finds herself--too
late, like the chaste Susanne,--the prey of the delighted lorgnette of
an aged clerk, who earns eighteen hundred francs a year, and who
becomes criminal gratis. On the other hand, a handsome young
gentleman, who, for the present, works without wages, and is only
nineteen years old, appears before the sight of a pious old lady, in
the simple apparel of a man engaged in shaving. The watch thus kept up
is never relaxed, while prudence, on the contrary, has its moments of
forgetfulness. Curtains are not always let down in time. A woman, just
before dark, approaches the window to thread her needle, and the
married man opposite may then admire a head that Raphael might have
painted, and one that he considers worthy of himself--a National Guard
truly imposing when under arms. Oh, sacred private life, where art
thou! Paris is a city ever ready to exhibit itself half naked, a city
essentially libertine and devoid of modesty. For a person's life to be
decorous in it, the said person should have a hundred thousand a year.
Virtues are dearer than vices in Paris.

Caroline, whose gaze sometimes steals between the protecting muslins
which hide her domestic life from the five stories opposite, at last
discovers a young couple plunged in the delights of the honey-moon,
and newly established in the first story directly in view of her
window. She spends her time in the most exciting observations. The
blinds are closed early, and opened late. One day, Caroline, who has
arisen at eight o'clock notices, by accident, of course, the maid
preparing a bath or a morning dress, a delicious deshabille. Caroline
sighs. She lies in ambush like a hunter at the cover; she surprises
the young woman, her face actually illuminated with happiness.
Finally, by dint of watching the charming couple, she sees the
gentleman and lady open the window, and lean gently one against the
other, as, supported by the railing, they breathe the evening air.
Caroline gives herself a nervous headache, by endeavoring to interpret
the phantasmagorias, some of them having an explanation and others
not, made by the shadows of these two young people on the curtains,
one night when they have forgotten to close the shutters. The young
woman is often seated, melancholy and pensive, waiting for her absent
husband; she hears the tread of a horse, or the rumble of a cab at the
street corner; she starts from the sofa, and from her movements, it is
easy for Caroline to see that she exclaims: "'Tis he!"

"How they love each other!" says Caroline to herself.

By dint of nervous headache, Caroline conceives an exceedingly
ingenious plan: this plan consists in using the conjugal bliss of the
opposite neighbors as a tonic to stimulate Adolphe. The idea is not
without depravity, but then Caroline's intention sanctifies the means!

"Adolphe," she says, "we have a neighbor opposite, the loveliest
woman, a brunette--"

"Oh, yes," returns Adolphe, "I know her. She is a friend of Madame de
Fischtaminel's: Madame Foullepointe, the wife of a broker, a charming
man and a good fellow, very fond of his wife: he's crazy about her.
His office and rooms are here, in the court, while those on the street
are madame's. I know of no happier household. Foullepointe talks about
his happiness everywhere, even at the Exchange; he's really quite

"Well, then, be good enough to present Monsieur and Madame
Foullepointe to me. I should be delighted to learn how she manages to
make her husband love her so much: have they been married long?"

"Five years, just like us."

"O Adolphe, dear, I am dying to know her: make us intimately
acquainted. Am I as pretty as she?"

"Well, if I were to meet you at an opera ball, and if you weren't my
wife, I declare, I shouldn't know which--"

"You are real sweet to-day. Don't forget to invite them to dinner

"I'll do it to-night. Foullepointe and I often meet on 'Change."

"Now," says Caroline, "this young woman will doubtless tell me what
her method of action is."

Caroline resumes her post of observation. At about three she looks
through the flowers which form as it were a bower at the window, and
exclaims, "Two perfect doves!"

For the Saturday in question, Caroline invites Monsieur and Madame
Deschars, the worthy Monsieur Fischtaminel, in short, the most
virtuous couples of her society. She has brought out all her
resources: she has ordered the most sumptuous dinner, she has taken
the silver out of the chest: she means to do all honor to the model of

"My dear, you will see to-night," she says to Madame Deschars, at the
moment when all the women are looking at each other in silence, "the
most admirable young couple in the world, our opposite neighbors: a
young man of fair complexion, so graceful and with _such_ manners! His
head is like Lord Byron's, and he's a real Don Juan, only faithful:
he's discovered the secret of making love eternal: I shall perhaps
obtain a second crop of it from her example. Adolphe, when he sees
them, will blush at his conduct, and--"

The servant announces: "Monsieur and Madame Foullepointe."

Madame Foullepointe, a pretty brunette, a genuine Parisian, slight and
erect in form, the brilliant light of her eye quenched by her long
lashes, charmingly dressed, sits down upon the sofa. Caroline bows to
a fat gentleman with thin gray hair, who follows this Paris
Andalusian, and who exhibits a face and paunch fit for Silenus, a
butter-colored pate, a deceitful, libertine smile upon his big, heavy
lips,--in short, a philosopher! Caroline looks upon this individual
with astonishment.

"Monsieur Foullepointe, my dear," says Adolphe, presenting the worthy

"I am delighted, madame," says Caroline, good-naturedly, "that you
have brought your father-in-law [profound sensation], but we shall
soon see your husband, I trust--"


Everybody listens and looks. Adolphe becomes the object of every one's
attention; he is literally dumb with amazement: if he could, he would
whisk Caroline off through a trap, as at the theatre.

"This is Monsieur Foullepointe, my husband," says Madame Foullepointe.

Caroline turns scarlet as she sees her ridiculous blunder, and Adolphe
scathes her with a look of thirty-six candlepower.

"You said he was young and fair," whispers Madame Deschars. Madame
Foullepointe,--knowing lady that she is,--boldly stares at the

A month after, Madame Foullepointe and Caroline become intimate.
Adolphe, who is taken up with Madame de Fischtaminel, pays no
attention to this dangerous friendship, a friendship which will bear
its fruits, for--pray learn this--

Axiom.--Women have corrupted more women than men have ever loved.

                        A SOLO ON THE HEARSE.

After a period, the length of which depends on the strength of
Caroline's principles, she appears to be languishing; and when
Adolphe, anxious for decorum's sake, as he sees her stretched out upon
the sofa like a snake in the sun, asks her, "What is the matter, love?
What do you want?"

"I wish I was dead!" she replies.

"Quite a merry and agreeable wish!"

"It isn't death that frightens me, it's suffering."

"I suppose that means that I don't make you happy! That's the way with

Adolphe strides about the room, talking incoherently: but he is
brought to a dead halt by seeing Caroline dry her tears, which are
really flowing artistically, in an embroidered handkerchief.

"Do you feel sick?"

"I don't feel well. [Silence.] I only hope that I shall live long
enough to see my daughter married, for I know the meaning, now, of the
expression so little understood by the young--_the choice of a
husband_! Go to your amusements, Adolphe: a woman who thinks of the
future, a woman who suffers, is not at all diverting: come, go and
have a good time."

"Where do you feel bad?"

"I don't feel bad, dear: I never was better. I don't feel anything.
No, really, I am better. There, leave me to myself."

This time, being the first, Adolphe goes away almost sad.

A week passes, during which Caroline orders all the servants to
conceal from her husband her deplorable situation: she languishes, she
rings when she feels she is going off, she uses a great deal of ether.
The domestics finally acquaint their master with madame's conjugal
heroism, and Adolphe remains at home one evening after dinner, and
sees his wife passionately kissing her little Marie.

"Poor child! I regret the future only for your sake! What is life, I
should like to know?"

"Come, my dear," says Adolphe, "don't take on so."

"I'm not taking on. Death doesn't frighten me--I saw a funeral this
morning, and I thought how happy the body was! How comes it that I
think of nothing but death? Is it a disease? I have an idea that I
shall die by my own hand."

The more Adolphe tries to divert Caroline, the more closely she wraps
herself up in the crape of her hopeless melancholy. This second time,
Adolphe stays at home and is wearied to death. At the third attack of
forced tears, he goes out without the slightest compunction. He
finally gets accustomed to these everlasting murmurs, to these dying
postures, these crocodile tears. So he says:

"If you are sick, Caroline, you'd better have a doctor."

"Just as you like! It will end quicker, so. But bring a famous one, if
you bring any."

At the end of a month, Adolphe, worn out by hearing the funereal air
that Caroline plays him on every possible key, brings home a famous
doctor. At Paris, doctors are all men of discernment, and are
admirably versed in conjugal nosography.

"Well, madame," says the great physician, "how happens it that so
pretty a woman allows herself to be sick?"

"Ah! sir, like the nose of old father Aubry, I aspire to the tomb--"

Caroline, out of consideration for Adolphe, makes a feeble effort to

"Tut, tut! But your eyes are clear: they don't seem to need our
infernal drugs."

"Look again, doctor, I am eaten up with fever, a slow, imperceptible

And she fastens her most roguish glance upon the illustrious doctor,
who says to himself, "What eyes!"

"Now, let me see your tongue."

Caroline puts out her taper tongue between two rows of teeth as white
as those of a dog.

"It is a little bit furred at the root: but you have breakfasted--"
observes the great physician, turning toward Adolphe.

"Oh, a mere nothing," returns Caroline; "two cups of tea--"

Adolphe and the illustrious leech look at each other, for the doctor
wonders whether it is the husband or the wife that is trifling with

"What do you feel?" gravely inquires the physician.

"I don't sleep."


"I have no appetite."


"I have a pain, here."

The doctor examines the part indicated.

"Very good, we'll look at that by and by."

"Now and then a shudder passes over me--"

"Very good!"

"I have melancholy fits, I am always thinking of death, I feel
promptings of suicide--"

"Dear me! Really!"

"I have rushes of heat to the face: look, there's a constant trembling
in my eyelid."

"Capital! We call that a trismus."

The doctor goes into an explanation, which lasts a quarter of an hour,
of the trismus, employing the most scientific terms. From this it
appears that the trismus is the trismus: but he observes with the
greatest modesty that if science knows that the trismus is the
trismus, it is entirely ignorant of the cause of this nervous
affection, which comes and goes, appears and disappears--"and," he
adds, "we have decided that it is altogether nervous."

"Is it very dangerous?" asks Caroline, anxiously.

"Not at all. How do you lie at night?"

"Doubled up in a heap."

"Good. On which side?"

"The left."

"Very well. How many mattresses are there on your bed?"


"Good. Is there a spring bed?"


"What is the spring bed stuffed with?"

"Horse hair."

"Capital. Let me see you walk. No, no, naturally, and as if we weren't
looking at you."

Caroline walks like Fanny Elssler, communicating the most Andalusian
little motions to her tournure.

"Do you feel a sensation of heaviness in your knees?"

"Well, no--" she returns to her place. "Ah, no that I think of it, it
seems to me that I do."

"Good. Have you been in the house a good deal lately?"

"Oh, yes, sir, a great deal too much--and alone."

"Good. I thought so. What do you wear on your head at night?"

"An embroidered night-cap, and sometimes a handkerchief over it."

"Don't you feel a heat there, a slight perspiration?"

"How can I, when I'm asleep?"

"Don't you find your night-cap moist on your forehead, when you wake


"Capital. Give me your hand."

The doctor takes out his watch.

"Did I tell you that I have a vertigo?" asks Caroline.

"Hush!" says the doctor, counting the pulse. "In the evening?"

"No, in the morning."

"Ah, bless me, a vertigo in the morning," says the doctor, looking at

"The Duke of G. has not gone to London," says the great physician,
while examining Caroline's skin, "and there's a good deal to be said
about it in the Faubourg St. Germain."

"Have you patients there?" asks Caroline.

"Nearly all my patients are there. Dear me, yes; I've got seven to see
this morning; some of them are in danger."

"What do you think of me, sir?" says Caroline.

"Madame, you need attention, a great deal of attention, you must take
quieting liquors, plenty of syrup of gum, a mild diet, white meat, and
a good deal of exercise."

"There go twenty francs," says Adolphe to himself with a smile.

The great physician takes Adolphe by the arm, and draws him out with
him, as he takes his leave: Caroline follows them on tiptoe.

"My dear sir," says the great physician, "I have just prescribed very
insufficiently for your wife. I did not wish to frighten her: this
affair concerns you more nearly than you imagine. Don't neglect her;
she has a powerful temperament, and enjoys violent health; all this
reacts upon her. Nature has its laws, which, when disregarded, compel
obedience. She may get into a morbid state, which would cause you
bitterly to repent having neglected her. If you love her, why, love
her: but if you don't love her, and nevertheless desire to preserve
the mother of your children, the resolution to come to is a matter of
hygiene, but it can only proceed from you!"

"How well he understand me!" says Caroline to herself. She opens the
door and says: "Doctor, you did not write down the doses!"

The great physician smiles, bows and slips the twenty franc piece into
his pocket; he then leaves Adolphe to his wife, who takes him and

"What is the fact about my condition? Must I prepare for death?"

"Bah! He says you're too healthy!" cries Adolphe, impatiently.

Caroline retires to her sofa to weep.

"What is it, now?"

"So I am to live a long time--I am in the way--you don't love me any
more--I won't consult that doctor again--I don't know why Madame
Foullepointe advised me to see him, he told me nothing but trash--I
know better than he what I need!"

"What do you need?"

"Can you ask, ungrateful man?" and Caroline leans her head on
Adolphe's shoulder.

Adolphe, very much alarmed, says to himself: "The doctor's right, she
may get to be morbidly exacting, and then what will become of me? Here
I am compelled to choose between Caroline's physical extravagance, or
some young cousin or other."

Meanwhile Caroline sits down and sings one of Schubert's melodies with
all the agitation of a hypochondriac.

                             PART SECOND


  If, reader, you have grasped the intent of this book,--and
  infinite honor is done you by the supposition: the profoundest
  author does not always comprehend, I may say never comprehends,
  the different meanings of his book, nor its bearing, nor the good
  nor the harm it may do--if, then, you have bestowed some attention
  upon these little scenes of married life, you have perhaps noticed
  their color--

  "What color?" some grocer will doubtless ask; "books are bound in
  yellow, blue, green, pearl-gray, white--"

  Alas! books possess another color, they are dyed by the author,
  and certain writers borrow their dye. Some books let their color
  come off on to others. More than this. Books are dark or fair,
  light brown or red. They have a sex, too! I know of male books,
  and female books, of books which, sad to say, have no sex, which
  we hope is not the case with this one, supposing that you do this
  collection of nosographic sketches the honor of calling it a book.

  Thus far, the troubles we have described have been exclusively
  inflicted by the wife upon the husband. You have therefore seen
  only the masculine side of the book. And if the author really has
  the sense of hearing for which we give him credit, he has already
  caught more than one indignant exclamation or remonstrance:

  "He tells us of nothing but vexations suffered by our husbands, as
  if we didn't have our petty troubles, too!"

  Oh, women! You have been heard, for if you do not always make
  yourselves understood, you are always sure to make yourselves

  It would therefore be signally unjust to lay upon you alone the
  reproaches that every being brought under the yoke (_conjugium_)
  has the right to heap upon that necessary, sacred, useful,
  eminently conservative institution,--one, however, that is often
  somewhat of an encumbrance, and tight about the joints, though
  sometimes it is also too loose there.

  I will go further! Such partiality would be a piece of idiocy.

  A man,--not a writer, for in a writer there are many men,--an
  author, rather, should resemble Janus, see behind and before,
  become a spy, examine an idea in all its phases, delve alternately
  into the soul of Alceste and into that of Philaenete, know
  everything though he does not tell it, never be tiresome, and--

  We will not conclude this programme, for we should tell the whole,
  and that would be frightful for those who reflect upon the present
  condition of literature.

  Furthermore, an author who speaks for himself in the middle of his
  book, resembles the old fellow in "The Speaking Picture," when he
  puts his face in the hole cut in the painting. The author does not
  forget that in the Chamber, no one can take the floor _between two
  votes_. Enough, therefore!

  Here follows the female portion of the book: for, to resemble
  marriage perfectly, it ought to be more or less hermaphroditic.



Two young married women, Caroline and Stephanie, who had been early
friends at M'lle Machefer's boarding school, one of the most
celebrated educational institutions in the Faubourg St. Honore, met at
a ball given by Madame de Fischtaminel, and the following conversation
took place in a window-seat in the boudoir.

It was so hot that a man had acted upon the idea of going to breathe
the fresh night air, some time before the two young women. He had
placed himself in the angle of the balcony, and, as there were many
flowers before the window, the two friends thought themselves alone.
This man was the author's best friend.

One of the two ladies, standing at the corner of the embrasure, kept
watch by looking at the boudoir and the parlors. The other had so
placed herself as not to be in the draft, which was nevertheless
tempered by the muslin and silk curtains.

The boudoir was empty, the ball was just beginning, the gaming-tables
were open, offering their green cloths and their packs of cards still
compressed in the frail case placed upon them by the customs office.
The second quadrille was in progress.

All who go to balls will remember that phase of large parties when the
guests are not yet all arrived, but when the rooms are already filled
--a moment which gives the mistress of the house a transitory pang of
terror. This moment is, other points of comparison apart, like that
which decides a victory or the loss of a battle.

You will understand, therefore, how what was meant to be a secret now
obtains the honors of publicity.

"Well, Caroline?"

"Well, Stephanie?"



A double sigh.

"Have you forgotten our agreement?"


"Why haven't you been to see me, then?"

"I am never left alone. Even here we shall hardly have time to talk."

"Ah! if Adolphe were to get into such habits as that!" exclaimed

"You saw us, Armand and me, when he paid me what is called, I don't
know why, his court."

"Yes, I admired him, I thought you very happy, you had found your
ideal, a fine, good-sized man, always well dressed, with yellow
gloves, his beard well shaven, patent leather boots, a clean shirt,
exquisitely neat, and so attentive--"

"Yes, yes, go on."

"In short, quite an elegant man: his voice was femininely sweet, and
then such gentleness! And his promises of happiness and liberty! His
sentences were veneered with rosewood. He stocked his conversation
with shawls and laces. In his smallest expression you heard the
rumbling of a coach and four. Your wedding presents were magnificent.
Armand seemed to me like a husband of velvet, of a robe of birds'
feathers in which you were to be wrapped."

"Caroline, my husband uses tobacco."

"So does mine; that is, he smokes."

"But mine, dear, uses it as they say Napoleon did: in short, he chews,
and I hold tobacco in horror. The monster found it out, and went
without out it for seven months."

"All men have their habits. They absolutely must use something."

"You have no idea of the tortures I endure. At night I am awakened
with a start by one of my own sneezes. As I go to sleep my motions
bring the grains of snuff scattered over the pillow under my nose, I
inhale, and explode like a mine. It seems that Armand, the wretch, is
used to these _surprises_, and doesn't wake up. I find tobacco
everywhere, and I certainly didn't marry the customs office."

"But, my dear child, what does this trifling inconvenience amount to,
if your husband is kind and possesses a good disposition?"

"He is as cold as marble, as particular as an old bachelor, as
communicative as a sentinel; and he's one of those men who say yes to
everything, but who never do anything but what they want to."

"Deny him, once."

"I've tried it."

"What came of it?"

"He threatened to reduce my allowance, and to keep back a sum big
enough for him to get along without me."

"Poor Stephanie! He's not a man, he's a monster."

"A calm and methodical monster, who wears a scratch, and who, every

"Well, every night--"

"Wait a minute!--who takes a tumbler every night, and puts seven false
teeth in it."

"What a trap your marriage was! At any rate, Armand is rich."

"Who knows?"

"Good heavens! Why, you seem to me on the point of becoming very
unhappy--or very happy."

"Well, dear, how is it with you?"

"Oh, as for me, I have nothing as yet but a pin that pricks me: but it
is intolerable."

"Poor creature! You don't know your own happiness: come, what is it?"

Here the young woman whispered in the other's ear, so that it was
impossible to catch a single word. The conversation recommenced, or
rather finished by a sort of inference.

"So, your Adolphe is jealous?"

"Jealous of whom? We never leave each other, and that, in itself, is
an annoyance. I can't stand it. I don't dare to gape. I am expected to
be forever enacting the woman in love. It's fatiguing."



"What are you going to do?"

"Resign myself. What are you?

"Fight the customs office."

This little trouble tends to prove that in the matter of personal
deception, the two sexes can well cry quits.

                        DISAPPOINTED AMBITION.

                      I. CHODOREILLE THE GREAT.

A young man has forsaken his natal city in the depths of one of the
departments, rather clearly marked by M. Charles Dupin. He felt that
glory of some sort awaited him: suppose that of a painter, a novelist,
a journalist, a poet, a great statesman.

Young Adolphe de Chodoreille--that we may be perfectly understood
--wished to be talked about, to become celebrated, to be somebody.
This, therefore, is addressed to the mass of aspiring individuals
brought to Paris by all sorts of vehicles, whether moral or material,
and who rush upon the city one fine morning with the hydrophobic
purpose of overturning everybody's reputation, and of building
themselves a pedestal with the ruins they are to make,--until
disenchantment follows. As our intention is to specify this
peculiarity so characteristic of our epoch, let us take from among
the various personages the one whom the author has elsewhere called
_A Distinguished Provencal_.

Adolphe has discovered that the most admirable trade is that which
consists in buying a bottle of ink, a bunch of quills, and a ream of
paper, at a stationer's for twelve francs and a half, and in selling
the two thousand sheets in the ream over again, for something like
fifty thousand francs, after having, of course, written upon each leaf
fifty lines replete with style and imagination.

This problem,--twelve francs and a half metamorphosed into fifty
thousand francs, at the rate of five sous a line--urges numerous
families who might advantageously employ their members in the
retirement of the provinces, to thrust them into the vortex of Paris.

The young man who is the object of this exportation, invariably passes
in his natal town for a man of as much imagination as the most famous
author. He has always studied well, he writes very nice poetry, he is
considered a fellow of parts: he is besides often guilty of a charming
tale published in the local paper, which obtains the admiration of the

His poor parents will never know what their son has come to Paris to
learn at great cost, namely: That it is difficult to be a writer and
to understand the French language short of a dozen years of heculean
labor: That a man must have explored every sphere of social life, to
become a genuine novelist, inasmuch as the novel is the private
history of nations: That the great story-tellers, Aesop, Lucian,
Boccaccio, Rabelais, Cervantes, Swift, La Fontaine, Lesage, Sterne,
Voltaire, Walter Scott, the unknown Arabians of the _Thousand and One
Nights_, were all men of genius as well as giants of erudition.

Their Adolphe serves his literary apprenticeship in two or three
coffee-houses, becomes a member of the Society of Men of Letters,
attacks, with or without reason, men of talent who don't read his
articles, assumes a milder tone on seeing the powerlessness of his
criticisms, offers novelettes to the papers which toss them from one
to the other as if they were shuttlecocks: and, after five or six
years of exercises more or less fatiguing, of dreadful privations
which seriously tax his parents, he attains a certain position.

This position may be described as follows: Thanks to a sort of
reciprocal support extended to each other, and which an ingenious
writer has called "Mutual Admiration," Adolphe often sees his name
cited among the names of celebrities, either in the prospectuses of
the book-trade, or in the lists of newspapers about to appear.
Publishers print the title of one of his works under the deceitful
heading "IN PRESS," which might be called the typographical menagerie
of bears.[*] Chodoreille is sometimes mentioned among the promising
young men of the literary world.

[*] A bear (_ours_) is a play which has been refused by a multitude of
    theatres, but which is finally represented at a time when some
    manager or other feels the need of one. The word has necessarily
    passed from the language of the stage into the jargon of
    journalism, and is applied to novels which wander the streets in
    search of a publisher.

For eleven years Adolphe Chodoreille remains in the ranks of the
promising young men: he finally obtains a free entrance to the
theatres, thanks to some dirty work or certain articles of dramatic
criticism: he tries to pass for a good fellow; and as he loses his
illusions respecting glory and the world of Paris, he gets into debt
and his years begin to tell upon him.

A paper which finds itself in a tight place asks him for one of his
bears revised by his friends. This has been retouched and revamped
every five years, so that it smells of the pomatum of each prevailing
and then forgotten fashion. To Adolphe it becomes what the famous cap,
which he was constantly staking, was to Corporal Trim, for during five
years "Anything for a Woman" (the title decided upon) "will be one of
the most entertaining productions of our epoch."

After eleven years, Chodoreille is regarded as having written some
respectable things, five or six tales published in the dismal
magazines, in ladies' newspapers, or in works intended for children of
tender age.

As he is a bachelor, and possesses a coat and a pair of black
cassimere trousers, and when he pleases may thus assume the appearance
of an elegant diplomat, and as he is not without a certain intelligent
air, he is admitted to several more or less literary salons: he bows
to the five or six academicians who possess genius, influence or
talent, he visits two or three of our great poets, he allows himself,
in coffee-rooms, to call the two or three justly celebrated women of
our epoch by their Christian names; he is on the best of terms with
the blue stockings of the second grade,--who ought to be called
_socks_,--and he shakes hands and takes glasses of absinthe with the
stars of the smaller newspapers.

Such is the history of every species of ordinary men--men who have
been denied what they call good luck. This good luck is nothing less
than unyielding will, incessant labor, contempt for an easily won
celebrity, immense learning, and that patience which, according to
Buffon, is the whole of genius, but which certainly is the half of it.

You do not yet see any indication of a petty trouble for Caroline. You
imagine that this history of five hundred young men engaged at this
moment in wearing smooth the paving stones of Paris, was written as a
sort of warning to the families of the eighty-six departments of
France: but read these two letters which lately passed between two
girls differently married, and you will see that it was as necessary
as the narrative by which every true melodrama was until lately
expected to open. You will divine the skillful manoeuvres of the
Parisian peacock spreading his tail in the recesses of his native
village, and polishing up, for matrimonial purposes, the rays of his
glory, which, like those of the sun, are only warm and brilliant at a

From Madame Claire de la Roulandiere, nee Jugault, to Madame Adolphe
de Chodoreille, nee Heurtaut.


"You have not yet written to me, and it's real unkind in you. Don't
you remember that the happier was to write first and to console her
who remained in the country?

"Since your departure for Paris, I have married Monsieur de la
Roulandiere, the president of the tribunal. You know him, and you can
judge whether I am happy or not, with my heart _saturated_, as it is,
with our ideas. I was not ignorant what my lot would be: I live with
the ex-president, my husband's uncle, and with my mother-in-law, who
has preserved nothing of the ancient parliamentary society of Aix but
its pride and its severity of manners. I am seldom alone, I never go
out unless accompanied by my mother-in-law or my husband. We receive
the heavy people of the city in the evening. They play whist at two
sous a point, and I listen to conversations of this nature:

"'Monsieur Vitremont is dead, and leaves two hundred and eighty
thousand francs,' says the associate judge, a young man of
forty-seven, who is as entertaining as a northwest wind.

"'Are you quite sure of that?'

"The _that_ refers to the two hundred and eighty thousand francs. A
little judge then holds forth, he runs over the investments, the
others discuss their value, and it is definitely settled that if he
has not left two hundred and eighty thousand, he left something near

"Then comes a universal concert of eulogy heaped upon the dead man's
body, for having kept his bread under lock and key, for having
shrewdly invested his little savings accumulated sou by sou, in order,
probably, that the whole city and those who expect legacies may
applaud and exclaim in admiration, 'He leaves two hundred and eighty
thousand francs!' Now everybody has rich relations of whom they say
'Will he leave anything like it?' and thus they discuss the quick as
they have discussed the dead.

"They talk of nothing but the prospects of fortune, the prospects of a
vacancy in office, the prospects of the harvest.

"When we were children, and used to look at those pretty little white
mice, in the cobbler's window in the rue St. Maclou, that turned and
turned the circular cage in which they were imprisoned, how far I was
from thinking that they would one day be a faithful image of my life!

"Think of it, my being in this condition!--I who fluttered my wings so
much more than you, I whose imagination was so vagabond! My sins have
been greater than yours, and I am the more severely punished. I have
bidden farewell to my dreams: I am _Madame la Presidente_ in all my
glory, and I resign myself to giving my arm for forty years to my big
awkward Roulandiere, to living meanly in every way, and to having
forever before me two heavy brows and two wall-eyes pierced in a
yellow face, which is destined never to know what it is to smile.

"But you, Caroline dear, you who, between ourselves, were admitted
among the big girls while I still gamboled among the little ones, you
whose only sin was pride, you,--at the age of twenty-seven, and with a
dowry of two hundred thousand francs,--capture and captivate a truly
great man, one of the wittiest men in Paris, one of the two talented
men that our village has produced.--What luck!

"You now circulate in the most brilliant society of Paris. Thanks to
the sublime privileges of genius. You may appear in all the salons of
the Faubourg St. Germain, and be cordially received. You have the
exquisite enjoyment of the company of the two or three celebrated
women of our age, where so many good things are said, where the happy
speeches which arrive out here like Congreve rockets, are first fired
off. You go to the Baron Schinner's of whom Adolphe so often spoke to
us, whom all the great artists and foreigners of celebrity visit. In
short, before long, you will be one of the queens of Paris, if you
wish. You can receive, too, and have at your house the lions of
literature, fashion and finance, whether male or female, for Adolphe
spoke in such terms about his illustrious friendships and his intimacy
with the favorites of the hour, that I imagine you giving and
receiving honors.

"With your ten thousand francs a year, and the legacy from your Aunt
Carabas, added to the twenty thousand francs that your husband earns,
you must keep a carriage; and since you go to all the theatres without
paying, since journalists are the heroes of all the inaugurations so
ruinous for those who keep up with the movement of Paris, and since
they are constantly invited to dinner, you live as if you had an
income of sixty thousand francs a year! Happy Caroline! I don't wonder
you forget me!

"I can understand how it is that you have not a moment to yourself.
Your bliss is the cause of your silence, so I pardon you. Still, if,
fatigued with so many pleasures, you one day, upon the summit of your
grandeur, think of your poor Claire, write to me, tell me what a
marriage with a great man is, describe those great Parisian ladies,
especially those who write. Oh! I should _so_ much like to know what
they are made of! Finally don't forget anything, unless you forget
that you are loved, as ever, by your poor


From Madame Adolphe de Chodoreille to Madame la Presidente de la
Roulandiere, at Viviers.


"Ah! my poor Claire, could you have known how many wretched little
griefs your innocent letter would awaken, you never would have written
it. Certainly no friend, and not even an enemy, on seeing a woman with
a thousand mosquito-bites and a plaster over them, would amuse herself
by tearing it off and counting the stings.

"I will begin by telling you that for a woman of twenty-seven, with a
face still passable, but with a form a little too much like that of
the Emperor Nicholas for the humble part I play, I am happy! Let me
tell you why: Adolphe, rejoicing in the deceptions which have fallen
upon me like a hail-storm, smoothes over the wounds in my self-love by
so much affection, so many attentions, and such charming things, that,
in good truth, women--so far as they are simply women--would be glad
to find in the man they marry defects so advantageous. But all men of
letters (Adolphe, alas! is barely a man of letters), who are beings
not a bit less irritable, nervous, fickle and eccentric than women,
are far from possessing such solid qualities as those of Adolphe, and
I hope they have not all been as unfortunate as he.

"Ah! Claire, we love each other well enough for me to tell you the
simple truth. I have saved my husband, dear, from profound but
skillfully concealed poverty. Far from receiving twenty thousand
francs a year, he has not earned that sum in the entire fifteen years
that he has been at Paris. We occupy a third story in the rue Joubert,
and pay twelve hundred francs for it; we have some eighty-five hundred
francs left, with which I endeavor to keep house honorably.

"I have brought Adolphe luck; for since our marriage, he has obtained
the control of a feuilleton which is worth four hundred francs a month
to him, though it takes but a small portion of his time. He owes this
situation to an investment. We employed the seventy thousand francs
left me by my Aunt Carabas in giving security for a newspaper; on this
we get nine per cent, and we have stock besides. Since this
transaction, which was concluded some ten months ago, our income has
doubled, and we now possess a competence, I can complain of my
marriage in a pecuniary point of view no more than as regards my
affections. My vanity alone has suffered, and my ambition has been
swamped. You will understand the various petty troubles which have
assailed me, by a single specimen.

"Adolphe, you remember, appeared to us on intimate terms with the
famous Baroness Schinner, so renowned for her wit, her influence, her
wealth and her connection with celebrated men. I supposed that he was
welcomed at her house as a friend: my husband presented me, and I was
coldly received. I saw that her rooms were furnished with extravagant
luxury; and instead of Madame Schinner's returning my call, I received
a card, twenty days afterward, and at an insolently improper hour.

"On arriving at Paris, I went to walk upon the boulevard, proud of my
anonymous great man. He nudged me with his elbow, and said, pointing
out a fat little ill-dressed man, 'There's so and so!' He mentioned
one of the seven or eight illustrious men in France. I got ready my
look of admiration, and I saw Adolphe rapturously doffing his hat to
the truly great man, who replied by the curt little nod that you
vouchsafe a person with whom you have doubtless exchanged hardly four
words in ten years. Adolphe had begged a look for my sake. 'Doesn't he
know you?' I said to my husband. 'Oh, yes, but he probably took me for
somebody else,' replied he.

"And so of poets, so of celebrated musicians, so of statesmen. But, as
a compensation, we stop and talk for ten minutes in front of some
arcade or other, with Messieurs Armand du Cantal, George Beaunoir,
Felix Verdoret, of whom you have never heard. Mesdames Constantine
Ramachard, Anais Crottat, and Lucienne Vouillon threaten me with their
_blue_ friendship. We dine editors totally unknown in our province.
Finally I have had the painful happiness of seeing Adolphe decline an
invitation to an evening party to which I was not bidden.

"Oh! Claire dear, talent is still the rare flower of spontaneous
growth, that no greenhouse culture can produce. I do not deceive
myself: Adolphe is an ordinary man, known, estimated as such: he has
no other chance, as he himself says, than to take his place among the
_utilities_ of literature. He was not without wit at Viviers: but to
be a man of wit at Paris, you must possess every kind of wit in
formidable doses.

"I esteem Adolphe: for, after some few fibs, he frankly confessed his
position, and, without humiliating himself too deeply, he promised
that I should be happy. He hopes, like numerous other ordinary men, to
obtain some place, that of an assistant librarian, for instance, or
the pecuniary management of a newspaper. Who knows but we may get him
elected deputy for Viviers, in the course of time?

"We live in obscurity; we have five or six friends of either sex whom
we like, and such is the brilliant style of life which your letter
gilded with all the social splendors.

"From time to time I am caught in a squall, or am the butt of some
malicious tongue. Thus, yesterday, at the opera, I heard one of our
most ill-natured wits, Leon de Lora, say to one of our most famous
critics, 'It takes Chodoreille to discover the Caroline poplar on the
banks of the Rhone!' They had heard my husband call me by my Christian
name. At Viviers I was considered handsome. I am tall, well made, and
fat enough to satisfy Adolphe! In this way I learn that the beauty of
women from the country is, at Paris, precisely like the wit of country

"In short, I am absolutely nobody, if that is what you wish to know:
but if you desire to learn how far my philosophy goes, understand that
I am really happy in having found an ordinary man in my pretended
great one.

"Farewell, dear Claire! It is still I, you see, who, in spite of my
delusions and the petty troubles of my life, am the most favorably
situated: for Adolphe is young, and a charming fellow.


Claire's reply contained, among other passages, the following: "I hope
that the indescribable happiness which you enjoy, will continue,
thanks to your philosophy." Claire, as any intimate female friend
would have done, consoled herself for her president by insinuations
respecting Adolphe's prospects and future conduct.


(Letter discovered one day in a casket, while she was making me wait a
long time and trying to get rid of a hanger-on who could not be made
to understand hidden meanings. I caught cold--but I got hold of this

This fatuous note was found on a paper which the notary's clerks had
thought of no importance in the inventory of the estate of M.
Ferdinand de Bourgarel, who was mourned of late by politics, arts and
amours, and in whom is ended the great Provencal house of Borgarelli;
for as is generally known the name Bourgarel is a corruption of
Borgarelli just as the French Girardin is the Florentine Gherardini.

An intelligent reader will find little difficulty in placing this
letter in its proper epoch in the lives of Adolphe and Caroline.

"My dear Friend:

"I thought myself lucky indeed to marry an artist as superior in his
talent as in his personal attributes, equally great in soul and mind,
worldly-wise, and likely to rise by following the public road without
being obliged to wander along crooked, doubtful by-paths. However, you
knew Adolphe; you appreciated his worth. I am loved, he is a father, I
idolize our children. Adolphe is kindness itself to me; I admire and
love him. But, my dear, in this complete happiness lurks a thorn. The
roses upon which I recline have more than one fold. In the heart of a
woman, folds speedily turn to wounds. These wounds soon bleed, the
evil spreads, we suffer, the suffering awakens thoughts, the thoughts
swell and change the course of sentiment.

"Ah, my dear, you shall know all about it, though it is a cruel thing
to say--but we live as much by vanity as by love. To live by love
alone, one must dwell somewhere else than in Paris. What difference
would it make to us whether we had only one white percale gown, if the
man we love did not see other women dressed differently, more
elegantly than we--women who inspire ideas by their ways, by a
multitude of little things which really go to make up great passions?
Vanity, my dear, is cousin-german to jealousy, to that beautiful and
noble jealousy which consists in not allowing one's empire to be
invaded, in reigning undisturbed in a soul, and passing one's life
happily in a heart.

"Ah, well, my woman's vanity is on the rack. Though some troubles may
seem petty indeed, I have learned, unfortunately, that in the home
there are no petty troubles. For everything there is magnified by
incessant contact with sensations, with desires, with ideas. Such then
is the secret of that sadness which you have surprised in me and which
I did not care to explain. It is one of those things in which words go
too far, and where writing holds at least the thought within bounds by
establishing it. The effects of a moral perspective differ so
radically between what is said and what is written! All is so solemn,
so serious on paper! One cannot commit any more imprudences. Is it not
this fact which makes a treasure out of a letter where one gives one's
self over to one's thoughts?

"You doubtless thought me wretched, but I am only wounded. You
discovered me sitting alone by the fire, and no Adolphe. I had just
finished putting the children to bed; they were asleep. Adolphe for
the tenth time had been invited out to a house where I do not go,
where they want Adolphe without his wife. There are drawing-rooms
where he goes without me, just at there are many pleasures in which he
alone is the guest. If he were M. de Navarreins and I a d'Espard,
society would never think of separating us; it would want us always
together. His habits are formed; he does not suspect the humiliation
which weighs upon my heart. Indeed, if he had the slightest inkling of
this small sorrow which I am ashamed to own, he would drop society, he
would become more of a prig than the people who come between us. But
he would hamper his progress, he would make enemies, he would raise up
obstacles by imposing me upon the salons where I would be subject to a
thousand slights. That is why I prefer my sufferings to what would
happen were they discovered.

"Adolphe will succeed! He carries my revenge in his beautiful head,
does this man of genius. One day the world shall pay for all these
slights. But when? Perhaps I shall be forty-five. My beautiful youth
will have passed in my chimney-corner, and with this thought: Adolphe
smiles, he is enjoying the society of fair women, he is playing the
devoted to them, while none of these attentions come my way.

"It may be that these will finally take him from me!

"No one undergoes slight without feeling it, and I feel that I am
slighted, though young, beautiful and virtuous. Now, can I keep from
thinking this way? Can I control my anger at the thought that Adolphe
is dining in the city without me? I take no part in his triumphs; I do
not hear the witty or profound remarks made to others! I could no
longer be content with bourgeois receptions whence he rescued me, upon
finding me _distinguee_, wealthy, young, beautiful and witty. There
lies the evil, and it is irremediable.

"In a word, for some cause, it is only since I cannot go to a certain
salon that I want to go there. Nothing is more natural of the ways of
a human heart. The ancients were wise in having their _gyneceums_. The
collisions between the pride of the women, caused by these gatherings,
though it dates back only four centuries, has cost our own day much
disaffection and numerous bitter debates.

"Be that as it may, my dear, Adolphe is always warmly welcomed when he
comes back home. Still, no nature is strong enough to await always
with the same ardor. What a morrow that will be, following the evening
when his welcome is less warm!

"Now do you see the depth of the fold which I mentioned? A fold in the
heart is an abyss, like a crevasse in the Alps--a profundity whose
depth and extent we have never been able to calculate. Thus it is
between two beings, no matter how near they may be drawn to each
other. One never realizes the weight of suffering which oppresses his
friend. This seems such a little thing, yet one's life is affected by
it in all its length, in all its breadth. I have thus argued with
myself; but the more I have argued, the more thoroughly have I
realized the extent of this hidden sorrow. And I can only let the
current carry me whither it will.

"Two voices struggle for supremacy when--by a rarely fortunate chance
--I am alone in my armchair waiting for Adolphe. One, I would wager,
comes from Eugene Delacroix's _Faust_ which I have on my table.
Mephistopheles speaks, that terrible aide who guides the swords so
dexterously. He leaves the engraving, and places himself diabolically
before me, grinning through the hole which the great artist has placed
under his nose, and gazing at me with that eye whence fall rubies,
diamonds, carriages, jewels, laces, silks, and a thousand luxuries to
feed the burning desire within me.

"'Are you not fit for society?' he asks. 'You are the equal of the
fairest duchesses. Your voice is like a siren's, your hands command
respect and love. Ah! that arm!--place bracelets upon it, and how
pleasingly it would rest upon the velvet of a robe! Your locks are
chains which would fetter all men. And you could lay all your triumphs
at Adolphe's feet, show him your power and never use it. Then he would
fear, where now he lives in insolent certainty. Come! To action!
Inhale a few mouthfuls of disdain and you will exhale clouds of
incense. Dare to reign! Are you not next to nothing here in your
chimney-corner? Sooner or later the pretty spouse, the beloved wife
will die, if you continue like this, in a dressing-gown. Come, and you
shall perpetuate your sway through the arts of coquetry! Show yourself
in salons, and your pretty foot shall trample down the love of your

"The other voice comes from my white marble mantel, which rustles like
a garment. I think I see a veritable goddess crowned with white roses,
and bearing a palm-branch in her hand. Two blue eyes smile down on me.
This simple image of virtue says to me:

"'Be content! Remain good always, and make this man happy. That is the
whole of your mission. The sweetness of angels triumphs over all pain.
Faith in themselves has enabled the martyrs to obtain solace even on
the brasiers of their tormentors. Suffer a moment; you shall be happy
in the end.'

"Sometimes Adolphe enters at that moment and I am content. But, my
dear, I have less patience than love. I almost wish to tear in pieces
the woman who can go everywhere, and whose society is sought out by
men and women alike. What profound thought lies in the line of

  "'The world, dear Agnes, is a curious thing!'

"You know nothing of this petty trouble, you fortunate Mathilde! You
are well born. You can do a great deal for me. Just think! I can write
you things that I dared not speak about. Your visits mean so much;
come often to see your poor


"Well," said I to the notary's clerk, "do you know what was the nature
of this letter to the late Bourgarel?"


"A note of exchange."

Neither clerk nor notary understood my meaning. Do you?

                       THE PANGS OF INNOCENCE.

"Yes, dear, in the married state, many things will happen to you which
you are far from expecting: but then others will happen which you
expect still less. For instance--"

The author (may we say the ingenious author?) _qui castigat ridendo
mores_, and who has undertaken the _Petty Troubles of Married Life_,
hardly needs to remark, that, for prudence' sake, he here allows a
lady of high distinction to speak, and that he does not assume the
responsibility of her language, though he professes the most sincere
admiration for the charming person to whom he owes his acquaintance
with this petty trouble.

"For instance--" she says.

He nevertheless thinks proper to avow that this person is neither
Madame Foullepointe, nor Madame de Fischtaminel, nor Madame Deschars.

Madame Deschars is too prudish, Madame Foullepointe too absolute in
her household, and she knows it; indeed, what doesn't she know? She is
good-natured, she sees good society, she wishes to have the best:
people overlook the vivacity of her witticisms, as, under louis XIV,
they overlooked the remarks of Madame Cornuel. They overlook a good
many things in her; there are some women who are the spoiled children
of public opinion.

As to Madame de Fischtaminel, who is, in fact, connected with the
affair, as you shall see, she, being unable to recriminate, abstains
from words and recriminates in acts.

We give permission to all to think that the speaker is Caroline
herself, not the silly little Caroline of tender years. But Caroline
when she has become a woman of thirty.

"For instance," she remarks to a young woman whom she is edifying,
"you will have children, God willing."

"Madame," I say, "don't let us mix the deity up in this, unless it is
an allusion--"

"You are impertinent," she replies, "you shouldn't interrupt a

"When she is busy with children, I know: but, madame, you ought not to
trifle with the innocence of young ladies. Mademoiselle is going to be
married, and if she were led to count upon the intervention of the
Supreme Being in this affair, she would fall into serious errors. We
should not deceive the young. Mademoiselle is beyond the age when
girls are informed that their little brother was found under a

"You evidently want to get me confused," she replies, smiling and
showing the loveliest teeth in the world. "I am not strong enough to
argue with you, so I beg you to let me go on with Josephine. What was
I saying?"

"That if I get married, I shall have children," returns the young

"Very well. I will not represent things to you worse than they are,
but it is extremely probable that each child will cost you a tooth.
With every baby I have lost a tooth."

"Happily," I remark at this, "this trouble was with you less than
petty, it was positively nothing."--They were side teeth.--"But take
notice, miss, that this vexation has no absolute, unvarying character
as such. The annoyance depends upon the condition of the tooth. If the
baby causes the loss of a decayed tooth, you are fortunate to have a
baby the more and a bad tooth the less. Don't let us confound
blessings with bothers. Ah! if you were to lose one of your
magnificent front teeth, that would be another thing! And yet there is
many a woman that would give the best tooth in her head for a fine,
healthy boy!"

"Well," resumes Caroline, with animation, "at the risk of destroying
your illusions, poor child, I'll just show you a petty trouble that
counts! Ah, it's atrocious! And I won't leave the subject of dress
which this gentleman considers the only subject we women are equal

I protest by a gesture.

"I had been married about two years," continues Caroline, "and I loved
my husband. I have got over it since and acted differently for his
happiness and mine. I can boast of having one of the happiest homes in
Paris. In short, my dear, I loved the monster, and, even when out in
society, saw no one but him. My husband had already said to me several
times, 'My dear, young women never dress well; your mother liked to
have you look like a stick,--she had her reasons for it. If you care
for my advice, take Madame de Fischtaminel for a model: she is a lady
of taste.' I, unsuspecting creature that I was, saw no perfidy in the

"One evening as we returned from a party, he said, 'Did you notice how
Madame de Fischtaminel was dressed!' 'Yes, very neatly.' And I said to
myself, 'He's always talking about Madame de Fischtaminel; I must
really dress just like her.' I had noticed the stuff and the make of
the dress, and the style of the trimmings. I was as happy as could be,
as I went trotting about town, doing everything I could to obtain the
same articles. I sent for the very same dressmaker.

"'You work for Madame de Fischtaminel,' I said.

"'Yes, madame.'

"'Well, I will employ you as my dressmaker, but on one condition: you
see I have procured the stuff of which her gown is made, and I want
you to make me one exactly like it.'

"I confess that I did not at first pay any attention to a rather
shrewd smile of the dressmaker, though I saw it and afterwards
accounted for it. 'So like it,' I added, 'that you can't tell them

"Oh," says Caroline, interrupting herself and looking at me, "you men
teach us to live like spiders in the depths of their webs, to see
everything without seeming to look at it, to investigate the meaning
and spirit of words, movements, looks. You say, 'How cunning women
are!' But you should say, 'How deceitful men are!'

"I can't tell you how much care, how many days, how many manoeuvres,
it cost me to become Madame de Fischtaminel's duplicate! But these are
our battles, child," she adds, returning to Josephine. "I could not
find a certain little embroidered neckerchief, a very marvel! I
finally learned that it was made to order. I unearthed the
embroideress, and ordered a kerchief like Madame de Fischtaminel's.
The price was a mere trifle, one hundred and fifty francs! It had been
ordered by a gentleman who had made a present of it to Madame de
Fischtaminel. All my savings were absorbed by it. Now we women of
Paris are all of us very much restricted in the article of dress.
There is not a man worth a hundred thousand francs a year, that loses
ten thousand a winter at whist, who does not consider his wife
extravagant, and is not alarmed at her bills for what he calls 'rags'!
'Let my savings go,' I said. And they went. I had the modest pride of
a woman in love: I would not speak a word to Adolphe of my dress; I
wanted it to be a surprise, goose that I was! Oh, how brutally you men
take away our blessed ignorance!"

This remark is meant for me, for me who had taken nothing from the
lady, neither tooth, nor anything whatever of the things with a name
and without a name that may be taken from a woman.

"I must tell you that my husband took me to Madame de Fischtaminel's,
where I dined quite often. I heard her say to him, 'Why, your wife
looks very well!' She had a patronizing way with me that I put up
with: Adolphe wished that I could have her wit and preponderance in
society. In short, this phoenix of women was my model. I studied and
copied her, I took immense pains not to be myself--oh!--it was a poem
that no one but us women can understand! Finally, the day of my
triumph dawned. My heart beat for joy, as if I were a child, as if I
were what we all are at twenty-two. My husband was going to call for
me for a walk in the Tuileries: he came in, I looked at him radiant
with joy, but he took no notice. Well, I can confess it now, it was
one of those frightful disasters--but I will say nothing about it
--this gentleman here would make fun of me."

I protest by another movement.

"It was," she goes on, for a woman never stops till she has told the
whole of a thing, "as if I had seen an edifice built by a fairy
crumble into ruins. Adolphe manifested not the slightest surprise. We
got into the carriage. Adolphe noticed my sadness, and asked me what
the matter was: I replied as we always do when our hearts are wrung by
these petty vexations, 'Oh, nothing!' Then he took his eye-glass, and
stared at the promenaders on the Champs Elysees, for we were to go the
rounds of the Champs Elysees, before taking our walk at the Tuileries.
Finally, a fit of impatience seized me. I felt a slight attack of
fever, and when I got home, I composed myself to smile. 'You haven't
said a word about my dress!' I muttered. 'Ah, yes, your gown is
somewhat like Madame de Fischtaminel's.' He turned on his heel and
went away.

"The next day I pouted a little, as you may readily imagine. Just as
we were finishing breakfast by the fire in my room--I shall never
forget it--the embroideress called to get her money for the
neckerchief. I paid her. She bowed to my husband as if she knew him. I
ran after her on pretext of getting her to receipt the bill, and said:
'You didn't ask _him_ so much for Madame de Fischtaminel's kerchief!'
'I assure you, madame, it's the same price, the gentleman did not beat
me down a mite.' I returned to my room where I found my husband
looking as foolish as--"

She hesitates and then resumes: "As a miller just made a bishop. 'I
understand, love, now, that I shall never be anything more than
_somewhat like_ Madame de Fischtaminel.' 'You refer to her
neckerchief, I suppose: well, I _did_ give it to her,--it was for her
birthday. You see, we were formerly--' 'Ah, you were formerly more
intimate than you are now!' Without replying to this, he added, '_But
it's altogether moral._'

"He took his hat and went out, leaving me with this fine declaration
of the Rights of Man. He did not return and came home late at night. I
remained in my chamber and wept like a Magdalen, in the
chimney-corner. You may laugh at me, if you will," she adds, looking
at me, "but I shed tears over my youthful illusions, and I wept, too,
for spite, at having been taken for a dupe. I remembered the
dressmaker's smile! Ah, that smile reminded me of the smiles of a
number of women, who laughed at seeing me so innocent and unsuspecting
at Madame de Fischtaminel's! I wept sincerely. Until now I had a right
to give my husband credit for many things which he did not possess, but
in the existence of which young married women pertinaciously believe.

"How many great troubles are included in this petty one! You men are a
vulgar set. There is not a woman who does not carry her delicacy so
far as to embroider her past life with the most delightful fibs, while
you--but I have had my revenge."

"Madame," I say, "you are giving this young lady too much

"True," she returns, "I will tell you the sequel some other time."

"Thus, you see, mademoiselle," I say, "you imagine you are buying a
neckerchief and you find a _petty trouble_ round your neck: if you get
it given to you--"

"It's a _great_ trouble," retorts the woman of distinction. "Let us
stop here."

The moral of this fable is that you must wear your neckerchief without
thinking too much about it. The ancient prophets called this world,
even in their time, a valley of woe. Now, at that period, the
Orientals had, with the permission of the constituted authorities, a
swarm of comely slaves, besides their wives! What shall we call the
valley of the Seine between Calvary and Charenton, where the law
allows but one lawful wife.

                        THE UNIVERSAL AMADIS.

You will understand at once that I began to gnaw the head of my cane,
to consult the ceiling, to gaze at the fire, to examine Caroline's
foot, and I thus held out till the marriageable young lady was gone.

"You must excuse me," I said, "if I have remained behind, perhaps in
spite of you: but your vengeance would lose by being recounted by and
by, and if it constituted a petty trouble for your husband, I have the
greatest interest in hearing it, and you shall know why."

"Ah," she returned, "that expression, '_it's altogether moral,_' which
he gave as an excuse, shocked me to the last degree. It was a great
consolation, truly, to me, to know that I held the place, in his
household, of a piece of furniture, a block; that my kingdom lay among
the kitchen utensils, the accessories of my toilet, and the
physicians' prescriptions; that our conjugal love had been assimilated
to dinner pills, to veal soup and white mustard; that Madame de
Fischtaminel possessed my husband's soul, his admiration, and that she
charmed and satisfied his intellect, while I was a kind of purely
physical necessity! What do you think of a woman's being degraded to
the situation of a soup or a plate of boiled beef, and without
parsley, at that! Oh, I composed a catilinic, that evening--"

"Philippic is better."

"Well, either. I'll say anything you like, for I was perfectly
furious, and I don't remember what I screamed in the desert of my
bedroom. Do you suppose that this opinion that husbands have of their
wives, the parts they give them, is not a singular vexation for us?
Our petty troubles are always pregnant with greater ones. My Adolphe
needed a lesson. You know the Vicomte de Lustrac, a desperate amateur
of women and music, an epicure, one of those ex-beaux of the Empire,
who live upon their earlier successes, and who cultivate themselves
with excessive care, in order to secure a second crop?"

"Yes," I said, "one of those laced, braced, corseted old fellows of
sixty, who work such wonders by the grace of their forms, and who
might give a lesson to the youngest dandies among us."

"Monsieur de Lustrac is as selfish as a king, but gallant and
pretentious, spite of his jet black wig."

"As to his whiskers, he dyes them."

"He goes to ten parties in an evening: he's a butterfly."

"He gives capital dinners and concerts, and patronizes inexperienced

"He takes bustle for pleasure."

"Yes, but he makes off with incredible celerity whenever a misfortune
occurs. Are you in mourning, he avoids you. Are you confined, he
awaits your churching before he visits you. He possesses a mundane
frankness and a social intrepidity which challenge admiration."

"But does it not require courage to appear to be what one really is?"
I asked.

"Well," she resumed, after we had exchanged our observations on this
point, "this young old man, this universal Amadis, whom we call among
ourselves Chevalier _Petit-Bon-Homme-vil-encore_, became the object of
my admiration. I made him a few of those advances which never
compromise a woman; I spoke of the good taste exhibited in his latest
waistcoats and in his canes, and he thought me a lady of extreme
amiability. I thought him a chevalier of extreme youth; he called upon
me; I put on a number of little airs, and pretended to be unhappy at
home, and to have deep sorrows. You know what a woman means when she
talks of her sorrows, and complains that she is not understood. The
old ape replied much better than a young man would, and I had the
greatest difficulty in keeping a straight face while I listened to

"'Ah, that's the way with husbands, they pursue the very worst polity,
they respect their wives, and, sooner or later, every woman is enraged
at finding herself respected, and divines the secret education to
which she is entitled. Once married, you ought not to live like a
little school-girl, etc.'

"As he spoke, he leaned over me, he squirmed, he was horrible to see.
He looked like a wooden Nuremberg doll, he stuck out his chin, he
stuck out his chair, he stuck out his hand--in short, after a variety
of marches and countermarches, of declarations that were perfectly


"Yes. _Petit-Bon-Homme-vil-encore_ had abandoned the classicism of his
youth for the romanticism now in fashion: he spoke of the soul, of
angels, of adoration, of submission, he became ethereal, and of the
darkest blue. He took me to the opera, and handed me to my carriage.
This old young man went when I went, his waistcoats multiplied, he
compressed his waist, he excited his horse to a gallop in order to
catch and accompany my carriage to the promenade: he compromised me
with the grace of a young collegian, and was considered madly in love
with me. I was steadfastly cruel, but accepted his arm and his
bouquets. We were talked about. I was delighted, and managed before
long to be surprised by my husband, with the viscount on the sofa in
my boudoir, holding my hands in his, while I listened in a sort of
external ecstasy. It is incredible how much a desire for vengeance
will induce us to put up with! I appeared vexed at the entrance of my
husband, who made a scene on the viscount's departure: 'I assure you,
sir,' said I, after having listened to his reproaches, 'that _it's
altogether moral_.' My husband saw the point and went no more to
Madame de Fischtaminel's. I received Monsieur de Lustrac no more,

"But," I interrupted, "this Lustrac that you, like many others, take
for a bachelor, is a widower, and childless."


"No man ever buried his wife deeper than he buried his: she will
hardly be found at the day of judgment. He married before the
Revolution, and your _altogether moral_ reminds me of a speech of his
that I shall have to repeat for your benefit. Napoleon appointed
Lustrac to an important office, in a conquered province. Madame de
Lustrac, abandoned for governmental duties, took a private secretary
for her private affairs, though it was altogether moral: but she was
wrong in selecting him without informing her husband. Lustrac met this
secretary in a state of some excitement, in consequence of a lively
discussion in his wife's chamber, and at an exceedingly early hour in
the morning. The city desired nothing better than to laugh at its
governor, and this adventure made such a sensation that Lustrac
himself begged the Emperor to recall him. Napoleon desired his
representatives to be men of morality, and he held that such disasters
as this must inevitably take from a man's consideration. You know that
among the Emperor's unhappy passions, was that of reforming his court
and his government. Lustrac's request was granted, therefore, but
without compensation. When he returned to Paris, he reappeared at his
mansion, with his wife; he took her into society--a step which is
certainly conformable to the most refined habits of the aristocracy
--but then there are always people who want to find out about it.
They inquired the reason of this chivalrous championship. 'So you are
reconciled, you and Madame de Lustrac,' some one said to him in the
lobby of the Emperor's theatre, 'you have pardoned her, have you? So
much the better.' 'Oh,' replied he, with a satisfied air, 'I became
convinced--' 'Ah, that she was innocent, very good.' 'No, I became
convinced that it was altogether physical.'"

Caroline smiled.

"The opinion of your admirer reduced this weighty trouble to what is,
in this case as in yours, a very petty one."

"A petty trouble!" she exclaimed, "and pray for what do you take the
fatigue of coquetting with a de Lustrac, of whom I have made an enemy!
Ah, women often pay dearly enough for the bouquets they receive and
the attentions they accept. Monsieur de Lustrac said of me to Monsieur
de Bourgarel, 'I would not advise you to pay court to that woman; she
is too dear.'"

                        WITHOUT AN OCCUPATION.

"PARIS, 183-

"You ask me, dear mother, whether I am happy with my husband.
Certainly Monsieur de Fischtaminel was not the ideal of my dreams. I
submitted to your will, as you know. His fortune, that supreme
consideration, spoke, indeed, sufficiently loud. With these arguments,
--a marriage, without stooping, with the Count de Fischtaminel, his
having thirty thousand a year, and a home at Paris--you were strongly
armed against your poor daughter. Besides, Monsieur de Fischtaminel is
good looking for a man of thirty-six years; he received the cross of
the Legion of Honor from Napoleon upon the field of battle, he is an
ex-colonel, and had it not been for the Restoration, which put him
upon half-pay, he would be a general. These are certainly extenuating

"Many women consider that I have made a good match, and I am bound to
confess that there is every appearance of happiness,--for the public,
that is. But you will acknowledge that if you had known of the return
of my Uncle Cyrus and of his intention to leave me his money, you
would have given me the privilege of choosing for myself.

"I have nothing to say against Monsieur de Fischtaminel: he does not
gamble, he is indifferent to women, he doesn't like wine, and he has
no expensive fancies: he possesses, as you said, all the negative
qualities which make husbands passable. Then, what is the matter with
him? Well, mother, he has nothing to do. We are together the whole
blessed day! Would you believe that it is during the night, when we
are the most closely united, that I am the most alone? His sleep is my
asylum, my liberty begins when he slumbers. This state of siege will
yet make me sick: I am never alone. If Monsieur de Fischtaminel were
jealous, I should have a resource. There would then be a struggle, a
comedy: but how could the aconite of jealousy have taken root in his
soul? He has never left me since our marriage. He feels no shame in
stretching himself out upon a sofa and remaining there for hours

"Two felons pinioned to the same chain do not find time hang heavy:
for they have their escape to think of. But we have no subject of
conversation; we have long since talked ourselves out. A little while
ago he was so far reduced as to talk politics. But even politics are
exhausted, Napoleon, unfortunately for me, having died at St. Helena,
as is well known.

"Monsieur de Fischtaminel abhors reading. If he sees me with a book,
he comes and says a dozen times an hour--'Nina, dear, haven't you
finished yet?'

"I endeavored to persuade this innocent persecutor to ride out every
day on horseback, and I alleged a consideration usually conclusive
with men of forty years,--his health! But he said that after having
been twelve years on horseback, he felt the need of repose.

"My husband, dear mother, is a man who absorbs you, he uses up the
vital fluid of his neighbor, his ennui is gluttonous: he likes to be
amused by those who call upon us, and, after five years of wedlock, no
one ever comes: none visit us but those whose intentions are evidently
dishonorable for him, and who endeavor, unsuccessfully, to amuse him,
in order to earn the right to weary his wife.

"Monsieur de Fischtaminel, mother, opens the door of my chamber, or of
the room to which I have flown for refuge, five or six times an hour,
and comes up to me in an excited way, and says, 'Well, what are you
doing, my belle?' (the expression in fashion during the Empire)
without perceiving that he is constantly repeating the same phrase,
which is to me like the one pint too much that the executioner
formerly poured into the torture by water.

"Then there's another bore! We can't go to walk any more. A promenade
without conversation, without interest, is impossible. My husband
walks with me for the walk, as if he were alone. I have the fatigue
without the pleasure.

"The interval between getting up and breakfast is employed in my
toilet, in my household duties; and I manage to get through with this
part of the day. But between breakfast and dinner, there is a whole
desert to plough, a waste to traverse. My husband's want of occupation
does not leave me a moment of repose, he overpowers me by his
uselessness; his idle life positively wears me out. His two eyes
always open and gazing at mine compel me to keep them lowered. Then
his monotonous remarks:

"'What o'clock is it, love? What are you doing now? What are you
thinking of? What do you mean to do? Where shall we go this evening?
Anything new? What weather! I don't feel well, etc., etc.'

"All these variations upon the same theme--the interrogation point
--which compose Fischtaminel's repertory, will drive me mad. Add to
these leaden arrows everlastingly shot off at me, one last trait which
will complete the description of my happiness, and you will understand
my life.

"Monsieur de Fischtaminel, who went away in 1809, with the rank of
sub-lieutenant, at the age of eighteen, has had no other education
than that due to discipline, to the natural sense of honor of a noble
and a soldier: but though he possesses tact, the sentiment of probity,
and a proper subordination, his ignorance is gross, he knows
absolutely nothing, and he has a horror of learning anything. Oh, dear
mother, what an accomplished door-keeper this colonel would have made,
had he been born in indigence! I don't think a bit the better of him
for his bravery, for he did not fight against the Russians, the
Austrians, or the Prussians: he fought against ennui. When he rushed
upon the enemy, Captain Fischtaminel's purpose was to get away from
himself. He married because he had nothing else to do.

"We have another slight difficulty to content with: my husband
harasses the servants to such a degree that we change them every six

"I so ardently desire, dear mother, to remain a virtuous woman, that I
am going to try the effect of traveling for half the year. During the
winter, I shall go every evening to the Italian or the French opera,
or to parties: but I don't know whether our fortune will permit such
an expenditure. Uncle Cyrus ought to come to Paris--I would take care
of him as I would of an inheritance.

"If you discover a cure for my woes, let your daughter know of it
--your daughter who loves you as much as she deplores her misfortunes,
and who would have been glad to call herself by some other name than
that of


Besides the necessity of describing this petty trouble, which could
only be described by the pen of a woman,--and what a woman she was!
--it was necessary to make you acquainted with a character whom you
saw only in profile in the first half of this book, the queen of the
particular set in which Caroline lived,--a woman both envied and
adroit, who succeeded in conciliating, at an early date, what she owed
to the world with the requirements of the heart. This letter is her


Women are either chaste--or vain--or simply proud. They are therefore
all subject to the following petty trouble:

Certain husbands are so delighted to have, in the form of a wife, a
woman to themselves,--a possession exclusively due to the legal
ceremony,--that they dread the public's making a mistake, and they
hasten to brand their consort, as lumber-dealers brand their logs
while floating down stream, or as the Berry stock-raisers brand their
sheep. They bestow names of endearment, right before people, upon
their wives: names taken, after the Roman fashion (columbella), from
the animal kingdom, as: my chick, my duck, my dove, my lamb; or,
choosing from the vegetable kingdom, they call them: my cabbage, my
fig (this only in Provence), my plum (this only in Alsatia). Never:
--My flower! Pray note this discretion.

Or else, which is more serious, they call their wives:--Bobonne,
--mother,--daughter,--good woman,--old lady: this last when she is
very young.

Some venture upon names of doubtful propriety, such as: Mon bichon, ma
niniche, Tronquette!

We once heard one of our politicians, a man extremely remarkable for
his ugliness, call his wife, _Moumoutte_!

"I would rather he would strike me," said this unfortunate to her

"Poor little woman, she is really unhappy," resumed the neighbor,
looking at me when Moumoutte had gone: "when she is in company with
her husband she is upon pins and needles, and keeps out of his way.
One evening, he actually seized her by the neck and said: 'Come fatty,
let's go home!'"

It has been alleged that the cause of a very famous husband-poisoning
with arsenic, was nothing less than a series of constant indiscretions
like these that the wife had to bear in society. This husband used to
give the woman he had won at the point of the Code, public little taps
on her shoulder, he would startle her by a resounding kiss, he
dishonored her by a conspicuous tenderness, seasoned by those
impertinent attentions the secret of which belongs to the French
savages who dwell in the depths of the provinces, and whose manners
are very little known, despite the efforts of the realists in fiction.
It was, it is said, this shocking situation,--one perfectly
appreciated by a discerning jury,--which won the prisoner a verdict
softened by the extenuating circumstances.

The jurymen said to themselves:

"For a wife to murder her husband for these conjugal offences, is
certainly going rather far; but then a woman is very excusable, when
she is so harassed!"

We deeply regret, in the interest of elegant manners, that these
arguments are not more generally known. Heaven grant, therefore, that
our book may have an immense success, as women will obtain this
advantage from it, that they will be treated as they deserve, that is,
as queens.

In this respect, love is much superior to marriage, it is proud of
indiscreet sayings and doings. There are some women that seek them,
fish for them, and woe to the man who does not now and then commit

What passion lies in an accidental _thou_!

Out in the country I heard a husband call his wife: "Ma berline!" She
was delighted with it, and saw nothing ridiculous in it: she called
her husband, "Mon fiston!" This delicious couple were ignorant of the
existence of such things as petty troubles.

It was in observing this happy pair that the author discovered this

Axiom:--In order to be happy in wedlock, you must either be a man of
genius married to an affectionate and intellectual woman, or, by a
chance which is not as common as might be supposed, you must both of
you be exceedingly stupid.

The too celebrated history of the cure of a wounded self-love by
arsenic, proves that, properly speaking, there are no petty troubles
for women in married life.

Axiom.--Woman exists by sentiment where man exists by action.

Now, sentiment can at any moment render a petty trouble either a great
misfortune, or a wasted life, or an eternal misery. Should Caroline
begin, in her ignorance of life and the world, by inflicting upon her
husband the vexations of her stupidity (re-read REVELATIONS), Adolphe,
like any other man, may find a compensation in social excitement: he
goes out, comes back, goes here and there, has business. But for
Caroline, the question everywhere is, To love or not to love, to be or
not to be loved.

Indiscretions are in harmony with the character of the individuals,
with times and places. Two examples will suffice.

Here is the first. A man is by nature dirty and ugly: he is ill-made
and repulsive. There are men, and often rich ones, too, who, by a sort
of unobserved constitution, soil a new suit of clothes in twenty-four
hours. They were born disgusting. It is so disgraceful for a women to
be anything more than just simply a wife to this sort of Adolphe, that
a certain Caroline had long ago insisted upon the suppression of the
modern _thee_ and _thou_ and all other insignia of the wifely dignity.
Society had been for five or six years accustomed to this sort of
thing, and supposed Madame and Monsieur completely separated, and all
the more so as it had noticed the accession of a Ferdinand II.

One evening, in the presence of a dozen persons, this man said to his
wife: "Caroline, hand me the tongs, there's a love." It is nothing,
and yet everything. It was a domestic revelation.

Monsieur de Lustrac, the Universal Amadis, hurried to Madame de
Fischtaminel's, narrated this little scene with all the spirit at his
command, and Madame de Fischtaminel put on an air something like
Celimene's and said: "Poor creature, what an extremity she must be

I say nothing of Caroline's confusion,--you have already divined it.

Here is the second. Think of the frightful situation in which a lady
of great refinement was lately placed: she was conversing agreeably at
her country seat near Paris, when her husband's servant came and
whispered in her ear, "Monsieur has come, madame."

"Very well, Benoit."

Everybody had heard the rumblings of the vehicle. It was known that
the husband had been at Paris since Monday, and this took place on
Saturday, at four in the afternoon.

"He's got something important to say to you, madame."

Though this dialogue was held in a whisper, it was perfectly
understood, and all the more so from the fact that the lady of the
house turned from the pale hue of the Bengal rose to the brilliant
crimson of the wheatfield poppy. She nodded and went on with the
conversation, and managed to leave her company on the pretext of
learning whether her husband had succeeded in an important undertaking
or not: but she seemed plainly vexed at Adolphe's want of
consideration for the company who were visiting her.

During their youth, women want to be treated as divinities, they love
the ideal; they cannot bear the idea of being what nature intended
them to be.

Some husbands, on retiring to the country, after a week in town, are
worse than this: they bow to the company, put their arm round their
wife's waist, take a little walk with her, appear to be talking
confidentially, disappear in a clump of trees, get lost, and reappear
half an hour afterward.

This, ladies, is a genuine petty trouble for a young woman, but for a
woman beyond forty, this sort of indiscretion is so delightful, that
the greatest prudes are flattered by it, for, be it known:

That women of a certain age, women on the shady side, want to be
treated as mortals, they love the actual; they cannot bear the idea of
no longer being what nature intended them to be.

Axiom.--Modesty is a relative virtue; there is the modesty of the
woman of twenty, the woman of thirty, the woman of forty-five.

Thus the author said to a lady who told him to guess at her age:
"Madame, yours is the age of indiscretion."

This charming woman of thirty-nine was making a Ferdinand much too
conspicuous, while her daughter was trying to conceal her Ferdinand I.

                         BRUTAL DISCLOSURES.

FIRST STYLE. Caroline adores Adolphe, she thinks him handsome, she
thinks him superb, especially in his National Guard uniform. She
starts when a sentinel presents arms to him, she considers him moulded
like a model, she regards him as a man of wit, everything he does is
right, nobody has better taste than he, in short, she is crazy about

It's the old story of Cupid's bandage. This is washed every ten years,
and newly embroidered by the altered manners of the period, but it has
been the same old bandage since the days of Greece.

Caroline is at a ball with one of her young friends. A man well known
for his bluntness, whose acquaintance she is to make later in life,
but whom she now sees for the first time, Monsieur Foullepointe, has
commenced a conversation with Caroline's friend. According to the
custom of society, Caroline listens to this conversation without
mingling in it.

"Pray tell me, madame," says Monsieur Foullepointe, "who is that queer
man who has been talking about the Court of Assizes before a gentleman
whose acquittal lately created such a sensation: he is all the while
blundering, like an ox in a bog, against everybody's sore spot. A lady
burst into tears at hearing him tell of the death of a child, as she
lost her own two months ago."

"Who do you mean?"

"Why, that fat man, dressed like a waiter in a cafe, frizzled like a
barber's apprentice, there, he's trying now to make himself agreeable
to Madame de Fischtaminel."

"Hush," whispers the lady quite alarmed, "it's the husband of the
little woman next to me!"

"Ah, it's your husband?" says Monsieur Foullepointe. "I am delighted,
madame, he's a charming man, so vivacious, gay and witty. I am going
to make his acquaintance immediately."

And Foullepointe executes his retreat, leaving a bitter suspicion in
Caroline's soul, as to the question whether her husband is really as
handsome as she thinks him.

SECOND STYLE. Caroline, annoyed by the reputation of Madame Schinner,
who is credited with the possession of epistolary talents, and styled
the "Sevigne of the note", tired of hearing about Madame de
Fischtaminel, who has ventured to write a little 32mo book on the
education of the young, in which she has boldly reprinted Fenelon,
without the style:--Caroline has been working for six months upon a
tale tenfold poorer than those of Berquin, nauseatingly moral, and
flamboyant in style.

After numerous intrigues such as women are skillful in managing in the
interest of their vanity, and the tenacity and perfection of which
would lead you to believe that they have a third sex in their head,
this tale, entitled "The Lotus," appears in three installments in a
leading daily paper. It is signed Samuel Crux.

When Adolphe takes up the paper at breakfast, Caroline's heart beats
up in her very throat: she blushes, turns pale, looks away and stares
at the ceiling. When Adolphe's eyes settle upon the feuilleton, she
can bear it no longer: she gets up, goes out, comes back, having
replenished her stock of audacity, no one knows where.

"Is there a feuilleton this morning?" she asks with an air that she
thinks indifferent, but which would disturb a husband still jealous of
his wife.

"Yes, one by a beginner, Samuel Crux. The name is a disguise, clearly:
the tale is insignificant enough to drive an insect to despair, if he
could read: and vulgar, too: the style is muddy, but then it's--"

Caroline breathes again. "It's--" she suggests.

"It's incomprehensible," resumes Adolphe. "Somebody must have paid
Chodoreille five or six hundred francs to insert it; or else it's the
production of a blue-stocking in high society who has promised to
invite Madame Chodoreille to her house; or perhaps it's the work of a
woman in whom the editor is personally interested. Such a piece of
stupidity cannot be explained any other way. Imagine, Caroline, that
it's all about a little flower picked on the edge of a wood in a
sentimental walk, which a gentleman of the Werther school has sworn to
keep, which he has had framed, and which the lady claims again eleven
years after (the poor man has had time to change his lodgings three
times). It's quite new, about as old as Sterne or Gessner. What makes
me think it's a woman, is that the first literary idea of the whole
sex is to take vengeance on some one."

Adolphe might go on pulling "The Lotus" to pieces; Caroline's ears are
full of the tinkling of bells. She is like the woman who threw herself
over the Pont des Arts, and tried to find her way ten feet below the
level of the Seine.

ANOTHER STYLE. Caroline, in her paroxysms of jealousy, has discovered
a hiding place used by Adolphe, who, as he can't trust his wife, and
as he knows she opens his letters and rummages in his drawers, has
endeavored to save his correspondence with Hector from the hooked
fingers of the conjugal police.

Hector is an old schoolmate, who has married in the Loire Inferieure.

Adolphe lifts up the cloth of his writing desk, a cloth the border of
which has been embroidered by Caroline, the ground being blue, black
or red velvet,--the color, as you see, is perfectly immaterial,--and
he slips his unfinished letters to Madame de Fischtaminel, to his
friend Hector, between the table and the cloth.

The thickness of a sheet of paper is almost nothing, velvet is a
downy, discreet material, but, no matter, these precautions are in
vain. The male devil is fairly matched by the female devil: Tophet
will furnish them of all genders. Caroline has Mephistopheles on her
side, the demon who causes tables to spurt forth fire, and who, with
his ironic finger points out the hiding place of keys--the secret of

Caroline has noticed the thickness of a letter sheet between this
velvet and this table: she hits upon a letter to Hector instead of
hitting upon one to Madame de Fischtaminel, who has gone to Plombieres
Springs, and reads the following:

"My dear Hector:

"I pity you, but you have acted wisely in entrusting me with a
knowledge of the difficulties in which you have voluntarily involved
yourself. You never would see the difference between the country woman
and the woman of Paris. In the country, my dear boy, you are always
face to face with your wife, and, owing to the ennui which impels you,
you rush headforemost into the enjoyment of your bliss. This is a
great error: happiness is an abyss, and when you have once reached the
bottom, you never get back again, in wedlock.

"I will show you why. Let me take, for your wife's sake, the shortest
path--the parable.

"I remember having made a journey from Paris to Ville-Parisis, in that
vehicle called a 'bus: distance, twenty miles: 'bus, lumbering: horse,
lame. Nothing amuses me more than to draw from people, by the aid of
that gimlet called the interrogation, and to obtain, by means of an
attentive air, the sum of information, anecdotes and learning that
everybody is anxious to part with: and all men have such a sum, the
peasant as well as the banker, the corporal as well as the marshal of

"I have often noticed how ready these casks, overflowing with wit, are
to open their sluices while being transported by diligence or 'bus, or
by any vehicle drawn by horses, for nobody talks in a railway car.

"At the rate of our exit from Paris, the journey would take full seven
hours: so I got an old corporal to talk, for my diversion. He could
neither read nor write: he was entirely illiterate. Yet the journey
seemed short. The corporal had been through all the campaigns, he told
me of things perfectly unheard of, that historians never trouble
themselves about.

"Ah! Hector, how superior is practice to theory! Among other things,
and in reply to a question relative to the infantry, whose courage is
much more tried by marching than by fighting, he said this, which I
give you free from circumlocution:

"'Sir, when Parisians were brought to our 45th, which Napoleon called
The Terrible (I am speaking of the early days of the Empire, when the
infantry had legs of steel, and when they needed them), I had a way of
telling beforehand which of them would remain in the 45th. They
marched without hurrying, they did their little six leagues a day,
neither more nor less, and they pitched camp in condition to begin
again on the morrow. The plucky fellows who did ten leagues and wanted
to run to the victory, stopped half way at the hospital.'

"The worthy corporal was talking of marriage while he thought he was
talking of war, and you have stopped half way, Hector, at the

"Remember the sympathetic condolence of Madame de Sevigne counting out
three hundred thousand francs to Monsieur de Grignan, to induce him to
marry one of the prettiest girls in France! 'Why,' said she to
herself, 'he will have to marry her every day, as long as she lives!
Decidedly, I don't think three hundred francs too much.' Is it not
enough to make the bravest tremble?

"My dear fellow, conjugal happiness is founded, like that of nations,
upon ignorance. It is a felicity full of negative conditions.

"If I am happy with my little Caroline, it is due to the strictest
observance of that salutary principle so strongly insisted upon in the
_Physiology of Marriage_. I have resolved to lead my wife through
paths beaten in the snow, until the happy day when infidelity will be

"In the situation in which you have placed yourself, and which
resembles that of Duprez, who, on his first appearance at Paris, went
to singing with all the voice his lungs would yield, instead of
imitating Nourrit, who gave the audience just enough to enchant them,
the following, I think, is your proper course to--"

The letter broke off here: Caroline returned it to its place, at the
same time wondering how she would make her dear Adolphe expiate his
obedience to the execrable precepts of the _Physiology of Marriage_.

                               A TRUCE.

This trouble doubtless occurs sufficiently often and in different ways
enough in the existence of married women, for this personal incident
to become the type of the genus.

The Caroline in question here is very pious, she loves her husband
very much, her husband asserts that she loves him too much, even: but
this is a piece of marital conceit, if, indeed, it is not a
provocation, as he only complains to his wife's young lady friends.

When a person's conscience is involved, the least thing becomes
exceedingly serious. Madame de ----- has told her young friend, Madame
de Fischtaminel, that she had been compelled to make an extraordinary
confession to her spiritual director, and to perform penance, the
director having decided that she was in a state of mortal sin. This
lady, who goes to mass every morning, is a woman of thirty-six years,
thin and slightly pimpled. She has large soft black eyes, her upper
lip is strongly shaded: still her voice is sweet, her manners gentle,
her gait noble--she is a woman of quality.

Madame de Fischtaminel, whom Madame de ----- has made her friend
(nearly all pious women patronize a woman who is considered worldly,
on the pretext of converting her),--Madame de Fischtaminel asserts
that these qualities, in this Caroline of the Pious Sort, are a
victory of religion over a rather violent natural temper.

These details are necessary to describe the trouble in all its horror.

This lady's Adolphe had been compelled to leave his wife for two
months, in April, immediately after the forty days' fast that Caroline
scrupulously observes. Early in June, therefore, madame expected her
husband, she expected him day by day. From one hope to another,

  "Conceived every morn and deferred every eve."

She got along as far as Sunday, the day when her presentiments, which
had now reached a state of paroxysm, told her that the longed-for
husband would arrive at an early hour.

When a pious woman expects her husband, and that husband has been
absent from home nearly four months, she takes much more pains with
her toilet than a young girl does, though waiting for her first

This virtuous Caroline was so completely absorbed in exclusively
personal preparations, that she forgot to go to eight o'clock mass.
She proposed to hear a low mass, but she was afraid of losing the
delight of her dear Adolphe's first glance, in case he arrived at
early dawn. Her chambermaid--who respectfully left her mistress alone
in the dressing-room where pious and pimpled ladies let no one enter,
not even their husbands, especially if they are thin--her chambermaid
heard her exclaim several times, "If it's your master, let me know!"

The rumbling of a vehicle having made the furniture rattle, Caroline
assumed a mild tone to conceal the violence of her legitimate

"Oh! 'tis he! Run, Justine: tell him I am waiting for him here."
Caroline trembled so that she dropped into an arm-chair.

The vehicle was a butcher's wagon.

It was in anxieties like this that the eight o'clock mass slipped by,
like an eel in his slime. Madame's toilet operations were resumed, for
she was engaged in dressing. The chambermaid's nose had already been
the recipient of a superb muslin chemise, with a simple hem, which
Caroline had thrown at her from the dressing-room, though she had
given her the same kind for the last three months.

"What are you thinking of, Justine? I told you to choose from the
chemises that are not numbered."

The unnumbered chemises were only seven or eight, in the most
magnificent trousseau. They are chemises gotten up and embroidered
with the greatest care: a woman must be a queen, a young queen, to
have a dozen. Each one of Caroline's was trimmed with valenciennes
round the bottom, and still more coquettishly garnished about the
neck. This feature of our manners will perhaps serve to suggest a
suspicion, in the masculine world, of the domestic drama revealed by
this exceptional chemise.

Caroline had put on a pair of Scotch thread stockings, little prunella
buskins, and her most deceptive corsets. She had her hair dressed in
the fashion that most became her, and embellished it with a cap of the
most elegant form. It is unnecessary to speak of her morning gown. A
pious lady who lives at Paris and who loves her husband, knows as well
as a coquette how to choose those pretty little striped patterns, have
them cut with an open waist, and fastened by loops to buttons in a way
which compels her to refasten them two or three times in an hour, with
little airs more or less charming, as the case may be.

The nine o'clock mass, the ten o'clock mass, every mass, went by in
these preparations, which, for women in love, are one of their twelve
labors of Hercules.

Pious women rarely go to church in a carriage, and they are right.
Except in the case of a pouring shower, or intolerably bad weather, a
person ought not to appear haughty in the place where it is becoming
to be humble. Caroline was afraid to compromise the freshness of her
dress and the purity of her thread stockings. Alas! these pretexts
concealed a reason.

"If I am at church when Adolphe comes, I shall lose the pleasure of
his first glance: and he will think I prefer high mass to him."

She made this sacrifice to her husband in a desire to please him--a
fearfully worldly consideration. Prefer the creature to the Creator! A
husband to heaven! Go and hear a sermon and you will learn what such
an offence will cost you.

"After all," says Caroline, quoting her confessor, "society is founded
upon marriage, which the Church has included among its sacraments."

And this is the way in which religious instruction may be put aside in
favor of a blind though legitimate love. Madame refused breakfast, and
ordered the meal to be kept hot, just as she kept herself ready, at a
moment's notice, to welcome the precious absentee.

Now these little things may easily excite a laugh: but in the first
place they are continually occurring with couples who love each other,
or where one of them loves the other: besides, in a woman so
strait-laced, so reserved, so worthy, as this lady, these
acknowledgments of affection went beyond the limits imposed upon her
feelings by the lofty self-respect which true piety induces. When
Madame de Fischtaminel narrated this little scene in a devotee's life,
dressing it up with choice by-play, acted out as ladies of the world
know how to act out their anecdotes, I took the liberty of saying that
it was the Canticle of canticles in action.

"If her husband doesn't come," said Justine to the cook, "what will
become of us? She has already thrown her chemise in my face."

At last, Caroline heard the crack of a postilion's whip, the
well-known rumbling of a traveling carriage, the racket made by the
hoofs of post-horses, and the jingling of their bells! Oh, she could
doubt no longer, the bells made her burst forth, as thus:

"The door! Open the door! 'Tis he, my husband! Will you never go to
the door!" And the pious woman stamped her foot and broke the

"Why, madame," said Justine, with the vivacity of a servant doing her
duty, "it's some people going away."

"Upon my word," replied Caroline, half ashamed, to herself, "I will
never let Adolphe go traveling again without me."

A Marseilles poet--it is not known whether it was Mery or Barthelemy
--acknowledged that if his best fried did not arrive punctually at the
dinner hour, he waited patiently five minutes: at the tenth minute, he
felt a desire to throw the napkin in his face: at the twelfth he hoped
some great calamity would befall him: at the fifteenth, he would not
be able to restrain himself from stabbing him several times with a

All women, when expecting somebody, are Marseilles poets, if, indeed,
we may compare the vulgar throes of hunger to the sublime Canticle of
canticles of a pious wife, who is hoping for the joys of a husband's
first glance after a three months' absence. Let all those who love and
who have met again after an absence ten thousand times accursed, be
good enough to recall their first glance: it says so many things that
the lovers, if in the presence of a third party, are fain to lower
their eyes! This poem, in which every man is as great as Homer, in
which he seems a god to the woman who loves him, is, for a pious, thin
and pimpled lady, all the more immense, from the fact that she has
not, like Madame de Fischtaminel, the resource of having several
copies of it. In her case, her husband is all she's got!

So you will not be surprised to learn that Caroline missed every mass
and had no breakfast. This hunger and thirst for Adolphe gave her a
violent cramp in the stomach. She did not think of religion once
during the hours of mass, nor during those of vespers. She was not
comfortable when she sat, and she was very uncomfortable when she
stood: Justine advised her to go to bed. Caroline, quite overcome,
retired at about half past five in the evening, after having taken a
light soup: but she ordered a dainty supper at ten.

"I shall doubtless sup with my husband," she said.

This speech was the conclusion of dreadful catalinics, internally
fulminated. She had reached the Marseilles poet's several stabs with a
dirk. So she spoke in a tone that was really terrible. At three in the
morning Caroline was in a profound sleep: Adolphe arrived without her
hearing either carriage, or horse, or bell, or opening door!

Adolphe, who would not permit her to be disturbed, went to bed in the
spare room. When Caroline heard of his return in the morning, two
tears issued from her eyes; she rushed to the spare room without the
slightest preparatory toilet; a hideous attendant, posted on the
threshold, informed her that her husband, having traveled two hundred
leagues and been two nights without sleep, requested that he might not
be awakened: he was exceedingly tired.

Caroline--pious woman that she was--opened the door violently without
being able to wake the only husband that heaven had given her, and
then hastened to church to listen to a thanksgiving mass.

As she was visibly snappish for three whole days, Justine remarked, in
reply to an unjust reproach, and with a chambermaid's finesse:

"Why, madame, your husband's got back!"

"He has only got back to Paris," returned the pious Caroline.

                            USELESS CARE.

Put yourself in the place of a poor woman of doubtful beauty, who owes
her husband to the weight of her dowry, who gives herself infinite
pains, and spends a great deal of money to appear to advantage and
follow the fashions, who does her best to keep house sumptuously and
yet economically--a house, too, not easy to manage--who, from morality
and dire necessity, perhaps, loves no one but her husband, who has no
other study but the happiness of this precious husband, who, to
express all in one word, joins the maternal sentiment _to the
sentiment of her duties_. This underlined circumlocution is the
paraphrase of the word love in the language of prudes.

Have you put yourself in her place? Well, this too-much-loved husband
by chance remarked at his friend Monsieur de Fischtaminel's, that he
was very fond of mushrooms _a l'Italienne_.

If you have paid some attention to the female nature, in its good,
great, and grand manifestations, you know that for a loving wife there
is no greater pleasure than that of seeing the beloved one absorbing
his favorite viands. This springs from the fundamental idea upon which
the affection of women is based: that of being the source of all his
pleasures, big and little. Love animates everything in life, and
conjugal love has a peculiar right to descend to the most trivial

Caroline spends two or three days in inquiries before she learns how
the Italians dress mushrooms. She discovers a Corsican abbe who tells
her that at Biffi's, in the rue de Richelieu, she will not only learn
how the Italians dress mushrooms, but that she will be able to obtain
some Milanese mushrooms. Our pious Caroline thanks the Abbe Serpolini,
and resolves to send him a breviary in acknowledgment.

Caroline's cook goes to Biffi's, comes back from Biffi's, and exhibits
to the countess a quantity of mushrooms as big as the coachman's ears.

"Very good," she says, "did he explain to you how to cook them?"

"Oh, for us cooks, them's a mere nothing," replies the cook.

As a general rule, cooks know everything, in the cooking way, except
how a cook may feather his nest.

At evening, during the second course, all Caroline's fibres quiver
with pleasure at observing the servant bringing to the table a certain
suggestive dish. She has positively waited for this dinner as she had
waited for her husband.

But between waiting with certainty and expecting a positive pleasure,
there is, to the souls of the elect--and everybody will include a
woman who adores her husband among the elect--there is, between these
two worlds of expectation, the difference that exists between a fine
night and a fine day.

The dish is presented to the beloved Adolphe, he carelessly plunges
his spoon in and helps himself, without perceiving Caroline's extreme
emotion, to several of those soft, fat, round things, that travelers
who visit Milan do not for a long time recognize; they take them for
some kind of shell-fish.

"Well, Adolphe?"

"Well, dear."

"Don't you recognize them?"

"Recognize what?"

"Your mushrooms _a l'Italienne_?"

"These mushrooms! I thought they were--well, yes, they _are_

"Yes, and _a l'Italienne_, too."

"Pooh, they are old preserved mushrooms, _a la milanaise_. I abominate

"What kind is it you like, then?"

"_Fungi trifolati_."

Let us observe--to the disgrace of an epoch which numbers and labels
everything, which puts the whole creation in bottles, which is at this
moment classifying one hundred and fifty thousand species of insects,
giving them all the termination _us_, so that a _Silbermanus_ is the
same individual in all countries for the learned men who dissect a
butterfly's legs with pincers--that we still want a nomenclature for
the chemistry of the kitchen, to enable all the cooks in the world to
produce precisely similar dishes. It would be diplomatically agreed
that French should be the language of the kitchen, as Latin has been
adopted by the scientific for botany and entomology, unless it were
desired to imitate them in that, too, and thus really have kitchen

"My dear," resumes Adolphe, on seeing the clouded and lengthened face
of his chaste Caroline, "in France the dish in question is called
Mushrooms _a l'Italienne, a la provencale, a la bordelaise_. The
mushrooms are minced, fried in oil with a few ingredients whose names
I have forgotten. You add a taste of garlic, I believe--"

Talk about calamities, of petty troubles! This, do you see, is, to a
woman's heart, what the pain of an extracted tooth is to a child of
eight. _Ab uno disce omnes_: which means, "There's one of them: find
the rest in your memory." For we have taken this culinary description
as a prototype of the vexations which afflict loving but indifferently
loved women.

                         SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE.

A woman full of faith in the man she loves is a romancer's fancy. This
feminine personage no more exists than does a rich dowry. A woman's
confidence glows perhaps for a few moments, at the dawn of love, and
disappears in a trice like a shooting star.

With women who are neither Dutch, nor English, nor Belgian, nor from
any marshy country, love is a pretext for suffering, an employment for
the superabundant powers of their imaginations and their nerves.

Thus the second idea that takes possession of a happy woman, one who
is really loved, is the fear of losing her happiness, for we must do
her the justice to say that her first idea is to enjoy it. All who
possess treasures are in dread of thieves, but they do not, like
women, lend wings and feet to their golden stores.

The little blue flower of perfect felicity is not so common, that the
heaven-blessed man who possesses it, should be simpleton enough to
abandon it.

Axiom.--A woman is never deserted without a reason.

This axiom is written in the heart of hearts of every woman. Hence the
rage of a woman deserted.

Let us not infringe upon the petty troubles of love: we live in a
calculating epoch when women are seldom abandoned, do what they may:
for, of all wives or women, nowadays, the legitimate is the least
expensive. Now, every woman who is loved, has gone through the petty
annoyance of suspicion. This suspicion, whether just or unjust,
engenders a multitude of domestic troubles, and here is the biggest of

Caroline is one day led to notice that her cherished Adolphe leaves
her rather too often upon a matter of business, that eternal
Chaumontel's affair, which never comes to an end.

Axiom.--Every household has its Chaumontel's affair. (See TROUBLE

In the first place, a woman no more believes in matters of business
than publishers and managers do in the illness of actresses and
authors. The moment a beloved creature absents himself, though she has
rendered him even too happy, every woman straightway imagines that he
has hurried away to some easy conquest. In this respect, women endow
men with superhuman faculties. Fear magnifies everything, it dilates
the eyes and the heart: it makes a woman mad.

"Where is my husband going? What is my husband doing? Why has he left
me? Why did he not take me with him?"

These four questions are the four cardinal points of the compass of
suspicion, and govern the stormy sea of soliloquies. From these
frightful tempests which ravage a woman's heart springs an ignoble,
unworthy resolution, one which every woman, the duchess as well as the
shopkeeper's wife, the baroness as well as the stockbroker's lady, the
angel as well as the shrew, the indifferent as well as the passionate,
at once puts into execution. They imitate the government, every one of
them; they resort to espionage. What the State has invented in the
public interest, they consider legal, legitimate and permissible, in
the interest of their love. This fatal woman's curiosity reduces them
to the necessity of having agents, and the agent of any woman who, in
this situation, has not lost her self-respect,--a situation in which
her jealousy will not permit her to respect anything: neither your
little boxes, nor your clothes, nor the drawers of your treasury, of
your desk, of your table, of your bureau, nor your pocketbook with
private compartments, nor your papers, nor your traveling
dressing-case, nor your toilet articles (a woman discovers in this way
that her husband dyed his moustache when he was a bachelor), nor your
india-rubber girdles--her agent, I say, the only one in whom a woman
trusts, is her maid, for her maid understands her, excuses her, and
approves her.

In the paroxysm of excited curiosity, passion and jealousy, a woman
makes no calculations, takes no observations. She simply wishes to
know the whole truth.

And Justine is delighted: she sees her mistress compromising herself
with her, and she espouses her passion, her dread, her fears and her
suspicions, with terrible friendship. Justine and Caroline hold
councils and have secret interviews. All espionage involves such
relationships. In this pass, a maid becomes the arbitress of the fate
of the married couple. Example: Lord Byron.

"Madame," Justine one day observes, "monsieur really _does_ go out to
see a woman."

Caroline turns pale.

"But don't be alarmed, madame, it's an old woman."

"Ah, Justine, to some men no women are old: men are inexplicable."

"But, madame, it isn't a lady, it's a woman, quite a common woman."

"Ah, Justine, Lord Byron loved a fish-wife at Venice, Madame de
Fischtaminel told me so."

And Caroline bursts into tears.

"I've been pumping Benoit."

"What is Benoit's opinion?"

"Benoit thinks that the woman is a go-between, for monsieur keeps his
secret from everybody, even from Benoit."

For a week Caroline lives the life of the damned; all her savings go
to pay spies and to purchase reports.

Finally, Justine goes to see the woman, whose name is Madame Mahuchet;
she bribes her and learns at last that her master has preserved a
witness of his youthful follies, a nice little boy that looks very
much like him, and that this woman is his nurse, the second-hand
mother who has charge of little Frederick, who pays his quarterly
school-bills, and through whose hands pass the twelve hundred or two
thousand francs which Adolphe is supposed annually to lose at cards.

"What of the mother?" exclaims Caroline.

To end the matter, Justine, Caroline's good genius, proves to her that
M'lle Suzanne Beauminet, formerly a grisette and somewhat later Madame
Sainte-Suzanne, died at the hospital, or else that she has made her
fortune, or else, again, that her place in society is so low there is
no danger of madame's ever meeting her.

Caroline breathes again: the dirk has been drawn from her heart, she
is quite happy; but she had no children but daughters, and would like
a boy. This little drama of unjust suspicions, this comedy of the
conjectures to which Mother Mahuchet gives rise, these phases of a
causeless jealousy, are laid down here as the type of a situation, the
varieties of which are as innumerable as characters, grades and sorts.

This source of petty troubles is pointed out here, in order that women
seated upon the river's bank may contemplate in it the course of their
own married life, following its ascent or descent, recalling their own
adventures to mind, their untold disasters, the foibles which caused
their errors, and the peculiar fatalities to which were due an instant
of frenzy, a moment of unnecessary despair, or sufferings which they
might have spared themselves, happy in their self-delusions.

This vexation has a corollary in the following, one which is much more
serious and often without remedy, especially when its root lies among
vices of another kind, and which do not concern us, for, in this work,
women are invariably esteemed honest--until the end.

                         THE DOMESTIC TYRANT.

"My dear Caroline," says Adolphe one day to his wife, "are you
satisfied with Justine?"

"Yes, dear, quite so."

"Don't you think she speaks to you rather impertinently?"

"Do you suppose I would notice a maid? But it seems _you_ notice her!"

"What do you say?" asks Adolphe in an indignant way that is always
delightful to women.

Justine is a genuine maid for an actress, a woman of thirty stamped by
the small-pox with innumerable dimples, in which the loves are far
from sporting: she is as brown as opium, has a good deal of leg and
not much body, gummy eyes, and a tournure to match. She would like to
have Benoit marry her, but at this unexpected suggestion, Benoit asked
for his discharge. Such is the portrait of the domestic tyrant
enthroned by Caroline's jealousy.

Justine takes her coffee in the morning, in bed, and manages to have
it as good as, not to say better than, that of her mistress. Justine
sometimes goes out without asking leave, dressed like the wife of a
second-class banker. She sports a pink hat, one of her mistress' old
gowns made over, an elegant shawl, shoes of bronze kid, and jewelry of
doubtful character.

Justine is sometimes in a bad humor, and makes her mistress feel that
she too is a woman like herself, though she is not married. She has
her whims, her fits of melancholy, her caprices. She even dares to
have her nerves! She replies curtly, she makes herself insupportable
to the other servants, and, to conclude, her wages have been
considerably increased.

"My dear, this girl is getting more intolerable every day," says
Adolphe one morning to his wife, on noticing Justine listening at the
key-hole, "and if you don't send her away, I will!"

Caroline, greatly alarmed, is obliged to give Justine a talking to,
while her husband is out.

"Justine, you take advantage of my kindness to you: you have high
wages, here, you have perquisites, presents: try to keep your place,
for my husband wants to send you away."

The maid humbles herself to the earth, she sheds tears: she is so
attached to madame! Ah! she would rush into the fire for her: she
would let herself be chopped into mince-meat: she is ready for

"If you had anything to conceal, madame, I would take it on myself and
say it was me!"

"Very well, Justine, very good, my girl," says Caroline, terrified:
"but that's not the point: just try to keep in your place."

"Ah, ha!" says Justine to herself, "monsieur wants to send me away,
does he? Wait and see the deuce of a life I'll lead you, you old

A week after, Justine, who is dressing her mistress' hair, looks in
the glass to make sure that Caroline can see all the grimaces of her
countenance: and Caroline very soon inquires, "Why, what's the matter,

"I would tell you, readily, madame, but then, madame, you are so weak
with monsieur!"

"Come, go on, what is it?"

"I know now, madame, why master wanted to show me the door: he has
confidence in nobody but Benoit, and Benoit is playing the mum with

"Well, what does that prove? Has anything been discovered?"

"I'm sure that between the two they are plotting something against you
madame," returns the maid with authority.

Caroline, whom Justine watches in the glass, turns pale: all the
tortures of the previous petty trouble return, and Justine sees that
she has become as indispensable to her mistress as spies are to the
government when a conspiracy is discovered. Still, Caroline's friends
do not understand why she keeps so disagreeable a servant girl, one
who wears a hat, whose manners are impertinent, and who gives herself
the airs of a lady.

This stupid domination is talked of at Madame Deschars', at Madame de
Fischtaminel's, and the company consider it funny. A few ladies think
they can see certain monstrous reasons for it, reasons which
compromise Caroline's honor.

Axiom.--In society, people can put cloaks on every kind of truth, even
the prettiest.

In short the _aria della calumnia_ is executed precisely as if
Bartholo were singing it.

It is averred that Caroline cannot discharge her maid.

Society devotes itself desperately to discovering the secret of this
enigma. Madame de Fischtaminel makes fun of Adolphe who goes home in a
rage, has a scene with Caroline and discharges Justine.

This produces such an effect upon Justine, that she falls sick, and
takes to her bed. Caroline observes to her husband, that it would be
awkward to turn a girl in Justine's condition into the street, a girl
who is so much attached to them, too, and who has been with them sine
their marriage.

"Let her go then as soon as she is well!" says Adolphe.

Caroline, reassured in regard to Adolphe, and indecently swindled by
Justine, at last comes to desire to get rid of her: she applies a
violent remedy to the disease, and makes up her mind to go under the
Caudine Forks of another petty trouble, as follows:

                             THE AVOWAL.

One morning, Adolphe is petted in a very unusual manner. The too happy
husband wonders what may be the cause of this development of
affection, and he hears Caroline, in her most winning tones, utter the
word: "Adolphe?"

"Well?" he replies, in alarm at the internal agitation betrayed by
Caroline's voice.

"Promise not to be angry."


"Not to be vexed with me."

"Never. Go on."

"To forgive me and never say anything about it."

"But tell me what it is!"

"Besides, you are the one that's in the wrong--"

"Speak, or I'll go away."

"There's no one but you that can get me out of the scrape--and it was
you that got me into it."

"Come, come."

"It's about--"


"About Justine!"

"Don't speak of her, she's discharged. I won't see her again, her
style of conduct exposes your reputation--"

"What can people say--what have they said?"

The scene changes, the result of which is a secondary explanation
which makes Caroline blush, as she sees the bearing of the
suppositions of her best friends.

"Well, now, Adolphe, it's to you I owe all this. Why didn't you tell
me about Frederick?"

"Frederick the Great? The King of Prussia?"

"What creatures men are! Hypocrite, do you want to make me believe
that you have forgotten your son so soon, M'lle Suzanne Beauminet's

"Then you know--?"

"The whole thing! And old other Mahuchet, and your absences from home
to give him a good dinner on holidays."

"How like moles you pious women can be if you try!" exclaims Adolphe,
in his terror.

"It was Justine that found it out."

"Ah! Now I understand the reason of her insolence."

"Oh, your Caroline has been very wretched, dear, and this spying
system, which was produced by my love for you, for I do love you, and
madly too,--if you deceived me, I would fly to the extremity of
creation,--well, as I was going to say, this unfounded jealousy has
put me in Justine's power, so, my precious, get me out of it the best
way you can!"

"Let this teach you, my angel, never to make use of your servants, if
you want them to be of use to you. It is the lowest of tyrannies, this
being at the mercy of one's people."

Adolphe takes advantage of this circumstance to alarm Caroline, he
thinks of future Chaumontel's affairs, and would be glad to have no
more espionage.

Justine is sent for, Adolphe peremptorily dismisses her without
waiting to hear her explanation. Caroline imagines her vexations at an
end. She gets another maid.

Justine, whose twelve or fifteen thousand francs have attracted the
notice of a water carrier, becomes Madame Chavagnac, and goes into the
apple business. Ten months after, in Adolphe's absence, Caroline
receives a letter written upon school-boy paper, in strides which
would require orthopedic treatment for three months, and thus


"Yu ar shaimphoolly diseeved bi yure huzban fur mame Deux
fischtaminelle, hee goze their evry eavning, yu ar az blynde az a
Batt. Your gott wott yu dizzurv, and I am Glad ovit, and I have thee
honur ov prezenting yu the assurunz ov Mi moaste ds Sting guischt

Caroline starts like a lion who has been stung by a bumble-bee; she
places herself once more, and of her own accord, upon the griddle of
suspicion, and begins her struggle with the unknown all over again.

When she has discovered the injustice of her suspicions, there comes
another letter with an offer to furnish her with details relative to a
Chaumontel's affair which Justine has unearthed.

The petty trouble of avowals, ladies, is often more serious than this,
as you perhaps have occasion to remember.


To the glory of women, let it be said, they care for their husbands
even when their husbands care no more for them, not only because there
are more ties, socially speaking, between a married woman and a man,
than between the man and the wife; but also because woman has more
delicacy and honor than man, the chief conjugal question apart, as a
matter of course.

Axiom.--In a husband, there is only a man; in a married woman, there
is a man, a father, a mother and a woman.

A married woman has sensibility enough for four, or for five even, if
you look closely.

Now, it is not improper to observe in this place, that, in a woman's
eyes, love is a general absolution: the man who is a good lover may
commit crimes, if he will, he is always as pure as snow in the eyes of
her who loves him, if he truly loves her. As to a married woman, loved
or not, she feels so deeply that the honor and consideration of her
husband are the fortune of her children, that she acts like the woman
in love,--so active is the sense of community of interest.

This profound sentiment engenders, for certain Carolines, petty
troubles which, unfortunately for this book, have their dismal side.

Adolphe is compromised. We will not enumerate all the methods of
compromising oneself, for we might become personal. Let us take, as an
example, the social error which our epoch excuses, permits,
understands and commits the most of any--the case of an honest
robbery, of skillfully concealed corruption in office, or of some
misrepresentation that becomes excusable when it has succeeded, as,
for instance, having an understanding with parties in power, for the
sale of property at the highest possible price to a city, or a

Thus, in a bankruptcy, Adolphe, in order to protect himself (this
means to recover his claims), has become mixed up in certain unlawful
doings which may bring a man to the necessity of testifying before the
Court of Assizes. In fact, it is not known that the daring creditor
will not be considered a party.

Take notice that in all cases of bankruptcy, protecting oneself is
regarded as the most sacred of duties, even by the most respectable
houses: the thing is to keep the bad side of the protection out of
sight, as they do in prudish England.

Adolphe does not know what to do, as his counsel has told him not to
appear in the matter: so he has recourse to Caroline. He gives her a
lesson, he coaches her, he teaches her the Code, he examines her
dress, he equips her as a brig sent on a voyage, and despatches her to
the office of some judge, or some syndic. The judge is apparently a
man of severe morality, but in reality a libertine: he retains his
serious expression on seeing a pretty woman enter, and makes sundry
very uncomplimentary remarks about Adolphe.

"I pity you, madame, you belong to a man who may involve you in
numerous unpleasant affairs: a few more matters like this, and he will
be quite disgraced. Have you any children? Excuse my asking; you are
so young, it is perfectly natural." And the judge comes as near to
Caroline as possible.

"Yes, sir."

"Ah, great heavens! what a prospect is yours! My first thought was for
the woman, but now I pity you doubly, I think of the mother. Ah, how
you must have suffered in coming here! Poor, poor woman!"

"Ah, sir, you take an interest in me, do you not?"

"Alas, what can I do?" says the judge, darting a glance sidewise at
Caroline. "What you ask of me is a dereliction of duty, and I am a
magistrate before I am a man."

"Oh, sir, only be a man--"

"Are you aware of the full bearing of that request, fair creature?" At
this point the magistrate tremblingly takes Caroline's hand.

Caroline, who remembers that the honor of her husband and children is
at stake, says to herself that this is not the time to play the prude.
She abandons her hand, making just resistance enough for the old man
(happily he is an old man) to consider it a favor.

"Come, come, my beauty," resumes the judge, "I should be loath to
cause so lovely a woman to shed tears; we'll see about it. You shall
come to-morrow evening and tell me the whole affair. We must look at
the papers, we will examine them together--"


"It's indispensable."

"But, sir--"

"Don't be alarmed, my dear, a judge is likely to know how to grant
what is due to justice and--" he puts on a shrewd look here--"to

"But, sir--"

"Be quite at your ease," he adds, holding her hand closely in his,
"and we'll try to reduce this great crime down to a peccadillo." And
he goes to the door with Caroline, who is frightened to death at an
appointment thus proposed.

The syndic is a lively young man, and he receives Madame Adolphe with
a smile. He smiles at everything, and he smiles as he takes her round
the waist with an agility which leaves Caroline no time to resist,
especially as she says to herself, "Adolphe particularly recommended
me not to vex the syndic."

Nevertheless Caroline escapes, in the interest of the syndic himself,
and again pronounces the "Sir!" which she had said three times to the

"Don't be angry with me, you are irresistible, you are an angel, and
your husband is a monster: for what does he mean by sending a siren to
a young man whom he knows to be inflammable!"

"Sir, my husband could not come himself; he is in bed, very sick, and
you threatened him so terribly that the urgency of the matter--"

"Hasn't he got a lawyer, an attorney?"

Caroline is terrified by this remark which reveals Adolphe's profound

"He supposed, sir, that you would have pity upon the mother of a
family, upon her children--"

"Ta, ta, ta," returns the syndic. "You have come to influence my
independence, my conscience, you want me to give the creditors up to
you: well, I'll do more, I give you up my heart, my fortune! Your
husband wants to save _his_ honor, _my_ honor is at your disposal!"

"Sir," cries Caroline, as she tries to raise the syndic who has thrown
himself at her feet. "You alarm me!"

She plays the terrified female and thus reaches the door, getting out
of a delicate situation as women know how to do it, that is, without
compromising anything or anybody.

"I will come again," she says smiling, "when you behave better."

"You leave me thus! Take care! Your husband may yet find himself
seated at the bar of the Court of Assizes: he is accessory to a
fraudulent bankruptcy, and we know several things about him that are
not by any means honorable. It is not his first departure from
rectitude; he has done a good many dirty things, he has been mixed up
in disgraceful intrigues, and you are singularly careful of the honor
of a man who cares as little for his own honor as he does for yours."

Caroline, alarmed by these words, lets go the door, shuts it and comes

"What do you mean, sir?" she exclaims, furious at this outrageous

"Why, this affair--"

"Chaumontel's affair?"

"No, his speculations in houses that he had built by people that were

Caroline remembers the enterprise undertaken by Adolphe to double his
income: (See _The Jesuitism of Women_) she trembles. Her curiosity is
in the syndic's favor.

"Sit down here. There, at this distance, I will behave well, but I can
look at you."

And he narrates, at length, the conception due to du Tillet the
banker, interrupting himself to say: "Oh, what a pretty, cunning,
little foot; no one but you could have such a foot as that--_Du
Tillet, therefore, compromised._ What an ear, too! You have been
doubtless told that you had a delicious ear--_And du Tillet was
right, for judgment had already been given_--I love small ears, but
let me have a model of yours, and I will do anything you like--_du
Tillet profited by this to throw the whole loss on your idiotic
husband_: oh, what a charming silk, you are divinely dressed!"

"Where were we, sir?"

"How can I remember while admiring your Raphaelistic head?"

At the twenty-seventh compliment, Caroline considers the syndic a man
of wit: she makes him a polite speech, and goes away without learning
much more of the enterprise which, not long before had swallowed up
three hundred thousand francs.

There are many huge variations of this petty trouble.

EXAMPLE. Adolphe is brave and susceptible: he is walking on the Champs
Elysees, where there is a crowd of people; in this crowd are several
ill-mannered young men who indulge in jokes of doubtful propriety:
Caroline puts up with them and pretends not to hear them, in order to
keep her husband out of a duel.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE. A child belonging to the genus Terrible, exclaims in
the presence of everybody:

"Mamma, would you let Justine hit me?"

"Certainly not."

"Why do you ask, my little man?" inquires Madame Foullepointe.

"Because she just gave father a big slap, and he's ever so much
stronger than me."

Madame Foullepointe laughs, and Adolphe, who intended to pay court to
her, is cruelly joked by her, after having had a first last quarrel
with Caroline.

                          THE LAST QUARREL.

In every household, husbands and wives must one day hear the striking
of a fatal hour. It is a knell, the death and end of jealousy, a
great, noble and charming passion, the only true symptom of love, if
it is not even its double. When a woman is no longer jealous of her
husband, all is over, she loves him no more. So, conjugal love expires
in the last quarrel that a woman gives herself the trouble to raise.

Axiom.--When a woman ceases to quarrel with her husband, the Minotaur
has seated himself in a corner arm-chair, tapping his boots with his

Every woman must remember her last quarrel, that supreme petty trouble
which often explodes about nothing, but more often still on some
occasion of a brutal fact or of a decisive proof. This cruel farewell
to faith, to the childishness of love, to virtue even, is in a degree
as capricious as life itself. Like life it varies in every house.

Here, the author ought perhaps to search out all the varieties of
quarrels, if he desires to be precise.

Thus, Caroline may have discovered that the judicial robe of the
syndic in Chaumontel's affair, hides a robe of infinitely softer
stuff, of an agreeable, silky color: that Chaumontel's hair, in short,
is fair, and that his eyes are blue.

Or else Caroline, who arose before Adolphe, may have seen his
greatcoat thrown wrong side out across a chair; the edge of a little
perfumed paper, just peeping out of the side-pocket, may have
attracted her by its whiteness, like a ray of the sun entering a dark
room through a crack in the window: or else, while taking Adolphe in
her arms and feeling his pocket, she may have caused the note to
crackle: or else she may have been informed of the state of things by
a foreign odor that she has long noticed upon him, and may have read
these lines:

"Ungraitfull wun, wot du yu supoz I no About Hipolite. Kum, and yu
shal se whether I Love yu."

Or this:

"Yesterday, love, you made me wait for you: what will it be

Or this:

"The women who love you, my dear sir, are very unhappy in hating you
so, when you are not with them: take care, for the hatred which exists
during your absence, may possibly encroach upon the hours you spend in
their company."

Or this:

"You traitorous Chodoreille, what were you doing yesterday on the
boulevard with a woman hanging on your arm? If it was your wife,
accept my compliments of condolence upon her absent charms: she has
doubtless deposited them at the pawnbroker's, and the ticket to redeem
them with is lost."

Four notes emanating from the grisette, the lady, the pretentious
woman in middle life, and the actress, among whom Adolphe has chosen
his _belle_ (according to the Fischtaminellian vocabulary).

Or else Caroline, taken veiled by Ferdinand to Ranelagh Garden, sees
with her own eyes Adolphe abandoning himself furiously to the polka,
holding one of the ladies of honor to Queen Pomare in his arms; or
else, again, Adolphe has for the seventh time, made a mistake in the
name, and called his wife Juliette, Charlotte or Lisa: or, a grocer or
restaurateur sends to the house, during Adolphe's absence, certain
damning bills which fall into Caroline's hands.


(Private Tables Served.)

M. Adolphe to Perrault,

To 1 Pate de Foie Gras delivered at Madame
     Schontz's, the 6th of January,                 fr.    22.50
Six bottle of assorted wines,                              70.00
To one special breakfast delivered at Congress
     Hotel, the 11th of February, at No. 21----
     Stipulated price,                                    100.00

          Total,                                Francs,   192.50

Caroline examines the dates and remembers them as appointments made
for business connected with Chaumontel's affair. Adolphe had
designated the sixth of January as the day fixed for a meeting at
which the creditors in Chaumontel's affair were to receive the sums
due them. On the eleventh of February he had an appointment with the
notary, in order to sign a receipt relative to Chaumontel's affair.

Or else--but an attempt to mention all the chances of discovery would
be the undertaking of a madman.

Every woman will remember to herself how the bandage with which her
eyes were bound fell off: how, after many doubts, and agonies of
heart, she made up her mind to have a final quarrel for the simple
purpose of finishing the romance, putting the seal to the book,
stipulating for her independence, or beginning life over again.

Some women are fortunate enough to have anticipated their husbands,
and they then have the quarrel as a sort of justification.

Nervous women give way to a burst of passion and commit acts of

Women of mild temper assume a decided tone which appalls the most
intrepid husbands. Those who have no vengeance ready shed a great many

Those who love you forgive you. Ah, they conceive so readily, like the
woman called "Ma berline," that their Adolphe must be loved by the
women of France, that they are rejoiced to possess, legally, a man
about whom everybody goes crazy.

Certain women with lips tight shut like a vise, with a muddy
complexion and thin arms, treat themselves to the malicious pleasure
of promenading their Adolphe through the quagmire of falsehood and
contradiction: they question him (see _Troubles within Troubles_),
like a magistrate examining a criminal, reserving the spiteful
enjoyment of crushing his denials by positive proof at a decisive
moment. Generally, in this supreme scene of conjugal life, the fair
sex is the executioner, while, in the contrary case, man is the

This is the way of it: This last quarrel (you shall know why the
author has called it the _last_), is always terminated by a solemn,
sacred promise, made by scrupulous, noble, or simply intelligent women
(that is to say, by all women), and which we give here in its grandest

"Enough, Adolphe! We love each other no more; you have deceived me,
and I shall never forget it. I may forgive it, but I can never forget

Women represent themselves as implacable only to render their
forgiveness charming: they have anticipated God.

"We have now to live in common like two friends," continues Caroline.
"Well, let us live like two comrades, two brothers, I do not wish to
make your life intolerable, and I never again will speak to you of
what has happened--"

Adolphe gives Caroline his hand: she takes it, and shakes it in the
English style. Adolphe thanks Caroline, and catches a glimpse of
bliss: he has converted his wife into a sister, and hopes to be a
bachelor again.

The next day Caroline indulges in a very witty allusion (Adolphe
cannot help laughing at it) to Chaumontel's affair. In society she
makes general remarks which, to Adolphe, are very particular remarks,
about their last quarrel.

At the end of a fortnight a day never passes without Caroline's
recalling their last quarrel by saying: "It was the day when I found
Chaumontel's bill in your pocket:" or "it happened since our last
quarrel:" or, "it was the day when, for the first time, I had a clear
idea of life," etc. She assassinates Adolphe, she martyrizes him! In
society she gives utterance to terrible things.

"We are happy, my dear [to a lady], when we love each other no longer:
it's then that we learn how to make ourselves beloved," and she looks
at Ferdinand.

In short, the last quarrel never comes to an end, and from this fact
flows the following axiom:

Axiom.--Putting yourself in the wrong with your lawful wife, is
solving the problem of Perpetual Motion.

                          A SIGNAL FAILURE.

Women, and especially married women, stick ideas into their brain-pan
precisely as they stick pins into a pincushion, and the devil himself,
--do you mind?--could not get them out: they reserve to themselves the
exclusive right of sticking them in, pulling them out, and sticking
them in again.

Caroline is riding home one evening from Madame Foullepointe's in a
violent state of jealousy and ambition.

Madame Foullepointe, the lioness--but this word requires an
explanation. It is a fashionable neologism, and gives expression to
certain rather meagre ideas relative to our present society: you must
use it, if you want to describe a woman who is all the rage. This
lioness rides on horseback every day, and Caroline has taken it into
her head to learn to ride also.

Observe that in this conjugal phase, Adolphe and Caroline are in the
season which we have denominated _A Household Revolution_, and that
they have had two or three _Last Quarrels_.

"Adolphe," she says, "do you want to do me a favor?"

"Of course."

"Won't you refuse?"

"If your request is reasonable, I am willing--"

"Ah, already--that's a true husband's word--if--"

"Come, what is it?"

"I want to learn to ride on horseback."

"Now, is it a possible thing, Caroline?"

Caroline looks out of the window, and tries to wipe away a dry tear.

"Listen," resumes Adolphe; "I cannot let you go alone to the
riding-school; and I cannot go with you while business gives me the
annoyance it does now. What's the matter? I think I have given you
unanswerable reasons."

Adolphe foresees the hiring of a stable, the purchase of a pony, the
introduction of a groom and of a servant's horse into the
establishment--in short, all the nuisance of female lionization.

When a man gives a woman reasons instead of giving her what she wants
--well, few men have ventured to descend into that small abyss called
the heart, to test the power of the tempest that suddenly bursts forth

"Reasons! If you want reasons, here they are!" exclaims Caroline. "I
am your wife: you don't seem to care to please me any more. And as to
the expenses, you greatly overrate them, my dear."

Women have as many inflections of voice to pronounce these words, _My
dear_, as the Italians have to say _Amico_. I have counted twenty-nine
which express only various degrees of hatred.

"Well, you'll see," resumes Caroline, "I shall be sick, and you will
pay the apothecary and the doctor as much as the price of a horse. I
shall be walled up here at home, and that's all you want. I asked the
favor of you, though I was sure of a refusal: I only wanted to know
how you would go to work to give it."

"But, Caroline--"

"Leave me alone at the riding-school!" she continues without
listening. "Is that a reason? Can't I go with Madame de Fischtaminel?
Madame de Fischtaminel is learning to ride on horseback, and I don't
imagine that Monsieur de Fischtaminel goes with her."

"But, Caroline--"

"I am delighted with your solicitude. You think a great deal of me,
really. Monsieur de Fischtaminel has more confidence in his wife, than
you have in yours. He does not go with her, not he! Perhaps it's on
account of this confidence that you don't want me at the school, where
I might see your goings on with the fair Fischtaminel."

Adolphe tries to hide his vexation at this torrent of words, which
begins when they are still half way from home, and has no sea to empty
into. When Caroline is in her room, she goes on in the same way.

"You see that if reasons could restore my health or prevent me from
desiring a kind of exercise pointed out by nature herself, I should
not be in want of reasons, and that I know all the reasons that there
are, and that I went over with the reasons before I spoke to you."

This, ladies, may with the more truth be called the prologue to the
conjugal drama, from the fact that it is vigorously delivered,
embellished with a commentary of gestures, ornamented with glances and
all the other vignettes with which you usually illustrate such

Caroline, when she has once planted in Adolphe's heart the
apprehension of a scene of constantly reiterated demands, feels her
hatred for his control largely increase. Madame pouts, and she pouts
so fiercely, that Adolphe is forced to notice it, on pain of very
disagreeable consequences, for all is over, be sure of that, between
two beings married by the mayor, or even at Gretna Green, when one of
them no longer notices the sulkings of the other.

Axiom.--A sulk that has struck in is a deadly poison.

It was to prevent this suicide of love that our ingenious France
invented boudoirs. Women could not well have Virgil's willows in the
economy of our modern dwellings. On the downfall of oratories, these
little cubbies become boudoirs.

This conjugal drama has three acts. The act of the prologue is already
played. Then comes the act of false coquetry: one of those in which
French women have the most success.

Adolphe is walking about the room, divesting himself of his apparel,
and the man thus engaged, divests himself of his strength as well as
of his clothing. To every man of forty, this axiom will appear
profoundly just:

Axiom.--The ideas of a man who has taken his boots and his suspenders
off, are no longer those of a man who is still sporting these two
tyrants of the mind.

Take notice that this is only an axiom in wedded life. In morals, it
is what we call a relative theorem.

Caroline watches, like a jockey on the race course, the moment when
she can distance her adversary. She makes her preparations to be
irresistibly fascinating to Adolphe.

Women possess a power of mimicking pudicity, a knowledge of secrets
which might be those of a frightened dove, a particular register for
singing, like Isabella, in the fourth act of _Robert le Diable: "Grace
pour toi! Grace pour moi!"_ which leave jockeys and horse trainers
whole miles behind. As usual, the _Diable_ succumbs. It is the eternal
history, the grand Christian mystery of the bruised serpent, of the
delivered woman becoming the great social force, as the Fourierists
say. It is especially in this that the difference between the Oriental
slave and the Occidental wife appears.

Upon the conjugal pillow, the second act ends by a number of
onomatopes, all of them favorable to peace. Adolphe, precisely like
children in the presence of a slice of bread and molasses, promises
everything that Caroline wants.

THIRD ACT. As the curtain rises, the stage represents a chamber in a
state of extreme disorder. Adolphe, in his dressing gown, tries to go
out furtively and without waking Caroline, who is sleeping profoundly,
and finally does go out.

Caroline, exceedingly happy, gets up, consults her mirror, and makes
inquiries about breakfast. An hour afterward, when she is ready she
learns that breakfast is served.

"Tell monsieur."

"Madame, he is in the little parlor."

"What a nice man he is," she says, going up to Adolphe, and talking
the babyish, caressing language of the honey-moon.

"What for, pray?"

"Why, to let his little Liline ride the horsey."

OBSERVATION. During the honey-moon, some few married couples,--very
young ones,--make use of languages, which, in ancient days, Aristotle
classified and defined. (See his Pedagogy.) Thus they are perpetually
using such terminations as _lala_, _nana_, _coachy-poachy_, just as
mothers and nurses use them to babies. This is one of the secret
reasons, discussed and recognized in big quartos by the Germans, which
determined the Cabires, the creators of the Greek mythology, to
represent Love as a child. There are other reasons very well known to
women, the principal of which is, that, in their opinion, love in men
is always _small_.

"Where did you get that idea, my sweet? You must have dreamed it!"


Caroline stands stark still: she opens wide her eyes which are already
considerably widened by amazement. Being inwardly epileptic, she says
not a word: she merely gazes at Adolphe. Under the satanic fires of
their gaze, Adolphe turns half way round toward the dining-room; but
he asks himself whether it would not be well to let Caroline take one
lesson, and to tip the wink to the riding-master, to disgust her with
equestrianism by the harshness of his style of instruction.

There is nothing so terrible as an actress who reckons upon a success,
and who _fait four_.

In the language of the stage, to _faire four_ is to play to a
wretchedly thin house, or to obtain not the slightest applause. It is
taking great pains for nothing, in short a _signal failure_.

This petty trouble--it is very petty--is reproduced in a thousand ways
in married life, when the honey-moon is over, and when the wife has no
personal fortune.

In spite of the author's repugnance to inserting anecdotes in an
exclusively aphoristic work, the tissue of which will bear nothing but
the most delicate and subtle observations,--from the nature of the
subject at least,--it seems to him necessary to illustrate this page
by an incident narrated by one of our first physicians. This
repetition of the subject involves a rule of conduct very much in use
with the doctors of Paris.

A certain husband was in our Adolphe's situation. His Caroline, having
once made a signal failure, was determined to conquer, for Caroline
often does conquer! (See _The Physiology of Marriage_, Meditation
XXVI, Paragraph _Nerves_.) She had been lying about on the sofas for
two months, getting up at noon, taking no part in the amusements of
the city. She would not go to the theatre,--oh, the disgusting
atmosphere!--the lights, above all, the lights! Then the bustle,
coming out, going in, the music,--it might be fatal, it's so terribly

She would not go on excursions to the country, oh, certainly it was
her desire to do so!--but she would like (desiderata) a carriage of
her own, horses of her own--her husband would not give her an
equipage. And as to going in hacks, in hired conveyances, the bare
thought gave her a rising at the stomach!

She would not have any cooking--the smell of the meats produced a
sudden nausea. She drank innumerable drugs that her maid never saw her

In short, she expended large amounts of time and money in attitudes,
privations, effects, pearl-white to give her the pallor of a corpse,
machinery, and the like, precisely as when the manager of a theatre
spreads rumors about a piece gotten up in a style of Oriental
magnificence, without regard to expense!

This couple had got so far as to believe that even a journey to the
springs, to Ems, to Hombourg, to Carlsbad, would hardly cure the
invalid: but madame would not budge, unless she could go in her own
carriage. Always that carriage!

Adolphe held out, and would not yield.

Caroline, who was a woman of great sagacity, admitted that her husband
was right.

"Adolphe is right," she said to her friends, "it is I who am
unreasonable: he can not, he ought not, have a carriage yet: men know
better than we do the situation of their business."

At times Adolphe was perfectly furious! Women have ways about them
that demand the justice of Tophet itself. Finally, during the third
month, he met one of his school friends, a lieutenant in the corps of
physicians, modest as all young doctors are: he had had his epaulettes
one day only, and could give the order to fire!

"For a young woman, a young doctor," said our Adolphe to himself.

And he proposed to the future Bianchon to visit his wife and tell him
the truth about her condition.

"My dear, it is time that you should have a physician," said Adolphe
that evening to his wife, "and here is the best for a pretty woman."

The novice makes a conscientious examination, questions madame, feels
her pulse discreetly, inquires into the slightest symptoms, and, at
the end, while conversing, allows a smile, an expression, which, if
not ironical, are extremely incredulous, to play involuntarily upon
his lips, and his lips are quite in sympathy with his eyes. He
prescribes some insignificant remedy, and insists upon its importance,
promising to call again to observe its effect. In the ante-chamber,
thinking himself alone with his school-mate, he indulges in an
inexpressible shrug of the shoulders.

"There's nothing the matter with your wife, my boy," he says: "she is
trifling with both you and me."

"Well, I thought so."

"But if she continues the joke, she will make herself sick in earnest:
I am too sincerely your friend to enter into such a speculation, for I
am determined that there shall be an honest man beneath the physician,
in me--"

"My wife wants a carriage."

As in the _Solo on the Hearse_, this Caroline listened at the door.

Even at the present day, the young doctor is obliged to clear his path
of the calumnies which this charming woman is continually throwing
into it: and for the sake of a quiet life, he has been obliged to
confess his little error--a young man's error--and to mention his
enemy by name, in order to close her lips.

                      THE CHESTNUTS IN THE FIRE.

No one can tell how many shades and gradations there are in
misfortune, for everything depends upon the character of the
individual, upon the force of the imagination, upon the strength of
the nerves. If it is impossible to catch these so variable shades, we
may at least point out the most striking colors, and the principal
attendant incidents. The author has therefore reserved this petty
trouble for the last, for it is the only one that is at once comic and

The author flatters himself that he has mentioned the principal
examples. Thus, women who have arrived safely at the haven, the happy
age of forty, the period when they are delivered from scandal,
calumny, suspicion, when their liberty begins: these women will
certainly do him the justice to state that all the critical situations
of a family are pointed out or represented in this book.

Caroline has her Chaumontel's affair. She has learned how to induce
Adolphe to go out unexpectedly, and has an understanding with Madame
de Fischtaminel.

In every household, within a given time, ladies like Madame de
Fischtaminel become Caroline's main resource.

Caroline pets Madame de Fischtaminel with all the tenderness that the
African army is now bestowing upon Abd-el-Kader: she is as solicitous
in her behalf as a physician is anxious to avoid curing a rich
hypochondriac. Between the two, Caroline and Madame de Fischtaminel
invent occupations for dear Adolphe, when neither of them desire the
presence of that demigod among their penates. Madame de Fischtaminel
and Caroline, who have become, through the efforts of Madame
Foullepointe, the best friends in the world, have even gone so far as
to learn and employ that feminine free-masonry, the rites of which
cannot be made familiar by any possible initiation.

If Caroline writes the following little note to Madame de

"Dearest Angel:

"You will probably see Adolphe to-morrow, but do not keep him too
long, for I want to go to ride with him at five: but if you are
desirous of taking him to ride yourself, do so and I will take him up.
You ought to teach me your secret for entertaining used-up people as
you do."

Madame de Fischtaminel says to herself: "Gracious! So I shall have
that fellow on my hands to-morrow from twelve o'clock to five."

Axiom.--Men do not always know a woman's positive request when they
see it; but another woman never mistakes it: she does the contrary.

Those sweet little beings called women, and especially Parisian women,
are the prettiest jewels that social industry has invented. Those who
do not adore them, those who do not feel a constant jubilation at
seeing them laying their plots while braiding their hair, creating
special idioms for themselves and constructing with their slender
fingers machines strong enough to destroy the most powerful fortunes,
must be wanting in a positive sense.

On one occasion Caroline takes the most minute precautions. She writes
the day before to Madame Foullepointe to go to St. Maur with Adolphe,
to look at a piece of property for sale there. Adolphe would go to
breakfast with her. She aids Adolphe in dressing. She twits him with
the care he bestows upon his toilet, and asks absurd questions about
Madame Foullepointe.

"She's real nice, and I think she is quite tired of Charles: you'll
inscribe her yet upon your catalogue, you old Don Juan: but you won't
have any further need of Chaumontel's affair; I'm no longer jealous,
you've got a passport. Do you like that better than being adored?
Monster, observe how considerate I am."

So soon as her husband has gone, Caroline, who had not omitted, the
previous evening, to write to Ferdinand to come to breakfast with her,
equips herself in a costume which, in that charming eighteenth century
so calumniated by republicans, humanitarians and idiots, women of
quality called their fighting-dress.

Caroline has taken care of everything. Love is the first house servant
in the world, so the table is set with positively diabolic coquetry.
There is the white damask cloth, the little blue service, the silver
gilt urn, the chiseled milk pitcher, and flowers all round!

If it is winter, she has got some grapes, and has rummaged the cellar
for the very best old wine. The rolls are from the most famous
baker's. The succulent dishes, the _pate de foie gras_, the whole of
this elegant entertainment, would have made the author of the
Glutton's Almanac neigh with impatience: it would make a note-shaver
smile, and tell a professor of the old University what the matter in
hand is.

Everything is prepared. Caroline has been ready since the night
before: she contemplates her work. Justine sighs and arranges the
furniture. Caroline picks off the yellow leaves of the plants in the
windows. A woman, in these cases, disguises what we may call the
prancings of the heart, by those meaningless occupations in which the
fingers have all the grip of pincers, when the pink nails burn, and
when this unspoken exclamation rasps the throat: "He hasn't come yet!"

What a blow is this announcement by Justine: "Madame, here's a

A letter in place of Ferdinand! How does she ever open it? What ages
of life slip by as she unfolds it! Women know this by experience! As
to men, when they are in such maddening passes, they murder their

"Justine, Monsieur Ferdinand is ill!" exclaims Caroline. "Send for a

As Justine goes down stairs, Adolphe comes up.

"My poor mistress!" observes Justine. "I guess she won't want the
carriage now."

"Oh my! Where have you come from?" cries Caroline, on seeing Adolphe
standing in ecstasy before her voluptuous breakfast.

Adolphe, whose wife long since gave up treating _him_ to such charming
banquets, does not answer. But he guesses what it all means, as he
sees the cloth inscribed with the delightful ideas which Madame de
Fischtaminel or the syndic of Chaumontel's affair have often inscribed
for him upon tables quite as elegant.

"Whom are you expecting?" he asks in his turn.

"Who could it be, except Ferdinand?" replies Caroline.

"And is he keeping you waiting?"

"He is sick, poor fellow."

A quizzical idea enters Adolphe's head, and he replies, winking with
one eye only: "I have just seen him."


"In front of the Cafe de Paris, with some friends."

"But why have you come back?" says Caroline, trying to conceal her
murderous fury.

"Madame Foullepointe, who was tired of Charles, you said, has been
with him at Ville d'Avray since yesterday."

Adolphe sits down, saying: "This has happened very appropriately, for
I'm as hungry as two bears."

Caroline sits down, too, and looks at Adolphe stealthily: she weeps
internally: but she very soon asks, in a tone of voice that she
manages to render indifferent, "Who was Ferdinand with?"

"With some fellows who lead him into bad company. The young man is
getting spoiled: he goes to Madame Schontz's. You ought to write to
your uncle. It was probably some breakfast or other, the result of a
bet made at M'lle Malaga's." He looks slyly at Caroline, who drops her
eyes to conceal her tears. "How beautiful you have made yourself this
morning," Adolphe resumes. "Ah, you are a fair match for your
breakfast. I don't think Ferdinand will make as good a meal as I
shall," etc., etc.

Adolphe manages the joke so cleverly that he inspires his wife with
the idea of punishing Ferdinand. Adolphe, who claims to be as hungry
as two bears, causes Caroline to forget that a carriage waits for her
at the door.

The female that tends the gate at the house Ferdinand lives in,
arrives at about two o'clock, while Adolphe is asleep on a sofa. That
Iris of bachelors comes to say to Caroline that Monsieur Ferdinand is
very much in need of some one.

"He's drunk, I suppose," says Caroline in a rage.

"He fought a duel this morning, madame."

Caroline swoons, gets up and rushes to Ferdinand, wishing Adolphe at
the bottom of the sea.

When women are the victims of these little inventions, which are quite
as adroit as their own, they are sure to exclaim, "What abominable
monsters men are!"

                            ULTIMA RATIO.

We have come to our last observation. Doubtless this work is beginning
to tire you quite as much as its subject does, if you are married.

This work, which, according to the author, is to the _Physiology of
Marriage_ what Fact is to Theory, or History to Philosophy, has its
logic, as life, viewed as a whole, has its logic, also.

This logic--fatal, terrible--is as follows. At the close of the first
part of the book--a book filled with serious pleasantry--Adolphe has
reached, as you must have noticed, a point of complete indifference in
matrimonial matters.

He has read novels in which the writers advise troublesome husbands to
embark for the other world, or to live in peace with the fathers of
their children, to pet and adore them: for if literature is the
reflection of manners, we must admit that our manners recognize the
defects pointed out by the _Physiology of Marriage_ in this
fundamental institution. More than one great genius has dealt this
social basis terrible blows, without shaking it.

Adolphe has especially read his wife too closely, and disguises his
indifference by this profound word: indulgence. He is indulgent with
Caroline, he sees in her nothing but the mother of his children, a
good companion, a sure friend, a brother.

When the petty troubles of the wife cease, Caroline, who is more
clever than her husband, has come to profit by this advantageous
indulgence: but she does not give her dear Adolphe up. It is woman's
nature never to yield any of her rights. DIEU ET MON DROIT--CONJUGAL!
is, as is well known, the motto of England, and is especially so

Women have such a love of domination that we will relate an anecdote,
not ten years old, in point. It is a very young anecdote.

One of the grand dignitaries of the Chamber of Peers had a Caroline,
as lax as Carolines usually are. The name is an auspicious one for
women. This dignitary, extremely old at the time, was on one side of
the fireplace, and Caroline on the other. Caroline was hard upon the
lustrum when women no longer tell their age. A friend came in to
inform them of the marriage of a general who had lately been intimate
in their house.

Caroline at once had a fit of despair, with genuine tears; she
screamed and made the grand dignitary's head ache to such a degree,
that he tried to console her. In the midst of his condolences, the
count forgot himself so far as to say--"What can you expect, my dear,
he really could not marry you!"

And this was one of the highest functionaries of the state, but a
friend of Louis XVIII, and necessarily a little bit Pompadour.

The whole difference, then, between the situation of Adolphe and that
of Caroline, consists in this: though he no longer cares about her,
she retains the right to care about him.

Now, let us listen to "What _they_ say," the theme of the concluding
chapter of this work.



Who has not heard an Italian opera in the course of his life? You must
then have noticed the musical abuse of the word _felicita_, so
lavishly used by the librettist and the chorus at the moment when
everybody is deserting his box or leaving the house.

Frightful image of life. We quit it just when we hear _la felicita_.

Have you reflected upon the profound truth conveyed by this finale, at
the instant when the composer delivers his last note and the author
his last line, when the orchestra gives the last pull at the
fiddle-bow and the last puff at the bassoon, when the principal singers
say "Let's go to supper!" and the chorus people exclaim "How lucky, it
doesn't rain!" Well, in every condition in life, as in an Italian
opera, there comes a time when the joke is over, when the trick is
done, when people must make up their minds to one thing or the other,
when everybody is singing his own _felicita_ for himself. After having
gone through with all the duos, the solos, the stretti, the codas, the
concerted pieces, the duettos, the nocturnes, the phases which these
few scenes, chosen from the ocean of married life, exhibit you, and
which are themes whose variations have doubtless been divined by
persons with brains as well as by the shallow--for so far as suffering
is concerned, we are all equal--the greater part of Parisian
households reach, without a given time, the following final chorus:

THE WIFE, _to a young woman in the conjugal Indian Summer_. My dear, I
am the happiest woman in the world. Adolphe is the model of husbands,
kind, obliging, not a bit of a tease. Isn't he, Ferdinand?

Caroline addresses Adolphe's cousin, a young man with a nice cravat,
glistening hair and patent leather boots: his coat is cut in the most
elegant fashion: he has a crush hat, kid gloves, something very choice
in the way of a waistcoat, the very best style of moustaches,
whiskers, and a goatee a la Mazarin; he is also endowed with a
profound, mute, attentive admiration of Caroline.

FERDINAND. Adolphe is happy to have a wife like you! What does he
want? Nothing.

THE WIFE. In the beginning, we were always vexing each other: but now
we get along marvelously. Adolphe no longer does anything but what he
likes, he never puts himself out: I never ask him where he is going
nor what he has seen. Indulgence, my dear, is the great secret of
happiness. You, doubtless, are still in the period of petty troubles,
causeless jealousies, cross-purposes, and all sorts of little
botherations. What is the good of all this? We women have but a short
life, at the best. How much? Ten good years! Why should we fill them
with vexation? I was like you. But, one fine morning, I made the
acquaintance of Madame de Fischtaminel, a charming woman, who taught
me how to make a husband happy. Since then, Adolphe has changed
radically; he has become perfectly delightful. He is the first to say
to me, with anxiety, with alarm, even, when I am going to the theatre,
and he and I are still alone at seven o'clock: "Ferdinand is coming
for you, isn't he?" Doesn't he, Ferdinand?

FERDINAND. We are the best cousins in the world.

THE INDIAN SUMMER WIFE, _very much affected_. Shall I ever come to

THE HUSBAND, _on the Italian Boulevard_. My dear boy [he has
button-holed Monsieur de Fischtaminel], you still believe that marriage
is based upon passion. Let me tell you that the best way, in conjugal
life, is to have a plenary indulgence, one for the other, on condition
that appearances be preserved. I am the happiest husband in the world.
Caroline is a devoted friend, she would sacrifice everything for me,
even my cousin Ferdinand, if it were necessary: oh, you may laugh, but
she is ready to do anything. You entangle yourself in your laughable
ideas of dignity, honor, virtue, social order. We can't have our life
over again, so we must cram it full of pleasure. Not the smallest
bitter word has been exchanged between Caroline and me for two years
past. I have, in Caroline, a friend to whom I can tell everything, and
who would be amply able to console me in a great emergency. There is
not the slightest deceit between us, and we know perfectly well what
the state of things is. We have thus changed our duties into
pleasures. We are often happier, thus, than in that insipid season
called the honey-moon. She says to me, sometimes, "I'm out of humor,
go away." The storm then falls upon my cousin. Caroline never puts on
her airs of a victim, now, but speaks in the kindest manner of me to
the whole world. In short, she is happy in my pleasures. And as she is
a scrupulously honest woman, she is conscientious to the last degree
in her use of our fortune. My house is well kept. My wife leaves me
the right to dispose of my reserve without the slightest control on
her part. That's the way of it. We have oiled our wheels and cogs,
while you, my dear Fischtaminel, have put gravel in yours.

CHORUS, _in a parlor during a ball_. Madame Caroline is a charming

A WOMAN IN A TURBAN. Yes, she is very proper, very dignified.

A WOMAN WHO HAS SEVEN CHILDREN. Ah! she learned early how to manage
her husband.

ONE OF FERDINAND'S FRIENDS. But she loves her husband exceedingly.
Besides, Adolphe is a man of great distinction and experience.

no fuss at their house, everybody is at home there.

MONSIEUR FOULLEPOINTE. Yes, it's a very agreeable house.

and obliging, and never talks scandal of anybody.

A YOUNG LADY, _returning to her place after a dance_. Don't you
remember how tiresome she was when she visited the Deschars?

MADAME DE FISCHTAMINEL. Oh! She and her husband were two bundles of
briars--continually quarreling. [She goes away.]

AN ARTIST. I hear that the individual known as Deschars is getting
dissipated: he goes round town--

A WOMAN, _alarmed at the turn the conversation is taking, as her
daughter can hear_. Madame de Fischtaminel is charming, this evening.

A WOMAN OF FORTY, _without employment_. Monsieur Adolphe appears to be
as happy as his wife.

A YOUNG LADY. Oh! what a sweet man Monsieur Ferdinand is! [Her mother
reproves her by a sharp nudge with her foot.] What's the matter,

HER MOTHER, _looking at her fixedly_. A young woman should not speak
so, my dear, of any one but her betrothed, and Monsieur Ferdinand is
not a marrying man.

A LADY DRESSED RATHER LOW IN THE NECK, _to another lady dressed
equally low, in a whisper_. The fact is, my dear, the moral of all
this is that there are no happy couples but couples of four.

A FRIEND, _whom the author was so imprudent as to consult_. Those last
words are false.

THE AUTHOR. Do you think so?

THE FRIEND, _who has just been married_. You all of you use your ink
in depreciating social life, on the pretext of enlightening us! Why,
there are couples a hundred, a thousand times happier than your
boasted couples of four.

THE AUTHOR. Well, shall I deceive the marrying class of the
population, and scratch the passage out?

THE FRIEND. No, it will be taken merely as the point of a song in a

THE AUTHOR. Yes, a method of passing truths off upon society.

THE FRIEND, _who sticks to his opinion_. Such truths as are destined
to be passed off upon it.

THE AUTHOR, _who wants to have the last word_. Who and what is there
that does not pass off, or become passe? When your wife is twenty
years older, we will resume this conversation.

THE FRIEND. You revenge yourself cruelly for your inability to write
the history of happy homes.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Petty Troubles of Married Life, Complete" ***

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