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Title: Education sentimentale. English - Sentimental Education, Volume II - The History of a Young Man
Author: Flaubert, Gustave, 1821-1880
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.

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Transcriber's note:

      Some inconsistencies of spelling and grammar have been corrected,
      while others have been retained.



The Complete Works of Gustave Flaubert

Embracing
Romances, Travels, Comedies,
Sketches and
Correspondence

With a
Critical Introduction
by
Ferdinand Brunetiere
of the French Academy
and a
Biographical Preface by
Robert Arnot, M.A.

Printed
Only for Subscribers by
M. Walter Dunne,
New York and London


[Illustration]

[Illustration: Ah! thanks! You are going to save me!]


SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION

Or,

The History of a Young Man

by

GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

VOLUME II.



M. Walter Dunne
New York and London

Copyright, 1904, by
M. Walter Dunne
Entered at Stationers' Hall, London



CONTENTS


   SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION
   (_Continued._)

                                                        PAGE

   CHAPTER XI.
           A DINNER AND A DUEL                             1

   CHAPTER XII.
           LITTLE LOUISE GROWS UP                         47

   CHAPTER XIII.
           ROSANETTE AS A LOVELY TURK                     62

   CHAPTER XIV.
           THE BARRICADE                                 110

   CHAPTER XV.
           "HOW HAPPY COULD I BE WITH EITHER"            193

   CHAPTER XVI.
           UNPLEASANT NEWS FROM ROSANETTE                214

   CHAPTER XVII.
           A STRANGE BETROTHAL                           242

   CHAPTER XVIII.
           AN AUCTION                                    292

   CHAPTER XIX.
           A BITTER-SWEET REUNION                        315

   CHAPTER XX.
           "WAIT TILL YOU COME TO FORTY YEAR"            323



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                      FACING
                                                       PAGE

"AH! THANKS! YOU ARE GOING TO SAVE ME!"
  (See page 107)                              _Frontispiece_

"CAN I LIVE WITHOUT YOU?"                                 58

WHEN A WOMAN SUDDENLY CAME IN                            315



SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION

[_CONTINUED_]


CHAPTER XI.

A DINNER AND A DUEL.


Frederick passed the whole of the next day in brooding over his anger
and humiliation. He reproached himself for not having given a slap in
the face to Cisy. As for the Maréchale, he swore not to see her again.
Others as good-looking could be easily found; and, as money would be
required in order to possess these women, he would speculate on the
Bourse with the purchase-money of his farm. He would get rich; he would
crush the Maréchale and everyone else with his luxury. When the evening
had come, he was surprised at not having thought of Madame Arnoux.

"So much the better. What's the good of it?"

Two days after, at eight o'clock, Pellerin came to pay him a visit. He
began by expressing his admiration of the furniture and talking in a
wheedling tone. Then, abruptly:

"You were at the races on Sunday?"

"Yes, alas!"

Thereupon the painter decried the anatomy of English horses, and praised
the horses of Gericourt and the horses of the Parthenon.

"Rosanette was with you?"

And he artfully proceeded to speak in flattering terms about her.

Frederick's freezing manner put him a little out of countenance.

He did not know how to bring about the question of her portrait. His
first idea had been to do a portrait in the style of Titian. But
gradually the varied colouring of his model had bewitched him; he had
gone on boldly with the work, heaping up paste on paste and light on
light. Rosanette, in the beginning, was enchanted. Her appointments with
Delmar had interrupted the sittings, and left Pellerin all the time to
get bedazzled. Then, as his admiration began to subside, he asked
himself whether the picture might not be on a larger scale. He had gone
to have another look at the Titians, realised how the great artist had
filled in his portraits with such finish, and saw wherein his own
shortcomings lay; and then he began to go over the outlines again in the
most simple fashion. After that, he sought, by scraping them off, to
lose there, to mingle there, all the tones of the head and those of the
background; and the face had assumed consistency and the shades
vigour--the whole work had a look of greater firmness. At length the
Maréchale came back again. She even indulged in some hostile criticisms.
The painter naturally persevered in his own course. After getting into a
violent passion at her silliness, he said to himself that, after all,
perhaps she was right. Then began the era of doubts, twinges of
reflection which brought about cramps in the stomach, insomnia,
feverishness and disgust with himself. He had the courage to make some
retouchings, but without much heart, and with a feeling that his work
was bad.

He complained merely of having been refused a place in the Salon; then
he reproached Frederick for not having come to see the Maréchale's
portrait.

"What do I care about the Maréchale?"

Such an expression of unconcern emboldened the artist.

"Would you believe that this brute has no interest in the thing any
longer?"

What he did not mention was that he had asked her for a thousand crowns.
Now the Maréchale did not give herself much bother about ascertaining
who was going to pay, and, preferring to screw money out of Arnoux for
things of a more urgent character, had not even spoken to him on the
subject.

"Well, and Arnoux?"

She had thrown it over on him. The ex-picture-dealer wished to have
nothing to do with the portrait.

"He maintains that it belongs to Rosanette."

"In fact, it is hers."

"How is that? 'Tis she that sent me to you," was Pellerin's answer.

If he had been thinking of the excellence of his work, he would not have
dreamed perhaps of making capital out of it. But a sum--and a big
sum--would be an effective reply to the critics, and would strengthen
his own position. Finally, to get rid of his importunities, Frederick
courteously enquired his terms.

The extravagant figure named by Pellerin quite took away his breath, and
he replied:

"Oh! no--no!"

"You, however, are her lover--'tis you gave me the order!"

"Excuse me, I was only an intermediate agent."

"But I can't remain with this on my hands!"

The artist lost his temper.

"Ha! I didn't imagine you were so covetous!"

"Nor I that you were so stingy! I wish you good morning!"

He had just gone out when Sénécal made his appearance.

Frederick was moving about restlessly, in a state of great agitation.

"What's the matter?"

Sénécal told his story.

"On Saturday, at nine o'clock, Madame Arnoux got a letter which summoned
her back to Paris. As there happened to be nobody in the place at the
time to go to Creil for a vehicle, she asked me to go there myself. I
refused, for this was no part of my duties. She left, and came back on
Sunday evening. Yesterday morning, Arnoux came down to the works. The
girl from Bordeaux made a complaint to him. I don't know what passed
between them; but he took off before everyone the fine I had imposed on
her. Some sharp words passed between us. In short, he closed accounts
with me, and here I am!"

Then, with a pause between every word:

"Furthermore, I am not sorry. I have done my duty. No matter--you were
the cause of it."

"How?" exclaimed Frederick, alarmed lest Sénécal might have guessed his
secret.

Sénécal had not, however, guessed anything about it, for he replied:

"That is to say, but for you I might have done better."

Frederick was seized with a kind of remorse.

"In what way can I be of service to you now?"

Sénécal wanted some employment, a situation.

"That is an easy thing for you to manage. You know many people of good
position, Monsieur Dambreuse amongst others; at least, so Deslauriers
told me."

This allusion to Deslauriers was by no means agreeable to his friend. He
scarcely cared to call on the Dambreuses again after his undesirable
meeting with them in the Champ de Mars.

"I am not on sufficiently intimate terms with them to recommend anyone."

The democrat endured this refusal stoically, and after a minute's
silence:

"All this, I am sure, is due to the girl from Bordeaux, and to your
Madame Arnoux."

This "your" had the effect of wiping out of Frederick's heart the slight
modicum of regard he entertained for Sénécal. Nevertheless, he stretched
out his hand towards the key of his escritoire through delicacy.

Sénécal anticipated him:

"Thanks!"

Then, forgetting his own troubles, he talked about the affairs of the
nation, the crosses of the Legion of Honour wasted at the Royal Fête,
the question of a change of ministry, the Drouillard case and the Bénier
case--scandals of the day--declaimed against the middle class, and
predicted a revolution.

His eyes were attracted by a Japanese dagger hanging on the wall. He
took hold of it; then he flung it on the sofa with an air of disgust.

"Come, then! good-bye! I must go to Nôtre Dame de Lorette."

"Hold on! Why?"

"The anniversary service for Godefroy Cavaignac is taking place there
to-day. He died at work--that man! But all is not over. Who knows?"

And Sénécal, with a show of fortitude, put out his hand:

"Perhaps we shall never see each other again! good-bye!"

This "good-bye," repeated several times, his knitted brows as he gazed
at the dagger, his resignation, and the solemnity of his manner, above
all, plunged Frederick into a thoughtful mood, but very soon he ceased
to think about Sénécal.

During the same week, his notary at Havre sent him the sum realised by
the sale of his farm--one hundred and seventy-four thousand francs. He
divided it into two portions, invested the first half in the Funds, and
brought the second half to a stock-broker to take his chance of making
money by it on the Bourse.

He dined at fashionable taverns, went to the theatres, and was trying to
amuse himself as best he could, when Hussonnet addressed a letter to him
announcing in a gay fashion that the Maréchale had got rid of Cisy the
very day after the races. Frederick was delighted at this intelligence,
without taking the trouble to ascertain what the Bohemian's motive was
in giving him the information.

It so happened that he met Cisy, three days later. That aristocratic
young gentleman kept his counteance, and even invited Frederick to dine
on the following Wednesday.

On the morning of that day, the latter received a notification from a
process-server, in which M. Charles Jean Baptiste Oudry apprised him
that by the terms of a legal judgment he had become the purchaser of a
property situated at Belleville, belonging to M. Jacques Arnoux, and
that he was ready to pay the two hundred and twenty-three thousand for
which it had been sold. But, as it appeared by the same decree that the
amount of the mortgages with which the estate was encumbered exceeded
the purchase-money, Frederick's claim would in consequence be completely
forfeited.

The entire mischief arose from not having renewed the registration of
the mortgage within the proper time. Arnoux had undertaken to attend to
this matter formally himself, and had then forgotten all about it.
Frederick got into a rage with him for this, and when the young man's
anger had passed off:

"Well, afterwards----what?"

"If this can save him, so much the better. It won't kill me! Let us
think no more about it!"

But, while moving about his papers on the table, he came across
Hussonnet's letter, and noticed the postscript, which had not at first
attracted his attention. The Bohemian wanted just five thousand francs
to give the journal a start.

"Ah! this fellow is worrying me to death!"

And he sent a curt answer, unceremoniously refusing the application.
After that, he dressed himself to go to the Maison d'Or.

Cisy introduced his guests, beginning with the most respectable of them,
a big, white-haired gentleman.

"The Marquis Gilbert des Aulnays, my godfather. Monsieur Anselme de
Forchambeaux," he said next--(a thin, fair-haired young man, already
bald); then, pointing towards a simple-mannered man of forty: "Joseph
Boffreu, my cousin; and here is my old tutor, Monsieur Vezou"--a person
who seemed a mixture of a ploughman and a seminarist, with large
whiskers and a long frock-coat fastened at the end by a single button,
so that it fell over his chest like a shawl.

Cisy was expecting some one else--the Baron de Comaing, who "might
perhaps come, but it was not certain." He left the room every minute,
and appeared to be in a restless frame of mind. Finally, at eight
o'clock, they proceeded towards an apartment splendidly lighted up and
much more spacious than the number of guests required. Cisy had selected
it for the special purpose of display.

A vermilion épergne laden with flowers and fruit occupied the centre of
the table, which was covered with silver dishes, after the old French
fashion; glass bowls full of salt meats and spices formed a border all
around it. Jars of iced red wine stood at regular distances from each
other. Five glasses of different sizes were ranged before each plate,
with things of which the use could not be divined--a thousand dinner
utensils of an ingenious description. For the first course alone, there
was a sturgeon's jowl moistened with champagne, a Yorkshire ham with
tokay, thrushes with sauce, roast quail, a béchamel vol-au-vent, a stew
of red-legged partridges, and at the two ends of all this, fringes of
potatoes which were mingled with truffles. The apartment was illuminated
by a lustre and some girandoles, and it was hung with red damask
curtains.

Four men-servants in black coats stood behind the armchairs, which were
upholstered in morocco. At this sight the guests uttered an
exclamation--the tutor more emphatically than the rest.

"Upon my word, our host has indulged in a foolishly lavish display of
luxury. It is too beautiful!"

"Is that so?" said the Vicomte de Cisy; "Come on, then!"

And, as they were swallowing the first spoonful:

"Well, my dear old friend Aulnays, have you been to the Palais-Royal to
see _Père et Portier_?"

"You know well that I have no time to go!" replied the Marquis.

His mornings were taken up with a course of arboriculture, his evenings
were spent at the Agricultural Club, and all his afternoons were
occupied by a study of the implements of husbandry in manufactories. As
he resided at Saintonge for three fourths of the year, he took advantage
of his visits to the capital to get fresh information; and his
large-brimmed hat, which lay on a side-table, was crammed with
pamphlets.

But Cisy, observing that M. de Forchambeaux refused to take wine:

"Go on, damn it, drink! You're not in good form for your last bachelor's
meal!"

At this remark all bowed and congratulated him.

"And the young lady," said the tutor, "is charming, I'm sure?"

"Faith, she is!" exclaimed Cisy. "No matter, he is making a mistake;
marriage is such a stupid thing!"

"You talk in a thoughtless fashion, my friend!" returned M. des Aulnays,
while tears began to gather in his eyes at the recollection of his own
dead wife.

And Forchambeaux repeated several times in succession:

"It will be your own case--it will be your own case!"

Cisy protested. He preferred to enjoy himself--to "live in the
free-and-easy style of the Regency days." He wanted to learn the
shoe-trick, in order to visit the thieves' taverns of the city, like
Rodolphe in the _Mysteries of Paris_; drew out of his pocket a dirty
clay pipe, abused the servants, and drank a great quantity; then, in
order to create a good impression about himself, he disparaged all the
dishes. He even sent away the truffles; and the tutor, who was
exceedingly fond of them, said through servility;

"These are not as good as your grandmother's snow-white eggs."

Then he began to chat with the person sitting next to him, the
agriculturist, who found many advantages from his sojourn in the
country, if it were only to be able to bring up his daughters with
simple tastes. The tutor approved of his ideas and toadied to him,
supposing that this gentleman possessed influence over his former pupil,
whose man of business he was anxious to become.

Frederick had come there filled with hostility to Cisy; but the young
aristocrat's idiocy had disarmed him. However, as the other's gestures,
face, and entire person brought back to his recollection the dinner at
the Café Anglais, he got more and more irritated; and he lent his ears
to the complimentary remarks made in a low tone by Joseph, the cousin, a
fine young fellow without any money, who was a lover of the chase and a
University prizeman. Cisy, for the sake of a laugh, called him a
"catcher"[A] several times; then suddenly:

"Ha! here comes the Baron!"

At that moment, there entered a jovial blade of thirty, with somewhat
rough-looking features and active limbs, wearing his hat over his ear
and displaying a flower in his button-hole. He was the Vicomte's ideal.
The young aristocrat was delighted at having him there; and stimulated
by his presence, he even attempted a pun; for he said, as they passed a
heath-cock:

"There's the best of La Bruyère's characters!"[B]

After that, he put a heap of questions to M. de Comaing about persons
unknown to society; then, as if an idea had suddenly seized him:

"Tell me, pray! have you thought about me?"

The other shrugged his shoulders:

"You are not old enough, my little man. It is impossible!"

Cisy had begged of the Baron to get him admitted into his club. But the
other having, no doubt, taken pity on his vanity:

"Ha! I was forgetting! A thousand congratulations on having won your
bet, my dear fellow!"

"What bet?"

"The bet you made at the races to effect an entrance the same evening
into that lady's house."

Frederick felt as if he had got a lash with a whip. He was speedily
appeased by the look of utter confusion in Cisy's face.


[A] _Voleur_ means, at the same time, a "hunter" and a "thief." This is
the foundation for Cisy's little joke.--TRANSLATOR.

[B] _Coq de bruyère_ means a heath-cock or grouse; hence the play on the
name of La Bruyère, whose _Caractères_ is a well-known work.--TRANSLATOR.


In fact, the Maréchale, next morning, was filled with regret when
Arnoux, her first lover, her good friend, had presented himself that
very day. They both gave the Vicomte to understand that he was in the
way, and kicked him out without much ceremony.

He pretended not to have heard what was said.

The Baron went on:

"What has become of her, this fine Rose? Is she as pretty as ever?"
showing by his manner that he had been on terms of intimacy with her.

Frederick was chagrined by the discovery.

"There's nothing to blush at," said the Baron, pursuing the topic, "'tis
a good thing!"

Cisy smacked his tongue.

"Whew! not so good!"

"Ha!"

"Oh dear, yes! In the first place, I found her nothing extraordinary,
and then, you pick up the like of her as often as you please, for, in
fact, she is for sale!"

"Not for everyone!" remarked Frederick, with some bitterness.

"He imagines that he is different from the others," was Cisy's comment.
"What a good joke!"

And a laugh ran round the table.

Frederick felt as if the palpitations of his heart would suffocate him.
He swallowed two glasses of water one after the other.

But the Baron had preserved a lively recollection of Rosanette.

"Is she still interested in a fellow named Arnoux?"

"I haven't the faintest idea," said Cisy, "I don't know that gentleman!"

Nevertheless, he suggested that he believed Arnoux was a sort of
swindler.

"A moment!" exclaimed Frederick.

"However, there is no doubt about it! Legal proceedings have been taken
against him."

"That is not true!"

Frederick began to defend Arnoux, vouched for his honesty, ended by
convincing himself of it, and concocted figures and proofs. The Vicomte,
full of spite, and tipsy in addition, persisted in his assertions, so
that Frederick said to him gravely:

"Is the object of this to give offence to me, Monsieur?"

And he looked Cisy full in the face, with eyeballs as red as his cigar.

"Oh! not at all. I grant you that he possesses something very nice--his
wife."

"Do you know her?"

"Faith, I do! Sophie Arnoux; everyone knows her."

"You mean to tell me that?"

Cisy, who had staggered to his feet, hiccoughed:

"Everyone--knows--her."

"Hold your tongue. It is not with women of her sort you keep company!"

"I--flatter myself--it is."

Frederick flung a plate at his face. It passed like a flash of lightning
over the table, knocked down two bottles, demolished a fruit-dish, and
breaking into three pieces, by knocking against the épergne, hit the
Vicomte in the stomach.

All the other guests arose to hold him back. He struggled and shrieked,
possessed by a kind of frenzy.

M. des Aulnays kept repeating:

"Come, be calm, my dear boy!"

"Why, this is frightful!" shouted the tutor.

Forchambeaux, livid as a plum, was trembling. Joseph indulged in
repeated outbursts of laughter. The attendants sponged out the traces of
the wine, and gathered up the remains of the dinner from the floor; and
the Baron went and shut the window, for the uproar, in spite of the
noise of carriage-wheels, could be heard on the boulevard.

As all present at the moment the plate had been flung had been talking
at the same time, it was impossible to discover the cause of the
attack--whether it was on account of Arnoux, Madame Arnoux, Rosanette,
or somebody else. One thing only they were certain of, that Frederick
had acted with indescribable brutality. On his part, he refused
positively to testify the slightest regret for what he had done.

M. des Aulnays tried to soften him. Cousin Joseph, the tutor, and
Forchambeaux himself joined in the effort. The Baron, all this time, was
cheering up Cisy, who, yielding to nervous weakness, began to shed
tears.

Frederick, on the contrary, was getting more and more angry, and they
would have remained there till daybreak if the Baron had not said, in
order to bring matters to a close:

"The Vicomte, Monsieur, will send his seconds to call on you to-morrow."

"Your hour?"

"Twelve, if it suits you."

"Perfectly, Monsieur."

Frederick, as soon as he was in the open air, drew a deep breath. He had
been keeping his feelings too long under restraint; he had satisfied
them at last. He felt, so to speak, the pride of virility, a
superabundance of energy within him which intoxicated him. He required
two seconds. The first person he thought of for the purpose was
Regimbart, and he immediately directed his steps towards the Rue
Saint-Denis. The shop-front was closed, but some light shone through a
pane of glass over the door. It opened and he went in, stooping very low
as he passed under the penthouse.

A candle at the side of the bar lighted up the deserted smoking-room.
All the stools, with their feet in the air, were piled on the table. The
master and mistress, with their waiter, were at supper in a corner near
the kitchen; and Regimbart, with his hat on his head, was sharing their
meal, and even disturbed the waiter, who was compelled every moment to
turn aside a little. Frederick, having briefly explained the matter to
him, asked Regimbart to assist him. The Citizen at first made no reply.
He rolled his eyes about, looked as if he were plunged in reflection,
took several strides around the room, and at last said:

"Yes, by all means!" and a homicidal smile smoothed his brow when he
learned that the adversary was a nobleman.

"Make your mind easy; we'll rout him with flying colours! In the first
place, with the sword----"

"But perhaps," broke in Frederick, "I have not the right."

"I tell you 'tis necessary to take the sword," the Citizen replied
roughly. "Do you know how to make passes?"

"A little."

"Oh! a little. This is the way with all of them; and yet they have a
mania for committing assaults. What does the fencing-school teach?
Listen to me: keep a good distance off, always confining yourself in
circles, and parry--parry as you retire; that is permitted. Tire him
out. Then boldly make a lunge on him! and, above all, no malice, no
strokes of the La Fougère kind.[C] No! a simple one-two, and some
disengagements. Look here! do you see? while you turn your wrist as if
opening a lock. Père Vauthier, give me your cane. Ha! that will do."

He grasped the rod which was used for lighting the gas, rounded his left
arm, bent his right, and began to make some thrusts against the
partition. He stamped with his foot, got animated, and pretended to be
encountering difficulties, while he exclaimed: "Are you there? Is that
it? Are you there?" and his enormous silhouette projected itself on the
wall with his hat apparently touching the ceiling. The owner of the café
shouted from time to time: "Bravo! very good!" His wife, though a little
unnerved, was likewise filled with admiration; and Théodore, who had
been in the army, remained riveted to the spot with amazement, the fact
being, however, that he regarded M. Regimbart with a species of
hero-worship.

Next morning, at an early hour, Frederick hurried to the establishment
in which Dussardier was employed. After having passed through a
succession of departments all full of clothing-materials, either
adorning shelves or lying on tables, while here and there shawls were
fixed on wooden racks shaped like toadstools, he saw the young man, in a
sort of railed cage, surrounded by account-books, and standing in front
of a desk at which he was writing. The honest fellow left his work.


[C] In 1828, a certain La Fougère brought out a work entitled _L'Art de
n'être jamais tué ni blessé en Duel sans avons pris aucune leçon d'armes
et lors même qu'on aurait affaire au premier Tireur de l'Univers._
--TRANSLATOR.


The seconds arrived before twelve o'clock.

Frederick, as a matter of good taste, thought he ought not to be present
at the conference.

The Baron and M. Joseph declared that they would be satisfied with the
simplest excuses. But Regimbart's principle being never to yield, and
his contention being that Arnoux's honour should be vindicated
(Frederick had not spoken to him about anything else), he asked that the
Vicomte should apologise. M. de Comaing was indignant at this
presumption. The Citizen would not abate an inch. As all conciliation
proved impracticable, there was nothing for it but to fight.

Other difficulties arose, for the choice of weapons lay with Cisy, as
the person to whom the insult had been offered. But Regimbart maintained
that by sending the challenge he had constituted himself the offending
party. His seconds loudly protested that a buffet was the most cruel of
offences. The Citizen carped at the words, pointing out that a buffet
was not a blow. Finally, they decided to refer the matter to a military
man; and the four seconds went off to consult the officers in some of
the barracks.

They drew up at the barracks on the Quai d'Orsay. M. de Comaing, having
accosted two captains, explained to them the question in dispute.

The captains did not understand a word of what he was saying, owing to
the confusion caused by the Citizen's incidental remarks. In short,
they advised the gentlemen who consulted them to draw up a minute of the
proceedings; after which they would give their decision. Thereupon, they
repaired to a café; and they even, in order to do things with more
circumspection, referred to Cisy as H, and Frederick as K.

Then they returned to the barracks. The officers had gone out. They
reappeared, and declared that the choice of arms manifestly belonged to
H.

They all returned to Cisy's abode. Regimbart and Dussardier remained on
the footpath outside.

The Vicomte, when he was informed of the solution of the case, was
seized with such extreme agitation that they had to repeat for him
several times the decision of the officers; and, when M. de Comaing came
to deal with Regimbart's contention, he murmured "Nevertheless," not
being very reluctant himself to yield to it. Then he let himself sink
into an armchair, and declared that he would not fight.

"Eh? What?" said the Baron. Then Cisy indulged in a confused flood of
mouthings. He wished to fight with firearms--to discharge a single
pistol at close quarters.

"Or else we will put arsenic into a glass, and draw lots to see who must
drink it. That's sometimes done. I've read of it!"

The Baron, naturally rather impatient, addressed him in a harsh tone:

"These gentlemen are waiting for your answer. This is indecent, to put
it shortly. What weapons are you going to take? Come! is it the sword?"

The Vicomte gave an affirmative reply by merely nodding his head; and it
was arranged that the meeting should take place next morning at seven
o'clock sharp at the Maillot gate.

Dussardier, being compelled to go back to his business, Regimbart went
to inform Frederick about the arrangement. He had been left all day
without any news, and his impatience was becoming intolerable.

"So much the better!" he exclaimed.

The Citizen was satisfied with his deportment.

"Would you believe it? They wanted an apology from us. It was nothing--a
mere word! But I knocked them off their beam-ends nicely. The right
thing to do, wasn't it?"

"Undoubtedly," said Frederick, thinking that it would have been better
to choose another second.

Then, when he was alone, he repeated several times in a very loud tone:

"I am going to fight! Hold on, I am going to fight! 'Tis funny!"

And, as he walked up and down his room, while passing in front of the
mirror, he noticed that he was pale.

"Have I any reason to be afraid?"

He was seized with a feeling of intolerable misery at the prospect of
exhibiting fear on the ground.

"And yet, suppose I happen to be killed? My father met his death the
same way. Yes, I shall be killed!"

And, suddenly, his mother rose up before him in a black dress;
incoherent images floated before his mind. His own cowardice exasperated
him. A paroxysm of courage, a thirst for human blood, took possession of
him. A battalion could not have made him retreat. When this feverish
excitement had cooled down, he was overjoyed to feel that his nerves
were perfectly steady. In order to divert his thoughts, he went to the
opera, where a ballet was being performed. He listened to the music,
looked at the _danseuses_ through his opera-glass, and drank a glass of
punch between the acts. But when he got home again, the sight of his
study, of his furniture, in the midst of which he found himself for the
last time, made him feel ready to swoon.

He went down to the garden. The stars were shining; he gazed up at them.
The idea of fighting about a woman gave him a greater importance in his
own eyes, and surrounded him with a halo of nobility. Then he went to
bed in a tranquil frame of mind.

It was not so with Cisy. After the Baron's departure, Joseph had tried
to revive his drooping spirits, and, as the Vicomte remained in the same
dull mood:

"However, old boy, if you prefer to remain at home, I'll go and say so."

Cisy durst not answer "Certainly;" but he would have liked his cousin to
do him this service without speaking about it.

He wished that Frederick would die during the night of an attack of
apoplexy, or that a riot would break out so that next morning there
would be enough of barricades to shut up all the approaches to the Bois
de Boulogne, or that some emergency might prevent one of the seconds
from being present; for in the absence of seconds the duel would fall
through. He felt a longing to save himself by taking an express
train--no matter where. He regretted that he did not understand medicine
so as to be able to take something which, without endangering his life,
would cause it to be believed that he was dead. He finally wished to be
ill in earnest.

In order to get advice and assistance from someone, he sent for M. des
Aulnays. That worthy man had gone back to Saintonge on receiving a
letter informing him of the illness of one of his daughters. This
appeared an ominous circumstance to Cisy. Luckily, M. Vezou, his tutor,
came to see him. Then he unbosomed himself.

"What am I to do? my God! what am I do?"

"If I were in your place, Monsieur, I should pay some strapping fellow
from the market-place to go and give him a drubbing."

"He would still know who brought it about," replied Cisy.

And from time to time he uttered a groan; then:

"But is a man bound to fight a duel?"

"'Tis a relic of barbarism! What are you to do?"

Out of complaisance the pedagogue invited himself to dinner. His pupil
did not eat anything, but, after the meal, felt the necessity of taking
a short walk.

As they were passing a church, he said:

"Suppose we go in for a little while--to look?"

M. Vezou asked nothing better, and even offered him holy water.

It was the month of May. The altar was covered with flowers; voices were
chanting; the organ was resounding through the church. But he found it
impossible to pray, as the pomps of religion inspired him merely with
thoughts of funerals. He fancied that he could hear the murmurs of the
_De Profundis_.

"Let us go away. I don't feel well."

They spent the whole night playing cards. The Vicomte made an effort to
lose in order to exorcise ill-luck, a thing which M. Vezou turned to his
own advantage. At last, at the first streak of dawn, Cisy, who could
stand it no longer, sank down on the green cloth, and was soon plunged
in sleep, which was disturbed by unpleasant dreams.

If courage, however, consists in wishing to get the better of one's own
weakness, the Vicomte was courageous, for in the presence of his
seconds, who came to seek him, he stiffened himself up with all the
strength he could command, vanity making him realise that to attempt to
draw back now would destroy him. M. de Comaing congratulated him on his
good appearance.

But, on the way, the jolting of the cab and the heat of the morning sun
made him languish. His energy gave way again. He could not even
distinguish any longer where they were. The Baron amused himself by
increasing his terror, talking about the "corpse," and of the way they
meant to get back clandestinely to the city. Joseph gave the rejoinder;
both, considering the affair ridiculous, were certain that it would be
settled.

Cisy kept his head on his breast; he lifted it up slowly, and drew
attention to the fact that they had not taken a doctor with them.

"'Tis needless," said the Baron.

"Then there's no danger?"

Joseph answered in a grave tone:

"Let us hope so!"

And nobody in the carriage made any further remark.

At ten minutes past seven they arrived in front of the Maillot gate.
Frederick and his seconds were there, the entire group being dressed
all in black. Regimbart, instead of a cravat, wore a stiff horsehair
collar, like a trooper; and he carried a long violin-case adapted for
adventures of this kind. They exchanged frigid bows. Then they all
plunged into the Bois de Boulogne, taking the Madrid road, in order to
find a suitable place.

Regimbart said to Frederick, who was walking between him and Dussardier:

"Well, and this scare--what do we care about it? If you want anything,
don't annoy yourself about it; I know what to do. Fear is natural to
man!"

Then, in a low tone:

"Don't smoke any more; in this case it has a weakening effect."

Frederick threw away his cigar, which had only a disturbing effect on
his brain, and went on with a firm step. The Vicomte advanced behind,
leaning on the arms of his two seconds. Occasional wayfarers crossed
their path. The sky was blue, and from time to time they heard rabbits
skipping about. At the turn of a path, a woman in a Madras neckerchief
was chatting with a man in a blouse; and in the large avenue under the
chestnut-trees some grooms in vests of linen-cloth were walking horses
up and down.

Cisy recalled the happy days when, mounted on his own chestnut horse,
and with his glass stuck in his eye, he rode up to carriage-doors. These
recollections intensified his wretchedness. An intolerable thirst
parched his throat. The buzzing of flies mingled with the throbbing of
his arteries. His feet sank into the sand. It seemed to him as if he had
been walking during a period which had neither beginning nor end.

The seconds, without stopping, examined with keen glances each side of
the path they were traversing. They hesitated as to whether they would
go to the Catelan Cross or under the walls of the Bagatelle. At last
they took a turn to the right; and they drew up in a kind of quincunx in
the midst of the pine-trees.

The spot was chosen in such a way that the level ground was cut equally
into two divisions. The two places at which the principals in the duel
were to take their stand were marked out. Then Regimbart opened his
case. It was lined with red sheep's-leather, and contained four charming
swords hollowed in the centre, with handles which were adorned with
filigree. A ray of light, passing through the leaves, fell on them, and
they appeared to Cisy to glitter like silver vipers on a sea of blood.

The Citizen showed that they were of equal length. He took one himself,
in order to separate the combatants in case of necessity. M. de Comaing
held a walking-stick. There was an interval of silence. They looked at
each other. All the faces had in them something fierce or cruel.

Frederick had taken off his coat and his waistcoat. Joseph aided Cisy to
do the same. When his cravat was removed a blessed medal could be seen
on his neck. This made Regimbart smile contemptuously.

Then M. de Comaing (in order to allow Frederick another moment for
reflection) tried to raise some quibbles. He demanded the right to put
on a glove, and to catch hold of his adversary's sword with the left
hand. Regimbart, who was in a hurry, made no objection to this. At last
the Baron, addressing Frederick:

"Everything depends on you, Monsieur! There is never any dishonour in
acknowledging one's faults."

Dussardier made a gesture of approval. The Citizen gave vent to his
indignation:

"Do you think we came here as a mere sham, damn it! Be on your guard,
each of you!"

The combatants were facing one another, with their seconds by their
sides.

He uttered the single word:

"Come!"

Cisy became dreadfully pale. The end of his blade was quivering like a
horsewhip. His head fell back, his hands dropped down helplessly, and he
sank unconscious on the ground. Joseph raised him up and while holding a
scent-bottle to his nose, gave him a good shaking.

The Vicomte reopened his eyes, then suddenly grasped at his sword like a
madman. Frederick had held his in readiness, and now awaited him with
steady eye and uplifted hand.

"Stop! stop!" cried a voice, which came from the road simultaneously
with the sound of a horse at full gallop, and the hood of a cab broke
the branches. A man bending out his head waved a handkerchief, still
exclaiming:

"Stop! stop!"

M. de Comaing, believing that this meant the intervention of the police,
lifted up his walking-stick.

"Make an end of it. The Vicomte is bleeding!"

"I?" said Cisy.

In fact, he had in his fall taken off the skin of his left thumb.

"But this was by falling," observed the Citizen.

The Baron pretended not to understand.

Arnoux had jumped out of the cab.

"I have arrived too late? No! Thanks be to God!"

He threw his arms around Frederick, felt him, and covered his face with
kisses.

"I am the cause of it. You wanted to defend your old friend! That's
right--that's right! Never shall I forget it! How good you are! Ah! my
own dear boy!"

He gazed at Frederick and shed tears, while he chuckled with delight.
The Baron turned towards Joseph:

"I believe we are in the way at this little family party. It is over,
messieurs, is it not? Vicomte, put your arm into a sling. Hold on! here
is my silk handkerchief."

Then, with an imperious gesture: "Come! no spite! This is as it should
be!"

The two adversaries shook hands in a very lukewarm fashion. The Vicomte,
M. de Comaing, and Joseph disappeared in one direction, and Frederick
left with his friends in the opposite direction.

As the Madrid Restaurant was not far off, Arnoux proposed that they
should go and drink a glass of beer there.

"We might even have breakfast."

But, as Dussardier had no time to lose, they confined themselves to
taking some refreshment in the garden.

They all experienced that sense of satisfaction which follows happy
_dénouements_. The Citizen, nevertheless, was annoyed at the duel having
been interrupted at the most critical stage.

Arnoux had been apprised of it by a person named Compain, a friend of
Regimbart; and with an irrepressible outburst of emotion he had rushed
to the spot to prevent it, under the impression, however, that he was
the occasion of it. He begged of Frederick to furnish him with some
details about it. Frederick, touched by these proofs of affection, felt
some scruples at the idea of increasing his misapprehension of the
facts.

"For mercy's sake, don't say any more about it!"

Arnoux thought that this reserve showed great delicacy. Then, with his
habitual levity, he passed on to some fresh subject.

"What news, Citizen?"

And they began talking about banking transactions, and the number of
bills that were falling due. In order to be more undisturbed, they went
to another table, where they exchanged whispered confidences.

Frederick could overhear the following words: "You are going to back me
up with your signature." "Yes, but you, mind!" "I have negotiated it at
last for three hundred!" "A nice commission, faith!"

In short, it was clear that Arnoux was mixed up in a great many shady
transactions with the Citizen.

Frederick thought of reminding him about the fifteen thousand francs.
But his last step forbade the utterance of any reproachful words even of
the mildest description. Besides, he felt tired himself, and this was
not a convenient place for talking about such a thing. He put it off
till some future day.

Arnoux, seated in the shade of an evergreen, was smoking, with a look of
joviality in his face. He raised his eyes towards the doors of private
rooms looking out on the garden, and said he had often paid visits to
the house in former days.

"Probably not by yourself?" returned the Citizen.

"Faith, you're right there!"

"What blackguardism you do carry on! you, a married man!"

"Well, and what about yourself?" retorted Arnoux; and, with an indulgent
smile: "I am even sure that this rascal here has a room of his own
somewhere into which he takes his friends."

The Citizen confessed that this was true by simply shrugging his
shoulders. Then these two gentlemen entered into their respective tastes
with regard to the sex: Arnoux now preferred youth, work-girls;
Regimbart hated affected women, and went in for the genuine article
before anything else. The conclusion which the earthenware-dealer laid
down at the close of this discussion was that women were not to be taken
seriously.

"Nevertheless, he is fond of his own wife," thought Frederick, as he
made his way home; and he looked on Arnoux as a coarse-grained man. He
had a grudge against him on account of the duel, as if it had been for
the sake of this individual that he risked his life a little while
before.

But he felt grateful to Dussardier for his devotedness. Ere long the
book-keeper came at his invitation to pay him a visit every day.

Frederick lent him books--Thiers, Dulaure, Barante, and Lamartine's
_Girondins_.

The honest fellow listened to everything the other said with a
thoughtful air, and accepted his opinions as those of a master.

One evening he arrived looking quite scared.

That morning, on the boulevard, a man who was running so quickly that he
had got out of breath, had jostled against him, and having recognised
in him a friend of Sénécal, had said to him:

"He has just been taken! I am making my escape!"

There was no doubt about it. Dussardier had spent the day making
enquiries. Sénécal was in jail charged with an attempted crime of a
political nature.

The son of an overseer, he was born at Lyons, and having had as his
teacher a former disciple of Chalier, he had, on his arrival in Paris,
obtained admission into the "Society of Families." His ways were known,
and the police kept a watch on him. He was one of those who fought in
the outbreak of May, 1839, and since then he had remained in the shade;
but, his self-importance increasing more and more, he became a fanatical
follower of Alibaud, mixing up his own grievances against society with
those of the people against monarchy, and waking up every morning in the
hope of a revolution which in a fortnight or a month would turn the
world upside down. At last, disgusted at the inactivity of his brethren,
enraged at the obstacles that retarded the realisation of his dreams,
and despairing of the country, he entered in his capacity of chemist
into the conspiracy for the use of incendiary bombs; and he had been
caught carrying gunpowder, of which he was going to make a trial at
Montmartre--a supreme effort to establish the Republic.

Dussardier was no less attached to the Republican idea, for, from his
point of view, it meant enfranchisement and universal happiness. One
day--at the age of fifteen--in the Rue Transnonain, in front of a
grocer's shop, he had seen soldiers' bayonets reddened with blood and
exhibiting human hairs pasted to the butt-ends of their guns. Since
that time, the Government had filled him with feelings of rage as the
very incarnation of injustice. He frequently confused the assassins with
the gendarmes; and in his eyes a police-spy was just as bad as a
parricide. All the evil scattered over the earth he ingenuously
attributed to Power; and he hated it with a deep-rooted, undying hatred
that held possession of his heart and made his sensibility all the more
acute. He had been dazzled by Sénécal's declamations. It was of little
consequence whether he happened to be guilty or not, or whether the
attempt with which he was charged could be characterised as an odious
proceeding! Since he was the victim of Authority, it was only right to
help him.

"The Peers will condemn him, certainly! Then he will be conveyed in a
prison-van, like a convict, and will be shut up in Mont Saint-Michel,
where the Government lets people die! Austen had gone mad! Steuben had
killed himself! In order to transfer Barbès into a dungeon, they had
dragged him by the legs and by the hair. They trampled on his body, and
his head rebounded along the staircase at every step they took. What
abominable treatment! The wretches!"

He was choking with angry sobs, and he walked about the apartment in a
very excited frame of mind.

"In the meantime, something must be done! Come, for my part, I don't
know what to do! Suppose we tried to rescue him, eh? While they are
bringing him to the Luxembourg, we could throw ourselves on the escort
in the passage! A dozen resolute men--that sometimes is enough to
accomplish it!"

There was so much fire in his eyes that Frederick was a little startled
by his look. He recalled to mind Sénécal's sufferings and his austere
life. Without feeling the same enthusiasm about him as Dussardier, he
experienced nevertheless that admiration which is inspired by every man
who sacrifices himself for an idea. He said to himself that, if he had
helped this man, he would not be in his present position; and the two
friends anxiously sought to devise some contrivance whereby they could
set him free.

It was impossible for them to get access to him.

Frederick examined the newspapers to try to find out what had become of
him, and for three weeks he was a constant visitor at the reading-rooms.

One day several numbers of the _Flambard_ fell into his hands. The
leading article was invariably devoted to cutting up some distinguished
man. After that came some society gossip and some scandals. Then there
were some chaffing observations about the Odéon Carpentras,
pisciculture, and prisoners under sentence of death, when there happened
to be any. The disappearance of a packet-boat furnished materials for a
whole year's jokes. In the third column a picture-canvasser, under the
form of anecdotes or advice, gave some tailors' announcements, together
with accounts of evening parties, advertisements as to auctions, and
analysis of artistic productions, writing in the same strain about a
volume of verse and a pair of boots. The only serious portion of it was
the criticism of the small theatres, in which fierce attacks were made
on two or three managers; and the interests of art were invoked on the
subjects of the decorations of the Rope-dancers' Gymnasium and of the
actress who played the part of the heroine at the Délassements.

Frederick was passing over all these items when his eyes alighted on an
article entitled "A Lass between three Lads." It was the story of his
duel related in a lively Gallic style. He had no difficulty in
recognising himself, for he was indicated by this little joke, which
frequently recurred: "A young man from the College of Sens who has no
sense." He was even represented as a poor devil from the provinces, an
obscure booby trying to rub against persons of high rank. As for the
Vicomte, he was made to play a fascinating part, first by having forced
his way into the supper-room, then by having carried off the lady, and,
finally, by having behaved all through like a perfect gentleman.

Frederick's courage was not denied exactly, but it was pointed out that
an intermediary--the _protector_ himself--had come on the scene just in
the nick of time. The entire article concluded with this phrase,
pregnant perhaps with sinister meaning:

"What is the cause of their affection? A problem! and, as Bazile says,
who the deuce is it that is deceived here?"

This was, beyond all doubt, Hussonnet's revenge against Frederick for
having refused him five thousand francs.

What was he to do? If he demanded an explanation from him, the Bohemian
would protest that he was innocent, and nothing would be gained by doing
this. The best course was to swallow the affront in silence. Nobody,
after all, read the _Flambard_.

As he left the reading-room, he saw some people standing in front of a
picture-dealer's shop. They were staring at the portrait of a woman,
with this fine traced underneath in black letters: "Mademoiselle
Rosanette Bron, belonging to M. Frederick Moreau of Nogent."

It was indeed she--or, at least, like her--her full face displayed, her
bosom uncovered, with her hair hanging loose, and with a purse of red
velvet in her hands, while behind her a peacock leaned his beak over her
shoulder, covering the wall with his immense plumage in the shape of a
fan.

Pellerin had got up this exhibition in order to compel Frederick to pay,
persuaded that he was a celebrity, and that all Paris, roused to take
his part, would be interested in this wretched piece of work.

Was this a conspiracy? Had the painter and the journalist prepared their
attack on him at the same time?

His duel had not put a stop to anything. He had become an object of
ridicule, and everyone had been laughing at him.

Three days afterwards, at the end of June, the Northern shares having
had a rise of fifteen francs, as he had bought two thousand of them
within the past month, he found that he had made thirty thousand francs
by them. This caress of fortune gave him renewed self-confidence. He
said to himself that he wanted nobody's help, and that all his
embarrassments were the result of his timidity and indecision. He ought
to have begun his intrigue with the Maréchale with brutal directness and
refused Hussonnet the very first day. He should not have compromised
himself with Pellerin. And, in order to show that he was not a bit
embarrassed, he presented himself at one of Madame Dambreuse's ordinary
evening parties.

In the middle of the anteroom, Martinon, who had arrived at the same
time as he had, turned round:

"What! so you are visiting here?" with a look of surprise, and as if
displeased at seeing him.

"Why not?"

And, while asking himself what could be the cause of such a display of
hostility on Martinon's part, Frederick made his way into the
drawing-room.

The light was dim, in spite of the lamps placed in the corners, for the
three windows, which were wide open, made three large squares of black
shadow stand parallel with each other. Under the pictures, flower-stands
occupied, at a man's height, the spaces on the walls, and a silver
teapot with a samovar cast their reflections in a mirror on the
background. There arose a murmur of hushed voices. Pumps could be heard
creaking on the carpet. He could distinguish a number of black coats,
then a round table lighted up by a large shaded lamp, seven or eight
ladies in summer toilets, and at some little distance Madame Dambreuse
in a rocking armchair. Her dress of lilac taffeta had slashed sleeves,
from which fell muslin puffs, the charming tint of the material
harmonising with the shade of her hair; and she sat slightly thrown back
with the tip of her foot on a cushion, with the repose of an exquisitely
delicate work of art, a flower of high culture.

M. Dambreuse and an old gentleman with a white head were walking from
one end of the drawing-room to the other. Some of the guests chatted
here and there, sitting on the edges of little sofas, while the others,
standing up, formed a circle in the centre of the apartment.

They were talking about votes, amendments, counter-amendments, M.
Grandin's speech, and M. Benoist's reply. The third party had decidedly
gone too far. The Left Centre ought to have had a better recollection
of its origin. Serious attacks had been made on the ministry. It must be
reassuring, however, to see that it had no successor. In short, the
situation was completely analogous to that of 1834.

As these things bored Frederick, he drew near the ladies. Martinon was
beside them, standing up, with his hat under his arm, showing himself in
three-quarter profile, and looking so neat that he resembled a piece of
Sèvres porcelain. He took up a copy of the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ which
was lying on the table between an _Imitation_ and an _Almanach de
Gotha_, and spoke of a distinguished poet in a contemptuous tone, said
he was going to the "conferences of Saint-Francis," complained of his
larynx, swallowed from time to time a pellet of gummatum, and in the
meantime kept talking about music, and played the part of the elegant
trifler. Mademoiselle Cécile, M. Dambreuse's niece, who happened to be
embroidering a pair of ruffles, gazed at him with her pale blue eyes;
and Miss John, the governess, who had a flat nose, laid aside her
tapestry on his account. Both of them appeared to be exclaiming
internally:

"How handsome he is!"

Madame Dambreuse turned round towards him.

"Please give me my fan which is on that pier-table over there. You are
taking the wrong one! 'tis the other!"

She arose, and when he came across to her, they met in the middle of the
drawing-room face to face. She addressed a few sharp words to him, no
doubt of a reproachful character, judging by the haughty expression of
her face. Martinon tried to smile; then he went to join the circle in
which grave men were holding discussions. Madame Dambreuse resumed her
seat, and, bending over the arm of her chair, said to Frederick:

"I saw somebody the day before yesterday who was speaking to me about
you--Monsieur de Cisy. You know him, don't you?"

"Yes, slightly."

Suddenly Madame Dambreuse uttered an exclamation:

"Oh! Duchesse, what a pleasure to see you!"

And she advanced towards the door to meet a little old lady in a
Carmelite taffeta gown and a cap of guipure with long borders. The
daughter of a companion in exile of the Comte d'Artois, and the widow of
a marshal of the Empire; who had been created a peer of France in 1830,
she adhered to the court of a former generation as well as to the new
court, and possessed sufficient influence to procure many things. Those
who stood talking stepped aside, and then resumed their conversation.

It had now turned on pauperism, of which, according to these gentlemen,
all the descriptions that had been given were grossly exaggerated.

"However," urged Martinon, "let us confess that there is such a thing as
want! But the remedy depends neither on science nor on power. It is
purely an individual question. When the lower classes are willing to get
rid of their vices, they will free themselves from their necessities.
Let the people be more moral, and they will be less poor!"

According to M. Dambreuse, no good could be attained without a
superabundance of capital. Therefore, the only practicable method was to
intrust, "as the Saint-Simonians, however, proposed (good heavens!
there was some merit in their views--let us be just to everybody)--to
intrust, I say, the cause of progress to those who can increase the
public wealth." Imperceptibly they began to touch on great industrial
undertakings--the railways, the coal-mines. And M. Dambreuse, addressing
Frederick, said to him in a low whisper:

"You have not called about that business of ours?"

Frederick pleaded illness; but, feeling that this excuse was too absurd:

"Besides, I need my ready money."

"Is it to buy a carriage?" asked Madame Dambreuse, who was brushing past
him with a cup of tea in her hand, and for a minute she watched his face
with her head bent slightly over her shoulder.

She believed that he was Rosanette's lover--the allusion was obvious. It
seemed even to Frederick that all the ladies were staring at him from a
distance and whispering to one another.

In order to get a better idea as to what they were thinking about, he
once more approached them. On the opposite side of the table, Martinon,
seated near Mademoiselle Cécile, was turning over the leaves of an
album. It contained lithographs representing Spanish costumes. He read
the descriptive titles aloud: "A Lady of Seville," "A Valencia
Gardener," "An Andalusian Picador"; and once, when he had reached the
bottom of the page, he continued all in one breath:

"Jacques Arnoux, publisher. One of your friends, eh?"

"That is true," said Frederick, hurt by the tone he had assumed.

Madame Dambreuse again interposed:

"In fact, you came here one morning--about a house, I believe--a house
belonging to his wife." (This meant: "She is your mistress.")

He reddened up to his ears; and M. Dambreuse, who joined them at the
same moment, made this additional remark:

"You appear even to be deeply interested in them."

These last words had the effect of putting Frederick out of countenance.
His confusion, which, he could not help feeling, was evident to them,
was on the point of confirming their suspicions, when M. Dambreuse drew
close to him, and, in a tone of great seriousness, said:

"I suppose you don't do business together?"

He protested by repeated shakes of the head, without realising the exact
meaning of the capitalist, who wished to give him advice.

He felt a desire to leave. The fear of appearing faint-hearted
restrained him. A servant carried away the teacups. Madame Dambreuse was
talking to a diplomatist in a blue coat. Two young girls, drawing their
foreheads close together, showed each other their jewellery. The others,
seated in a semicircle on armchairs, kept gently moving their white
faces crowned with black or fair hair. Nobody, in fact, minded them.
Frederick turned on his heels; and, by a succession of long zigzags, he
had almost reached the door, when, passing close to a bracket, he
remarked, on the top of it, between a china vase and the wainscoting, a
journal folded up in two. He drew it out a little, and read these
words--_The Flambard_.

Who had brought it there? Cisy. Manifestly no one else. What did it
matter, however? They would believe--already, perhaps, everyone
believed--in the article. What was the cause of this rancour? He wrapped
himself up in ironical silence. He felt like one lost in a desert. But
suddenly he heard Martinon's voice:

"Talking of Arnoux, I saw in the newspapers, amongst the names of those
accused of preparing incendiary bombs, that of one of his _employés_,
Sénécal. Is that our Sénécal?"

"The very same!"

Martinon repeated several times in a very loud tone:

"What? our Sénécal! our Sénécal!"

Then questions were asked him about the conspiracy. It was assumed that
his connection with the prosecutor's office ought to furnish him with
some information on the subject.

He declared that he had none. However, he knew very little about this
individual, having seen him only two or three times. He positively
regarded him as a very ill-conditioned fellow. Frederick exclaimed
indignantly:

"Not at all! he is a very honest fellow."

"All the same, Monsieur," said a landowner, "no conspirator can be an
honest man."

Most of the men assembled there had served at least four governments;
and they would have sold France or the human race in order to preserve
their own incomes, to save themselves from any discomfort or
embarrassment, or even through sheer baseness, through worship of force.
They all maintained that political crimes were inexcusable. It would be
more desirable to pardon those which were provoked by want. And they did
not fail to put forward the eternal illustration of the father of a
family stealing the eternal loaf of bread from the eternal baker.

A gentleman occupying an administrative office even went so far as to
exclaim:

"For my part, Monsieur, if I were told that my brother were a
conspirator I would denounce him!"

Frederick invoked the right of resistance, and recalling to mind some
phrases that Deslauriers had used in their conversations, he referred to
Delosmes, Blackstone, the English Bill of Rights, and Article 2 of the
Constitution of '91. It was even by virtue of this law that the fall of
Napoléon had been proclaimed. It had been recognised in 1830, and
inscribed at the head of the Charter. Besides, when the sovereign fails
to fulfil the contract, justice requires that he should be overthrown.

"Why, this is abominable!" exclaimed a prefect's wife.

All the rest remained silent, filled with vague terror, as if they had
heard the noise of bullets. Madame Dambreuse rocked herself in her
chair, and smiled as she listened to him.

A manufacturer, who had formerly been a member of the Carbonari, tried
to show that the Orléans family possessed good qualities. No doubt there
were some abuses.

"Well, what then?"

"But we should not talk about them, my dear Monsieur! If you knew how
all these clamourings of the Opposition injure business!"

"What do I care about business?" said Frederick.

He was exasperated by the rottenness of these old men; and, carried away
by the recklessness which sometimes takes possession of even the most
timid, he attacked the financiers, the deputies, the government, the
king, took up the defence of the Arabs, and gave vent to a great deal of
abusive language. A few of those around him encouraged him in a spirit
of irony:

"Go on, pray! continue!" whilst others muttered: "The deuce! what
enthusiasm!" At last he thought the right thing to do was to retire;
and, as he was going away, M. Dambreuse said to him, alluding to the
post of secretary:

"No definite arrangement has been yet arrived at; but make haste!"

And Madame Dambreuse:

"You'll call again soon, will you not?"

Frederick considered their parting salutation a last mockery. He had
resolved never to come back to this house, or to visit any of these
people again. He imagined that he had offended them, not realising what
vast funds of indifference society possesses. These women especially
excited his indignation. Not a single one of them had backed him up even
with a look of sympathy. He felt angry with them for not having been
moved by his words. As for Madame Dambreuse, he found in her something
at the same time languid and cold, which prevented him from defining her
character by a formula. Had she a lover? and, if so, who was her lover?
Was it the diplomatist or some other? Perhaps it was Martinon?
Impossible! Nevertheless, he experienced a sort of jealousy against
Martinon, and an unaccountable ill-will against her.

Dussardier, having called this evening as usual, was awaiting him.
Frederick's heart was swelling with bitterness; he unburdened it, and
his grievances, though vague and hard to understand, saddened the
honest shop-assistant. He even complained of his isolation. Dussardier,
after a little hesitation, suggested that they ought to call on
Deslauriers.

Frederick, at the mention of the advocate's name, was seized with a
longing to see him once more. He was now living in the midst of profound
intellectual solitude, and found Dussardier's company quite
insufficient. In reply to the latter's question, Frederick told him to
arrange matters any way he liked.

Deslauriers had likewise, since their quarrel, felt a void in his life.
He yielded without much reluctance to the cordial advances which were
made to him. The pair embraced each other, then began chatting about
matters of no consequence.

Frederick's heart was touched by Deslauriers' display of reserve, and in
order to make him a sort of reparation, he told the other next day how
he had lost the fifteen thousand francs without mentioning that these
fifteen thousand francs had been originally intended for him. The
advocate, nevertheless, had a shrewd suspicion of the truth; and this
misadventure, which justified, in his own mind, his prejudices against
Arnoux, entirely disarmed his rancour; and he did not again refer to the
promise made by his friend on a former occasion.

Frederick, misled by his silence, thought he had forgotten all about it.
A few days afterwards, he asked Deslauriers whether there was any way in
which he could get back his money.

They might raise the point that the prior mortgage was fraudulent, and
might take proceedings against the wife personally.

"No! no! not against her!" exclaimed Frederick, and, yielding to the
ex-law-clerk's questions, he confessed the truth. Deslauriers was
convinced that Frederick had not told him the entire truth, no doubt
through a feeling of delicacy. He was hurt by this want of confidence.

They were, however, on the same intimate terms as before, and they even
found so much pleasure in each other's society that Dussardier's
presence was an obstacle to their free intercourse. Under the pretence
that they had appointments, they managed gradually to get rid of him.

There are some men whose only mission amongst their fellow-men is to
serve as go-betweens; people use them in the same way as if they were
bridges, by stepping over them and going on further.

Frederick concealed nothing from his old friend. He told him about the
coal-mine speculation and M. Dambreuse's proposal. The advocate grew
thoughtful.

"That's queer! For such a post a man with a good knowledge of law would
be required!"

"But you could assist me," returned Frederick.

"Yes!--hold on! faith, yes! certainly."

During the same week Frederick showed Dussardier a letter from his
mother.

Madame Moreau accused herself of having misjudged M. Roque, who had
given a satisfactory explanation of his conduct. Then she spoke of his
means, and of the possibility, later, of a marriage with Louise.

"That would not be a bad match," said Deslauriers.

Frederick said it was entirely out of the question. Besides, Père Roque
was an old trickster. That in no way affected the matter, in the
advocate's opinion.

At the end of July, an unaccountable diminution in value made the
Northern shares fall. Frederick had not sold his. He lost sixty thousand
francs in one day. His income was considerably reduced. He would have to
curtail his expenditure, or take up some calling, or make a brilliant
catch in the matrimonial market.

Then Deslauriers spoke to him about Mademoiselle Roque. There was
nothing to prevent him from going to get some idea of things by seeing
for himself. Frederick was rather tired of city life. Provincial
existence and the maternal roof would be a sort of recreation for him.

The aspect of the streets of Nogent, as he passed through them in the
moonlight, brought back old memories to his mind; and he experienced a
kind of pang, like persons who have just returned home after a long
period of travel.

At his mother's house, all the country visitors had assembled as in
former days--MM. Gamblin, Heudras, and Chambrion, the Lebrun family,
"those young ladies, the Augers," and, in addition, Père Roque, and,
sitting opposite to Madame Moreau at a card-table, Mademoiselle Louise.
She was now a woman. She sprang to her feet with a cry of delight. They
were all in a flutter of excitement. She remained standing motionless,
and the paleness of her face was intensified by the light issuing from
four silver candlesticks.

When she resumed play, her hand was trembling. This emotion was
exceedingly flattering to Frederick, whose pride had been sorely wounded
of late. He said to himself: "You, at any rate, will love me!" and, as
if he were thus taking his revenge for the humiliations he had endured
in the capital, he began to affect the Parisian lion, retailed all the
theatrical gossip, told anecdotes as to the doings of society, which he
had borrowed from the columns of the cheap newspapers, and, in short,
dazzled his fellow-townspeople.

Next morning, Madame Moreau expatiated on Louise's fine qualities; then
she enumerated the woods and farms of which she would be the owner. Père
Roque's wealth was considerable.

He had acquired it while making investments for M. Dambreuse; for he had
lent money to persons who were able to give good security in the shape
of mortgages, whereby he was enabled to demand additional sums or
commissions. The capital, owing to his energetic vigilance, was in no
danger of being lost. Besides, Père Roque never had any hesitation in
making a seizure. Then he bought up the mortgaged property at a low
price, and M. Dambreuse, having got back his money, found his affairs in
very good order.

But this manipulation of business matters in a way which was not
strictly legal compromised him with his agent. He could refuse Père
Roque nothing, and it was owing to the latter's solicitations that M.
Dambreuse had received Frederick so cordially.

The truth was that in the depths of his soul Père Roque cherished a
deep-rooted ambition. He wished his daughter to be a countess; and for
the purpose of gaining this object, without imperilling the happiness of
his child, he knew no other young man so well adapted as Frederick.

Through the influence of M. Dambreuse, he could obtain the title of his
maternal grandfather, Madame Moreau being the daughter of a Comte de
Fouvens, and besides being connected with the oldest families in
Champagne, the Lavernades and the D'Etrignys. As for the Moreaus, a
Gothic inscription near the mills of Villeneuve-l'Archevèque referred to
one Jacob Moreau, who had rebuilt them in 1596; and the tomb of his own
son, Pierre Moreau, first esquire of the king under Louis XIV., was to
be seen in the chapel of Saint-Nicholas.

So much family distinction fascinated M. Roque, the son of an old
servant. If the coronet of a count did not come, he would console
himself with something else; for Frederick might get a deputyship when
M. Dambreuse had been raised to the peerage, and might then be able to
assist him in his commercial pursuits, and to obtain for him supplies
and grants. He liked the young man personally. In short, he desired to
have Frederick for a son-in-law, because for a long time past he had
been smitten with this notion, which only grew all the stronger day by
day. Now he went to religious services, and he had won Madame Moreau
over to his views, especially by holding before her the prospect of a
title.

So it was that, eight days later, without any formal engagement,
Frederick was regarded as Mademoiselle Roque's "intended," and Père
Roque, who was not troubled with many scruples, often left them
together.



CHAPTER XII.

LITTLE LOUISE GROWS UP.


Deslauriers had carried away from Frederick's house the copy of the deed
of subrogation, with a power of attorney in proper form, giving him full
authority to act; but, when he had reascended his own five flights of
stairs and found himself alone in the midst of his dismal room, in his
armchair upholstered in sheep-leather, the sight of the stamped paper
disgusted him.

He was tired of these things, and of restaurants at thirty-two sous, of
travelling in omnibuses, of enduring want and making futile efforts. He
took up the papers again; there were others near them. They were
prospectuses of the coal-mining company, with a list of the mines and
the particulars as to their contents, Frederick having left all these
matters in his hands in order to have his opinion about them.

An idea occurred to him--that of presenting himself at M. Dambreuse's
house and applying for the post of secretary. This post, it was
perfectly certain, could not be obtained without purchasing a certain
number of shares. He recognised the folly of his project, and said to
himself:

"Oh! no, that would be a wrong step."

Then he ransacked his brains to think of the best way in which he could
set about recovering the fifteen thousand francs. Such a sum was a mere
trifle to Frederick. But, if he had it, what a lever it would be in his
hands! And the ex-law-clerk was indignant at the other being so well
off.

"He makes a pitiful use of it. He is a selfish fellow. Ah! what do I
care for his fifteen thousand francs!"

Why had he lent the money? For the sake of Madame Arnoux's bright eyes.
She was his mistress! Deslauriers had no doubt about it. "There was
another way in which money was useful!"

And he was assailed by malignant thoughts.

Then he allowed his thoughts to dwell even on Frederick's personal
appearance. It had always exercised over him an almost feminine charm;
and he soon came to admire it for a success which he realised that he
was himself incapable of achieving.

"Nevertheless, was not the will the main element in every enterprise?
and, since by its means we may triumph over everything----"

"Ha! that would be funny!"

But he felt ashamed of such treachery, and the next moment:

"Pooh! I am afraid?"

Madame Arnoux--from having heard her spoken about so often--had come to
be depicted in his imagination as something extraordinary. The
persistency of this passion had irritated him like a problem. Her
austerity, which seemed a little theatrical, now annoyed him. Besides,
the woman of the world--or, rather, his own conception of her--dazzled
the advocate as a symbol and the epitome of a thousand pleasures. Poor
though he was, he hankered after luxury in its more glittering form.

"After all, even though he should get angry, so much the worse! He has
behaved too badly to me to call for any anxiety about him on my part! I
have no assurance that she is his mistress! He has denied it. So then I
am free to act as I please!"

He could no longer abandon the desire of taking this step. He wished to
make a trial of his own strength, so that one day, all of a sudden, he
polished his boots himself, bought white gloves, and set forth on his
way, substituting himself for Frederick, and almost imagining that he
was the other by a singular intellectual evolution, in which there was,
at the same time, vengeance and sympathy, imitation and audacity.

He announced himself as "Doctor Deslauriers."

Madame Arnoux was surprised, as she had not sent for any physician.

"Ha! a thousand apologies!--'tis a doctor of law! I have come in
Monsieur Moreau's interest."

This name appeared to produce a disquieting effect on her mind.

"So much the better!" thought the ex-law-clerk.

"Since she has a liking for him, she will like me, too!" buoying up his
courage with the accepted idea that it is easier to supplant a lover
than a husband.

He referred to the fact that he had the pleasure of meeting her on one
occasion at the law-courts; he even mentioned the date. This remarkable
power of memory astonished Madame Arnoux. He went on in a tone of mild
affectation:

"You have already found your affairs a little embarrassing?"

She made no reply.

"Then it must be true."

He began to chat about one thing or another, about her house, about the
works; then, noticing some medallions at the sides of the mirror:

"Ha! family portraits, no doubt?"

He remarked that of an old lady, Madame Arnoux's mother.

"She has the appearance of an excellent woman, a southern type."

And, on being met with the objection that she was from Chartres:

"Chartres! pretty town!"

He praised its cathedral and public buildings, and coming back to the
portrait, traced resemblances between it and Madame Arnoux, and cast
flatteries at her indirectly. She did not appear to be offended at this.
He took confidence, and said that he had known Arnoux a long time.

"He is a fine fellow, but one who compromises himself. Take this
mortgage, for example--one can't imagine such a reckless act----"

"Yes, I know," said she, shrugging her shoulders.

This involuntary evidence of contempt induced Deslauriers to continue.
"That kaolin business of his was near turning out very badly, a thing
you may not be aware of, and even his reputation----"

A contraction of the brows made him pause.

Then, falling back on generalities, he expressed his pity for the "poor
women whose husbands frittered away their means."

"But in this case, monsieur, the means belong to him. As for me, I have
nothing!"

No matter, one never knows. A woman of experience might be useful. He
made offers of devotion, exalted his own merits; and he looked into her
face through his shining spectacles.

She was seized with a vague torpor; but suddenly said:

"Let us look into the matter, I beg of you."

He exhibited the bundle of papers.

"This is Frederick's letter of attorney. With such a document in the
hands of a process-server, who would make out an order, nothing could be
easier; in twenty-four hours----" (She remained impassive; he changed
his manoeuvre.)

"As for me, however, I don't understand what impels him to demand this
sum, for, in fact, he doesn't want it."

"How is that? Monsieur Moreau has shown himself so kind."

"Oh! granted!"

And Deslauriers began by eulogising him, then in a mild fashion
disparaged him, giving it out that he was a forgetful individual, and
over-fond of money.

"I thought he was your friend, monsieur?"

"That does not prevent me from seeing his defects. Thus, he showed very
little recognition of--how shall I put it?--the sympathy----"

Madame Arnoux was turning over the leaves of a large manuscript book.

She interrupted him in order to get him to explain a certain word.

He bent over her shoulder, and his face came so close to hers that he
grazed her cheek. She blushed. This heightened colour inflamed
Deslauriers, he hungrily kissed her head.

"What are you doing, Monsieur?" And, standing up against the wall, she
compelled him to remain perfectly quiet under the glance of her large
blue eyes glowing with anger.

"Listen to me! I love you!"

She broke into a laugh, a shrill, discouraging laugh. Deslauriers felt
himself suffocating with anger. He restrained his feelings, and, with
the look of a vanquished person imploring mercy:

"Ha! you are wrong! As for me, I would not go like him."

"Of whom, pray, are you talking?"

"Of Frederick."

"Ah! Monsieur Moreau troubles me little. I told you that!"

"Oh! forgive me! forgive me!" Then, drawling his words, in a sarcastic
tone:

"I even imagined that you were sufficiently interested in him personally
to learn with pleasure----"

She became quite pale. The ex-law-clerk added:

"He is going to be married."

"He!"

"In a month at latest, to Mademoiselle Roque, the daughter of M.
Dambreuse's agent. He has even gone down to Nogent for no other purpose
but that."

She placed her hand over her heart, as if at the shock of a great blow;
but immediately she rang the bell. Deslauriers did not wait to be
ordered to leave. When she turned round he had disappeared.

Madame Arnoux was gasping a little with the strain of her emotions. She
drew near the window to get a breath of air.

On the other side of the street, on the footpath, a packer in his
shirt-sleeves was nailing down a trunk. Hackney-coaches passed. She
closed the window-blinds and then came and sat down. As the high houses
in the vicinity intercepted the sun's rays, the light of day stole
coldly into the apartment. Her children had gone out; there was not a
stir around her. It seemed as if she were utterly deserted.

"He is going to be married! Is it possible?"

And she was seized with a fit of nervous trembling.

"Why is this? Does it mean that I love him?"

Then all of a sudden:

"Why, yes; I love him--I love him!"

It seemed to her as if she were sinking into endless depths. The clock
struck three. She listened to the vibrations of the sounds as they died
away. And she remained on the edge of the armchair, with her eyeballs
fixed and an unchanging smile on her face.

The same afternoon, at the same moment, Frederick and Mademoiselle
Louise were walking in the garden belonging to M. Roque at the end of
the island.

Old Catherine was watching them, some distance away. They were walking
side by side and Frederick said:

"You remember when I brought you into the country?"

"How good you were to me!" she replied. "You assisted me in making
sand-pies, in filling my watering-pot, and in rocking me in the swing!"

"All your dolls, who had the names of queens and marchionesses--what has
become of them?"

"Really, I don't know!"

"And your pug Moricaud?"

"He's drowned, poor darling!"

"And the _Don Quixote_ of which we coloured the engravings together?"

"I have it still!"

He recalled to her mind the day of her first communion, and how pretty
she had been at vespers, with her white veil and her large wax-taper,
whilst the girls were all taking their places in a row around the choir,
and the bell was tinkling.

These memories, no doubt, had little charm for Mademoiselle Roque. She
had not a word to say; and, a minute later:

"Naughty fellow! never to have written a line to me, even once!"

Frederick urged by way of excuse his numerous occupations.

"What, then, are you doing?"

He was embarrassed by the question; then he told her that he was
studying politics.

"Ha!"

And without questioning him further:

"That gives you occupation; while as for me----!"

Then she spoke to him about the barrenness of her existence, as there
was nobody she could go to see, and nothing to amuse her or distract her
thoughts. She wished to go on horseback.

"The vicar maintains that this is improper for a young lady! How stupid
these proprieties are! Long ago they allowed me to do whatever I
pleased; now, they won't let me do anything!"

"Your father, however, is fond of you!"

"Yes; but----"

She heaved a sigh, which meant: "That is not enough to make me happy."

Then there was silence. They heard only the noise made by their boots in
the sand, together with the murmur of falling water; for the Seine,
above Nogent, is cut into two arms. That which turns the mills
discharges in this place the superabundance of its waves in order to
unite further down with the natural course of the stream; and a person
coming from the bridge could see at the right, on the other bank of the
river, a grassy slope on which a white house looked down. At the left,
in the meadow, a row of poplar-trees extended, and the horizon in front
was bounded by a curve of the river. It was flat, like a mirror. Large
insects hovered over the noiseless water. Tufts of reeds and rushes
bordered it unevenly; all kinds of plants which happened to spring up
there bloomed out in buttercups, caused yellow clusters to hang down,
raised trees in distaff-shape with amaranth-blossoms, and made green
rockets spring up at random. In an inlet of the river white water-lilies
displayed themselves; and a row of ancient willows, in which wolf-traps
were hidden, formed, on that side of the island, the sole protection of
the garden.

In the interior, on this side, four walls with a slate coping enclosed
the kitchen-garden, in which the square patches, recently dug up, looked
like brown plates. The bell-glasses of the melons shone in a row on the
narrow hotbed. The artichokes, the kidney-beans, the spinach, the
carrots and the tomatoes succeeded each other till one reached a
background where asparagus grew in such a fashion that it resembled a
little wood of feathers.

All this piece of land had been under the Directory what is called "a
folly." The trees had, since then, grown enormously. Clematis
obstructed the hornbeams, the walks were covered with moss, brambles
abounded on every side. Fragments of statues let their plaster crumble
in the grass. The feet of anyone walking through the place got entangled
in iron-wire work. There now remained of the pavilion only two
apartments on the ground floor, with some blue paper hanging in shreds.
Before the façade extended an arbour in the Italian style, in which a
vine-tree was supported on columns of brick by a rail-work of sticks.

Soon they arrived at this spot; and, as the light fell through the
irregular gaps on the green herbage, Frederick, turning his head on one
side to speak to Louise, noticed the shadow of the leaves on her face.

She had in her red hair, stuck in her chignon, a needle, terminated by a
glass bell in imitation of emerald, and, in spite of her mourning, she
wore (so artless was her bad taste) straw slippers trimmed with pink
satin--a vulgar curiosity probably bought at some fair.

He remarked this, and ironically congratulated her.

"Don't be laughing at me!" she replied.

Then surveying him altogether, from his grey felt hat to his silk
stockings:

"What an exquisite you are!"

After this, she asked him to mention some works which she could read. He
gave her the names of several; and she said:

"Oh! how learned you are!"

While yet very small, she had been smitten with one of those childish
passions which have, at the same time, the purity of a religion and the
violence of a natural instinct. He had been her comrade, her brother,
her master, had diverted her mind, made her heart beat more quickly,
and, without any desire for such a result, had poured out into the very
depths of her being a latent and continuous intoxication. Then he had
parted with her at the moment of a tragic crisis in her existence, when
her mother had only just died, and these two separations had been
mingled together. Absence had idealised him in her memory. He had come
back with a sort of halo round his head; and she gave herself up
ingenuously to the feelings of bliss she experienced at seeing him once
more.

For the first time in his life Frederick felt himself beloved; and this
new pleasure, which did not transcend the ordinary run of agreeable
sensations, made his breast swell with so much emotion that he spread
out his two arms while he flung back his head.

A large cloud passed across the sky.

"It is going towards Paris," said Louise. "You'd like to follow
it--wouldn't you?"

"I! Why?"

"Who knows?"

And surveying him with a sharp look:

"Perhaps you have there" (she searched her mind for the appropriate
phrase) "something to engage your affections."

"Oh! I have nothing to engage my affections there."

"Are you perfectly certain?"

"Why, yes, Mademoiselle, perfectly certain!"

In less than a year there had taken place in the young girl an
extraordinary transformation, which astonished Frederick. After a
minute's silence he added:

"We ought to 'thee' and 'thou' each other, as we used to do long
ago--shall we do so?"

"No."

"Why?"

"Because----"

He persisted. She answered, with downcast face:

"I dare not!"

They had reached the end of the garden, which was close to the
shell-bank. Frederick, in a spirit of boyish fun, began to send pebbles
skimming over the water. She bade him sit down. He obeyed; then, looking
at the waterfall:

"'Tis like Niagara!" He began talking about distant countries and long
voyages. The idea of making some herself exercised a fascination over
her mind. She would not have been afraid either of tempests or of lions.

Seated close beside each other, they collected in front of them handfuls
of sand, then, while they were chatting, they let it slip through their
fingers, and the hot wind, which rose from the plains, carried to them
in puffs odours of lavender, together with the smell of tar escaping
from a boat behind the lock. The sun's rays fell on the cascade. The
greenish blocks of stone in the little wall over which the water slipped
looked as if they were covered with a silver gauze that was perpetually
rolling itself out. A long strip of foam gushed forth at the foot with a
harmonious murmur. Then it bubbled up, forming whirlpools and a thousand
opposing currents, which ended by intermingling in a single limpid
stream of water.

Louise said in a musing tone that she envied the existence of fishes:

"It must be so delightful to tumble about down there at your ease, and
to feel yourself caressed on every side."

[Illustration]

[Illustration: Can I live without you?]

She shivered with sensuously enticing movements; but a voice exclaimed:

"Where are you?"

"Your maid is calling you," said Frederick.

"All right! all right!" Louise did not disturb herself.

"She will be angry," he suggested.

"It is all the same to me! and besides----" Mademoiselle Roque gave him
to understand by a gesture that the girl was entirely subject to her
will.

She arose, however, and then complained of a headache. And, as they were
passing in front of a large cart-shed containing some faggots:

"Suppose we sat down there, _under shelter_?"

He pretended not to understand this dialectic expression, and even
teased her about her accent. Gradually the corners of her mouth were
compressed, she bit her lips; she stepped aside in order to sulk.

Frederick came over to her, swore he did not mean to annoy her, and that
he was very fond of her.

"Is that true?" she exclaimed, looking at him with a smile which lighted
up her entire face, smeared over a little with patches of bran.

He could not resist the sentiment of gallantry which was aroused in him
by her fresh youthfulness, and he replied:

"Why should I tell you a lie? Have you any doubt about it, eh?" and, as
he spoke, he passed his left hand round her waist.

A cry, soft as the cooing of a dove, leaped up from her throat. Her head
fell back, she was going to faint, when he held her up. And his virtuous
scruples were futile. At the sight of this maiden offering herself to
him he was seized with fear. He assisted her to take a few steps
slowly. He had ceased to address her in soothing words, and no longer
caring to talk of anything save the most trifling subjects, he spoke to
her about some of the principal figures in the society of Nogent.

Suddenly she repelled him, and in a bitter tone:

"You would not have the courage to run away with me!"

He remained motionless, with a look of utter amazement in his face. She
burst into sobs, and hiding her face in his breast:

"Can I live without you?"

He tried to calm her emotion. She laid her two hands on his shoulders in
order to get a better view of his face, and fixing her green eyes on his
with an almost fierce tearfulness:

"Will you be my husband?"

"But," Frederick began, casting about in his inner consciousness for a
reply. "Of course, I ask for nothing better."

At that moment M. Roque's cap appeared behind a lilac-tree.

He brought his young friend on a trip through the district in order to
show off his property; and when Frederick returned, after two days'
absence, he found three letters awaiting him at his mother's house.

The first was a note from M. Dambreuse, containing an invitation to
dinner for the previous Tuesday. What was the occasion of this
politeness? So, then, they had forgiven his prank.

The second was from Rosanette. She thanked him for having risked his
life on her behalf. Frederick did not at first understand what she
meant; finally, after a considerable amount of circumlocution, while
appealing to his friendship, relying on his delicacy, as she put it, and
going on her knees to him on account of the pressing necessity of the
case, as she wanted bread, she asked him for a loan of five hundred
francs. He at once made up his mind to supply her with the amount.

The third letter, which was from Deslauriers, spoke of the letter of
attorney, and was long and obscure. The advocate had not yet taken any
definite action. He urged his friend not to disturb himself: "'Tis
useless for you to come back!" even laying singular stress on this
point.

Frederick got lost in conjectures of every sort; and he felt anxious to
return to Paris. This assumption of a right to control his conduct
excited in him a feeling of revolt.

Moreover, he began to experience that nostalgia of the boulevard; and
then, his mother was pressing him so much, M. Roque kept revolving about
him so constantly, and Mademoiselle Louise was so much attached to him,
that it was no longer possible for him to avoid speedily declaring his
intentions.

He wanted to think, and he would be better able to form a right estimate
of things at a distance.

In order to assign a motive for his journey, Frederick invented a story;
and he left home, telling everyone, and himself believing, that he would
soon return.



CHAPTER XIII.

ROSANETTE AS A LOVELY TURK.


His return to Paris gave him no pleasure. It was an evening at the close
of August. The boulevards seemed empty. The passers-by succeeded each
other with scowling faces. Here and there a boiler of asphalt was
smoking; several houses had their blinds entirely drawn. He made his way
to his own residence in the city. He found the hangings covered with
dust; and, while dining all alone, Frederick was seized with a strange
feeling of forlornness; then his thoughts reverted to Mademoiselle
Roque. The idea of being married no longer appeared to him preposterous.
They might travel; they might go to Italy, to the East. And he saw her
standing on a hillock, or gazing at a landscape, or else leaning on his
arm in a Florentine gallery while she stood to look at the pictures.
What a pleasure it would be to him merely to watch this good little
creature expanding under the splendours of Art and Nature! When she had
got free from the commonplace atmosphere in which she had lived, she
would, in a little while, become a charming companion. M. Roque's
wealth, moreover, tempted him. And yet he shrank from taking this step,
regarding it as a weakness, a degradation.

But he was firmly resolved (whatever he might do) on changing his mode
of life--that is to say, to lose his heart no more in fruitless
passions; and he even hesitated about executing the commission with
which he had been intrusted by Louise. This was to buy for her at
Jacques Arnoux's establishment two large-sized statues of many colours
representing negroes, like those which were at the Prefecture at Troyes.
She knew the manufacturer's number, and would not have any other.
Frederick was afraid that, if he went back to their house, he might once
again fall a victim to his old passion.

These reflections occupied his mind during the entire evening; and he
was just about to go to bed when a woman presented herself.

"'Tis I," said Mademoiselle Vatnaz, with a laugh. "I have come in behalf
of Rosanette."

So, then, they were reconciled?

"Good heavens, yes! I am not ill-natured, as you are well aware. And
besides, the poor girl--it would take too long to tell you all about
it."

In short, the Maréchale wanted to see him; she was waiting for an
answer, her letter having travelled from Paris to Nogent. Mademoiselle
Vatnaz did not know what was in it.

Then Frederick asked her how the Maréchale was going on.

He was informed that she was now _with_ a very rich man, a Russian,
Prince Tzernoukoff, who had seen her at the races in the Champ de Mars
last summer.

"He has three carriages, a saddle-horse, livery servants, a groom got up
in the English fashion, a country-house, a box at the Italian opera, and
a heap of other things. There you are, my dear friend!"

And the Vatnaz, as if she had profited by this change of fortune,
appeared gayer and happier. She took off her gloves and examined the
furniture and the objects of virtù in the room. She mentioned their
exact prices like a second-hand dealer. He ought to have consulted her
in order to get them cheaper. Then she congratulated him on his good
taste:

"Ha! this is pretty, exceedingly nice! There's nobody like you for these
ideas."

The next moment, as her eyes fell on a door close to the pillar of the
alcove:

"That's the way you let your friends out, eh?"

And, in a familiar fashion, she laid her finger on his chin. He trembled
at the contact of her long hands, at the same time thin and soft. Round
her wrists she wore an edging of lace, and on the body of her green
dress lace embroidery, like a hussar. Her bonnet of black tulle, with
borders hanging down, concealed her forehead a little. Her eyes shone
underneath; an odour of patchouli escaped from her head-bands. The
carcel-lamp placed on a round table, shining down on her like the
footlights of a theatre, made her jaw protrude.

She said to him, in an unctuous tone, while she drew forth from her
purse three square slips of paper:

"You will take these from me?"

They were three tickets for Delmar's benefit performance.

"What! for him?"

"Certainly."

Mademoiselle Vatnaz, without giving a further explanation, added that
she adored him more than ever. If she were to be believed, the comedian
was now definitely classed amongst "the leading celebrities of the age."
And it was not such or such a personage that he represented, but the
very genius of France, the People. He had "the humanitarian spirit; he
understood the priesthood of Art." Frederick, in order to put an end to
these eulogies, gave her the money for the three seats.

"You need not say a word about this over the way. How late it is, good
heavens! I must leave you. Ah! I was forgetting the address--'tis the
Rue Grange-Batelier, number 14."

And, at the door:

"Good-bye, beloved man!"

"Beloved by whom?" asked Frederick. "What a strange woman!"

And he remembered that Dussardier had said to him one day, when talking
about her:

"Oh, she's not much!" as if alluding to stories of a by no means
edifying character.

Next morning he repaired to the Maréchale's abode. She lived in a new
house, the spring-roller blinds of which projected into the street. At
the head of each flight of stairs there was a mirror against the wall;
before each window there was a flower-stand, and all over the steps
extended a carpet of oil-cloth; and when one got inside the door, the
coolness of the staircase was refreshing.

It was a man-servant who came to open the door, a footman in a red
waistcoat. On a bench in the anteroom a woman and two men, tradespeople,
no doubt, were waiting as if in a minister's vestibule. At the left,
the door of the dining-room, slightly ajar, afforded a glimpse of empty
bottles on the sideboards, and napkins on the backs of chairs; and
parallel with it ran a corridor in which gold-coloured sticks supported
an espalier of roses. In the courtyard below, two boys with bare arms
were scrubbing a landau. Their voices rose to Frederick's ears, mingled
with the intermittent sounds made by a currycomb knocking against a
stone.

The man-servant returned. "Madame will receive Monsieur," and he led
Frederick through a second anteroom, and then into a large drawing-room
hung with yellow brocatel with twisted fringes at the corners which were
joined at the ceiling, and which seemed to be continued by flowerings of
lustre resembling cables. No doubt there had been an entertainment there
the night before. Some cigar-ashes had been allowed to remain on the
pier-tables.

At last he found his way into a kind of boudoir with stained-glass
windows, through which the sun shed a dim light. Trefoils of carved wood
adorned the upper portions of the doors. Behind a balustrade, three
purple mattresses formed a divan; and the stem of a narghileh made of
platinum lay on top of it. Instead of a mirror, there was on the
mantelpiece a pyramid-shaped whatnot, displaying on its shelves an
entire collection of curiosities, old silver trumpets, Bohemian horns,
jewelled clasps, jade studs, enamels, grotesque figures in china, and a
little Byzantine virgin with a vermilion ape; and all this was mingled
in a golden twilight with the bluish shade of the carpet, the
mother-of-pearl reflections of the foot-stools, and the tawny hue of the
walls covered with maroon leather. In the corners, on little pedestals,
there were bronze vases containing clusters of flowers, which made the
atmosphere heavy.

Rosanette presented herself, attired in a pink satin vest with white
cashmere trousers, a necklace of piasters, and a red cap encircled with
a branch of jasmine.

Frederick started back in surprise, then said he had brought the thing
she had been speaking about, and he handed her the bank-note. She gazed
at him in astonishment; and, as he still kept the note in his hand,
without knowing where to put it:

"Pray take it!"

She seized it; then, as she flung it on the divan:

"You are very kind."

She wanted it to meet the rent of a piece of ground at Bellevue, which
she paid in this way every year. Her unceremoniousness wounded
Frederick's sensibility. However, so much the better! this would avenge
him for the past.

"Sit down," said she. "There--closer." And in a grave tone: "In the
first place, I have to thank you, my dear friend, for having risked your
life."

"Oh! that's nothing!"

"What! Why, 'tis a very noble act!"--and the Maréchale exhibited an
embarrassing sense of gratitude; for it must have been impressed upon
her mind that the duel was entirely on account of Arnoux, as the latter,
who believed it himself, was not likely to have resisted the temptation
of telling her so.

"She is laughing at me, perhaps," thought Frederick.

He had nothing further to detain him, and, pleading that he had an
appointment, he rose.

"Oh! no, stay!"

He resumed his seat, and presently complimented her on her costume.

She replied, with an air of dejection:

"'Tis the Prince who likes me to dress in this fashion! And one must
smoke such machines as that, too!" Rosanette added, pointing towards the
narghileh. "Suppose we try the taste of it? Have you any objection?"

She procured a light, and, finding it hard to set fire to the tobacco,
she began to stamp impatiently with her foot. Then a feeling of languor
took possession of her; and she remained motionless on the divan, with a
cushion under her arm and her body twisted a little on one side, one
knee bent and the other leg straight out.

The long serpent of red morocco, which formed rings on the floor, rolled
itself over her arm. She rested the amber mouthpiece on her lips, and
gazed at Frederick while she blinked her eyes in the midst of the cloud
of smoke that enveloped her. A gurgling sound came from her throat as
she inhaled the fumes, and from time to time she murmured:

"The poor darling! the poor pet!"

He tried to find something of an agreeable nature to talk about. The
thought of Vatnaz recurred to his memory.

He remarked that she appeared to him very lady-like.

"Yes, upon my word," replied the Maréchale. "She is very lucky in having
me, that same lady!"--without adding another word, so much reserve was
there in their conversation.

Each of them felt a sense of constraint, something that formed a barrier
to confidential relations between them. In fact, Rosanette's vanity had
been flattered by the duel, of which she believed herself to be the
occasion. Then, she was very much astonished that he did not hasten to
take advantage of his achievement; and, in order to compel him to return
to her, she had invented this story that she wanted five hundred francs.
How was it that Frederick did not ask for a little love from her in
return? This was a piece of refinement that filled her with amazement,
and, with a gush of emotion, she said to him:

"Will you come with us to the sea-baths?"

"What does 'us' mean?"

"Myself and my bird. I'll make you pass for a cousin of mine, as in the
old comedies."

"A thousand thanks!"

"Well, then, you will take lodgings near ours."

The idea of hiding himself from a rich man humiliated him.

"No! that is impossible."

"Just as you please!"

Rosanette turned away with tears in her eyes. Frederick noticed this,
and in order to testify the interest which he took in her, he said that
he was delighted to see her at last in a comfortable position.

She shrugged her shoulders. What, then, was troubling her? Was it,
perchance, that she was not loved.

"Oh! as for me, I have always people to love me!"

She added:

"It remains to be seen in what way."

Complaining that she was "suffocating with the heat," the Maréchale
unfastened her vest; and, without any other garment round her body, save
her silk chemise, she leaned her head on his shoulder so as to awaken
his tenderness.

A man of less introspective egoism would not have bestowed a thought at
such a moment on the possibility of the Vicomte, M. de Comaing, or
anyone else appearing on the scene. But Frederick had been too many
times the dupe of these very glances to compromise himself by a fresh
humiliation.

She wished to know all about his relationships and his amusements. She
even enquired about his financial affairs, and offered to lend him money
if he wanted it. Frederick, unable to stand it any longer, took up his
hat.

"I'm off, my pet! I hope you'll enjoy yourself thoroughly down there.
_Au revoir!_"

She opened her eyes wide; then, in a dry tone:

"_Au revoir!_"

He made his way out through the yellow drawing-room, and through the
second anteroom. There was on the table, between a vase full of
visiting-cards and an inkstand, a chased silver chest. It was Madame
Arnoux's. Then he experienced a feeling of tenderness, and, at the same
time, as it were, the scandal of a profanation. He felt a longing to
raise his hands towards it, and to open it. He was afraid of being seen,
and went away.

Frederick was virtuous. He did not go back to the Arnouxs' house. He
sent his man-servant to buy the two negroes, having given him all the
necessary directions; and the case containing them set forth the same
evening for Nogent. Next morning, as he was repairing to Deslauriers'
lodgings, at the turn where the Rue Vivienne opened out on the
boulevard, Madame Arnoux presented herself before him face to face.

The first movement of each of them was to draw back; then the same smile
came to the lips of both, and they advanced to meet each other. For a
minute, neither of them uttered a single word.

The sunlight fell round her, and her oval face, her long eyelashes, her
black lace shawl, which showed the outline of her shoulders, her gown of
shot silk, the bouquet of violets at the corner of her bonnet; all
seemed to him to possess extraordinary magnificence. An infinite
softness poured itself out of her beautiful eyes; and in a faltering
voice, uttering at random the first words that came to his lips:

"How is Arnoux?"

"Well, I thank you!"

"And your children?"

"They are very well!"

"Ah! ah! What fine weather we are getting, are we not?"

"Splendid, indeed!"

"You're going out shopping?"

And, with a slow inclination of the head:

"Good-bye!"

She put out her hand, without having spoken one word of an affectionate
description, and did not even invite him to dinner at her house. No
matter! He would not have given this interview for the most delightful
of adventures; and he pondered over its sweetness as he proceeded on his
way.

Deslauriers, surprised at seeing him, dissembled his spite; for he
cherished still through obstinacy some hope with regard to Madame
Arnoux; and he had written to Frederick to prolong his stay in the
country in order to be free in his manoeuvres.

He informed Frederick, however, that he had presented himself at her
house in order to ascertain if their contract stipulated for a community
of property between husband and wife: in that case, proceedings might be
taken against the wife; "and she put on a queer face when I told her
about your marriage."

"Now, then! What an invention!"

"It was necessary in order to show that you wanted your own capital! A
person who was indifferent would not have been attacked with the species
of fainting fit that she had."

"Really?" exclaimed Frederick.

"Ha! my fine fellow, you are betraying yourself! Come! be honest!"

A feeling of nervous weakness stole over Madame Arnoux's lover.

"Why, no! I assure you! upon my word of honour!"

These feeble denials ended by convincing Deslauriers. He congratulated
his friend, and asked him for some details. Frederick gave him none, and
even resisted a secret yearning to concoct a few. As for the mortgage,
he told the other to do nothing about it, but to wait. Deslauriers
thought he was wrong on this point, and remonstrated with him in rather
a churlish fashion.

He was, besides, more gloomy, malignant, and irascible than ever. In a
year, if fortune did not change, he would embark for America or blow out
his brains. Indeed, he appeared to be in such a rage against everything,
and so uncompromising in his radicalism, that Frederick could not keep
from saying to him:

"Here you are going on in the same way as Sénécal!"

Deslauriers, at this remark, informed him that that individual to whom
he alluded had been discharged from Sainte-Pelagie, the magisterial
investigation having failed to supply sufficient evidence, no doubt, to
justify his being sent for trial.

Dussardier was so much overjoyed at the release of Sénécal, that he
wanted to invite his friends to come and take punch with him, and begged
of Frederick to be one of the party, giving the latter, at the same
time, to understand that he would be found in the company of Hussonnet,
who had proved himself a very good friend to Sénécal.

In fact, the _Flambard_ had just become associated with a business
establishment whose prospectus contained the following references:
"Vineyard Agency. Office of Publicity. Debt Recovery and Intelligence
Office, etc." But the Bohemian was afraid that his connection with trade
might be prejudicial to his literary reputation, and he had accordingly
taken the mathematician to keep the accounts. Although the situation was
a poor one, Sénécal would but for it have died of starvation. Not
wishing to mortify the worthy shopman, Frederick accepted his
invitation.

Dussardier, three days beforehand, had himself waxed the red floor of
his garret, beaten the armchair, and knocked off the dust from the
chimney-piece, on which might be seen under a globe an alabaster
timepiece between a stalactite and a cocoanut. As his two chandeliers
and his chamber candlestick were not sufficient, he had borrowed two
more candlesticks from the doorkeeper; and these five lights shone on
the top of the chest of drawers, which was covered with three napkins in
order that it might be fit to have placed on it in such a way as to look
attractive some macaroons, biscuits, a fancy cake, and a dozen bottles
of beer. At the opposite side, close to the wall, which was hung with
yellow paper, there was a little mahogany bookcase containing the
_Fables of Lachambeaudie_, the _Mysteries of Paris_, and Norvins'
_Napoléon_--and, in the middle of the alcove, the face of Béranger was
smiling in a rosewood frame.

The guests (in addition to Deslauriers and Sénécal) were an apothecary
who had just been admitted, but who had not enough capital to start in
business for himself, a young man of his own house, a town-traveller in
wines, an architect, and a gentleman employed in an insurance office.
Regimbart had not been able to come. Regret was expressed at his
absence.

They welcomed Frederick with a great display of sympathy, as they all
knew through Dussardier what he had said at M. Dambreuse's house.
Sénécal contented himself with putting out his hand in a dignified
manner.

He remained standing near the chimney-piece. The others seated, with
their pipes in their mouths, listened to him, while he held forth on
universal suffrage, from which he predicted as a result the triumph of
Democracy and the practical application of the principles of the Gospel.
However, the hour was at hand. The banquets of the party of reform were
becoming more numerous in the provinces. Piedmont, Naples, Tuscany----

"'Tis true," said Deslauriers, interrupting him abruptly. "This cannot
last longer!"

And he began to draw a picture of the situation. We had sacrificed
Holland to obtain from England the recognition of Louis Philippe; and
this precious English alliance was lost, owing to the Spanish marriages.
In Switzerland, M. Guizot, in tow with the Austrian, maintained the
treaties of 1815. Prussia, with her Zollverein, was preparing
embarrassments for us. The Eastern question was still pending.

"The fact that the Grand Duke Constantine sends presents to M. d'Aumale
is no reason for placing confidence in Russia. As for home affairs,
never have so many blunders, such stupidity, been witnessed. The
Government no longer even keeps up its majority. Everywhere, indeed,
according to the well-known expression, it is naught! naught! naught!
And in the teeth of such public scandals," continued the advocate, with
his arms akimbo, "they declare themselves satisfied!"

The allusion to a notorious vote called forth applause. Dussardier
uncorked a bottle of beer; the froth splashed on the curtains. He did
not mind it. He filled the pipes, cut the cake, offered each of them a
slice of it, and several times went downstairs to see whether the punch
was coming up; and ere long they lashed themselves up into a state of
excitement, as they all felt equally exasperated against Power. Their
rage was of a violent character for no other reason save that they hated
injustice, and they mixed up with legitimate grievances the most idiotic
complaints.

The apothecary groaned over the pitiable condition of our fleet. The
insurance agent could not tolerate Marshal Soult's two sentinels.
Deslauriers denounced the Jesuits, who had just installed themselves
publicly at Lille. Sénécal execrated M. Cousin much more for
eclecticism, by teaching that certitude can be deduced from reason,
developed selfishness and destroyed solidarity. The traveller in wines,
knowing very little about these matters, remarked in a very loud tone
that he had forgotten many infamies:

"The royal carriage on the Northern line must have cost eighty thousand
francs. Who'll pay the amount?"

"Aye, who'll pay the amount?" repeated the clerk, as angrily as if this
amount had been drawn out of his own pocket.

Then followed recriminations against the lynxes of the Bourse and the
corruption of officials. According to Sénécal they ought to go higher
up, and lay the blame, first of all, on the princes who had revived the
morals of the Regency period.

"Have you not lately seen the Duc de Montpensier's friends coming back
from Vincennes, no doubt in a state of intoxication, and disturbing with
their songs the workmen of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine?"

"There was even a cry of 'Down with the thieves!'" said the apothecary.
"I was there, and I joined in the cry!"

"So much the better! The people are at last waking up since the
Teste-Cubières case."[D]

"For my part, that case caused me some pain," said Dussardier, "because
it imputed dishonour to an old soldier!"

"Do you know," Sénécal went on, "what they have discovered at the
Duchesse de Praslin's house----?"

But here the door was sent flying open with a kick. Hussonnet entered.


[D] This refers to a charge of corruption made in 1843 against a general
who was a member of the Ministry.--TRANSLATOR.


"Hail, messeigneurs," said he, as he seated himself on the bed.

No allusion was made to his article, which he was sorry, however, for
having written, as the Maréchale had sharply reprimanded him on account
of it.

He had just seen at the Théâtre de Dumas the _Chevalier de
Maison-Rouge_, and declared that it seemed to him a stupid play.

Such a criticism surprised the democrats, as this drama, by its
tendency, or rather by its scenery, flattered their passions. They
protested. Sénécal, in order to bring this discussion to a close, asked
whether the play served the cause of Democracy.

"Yes, perhaps; but it is written in a style----"

"Well, then, 'tis a good play. What is style? 'Tis the idea!"

And, without allowing Frederick to say a word:

"Now, I was pointing out that in the Praslin case----"

Hussonnet interrupted him:

"Ha! here's another worn-out trick! I'm disgusted at it!"

"And others as well as you," returned Deslauriers.

"It has only got five papers taken. Listen while I read this paragraph."

And drawing his note-book out of his pocket, he read:

"'We have, since the establishment of the best of republics, been
subjected to twelve hundred and twenty-nine press prosecutions, from
which the results to the writers have been imprisonment extending over a
period of three thousand one hundred and forty-one years, and the light
sum of seven million one hundred and ten thousand five hundred francs
by way of fine.' That's charming, eh?"

They all sneered bitterly.

Frederick, incensed against the others, broke in:

"_The Democratie Pacifique_ has had proceedings taken against it on
account of its feuilleton, a novel entitled _The Woman's Share_."

"Come! that's good," said Hussonnet. "Suppose they prevented us from
having our share of the women!"

"But what is it that's not prohibited?" exclaimed Deslauriers. "To smoke
in the Luxembourg is prohibited; to sing the Hymn to Pius IX. is
prohibited!"

"And the typographers' banquet has been interdicted," a voice cried,
with a thick articulation.

It was that of an architect, who had sat concealed in the shade of the
alcove, and who had remained silent up to that moment. He added that,
the week before, a man named Rouget had been convicted of offering
insults to the king.

"That gurnet[E] is fried," said Hussonnet.

This joke appeared so improper to Sénécal, that he reproached Hussonnet
for defending the Juggler of the Hôtel de Ville, the friend of the
traitor Dumouriez.

"I? quite the contrary!"

He considered Louis Philippe commonplace, one of the National Guard
types of men, all that savoured most of the provision-shop and the
cotton night-cap! And laying his hand on his heart, the Bohemian gave
utterance to the rhetorical phrases:

"It is always with a new pleasure.... Polish nationality will not
perish.... Our great works will be pursued.... Give me some money for
my little family...."


[E] _Rouget_ means a gurnet.--TRANSLATOR.


They all laughed hugely, declaring that he was a delightful fellow, full
of wit. Their delight was redoubled at the sight of the bowl of punch
which was brought in by the keeper of a café.

The flames of the alcohol and those of the wax-candles soon heated the
apartment, and the light from the garret, passing across the courtyard,
illuminated the side of an opposite roof with the flue of a chimney,
whose black outlines could be traced through the darkness of night. They
talked in very loud tones all at the same time. They had taken off their
coats; they gave blows to the furniture; they touched glasses.

Hussonnet exclaimed:

"Send up some great ladies, in order that this may be more Tour de
Nesles, have more local colouring, and be more Rembrandtesque,
gadzooks!"

And the apothecary, who kept stirring about the punch indefinitely,
began to sing with expanded chest:

    "I've two big oxen in my stable,
    Two big white oxen----"

Sénécal laid his hand on the apothecary's mouth; he did not like
disorderly conduct; and the lodgers pressed their faces against the
window-panes, surprised at the unwonted uproar that was taking place in
Dussardier's room.

The honest fellow was happy, and said that this recalled to his mind
their little parties on the Quai Napoléon in days gone by; however, they
missed many who used to be present at these reunions, "Pellerin, for
instance."

"We can do without him," observed Frederick.

And Deslauriers enquired about Martinon.

"What has become of that interesting gentleman?"

Frederick, immediately giving vent to the ill-will which he bore to
Martinon, attacked his mental capacity, his character, his false
elegance, his entire personality. He was a perfect specimen of an
upstart peasant! The new aristocracy, the mercantile class, was not as
good as the old--the nobility. He maintained this, and the democrats
expressed their approval, as if he were a member of the one class, and
they were in the habit of visiting the other. They were charmed with
him. The apothecary compared him to M. d'Alton Shée, who, though a peer
of France, defended the cause of the people.

The time had come for taking their departure. They all separated with
great handshakings. Dussardier, in a spirit of affectionate solicitude,
saw Frederick and Deslauriers home. As soon as they were in the street,
the advocate assumed a thoughtful air, and, after a moment's silence:

"You have a great grudge, then, against Pellerin?"

Frederick did not hide his rancour.

The painter, in the meantime, had withdrawn the notorious picture from
the show-window. A person should not let himself be put out by trifles.
What was the good of making an enemy for himself?

"He has given way to a burst of ill-temper, excusable in a man who
hasn't a sou. You, of course, can't understand that!"

And, when Deslauriers had gone up to his own apartments, the shopman did
not part with Frederick. He even urged his friend to buy the portrait.
In fact, Pellerin, abandoning the hope of being able to intimidate him,
had got round them so that they might use their influence to obtain the
thing for him.

Deslauriers spoke about it again, and pressed him on the point, urging
that the artist's claims were reasonable.

"I am sure that for a sum of, perhaps, five hundred francs----"

"Oh, give it to him! Wait! here it is!" said Frederick.

The picture was brought the same evening. It appeared to him a still
more atrocious daub than when he had seen it first. The half-tints and
the shades were darkened under the excessive retouchings, and they
seemed obscured when brought into relation with the lights, which,
having remained very brilliant here and there, destroyed the harmony of
the entire picture.

Frederick revenged himself for having had to pay for it by bitterly
disparaging it. Deslauriers believed in Frederick's statement on the
point, and expressed approval of his conduct, for he had always been
ambitious of constituting a phalanx of which he would be the leader.
Certain men take delight in making their friends do things which are
disagreeable to them.

Meanwhile, Frederick did not renew his visits to the Dambreuses. He
lacked the capital for the investment. He would have to enter into
endless explanations on the subject; he hesitated about making up his
mind. Perhaps he was in the right. Nothing was certain now, the
coal-mining speculation any more than other things. He would have to
give up society of that sort. The end of the matter was that
Deslauriers was dissuaded from having anything further to do with the
undertaking.

From sheer force of hatred he had grown virtuous, and again he preferred
Frederick in a position of mediocrity. In this way he remained his
friend's equal and in more intimate relationship with him.

Mademoiselle Roque's commission had been very badly executed. Her father
wrote to him, supplying him with the most precise directions, and
concluded his letter with this piece of foolery: "At the risk of giving
you _nigger on the brain_!"

Frederick could not do otherwise than call upon the Arnouxs', once more.
He went to the warehouse, where he could see nobody. The firm being in a
tottering condition, the clerks imitated the carelessness of their
master.

He brushed against the shelves laden with earthenware, which filled up
the entire space in the centre of the establishment; then, when he
reached the lower end, facing the counter, he walked with a more noisy
tread in order to make himself heard.

The portières parted, and Madame Arnoux appeared.

"What! you here! you!"

"Yes," she faltered, with some agitation. "I was looking for----"

He saw her handkerchief near the desk, and guessed that she had come
down to her husband's warehouse to have an account given to her as to
the business, to clear up some matter that caused her anxiety.

"But perhaps there is something you want?" said she.

"A mere nothing, madame."

"These shop-assistants are intolerable! they are always out of the way."

They ought not to be blamed. On the contrary, he congratulated himself
on the circumstance.

She gazed at him in an ironical fashion.

"Well, and this marriage?"

"What marriage?"

"Your own!"

"Mine? I'll never marry as long as I live!"

She made a gesture as if to contradict his words.

"Though, indeed, such things must be, after all? We take refuge in the
commonplace, despairing of ever realising the beautiful existence of
which we have dreamed."

"All your dreams, however, are not so--candid!"

"What do you mean?"

"When you drive to races with women!"

He cursed the Maréchale. Then something recurred to his memory.

"But it was you begged of me yourself to see her at one time in the
interest of Arnoux."

She replied with a shake of her head:

"And you take advantage of it to amuse yourself?"

"Good God! let us forget all these foolish things!"

"'Tis right, since you are going to be married."

And she stifled a sigh, while she bit her lips.

Then he exclaimed:

"But I tell you again I am not! Can you believe that I, with my
intellectual requirements, my habits, am going to bury myself in the
provinces in order to play cards, look after masons, and walk about in
wooden shoes? What object, pray, could I have for taking such a step?
You've been told that she was rich, haven't you? Ah! what do I care
about money? Could I, after yearning long for that which is most lovely,
tender, enchanting, a sort of Paradise under a human form, and having
found this sweet ideal at last when this vision hides every other from
my view----"

And taking her head between his two hands, he began to kiss her on the
eyelids, repeating:

"No! no! no! never will I marry! never! never!"

She submitted to these caresses, her mingled amazement and delight
having bereft her of the power of motion.

The door of the storeroom above the staircase fell back, and she
remained with outstretched arms, as if to bid him keep silence. Steps
drew near. Then some one said from behind the door:

"Is Madame there?"

"Come in!"

Madame Arnoux had her elbow on the counter, and was twisting about a pen
between her fingers quietly when the book-keeper threw aside the
portière.

Frederick started up, as if on the point of leaving.

"Madame, I have the honour to salute you. The set will be ready--will it
not? I may count on this?"

She made no reply. But by thus silently becoming his accomplice in the
deception, she made his face flush with the crimson glow of adultery.

On the following day he paid her another visit. She received him; and,
in order to follow up the advantage he had gained, Frederick
immediately, without any preamble, attempted to offer some justification
for the accidental meeting in the Champ de Mars. It was the merest
chance that led to his being in that woman's company. While admitting
that she was pretty--which really was not the case--how could she for
even a moment absorb his thoughts, seeing that he loved another woman?

"You know it well--I told you it was so!"

Madame Arnoux hung down her head.

"I am sorry you said such a thing."

"Why?"

"The most ordinary proprieties now demand that I should see you no
more!"

He protested that his love was of an innocent character. The past ought
to be a guaranty as to his future conduct. He had of his own accord made
it a point of honour with himself not to disturb her existence, not to
deafen her with his complaints.

"But yesterday my heart overflowed."

"We ought not to let our thoughts dwell on that moment, my friend!"

And yet, where would be the harm in two wretched beings mingling their
griefs?

"For, indeed, you are not happy any more than I am! Oh! I know you. You
have no one who responds to your craving for affection, for devotion. I
will do anything you wish! I will not offend you! I swear to you that I
will not!"

And he let himself fall on his knees, in spite of himself, giving way
beneath the weight of the feelings that oppressed his heart.

"Rise!" she said; "I desire you to do so!"

And she declared in an imperious tone that if he did not comply with her
wish, she would never see him again.

"Ha! I defy you to do it!" returned Frederick. "What is there for me to
do in the world? Other men strive for riches, celebrity, power! But I
have no profession; you are my exclusive occupation, my whole wealth,
the object, the centre of my existence and of my thoughts. I can no more
live without you than without the air of heaven! Do you not feel the
aspiration of my soul ascending towards yours, and that they must
intermingle, and that I am dying on your account?"

Madame Arnoux began to tremble in every limb.

"Oh! leave me, I beg of you?"

The look of utter confusion in her face made him pause. Then he advanced
a step. But she drew back, with her two hands clasped.

"Leave me in the name of Heaven, for mercy's sake!"

And Frederick loved her so much that he went away.

Soon afterwards, he was filled with rage against himself, declared in
his own mind that he was an idiot, and, after the lapse of twenty-four
hours, returned.

Madame was not there. He remained at the head of the stairs, stupefied
with anger and indignation. Arnoux appeared, and informed Frederick that
his wife had, that very morning, gone out to take up her residence at a
little country-house of which he had become tenant at Auteuil, as he had
given up possession of the house at Saint-Cloud.

"This is another of her whims. No matter, as she is settled at last; and
myself, too, for that matter, so much the better. Let us dine together
this evening, will you?"

Frederick pleaded as an excuse some urgent business; then he hurried
away of his own accord to Auteuil.

Madame Arnoux allowed an exclamation of joy to escape her lips. Then all
his bitterness vanished.

He did not say one word about his love. In order to inspire her with
confidence in him, he even exaggerated his reserve; and on his asking
whether he might call again, she replied: "Why, of course!" putting out
her hand, which she withdrew the next moment.

From that time forth, Frederick increased his visits. He promised extra
fares to the cabman who drove him. But often he grew impatient at the
slow pace of the horse, and, alighting on the ground, he would make a
dash after an omnibus, and climb to the top of it out of breath. Then
with what disdain he surveyed the faces of those around him, who were
not going to see her!

He could distinguish her house at a distance, with an enormous
honeysuckle covering, on one side, the planks of the roof. It was a kind
of Swiss châlet, painted red, with a balcony outside. In the garden
there were three old chestnut-trees, and on a rising ground in the
centre might be seen a parasol made of thatch, held up by the trunk of a
tree. Under the slatework lining the walls, a big vine-tree, badly
fastened, hung from one place to another after the fashion of a rotten
cable. The gate-bell, which it was rather hard to pull, was slow in
ringing, and a long time always elapsed before it was answered. On each
occasion he experienced a pang of suspense, a fear born of irresolution.

Then his ears would be greeted with the pattering of the servant-maid's
slippers over the gravel, or else Madame Arnoux herself would make her
appearance. One day he came up behind her just as she was stooping down
in the act of gathering violets.

Her daughter's capricious disposition had made it necessary to send the
girl to a convent. Her little son was at school every afternoon. Arnoux
was now in the habit of taking prolonged luncheons at the Palais-Royal
with Regimbart and their friend Compain. They gave themselves no bother
about anything that occurred, no matter how disagreeable it might be.

It was clearly understood between Frederick and her that they should not
belong to each other. By this convention they were preserved from
danger, and they found it easier to pour out their hearts to each other.

She told him all about her early life at Chartres, which she spent with
her mother, her devotion when she had reached her twelfth year, then her
passion for music, when she used to sing till nightfall in her little
room, from which the ramparts could be seen.

He related to her how melancholy broodings had haunted him at college,
and how a woman's face shone brightly in the cloudland of his
imagination, so that, when he first laid eyes upon her, he felt that her
features were quite familiar to him.

These conversations, as a rule, covered only the years during which they
had been acquainted with each other. He recalled to her recollection
insignificant details--the colour of her dress at a certain period, a
woman whom they had met on a certain day, what she had said on another
occasion; and she replied, quite astonished:

"Yes, I remember!"

Their tastes, their judgments, were the same. Often one of them, when
listening to the other, exclaimed:

"That's the way with me."

And the other replied:

"And with me, too!"

Then there were endless complaints about Providence:

"Why was it not the will of Heaven? If we had only met----!"

"Ah! if I had been younger!" she sighed.

"No, but if I had been a little older."

And they pictured to themselves a life entirely given up to love,
sufficiently rich to fill up the vastest solitudes, surpassing all other
joys, defying all forms of wretchedness, in which the hours would glide
away in a continual outpouring of their own emotions, and which would be
as bright and glorious as the palpitating splendour of the stars.

They were nearly always standing at the top of the stairs exposed to the
free air of heaven. The tops of trees yellowed by the autumn raised
their crests in front of them at unequal heights up to the edge of the
pale sky; or else they walked on to the end of the avenue into a
summer-house whose only furniture was a couch of grey canvas. Black
specks stained the glass; the walls exhaled a mouldy smell; and they
remained there chatting freely about all sorts of topics--anything that
happened to arise--in a spirit of hilarity. Sometimes the rays of the
sun, passing through the Venetian blind, extended from the ceiling down
to the flagstones like the strings of a lyre. Particles of dust whirled
amid these luminous bars. She amused herself by dividing them with her
hand. Frederick gently caught hold of her; and he gazed on the twinings
of her veins, the grain of her skin, and the form of her fingers. Each
of those fingers of hers was for him more than a thing--almost a
person.

She gave him her gloves, and, the week after, her handkerchief. She
called him "Frederick;" he called her "Marie," adoring this name, which,
as he said, was expressly made to be uttered with a sigh of ecstasy, and
which seemed to contain clouds of incense and scattered heaps of roses.

They soon came to an understanding as to the days on which he would call
to see her; and, leaving the house as if by mere chance, she walked
along the road to meet him.

She made no effort whatever to excite his love, lost in that
listlessness which is characteristic of intense happiness. During the
whole season she wore a brown silk dressing-gown with velvet borders of
the same colour, a large garment, which united the indolence of her
attitudes and her grave physiognomy. Besides, she had just reached the
autumnal period of womanhood, in which reflection is combined with
tenderness, in which the beginning of maturity colours the face with a
more intense flame, when strength of feeling mingles with experience of
life, and when, having completely expanded, the entire being overflows
with a richness in harmony with its beauty. Never had she possessed more
sweetness, more leniency. Secure in the thought that she would not err,
she abandoned herself to a sentiment which seemed to her won by her
sorrows. And, moreover, it was so innocent and fresh! What an abyss lay
between the coarseness of Arnoux and the adoration of Frederick!

He trembled at the thought that by an imprudent word he might lose all
that he had gained, saying to himself that an opportunity might be found
again, but that a foolish step could never be repaired. He wished that
she should give herself rather than that he should take her. The
assurance of being loved by her delighted him like a foretaste of
possession, and then the charm of her person troubled his heart more
than his senses. It was an indefinable feeling of bliss, a sort of
intoxication that made him lose sight of the possibility of having his
happiness completed. Apart from her, he was consumed with longing.

Ere long the conversations were interrupted by long spells of silence.
Sometimes a species of sexual shame made them blush in each other's
presence. All the precautions they took to hide their love only unveiled
it; the stronger it grew, the more constrained they became in manner.
The effect of this dissimulation was to intensify their sensibility.
They experienced a sensation of delight at the odour of moist leaves;
they could not endure the east wind; they got irritated without any
apparent cause, and had melancholy forebodings. The sound of a footstep,
the creaking of the wainscoting, filled them with as much terror as if
they had been guilty. They felt as if they were being pushed towards the
edge of a chasm. They were surrounded by a tempestuous atmosphere; and
when complaints escaped Frederick's lips, she made accusations against
herself.

"Yes, I am doing wrong. I am acting as if I were a coquette! Don't come
any more!"

Then he would repeat the same oaths, to which on each occasion she
listened with renewed pleasure.

His return to Paris, and the fuss occasioned by New Year's Day,
interrupted their meetings to some extent. When he returned, he had an
air of greater self-confidence. Every moment she went out to give
orders, and in spite of his entreaties she received every visitor that
called during the evening.

After this, they engaged in conversations about Léotade, M. Guizot, the
Pope, the insurrection at Palermo, and the banquet of the Twelfth
Arrondissement, which had caused some disquietude. Frederick eased his
mind by railing against Power, for he longed, like Deslauriers, to turn
the whole world upside down, so soured had he now become. Madame Arnoux,
on her side, had become sad.

Her husband, indulging in displays of wild folly, was flirting with one
of the girls in his pottery works, the one who was known as "the girl
from Bordeaux." Madame Arnoux was herself informed about it by
Frederick. He wanted to make use of it as an argument, "inasmuch as she
was the victim of deception."

"Oh! I'm not much concerned about it," she said.

This admission on her part seemed to him to strengthen the intimacy
between them. Would Arnoux be seized with mistrust with regard to them?

"No! not now!"

She told him that, one evening, he had left them talking together, and
had afterwards come back again and listened behind the door, and as they
both were chatting at the time of matters that were of no consequence,
he had lived since then in a state of complete security.

"With good reason, too--is that not so?" said Frederick bitterly.

"Yes, no doubt!"

It would have been better for him not to have given so risky an answer.

One day she was not at home at the hour when he usually called. To him
there seemed to be a sort of treason in this.

He was next displeased at seeing the flowers which he used to bring her
always placed in a glass of water.

"Where, then, would you like me to put them?"

"Oh! not there! However, they are not so cold there as they would be
near your heart!"

Not long afterwards he reproached her for having been at the Italian
opera the night before without having given him a previous intimation of
her intention to go there. Others had seen, admired, fallen in love with
her, perhaps; Frederick was fastening on those suspicions of his merely
in order to pick a quarrel with her, to torment her; for he was
beginning to hate her, and the very least he might expect was that she
should share in his sufferings!

One afternoon, towards the middle of February, he surprised her in a
state of great mental excitement. Eugène had been complaining about his
sore throat. The doctor had told her, however, that it was a trifling
ailment--a bad cold, an attack of influenza. Frederick was astonished at
the child's stupefied look. Nevertheless, he reassured the mother, and
brought forward the cases of several children of the same age who had
been attacked with similar ailments, and had been speedily cured.

"Really?"

"Why, yes, assuredly!"

"Oh! how good you are!"

And she caught his hand. He clasped hers tightly in his.

"Oh! let it go!"

"What does it signify, when it is to one who sympathises with you that
you offer it? You place every confidence in me when I speak of these
things, but you distrust me when I talk to you about my love!"

"I don't doubt you on that point, my poor friend!"

"Why this distrust, as if I were a wretch capable of abusing----"

"Oh! no!----"

"If I had only a proof!----"

"What proof?"

"The proof that a person might give to the first comer--what you have
granted to myself!"

And he recalled to her recollection how, on one occasion, they had gone
out together, on a winter's twilight, when there was a fog. This seemed
now a long time ago. What, then, was to prevent her from showing herself
on his arm before the whole world without any fear on her part, and
without any mental reservation on his, not having anyone around them who
could importune them?

"Be it so!" she said, with a promptness of decision that at first
astonished Frederick.

But he replied, in a lively fashion:

"Would you like me to wait at the corner of the Rue Tronchet and the Rue
de la Ferme?"

"Good heavens, my friend!" faltered Madame Arnoux.

Without giving her time to reflect, he added:

"Next Tuesday, I suppose?"

"Tuesday?"

"Yes, between two and three o'clock."

"I will be there!"

And she turned aside her face with a movement of shame. Frederick
placed his lips on the nape of her neck.

"Oh! this is not right," she said. "You will make me repent."

He turned away, dreading the fickleness which is customary with women.
Then, on the threshold, he murmured softly, as if it were a thing that
was thoroughly understood:

"On Tuesday!"

She lowered her beautiful eyes in a cautious and resigned fashion.

Frederick had a plan arranged in his mind.

He hoped that, owing to the rain or the sun, he might get her to stop
under some doorway, and that, once there, she would go into some house.
The difficulty was to find one that would suit.

He made a search, and about the middle of the Rue Tronchet he read, at a
distance on a signboard, "Furnished apartments."

The waiter, divining his object, showed him immediately above the
ground-floor a room and a closet with two exits. Frederick took it for a
month, and paid in advance. Then he went into three shops to buy the
rarest perfumery. He got a piece of imitation guipure, which was to
replace the horrible red cotton foot-coverlets; he selected a pair of
blue satin slippers, only the fear of appearing coarse checked the
amount of his purchases. He came back with them; and with more devotion
than those who are erecting processional altars, he altered the position
of the furniture, arranged the curtains himself, put heather in the
fireplace, and covered the chest of drawers with violets. He would have
liked to pave the entire apartment with gold. "To-morrow is the time,"
said he to himself. "Yes, to-morrow! I am not dreaming!" and he felt his
heart throbbing violently under the delirious excitement begotten by his
anticipations. Then, when everything was ready, he carried off the key
in his pocket, as if the happiness which slept there might have flown
away along with it.

A letter from his mother was awaiting him when he reached his abode:

"Why such a long absence? Your conduct is beginning to look ridiculous.
I understand your hesitating more or less at first with regard to this
union. However, think well upon it."

And she put the matter before him with the utmost clearness: an income
of forty-five thousand francs. However, "people were talking about it;"
and M. Roque was waiting for a definite answer. As for the young girl,
her position was truly most embarrassing.

"She is deeply attached to you."

Frederick threw aside the letter even before he had finished reading it,
and opened another epistle which came from Deslauriers.

"Dear Old Boy,--The _pear_ is ripe. In accordance with your promise, we
may count on you. We meet to-morrow at daybreak, in the Place du
Panthéon. Drop into the Café Soufflot. It is necessary for me to have a
chat with you before the manifestation takes place."

"Oh! I know them, with their manifestations! A thousand thanks! I have a
more agreeable appointment."

And on the following morning, at eleven o'clock, Frederick had left the
house. He wanted to give one last glance at the preparations. Then, who
could tell but that, by some chance or other, she might be at the place
of meeting before him? As he emerged from the Rue Tronchet, he heard a
great clamour behind the Madeleine. He pressed forward, and saw at the
far end of the square, to the left, a number of men in blouses and
well-dressed people.

In fact, a manifesto published in the newspapers had summoned to this
spot all who had subscribed to the banquet of the Reform Party. The
Ministry had, almost without a moment's delay, posted up a proclamation
prohibiting the meeting. The Parliamentary Opposition had, on the
previous evening, disclaimed any connection with it; but the patriots,
who were unaware of this resolution on the part of their leaders, had
come to the meeting-place, followed by a great crowd of spectators. A
deputation from the schools had made its way, a short time before, to
the house of Odillon Barrot. It was now at the residence of the Minister
for Foreign Affairs; and nobody could tell whether the banquet would
take place, whether the Government would carry out its threat, and
whether the National Guards would make their appearance. People were as
much enraged against the deputies as against Power. The crowd was
growing bigger and bigger, when suddenly the strains of the
"Marseillaise" rang through the air.

It was the students' column which had just arrived on the scene. They
marched along at an ordinary walking pace, in double file and in good
order, with angry faces, bare hands, and all exclaiming at intervals:

"Long live Reform! Down with Guizot!"

Frederick's friends were there, sure enough. They would have noticed him
and dragged him along with them. He quickly sought refuge in the Rue de
l'Arcade.

When the students had taken two turns round the Madeleine, they went
down in the direction of the Place de la Concorde. It was full of
people; and, at a distance, the crowd pressed close together, had the
appearance of a field of dark ears of corn swaying to and fro.

At the same moment, some soldiers of the line ranged themselves in
battle-array at the left-hand side of the church.

The groups remained standing there, however. In order to put an end to
this, some police-officers in civilian dress seized the most riotous of
them in a brutal fashion, and carried them off to the guard-house.
Frederick, in spite of his indignation, remained silent; he might have
been arrested along with the others, and he would have missed Madame
Arnoux.

A little while afterwards the helmets of the Municipal Guards appeared.
They kept striking about them with the flat side of their sabres. A
horse fell down. The people made a rush forward to save him, and as soon
as the rider was in the saddle, they all ran away.

Then there was a great silence. The thin rain, which had moistened the
asphalt, was no longer falling. Clouds floated past, gently swept on by
the west wind.

Frederick began running through the Rue Tronchet, looking before him and
behind him.

At length it struck two o'clock.

"Ha! now is the time!" said he to himself. "She is leaving her house;
she is approaching," and a minute after, "she would have had time to be
here."

Up to three he tried to keep quiet. "No, she is not going to be late--a
little patience!"

And for want of something to do he examined the most interesting shops
that he passed--a bookseller's, a saddler's and a mourning warehouse.
Soon he knew the names of the different books, the various kinds of
harness, and every sort of material. The persons who looked after these
establishments, from seeing him continually going backwards and
forwards, were at first surprised, and then alarmed, and they closed up
their shop-fronts.

No doubt she had met with some impediment, and for that reason she must
be enduring pain on account of it. But what delight would be afforded in
a very short time! For she would come--that was certain. "She has given
me her promise!" In the meantime an intolerable feeling of anxiety was
gradually seizing hold of him. Impelled by an absurd idea, he returned
to his hotel, as if he expected to find her there. At the same moment,
she might have reached the street in which their meeting was to take
place. He rushed out. Was there no one? And he resumed his tramp up and
down the footpath.

He stared at the gaps in the pavement, the mouths of the gutters, the
candelabra, and the numbers above the doors. The most trifling objects
became for him companions, or rather, ironical spectators, and the
regular fronts of the houses seemed to him to have a pitiless aspect. He
was suffering from cold feet. He felt as if he were about to succumb to
the dejection which was crushing him. The reverberation of his footsteps
vibrated through his brain.

When he saw by his watch that it was four o'clock, he experienced, as it
were, a sense of vertigo, a feeling of dismay. He tried to repeat some
verses to himself, to enter on a calculation, no matter of what sort, to
invent some kind of story. Impossible! He was beset by the image of
Madame Arnoux; he felt a longing to run in order to meet her. But what
road ought he to take so that they might not pass each other?

He went up to a messenger, put five francs into his hand, and ordered
him to go to the Rue de Paradis to Jacques Arnoux's residence to enquire
"if Madame were at home." Then he took up his post at the corner of the
Rue de la Ferme and of the Rue Tronchet, so as to be able to look down
both of them at the same time. On the boulevard, in the background of
the scene in front of him, confused masses of people were gliding past.
He could distinguish, every now and then, the aigrette of a dragoon or a
woman's hat; and he strained his eyes in the effort to recognise the
wearer. A child in rags, exhibiting a jack-in-the-box, asked him, with a
smile, for alms.

The man with the velvet vest reappeared. "The porter had not seen her
going out." What had kept her in? If she were ill he would have been
told about it. Was it a visitor? Nothing was easier than to say that she
was not at home. He struck his forehead.

"Ah! I am stupid! Of course, 'tis this political outbreak that prevented
her from coming!"

He was relieved by this apparently natural explanation. Then, suddenly:
"But her quarter of the city is quiet." And a horrible doubt seized hold
of his mind: "Suppose she was not coming at all, and merely gave me a
promise in order to get rid of me? No, no!" What had prevented her from
coming was, no doubt, some extraordinary mischance, one of those
occurrences that baffled all one's anticipations. In that case she would
have written to him.

And he sent the hotel errand-boy to his residence in the Rue Rumfort to
find out whether there happened to be a letter waiting for him there.

No letter had been brought. This absence of news reassured him.

He drew omens from the number of coins which he took up in his hand out
of his pocket by chance, from the physiognomies of the passers-by, and
from the colour of different horses; and when the augury was
unfavourable, he forced himself to disbelieve in it. In his sudden
outbursts of rage against Madame Arnoux, he abused her in muttering
tones. Then came fits of weakness that nearly made him swoon, followed,
all of a sudden, by fresh rebounds of hopefulness. She would make her
appearance presently! She was there, behind his back! He turned
round--there was nobody there! Once he perceived, about thirty paces
away, a woman of the same height, with a dress of the same kind. He came
up to her--it was not she. It struck five--half-past five--six. The
gas-lamps were lighted, Madame Arnoux had not come.

The night before, she had dreamed that she had been, for some time, on
the footpath in the Rue Tronchet. She was waiting there for something
the nature of which she was not quite clear about, but which,
nevertheless, was of great importance; and, without knowing why, she was
afraid of being seen. But a pestiferous little dog kept barking at her
furiously and biting at the hem of her dress. Every time she shook him
off he returned stubbornly to the attack, always barking more violently
than before. Madame Arnoux woke up. The dog's barking continued. She
strained her ears to listen. It came from her son's room. She rushed to
the spot in her bare feet. It was the child himself who was coughing.
His hands were burning, his face flushed, and his voice singularly
hoarse. Every minute he found it more difficult to breathe freely. She
waited there till daybreak, bent over the coverlet watching him.

At eight o'clock the drum of the National Guard gave warning to M.
Arnoux that his comrades were expecting his arrival. He dressed himself
quickly and went away, promising that he would immediately be passing
the house of their doctor, M. Colot.

At ten o'clock, when M. Colot did not make his appearance, Madame Arnoux
despatched her chambermaid for him. The doctor was away in the country;
and the young man who was taking his place had gone out on some
business.

Eugène kept his head on one side on the bolster with contracted eyebrows
and dilated nostrils. His pale little face had become whiter than the
sheets; and there escaped from his larynx a wheezing caused by his
oppressed breathing, which became gradually shorter, dryer, and more
metallic. His cough resembled the noise made by those barbarous
mechanical inventions by which toy-dogs are enabled to bark.

Madame Arnoux was seized with terror. She rang the bell violently,
calling out for help, and exclaiming:

"A doctor! a doctor!"

Ten minutes later came an elderly gentleman in a white tie, and with
grey whiskers well trimmed. He put several questions as to the habits,
the age, and the constitution of the young patient, and studied the
case with his head thrown back. He next wrote out a prescription.

The calm manner of this old man was intolerable. He smelt of aromatics.
She would have liked to beat him. He said he would come back in the
evening.

The horrible coughing soon began again. Sometimes the child arose
suddenly. Convulsive movements shook the muscles of his breast; and in
his efforts to breathe his stomach shrank in as if he were suffocating
after running too hard. Then he sank down, with his head thrown back and
his mouth wide open. With infinite pains, Madame Arnoux tried to make
him swallow the contents of the phials, hippo wine, and a potion
containing trisulphate of antimony. But he pushed away the spoon,
groaning in a feeble voice. He seemed to be blowing out his words.

From time to time she re-read the prescription. The observations of the
formulary frightened her. Perhaps the apothecary had made some mistake.
Her powerlessness filled her with despair. M. Colot's pupil arrived.

He was a young man of modest demeanour, new to medical work, and he made
no attempt to disguise his opinion about the case. He was at first
undecided as to what he should do, for fear of compromising himself, and
finally he ordered pieces of ice to be applied to the sick child. It
took a long time to get ice. The bladder containing the ice burst. It
was necessary to change the little boy's shirt. This disturbance brought
on an attack of even a more dreadful character than any of the previous
ones.

The child began tearing off the linen round his neck, as if he wanted to
remove the obstacle that was choking him; and he scratched the walls and
seized the curtains of his bedstead, trying to get a point of support to
assist him in breathing.

His face was now of a bluish hue, and his entire body, steeped in a cold
perspiration, appeared to be growing lean. His haggard eyes were fixed
with terror on his mother. He threw his arms round her neck, and hung
there in a desperate fashion; and, repressing her rising sobs, she gave
utterance in a broken voice to loving words:

"Yes, my pet, my angel, my treasure!"

Then came intervals of calm.

She went to look for playthings--a punchinello, a collection of images,
and spread them out on the bed in order to amuse him. She even made an
attempt to sing.

She began to sing a little ballad which she used to sing years before,
when she was nursing him wrapped up in swaddling-clothes in this same
little upholstered chair. But a shiver ran all over his frame, just as
when a wave is agitated by the wind. The balls of his eyes protruded.
She thought he was going to die, and turned away her eyes to avoid
seeing him.

The next moment she felt strength enough in her to look at him. He was
still living. The hours succeeded each other--dull, mournful,
interminable, hopeless, and she no longer counted the minutes, save by
the progress of this mental anguish. The shakings of his chest threw him
forward as if to shatter his body. Finally, he vomited something
strange, which was like a parchment tube. What was this? She fancied
that he had evacuated one end of his entrails. But he now began to
breathe freely and regularly. This appearance of well-being frightened
her more than anything else that had happened. She was sitting like one
petrified, her arms hanging by her sides, her eyes fixed, when M. Colot
suddenly made his appearance. The child, in his opinion, was saved.

She did not realise what he meant at first, and made him repeat the
words. Was not this one of those consoling phrases which were customary
with medical men? The doctor went away with an air of tranquillity. Then
it seemed as if the cords that pressed round her heart were loosened.

"Saved! Is this possible?"

Suddenly the thought of Frederick presented itself to her mind in a
clear and inexorable fashion. It was a warning sent to her by
Providence. But the Lord in His mercy had not wished to complete her
chastisement. What expiation could she offer hereafter if she were to
persevere in this love-affair? No doubt insults would be flung at her
son's head on her account; and Madame Arnoux saw him a young man,
wounded in a combat, carried off on a litter, dying. At one spring she
threw herself on the little chair, and, letting her soul escape towards
the heights of heaven, she vowed to God that she would sacrifice, as a
holocaust, her first real passion, her only weakness as a woman.

Frederick had returned home. He remained in his armchair, without even
possessing enough of energy to curse her. A sort of slumber fell upon
him, and, in the midst of his nightmare, he could hear the rain falling,
still under the impression that he was there outside on the footpath.

Next morning, yielding to an incapacity to resist the temptation which
clung to him, he again sent a messenger to Madame Arnoux's house.

Whether the true explanation happened to be that the fellow did not
deliver his message, or that she had too many things to say to explain
herself in a word or two, the same answer was brought back. This
insolence was too great! A feeling of angry pride took possession of
him. He swore in his own mind that he would never again cherish even a
desire; and, like a group of leaves carried away by a hurricane, his
love disappeared. He experienced a sense of relief, a feeling of stoical
joy, then a need of violent action; and he walked on at random through
the streets.

Men from the faubourgs were marching past armed with guns and old
swords, some of them wearing red caps, and all singing the
"Marseillaise" or the "Girondins." Here and there a National Guard was
hurrying to join his mayoral department. Drums could be heard rolling in
the distance. A conflict was going on at Porte Saint-Martin. There was
something lively and warlike in the air. Frederick kept walking on
without stopping. The excitement of the great city made him gay.

On the Frascati hill he got a glimpse of the Maréchale's windows: a wild
idea occurred to him, a reaction of youthfulness. He crossed the
boulevard.

The yard-gate was just being closed; and Delphine, who was in the act of
writing on it with a piece of charcoal, "Arms given," said to him in an
eager tone:

"Ah! Madame is in a nice state! She dismissed a groom who insulted her
this morning. She thinks there's going to be pillage everywhere. She is
frightened to death! and the more so as Monsieur has gone!"

"What Monsieur?"

"The Prince!"

Frederick entered the boudoir. The Maréchale appeared in her petticoat,
and her hair hanging down her back in disorder.

"Ah! thanks! You are going to save me! 'tis the second time! You are one
of those who never count the cost!"

"A thousand pardons!" said Frederick, catching her round the waist with
both hands.

"How now? What are you doing?" stammered the Maréchale, at the same
time, surprised and cheered up by his manner.

He replied:

"I am the fashion! I'm reformed!"

She let herself fall back on the divan, and continued laughing under his
kisses.

They spent the afternoon looking out through the window at the people in
the street. Then he brought her to dine at the Trois Frères Provençaux.
The meal was a long and dainty one. They came back on foot for want of a
vehicle.

At the announcement of a change of Ministry, Paris had changed. Everyone
was in a state of delight. People kept promenading about the streets,
and every floor was illuminated with lamps, so that it seemed as if it
were broad daylight. The soldiers made their way back to their barracks,
worn out and looking quite depressed. The people saluted them with
exclamations of "Long live the Line!"

They went on without making any response. Among the National Guard, on
the contrary, the officers, flushed with enthusiasm, brandished their
sabres, vociferating:

"Long live Reform!"

And every time the two lovers heard this word they laughed.

Frederick told droll stories, and was quite gay.

Making their way through the Rue Duphot, they reached the boulevards.
Venetian lanterns hanging from the houses formed wreaths of flame.
Underneath, a confused swarm of people kept in constant motion. In the
midst of those moving shadows could be seen, here and there, the steely
glitter of bayonets. There was a great uproar. The crowd was too
compact, and it was impossible to make one's way back in a straight
line. They were entering the Rue Caumartin, when suddenly there burst
forth behind them a noise like the crackling made by an immense piece of
silk in the act of being torn across. It was the discharge of musketry
on the Boulevard des Capucines.

"Ha! a few of the citizens are getting a crack," said Frederick calmly;
for there are situations in which a man of the least cruel disposition
is so much detached from his fellow-men that he would see the entire
human race perishing without a single throb of the heart.

The Maréchale was clinging to his arm with her teeth chattering. She
declared that she would not be able to walk twenty steps further. Then,
by a refinement of hatred, in order the better to offer an outrage in
his own soul to Madame Arnoux, he led Rosanette to the hotel in the Rue
Tronchet, and brought her up to the room which he had got ready for the
other.

The flowers were not withered. The guipure was spread out on the bed. He
drew forth from the cupboard the little slippers. Rosanette considered
this forethought on his part a great proof of his delicacy of sentiment.
About one o'clock she was awakened by distant rolling sounds, and she
saw that he was sobbing with his head buried in the pillow.

"What's the matter with you now, my own darling?"

"'Tis the excess of happiness," said Frederick. "I have been too long
yearning after you!"



CHAPTER XIV.

THE BARRICADE.


He was abruptly roused from sleep by the noise of a discharge of
musketry; and, in spite of Rosanette's entreaties, Frederick was fully
determined to go and see what was happening. He hurried down to the
Champs-Elysées, from which shots were being fired. At the corner of the
Rue Saint-Honoré some men in blouses ran past him, exclaiming:

"No! not that way! to the Palais-Royal!"

Frederick followed them. The grating of the Convent of the Assumption
had been torn away. A little further on he noticed three paving-stones
in the middle of the street, the beginning of a barricade, no doubt;
then fragments of bottles and bundles of iron-wire, to obstruct the
cavalry; and, at the same moment, there rushed suddenly out of a lane a
tall young man of pale complexion, with his black hair flowing over his
shoulders, and with a sort of pea-coloured swaddling-cloth thrown round
him. In his hand he held a long military musket, and he dashed along on
the tips of his slippers with the air of a somnambulist and with the
nimbleness of a tiger. At intervals a detonation could be heard.

On the evening of the day before, the spectacle of the wagon containing
five corpses picked up from amongst those that were lying on the
Boulevard des Capucines had charged the disposition of the people; and,
while at the Tuileries the aides-de-camp succeeded each other, and M.
Molé, having set about the composition of a new Cabinet, did not come
back, and M. Thiers was making efforts to constitute another, and while
the King was cavilling and hesitating, and finally assigned the post of
commander-in-chief to Bugeaud in order to prevent him from making use of
it, the insurrection was organising itself in a formidable manner, as if
it were directed by a single arm.

Men endowed with a kind of frantic eloquence were engaged in haranguing
the populace at the street-corners, others were in the churches ringing
the tocsin as loudly as ever they could. Lead was cast for bullets,
cartridges were rolled about. The trees on the boulevards, the urinals,
the benches, the gratings, the gas-burners, everything was torn off and
thrown down. Paris, that morning, was covered with barricades. The
resistance which was offered was of short duration, so that at eight
o'clock the people, by voluntary surrender or by force, had got
possession of five barracks, nearly all the municipal buildings, the
most favourable strategic points. Of its own accord, without any effort,
the Monarchy was melting away in rapid dissolution, and now an attack
was made on the guard-house of the Château d'Eau, in order to liberate
fifty prisoners, who were not there.

Frederick was forced to stop at the entrance to the square. It was
filled with groups of armed men. The Rue Saint-Thomas and the Rue
Fromanteau were occupied by companies of the Line. The Rue de Valois
was choked up by an enormous barricade. The smoke which fluttered about
at the top of it partly opened. Men kept running overhead, making
violent gestures; they vanished from sight; then the firing was again
renewed. It was answered from the guard-house without anyone being seen
inside. Its windows, protected by oaken window-shutters, were pierced
with loop-holes; and the monument with its two storys, its two wings,
its fountain on the first floor and its little door in the centre, was
beginning to be speckled with white spots under the shock of the
bullets. The three steps in front of it remained unoccupied.

At Frederick's side a man in a Greek cap, with a cartridge-box over his
knitted vest, was holding a dispute with a woman with a Madras
neckerchief round her shoulders. She said to him:

"Come back now! Come back!"

"Leave me alone!" replied the husband. "You can easily mind the porter's
lodge by yourself. I ask, citizen, is this fair? I have on every
occasion done my duty--in 1830, in '32, in '34, and in '39! To-day
they're fighting again. I must fight! Go away!"

And the porter's wife ended by yielding to his remonstrances and to
those of a National Guard near them--a man of forty, whose simple face
was adorned with a circle of white beard. He loaded his gun and fired
while talking to Frederick, as cool in the midst of the outbreak as a
horticulturist in his garden. A young lad with a packing-cloth thrown
over him was trying to coax this man to give him a few caps, so that he
might make use of a gun he had, a fine fowling-piece which a "gentleman"
had made him a present of.

"Catch on behind my back," said the good man, "and keep yourself from
being seen, or you'll get yourself killed!"

The drums beat for the charge. Sharp cries, hurrahs of triumph burst
forth. A continual ebbing to and fro made the multitude sway backward
and forward. Frederick, caught between two thick masses of people, did
not move an inch, all the time fascinated and exceedingly amused by the
scene around him. The wounded who sank to the ground, the dead lying at
his feet, did not seem like persons really wounded or really dead. The
impression left on his mind was that he was looking on at a show.

In the midst of the surging throng, above the sea of heads, could be
seen an old man in a black coat, mounted on a white horse with a velvet
saddle. He held in one hand a green bough, in the other a paper, and he
kept shaking them persistently; but at length, giving up all hope of
obtaining a hearing, he withdrew from the scene.

The soldiers of the Line had gone, and only the municipal troops
remained to defend the guard-house. A wave of dauntless spirits dashed
up the steps; they were flung down; others came on to replace them, and
the gate resounded under blows from iron bars. The municipal guards did
not give way. But a wagon, stuffed full of hay, and burning like a
gigantic torch, was dragged against the walls. Faggots were speedily
brought, then straw, and a barrel of spirits of wine. The fire mounted
up to the stones along the wall; the building began to send forth smoke
on all sides like the crater of a volcano; and at its summit, between
the balustrades of the terrace, huge flames escaped with a harsh noise.
The first story of the Palais-Royal was occupied by National Guards.
Shots were fired through every window in the square; the bullets
whizzed, the water of the fountain, which had burst, was mingled with
the blood, forming little pools on the ground. People slipped in the mud
over clothes, shakos, and weapons. Frederick felt something soft under
his foot. It was the hand of a sergeant in a grey great-coat, lying on
his face in the stream that ran along the street. Fresh bands of people
were continually coming up, pushing on the combatants at the
guard-house. The firing became quicker. The wine-shops were open; people
went into them from time to time to smoke a pipe and drink a glass of
beer, and then came back again to fight. A lost dog began to howl. This
made the people laugh.

Frederick was shaken by the impact of a man falling on his shoulder with
a bullet through his back and the death-rattle in his throat. At this
shot, perhaps directed against himself, he felt himself stirred up to
rage; and he was plunging forward when a National Guard stopped him.

"'Tis useless! the King has just gone! Ah! if you don't believe me, go
and see for yourself!"

This assurance calmed Frederick. The Place du Carrousel had a tranquil
aspect. The Hôtel de Nantes stood there as fixed as ever; and the houses
in the rear; the dome of the Louvre in front, the long gallery of wood
at the right, and the waste plot of ground that ran unevenly as far as
the sheds of the stall-keepers were, so to speak, steeped in the grey
hues of the atmosphere, where indistinct murmurs seemed to mingle with
the fog; while, at the opposite side of the square, a stiff light,
falling through the parting of the clouds on the façade of the
Tuileries, cut out all its windows into white patches. Near the Arc de
Triomphe a dead horse lay on the ground. Behind the gratings groups
consisting of five or six persons were chatting. The doors leading into
the château were open, and the servants at the thresholds allowed the
people to enter.

Below stairs, in a kind of little parlour, bowls of _café au lait_ were
handed round. A few of those present sat down to the table and made
merry; others remained standing, and amongst the latter was a
hackney-coachman. He snatched up with both hands a glass vessel full of
powdered sugar, cast a restless glance right and left, and then began to
eat voraciously, with his nose stuck into the mouth of the vessel.

At the bottom of the great staircase a man was writing his name in a
register.

Frederick was able to recognise him by his back.

"Hallo, Hussonnet!"

"Yes, 'tis I," replied the Bohemian. "I am introducing myself at court.
This is a nice joke, isn't it?"

"Suppose we go upstairs?"

And they reached presently the Salle des Maréchaux. The portraits of
those illustrious generals, save that of Bugeaud, which had been pierced
through the stomach, were all intact. They were represented leaning on
their sabres with a gun-carriage behind each of them, and in formidable
attitudes in contrast with the occasion. A large timepiece proclaimed it
was twenty minutes past one.

Suddenly the "Marseillaise" resounded. Hussonnet and Frederick bent over
the balusters. It was the people. They rushed up the stairs, shaking
with a dizzying, wave-like motion bare heads, or helmets, or red caps,
or else bayonets or human shoulders with such impetuosity that some
people disappeared every now and then in this swarming mass, which was
mounting up without a moment's pause, like a river compressed by an
equinoctial tide, with a continuous roar under an irresistible impulse.
When they got to the top of the stairs, they were scattered, and their
chant died away. Nothing could any longer be heard but the tramp of all
the shoes intermingled with the chopping sound of many voices. The crowd
not being in a mischievous mood, contented themselves with looking about
them. But, from time to time, an elbow, by pressing too hard, broke
through a pane of glass, or else a vase or a statue rolled from a
bracket down on the floor. The wainscotings cracked under the pressure
of people against them. Every face was flushed; the perspiration was
rolling down their features in large beads. Hussonnet made this remark:

"Heroes have not a good smell."

"Ah! you are provoking," returned Frederick.

And, pushed forward in spite of themselves, they entered an apartment in
which a dais of red velvet rose as far as the ceiling. On the throne
below sat a representative of the proletariat in effigy with a black
beard, his shirt gaping open, a jolly air, and the stupid look of a
baboon. Others climbed up the platform to sit in his place.

"What a myth!" said Hussonnet. "There you see the sovereign people!"

The armchair was lifted up on the hands of a number of persons and
passed across the hall, swaying from one side to the other.

"By Jove, 'tis like a boat! The Ship of State is tossing about in a
stormy sea! Let it dance the cancan! Let it dance the cancan!"

They had drawn it towards a window, and in the midst of hisses, they
launched it out.

"Poor old chap!" said Hussonnet, as he saw the effigy falling into the
garden, where it was speedily picked up in order to be afterwards
carried to the Bastille and burned.

Then a frantic joy burst forth, as if, instead of the throne, a future
of boundless happiness had appeared; and the people, less through a
spirit of vindictiveness than to assert their right of possession, broke
or tore the glasses, the curtains, the lustres, the tapers, the tables,
the chairs, the stools, the entire furniture, including the very albums
and engravings, and the corbels of the tapestry. Since they had
triumphed, they must needs amuse themselves! The common herd ironically
wrapped themselves up in laces and cashmeres. Gold fringes were rolled
round the sleeves of blouses. Hats with ostriches' feathers adorned
blacksmiths' heads, and ribbons of the Legion of Honour supplied
waistbands for prostitutes. Each person satisfied his or her caprice;
some danced, others drank. In the queen's apartment a woman gave a gloss
to her hair with pomatum. Behind a folding-screen two lovers were
playing cards. Hussonnet pointed out to Frederick an individual who was
smoking a dirty pipe with his elbows resting on a balcony; and the
popular frenzy redoubled with a continuous crash of broken porcelain and
pieces of crystal, which, as they rebounded, made sounds resembling
those produced by the plates of musical glasses.

Then their fury was overshadowed. A nauseous curiosity made them rummage
all the dressing-rooms, all the recesses. Returned convicts thrust their
arms into the beds in which princesses had slept, and rolled themselves
on the top of them, to console themselves for not being able to embrace
their owners. Others, with sinister faces, roamed about silently,
looking for something to steal, but too great a multitude was there.
Through the bays of the doors could be seen in the suite of apartments
only the dark mass of people between the gilding of the walls under a
cloud of dust. Every breast was panting. The heat became more and more
suffocating; and the two friends, afraid of being stifled, seized the
opportunity of making their way out.

In the antechamber, standing on a heap of garments, appeared a girl of
the town as a statue of Liberty, motionless, her grey eyes wide open--a
fearful sight.

They had taken three steps outside the château when a company of the
National Guards, in great-coats, advanced towards them, and, taking off
their foraging-caps, and, at the same time, uncovering their skulls,
which were slightly bald, bowed very low to the people. At this
testimony of respect, the ragged victors bridled up. Hussonnet and
Frederick were not without experiencing a certain pleasure from it as
well as the rest.

They were filled with ardour. They went back to the Palais-Royal. In
front of the Rue Fromanteau, soldiers' corpses were heaped up on the
straw. They passed close to the dead without a single quiver of emotion,
feeling a certain pride in being able to keep their countenance.

The Palais overflowed with people. In the inner courtyard seven piles of
wood were flaming. Pianos, chests of drawers, and clocks were hurled out
through the windows. Fire-engines sent streams of water up to the roofs.
Some vagabonds tried to cut the hose with their sabres. Frederick urged
a pupil of the Polytechnic School to interfere. The latter did not
understand him, and, moreover, appeared to be an idiot. All around, in
the two galleries, the populace, having got possession of the cellars,
gave themselves up to a horrible carouse. Wine flowed in streams and
wetted people's feet; the mudlarks drank out of the tail-ends of the
bottles, and shouted as they staggered along.

"Come away out of this," said Hussonnet; "I am disgusted with the
people."

All over the Orléans Gallery the wounded lay on mattresses on the
ground, with purple curtains folded round them as coverlets; and the
small shopkeepers' wives and daughters from the quarter brought them
broth and linen.

"No matter!" said Frederick; "for my part, I consider the people
sublime."

The great vestibule was filled with a whirlwind of furious individuals.
Men tried to ascend to the upper storys in order to put the finishing
touches to the work of wholesale destruction. National Guards, on the
steps, strove to keep them back. The most intrepid was a chasseur, who
had his head bare, his hair bristling, and his straps in pieces. His
shirt caused a swelling between his trousers and his coat, and he
struggled desperately in the midst of the others. Hussonnet, who had
sharp sight, recognised Arnoux from a distance.

Then they went into the Tuileries garden, so as to be able to breathe
more freely. They sat down on a bench; and they remained for some
minutes with their eyes closed, so much stunned that they had not the
energy to say a word. The people who were passing came up to them and
informed them that the Duchesse d'Orléans had been appointed Regent, and
that it was all over. They were experiencing that species of comfort
which follows rapid _dénouements_, when at the windows of the attics in
the château appeared men-servants tearing their liveries to pieces. They
flung their torn clothes into the garden, as a mark of renunciation. The
people hooted at them, and then they retired.

The attention of Frederick and Hussonnet was distracted by a tall fellow
who was walking quickly between the trees with a musket on his shoulder.
A cartridge-box was pressed against his pea-jacket; a handkerchief was
wound round his forehead under his cap. He turned his head to one side.
It was Dussardier; and casting himself into their arms:

"Ah! what good fortune, my poor old friends!" without being able to say
another word, so much out of breath was he with fatigue.

He had been on his legs for the last twenty-four hours. He had been
engaged at the barricades of the Latin Quarter, had fought in the Rue
Rabuteau, had saved three dragoons' lives, had entered the Tuileries
with Colonel Dunoyer, and, after that, had repaired to the Chamber, and
then to the Hôtel de Ville.

"I have come from it! all goes well! the people are victorious! the
workmen and the employers are embracing one another. Ha! if you knew
what I have seen! what brave fellows! what a fine sight it was!"

And without noticing that they had no arms:

"I was quite certain of finding you there! This has been a bit rough--no
matter!"

A drop of blood ran down his cheek, and in answer to the questions put
to him by the two others:

"Oh! 'tis nothing! a slight scratch from a bayonet!"

"However, you really ought to take care of yourself."

"Pooh! I am substantial! What does this signify? The Republic is
proclaimed! We'll be happy henceforth! Some journalists, who were
talking just now in front of me, said they were going to liberate Poland
and Italy! No more kings! You understand? The entire land free! the
entire land free!"

And with one comprehensive glance at the horizon, he spread out his arms
in a triumphant attitude. But a long file of men rushed over the terrace
on the water's edge.

"Ah, deuce take it! I was forgetting. I must be off. Good-bye!"

He turned round to cry out to them while brandishing his musket:

"Long live the Republic!"

From the chimneys of the château escaped enormous whirlwinds of black
smoke which bore sparks along with them. The ringing of the bells sent
out over the city a wild and startling alarm. Right and left, in every
direction, the conquerors discharged their weapons.

Frederick, though he was not a warrior, felt the Gallic blood leaping in
his veins. The magnetism of the public enthusiasm had seized hold of
him. He inhaled with a voluptuous delight the stormy atmosphere filled
with the odour of gunpowder; and, in the meantime, he quivered under the
effluvium of an immense love, a supreme and universal tenderness, as if
the heart of all humanity were throbbing in his breast.

Hussonnet said with a yawn:

"It would be time, perhaps, to go and instruct the populace."

Frederick followed him to his correspondence-office in the Place de la
Bourse; and he began to compose for the Troyes newspaper an account of
recent events in a lyric style--a veritable tit-bit--to which he
attached his signature. Then they dined together at a tavern. Hussonnet
was pensive; the eccentricities of the Revolution exceeded his own.

After leaving the café, when they repaired to the Hôtel de Ville to
learn the news, the boyish impulses which were natural to him had got
the upper hand once more. He scaled the barricades like a chamois, and
answered the sentinels with broad jokes of a patriotic flavour.

They heard the Provisional Government proclaimed by torchlight. At last,
Frederick got back to his house at midnight, overcome with fatigue.

"Well," said he to his man-servant, while the latter was undressing him,
"are you satisfied?"

"Yes, no doubt, Monsieur; but I don't like to see the people dancing to
music."

Next morning, when he awoke, Frederick thought of Deslauriers. He
hastened to his friend's lodgings. He ascertained that the advocate had
just left Paris, having been appointed a provincial commissioner. At the
_soirée_ given the night before, he had got into contact with
Ledru-Rollin, and laying siege to him in the name of the Law Schools,
had snatched from him a post, a mission. However, the doorkeeper
explained, he was going to write and give his address in the following
week.

After this, Frederick went to see the Maréchale. She gave him a chilling
reception. She resented his desertion of her. Her bitterness disappeared
when he had given her repeated assurances that peace was restored.

All was quiet now. There was no reason to be afraid. He kissed her, and
she declared herself in favour of the Republic, as his lordship the
Archbishop of Paris had already done, and as the magistracy, the Council
of State, the Institute, the marshals of France, Changarnier, M. de
Falloux, all the Bonapartists, all the Legitimists, and a considerable
number of Orléanists were about to do with a swiftness indicative of
marvellous zeal.

The fall of the Monarchy had been so rapid that, as soon as the first
stupefaction that succeeded it had passed away, there was amongst the
middle class a feeling of astonishment at the fact that they were still
alive. The summary execution of some thieves, who were shot without a
trial, was regarded as an act of signal justice. For a month Lamartine's
phrase was repeated with reference to the red flag, "which had only gone
the round of the Champ de Mars, while the tricoloured flag," etc.; and
all ranged themselves under its shade, each party seeing amongst the
three colours only its own, and firmly determined, as soon as it would
be the most powerful, to tear away the two others.

As business was suspended, anxiety and love of gaping drove everyone
into the open air. The careless style of costume generally adopted
attenuated differences of social position. Hatred masked itself;
expectations were openly indulged in; the multitude seemed full of
good-nature. The pride of having gained their rights shone in the
people's faces. They displayed the gaiety of a carnival, the manners of
a bivouac. Nothing could be more amusing than the aspect of Paris during
the first days that followed the Revolution.

Frederick gave the Maréchale his arm, and they strolled along through
the streets together. She was highly diverted by the display of rosettes
in every buttonhole, by the banners hung from every window, and the
bills of every colour that were posted upon the walls, and threw some
money here and there into the collection-boxes for the wounded, which
were placed on chairs in the middle of the pathway. Then she stopped
before some caricatures representing Louis Philippe as a pastry-cook, as
a mountebank, as a dog, or as a leech. But she was a little frightened
at the sight of Caussidière's men with their sabres and scarfs. At other
times it was a tree of Liberty that was being planted. The clergy vied
with each other in blessing the Republic, escorted by servants in gold
lace; and the populace thought this very fine. The most frequent
spectacle was that of deputations from no matter what, going to demand
something at the Hôtel de Ville, for every trade, every industry, was
looking to the Government to put a complete end to its wretchedness.
Some of them, it is true, went to offer it advice or to congratulate it,
or merely to pay it a little visit, and to see the machine performing
its functions. One day, about the middle of the month of March, as they
were passing the Pont d'Arcole, having to do some commission for
Rosanette in the Latin Quarter, Frederick saw approaching a column of
individuals with oddly-shaped hats and long beards. At its head, beating
a drum, walked a negro who had formerly been an artist's model; and the
man who bore the banner, on which this inscription floated in the wind,
"Artist-Painters," was no other than Pellerin.

He made a sign to Frederick to wait for him, and then reappeared five
minutes afterwards, having some time before him; for the Government was,
at that moment, receiving a deputation from the stone-cutters. He was
going with his colleagues to ask for the creation of a Forum of Art, a
kind of Exchange where the interests of Æsthetics would be discussed.
Sublime masterpieces would be produced, inasmuch as the workers would
amalgamate their talents. Ere long Paris would be covered with gigantic
monuments. He would decorate them. He had even begun a figure of the
Republic. One of his comrades had come to take it, for they were closely
pursued by the deputation from the poulterers.

"What stupidity!" growled a voice in the crowd. "Always some humbug,
nothing strong!"

It was Regimbart. He did not salute Frederick, but took advantage of the
occasion to give vent to his own bitterness.

The Citizen spent his days wandering about the streets, pulling his
moustache, rolling his eyes about, accepting and propagating any dismal
news that was communicated to him; and he had only two phrases: "Take
care! we're going to be run over!" or else, "Why, confound it! they're
juggling with the Republic!" He was discontented with everything, and
especially with the fact that we had not taken back our natural
frontiers.

The very name of Lamartine made him shrug his shoulders. He did not
consider Ledru-Rollin "sufficient for the problem," referred to Dupont
(of the Eure) as an old numbskull, Albert as an idiot, Louis Blanc as an
Utopist, and Blanqui as an exceedingly dangerous man; and when Frederick
asked him what would be the best thing to do, he replied, pressing his
arm till he nearly bruised it:

"To take the Rhine, I tell you! to take the Rhine, damn it!"

Then he blamed the Reactionaries. They were taking off the mask. The
sack of the château of Neuilly and Suresne, the fire at Batignolles, the
troubles at Lyons, all the excesses and all the grievances, were just
now being exaggerated by having superadded to them Ledru-Rollin's
circular, the forced currency of bank-notes, the fall of the funds to
sixty francs, and, to crown all, as the supreme iniquity, a final blow,
a culminating horror, the duty of forty-five centimes! And over and
above all these things, there was again Socialism! Although these
theories, as new as the game of goose, had been discussed sufficiently
for forty years to fill a number of libraries, they terrified the
wealthier citizens, as if they had been a hailstorm of aërolites; and
they expressed indignation at them by virtue of that hatred which the
advent of every idea provokes, simply because it is an idea--an odium
from which it derives subsequently its glory, and which causes its
enemies to be always beneath it, however lowly it may be.

Then Property rose in their regard to the level of Religion, and was
confounded with God. The attacks made on it appeared to them a
sacrilege; almost a species of cannibalism. In spite of the most humane
legislation that ever existed, the spectre of '93 reappeared, and the
chopper of the guillotine vibrated in every syllable of the word
"Republic," which did not prevent them from despising it for its
weakness. France, no longer feeling herself mistress of the situation,
was beginning to shriek with terror, like a blind man without his stick
or an infant that had lost its nurse.

Of all Frenchmen, M. Dambreuse was the most alarmed. The new condition
of things threatened his fortune, but, more than anything else, it
deceived his experience. A system so good! a king so wise! was it
possible? The ground was giving way beneath their feet! Next morning he
dismissed three of his servants, sold his horses, bought a soft hat to
go out into the streets, thought even of letting his beard grow; and he
remained at home, prostrated, reading over and over again newspapers
most hostile to his own ideas, and plunged into such a gloomy mood that
even the jokes about the pipe of Flocon[F] had not the power to make him
smile.

As a supporter of the last reign, he was dreading the vengeance of the
people so far as concerned his estates in Champagne when Frederick's
lucubration fell into his hands. Then it occurred to his mind that his
young friend was a very useful personage, and that he might be able, if
not to serve him, at least to protect him, so that, one morning, M.
Dambreuse presented himself at Frederick's residence, accompanied by
Martinon.


[F] This is another political allusion. Flocon was a well-known member
of the Ministry of the day.--TRANSLATOR.


This visit, he said, had no object save that of seeing him for a little
while, and having a chat with him. In short, he rejoiced at the events
that had happened, and with his whole heart adopted "our sublime motto,
_Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity_," having always been at bottom a
Republican. If he voted under the other _régime_ with the Ministry, it
was simply in order to accelerate an inevitable downfall. He even
inveighed against M. Guizot, "who has got us into a nice hobble, we must
admit!" By way of retaliation, he spoke in an enthusiastic fashion about
Lamartine, who had shown himself "magnificent, upon my word of honour,
when, with reference to the red flag----"

"Yes, I know," said Frederick. After which he declared that his
sympathies were on the side of the working-men.

"For, in fact, more or less, we are all working-men!" And he carried his
impartiality so far as to acknowledge that Proudhon had a certain amount
of logic in his views. "Oh, a great deal of logic, deuce take it!"

Then, with the disinterestedness of a superior mind, he chatted about
the exhibition of pictures, at which he had seen Pellerin's work. He
considered it original and well-painted.

Martinon backed up all he said with expressions of approval; and
likewise was of his opinion that it was necessary to rally boldly to the
side of the Republic. And he talked about the husbandman, his father,
and assumed the part of the peasant, the man of the people. They soon
came to the question of the elections for the National Assembly, and the
candidates in the arrondissement of La Fortelle. The Opposition
candidate had no chance.

"You should take his place!" said M. Dambreuse.

Frederick protested.

"But why not?" For he would obtain the suffrages of the Extremists owing
to his personal opinions, and that of the Conservatives on account of
his family; "And perhaps also," added the banker, with a smile, "thanks
to my influence, in some measure."

Frederick urged as an obstacle that he did not know how to set about it.

There was nothing easier if he only got himself recommended to the
patriots of the Aube by one of the clubs of the capital. All he had to
do was to read out, not a profession of faith such as might be seen
every day, but a serious statement of principles.

"Bring it to me; I know what goes down in the locality; and you can, I
say again, render great services to the country--to us all--to myself."

In such times people ought to aid each other, and, if Frederick had need
of anything, he or his friends----

"Oh, a thousand thanks, my dear Monsieur!"

"You'll do as much for me in return, mind!"

Decidedly, the banker was a decent man.

Frederick could not refrain from pondering over his advice; and soon he
was dazzled by a kind of dizziness.

The great figures of the Convention passed before his mental vision. It
seemed to him that a splendid dawn was about to rise. Rome, Vienna and
Berlin were in a state of insurrection, and the Austrians had been
driven out of Venice. All Europe was agitated. Now was the time to make
a plunge into the movement, and perhaps to accelerate it; and then he
was fascinated by the costume which it was said the deputies would
wear. Already he saw himself in a waistcoat with lapels and a
tricoloured sash; and this itching, this hallucination, became so
violent that he opened his mind to Dambreuse.

The honest fellow's enthusiasm had not abated.

"Certainly--sure enough! Offer yourself!"

Frederick, nevertheless, consulted Deslauriers.

The idiotic opposition which trammelled the commissioner in his province
had augmented his Liberalism. He at once replied, exhorting Frederick
with the utmost vehemence to come forward as a candidate. However, as
the latter was desirous of having the approval of a great number of
persons, he confided the thing to Rosanette one day, when Mademoiselle
Vatnaz happened to be present.

She was one of those Parisian spinsters who, every evening when they
have given their lessons or tried to sell little sketches, or to dispose
of poor manuscripts, return to their own homes with mud on their
petticoats, make their own dinner, which they eat by themselves, and
then, with their soles resting on a foot-warmer, by the light of a
filthy lamp, dream of a love, a family, a hearth, wealth--all that they
lack. So it was that, like many others, she had hailed in the Revolution
the advent of vengeance, and she delivered herself up to a Socialistic
propaganda of the most unbridled description.

The enfranchisement of the proletariat, according to the Vatnaz, was
only possible by the enfranchisement of woman. She wished to have her
own sex admitted to every kind of employment, to have an enquiry made
into the paternity of children, a different code, the abolition, or at
least a more intelligent regulation, of marriage. In that case every
Frenchwoman would be bound to marry a Frenchman, or to adopt an old
man. Nurses and midwives should be officials receiving salaries from the
State.

There should be a jury to examine the works of women, special editors
for women, a polytechnic school for women, a National Guard for women,
everything for women! And, since the Government ignored their rights,
they ought to overcome force by force. Ten thousand citizenesses with
good guns ought to make the Hôtel de Ville quake!

Frederick's candidature appeared to her favourable for carrying out her
ideas. She encouraged him, pointing out the glory that shone on the
horizon. Rosanette was delighted at the notion of having a man who would
make speeches at the Chamber.

"And then, perhaps, they'll give you a good place?"

Frederick, a man prone to every kind of weakness, was infected by the
universal mania. He wrote an address and went to show it to M.
Dambreuse.

At the sound made by the great door falling back, a curtain gaped open a
little behind a casement, and a woman appeared at it He had not time to
find out who she was; but, in the anteroom, a picture arrested his
attention--Pellerin's picture--which lay on a chair, no doubt
provisionally.

It represented the Republic, or Progress, or Civilisation, under the
form of Jesus Christ driving a locomotive, which was passing through a
virgin forest. Frederick, after a minute's contemplation, exclaimed:

"What a vile thing!"

"Is it not--eh?" said M. Dambreuse, coming in unexpectedly just at the
moment when the other was giving utterance to this opinion, and fancying
that it had reference, not so much to the picture as to the doctrine
glorified by the work. Martinon presented himself at the same time. They
made their way into the study, and Frederick was drawing a paper out of
his pocket, when Mademoiselle Cécile, entering suddenly, said,
articulating her words in an ingenuous fashion:

"Is my aunt here?"

"You know well she is not," replied the banker. "No matter! act as if
you were at home, Mademoiselle."

"Oh! thanks! I am going away!"

Scarcely had she left when Martinon seemed to be searching for his
handkerchief.

"I forgot to take it out of my great-coat--excuse me!"

"All right!" said M. Dambreuse.

Evidently he was not deceived by this manoeuvre, and even seemed to
regard it with favour. Why? But Martinon soon reappeared, and Frederick
began reading his address.

At the second page, which pointed towards the preponderance of the
financial interests as a disgraceful fact, the banker made a grimace.
Then, touching on reforms, Frederick demanded free trade.

"What? Allow me, now!"

The other paid no attention, and went on. He called for a tax on yearly
incomes, a progressive tax, a European federation, and the education of
the people, the encouragement of the fine arts on the liberal scale.

"When the country could provide men like Delacroix or Hugo with incomes
of a hundred thousand francs, where would be the harm?"

At the close of the address advice was given to the upper classes.

"Spare nothing, ye rich; but give! give!"

He stopped, and remained standing. The two who had been listening to him
did not utter a word. Martinon opened his eyes wide; M. Dambreuse was
quite pale. At last, concealing his emotion under a bitter smile:

"That address of yours is simply perfect!" And he praised the style
exceedingly in order to avoid giving his opinion as to the matter of the
address.

This virulence on the part of an inoffensive young man frightened him,
especially as a sign of the times.

Martinon tried to reassure him. The Conservative party, in a little
while, would certainly be able to take its revenge. In several cities
the commissioners of the provisional government had been driven away;
the elections were not to occur till the twenty-third of April; there
was plenty of time. In short, it was necessary for M. Dambreuse to
present himself personally in the Aube; and from that time forth,
Martinon no longer left his side, became his secretary, and was as
attentive to him as any son could be.

Frederick arrived at Rosanette's house in a very self-complacent mood.
Delmar happened to be there, and told him of his intention to stand as a
candidate at the Seine elections. In a placard addressed to the people,
in which he addressed them in the familiar manner which one adopts
towards an individual, the actor boasted of being able to understand
them, and of having, in order to save them, got himself "crucified for
the sake of art," so that he was the incarnation, the ideal of the
popular spirit, believing that he had, in fact, such enormous power over
the masses that he proposed by-and-by, when he occupied a ministerial
office, to quell any outbreak by himself alone; and, with regard to the
means he would employ, he gave this answer: "Never fear! I'll show them
my head!"

Frederick, in order to mortify him, gave him to understand that he was
himself a candidate. The mummer, from the moment that his future
colleague aspired to represent the province, declared himself his
servant, and offered to be his guide to the various clubs.

They visited them, or nearly all, the red and the blue, the furious and
the tranquil, the puritanical and the licentious, the mystical and the
intemperate, those that had voted for the death of kings, and those in
which the frauds in the grocery trade had been denounced; and everywhere
the tenants cursed the landlords; the blouse was full of spite against
broadcloth; and the rich conspired against the poor. Many wanted
indemnities on the ground that they had formerly been martyrs of the
police; others appealed for money in order to carry out certain
inventions, or else there were plans of phalansteria, projects for
cantonal bazaars, systems of public felicity; then, here and there a
flash of genius amid these clouds of folly, sudden as splashes, the law
formulated by an oath, and flowers of eloquence on the lips of some
soldier-boy, with a shoulder-belt strapped over his bare, shirtless
chest. Sometimes, too, a gentleman made his appearance--an aristocrat of
humble demeanour, talking in a plebeian strain, and with his hands
unwashed, so as to make them look hard. A patriot recognised him; the
most virtuous mobbed him; and he went off with rage in his soul. On the
pretext of good sense, it was desirable to be always disparaging the
advocates, and to make use as often as possible of these expressions:
"To carry his stone to the building," "social problem," "workshop."

Delmar did not miss the opportunities afforded him for getting in a
word; and when he no longer found anything to say, his device was to
plant himself in some conspicuous position with one of his arms akimbo
and the other in his waistcoat, turning himself round abruptly in
profile, so as to give a good view of his head. Then there were
outbursts of applause, which came from Mademoiselle Vatnaz at the lower
end of the hall.

Frederick, in spite of the weakness of orators, did not dare to try the
experiment of speaking. All those people seemed to him too unpolished or
too hostile.

But Dussardier made enquiries, and informed him that there existed in
the Rue Saint-Jacques a club which bore the name of the "Club of
Intellect." Such a name gave good reason for hope. Besides, he would
bring some friends there.

He brought those whom he had invited to take punch with him--the
bookkeeper, the traveller in wines, and the architect; even Pellerin had
offered to come, and Hussonnet would probably form one of the party, and
on the footpath before the door stood Regimbart, with two individuals,
the first of whom was his faithful Compain, a rather thick-set man
marked with small-pox and with bloodshot eyes; and the second, an
ape-like negro, exceedingly hairy, and whom he knew only in the
character of "a patriot from Barcelona."

They passed though a passage, and were then introduced into a large
room, no doubt used by a joiner, and with walls still fresh and
smelling of plaster. Four argand lamps were hanging parallel to each
other, and shed an unpleasant light. On a platform, at the end of the
room, there was a desk with a bell; underneath it a table, representing
the rostrum, and on each side two others, somewhat lower, for the
secretaries. The audience that adorned the benches consisted of old
painters of daubs, ushers, and literary men who could not get their
works published.

In the midst of those lines of paletots with greasy collars could be
seen here and there a woman's cap or a workman's linen smock. The bottom
of the apartment was even full of workmen, who had in all likelihood
come there to pass away an idle hour, and who had been introduced by
some speakers in order that they might applaud.

Frederick took care to place himself between Dussardier and Regimbart,
who was scarcely seated when he leaned both hands on his walking-stick
and his chin on his hands and shut his eyes, whilst at the other end of
the room Delmar stood looking down at the assembly. Sénécal appeared at
the president's desk.

The worthy bookkeeper thought Frederick would be pleased at this
unexpected discovery. It only annoyed him.

The meeting exhibited great respect for the president. He was one who,
on the twenty-fifth of February, had desired an immediate organisation
of labour. On the following day, at the Prado, he had declared himself
in favour attacking the Hôtel de Ville; and, as every person at that
period took some model for imitation, one copied Saint-Just, another
Danton, another Marat; as for him, he tried to be like Blanqui, who
imitated Robespierre. His black gloves, and his hair brushed back, gave
him a rigid aspect exceedingly becoming.

He opened the proceedings with the declaration of the Rights of Man and
of the Citizen--a customary act of faith. Then, a vigorous voice struck
up Béranger's "Souvenirs du Peuple."

Other voices were raised:

"No! no! not that!"

"'La Casquette!'" the patriots at the bottom of the apartment began to
howl.

And they sang in chorus the favourite lines of the period:

    "Doff your hat before my cap--
    Kneel before the working-man!"

At a word from the president the audience became silent.

One of the secretaries proceeded to inspect the letters.

Some young men announced that they burned a number of the _Assemblée
Nationale_ every evening in front of the Panthéon, and they urged on all
patriots to follow their example.

"Bravo! adopted!" responded the audience.

The Citizen Jean Jacques Langreneux, a printer in the Rue Dauphin, would
like to have a monument raised to the memory of the martyrs of
Thermidor.

Michel Evariste Népomucène, ex-professor, gave expression to the wish
that the European democracy should adopt unity of language. A dead
language might be used for that purpose--as, for example, improved
Latin.

"No; no Latin!" exclaimed the architect.

"Why?" said the college-usher.

And these two gentlemen engaged in a discussion, in which the others
also took part, each putting in a word of his own for effect; and the
conversation on this topic soon became so tedious that many went away.
But a little old man, who wore at the top of his prodigiously high
forehead a pair of green spectacles, asked permission to speak in order
to make an important communication.

It was a memorandum on the assessment of taxes. The figures flowed on in
a continuous stream, as if they were never going to end. The impatience
of the audience found vent at first in murmurs, in whispered talk. He
allowed nothing to put him out. Then they began hissing; they catcalled
him. Sénécal called the persons who were interrupting to order. The
orator went on like a machine. It was necessary to catch him by the
shoulder in order to stop him. The old fellow looked as if he were
waking out of a dream, and, placidly lifting his spectacles, said:

"Pardon me, citizens! pardon me! I am going--a thousand excuses!"

Frederick was disconcerted with the failure of the old man's attempts to
read this written statement. He had his own address in his pocket, but
an extemporaneous speech would have been preferable.

Finally the president announced that they were about to pass on to the
important matter, the electoral question. They would not discuss the big
Republican lists. However, the "Club of Intellect" had every right, like
every other, to form one, "with all respect for the pachas of the Hôtel
de Ville," and the citizens who solicited the popular mandate might set
forth their claims.

"Go on, now!" said Dussardier.

A man in a cassock, with woolly hair and a petulant expression on his
face, had already raised his hand. He said, with a stutter, that his
name was Ducretot, priest and agriculturist, and that he was the author
of a work entitled "Manures." He was told to send it to a horticultural
club.

Then a patriot in a blouse climbed up into the rostrum. He was a
plebeian, with broad shoulders, a big face, very mild-looking, with long
black hair. He cast on the assembly an almost voluptuous glance, flung
back his head, and, finally, spreading out his arms:

"You have repelled Ducretot, O my brothers! and you have done right; but
it was not through irreligion, for we are all religious."

Many of those present listened open-mouthed, with the air of catechumens
and in ecstatic attitudes.

"It is not either because he is a priest, for we, too, are priests! The
workman is a priest, just as the founder of Socialism was--the Master of
us all, Jesus Christ!"

The time had arrived to inaugurate the Kingdom of God. The Gospel led
directly to '89. After the abolition of slavery, the abolition of the
proletariat. They had had the age of hate--the age of love was about to
begin.

"Christianity is the keystone and the foundation of the new edifice----"

"You are making game of us?" exclaimed the traveller in wines. "Who has
given me such a priest's cap?"

This interruption gave great offence. Nearly all the audience got on
benches, and, shaking their fists, shouted: "Atheist! aristocrat! low
rascal!" whilst the president's bell kept ringing continuously, and the
cries of "Order! order!" redoubled. But, aimless, and, moreover,
fortified by three cups of coffee which he had swallowed before coming
to the meeting, he struggled in the midst of the others:

"What? I an aristocrat? Come, now!"

When, at length, he was permitted to give an explanation, he declared
that he would never be at peace with the priests; and, since something
had just been said about economical measures, it would be a splendid one
to put an end to the churches, the sacred pyxes, and finally all creeds.

Somebody raised the objection that he was going very far.

"Yes! I am going very far! But, when a vessel is caught suddenly in a
storm----"

Without waiting for the conclusion of this simile, another made a reply
to his observation:

"Granted! But this is to demolish at a single stroke, like a mason
devoid of judgment----"

"You are insulting the masons!" yelled a citizen covered with plaster.
And persisting in the belief that provocation had been offered to him,
he vomited forth insults, and wished to fight, clinging tightly to the
bench whereon he sat. It took no less than three men to put him out.

Meanwhile the workman still remained on the rostrum. The two secretaries
gave him an intimation that he should come down. He protested against
the injustice done to him.

"You shall not prevent me from crying out, 'Eternal love to our dear
France! eternal love all to the Republic!'"

"Citizens!" said Compain, after this--"Citizens!"

And, by dint of repeating "Citizens," having obtained a little silence,
he leaned on the rostrum with his two red hands, which looked like
stumps, bent forward his body, and blinking his eyes:

"I believe that it would be necessary to give a larger extension to the
calf's head."

All who heard him kept silent, fancying that they had misunderstood his
words.

"Yes! the calf's head!"

Three hundred laughs burst forth at the same time. The ceiling shook.

At the sight of all these faces convulsed with mirth, Compain shrank
back. He continued in an angry tone:

"What! you don't know what the calf's head is!"

It was a paroxysm, a delirium. They held their sides. Some of them even
tumbled off the benches to the ground with convulsions of laughter.
Compain, not being able to stand it any longer, took refuge beside
Regimbart, and wanted to drag him away.

"No! I am remaining till 'tis all over!" said the Citizen.

This reply caused Frederick to make up his mind; and, as he looked about
to the right and the left to see whether his friends were prepared to
support him, he saw Pellerin on the rostrum in front of him.

The artist assumed a haughty tone in addressing the meeting.

"I would like to get some notion as to who is the candidate amongst all
these that represents art. For my part, I have painted a picture."

"We have nothing to do with painting pictures!" was the churlish remark
of a thin man with red spots on his cheek-bones.

Pellerin protested against this interruption.

But the other, in a tragic tone:

"Ought not the Government to make an ordinance abolishing prostitution
and want?"

And this phrase having at once won to his side the popular favour, he
thundered against the corruption of great cities.

"Shame and infamy! We ought to catch hold of wealthy citizens on their
way out of the Maison d'Or and spit in their faces--unless it be that
the Government countenances debauchery! But the collectors of the city
dues exhibit towards our daughters and our sisters an amount of
indecency----"

A voice exclaimed, some distance away:

"This is blackguard language! Turn him out!"

"They extract taxes from us to pay for licentiousness! Thus, the high
salaries paid to actors----"

"Help!" cried Pellerin.

He leaped from the rostrum, pushed everybody aside, and declaring that
he regarded such stupid accusations with disgust, expatiated on the
civilising mission of the player. Inasmuch as the theatre was the focus
of national education, he would record his vote for the reform of the
theatre; and to begin with, no more managements, no more privileges!

"Yes; of any sort!"

The actor's performance excited the audience, and people moved backwards
and forwards knocking each other down.

"No more academies! No more institutes!"

"No missions!"

"No more bachelorships! Down with University degrees!"

"Let us preserve them," said Sénécal; "but let them be conferred by
universal suffrage, by the people, the only true judge!"

Besides, these things were not the most useful. It was necessary to take
a level which would be above the heads of the wealthy. And he
represented them as gorging themselves with crimes under their gilded
ceilings; while the poor, writhing in their garrets with famine,
cultivated every virtue. The applause became so vehement that he
interrupted his discourse. For several minutes he remained with his eyes
closed, his head thrown back, and, as it were, lulling himself to sleep
over the fury which he had aroused.

Then he began to talk in a dogmatic fashion, in phrases as imperious as
laws. The State should take possession of the banks and of the insurance
offices. Inheritances should be abolished. A social fund should be
established for the workers. Many other measures were desirable in the
future. For the time being, these would suffice, and, returning to the
question of the elections: "We want pure citizens, men entirely fresh.
Let some one offer himself."

Frederick arose. There was a buzz of approval made by his friends. But
Sénécal, assuming the attitude of a Fouquier-Tinville, began to ask
questions as to his Christian name and surname, his antecedents, life,
and morals.

Frederick answered succinctly, and bit his lips. Sénécal asked whether
anyone saw any impediment to this candidature.

"No! no!"

But, for his part, he saw some. All around him bent forward and strained
their ears to listen. The citizen who was seeking for their support had
not delivered a certain sum promised by him for the foundation of a
democratic journal. Moreover, on the twenty-second of February, though
he had had sufficient notice on the subject, he had failed to be at the
meeting-place in the Place de Panthéon.

"I swear that he was at the Tuileries!" exclaimed Dussardier.

"Can you swear to having seen him at the Panthéon?"

Dussardier hung down his head. Frederick was silent. His friends,
scandalised, regarded him with disquietude.

"In any case," Sénécal went on, "do you know a patriot who will answer
to us for your principles?"

"I will!" said Dussardier.

"Oh! this is not enough; another!"

Frederick turned round to Pellerin. The artist replied to him with a
great number of gestures, which meant:

"Ah! my dear boy, they have rejected myself! The deuce! What would you
have?"

Thereupon Frederick gave Regimbart a nudge.

"Yes, that's true; 'tis time! I'm going."

And Regimbart stepped upon the platform; then, pointing towards the
Spaniard, who had followed him:

"Allow me, citizens, to present to you a patriot from Barcelona!"

The patriot made a low bow, rolled his gleaming eyes about, and with his
hand on his heart:

"Ciudadanos! mucho aprecio el honor that you have bestowed on me!
however great may be vuestra bondad, mayor vuestra atención!"

"I claim the right to speak!" cried Frederick.

"Desde que se proclamo la constitutión de Cadiz, ese pacto fundamental
of las libertades Españolas, hasta la ultima revolución, nuestra patria
cuenta numerosos y heroicos mártires."

Frederick once more made an effort to obtain a hearing:

"But, citizens!----"

The Spaniard went on: "El martes proximo tendra lugar en la iglesia de
la Magdelena un servicio fúnebre."

"In fact, this is ridiculous! Nobody understands him!"

This observation exasperated the audience.

"Turn him out! Turn him out!"

"Who? I?" asked Frederick.

"Yourself!" said Sénécal, majestically. "Out with you!"

He rose to leave, and the voice of the Iberian pursued him:

"Y todos los Españoles descarien ver alli reunidas las disputaciónes de
los clubs y de la milicia nacional. An oración fúnebre en honour of the
libertad Española y del mundo entero will be prononciado por un miembro
del clero of Paris en la sala Bonne Nouvelle. Honour al pueblo frances
que llamaria yo el primero pueblo del mundo, sino fuese ciudadano de
otra nación!"

"Aristo!" screamed one blackguard, shaking his fist at Frederick, as the
latter, boiling with indignation, rushed out into the yard adjoining the
place where the meeting was held.

He reproached himself for his devotedness, without reflecting that,
after all, the accusations brought against him were just.

What fatal idea was this candidature! But what asses! what idiots! He
drew comparisons between himself and these men, and soothed his wounded
pride with the thought of their stupidity.

Then he felt the need of seeing Rosanette. After such an exhibition of
ugly traits, and so much magniloquence, her dainty person would be a
source of relaxation. She was aware that he had intended to present
himself at a club that evening. However, she did not even ask him a
single question when he came in. She was sitting near the fire, ripping
open the lining of a dress. He was surprised to find her thus occupied.

"Hallo! what are you doing?"

"You can see for yourself," said she, dryly. "I am mending my clothes!
So much for this Republic of yours!"

"Why do you call it mine?"

"Perhaps you want to make out that it's mine!"

And she began to upbraid him for everything that had happened in France
for the last two months, accusing him of having brought about the
Revolution and with having ruined her prospects by making everybody that
had money leave Paris, and that she would by-and-by be dying in a
hospital.

"It is easy for you to talk lightly about it, with your yearly income!
However, at the rate at which things are going on, you won't have your
yearly income long."

"That may be," said Frederick. "The most devoted are always
misunderstood, and if one were not sustained by one's conscience, the
brutes that you mix yourself up with would make you feel disgusted with
your own self-denial!"

Rosanette gazed at him with knitted brows.

"Eh? What? What self-denial? Monsieur has not succeeded, it would seem?
So much the better! It will teach you to make patriotic donations. Oh,
don't lie! I know you have given them three hundred francs, for this
Republic of yours has to be kept. Well, amuse yourself with it, my good
man!"

Under this avalanche of abuse, Frederick passed from his former
disappointment to a more painful disillusion.

He withdrew to the lower end of the apartment. She came up to him.

"Look here! Think it out a bit! In a country as in a house, there must
be a master, otherwise, everyone pockets something out of the money
spent. At first, everybody knows that Ledru-Rollin is head over ears in
debt. As for Lamartine, how can you expect a poet to understand
politics? Ah! 'tis all very well for you to shake your head and to
presume that you have more brains than others; all the same, what I say
is true! But you are always cavilling; a person can't get in a word with
you! For instance, there's Fournier-Fontaine, who had stores at
Saint-Roch! do you know how much he failed for? Eight hundred thousand
francs! And Gomer, the packer opposite to him--another Republican, that
one--he smashed the tongs on his wife's head, and he drank so much
absinthe that he is going to be put into a private asylum. That's the
way with the whole of them--the Republicans! A Republic at twenty-five
percent. Ah! yes! plume yourself upon it!"

Frederick took himself off. He was disgusted at the foolishness of this
girl, which revealed itself all at once in the language of the populace.
He felt himself even becoming a little patriotic once more.

The ill-temper of Rosanette only increased. Mademoiselle Vatnaz
irritated him with her enthusiasm. Believing that she had a mission,
she felt a furious desire to make speeches, to carry on disputes,
and--sharper than Rosanette in matters of this sort--overwhelmed her
with arguments.

One day she made her appearance burning with indignation against
Hussonnet, who had just indulged in some blackguard remarks at the
Woman's Club. Rosanette approved of this conduct, declaring even that
she would take men's clothes to go and "give them a bit of her mind, the
entire lot of them, and to whip them."

Frederick entered at the same moment.

"You'll accompany me--won't you?"

And, in spite of his presence, a bickering match took place between
them, one of them playing the part of a citizen's wife and the other of
a female philosopher.

According to Rosanette, women were born exclusively for love, or in
order to bring up children, to be housekeepers.

According to Mademoiselle Vatnaz, women ought to have a position in the
Government. In former times, the Gaulish women, and also the Anglo-Saxon
women, took part in the legislation; the squaws of the Hurons formed a
portion of the Council. The work of civilisation was common to both. It
was necessary that all should contribute towards it, and that fraternity
should be substituted for egoism, association for individualism, and
cultivation on a large scale for minute subdivision of land.

"Come, that is good! you know a great deal about culture just now!"

"Why not? Besides, it is a question of humanity, of its future!"

"Mind your own business!"

"This is my business!"

They got into a passion. Frederick interposed. The Vatnaz became very
heated, and went so far as to uphold Communism.

"What nonsense!" said Rosanette. "How could such a thing ever come to
pass?"

The other brought forward in support of her theory the examples of the
Essenes, the Moravian Brethren, the Jesuits of Paraguay, the family of
the Pingons near Thiers in Auvergne; and, as she gesticulated a great
deal, her gold chain got entangled in her bundle of trinkets, to which
was attached a gold ornament in the form of a sheep.

Suddenly, Rosanette turned exceedingly pale.

Mademoiselle Vatnaz continued extricating her trinkets.

"Don't give yourself so much trouble," said Rosanette. "Now, I know your
political opinions."

"What?" replied the Vatnaz, with a blush on her face like that of a
virgin.

"Oh! oh! you understand me."

Frederick did not understand. There had evidently been something taking
place between them of a more important and intimate character than
Socialism.

"And even though it should be so," said the Vatnaz in reply, rising up
unflinchingly. "'Tis a loan, my dear--set off one debt against the
other."

"Faith, I don't deny my own debts. I owe some thousands of francs--a
nice sum. I borrow, at least; I don't rob anyone."

Mademoiselle Vatnaz made an effort to laugh.

"Oh! I would put my hand in the fire for him."

"Take care! it is dry enough to burn."

The spinster held out her right hand to her, and keeping it raised in
front of her:

"But there are friends of yours who find it convenient for them."

"Andalusians, I suppose? as castanets?"

"You beggar!"

The Maréchale made her a low bow.

"There's nobody so charming!"

Mademoiselle Vatnaz made no reply. Beads of perspiration appeared on her
temples. Her eyes fixed themselves on the carpet. She panted for breath.
At last she reached the door, and slamming it vigorously: "Good night!
You'll hear from me!"

"Much I care!" said Rosanette. The effort of self-suppression had
shattered her nerves. She sank down on the divan, shaking all over,
stammering forth words of abuse, shedding tears. Was it this threat on
the part of the Vatnaz that had caused so much agitation in her mind?
Oh, no! what did she care, indeed, about that one? It was the golden
sheep, a present, and in the midst of her tears the name of Delmar
escaped her lips. So, then, she was in love with the mummer?

"In that case, why did she take on with me?" Frederick asked himself.
"How is it that he has come back again? Who compels her to keep me?
Where is the sense of this sort of thing?"

Rosanette was still sobbing. She remained all the time stretched at the
edge of the divan, with her right cheek resting on her two hands, and
she seemed a being so dainty, so free from self-consciousness, and so
sorely troubled, that he drew closer to her and softly kissed her on the
forehead.

Thereupon she gave him assurances of her affection for him; the Prince
had just left her, they would be free. But she was for the time being
short of money. "You saw yourself that this was so, the other day, when
I was trying to turn my old linings to use." No more equipages now! And
this was not all; the upholsterer was threatening to resume possession
of the bedroom and the large drawing-room furniture. She did not know
what to do.

Frederick had a mind to answer:

"Don't annoy yourself about it. I will pay."

But the lady knew how to lie. Experience had enlightened her. He
confined himself to mere expressions of sympathy.

Rosanette's fears were not vain. It was necessary to give up the
furniture and to quit the handsome apartment in the Rue Drouot. She took
another on the Boulevard Poissonnière, on the fourth floor.

The curiosities of her old boudoir were quite sufficient to give to the
three rooms a coquettish air. There were Chinese blinds, a tent on the
terrace, and in the drawing-room a second-hand carpet still perfectly
new, with ottomans covered with pink silk. Frederick had contributed
largely to these purchases. He had felt the joy of a newly-married man
who possesses at last a house of his own, a wife of his own--and, being
much pleased with the place, he used to sleep there nearly every
evening.

One morning, as he was passing out through the anteroom, he saw, on the
third floor, on the staircase, the shako of a National Guard who was
ascending it. Where in the world was he going?

Frederick waited. The man continued his progress up the stairs, with his
head slightly bent down. He raised his eyes. It was my lord Arnoux!

The situation was clear. They both reddened simultaneously, overcome by
a feeling of embarrassment common to both.

Arnoux was the first to find a way out of the difficulty.

"She is better--isn't that so?" as if Rosanette were ill, and he had
come to learn how she was.

Frederick took advantage of this opening.

"Yes, certainly! at least, so I was told by her maid," wishing to convey
that he had not been allowed to see her.

Then they stood facing each other, both undecided as to what they would
do next, and eyeing one another intently. The question now was, which of
the two was going to remain. Arnoux once more solved the problem.

"Pshaw! I'll come back by-and-by. Where are you going? I go with you!"

And, when they were in the street, he chatted as naturally as usual.
Unquestionably he was not a man of jealous disposition, or else he was
too good-natured to get angry. Besides, his time was devoted to serving
his country. He never left off his uniform now. On the twenty-ninth of
March he had defended the offices of the _Presse_. When the Chamber was
invaded, he distinguished himself by his courage, and he was at the
banquet given to the National Guard at Amiens.

Hussonnet, who was still on duty with him, availed himself of his flask
and his cigars; but, irreverent by nature, he delighted in contradicting
him, disparaging the somewhat inaccurate style of the decrees; and
decrying the conferences at the Luxembourg, the women known as the
"Vésuviennes," the political section bearing the name of "Tyroliens";
everything, in fact, down to the Car of Agriculture, drawn by horses to
the ox-market, and escorted by ill-favoured young girls. Arnoux, on the
other hand, was the upholder of authority, and dreamed of uniting the
different parties. However, his own affairs had taken an unfavourable
turn, and he was more or less anxious about them.

He was not much troubled about Frederick's relations with the Maréchale;
for this discovery made him feel justified (in his conscience) in
withdrawing the allowance which he had renewed since the Prince had left
her. He pleaded by way of excuse for this step the embarrassed condition
in which he found himself, uttered many lamentations--and Rosanette was
generous. The result was that M. Arnoux regarded himself as the lover
who appealed entirely to the heart, an idea that raised him in his own
estimation and made him feel young again. Having no doubt that Frederick
was paying the Maréchale, he fancied that he was "playing a nice trick"
on the young man, even called at the house in such a stealthy fashion as
to keep the other in ignorance of the fact, and when they happened to
meet, left the coast clear for him.

Frederick was not pleased with this partnership, and his rival's
politeness seemed only an elaborate piece of sarcasm. But by taking
offence at it, he would have removed from his path every opportunity of
ever finding his way back to Madame Arnoux; and then, this was the only
means whereby he could hear about her movements. The earthenware-dealer,
in accordance with his usual practice, or perhaps with some cunning
design, recalled her readily in the course of conversation, and asked
him why he no longer came to see her.

Frederick, having exhausted every excuse he could frame, assured him
that he had called several times to see Madame Arnoux, but without
success. Arnoux was convinced that this was so, for he had often
referred in an eager tone at home to the absence of their friend, and
she had invariably replied that she was out when he called, so that
these two lies, in place of contradicting, corroborated each other.

The young man's gentle ways and the pleasure of finding a dupe in him
made Arnoux like him all the better. He carried familiarity to its
extreme limits, not through disdain, but through assurance. One day he
wrote saying that very urgent business compelled him to be away in the
country for twenty-four hours. He begged of the young man to mount guard
in his stead. Frederick dared not refuse, so he repaired to the
guard-house in the Place du Carrousel.

He had to submit to the society of the National Guards, and, with the
exception of a sugar-refiner, a witty fellow who drank to an inordinate
extent, they all appeared to him more stupid than their cartridge-boxes.
The principal subject of conversation amongst them was the substitution
of sashes for belts. Others declaimed against the national workshops.

One man said:

"Where are we going?"

The man to whom the words had been addressed opened his eyes as if he
were standing on the verge of an abyss.

"Where are we going?"

Then, one who was more daring than the rest exclaimed:

"It cannot last! It must come to an end!"

And as the same kind of talk went on till night, Frederick was bored to
death.

Great was his surprise when, at eleven o'clock, he suddenly beheld
Arnoux, who immediately explained that he had hurried back to set him at
liberty, having disposed of his own business.

The fact was that he had no business to transact. The whole thing was an
invention to enable him to spend twenty-four hours alone with Rosanette.
But the worthy Arnoux had placed too much confidence in his own powers,
so that, now in the state of lassitude which was the result, he was
seized with remorse. He had come to thank Frederick, and to invite him
to have some supper.

"A thousand thanks! I'm not hungry. All I want is to go to bed."

"A reason the more for having a snack together. How flabby you are! One
does not go home at such an hour as this. It is too late! It would be
dangerous!"

Frederick once more yielded. Arnoux was quite a favorite with his
brethren-in-arms, who had not expected to see him--and he was a
particular crony of the refiner. They were all fond of him, and he was
such a good fellow that he was sorry Hussonnet was not there. But he
wanted to shut his eyes for one minute, no longer.

"Sit down beside me!" said he to Frederick, stretching himself on the
camp-bed without taking off his belt and straps. Through fear of an
alarm, in spite of the regulation, he even kept his gun in his hand,
then stammered out some words:

"My darling! my little angel!" and ere long was fast asleep.

Those who had been talking to each other became silent; and gradually
there was a deep silence in the guard-house. Frederick tormented by the
fleas, kept staring about him. The wall, painted yellow, had, half-way
up, a long shelf, on which the knapsacks formed a succession of little
humps, while underneath, the muskets, which had the colour of lead, rose
up side by side; and there could be heard a succession of snores,
produced by the National Guards, whose stomachs were outlined through
the darkness in a confused fashion. On the top of the stove stood an
empty bottle and some plates. Three straw chairs were drawn around the
table, on which a pack of cards was displayed. A drum, in the middle of
the bench, let its strap hang down.

A warm breath of air making its way through the door caused the lamp to
smoke. Arnoux slept with his two arms wide apart; and, as his gun was
placed in a slightly crooked position, with the butt-end downward, the
mouth of the barrel came up right under his arm. Frederick noticed this,
and was alarmed.

"But, no, I'm wrong, there's nothing to be afraid of! And yet, suppose
he met his death!"

And immediately pictures unrolled themselves before his mind in endless
succession.

He saw himself with her at night in a post-chaise, then on a river's
bank on a summer's evening, and under the reflection of a lamp at home
in their own house. He even fixed his attention on household expenses
and domestic arrangements, contemplating, feeling already his happiness
between his hands; and in order to realise it, all that was needed was
that the cock of the gun should rise. The end of it could be pushed
with one's toe, the gun would go off--it would be a mere
accident--nothing more!

Frederick brooded over this idea like a playwright in the agonies of
composition. Suddenly it seemed to him that it was not far from being
carried into practical operation, and that he was going to contribute to
that result--that, in fact, he was yearning for it; and then a feeling
of absolute terror took possession of him. In the midst of this mental
distress he experienced a sense of pleasure, and he allowed himself to
sink deeper and deeper into it, with a dreadful consciousness all the
time that his scruples were vanishing. In the wildness of his reverie
the rest of the world became effaced, and he could only realise that he
was still alive from the intolerable oppression on his chest.

"Let us take a drop of white wine!" said the refiner, as he awoke.

Arnoux sprang to his feet, and, as soon as the white wine was swallowed,
he wanted to relieve Frederick of his sentry duty.

Then he brought him to have breakfast in the Rue de Chartres, at
Parly's, and as he required to recuperate his energies, he ordered two
dishes of meat, a lobster, an omelet with rum, a salad, etc., and
finished this off with a brand of Sauterne of 1819 and one of '42
Romanée, not to speak of the champagne at dessert and the liqueurs.

Frederick did not in any way gainsay him. He was disturbed in mind as if
by the thought that the other might somehow trace on his countenance the
idea that had lately flitted before his imagination. With both elbows on
the table and his head bent forward, so that he annoyed Frederick by his
fixed stare, he confided some of his hobbies to the young man.

He wanted to take for farming purposes all the embankments on the
Northern line, in order to plant potatoes there, or else to organise on
the boulevards a monster cavalcade in which the celebrities of the
period would figure. He would let all the windows, which would, at the
rate of three francs for each person, produce a handsome profit. In
short, he dreamed of a great stroke of fortune by means of a monopoly.
He assumed a moral tone, nevertheless, found fault with excesses and all
sorts of misconduct, spoke about his "poor father," and every evening,
as he said, made an examination of his conscience before offering his
soul to God.

"A little curaçao, eh?"

"Just as you please."

As for the Republic, things would right themselves; in fact, he looked
on himself as the happiest man on earth; and forgetting himself, he
exalted Rosanette's attractive qualities, and even compared her with his
wife. It was quite a different thing. You could not imagine a lovelier
person!

"Your health!"

Frederick touched glasses with him. He had, out of complaisance, drunk a
little too much. Besides, the strong sunlight dazzled him; and when they
went up the Rue Vivienne together again, their shoulders touched each
other in a fraternal fashion.

When he got home, Frederick slept till seven o'clock. After that he
called on the Maréchale. She had gone out with somebody--with Arnoux,
perhaps! Not knowing what to do with himself, he continued his promenade
along the boulevard, but could not get past the Porte Saint-Martin,
owing to the great crowd that blocked the way.

Want had abandoned to their own resources a considerable number of
workmen, and they used to come there every evening, no doubt for the
purpose of holding a review and awaiting a signal.

In spite of the law against riotous assemblies, these clubs of despair
increased to a frightful extent, and many citizens repaired every day to
the spot through bravado, and because it was the fashion.

All of a sudden Frederick caught a glimpse, three paces away, of M.
Dambreuse along with Martinon. He turned his head away, for M. Dambreuse
having got himself nominated as a representative of the people, he
cherished a secret spite against him. But the capitalist stopped him.

"One word, my dear monsieur! I have some explanations to make to you."

"I am not asking you for any."

"Pray listen to me!"

It was not his fault in any way. Appeals had been made to him; pressure
had, to a certain extent, been placed on him. Martinon immediately
endorsed all that he had said. Some of the electors of Nogent had
presented themselves in a deputation at his house.

"Besides, I expected to be free as soon as----"

A crush of people on the footpath forced M. Dambreuse to get out of the
way. A minute after he reappeared, saying to Martinon:

"This is a genuine service, really, and you won't have any reason to
regret----"

All three stood with their backs resting against a shop in order to be
able to chat more at their ease.

From time to time there was a cry of, "Long live Napoléon! Long live
Barbès! Down with Marie!"

The countless throng kept talking in very loud tones; and all these
voices, echoing through the houses, made, so to speak, the continuous
ripple of waves in a harbour. At intervals they ceased; and then could
be heard voices singing the "Marseillaise."

Under the court-gates, men of mysterious aspect offered sword-sticks to
those who passed. Sometimes two individuals, one of whom preceded the
other, would wink, and then quickly hurry away. The footpaths were
filled with groups of staring idlers. A dense crowd swayed to and fro on
the pavement. Entire bands of police-officers, emerging from the alleys,
had scarcely made their way into the midst of the multitude when they
were swallowed up in the mass of people. Little red flags here and there
looked like flames. Coachmen, from the place where they sat high up,
gesticulated energetically, and then turned to go back. It was a case of
perpetual movement--one of the strangest sights that could be conceived.

"How all this," said Martinon, "would have amused Mademoiselle Cécile!"

"My wife, as you are aware, does not like my niece to come with us,"
returned M. Dambreuse with a smile.

One could scarcely recognise in him the same man. For the past three
months he had been crying, "Long live the Republic!" and he had even
voted in favour of the banishment of Orléans. But there should be an end
of concessions. He exhibited his rage so far as to carry a tomahawk in
his pocket.

Martinon had one, too. The magistracy not being any longer irremovable,
he had withdrawn from Parquet, so that he surpassed M. Dambreuse in his
display of violence.

The banker had a special antipathy to Lamartine (for having supported
Ledru-Rollin) and, at the same time, to Pierre Leroux, Proudhon,
Considérant, Lamennais, and all the cranks, all the Socialists.

"For, in fact, what is it they want? The duty on meat and arrest for
debt have been abolished. Now the project of a bank for mortgages is
under consideration; the other day it was a national bank; and here are
five millions in the Budget for the working-men! But luckily, it is
over, thanks to Monsieur de Falloux! Good-bye to them! let them go!"

In fact, not knowing how to maintain the three hundred thousand men in
the national workshops, the Minister of Public Works had that very day
signed an order inviting all citizens between the ages of eighteen and
twenty to take service as soldiers, or else to start for the provinces
to cultivate the ground there.

They were indignant at the alternative thus put before them, convinced
that the object was to destroy the Republic. They were aggrieved by the
thought of having to live at a distance from the capital, as if it were
a kind of exile. They saw themselves dying of fevers in desolate parts
of the country. To many of them, moreover, who had been accustomed to
work of a refined description, agriculture seemed a degradation; it was,
in short, a mockery, a decisive breach of all the promises which had
been made to them. If they offered any resistance, force would be
employed against them. They had no doubt of it, and made preparations to
anticipate it.

About nine o'clock the riotous assemblies which had formed at the
Bastille and at the Châtelet ebbed back towards the boulevard. From the
Porte Saint-Denis to the Porte Saint-Martin nothing could be seen save
an enormous swarm of people, a single mass of a dark blue shade, nearly
black. The men of whom one caught a glimpse all had glowing eyes, pale
complexions, faces emaciated with hunger and excited with a sense of
wrong.

Meanwhile, some clouds had gathered. The tempestuous sky roused the
electricity that was in the people, and they kept whirling about of
their own accord with the great swaying movements of a swelling sea, and
one felt that there was an incalculable force in the depths of this
excited throng, and as it were, the energy of an element. Then they all
began exclaiming: "Lamps! lamps!" Many windows had no illumination, and
stones were flung at the panes. M. Dambreuse deemed it prudent to
withdraw from the scene. The two young men accompanied him home. He
predicted great disasters. The people might once more invade the
Chamber, and on this point he told them how he should have been killed
on the fifteenth of May had it not been for the devotion of a National
Guard.

"But I had forgotten! he is a friend of yours--your friend the
earthenware manufacturer--Jacques Arnoux!" The rioters had been actually
throttling him, when that brave citizen caught him in his arms and put
him safely out of their reach.

So it was that, since then, there had been a kind of intimacy between
them.

"It would be necessary, one of these days, to dine together, and, since
you often see him, give him the assurance that I like him very much. He
is an excellent man, and has, in my opinion, been slandered; and he has
his wits about him in the morning. My compliments once more! A very good
evening!"

Frederick, after he had quitted M. Dambreuse, went back to the
Maréchale, and, in a very gloomy fashion, said that she should choose
between him and Arnoux. She replied that she did not understand "dumps
of this sort," that she did not care about Arnoux, and had no desire to
cling to him. Frederick was thirsting to fly from Paris. She did not
offer any opposition to this whim; and next morning they set out for
Fontainebleau.

The hotel at which they stayed could be distinguished from others by a
fountain that rippled in the middle of the courtyard attached to it. The
doors of the various apartments opened out on a corridor, as in
monasteries. The room assigned to them was large, well-furnished, hung
with print, and noiseless, owing to the scarcity of tourists. Alongside
the houses, people who had nothing to do kept passing up and down; then,
under their windows, when the day was declining, children in the street
would engage in a game of base; and this tranquillity, following so soon
the tumult they had witnessed in Paris, filled them with astonishment
and exercised over them a soothing influence.

Every morning at an early hour, they went to pay a visit to the château.
As they passed in through the gate, they had a view of its entire front,
with the five pavilions covered with sharp-pointed roofs, and its
staircase of horseshoe-shape opening out to the end of the courtyard,
which is hemmed in, to right and left, by two main portions of the
building further down. On the paved ground lichens blended their colours
here and there with the tawny hue of bricks, and the entire appearance
of the palace, rust-coloured like old armour, had about it something of
the impassiveness of royalty--a sort of warlike, melancholy grandeur.

At last, a man-servant made his appearance with a bunch of keys in his
hand. He first showed them the apartments of the queens, the Pope's
oratory, the gallery of Francis I., the mahogany table on which the
Emperor signed his abdication, and in one of the rooms cut in two the
old Galerie des Cerfs, the place where Christine got Monaldeschi
assassinated. Rosanette listened to this narrative attentively, then,
turning towards Frederick:

"No doubt it was through jealousy? Mind yourself!" After this they
passed through the Council Chamber, the Guards' Room, the Throne Room,
and the drawing-room of Louis XIII. The uncurtained windows sent forth a
white light. The handles of the window-fastenings and the copper feet of
the pier-tables were slightly tarnished with dust. The armchairs were
everywhere hidden under coarse linen covers. Above the doors could be
seen reliquaries of Louis XIV., and here and there hangings representing
the gods of Olympus, Psyche, or the battles of Alexander.

As she was passing in front of the mirrors, Rosanette stopped for a
moment to smooth her head-bands.

After passing through the donjon-court and the Saint-Saturnin Chapel,
they reached the Festal Hall.

They were dazzled by the magnificence of the ceiling, which was divided
into octagonal apartments set off with gold and silver, more finely
chiselled than a jewel, and by the vast number of paintings covering the
walls, from the immense chimney-piece, where the arms of France were
surrounded by crescents and quivers, down to the musicians' gallery,
which had been erected at the other end along the entire width of the
hall. The ten arched windows were wide open; the sun threw its lustre on
the pictures, so that they glowed beneath its rays; the blue sky
continued in an endless curve the ultramarine of the arches; and from
the depths of the woods, where the lofty summits of the trees filled up
the horizon, there seemed to come an echo of flourishes blown by ivory
trumpets, and mythological ballets, gathering together under the foliage
princesses and nobles disguised as nymphs or fauns--an epoch of
ingenuous science, of violent passions, and sumptuous art, when the
ideal was to sweep away the world in a vision of the Hesperides, and
when the mistresses of kings mingled their glory with the stars. There
was a portrait of one of the most beautiful of these celebrated women in
the form of Diana the huntress, and even the Infernal Diana, no doubt in
order to indicate the power which she possessed even beyond the limits
of the tomb. All these symbols confirmed her glory, and there remained
about the spot something of her, an indistinct voice, a radiation that
stretched out indefinitely. A feeling of mysterious retrospective
voluptuousness took possession of Frederick.

In order to divert these passionate longings into another channel, he
began to gaze tenderly on Rosanette, and asked her would she not like to
have been this woman?

"What woman?"

"Diane de Poitiers!"

He repeated:

"Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of Henry II."

She gave utterance to a little "Ah!" that was all.

Her silence clearly demonstrated that she knew nothing about the matter,
and had failed to comprehend his meaning, so that out of complaisance he
said to her:

"Perhaps you are getting tired of this?"

"No, no--quite the reverse." And lifting up her chin, and casting around
her a glance of the vaguest description, Rosanette let these words
escape her lips:

"It recalls some memories to me!"

Meanwhile, it was easy to trace on her countenance a strained
expression, a certain sense of awe; and, as this air of gravity made her
look all the prettier, Frederick overlooked it.

The carps' pond amused her more. For a quarter of an hour she kept
flinging pieces of bread into the water in order to see the fishes
skipping about.

Frederick had seated himself by her side under the linden-trees. He saw
in imagination all the personages who had haunted these walls--Charles
V., the Valois Kings, Henry IV., Peter the Great, Jean Jacques Rousseau,
and "the fair mourners of the stage-boxes," Voltaire, Napoléon, Pius
VII., and Louis Philippe; and he felt himself environed, elbowed, by
these tumultuous dead people. He was stunned by such a confusion of
historic figures, even though he found a certain fascination in
contemplating them, nevertheless.

At length they descended into the flower-garden.

It is a vast rectangle, which presents to the spectator, at the first
glance, its wide yellow walks, its square grass-plots, its ribbons of
box-wood, its yew-trees shaped like pyramids, its low-lying green
swards, and its narrow borders, in which thinly-sown flowers make spots
on the grey soil. At the end of the garden may be seen a park through
whose entire length a canal makes its way.

Royal residences have attached to them a peculiar kind of melancholy,
due, no doubt, to their dimensions being much too large for the limited
number of guests entertained within them, to the silence which one feels
astonished to find in them after so many flourishes of trumpets, to the
immobility of their luxurious furniture, which attests by the aspect of
age and decay it gradually assumes the transitory character of
dynasties, the eternal wretchedness of all things; and this exhalation
of the centuries, enervating and funereal, like the perfume of a mummy,
makes itself felt even in untutored brains. Rosanette yawned
immoderately. They went back to the hotel.

After their breakfast an open carriage came round for them. They started
from Fontainebleau at a point where several roads diverged, then went up
at a walking pace a gravelly road leading towards a little pine-wood.
The trees became larger, and, from time to time, the driver would say,
"This is the Frères Siamois, the Pharamond, the Bouquet de Roi," not
forgetting a single one of these notable sites, sometimes even drawing
up to enable them to admire the scene.

They entered the forest of Franchard. The carriage glided over the grass
like a sledge; pigeons which they could not see began cooing. Suddenly,
the waiter of a café made his appearance, and they alighted before the
railing of a garden in which a number of round tables were placed. Then,
passing on the left by the walls of a ruined abbey, they made their way
over big boulders of stone, and soon reached the lower part of the
gorge.

It is covered on one side with sandstones and juniper-trees tangled
together, while on the other side the ground, almost quite bare, slopes
towards the hollow of the valley, where a foot-track makes a pale line
through the brown heather; and far above could be traced a flat
cone-shaped summit with a telegraph-tower behind it.

Half-an-hour later they stepped out of the vehicle once more, in order
to climb the heights of Aspremont.

The roads form zigzags between the thick-set pine-trees under rocks with
angular faces. All this corner of the forest has a sort of choked-up
look--a rather wild and solitary aspect. One thinks of hermits in
connection with it--companions of huge stags with fiery crosses between
their horns, who were wont to welcome with paternal smiles the good
kings of France when they knelt before their grottoes. The warm air was
filled with a resinous odour, and roots of trees crossed one another
like veins close to the soil. Rosanette slipped over them, grew
dejected, and felt inclined to shed tears.

But, at the very top, she became joyous once more on finding, under a
roof made of branches, a sort of tavern where carved wood was sold. She
drank a bottle of lemonade, and bought a holly-stick; and, without one
glance towards the landscape which disclosed itself from the plateau,
she entered the Brigands' Cave, with a waiter carrying a torch in front
of her. Their carriage was awaiting them in the Bas Breau.

A painter in a blue blouse was working at the foot of an oak-tree with
his box of colours on his knees. He raised his head and watched them as
they passed.

In the middle of the hill of Chailly, the sudden breaking of a cloud
caused them to turn up the hoods of their cloaks. Almost immediately the
rain stopped, and the paving-stones of the street glistened under the
sun when they were re-entering the town.

Some travellers, who had recently arrived, informed them that a terrible
battle had stained Paris with blood. Rosanette and her lover were not
surprised. Then everybody left; the hotel became quiet, the gas was put
out, and they were lulled to sleep by the murmur of the fountain in the
courtyard.

On the following day they went to see the Wolf's Gorge, the Fairies'
Pool, the Long Rock, and the _Marlotte_.[G] Two days later, they began
again at random, just as their coachman thought fit to drive them,
without asking where they were, and often even neglecting the famous
sites.

They felt so comfortable in their old landau, low as a sofa, and covered
with a rug made of a striped material which was quite faded. The moats,
filled with brushwood, stretched out under their eyes with a gentle,
continuous movement. White rays passed like arrows through the tall
ferns. Sometimes a road that was no longer used presented itself before
them, in a straight line, and here and there might be seen a feeble
growth of weeds. In the centre between four cross-roads, a crucifix
extended its four arms. In other places, stakes were bending down like
dead trees, and little curved paths, which were lost under the leaves,
made them feel a longing to pursue them. At the same moment the horse
turned round; they entered there; they plunged into the mire. Further
down moss had sprouted out at the sides of the deep ruts.


[G] The "Overall." The word _Marlotte_ means a loose wrapper worn by
ladies in the sixteenth century.--TRANSLATOR.


They believed that they were far away from all other people, quite
alone. But suddenly a game-keeper with his gun, or a band of women in
rags with big bundles of fagots on their backs, would hurry past them.

When the carriage stopped, there was a universal silence. The only
sounds that reached them were the blowing of the horse in the shafts
with the faint cry of a bird more than once repeated.

The light at certain points illuminating the outskirts of the wood, left
the interior in deep shadow, or else, attenuated in the foreground by a
sort of twilight, it exhibited in the background violet vapours, a white
radiance. The midday sun, falling directly on wide tracts of greenery,
made splashes of light over them, hung gleaming drops of silver from the
ends of the branches, streaked the grass with long lines of emeralds,
and flung gold spots on the beds of dead leaves. When they let their
heads fall back, they could distinguish the sky through the tops of the
trees. Some of them, which were enormously high, looked like patriarchs
or emperors, or, touching one another at their extremities formed with
their long shafts, as it were, triumphal arches; others, sprouting forth
obliquely from below, seemed like falling columns. This heap of big
vertical lines gaped open. Then, enormous green billows unrolled
themselves in unequal embossments as far as the surface of the valleys,
towards which advanced the brows of other hills looking down on white
plains, which ended by losing themselves in an undefined pale tinge.

Standing side by side, on some rising ground, they felt, as they drank
in the air, the pride of a life more free penetrating into the depths of
their souls, with a superabundance of energy, a joy which they could not
explain.

The variety of trees furnished a spectacle of the most diversified
character. The beeches with their smooth white bark twisted their tops
together. Ash trees softly curved their bluish branches. In the tufts of
the hornbeams rose up holly stiff as bronze. Then came a row of thin
birches, bent into elegiac attitudes; and the pine-trees, symmetrical as
organ pipes, seemed to be singing a song as they swayed to and fro.
There were gigantic oaks with knotted forms, which had been violently
shaken, stretched themselves out from the soil and pressed close against
each other, and with firm trunks resembling torsos, launched forth to
heaven despairing appeals with their bare arms and furious threats, like
a group of Titans struck motionless in the midst of their rage. An
atmosphere of gloom, a feverish languor, brooded over the pools, whose
sheets of water were cut into flakes by the overshadowing thorn-trees.
The lichens on their banks, where the wolves come to drink, are of the
colour of sulphur, burnt, as it were, by the footprints of witches, and
the incessant croaking of the frogs responds to the cawing of the crows
as they wheel through the air. After this they passed through the
monotonous glades, planted here and there with a staddle. The sound of
iron falling with a succession of rapid blows could be heard. On the
side of the hill a group of quarrymen were breaking the rocks. These
rocks became more and more numerous and finally filled up the entire
landscape, cube-shaped like houses, flat like flagstones, propping up,
overhanging, and became intermingled with each other, as if they were
the ruins, unrecognisable and monstrous, of some vanished city. But the
wild chaos they exhibited made one rather dream of volcanoes, of
deluges, of great unknown cataclysms. Frederick said they had been there
since the beginning of the world, and would remain so till the end.
Rosanette turned aside her head, declaring that this would drive her out
of her mind, and went off to collect sweet heather. The little violet
blossoms, heaped up near one another, formed unequal plates, and the
soil, which was giving way underneath, placed soft dark fringes on the
sand spangled with mica.

One day they reached a point half-way up a hill, where the soil was full
of sand. Its surface, untrodden till now, was streaked so as to resemble
symmetrical waves. Here and there, like promontories on the dry bed of
an ocean, rose up rocks with the vague outlines of animals, tortoises
thrusting forward their heads, crawling seals, hippopotami, and bears.
Not a soul around them. Not a single sound. The shingle glowed under the
dazzling rays of the sun, and all at once in this vibration of light the
specimens of the brute creation that met their gaze began to move about.
They returned home quickly, flying from the dizziness that had seized
hold of them, almost dismayed.

The gravity of the forest exercised an influence over them, and hours
passed in silence, during which, allowing themselves to yield to the
lulling effects of springs, they remained as it were sunk in the torpor
of a calm intoxication. With his arm around her waist, he listened to
her talking while the birds were warbling, noticed with the same glance
the black grapes on her bonnet and the juniper-berries, the draperies of
her veil, and the spiral forms assumed by the clouds, and when he bent
towards her the freshness of her skin mingled with the strong perfume of
the woods. They found amusement in everything. They showed one another,
as a curiosity, gossamer threads of the Virgin hanging from bushes,
holes full of water in the middle of stones, a squirrel on the branches,
the way in which two butterflies kept flying after them; or else, at
twenty paces from them, under the trees, a hind strode on peacefully,
with an air of nobility and gentleness, its doe walking by its side.

Rosanette would have liked to run after it to embrace it.

She got very much alarmed once, when a man suddenly presenting himself,
showed her three vipers in a box. She wildly flung herself on
Frederick's breast. He felt happy at the thought that she was weak and
that he was strong enough to defend her.

That evening they dined at an inn on the banks of the Seine. The table
was near the window, Rosanette sitting opposite him, and he contemplated
her little well-shaped white nose, her turned-up lips, her bright eyes,
the swelling bands of her nut-brown hair, and her pretty oval face. Her
dress of raw silk clung to her somewhat drooping shoulders, and her two
hands, emerging from their sleeves, joined close together as if they
were one--carved, poured out wine, moved over the table-cloth. The
waiters placed before them a chicken with its four limbs stretched out,
a stew of eels in a dish of pipe-clay, wine that had got spoiled, bread
that was too hard, and knives with notches in them. All these things
made the repast more enjoyable and strengthened the illusion. They
fancied that they were in the middle of a journey in Italy on their
honeymoon. Before starting again they went for a walk along the bank of
the river.

The soft blue sky, rounded like a dome, leaned at the horizon on the
indentations of the woods. On the opposite side, at the end of the
meadow, there was a village steeple; and further away, to the left, the
roof of a house made a red spot on the river, which wound its way
without any apparent motion. Some rushes bent over it, however, and the
water lightly shook some poles fixed at its edge in order to hold nets.
An osier bow-net and two or three old fishing-boats might be seen there.
Near the inn a girl in a straw hat was drawing buckets out of a well.
Every time they came up again, Frederick heard the grating sound of the
chain with a feeling of inexpressible delight.

He had no doubt that he would be happy till the end of his days, so
natural did his felicity appear to him, so much a part of his life, and
so intimately associated with this woman's being. He was irresistibly
impelled to address her with words of endearment. She answered with
pretty little speeches, light taps on the shoulder, displays of
tenderness that charmed him by their unexpectedness. He discovered in
her quite a new sort of beauty, in fact, which was perhaps only the
reflection of surrounding things, unless it happened to bud forth from
their hidden potentialities.

When they were lying down in the middle of the field, he would stretch
himself out with his head on her lap, under the shelter of her parasol;
or else with their faces turned towards the green sward, in the centre
of which they rested, they kept gazing towards one another so that their
pupils seemed to intermingle, thirsting for one another and ever
satiating their thirst, and then with half-closed eyelids they lay side
by side without uttering a single word.

Now and then the distant rolling of a drum reached their ears. It was
the signal-drum which was being beaten in the different villages calling
on people to go and defend Paris.

"Oh! look here! 'tis the rising!" said Frederick, with a disdainful
pity, all this excitement now presenting to his mind a pitiful aspect by
the side of their love and of eternal nature.

And they talked about whatever happened to come into their heads, things
that were perfectly familiar to them, persons in whom they took no
interest, a thousand trifles. She chatted with him about her chambermaid
and her hairdresser. One day she was so self-forgetful that she told him
her age--twenty-nine years. She was becoming quite an old woman.

Several times, without intending it, she gave him some particulars with
reference to her own life. She had been a "shop girl," had taken a trip
to England, and had begun studying for the stage; all this she told
without any explanation of how these changes had come about; and he
found it impossible to reconstruct her entire history.

She related to him more about herself one day when they were seated side
by side under a plane-tree at the back of a meadow. At the road-side,
further down, a little barefooted girl, standing amid a heap of dust,
was making a cow go to pasture. As soon as she caught sight of them she
came up to beg, and while with one hand she held up her tattered
petticoat, she kept scratching with the other her black hair, which,
like a wig of Louis XIV.'s time, curled round her dark face, lighted by
a magnificent pair of eyes.

"She will be very pretty by-and-by," said Frederick.

"How lucky she is, if she has no mother!" remarked Rosanette.

"Eh? How is that?"

"Certainly. I, if it were not for mine----"

She sighed, and began to speak about her childhood. Her parents were
weavers in the Croix-Rousse. She acted as an apprentice to her father.
In vain did the poor man wear himself out with hard work; his wife was
continually abusing him, and sold everything for drink. Rosanette could
see, as if it were yesterday, the room they occupied with the looms
ranged lengthwise against the windows, the pot boiling on the stove, the
bed painted like mahogany, a cupboard facing it, and the obscure loft
where she used to sleep up to the time when she was fifteen years old.
At length a gentleman made his appearance on the scene--a fat man with a
face of the colour of boxwood, the manners of a devotee, and a suit of
black clothes. Her mother and this man had a conversation together, with
the result that three days afterwards--Rosanette stopped, and with a
look in which there was as much bitterness as shamelessness:

"It was done!"

Then, in response to a gesture of Frederick.

"As he was married (he would have been afraid of compromising himself in
his own house), I was brought to a private room in a restaurant, and
told that I would be happy, that I would get a handsome present.

"At the door, the first thing that struck me was a candelabrum of
vermilion on a table, on which there were two covers. A mirror on the
ceiling showed their reflections, and the blue silk hangings on the
walls made the entire apartment resemble an alcove; I was seized with
astonishment. You understand--a poor creature who had never seen
anything before. In spite of my dazed condition of mind, I got
frightened. I wanted to go away. However, I remained.

"The only seat in the room was a sofa close beside the table. It was so
soft that it gave way under me. The mouth of the hot-air stove in the
middle of the carpet sent out towards me a warm breath, and there I sat
without taking anything. The waiter, who was standing near me, urged me
to eat. He poured out for me immediately a large glass of wine. My head
began to swim, I wanted to open the window. He said to me:

"'No, Mademoiselle! that is forbidden.'"

"And he left me.

"The table was covered with a heap of things that I had no knowledge of.
Nothing there seemed to me good. Then I fell back on a pot of jam, and
patiently waited. I did not know what prevented him from coming. It was
very late--midnight at last--I couldn't bear the fatigue any longer.
While pushing aside one of the pillows, in order to hear better, I found
under my hand a kind of album--a book of engravings, they were vulgar
pictures. I was sleeping on top of it when he entered the room."

She hung down her head and remained pensive.

The leaves rustled around them. Amid the tangled grass a great foxglove
was swaying to and fro. The sunlight flowed like a wave over the green
expanse, and the silence was interrupted at intervals by the browsing of
the cow, which they could no longer see.

Rosanette kept her eyes fixed on a particular spot, three paces away
from her, her nostrils heaving, and her mind absorbed in thought.
Frederick caught hold of her hand.

"How you suffered, poor darling!"

"Yes," said she, "more than you imagine! So much so that I wanted to
make an end of it--they had to fish me up!"

"What?"

"Ah! think no more about it! I love you, I am happy! kiss me!"

And she picked off, one by one, the sprigs of the thistles which clung
to the hem of her gown.

Frederick was thinking more than all on what she had not told him. What
were the means by which she had gradually emerged from wretchedness? To
what lover did she owe her education? What had occurred in her life down
to the day when he first came to her house? Her latest avowal was a bar
to these questions. All he asked her was how she had made Arnoux's
acquaintance.

"Through the Vatnaz."

"Wasn't it you that I once saw with both of them at the Palais-Royal?"

He referred to the exact date. Rosanette made a movement which showed a
sense of deep pain.

"Yes, it is true! I was not gay at that time!"

But Arnoux had proved himself a very good fellow. Frederick had no doubt
of it. However, their friend was a queer character, full of faults. He
took care to recall them. She quite agreed with him on this point.

"Never mind! One likes him, all the same, this camel!"

"Still--even now?" said Frederick.

She began to redden, half smiling, half angry.

"Oh, no! that's an old story. I don't keep anything hidden from you.
Even though it might be so, with him it is different. Besides, I don't
think you are nice towards your victim!"

"My victim!"

Rosanette caught hold of his chin.

"No doubt!"

And in the lisping fashion in which nurses talk to babies:

"Have always been so good! Never went a-by-by with his wife?"

"I! never at any time!"

Rosanette smiled. He felt hurt by this smile of hers, which seemed to
him a proof of indifference.

But she went on gently, and with one of those looks which seem to appeal
for a denial of the truth:

"Are you perfectly certain?"

"Not a doubt of it!"

Frederick solemnly declared on his word of honour that he had never
bestowed a thought on Madame Arnoux, as he was too much in love with
another woman.

"Why, with you, my beautiful one!"

"Ah! don't laugh at me! You only annoy me!"

He thought it a prudent course to invent a story--to pretend that he was
swayed by a passion. He manufactured some circumstantial details. This
woman, however, had rendered him very unhappy.

"Decidedly, you have not been lucky," said Rosanette.

"Oh! oh! I may have been!" wishing to convey in this way that he had
been often fortunate in his love-affairs, so that she might have a
better opinion of him, just as Rosanette did not avow how many lovers
she had had, in order that he might have more respect for her--for there
will always be found in the midst of the most intimate confidences
restrictions, false shame, delicacy, and pity. You divine either in the
other or in yourself precipices or miry paths which prevent you from
penetrating any farther; moreover, you feel that you will not be
understood. It is hard to express accurately the thing you mean,
whatever it may be; and this is the reason why perfect unions are rare.

The poor Maréchale had never known one better than this. Often, when she
gazed at Frederick, tears came into her eyes; then she would raise them
or cast a glance towards the horizon, as if she saw there some bright
dawn, perspectives of boundless felicity. At last, she confessed one day
to him that she wished to have a mass said, "so that it might bring a
blessing on our love."

How was it, then, that she had resisted him so long? She could not tell
herself. He repeated his question a great many times; and she replied,
as she clasped him in her arms:

"It was because I was afraid, my darling, of loving you too well!"

On Sunday morning, Frederick read, amongst the list of the wounded given
in a newspaper, the name of Dussardier. He uttered a cry, and showing
the paper to Rosanette, declared that he was going to start at once for
Paris.

"For what purpose?"

"In order to see him, to nurse him!"

"You are not going, I'm sure, to leave me by myself?"

"Come with me!"

"Ha! to poke my nose in a squabble of that sort? Oh, no, thanks!"

"However, I cannot----"

"Ta! ta! ta! as if they had need of nurses in the hospitals! And then,
what concern is he of yours any longer? Everyone for himself!"

He was roused to indignation by this egoism on her part, and he
reproached himself for not being in the capital with the others. Such
indifference to the misfortunes of the nation had in it something
shabby, and only worthy of a small shopkeeper. And now, all of a sudden,
his intrigue with Rosanette weighed on his mind as if it were a crime.
For an hour they were quite cool towards each other.

Then she appealed to him to wait, and not expose himself to danger.

"Suppose you happen to be killed?"

"Well, I should only have done my duty!"

Rosanette gave a jump. His first duty was to love her; but, no doubt, he
did not care about her any longer. There was no common sense in what he
was going to do. Good heavens! what an idea!

Frederick rang for his bill. But to get back to Pans was not an easy
matter. The Leloir stagecoach had just left; the Lecomte berlins would
not be starting; the diligence from Bourbonnais would not be passing
till a late hour that night, and perhaps it might be full, one could
never tell. When he had lost a great deal of time in making enquiries
about the various modes of conveyance, the idea occurred to him to
travel post. The master of the post-house refused to supply him with
horses, as Frederick had no passport. Finally, he hired an open
carriage--the same one in which they had driven about the country--and
at about five o'clock they arrived in front of the Hôtel du Commerce at
Melun.

The market-place was covered with piles of arms. The prefect had
forbidden the National Guards to proceed towards Paris. Those who did
not belong to his department wished to go on. There was a great deal of
shouting, and the inn was packed with a noisy crowd.

Rosanette, seized with terror, said she would not go a step further, and
once more begged of him to stay. The innkeeper and his wife joined in
her entreaties. A decent sort of man who happened to be dining there
interposed, and observed that the fighting would be over in a very short
time. Besides, one ought to do his duty. Thereupon the Maréchale
redoubled her sobs. Frederick got exasperated. He handed her his purse,
kissed her quickly, and disappeared.

On reaching Corbeil, he learned at the station that the insurgents had
cut the rails at regular distances, and the coachman refused to drive
him any farther; he said that his horses were "overspent."

Through his influence, however, Frederick managed to procure an
indifferent cabriolet, which, for the sum of sixty francs, without
taking into account the price of a drink for the driver, was to convey
him as far as the Italian barrier. But at a hundred paces from the
barrier his coachman made him descend and turn back. Frederick was
walking along the pathway, when suddenly a sentinel thrust out his
bayonet. Four men seized him, exclaiming:

"This is one of them! Look out! Search him! Brigand! scoundrel!"

And he was so thoroughly stupefied that he let himself be dragged to the
guard-house of the barrier, at the very point where the Boulevards des
Gobelins and de l'Hôpital and Rues Godefroy and Mauffetard converge.

Four barricades formed at the ends of four different ways enormous
sloping ramparts of paving-stones. Torches were glimmering here and
there. In spite of the rising clouds of dust he could distinguish
foot-soldiers of the Line and National Guards, all with their faces
blackened, their chests uncovered, and an aspect of wild excitement.
They had just captured the square, and had shot down a number of men.
Their rage had not yet cooled. Frederick said he had come from
Fontainebleau to the relief of a wounded comrade who lodged in the Rue
Bellefond. Not one of them would believe him at first. They examined his
hands; they even put their noses to his ear to make sure that he did not
smell of powder.

However, by dint of repeating the same thing, he finally satisfied a
captain, who directed two fusiliers to conduct him to the guard-house of
the Jardin des Plantes. They descended the Boulevard de l'Hôpital. A
strong breeze was blowing. It restored him to animation.

After this they turned up the Rue du Marché aux Chevaux. The Jardin des
Plantes at the right formed a long black mass, whilst at the left the
entire front of the Pitié, illuminated at every window, blazed like a
conflagration, and shadows passed rapidly over the window-panes.

The two men in charge of Frederick went away. Another accompanied him to
the Polytechnic School. The Rue Saint-Victor was quite dark, without a
gas-lamp or a light at any window to relieve the gloom. Every ten
minutes could be heard the words:

"Sentinels! mind yourselves!"

And this exclamation, cast into the midst of the silence, was prolonged
like the repeated striking of a stone against the side of a chasm as it
falls through space.

Every now and then the stamp of heavy footsteps could be heard drawing
nearer. This was nothing less than a patrol consisting of about a
hundred men. From this confused mass escaped whisperings and the dull
clanking of iron; and, moving away with a rhythmic swing, it melted into
the darkness.

In the middle of the crossing, where several streets met, a dragoon sat
motionless on his horse. From time to time an express rider passed at a
rapid gallop; then the silence was renewed. Cannons, which were being
drawn along the streets, made, on the pavement, a heavy rolling sound
that seemed full of menace--a sound different from every ordinary
sound--which oppressed the heart. The sounds was profound, unlimited--a
black silence. Men in white blouses accosted the soldiers, spoke one or
two words to them, and then vanished like phantoms.

The guard-house of the Polytechnic School overflowed with people. The
threshold was blocked up with women, who had come to see their sons or
their husbands. They were sent on to the Panthéon, which had been
transformed into a dead-house; and no attention was paid to Frederick.
He pressed forward resolutely, solemnly declaring that his friend
Dussardier was waiting for him, that he was at death's door. At last
they sent a corporal to accompany him to the top of the Rue
Saint-Jacques, to the Mayor's office in the twelfth arrondissement.

The Place du Panthéon was filled with soldiers lying asleep on straw.
The day was breaking; the bivouac-fires were extinguished.

The insurrection had left terrible traces in this quarter. The soil of
the streets, from one end to the other, was covered with risings of
various sizes. On the wrecked barricades had been piled up omnibuses,
gas-pipes, and cart-wheels. In certain places there were little dark
pools, which must have been blood. The houses were riddled with
projectiles, and their framework could be seen under the plaster that
was peeled off. Window-blinds, each attached only by a single nail, hung
like rags. The staircases having fallen in, doors opened on vacancy. The
interiors of rooms could be perceived with their papers in strips. In
some instances dainty objects had remained in them quite intact.
Frederick noticed a timepiece, a parrot-stick, and some engravings.

When he entered the Mayor's office, the National Guards were chattering
without a moment's pause about the deaths of Bréa and Négrier, about
the deputy Charbonnel, and about the Archbishop of Paris. He heard them
saying that the Duc d'Aumale had landed at Boulogne, that Barbès had
fled from Vincennes, that the artillery were coming up from Bourges, and
that abundant aid was arriving from the provinces. About three o'clock
some one brought good news.

Truce-bearers from the insurgents were in conference with the President
of the Assembly.

Thereupon they all made merry; and as he had a dozen francs left,
Frederick sent for a dozen bottles of wine, hoping by this means to
hasten his deliverance. Suddenly a discharge of musketry was heard. The
drinking stopped. They peered with distrustful eyes into the unknown--it
might be Henry V.

In order to get rid of responsibility, they took Frederick to the
Mayor's office in the eleventh arrondissement, which he was not
permitted to leave till nine o'clock in the morning.

He started at a running pace from the Quai Voltaire. At an open window
an old man in his shirt-sleeves was crying, with his eyes raised. The
Seine glided peacefully along. The sky was of a clear blue; and in the
trees round the Tuileries birds were singing.

Frederick was just crossing the Place du Carrousel when a litter
happened to be passing by. The soldiers at the guard-house immediately
presented arms; and the officer, putting his hand to his shako, said:
"Honour to unfortunate bravery!" This phrase seemed to have almost
become a matter of duty. He who pronounced it appeared to be, on each
occasion, filled with profound emotion. A group of people in a state of
fierce excitement followed the litter, exclaiming:

"We will avenge you! we will avenge you!"

The vehicles kept moving about on the boulevard, and women were making
lint before the doors. Meanwhile, the outbreak had been quelled, or very
nearly so. A proclamation from Cavaignac, just posted up, announced the
fact. At the top of the Rue Vivienne, a company of the Garde Mobile
appeared. Then the citizens uttered cries of enthusiasm. They raised
their hats, applauded, danced, wished to embrace them, and to invite
them to drink; and flowers, flung by ladies, fell from the balconies.

At last, at ten o'clock, at the moment when the cannon was booming as an
attack was being made on the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Frederick reached
the abode of Dussardier. He found the bookkeeper in his garret, lying
asleep on his back. From the adjoining apartment a woman came forth with
silent tread--Mademoiselle Vatnaz.

She led Frederick aside and explained to him how Dussardier had got
wounded.

On Saturday, on the top of a barricade in the Rue Lafayette, a young
fellow wrapped in a tricoloured flag cried out to the National Guards:
"Are you going to shoot your brothers?" As they advanced, Dussardier
threw down his gun, pushed away the others, sprang over the barricade,
and, with a blow of an old shoe, knocked down the insurgent, from whom
he tore the flag. He had afterwards been found under a heap of rubbish
with a slug of copper in his thigh. It was found necessary to make an
incision in order to extract the projectile. Mademoiselle Vatnaz
arrived the same evening, and since then had not quitted his side.

She intelligently prepared everything that was needed for the dressings,
assisted him in taking his medicine or other liquids, attended to his
slightest wishes, left and returned again with footsteps more light than
those of a fly, and gazed at him with eyes full of tenderness.

Frederick, during the two following weeks, did not fail to come back
every morning. One day, while he was speaking about the devotion of the
Vatnaz, Dussardier shrugged his shoulders:

"Oh! no! she does this through interested motives."

"Do you think so?"

He replied: "I am sure of it!" without seeming disposed to give any
further explanation.

She had loaded him with kindnesses, carrying her attentions so far as to
bring him the newspapers in which his gallant action was extolled. He
even confessed to Frederick that he felt uneasy in his conscience.

Perhaps he ought to have put himself on the other side with the men in
blouses; for, indeed, a heap of promises had been made to them which had
not been carried out. Those who had vanquished them hated the Republic;
and, in the next place, they had treated them very harshly. No doubt
they were in the wrong--not quite, however; and the honest fellow was
tormented by the thought that he might have fought against the righteous
cause. Sénécal, who was immured in the Tuileries, under the terrace at
the water's edge, had none of this mental anguish.

There were nine hundred men in the place, huddled together in the midst
of filth, without the slightest order, their faces blackened with powder
and clotted blood, shivering with ague and breaking out into cries of
rage, and those who were brought there to die were not separated from
the rest. Sometimes, on hearing the sound of a detonation, they believed
that they were all going to be shot. Then they dashed themselves against
the walls, and after that fell back again into their places, so much
stupefied by suffering that it seemed to them that they were living in a
nightmare, a mournful hallucination. The lamp, which hung from the
arched roof, looked like a stain of blood, and little green and yellow
flames fluttered about, caused by the emanations from the vault. Through
fear of epidemics, a commission was appointed. When he had advanced a
few steps, the President recoiled, frightened by the stench from the
excrements and from the corpses.

As soon as the prisoners drew near a vent-hole, the National Guards who
were on sentry, in order to prevent them from shaking the bars of the
grating, prodded them indiscriminately with their bayonets.

As a rule they showed no pity. Those who were not beaten wished to
signalise themselves. There was a regular outbreak of fear. They avenged
themselves at the same time on newspapers, clubs, mobs,
speech-making--everything that had exasperated them during the last
three months, and in spite of the victory that had been gained, equality
(as if for the punishment of its defenders and the exposure of its
enemies to ridicule) manifested itself in a triumphal fashion--an
equality of brute beasts, a dead level of sanguinary vileness; for the
fanaticism of self-interest balanced the madness of want, aristocracy
had the same fits of fury as low debauchery, and the cotton cap did not
show itself less hideous than the red cap. The public mind was agitated
just as it would be after great convulsions of nature. Sensible men were
rendered imbeciles for the rest of their lives on account of it.

Père Roque had become very courageous, almost foolhardy. Having arrived
on the 26th at Paris with some of the inhabitants of Nogent, instead of
going back at the same time with them, he had gone to give his
assistance to the National Guard encamped at the Tuileries; and he was
quite satisfied to be placed on sentry in front of the terrace at the
water's side. There, at any rate, he had these brigands under his feet!
He was delighted to find that they were beaten and humiliated, and he
could not refrain from uttering invectives against them.

One of them, a young lad with long fair hair, put his face to the bars,
and asked for bread. M. Roque ordered him to hold his tongue. But the
young man repeated in a mournful tone:

"Bread!"

"Have I any to give you?"

Other prisoners presented themselves at the vent-hole, with their
bristling beards, their burning eyeballs, all pushing forward, and
yelling:

"Bread!"

Père Roque was indignant at seeing his authority slighted. In order to
frighten them he took aim at them; and, borne onward into the vault by
the crush that nearly smothered him, the young man, with his head thrown
backward, once more exclaimed:

"Bread!"

"Hold on! here it is!" said Père Roque, firing a shot from his gun.
There was a fearful howl--then, silence. At the side of the trough
something white could be seen lying.

After this, M. Roque returned to his abode, for he had a house in the
Rue Saint-Martin, which he used as a temporary residence; and the injury
done to the front of the building during the riots had in no slight
degree contributed to excite his rage. It seemed to him, when he next
saw it, that he had exaggerated the amount of damage done to it. His
recent act had a soothing effect on him, as if it indemnified him for
his loss.

It was his daughter herself who opened the door for him. She immediately
made the remark that she had felt uneasy at his excessively prolonged
absence. She was afraid that he had met with some misfortune--that he
had been wounded.

This manifestation of filial love softened Père Roque. He was astonished
that she should have set out on a journey without Catherine.

"I sent her out on a message," was Louise's reply.

And she made enquiries about his health, about one thing or another;
then, with an air of indifference, she asked him whether he had chanced
to come across Frederick:

"No; I didn't see him!"

It was on his account alone that she had come up from the country.

Some one was walking at that moment in the lobby.

"Oh! excuse me----"

And she disappeared.

Catherine had not found Frederick. He had been several days away, and
his intimate friend, M. Deslauriers, was now living in the provinces.

Louise once more presented herself, shaking all over, without being able
to utter a word. She leaned against the furniture.

"What's the matter with you? Tell me--what's the matter with you?"
exclaimed her father.

She indicated by a wave of her hand that it was nothing, and with a
great effort of will she regained her composure.

The keeper of the restaurant at the opposite side of the street brought
them soup. But Père Roque had passed through too exciting an ordeal to
be able to control his emotions. "He is not likely to die;" and at
dessert he had a sort of fainting fit. A doctor was at once sent for,
and he prescribed a potion. Then, when M. Roque was in bed, he asked to
be as well wrapped up as possible in order to bring on perspiration. He
gasped; he moaned.

"Thanks, my good Catherine! Kiss your poor father, my chicken! Ah! those
revolutions!"

And, when his daughter scolded him for having made himself ill by
tormenting his mind on her account, he replied:

"Yes! you are right! But I couldn't help it! I am too sensitive!"



CHAPTER XV.

"HOW HAPPY COULD I BE WITH EITHER."


Madame Dambreuse, in her boudoir, between her niece and Miss John, was
listening to M. Roque as he described the severe military duties he had
been forced to perform.

She was biting her lips, and appeared to be in pain.

"Oh! 'tis nothing! it will pass away!"

And, with a gracious air:

"We are going to have an acquaintance of yours at dinner with
us,--Monsieur Moreau."

Louise gave a start.

"Oh! we'll only have a few intimate friends there--amongst others,
Alfred de Cisy."

And she spoke in terms of high praise about his manners, his personal
appearance, and especially his moral character.

Madame Dambreuse was nearer to a correct estimate of the state of
affairs than she imagined; the Vicomte was contemplating marriage. He
said so to Martinon, adding that Mademoiselle Cécile was certain to like
him, and that her parents would accept him.

To warrant him in going so far as to confide to another his intentions
on the point, he ought to have satisfactory information with regard to
her dowry. Now Martinon had a suspicion that Cécile was M. Dambreuse's
natural daughter; and it is probable that it would have been a very
strong step on his part to ask for her hand at any risk. Such audacity,
of course, was not unaccompanied by danger; and for this reason Martinon
had, up to the present, acted in a way that could not compromise him.
Besides, he did not see how he could well get rid of the aunt. Cisy's
confidence induced him to make up his mind; and he had formally made his
proposal to the banker, who, seeing no obstacle to it, had just informed
Madame Dambreuse about the matter.

Cisy presently made his appearance. She arose and said:

"You have forgotten us. Cécile, shake hands!"

At the same moment Frederick entered the room.

"Ha! at last we have found you again!" exclaimed Père Roque. "I called
with Cécile on you three times this week!"

Frederick had carefully avoided them. He pleaded by way of excuse that
he spent all his days beside a wounded comrade.

For a long time, however, a heap of misfortunes had happened to him, and
he tried to invent stories to explain his conduct. Luckily the guests
arrived in the midst of his explanation. First of all M. Paul de
Grémonville, the diplomatist whom he met at the ball; then Fumichon,
that manufacturer whose conservative zeal had scandalised him one
evening. After them came the old Duchesse de Montreuil Nantua.

But two loud voices in the anteroom reached his ears. They were that of
M. de Nonancourt, an old beau with the air of a mummy preserved in cold
cream, and that of Madame de Larsillois, the wife of a prefect of Louis
Philippe. She was terribly frightened, for she had just heard an organ
playing a polka which was a signal amongst the insurgents. Many of the
wealthy class of citizens had similar apprehensions; they thought that
men in the catacombs were going to blow up the Faubourg Saint-Germain.
Some noises escaped from cellars, and things that excited suspicion were
passed up to windows.

Everyone in the meantime made an effort to calm Madame de Larsillois.
Order was re-established. There was no longer anything to fear.

"Cavaignac has saved us!"

As if the horrors of the insurrection had not been sufficiently
numerous, they exaggerated them. There had been twenty-three thousand
convicts on the side of the Socialists--no less!

They had no doubt whatever that food had been poisoned, that Gardes
Mobiles had been sawn between two planks, and that there had been
inscriptions on flags inciting the people to pillage and incendiarism.

"Aye, and something more!" added the ex-prefect.

"Oh, dear!" said Madame Dambreuse, whose modesty was shocked, while she
indicated the three young girls with a glance.

M. Dambreuse came forth from his study accompanied by Martinon. She
turned her head round and responded to a bow from Pellerin, who was
advancing towards her. The artist gazed in a restless fashion towards
the walls. The banker took him aside, and conveyed to him that it was
desirable for the present to conceal his revolutionary picture.

"No doubt," said Pellerin, the rebuff which he received at the Club of
Intellect having modified his opinions.

M. Dambreuse let it slip out very politely that he would give him orders
for other works.

"But excuse me. Ah! my dear friend, what a pleasure!"

Arnoux and Madame Arnoux stood before Frederick.

He had a sort of vertigo. Rosanette had been irritating him all the
afternoon with her display of admiration for soldiers, and the old
passion was re-awakened.

The steward came to announce that dinner was on the table. With a look
she directed the Vicomte to take Cécile's arm, while she said in a low
tone to Martinon, "You wretch!" And then they passed into the
dining-room.

Under the green leaves of a pineapple, in the middle of the table-cloth,
a dorado stood, with its snout reaching towards a quarter of roebuck and
its tail just grazing a bushy dish of crayfish. Figs, huge cherries,
pears, and grapes (the first fruits of Parisian cultivation) rose like
pyramids in baskets of old Saxe. Here and there a bunch of flowers
mingled with the shining silver plate. The white silk blinds, drawn down
in front of the windows, filled the apartment with a mellow light. It
was cooled by two fountains, in which there were pieces of ice; and tall
men-servants, in short breeches, waited on them. All these luxuries
seemed more precious after the emotion of the past few days. They felt a
fresh delight at possessing things which they had been afraid of
losing; and Nonancourt expressed the general sentiment when he said:

"Ah! let us hope that these Republican gentlemen will allow us to dine!"

"In spite of their fraternity!" Père Roque added, with an attempt at
wit.

These two personages were placed respectively at the right and at the
left of Madame Dambreuse, her husband being exactly opposite her,
between Madame Larsillois, at whose side was the diplomatist and the old
Duchesse, whom Fumichon elbowed. Then came the painter, the dealer in
faïence, and Mademoiselle Louise; and, thanks to Martinon, who had
carried her chair to enable her to take a seat near Louise, Frederick
found himself beside Madame Arnoux.

She wore a black barège gown, a gold hoop on her wrist, and, as on the
first day that he dined at her house, something red in her hair, a
branch of fuchsia twisted round her chignon. He could not help saying:

"'Tis a long time since we saw each other."

"Ah!" she returned coldly.

He went on, in a mild tone, which mitigated the impertinence of his
question:

"Have you thought of me now and then?"

"Why should I think of you?"

Frederick was hurt by these words.

"You are right, perhaps, after all."

But very soon, regretting what he had said, he swore that he had not
lived a single day without being ravaged by the remembrance of her.

"I don't believe a single word of it, Monsieur."

"However, you know that I love you!"

Madame Arnoux made no reply.

"You know that I love you!"

She still kept silent.

"Well, then, go be hanged!" said Frederick to himself.

And, as he raised his eyes, he perceived Mademoiselle Roque at the other
side of Madame Arnoux.

She thought it gave her a coquettish look to dress entirely in green, a
colour which contrasted horribly with her red hair. The buckle of her
belt was large and her collar cramped her neck. This lack of elegance
had, no doubt, contributed to the coldness which Frederick at first
displayed towards her. She watched him from where she sat, some distance
away from him, with curious glances; and Arnoux, close to her side, in
vain lavished his gallantries--he could not get her to utter three
words, so that, finally abandoning all hope of making himself agreeable
to her, he listened to the conversation. She now began rolling about a
slice of Luxembourg pineapple in her pea-soup.

Louis Blanc, according to Fumichon, owned a large house in the Rue
Saint-Dominique, which he refused to let to the workmen.

"For my part, I think it rather a funny thing," said Nonancourt, "to see
Ledru-Rollin hunting over the Crown lands."

"He owes twenty thousand francs to a goldsmith!" Cisy interposed, "and
'tis maintained----"

Madame Darnbreuse stopped him.

"Ah! how nasty it is to be getting hot about politics! and for such a
young man, too! fie, fie! Pay attention rather to your fair neighbour!"

After this, those who were of a grave turn of mind attacked the
newspapers. Arnoux took it on himself to defend them. Frederick mixed
himself up in the discussion, describing them as commercial
establishments just like any other house of business. Those who wrote
for them were, as a rule, imbeciles or humbugs; he gave his listeners to
understand that he was acquainted with journalists, and combated with
sarcasms his friend's generous sentiments.

Madame Arnoux did not notice that this was said through a feeling of
spite against her.

Meanwhile, the Vicomte was torturing his brain in the effort to make a
conquest of Mademoiselle Cécile. He commenced by finding fault with the
shape of the decanters and the graving of the knives, in order to show
his artistic tastes. Then he talked about his stable, his tailor and his
shirtmaker. Finally, he took up the subject of religion, and seized the
opportunity of conveying to her that he fulfilled all his duties.

Martinon set to work in a better fashion. With his eyes fixed on her
continually, he praised, in a monotonous fashion, her birdlike profile,
her dull fair hair, and her hands, which were unusually short. The
plain-looking young girl was delighted at this shower of flatteries.

It was impossible to hear anything, as all present were talking at the
tops of their voices. M. Roque wanted "an iron hand" to govern France.
Nonancourt even regretted that the political scaffold was abolished.
They ought to have all these scoundrels put to death together.

"Now that I think of it, are we speaking of Dussardier?" said M.
Dambreuse, turning towards Frederick.

The worthy shopman was now a hero, like Sallesse, the brothers Jeanson,
the wife of Pequillet, etc.

Frederick, without waiting to be asked, related his friend's history; it
threw around him a kind of halo.

Then they came quite naturally to refer to different traits of courage.

According to the diplomatist, it was not hard to face death, witness the
case of men who fight duels.

"We might take the Vicomte's testimony on that point," said Martinon.

The Vicomte's face got very flushed.

The guests stared at him, and Louise, more astonished than the rest,
murmured:

"What is it, pray?"

"He _sank_ before Frederick," returned Arnoux, in a very low tone.

"Do you know anything, Mademoiselle?" said Nonancourt presently, and he
repeated her answer to Madame Dambreuse, who, bending forward a little,
began to fix her gaze on Frederick.

Martinon did not wait for Cécile's questions. He informed her that this
affair had reference to a woman of improper character. The young girl
drew back slightly in her chair, as if to escape from contact with such
a libertine.

The conversation was renewed. The great wines of Bordeaux were sent
round, and the guests became animated. Pellerin had a dislike to the
Revolution, because he attributed to it the complete loss of the Spanish
Museum.

This is what grieved him most as a painter.

As he made the latter remark, M. Roque asked:

"Are you not yourself the painter of a very notable picture?"

"Perhaps! What is it?"

"It represents a lady in a costume--faith!--a little light, with a
purse, and a peacock behind."

Frederick, in his turn, reddened. Pellerin pretended that he had not
heard the words.

"Nevertheless, it is certainly by you! For your name is written at the
bottom of it, and there is a line on it stating that it is Monsieur
Moreau's property."

One day, when Père Roque and his daughter were waiting at his residence
to see him, they saw the Maréchale's portrait. The old gentleman had
even taken it for "a Gothic painting."

"No," said Pellerin rudely, "'tis a woman's portrait."

Martinon added:

"And a living woman's, too, and no mistake! Isn't that so, Cisy?"

"Oh! I know nothing about it."

"I thought you were acquainted with her. But, since it causes you pain,
I must beg a thousand pardons!"

Cisy lowered his eyes, proving by his embarrassment that he must have
played a pitiable part in connection with this portrait. As for
Frederick, the model could only be his mistress. It was one of those
convictions which are immediately formed, and the faces of the assembly
revealed it with the utmost clearness.

"How he lied to me!" said Madame Arnoux to herself.

"It is for her, then, that he left me," thought Louise.

Frederick had an idea that these two stories might compromise him; and
when they were in the garden, Mademoiselle Cécile's wooer burst out
laughing in his face.

"Oh, not at all! 'twill do you good! Go ahead!"

What did he mean? Besides, what was the cause of this good nature, so
contrary to his usual conduct? Without giving any explanation, he
proceeded towards the lower end, where the ladies were seated. The men
were standing round them, and, in their midst, Pellerin was giving vent
to his ideas. The form of government most favourable for the arts was an
enlightened monarchy. He was disgusted with modern times, "if it were
only on account of the National Guard"--he regretted the Middle Ages and
the days of Louis XIV. M. Roque congratulated him on his opinions,
confessing that they overcame all his prejudices against artists. But
almost without a moment's delay he went off when the voice of Fumichon
attracted his attention.

Arnoux tried to prove that there were two Socialisms--a good and a bad.
The manufacturer saw no difference whatever between them, his head
becoming dizzy with rage at the utterance of the word "property."

"'Tis a law written on the face of Nature! Children cling to their toys.
All peoples, all animals are of my opinion. The lion even, if he were
able to speak, would declare himself a proprietor! Thus I myself,
messieurs, began with a capital of fifteen thousand francs. Would you be
surprised to hear that for thirty years I used to get up at four o'clock
every morning? I've had as much pain as five hundred devils in making my
fortune! And people will come and tell me I'm not the master, that my
money is not my money; in short, that property is theft!"

"But Proudhon----"

"Let me alone with your Proudhon! if he were here I think I'd strangle
him!"

He would have strangled him. After the intoxicating drink he had
swallowed Fumichon did not know what he was talking about any longer,
and his apoplectic face was on the point of bursting like a bombshell.

"Good morrow, Arnoux," said Hussonnet, who was walking briskly over the
grass.

He brought M. Dambreuse the first leaf of a pamphlet, bearing the title
of "The Hydra," the Bohemian defending the interests of a reactionary
club, and in that capacity he was introduced by the banker to his
guests.

Hussonnet amused them by relating how the dealers in tallow hired three
hundred and ninety-two street boys to bawl out every evening "Lamps,"[H]
and then turning into ridicule the principles of '89, the emancipation
of the negroes, and the orators of the Left; and he even went so far as
to do "Prudhomme on a Barricade," perhaps under the influence of a kind
of jealousy of these rich people who had enjoyed a good dinner. The
caricature did not please them overmuch. Their faces grew long.

This, however, was not a time for joking, so Nonancourt observed, as he
recalled the death of Monseigneur Affre and that of General de Bréa.
These events were being constantly alluded to, and arguments were
constructed out of them. M. Roque described the archbishop's end as
"everything that one could call sublime." Fumichon gave the palm to the
military personage, and instead of simply expressing regret for these
two murders, they held disputes with a view to determining which ought
to excite the greatest indignation. A second comparison was next
instituted, namely, between Lamoricière and Cavaignac, M. Dambreuse
glorifying Cavaignac, and Nonancourt, Lamoricière.


[H] The word also means "grease-pots."--TRANSLATOR.


Not one of the persons present, with the exception of Arnoux, had ever
seen either of them engaged in the exercise of his profession. None the
less, everyone formulated an irrevocable judgment with reference to
their operations.

Frederick, however, declined to give an opinion on the matter,
confessing that he had not served as a soldier. The diplomatist and M.
Dambreuse gave him an approving nod of the head. In fact, to have fought
against the insurrection was to have defended the Republic. The result,
although favourable, consolidated it; and now they had got rid of the
vanquished, they wanted to be conquerors.

As soon as they had got out into the garden, Madame Dambreuse, taking
Cisy aside, chided him for his awkwardness. When she caught sight of
Martinon, she sent him away, and then tried to learn from her future
nephew the cause of his witticisms at the Vicomte's expense.

"There's nothing of the kind."

"And all this, as it were, for the glory of M. Moreau. What is the
object of it?"

"There's no object. Frederick is a charming fellow. I am very fond of
him."

"And so am I, too. Let him come here. Go and look for him!"

After two or three commonplace phrases, she began by lightly disparaging
her guests, and in this way she placed him on a higher level than the
others. He did not fail to run down the rest of the ladies more or less,
which was an ingenious way of paying her compliments. But she left his
side from time to time, as it was a reception-night, and ladies were
every moment arriving; then she returned to her seat, and the entirely
accidental arrangement of the chairs enabled them to avoid being
overheard.

She showed herself playful and yet grave, melancholy and yet quite
rational. Her daily occupations interested her very little--there was an
order of sentiments of a less transitory kind. She complained of the
poets, who misrepresent the facts of life, then she raised her eyes
towards heaven, asking of him what was the name of a star.

Two or three Chinese lanterns had been suspended from the trees; the
wind shook them, and lines of coloured light quivered on her white
dress. She sat, after her usual fashion, a little back in her armchair,
with a footstool in front of her. The tip of a black satin shoe could be
seen; and at intervals Madame Dambreuse allowed a louder word than
usual, and sometimes even a laugh, to escape her.

These coquetries did not affect Martinon, who was occupied with Cécile;
but they were bound to make an impression on M. Roque's daughter, who
was chatting with Madame Arnoux. She was the only member of her own sex
present whose manners did not appear disdainful. Louise came and sat
beside her; then, yielding to the desire to give vent to her emotions:

"Does he not talk well--Frederick Moreau, I mean?"

"Do you know him?"

"Oh! intimately! We are neighbours; and he used to amuse himself with me
when I was quite a little girl."

Madame Arnoux cast at her a sidelong glance, which meant:

"I suppose you are not in love with him?"

The young girl's face replied with an untroubled look:

"Yes."

"You see him often, then?"

"Oh, no! only when he comes to his mother's house. 'Tis ten months now
since he came. He promised, however, to be more particular."

"The promises of men are not to be too much relied on, my child."

"But he has not deceived me!"

"As he did others!"

Louise shivered: "Can it be by any chance that he promised something to
her;" and her features became distracted with distrust and hate.

Madame Arnoux was almost afraid of her; she would have gladly withdrawn
what she had said. Then both became silent.

As Frederick was sitting opposite them on a folding-stool, they kept
staring at him, the one with propriety out of the corner of her eye, the
other boldly, with parted lips, so that Madame Dambreuse said to him:

"Come, now, turn round, and let her have a good look at you!"

"Whom do you mean?"

"Why, Monsieur Roque's daughter!"

And she rallied him on having won the heart of this young girl from the
provinces. He denied that this was so, and tried to make a laugh of it.

"Is it credible, I ask you? Such an ugly creature!"

However, he experienced an intense feeling of gratified vanity. He
recalled to mind the reunion from which he had returned one night, some
time before, his heart filled with bitter humiliation, and he drew a
deep breath, for it seemed to him that he was now in the environment
that really suited him, as if all these things, including the Dambreuse
mansion, belonged to himself. The ladies formed a semicircle around him
while they listened to what he was saying, and in order to create an
effect, he declared that he was in favor of the re-establishment of
divorce, which he maintained should be easily procurable, so as to
enable people to quit one another and come back to one another without
any limit as often as they liked. They uttered loud protests; a few of
them began to talk in whispers. Little exclamations every now and then
burst forth from the place where the wall was overshadowed with
aristolochia. One would imagine that it was a mirthful cackling of hens;
and he developed his theory with that self-complacency which is
generated by the consciousness of success. A man-servant brought into
the arbour a tray laden with ices. The gentlemen drew close together and
began to chat about the recent arrests.

Thereupon Frederick revenged himself on the Vicomte by making him
believe that he might be prosecuted as a Legitimist. The other urged by
way of reply that he had not stirred outside his own room. His adversary
enumerated in a heap the possible mischances. MM. Dambreuse and
Grémonville found the discussion very amusing. Then they paid Frederick
compliments, while expressing regret at the same time that he did not
employ his abilities in the defence of order. They grasped his hand
with the utmost warmth; he might for the future count on them. At last,
just as everyone was leaving, the Vicomte made a low bow to Cécile:

"Mademoiselle, I have the honour of wishing you a very good evening."

She replied coldly:

"Good evening." But she gave Martinon a parting smile.

Pére Roque, in order to continue the conversation between himself and
Arnoux, offered to see him home, "as well as Madame"--they were going
the same way. Louise and Frederick walked in front of them. She had
caught hold of his arm; and, when she was some distance away from the
others she said:

"Ah! at last! at last! I've had enough to bear all the evening! How
nasty those women were! What haughty airs they had!"

He made an effort to defend them.

"First of all, you might certainly have spoken to me the moment you came
in, after being away a whole year!"

"It was not a year," said Frederick, glad to be able to give some sort
of rejoinder on this point in order to avoid the other questions.

"Be it so; the time appeared very long to me, that's all. But, during
this horrid dinner, one would think you felt ashamed of me. Ah! I
understand--I don't possess what is needed in order to please as they
do."

"You are mistaken," said Frederick.

"Really! Swear to me that you don't love anyone!"

He did swear.

"You love nobody but me alone?"

"I assure you, I do not."

This assurance filled her with delight. She would have liked to lose her
way in the streets, so that they might walk about together the whole
night.

"I have been so much tormented down there! Nothing was talked about but
barricades. I imagined I saw you falling on your back covered with
blood! Your mother was confined to her bed with rheumatism. She knew
nothing about what was happening. I had to hold my tongue. I could stand
it no longer, so I took Catherine with me."

And she related to him all about her departure, her journey, and the lie
she told her father.

"He's bringing me back in two days. Come to-morrow evening, as if you
were merely paying a casual visit, and take advantage of the opportunity
to ask for my hand in marriage."

Never had Frederick been further from the idea of marriage. Besides,
Mademoiselle Roque appeared to him a rather absurd young person. How
different she was from a woman like Madame Dambreuse! A very different
future was in store for him. He had found reason to-day to feel
perfectly certain on that point; and, therefore, this was not the time
to involve himself, from mere sentimental motives, in a step of such
momentous importance. It was necessary now to be decisive--and then he
had seen Madame Arnoux once more. Nevertheless he was rather embarrassed
by Louise's candour.

He said in reply to her last words:

"Have you considered this matter?"

"How is that?" she exclaimed, frozen with astonishment and indignation.

He said that to marry at such a time as this would be a piece of folly.

"So you don't want to have me?"

"Nay, you don't understand me!"

And he plunged into a confused mass of verbiage in order to impress upon
her that he was kept back by more serious considerations; that he had
business on hand which it would take a long time to dispose of; that
even his inheritance had been placed in jeopardy (Louise cut all this
explanation short with one plain word); that, last of all, the present
political situation made the thing undesirable. So, then, the most
reasonable course was to wait patiently for some time. Matters would, no
doubt, right themselves--at least, he hoped so; and, as he could think
of no further grounds to go upon just at that moment, he pretended to
have been suddenly reminded that he should have been with Dussardier two
hours ago.

Then, bowing to the others, he darted down the Rue Hauteville, took a
turn round the Gymnase, returned to the boulevard, and quickly rushed up
Rosanette's four flights of stairs.

M. and Madame Arnoux left Pére Roque and his daughter at the entrance of
the Rue Saint-Denis. Husband and wife returned home without exchanging a
word, as he was unable to continue chattering any longer, feeling quite
worn out. She even leaned against his shoulder. He was the only man who
had displayed any honourable sentiments during the evening. She
entertained towards him feelings of the utmost indulgence. Meanwhile, he
cherished a certain degree of spite against Frederick.

"Did you notice his face when a question was asked about the portrait?
When I told you that he was her lover, you did not wish to believe what
I said!"

"Oh! yes, I was wrong!"

Arnoux, gratified with his triumph, pressed the matter even further.

"I'd even make a bet that when he left us, a little while ago, he went
to see her again. He's with her at this moment, you may be sure! He's
finishing the evening with her!"

Madame Arnoux had pulled down her hat very low.

"Why, you're shaking all over!"

"That's because I feel cold!" was her reply.

As soon as her father was asleep, Louise made her way into Catherine's
room, and, catching her by the shoulders, shook her.

"Get up--quick! as quick as ever you can! and go and fetch a cab for
me!"

Catherine replied that there was not one to be had at such an hour.

"Will you come with me yourself there, then?"

"Where, might I ask?"

"To Frederick's house!"

"Impossible! What do you want to go there for?"

It was in order to have a talk with him. She could not wait. She must
see him immediately.

"Just think of what you're about to do! To present yourself this way at
a house in the middle of the night! Besides, he's asleep by this time!"

"I'll wake him up!"

"But this is not a proper thing for a young girl to do!"

"I am not a young girl--I'm his wife! I love him! Come--put on your
shawl!"

Catherine, standing at the side of the bed, was trying to make up her
mind how to act. She said at last:

"No! I won't go!"

"Well, stay behind then! I'll go there by myself!"

Louise glided like an adder towards the staircase. Catherine rushed
after her, and came up with her on the footpath outside the house. Her
remonstrances were fruitless; and she followed the girl, fastening her
undervest as she hurried along in the rear. The walk appeared to her
exceedingly tedious. She complained that her legs were getting weak from
age.

"I'll go on after you--faith, I haven't the same thing to drive me on
that you have!"

Then she grew softened.

"Poor soul! You haven't anyone now but your Catau, don't you see?"

From time to time scruples took hold of her mind.

"Ah, this is a nice thing you're making me do! Suppose your father
happened to wake and miss you! Lord God, let us hope no misfortune will
happen!"

In front of the Théâtre des Variétés, a patrol of National Guards
stopped them.

Louise immediately explained that she was going with her servant to look
for a doctor in the Rue Rumfort. The patrol allowed them to pass on.

At the corner of the Madeleine they came across a second patrol, and,
Louise having given the same explanation, one of the National Guards
asked in return:

"Is it for a nine months' ailment, ducky?"

"Oh, damn it!" exclaimed the captain, "no blackguardisms in the ranks!
Pass on, ladies!"

In spite of the captain's orders, they still kept cracking jokes.

"I wish you much joy!"

"My respects to the doctor!"

"Mind the wolf!"

"They like laughing," Catherine remarked in a loud tone. "That's the way
it is to be young."

At length they reached Frederick's abode.

Louise gave the bell a vigorous pull, which she repeated several times.
The door opened a little, and, in answer to her inquiry, the porter
said:

"No!"

"But he must be in bed!"

"I tell you he's not. Why, for nearly three months he has not slept at
home!"

And the little pane of the lodge fell down sharply, like the blade of a
guillotine.

They remained in the darkness under the archway.

An angry voice cried out to them:

"Be off!"

The door was again opened; they went away.

Louise had to sit down on a boundary-stone; and clasping her face with
her hands, she wept copious tears welling up from her full heart. The
day was breaking, and carts were making their way into the city.

Catherine led her back home, holding her up, kissing her, and offering
her every sort of consolation that she could extract from her own
experience. She need not give herself so much trouble about a lover. If
this one failed her, she could find others.



CHAPTER XVI.

UNPLEASANT NEWS FROM ROSANETTE.


When Rosanette's enthusiasm for the Gardes Mobiles had calmed down, she
became more charming than ever, and Frederick insensibly glided into the
habit of living with her.

The best portion of the day was the morning on the terrace. In a light
cambric dress, and with her stockingless feet thrust into slippers, she
kept moving about him--went and cleaned her canaries' cage, gave her
gold-fishes some water, and with a fire-shovel did a little amateur
gardening in the box filled with clay, from which arose a trellis of
nasturtiums, giving an attractive look to the wall. Then, resting, with
their elbows on the balcony, they stood side by side, gazing at the
vehicles and the passers-by; and they warmed themselves in the sunlight,
and made plans for spending the evening. He absented himself only for
two hours at most, and, after that, they would go to some theatre, where
they would get seats in front of the stage; and Rosanette, with a large
bouquet of flowers in her hand, would listen to the instruments, while
Frederick, leaning close to her ear, would tell her comic or amatory
stories. At other times they took an open carriage to drive to the Bois
de Boulogne. They kept walking about slowly until the middle of the
night. At last they made their way home through the Arc de Triomphe and
the grand avenue, inhaling the breeze, with the stars above their heads,
and with all the gas-lamps ranged in the background of the perspective
like a double string of luminous pearls.

Frederick always waited for her when they were going out together. She
was a very long time fastening the two ribbons of her bonnet; and she
smiled at herself in the mirror set in the wardrobe; then she would draw
her arm over his, and, making him look at himself in the glass beside
her:

"We produce a good effect in this way, the two of us side by side. Ah!
my poor darling, I could eat you!"

He was now her chattel, her property. She wore on her face a continuous
radiance, while at the same time she appeared more languishing in
manner, more rounded in figure; and, without being able to explain in
what way, he found her altered, nevertheless.

One day she informed him, as if it were a very important bit of news,
that my lord Arnoux had lately set up a linen-draper's shop for a woman
who was formerly employed in his pottery-works. He used to go there
every evening--"he spent a great deal on it no later than a week ago; he
had even given her a set of rosewood furniture."

"How do you know that?" said Frederick.

"Oh! I'm sure of it."

Delphine, while carrying out some orders for her, had made enquiries
about the matter, She must, then, be much attached to Arnoux to take
such a deep interest in his movements. He contented himself with saying
to her in reply:

"What does this signify to you?"

Rosanette looked surprised at this question.

"Why, the rascal owes me money. Isn't it atrocious to see him keeping
beggars?"

Then, with an expression of triumphant hate in her face:

"Besides, she is having a nice laugh at him. She has three others on
hand. So much the better; and I'll be glad if she eats him up, even to
the last farthing!"

Arnoux had, in fact, let himself be made use of by the girl from
Bordeaux with the indulgence which characterises senile attachments. His
manufactory was no longer going on. The entire state of his affairs was
pitiable; so that, in order to set them afloat again, he was at first
projecting the establishment of a _café chantant_, at which only
patriotic pieces would be sung. With a grant from the Minister, this
establishment would become at the same time a focus for the purpose of
propagandism and a source of profit. Now that power had been directed
into a different channel, the thing was impossible.

His next idea was a big military hat-making business. He lacked capital,
however, to give it a start.

He was not more fortunate in his domestic life. Madame Arnoux was less
agreeable in manner towards him, sometimes even a little rude. Berthe
always took her father's part. This increased the discord, and the house
was becoming intolerable. He often set forth in the morning, passed his
day in making long excursions out of the city, in order to divert his
thoughts, then dined at a rustic tavern, abandoning himself to his
reflections.

The prolonged absence of Frederick disturbed his habits. Then he
presented himself one afternoon, begged of him to come and see him as in
former days, and obtained from him a promise to do so.

Frederick did not feel sufficient courage within him to go back to
Madame Arnoux's house. It seemed to him as if he had betrayed her. But
this conduct was very pusillanimous. There was no excuse for it. There
was only one way of ending the matter, and so, one evening, he set out
on his way.

As the rain was falling, he had just turned up the Passage Jouffroy,
when, under the light shed from the shop-windows, a fat little man
accosted him. Frederick had no difficulty in recognising Compain, that
orator whose motion had excited so much laughter at the club. He was
leaning on the arm of an individual whose head was muffled in a zouave's
red cap, with a very long upper lip, a complexion as yellow as an
orange, a tuft of beard under his jaw, and big staring eyes listening
with wonder.

Compain was, no doubt, proud of him, for he said:

"Let me introduce you to this jolly dog! He is a bootmaker whom I
include amongst my friends. Come and let us take something!"

Frederick having thanked him, he immediately thundered against Rateau's
motion, which he described as a manoeuvre of the aristocrats. In order
to put an end to it, it would be necessary to begin '93 over again! Then
he enquired about Regimbart and some others, who were also well known,
such as Masselin, Sanson, Lecornu, Maréchal, and a certain Deslauriers,
who had been implicated in the case of the carbines lately intercepted
at Troyes.

All this was new to Frederick. Compain knew nothing more about the
subject. He quitted the young man with these words:

"You'll come soon, will you not? for you belong to it."

"To what?"

"The calf's head!"

"What calf's head?"

"Ha, you rogue!" returned Compain, giving him a tap on the stomach.

And the two terrorists plunged into a café.

Ten minutes later Frederick was no longer thinking of Deslauriers. He
was on the footpath of the Rue de Paradis in front of a house; and he
was staring at the light which came from a lamp in the second floor
behind a curtain.

At length he ascended the stairs.

"Is Arnoux there?"

The chambermaid answered:

"No; but come in all the same."

And, abruptly opening a door:

"Madame, it is Monsieur Moreau!"

She arose, whiter than the collar round her neck.

"To what do I owe the honour--of a visit--so unexpected?"

"Nothing. The pleasure of seeing old friends once more."

And as he took a seat:

"How is the worthy Arnoux going on?"

"Very well. He has gone out."

"Ah, I understand! still following his old nightly practices. A little
distraction!"

"And why not? After a day spent in making calculations, the head needs a
rest."

She even praised her husband as a hard-working man. Frederick was
irritated at hearing this eulogy; and pointing towards a piece of black
cloth with a narrow blue braid which lay on her lap:

"What is it you are doing there?"

"A jacket which I am trimming for my daughter."

"Now that you remind me of it, I have not seen her. Where is she, pray?"

"At a boarding-school," was Madame Arnoux's reply.

Tears came into her eyes. She held them back, while she rapidly plied
her needle. To keep himself in countenance, he took up a number of
_L'Illustration_ which had been lying on the table close to where she
sat.

"These caricatures of Cham are very funny, are they not?"

"Yes."

Then they relapsed into silence once more.

All of a sudden, a fierce gust of wind shook the window-panes.

"What weather!" said Frederick.

"It was very good of you, indeed, to come here in the midst of this
dreadful rain."

"Oh! what do I care about that? I'm not like those whom it prevents, no
doubt, from going to keep their appointments."

"What appointments?" she asked with an ingenuous air.

"Don't you remember?"

A shudder ran through her frame and she hung down her head.

He gently laid his hand on her arm.

"I assure you that you have given me great pain."

She replied, with a sort of wail in her voice:

"But I was frightened about my child."

She told him about Eugène's illness, and all the tortures which she had
endured on that day.

"Thanks! thanks! I doubt you no longer. I love you as much as ever."

"Ah! no; it is not true!"

"Why so?"

She glanced at him coldly.

"You forget the other! the one you took with you to the races! the woman
whose portrait you have--your mistress!"

"Well, yes!" exclaimed Frederick, "I don't deny anything! I am a wretch!
Just listen to me!"

If he had done this, it was through despair, as one commits suicide.
However, he had made her very unhappy in order to avenge himself on her
with his own shame.

"What mental anguish! Do you not realise what it means?"

Madame Arnoux turned away her beautiful face while she held out her hand
to him; and they closed their eyes, absorbed in a kind of intoxication
that was like a sweet, ceaseless rocking. Then they stood face to face,
gazing at one another.

"Could you believe it possible that I no longer loved you?"

She replied in a low voice, full of caressing tenderness:

"No! in spite of everything, I felt at the bottom of my heart that it
was impossible, and that one day the obstacle between us two would
disappear!"

"So did I; and I was dying to see you again."

"I once passed close to you in the Palais-Royal!"

"Did you really?"

And he spoke to her of the happiness he experienced at coming across her
again at the Dambreuses' house.

"But how I hated you that evening as I was leaving the place!"

"Poor boy!"

"My life is so sad!"

"And mine, too! If it were only the vexations, the anxieties, the
humiliations, all that I endure as wife and as mother, seeing that one
must die, I would not complain; the frightful part of it is my solitude,
without anyone."

"But you have me here with you!"

"Oh! yes!"

A sob of deep emotion made her bosom swell. She spread out her arms, and
they strained one another, while their lips met in a long kiss.

A creaking sound on the floor not far from them reached their ears.
There was a woman standing close to them; it was Rosanette. Madame
Arnoux had recognised her. Her eyes, opened to their widest, scanned
this woman, full of astonishment and indignation. At length Rosanette
said to her:

"I have come to see Monsieur Arnoux about a matter of business."

"You see he is not here."

"Ah! that's true," returned the Maréchale. "Your nurse is right! A
thousand apologies!"

And turning towards Frederick:

"So here you are--you?"

The familiar tone in which she addressed him, and in her own presence,
too, made Madame Arnoux flush as if she had received a slap right across
the face.

"I tell you again, he is not here!"

Then the Maréchale, who was looking this way and that, said quietly:

"Let us go back together! I have a cab waiting below."

He pretended not to hear.

"Come! let us go!"

"Ah! yes! this is a good opportunity! Go! go!" said Madame Arnoux.

They went off together, and she stooped over the head of the stairs in
order to see them once more, and a laugh--piercing, heart-rending,
reached them from the place where she stood. Frederick pushed Rosanette
into the cab, sat down opposite her, and during the entire drive did not
utter a word.

The infamy, which it outraged him to see once more flowing back on him,
had been brought about by himself alone. He experienced at the same time
the dishonour of a crushing humiliation and the regret caused by the
loss of his new-found happiness. Just when, at last, he had it in his
grasp, it had for ever more become impossible, and that through the
fault of this girl of the town, this harlot. He would have liked to
strangle her. He was choking with rage. When they had got into the house
he flung his hat on a piece of furniture and tore off his cravat.

"Ha! you have just done a nice thing--confess it!"

She planted herself boldly in front of him.

"Ah! well, what of that? Where's the harm?"

"What! You are playing the spy on me?"

"Is that my fault? Why do you go to amuse yourself with virtuous
women?"

"Never mind! I don't wish you to insult them."

"How have I insulted them?"

He had no answer to make to this, and in a more spiteful tone:

"But on the other occasion, at the Champ de Mars----"

"Ah! you bore us to death with your old women!"

"Wretch!"

He raised his fist.

"Don't kill me! I'm pregnant!"

Frederick staggered back.

"You are lying!"

"Why, just look at me!"

She seized a candlestick, and pointing at her face:

"Don't you recognise the fact there?"

Little yellow spots dotted her skin, which was strangely swollen.
Frederick did not deny the evidence. He went to the window, and opened
it, took a few steps up and down the room, and then sank into an
armchair.

This event was a calamity which, in the first place, put off their
rupture, and, in the next place, upset all his plans. The notion of
being a father, moreover, appeared to him grotesque, inadmissible. But
why? If, in place of the Maréchale----And his reverie became so deep
that he had a kind of hallucination. He saw there, on the carpet, in
front of the chimney-piece, a little girl. She resembled Madame Arnoux
and himself a little--dark, and yet fair, with two black eyes, very
large eyebrows, and a red ribbon in her curling hair. (Oh, how he would
have loved her!) And he seemed to hear her voice saying: "Papa! papa!"

Rosanette, who had just undressed herself, came across to him, and
noticing a tear in his eyelids, kissed him gravely on the forehead.

He arose, saying:

"By Jove, we mustn't kill this little one!"

Then she talked a lot of nonsense. To be sure, it would be a boy, and
its name would be Frederick. It would be necessary for her to begin
making its clothes; and, seeing her so happy, a feeling of pity for her
took possession of him. As he no longer cherished any anger against her,
he desired to know the explanation of the step she had recently taken.
She said it was because Mademoiselle Vatnaz had sent her that day a bill
which had been protested for some time past; and so she hastened to
Arnoux to get the money from him.

"I'd have given it to you!" said Frederick.

"It is a simpler course for me to get over there what belongs to me, and
to pay back to the other one her thousand francs."

"Is this really all you owe her?"

She answered:

"Certainly!"

On the following day, at nine o'clock in the evening (the hour specified
by the doorkeeper), Frederick repaired to Mademoiselle Vatnaz's
residence.

In the anteroom, he jostled against the furniture, which was heaped
together. But the sound of voices and of music guided him. He opened a
door, and tumbled into the middle of a rout. Standing up before a piano,
which a young lady in spectacles was fingering, Delmar, as serious as a
pontiff, was declaiming a humanitarian poem on prostitution; and his
hollow voice rolled to the accompaniment of the metallic chords. A row
of women sat close to the wall, attired, as a rule, in dark colours
without neck-bands or sleeves. Five or six men, all people of culture,
occupied seats here and there. In an armchair was seated a former writer
of fables, a mere wreck now; and the pungent odour of the two lamps was
intermingled with the aroma of the chocolate which filled a number of
bowls placed on the card-table.

Mademoiselle Vatnaz, with an Oriental shawl thrown over her shoulders,
sat at one side of the chimney-piece. Dussardier sat facing her at the
other side. He seemed to feel himself in an embarrassing position.
Besides, he was rather intimidated by his artistic surroundings. Had the
Vatnaz, then, broken off with Delmar? Perhaps not. However, she seemed
jealous of the worthy shopman; and Frederick, having asked to let him
exchange a word with her, she made a sign to him to go with them into
her own apartment. When the thousand francs were paid down before her,
she asked, in addition, for interest.

"'Tisn't worth while," said Dussardier.

"Pray hold your tongue!"

This want of moral courage on the part of so brave a man was agreeable
to Frederick as a justification of his own conduct. He took away the
bill with him, and never again referred to the scandal at Madame
Arnoux's house. But from that time forth he saw clearly all the defects
in the Maréchale's character.

She possessed incurable bad taste, incomprehensible laziness, the
ignorance of a savage, so much so that she regarded Doctor Derogis as a
person of great celebrity, and she felt proud of entertaining himself
and his wife, because they were "married people." She lectured with a
pedantic air on the affairs of daily life to Mademoiselle Irma, a poor
little creature endowed with a little voice, who had as a protector a
gentleman "very well off," an ex-clerk in the Custom-house, who had a
rare talent for card tricks. Rosanette used to call him "My big Loulou."
Frederick could no longer endure the repetition of her stupid words,
such as "Some custard," "To Chaillot," "One could never know," etc.; and
she persisted in wiping off the dust in the morning from her trinkets
with a pair of old white gloves. He was above all disgusted by her
treatment of her servant, whose wages were constantly in arrear, and who
even lent her money. On the days when they settled their accounts, they
used to wrangle like two fish-women; and then, on becoming reconciled,
used to embrace each other. It was a relief to him when Madame
Dambreuse's evening parties began again.

There, at any rate, he found something to amuse him. She was well versed
in the intrigues of society, the changes of ambassadors, the personal
character of dressmakers; and, if commonplaces escaped her lips, they
did so in such a becoming fashion, that her language might be regarded
as the expression of respect for propriety or of polite irony. It was
worth while to watch the way in which, in the midst of twenty persons
chatting around her, she would, without overlooking any of them, bring
about the answers she desired and avoid those that were dangerous.
Things of a very simple nature, when related by her, assumed the aspect
of confidences. Her slightest smile gave rise to dreams; in short, her
charm, like the exquisite scent which she usually carried about with
her, was complex and indefinable.

While he was with her, Frederick experienced on each occasion the
pleasure of a new discovery, and, nevertheless, he always found her
equally serene the next time they met, like the reflection of limpid
waters.

But why was there such coldness in her manner towards her niece? At
times she even darted strange looks at her.

As soon as the question of marriage was started, she had urged as an
objection to it, when discussing the matter with M. Dambreuse, the state
of "the dear child's" health, and had at once taken her off to the baths
of Balaruc. On her return fresh pretexts were raised by her--that the
young man was not in a good position, that this ardent passion did not
appear to be a very serious attachment, and that no risk would be run by
waiting. Martinon had replied, when the suggestion was made to him, that
he would wait. His conduct was sublime. He lectured Frederick. He did
more. He enlightened him as to the best means of pleasing Madame
Dambreuse, even giving him to understand that he had ascertained from
the niece the sentiments of her aunt.

As for M. Dambreuse, far from exhibiting jealousy, he treated his young
friend with the utmost attention, consulted him about different things,
and even showed anxiety about his future, so that one day, when they
were talking about Père Roque, he whispered with a sly air:

"You have done well."

And Cécile, Miss John, the servants and the porter, every one of them
exercised a fascination over him in this house. He came there every
evening, quitting Rosanette for that purpose. Her approaching maternity
rendered her graver in manner, and even a little melancholy, as if she
were tortured by anxieties. To every question put to her she replied:

"You are mistaken; I am quite well."

She had, as a matter of fact, signed five notes in her previous
transactions, and not having the courage to tell Frederick after the
first had been paid, she had gone back to the abode of Arnoux, who had
promised her, in writing, the third part of his profits in the lighting
of the towns of Languedoc by gas (a marvellous undertaking!), while
requesting her not to make use of this letter at the meeting of
shareholders. The meeting was put off from week to week.

Meanwhile the Maréchale wanted money. She would have died sooner than
ask Frederick for any. She did not wish to get it from him; it would
have spoiled their love. He contributed a great deal to the household
expenses; but a little carriage, which he hired by the month, and other
sacrifices, which were indispensable since he had begun to visit the
Dambreuses, prevented him from doing more for his mistress. On two or
three occasions, when he came back to the house at a different hour from
his usual time, he fancied he could see men's backs disappearing behind
the door, and she often went out without wishing to state where she was
going. Frederick did not attempt to enquire minutely into these matters.
One of these days he would make up his mind as to his future course of
action. He dreamed of another life which would be more amusing and more
noble. It was the fact that he had such an ideal before his mind that
rendered him indulgent towards the Dambreuse mansion.

It was an establishment in the neighbourhood of the Rue de Poitiers.
There he met the great M. A., the illustrious B., the profound C., the
eloquent Z., the immense Y., the old terrors of the Left Centre, the
paladins of the Right, the burgraves of the golden mean; the eternal
good old men of the comedy. He was astonished at their abominable style
of talking, their meannesses, their rancours, their dishonesty--all
these personages, after voting for the Constitution, now striving to
destroy it; and they got into a state of great agitation, and launched
forth manifestoes, pamphlets, and biographies. Hussonnet's biography of
Fumichon was a masterpiece. Nonancourt devoted himself to the work of
propagandism in the country districts; M. de Grémonville worked up the
clergy; and Martinon brought together the young men of the wealthy
class. Each exerted himself according to his resources, including Cisy
himself. With his thoughts now all day long absorbed in matters of grave
moment, he kept making excursions here and there in a cab in the
interests of the party.

M. Dambreuse, like a barometer, constantly gave expression to its latest
variation. Lamartine could not be alluded to without eliciting from this
gentleman the quotation of a famous phrase of the man of the people:
"Enough of poetry!" Cavaignac was, from this time forth, nothing better
in his eyes than a traitor. The President, whom he had admired for a
period of three months, was beginning to fall off in his esteem (as he
did not appear to exhibit the "necessary energy"); and, as he always
wanted a savior, his gratitude, since the affair of the Conservatoire,
belonged to Changarnier: "Thank God for Changarnier.... Let us place our
reliance on Changarnier.... Oh, there's nothing to fear as long as
Changarnier----"

M. Thiers was praised, above all, for his volume against Socialism, in
which he showed that he was quite as much of a thinker as a writer.
There was an immense laugh at Pierre Leroux, who had quoted passages
from the philosophers in the Chamber. Jokes were made about the
phalansterian tail. The "Market of Ideas" came in for a meed of
applause, and its authors were compared to Aristophanes. Frederick
patronised the work as well as the rest.

Political verbiage and good living had an enervating effect on his
morality. Mediocre in capacity as these persons appeared to him, he felt
proud of knowing them, and internally longed for the respectability that
attached to a wealthy citizen. A mistress like Madame Dambreuse would
give him a position.

He set about taking the necessary steps for achieving that object.

He made it his business to cross her path, did not fail to go and greet
her with a bow in her box at the theatre, and, being aware of the hours
when she went to church, he would plant himself behind a pillar in a
melancholy attitude. There was a continual interchange of little notes
between them with regard to curiosities to which they drew each other's
attention, preparations for a concert, or the borrowing of books or
reviews. In addition to his visit each night, he sometimes made a call
just as the day was closing; and he experienced a progressive succession
of pleasures in passing through the large front entrance, through the
courtyard, through the anteroom, and through the two reception-rooms.
Finally, he reached her boudoir, which was as quiet as a tomb, as warm
as an alcove, and in which one jostled against the upholstered edging of
furniture in the midst of objects of every sort placed here and
there--chiffoniers, screens, bowls, and trays made of lacquer, or shell,
or ivory, or malachite, expensive trifles, to which fresh additions were
frequently made. Amongst single specimens of these rarities might be
noticed three Etretat rollers which were used as paper-presses, and a
Frisian cap hung from a Chinese folding-screen. Nevertheless, there was
a harmony between all these things, and one was even impressed by the
noble aspect of the entire place, which was, no doubt, due to the
loftiness of the ceiling, the richness of the portières, and the long
silk fringes that floated over the gold legs of the stools.

She nearly always sat on a little sofa, close to the flower-stand, which
garnished the recess of the window. Frederick, seating himself on the
edge of a large wheeled ottoman, addressed to her compliments of the
most appropriate kind that he could conceive; and she looked at him,
with her head a little on one side, and a smile playing round her mouth.

He read for her pieces of poetry, into which he threw his whole soul in
order to move her and excite her admiration. She would now and then
interrupt him with a disparaging remark or a practical observation; and
their conversation relapsed incessantly into the eternal question of
Love. They discussed with each other what were the circumstances that
produced it, whether women felt it more than men, and what was the
difference between them on that point. Frederick tried to express his
opinion, and, at the same time, to avoid anything like coarseness or
insipidity. This became at length a species of contest between them,
sometimes agreeable and at other times tedious.

Whilst at her side, he did not experience that ravishment of his entire
being which drew him towards Madame Arnoux, nor the feeling of
voluptuous delight with which Rosanette had, at first, inspired him. But
he felt a passion for her as a thing that was abnormal and difficult of
attainment, because she was of aristocratic rank, because she was
wealthy, because she was a devotee--imagining that she had a delicacy of
sentiment as rare as the lace she wore, together with amulets on her
skin, and modest instincts even in her depravity.

He made a certain use of his old passion for Madame Arnoux, uttering in
his new flame's hearing all those amorous sentiments which the other had
caused him to feel in downright earnest, and pretending that it was
Madame Dambreuse herself who had occasioned them. She received these
avowals like one accustomed to such things, and, without giving him a
formal repulse, did not yield in the slightest degree; and he came no
nearer to seducing her than Martinon did to getting married. In order to
bring matters to an end with her niece's suitor, she accused him of
having money for his object, and even begged of her husband to put the
matter to the test. M. Dambreuse then declared to the young man that
Cécile, being the orphan child of poor parents, had neither expectations
nor a dowry.

Martinon, not believing that this was true, or feeling that he had gone
too far to draw back, or through one of those outbursts of idiotic
infatuation which may be described as acts of genius, replied that his
patrimony, amounting to fifteen thousand francs a year, would be
sufficient for them. The banker was touched by this unexpected display
of disinterestedness. He promised the young man a tax-collectorship,
undertaking to obtain the post for him; and in the month of May, 1850,
Martinon married Mademoiselle Cécile. There was no ball to celebrate the
event. The young people started the same evening for Italy. Frederick
came next day to pay a visit to Madame Dambreuse. She appeared to him
paler than usual. She sharply contradicted him about two or three
matters of no importance. However, she went on to observe, all men were
egoists.

There were, however, some devoted men, though he might happen himself to
be the only one.

"Pooh, pooh! you're just like the rest of them!"

Her eyelids were red; she had been weeping.

Then, forcing a smile:

"Pardon me; I am in the wrong. Sad thoughts have taken possession of my
mind."

He could not understand what she meant to convey by the last words.

"No matter! she is not so hard to overcome as I imagined," he thought.

She rang for a glass of water, drank a mouthful of it, sent it away
again, and then began to complain of the wretched way in which her
servants attended on her. In order to amuse her, he offered to become
her servant himself, pretending that he knew how to hand round plates,
dust furniture, and announce visitors--in fact, to do the duties of a
_valet-de-chambre_, or, rather, of a running-footman, although the
latter was now out of fashion. He would have liked to cling on behind
her carriage with a hat adorned with cock's feathers.

"And how I would follow you with majestic stride, carrying your pug on
my arm!"

"You are facetious," said Madame Dambreuse.

Was it not a piece of folly, he returned, to take everything seriously?
There were enough of miseries in the world without creating fresh ones.
Nothing was worth the cost of a single pang. Madame Dambreuse raised her
eyelids with a sort of vague approval.

This agreement in their views of life impelled Frederick to take a
bolder course. His former miscalculations now gave him insight. He went
on:

"Our grandsires lived better. Why not obey the impulse that urges us
onward?" After all, love was not a thing of such importance in itself.

"But what you have just said is immoral!"

She had resumed her seat on the little sofa. He sat down at the side of
it, near her feet.

"Don't you see that I am lying! For in order to please women, one must
exhibit the thoughtlessness of a buffoon or all the wild passion of
tragedy! They only laugh at us when we simply tell them that we love
them! For my part, I consider those hyperbolical phrases which tickle
their fancy a profanation of true love, so that it is no longer possible
to give expression to it, especially when addressing women who possess
more than ordinary intelligence."

She gazed at him from under her drooping eyelids. He lowered his voice,
while he bent his head closer to her face.

"Yes! you frighten me! Perhaps I am offending you? Forgive me! I did not
intend to say all that I have said! 'Tis not my fault! You are so
beautiful!"

Madame Dambreuse closed her eyes, and he was astonished at his easy
victory. The tall trees in the clouds streaked the sky with long strips
of red, and on every side there seemed to be a suspension of vital
movements. Then he recalled to mind, in a confused sort of way, evenings
just the same as this, filled with the same unbroken silence. Where was
it that he had known them?

He sank upon his knees, seized her hand, and swore that he would love
her for ever. Then, as he was leaving her, she beckoned to him to come
back, and said to him in a low tone:

"Come by-and-by and dine with us! We'll be all alone!"

It seemed to Frederick, as he descended the stairs, that he had become a
different man, that he was surrounded by the balmy temperature of
hot-houses, and that he was beyond all question entering into the higher
sphere of patrician adulteries and lofty intrigues. In order to occupy
the first rank there all he required was a woman of this stamp. Greedy,
no doubt, of power and of success, and married to a man of inferior
calibre, for whom she had done prodigious services, she longed for some
one of ability in order to be his guide. Nothing was impossible now. He
felt himself capable of riding two hundred leagues on horseback, of
travelling for several nights in succession without fatigue. His heart
overflowed with pride.

Just in front of him, on the footpath, a man wrapped in a seedy overcoat
was walking, with downcast eyes, and with such an air of dejection that
Frederick, as he passed, turned aside to have a better look at him. The
other raised his head. It was Deslauriers. He hesitated. Frederick fell
upon his neck.

"Ah! my poor old friend! What! 'tis you!"

And he dragged Deslauriers into his house, at the same time asking his
friend a heap of questions.

Ledru-Rollin's ex-commissioner commenced by describing the tortures to
which he had been subjected. As he preached fraternity to the
Conservatives, and respect for the laws to the Socialists, the former
tried to shoot him, and the latter brought cords to hang him with. After
June he had been brutally dismissed. He found himself involved in a
charge of conspiracy--that which was connected with the seizure of arms
at Troyes. He had subsequently been released for want of evidence to
sustain the charge. Then the acting committee had sent him to London,
where his ears had been boxed in the very middle of a banquet at which
he and his colleagues were being entertained. On his return to Paris----

"Why did you not call here, then, to see me?"

"You were always out! Your porter had mysterious airs--I did not know
what to think; and, in the next place, I had no desire to reappear
before you in the character of a defeated man."

He had knocked at the portals of Democracy, offering to serve it with
his pen, with his tongue, with all his energies. He had been everywhere
repelled. They had mistrusted him; and he had sold his watch, his
bookcase, and even his linen.

"It would be much better to be breaking one's back on the pontoons of
Belle Isle with Sénécal!"

Frederick, who had been fastening his cravat, did not appear to be much
affected by this news.

"Ha! so he is transported, this good Sénécal?"

Deslauriers replied, while he surveyed the walls with an envious air:

"Not everybody has your luck!"

"Excuse me," said Frederick, without noticing the allusion to his own
circumstances, "but I am dining in the city. We must get you something
to eat; order whatever you like. Take even my bed!"

This cordial reception dissipated Deslauriers' bitterness.

"Your bed? But that might inconvenience you!"

"Oh, no! I have others!"

"Oh, all right!" returned the advocate, with a laugh. "Pray, where are
you dining?"

"At Madame Dambreuse's."

"Can it be that you are--perhaps----?"

"You are too inquisitive," said Frederick, with a smile, which confirmed
this hypothesis.

Then, after a glance at the clock, he resumed his seat.

"That's how it is! and we mustn't despair, my ex-defender of the
people!"

"Oh, pardon me; let others bother themselves about the people
henceforth!"

The advocate detested the working-men, because he had suffered so much
on their account in his province, a coal-mining district. Every pit had
appointed a provisional government, from which he received orders.

"Besides, their conduct has been everywhere charming--at Lyons, at
Lille, at Havre, at Paris! For, in imitation of the manufacturers, who
would fain exclude the products of the foreigner, these gentlemen call
on us to banish the English, German, Belgian, and Savoyard workmen. As
for their intelligence, what was the use of that precious trades' union
of theirs which they established under the Restoration? In 1830 they
joined the National Guard, without having the common sense to get the
upper hand of it. Is it not the fact that, since the morning when 1848
dawned, the various trade-bodies had not reappeared with their banners?
They have even demanded popular representatives for themselves, who are
not to open their lips except on their own behalf. All this is the same
as if the deputies who represent beetroot were to concern themselves
about nothing save beetroot. Ah! I've had enough of these dodgers who in
turn prostrate themselves before the scaffold of Robespierre, the boots
of the Emperor, and the umbrella of Louis Philippe--a rabble who always
yield allegiance to the person that flings bread into their mouths. They
are always crying out against the venality of Talleyrand and Mirabeau;
but the messenger down below there would sell his country for fifty
centimes if they'd only promise to fix a tariff of three francs on his
walk. Ah! what a wretched state of affairs! We ought to set the four
corners of Europe on fire!"

Frederick said in reply:

"The spark is what you lack! You were simply a lot of shopboys, and even
the best of you were nothing better than penniless students. As for the
workmen, they may well complain; for, if you except a million taken out
of the civil list, and of which you made a grant to them with the
meanest expressions of flattery, you have done nothing for them, save to
talk in stilted phrases! The workman's certificate remains in the hands
of the employer, and the person who is paid wages remains (even in the
eye of the law), the inferior of his master, because his word is not
believed. In short, the Republic seems to me a worn-out institution.
Who knows? Perhaps Progress can be realised only through an aristocracy
or through a single man? The initiative always comes from the top, and
whatever may be the people's pretensions, they are lower than those
placed over them!"

"That may be true," said Deslauriers.

According to Frederick, the vast majority of citizens aimed only at a
life of peace (he had been improved by his visits to the Dambreuses),
and the chances were all on the side of the Conservatives. That party,
however, was lacking in new men.

"If you came forward, I am sure----"

He did not finish the sentence. Deslauriers saw what Frederick meant,
and passed his two hands over his head; then, all of a sudden:

"But what about yourself? Is there anything to prevent you from doing
it? Why would you not be a deputy?"

In consequence of a double election there was in the Aube a vacancy for
a candidate. M. Dambreuse, who had been re-elected as a member of the
Legislative Assembly, belonged to a different arrondissement.

"Do you wish me to interest myself on your behalf?" He was acquainted
with many publicans, schoolmasters, doctors, notaries' clerks and their
masters. "Besides, you can make the peasants believe anything you like!"

Frederick felt his ambition rekindling.

Deslauriers added:

"You would find no trouble in getting a situation for me in Paris."

"Oh! it would not be hard to manage it through Monsieur Dambreuse."

"As we happened to have been talking just now about coal-mines," the
advocate went on, "what has become of his big company? This is the sort
of employment that would suit me, and I could make myself useful to them
while preserving my own independence."

Frederick promised that he would introduce him to the banker before
three days had passed.

The dinner, which he enjoyed alone with Madame Dambreuse, was a
delightful affair. She sat facing him with a smile on her countenance at
the opposite side of the table, whereon was placed a basket of flowers,
while a lamp suspended above their heads shed its light on the scene;
and, as the window was open, they could see the stars. They talked very
little, distrusting themselves, no doubt; but, the moment the servants
had turned their backs, they sent across a kiss to one another from the
tips of their lips. He told her about his idea of becoming a candidate.
She approved of the project, promising even to get M. Dambreuse to use
every effort on his behalf.

As the evening advanced, some of her friends presented themselves for
the purpose of congratulating her, and, at the same time, expressing
sympathy with her; she must be so much pained at the loss of her niece.
Besides, it was all very well for newly-married people to go on a trip;
by-and-by would come incumbrances, children. But really, Italy did not
realise one's expectations. They had not as yet passed the age of
illusions; and, in the next place, the honeymoon made everything look
beautiful. The last two who remained behind were M. de Grémonville and
Frederick. The diplomatist was not inclined to leave. At last he
departed at midnight. Madame Dambreuse beckoned to Frederick to go with
him, and thanked him for this compliance with her wishes by giving him a
gentle pressure with her hand more delightful than anything that had
gone before.

The Maréchale uttered an exclamation of joy on seeing him again. She had
been waiting for him for the last five hours. He gave as an excuse for
the delay an indispensable step which he had to take in the interests of
Deslauriers. His face wore a look of triumph, and was surrounded by an
aureola which dazzled Rosanette.

"'Tis perhaps on account of your black coat, which fits you well; but I
have never seen you look so handsome! How handsome you are!"

In a transport of tenderness, she made a vow internally never again to
belong to any other man, no matter what might be the consequence, even
if she were to die of want.

Her pretty eyes sparkled with such intense passion that Frederick took
her upon his knees and said to himself:

"What a rascally part I am playing!" while admiring his own perversity.



CHAPTER XVII.

A STRANGE BETROTHAL.


M. Dambreuse, when Deslauriers presented himself at his house, was
thinking of reviving his great coal-mining speculation. But this fusion
of all the companies into one was looked upon unfavourably; there was an
outcry against monopolies, as if immense capital were not needed for
carrying out enterprises of this kind!

Deslauriers, who had read for the purpose the work of Gobet and the
articles of M. Chappe in the _Journal des Mines_, understood the
question perfectly. He demonstrated that the law of 1810 established for
the benefit of the grantee a privilege which could not be transferred.
Besides, a democratic colour might be given to the undertaking. To
interfere with the formation of coal-mining companies was against the
principle even of association.

M. Dambreuse intrusted to him some notes for the purpose of drawing up a
memorandum. As for the way in which he meant to pay for the work, he was
all the more profuse in his promises from the fact that they were not
very definite.

Deslauriers called again at Frederick's house, and gave him an account
of the interview. Moreover, he had caught a glimpse of Madame Dambreuse
at the bottom of the stairs, just as he was going out.

"I wish you joy--upon my soul, I do!"

Then they had a chat about the election. There was something to be
devised in order to carry it.

Three days later Deslauriers reappeared with a sheet of paper covered
with handwriting, intended for the newspapers, and which was nothing
less than a friendly letter from M. Dambreuse, expressing approval of
their friend's candidature. Supported by a Conservative and praised by a
Red, he ought to succeed. How was it that the capitalist had put his
signature to such a lucubration? The advocate had, of his own motion,
and without the least appearance of embarrassment, gone and shown it to
Madame Dambreuse, who, thinking it quite appropriate, had taken the rest
of the business on her own shoulders.

Frederick was astonished at this proceeding. Nevertheless, he approved
of it; then, as Deslauriers was to have an interview with M. Roque, his
friend explained to him how he stood with regard to Louise.

"Tell them anything you like; that my affairs are in an unsettled state,
that I am putting them in order. She is young enough to wait!"

Deslauriers set forth, and Frederick looked upon himself as a very able
man. He experienced, moreover, a feeling of gratification, a profound
satisfaction. His delight at being the possessor of a rich woman was not
spoiled by any contrast. The sentiment harmonised with the surroundings.
His life now would be full of joy in every sense.

Perhaps the most delicious sensation of all was to gaze at Madame
Dambreuse in the midst of a number of other ladies in her drawing-room.
The propriety of her manners made him dream of other attitudes. While
she was talking in a tone of coldness, he would recall to mind the
loving words which she had murmured in his ear. All the respect which he
felt for her virtue gave him a thrill of pleasure, as if it were a
homage which was reflected back on himself; and at times he felt a
longing to exclaim:

"But I know her better than you! She is mine!"

It was not long ere their relations came to be socially recognised as an
established fact. Madame Dambreuse, during the whole winter, brought
Frederick with her into fashionable society.

He nearly always arrived before her; and he watched her as she entered
the house they were visiting with her arms uncovered, a fan in her hand,
and pearls in her hair. She would pause on the threshold (the lintel of
the door formed a framework round her head), and she would open and shut
her eyes with a certain air of indecision, in order to see whether he
was there.

She drove him back in her carriage; the rain lashed the carriage-blinds.
The passers-by seemed merely shadows wavering in the mire of the street;
and, pressed close to each other, they observed all these things vaguely
with a calm disdain. Under various pretexts, he would linger in her room
for an entire additional hour.

It was chiefly through a feeling of ennui that Madame Dambreuse had
yielded. But this latest experience was not to be wasted. She desired to
give herself up to an absorbing passion; and so she began to heap on
his head adulations and caresses.

She sent him flowers; she had an upholstered chair made for him. She
made presents to him of a cigar-holder, an inkstand, a thousand little
things for daily use, so that every act of his life should recall her to
his memory. These kind attentions charmed him at first, and in a little
while appeared to him very simple.

She would step into a cab, get rid of it at the opening into a by-way,
and come out at the other end; and then, gliding along by the walls,
with a double veil on her face, she would reach the street where
Frederick, who had been keeping watch, would take her arm quickly to
lead her towards his house. His two men-servants would have gone out for
a walk, and the doorkeeper would have been sent on some errand. She
would throw a glance around her--nothing to fear!--and she would breathe
forth the sigh of an exile who beholds his country once more. Their good
fortune emboldened them. Their appointments became more frequent. One
evening, she even presented herself, all of a sudden, in full
ball-dress. These surprises might have perilous consequences. He
reproached her for her lack of prudence. Nevertheless, he was not taken
with her appearance. The low body of her dress exposed her thinness too
freely.

It was then that he discovered what had hitherto been hidden from
him--the disillusion of his senses. None the less did he make
professions of ardent love; but in order to call up such emotions he
found it necessary to evoke the images of Rosanette and Madame Arnoux.

This sentimental atrophy left his intellect entirely untrammelled; and
he was more ambitious than ever of attaining a high position in society.
Inasmuch as he had such a stepping-stone, the very least he could do was
to make use of it.

One morning, about the middle of January, Sénécal entered his study, and
in response to his exclamation of astonishment, announced that he was
Deslauriers' secretary. He even brought Frederick a letter. It contained
good news, and yet it took him to task for his negligence; he would have
to come down to the scene of action at once. The future deputy said he
would set out on his way there in two days' time.

Sénécal gave no opinion on the other's merits as a candidate. He spoke
about his own concerns and about the affairs of the country.

Miserable as the state of things happened to be, it gave him pleasure,
for they were advancing in the direction of Communism. In the first
place, the Administration led towards it of its own accord, since every
day a greater number of things were controlled by the Government. As for
Property, the Constitution of '48, in spite of its weaknesses, had not
spared it. The State might, in the name of public utility, henceforth
take whatever it thought would suit it. Sénécal declared himself in
favour of authority; and Frederick noticed in his remarks the
exaggeration which characterised what he had said himself to
Deslauriers. The Republican even inveighed against the masses for their
inadequacy.

"Robespierre, by upholding the right of the minority, had brought Louis
XVI. to acknowledge the National Convention, and saved the people.
Things were rendered legitimate by the end towards which they were
directed. A dictatorship is sometimes indispensable. Long live tyranny,
provided that the tyrant promotes the public welfare!"

Their discussion lasted a long time; and, as he was taking his
departure, Sénécal confessed (perhaps it was the real object of his
visit) that Deslauriers was getting very impatient at M. Dambreuse's
silence.

But M. Dambreuse was ill. Frederick saw him every day, his character of
an intimate friend enabling him to obtain admission to the invalid's
bedside.

General Changarnier's recall had powerfully affected the capitalist's
mind. He was, on the evening of the occurrence, seized with a burning
sensation in his chest, together with an oppression that prevented him
from lying down. The application of leeches gave him immediate relief.
The dry cough disappeared; the respiration became more easy; and, eight
days later, he said, while swallowing some broth:

"Ah! I'm better now--but I was near going on the last long journey!"

"Not without me!" exclaimed Madame Dambreuse, intending by this remark
to convey that she would not be able to outlive him.

Instead of replying, he cast upon her and upon her lover a singular
smile, in which there was at the same time resignation, indulgence,
irony, and even, as it were, a touch of humour, a sort of secret
satisfaction almost amounting to actual joy.

Frederick wished to start for Nogent. Madame Dambreuse objected to this;
and he unpacked and re-packed his luggage by turns according to the
changes in the invalid's condition.

Suddenly M. Dambreuse spat forth considerable blood. The "princes of
medical science," on being consulted, could not think of any fresh
remedy. His legs swelled, and his weakness increased. He had several
times evinced a desire to see Cécile, who was at the other end of France
with her husband, now a collector of taxes, a position to which he had
been appointed a month ago. M. Dambreuse gave express orders to send for
her. Madame Dambreuse wrote three letters, which she showed him.

Without trusting him even to the care of the nun, she did not leave him
for one second, and no longer went to bed. The ladies who had their
names entered at the door-lodge made enquiries about her with feelings
of admiration, and the passers-by were filled with respect on seeing the
quantity of straw which was placed in the street under the windows.

On the 12th of February, at five o'clock, a frightful hæmoptysis came
on. The doctor who had charge of him pointed out that the case had
assumed a dangerous aspect. They sent in hot haste for a priest.

While M. Dambreuse was making his confession, Madame kept gazing
curiously at him some distance away. After this, the young doctor
applied a blister, and awaited the result.

The flame of the lamps, obscured by some of the furniture, lighted up
the apartment in an irregular fashion. Frederick and Madame Dambreuse,
at the foot of the bed, watched the dying man. In the recess of a window
the priest and the doctor chatted in low tones. The good sister on her
knees kept mumbling prayers.

At last came a rattling in the throat. The hands grew cold; the face
began to turn white. Now and then he drew a deep breath all of a
sudden; but gradually this became rarer and rarer. Two or three confused
words escaped him. He turned his eyes upward, and at the same moment his
respiration became so feeble that it was almost imperceptible. Then his
head sank on one side on the pillow.

For a minute, all present remained motionless.

Madame Dambreuse advanced towards the dead body of her husband, and,
without an effort--with the unaffectedness of one discharging a
duty--she drew down the eyelids. Then she spread out her two arms, her
figure writhing as if in a spasm of repressed despair, and quitted the
room, supported by the physician and the nun.

A quarter of an hour afterwards, Frederick made his way up to her
apartment.

There was in it an indefinable odour, emanating from some delicate
substances with which it was filled. In the middle of the bed lay a
black dress, which formed a glaring contrast with the pink coverlet.

Madame Dambreuse was standing at the corner of the mantelpiece. Without
attributing to her any passionate regret, he thought she looked a little
sad; and, in a mournful voice, he said:

"You are enduring pain?"

"I? No--not at all."

As she turned around, her eyes fell on the dress, which she inspected.
Then she told him not to stand on ceremony.

"Smoke, if you like! You can make yourself at home with me!"

And, with a great sigh:

"Ah! Blessed Virgin!--what a riddance!"

Frederick was astonished at this exclamation. He replied, as he kissed
her hand:

"All the same, you were free!"

This allusion to the facility with which the intrigue between them had
been carried on hurt Madame Dambreuse.

"Ah! you don't know the services that I did for him, or the misery in
which I lived!"

"What!"

"Why, certainly! Was it a safe thing to have always near him that
bastard, a daughter, whom he introduced into the house at the end of
five years of married life, and who, were it not for me, might have led
him into some act of folly?"

Then she explained how her affairs stood. The arrangement on the
occasion of her marriage was that the property of each party should be
separate.[I] The amount of her inheritance was three hundred thousand
francs. M. Dambreuse had guaranteed by the marriage contract that in the
event of her surviving him, she should have an income of fifteen
thousand francs a year, together with the ownership of the mansion. But
a short time afterwards he had made a will by which he gave her all he
possessed, and this she estimated, so far as it was possible to
ascertain just at present, at over three millions.

Frederick opened his eyes widely.


[I] A marriage may take place in France under the _régime de
communauté_, by which the husband has the enjoyment and the right of
disposing of the property both of himself and his wife; the _régime
dotal_, by which he can only dispose of the income; and the _régime de
séparation de biens_, by which husband and wife enjoy and exercise
control over their respective estates separately.--TRANSLATOR.


"It was worth the trouble, wasn't it? However, I contributed to it! It
was my own property I was protecting; Cécile would have unjustly robbed
me of it."

"Why did she not come to see her father?"

As he asked her this question Madame Dambreuse eyed him attentively;
then, in a dry tone:

"I haven't the least idea! Want of heart, probably! Oh! I know what she
is! And for that reason she won't get a farthing from me!"

She had not been very troublesome, he pointed out; at any rate, since
her marriage.

"Ha! her marriage!" said Madame Dambreuse, with a sneer. And she grudged
having treated only too well this stupid creature, who was jealous,
self-interested, and hypocritical. "All the faults of her father!" She
disparaged him more and more. There was never a person with such
profound duplicity, and with such a merciless disposition into the
bargain, as hard as a stone--"a bad man, a bad man!"

Even the wisest people fall into errors. Madame Dambreuse had just made
a serious one through this overflow of hatred on her part. Frederick,
sitting opposite her in an easy chair, was reflecting deeply,
scandalised by the language she had used.

She arose and knelt down beside him.

"To be with you is the only real pleasure! You are the only one I love!"

While she gazed at him her heart softened, a nervous reaction brought
tears into her eyes, and she murmured:

"Will you marry me?"

At first he thought he had not understood what she meant. He was stunned
by this wealth.

She repeated in a louder tone:

"Will you marry me?"

At last he said with a smile:

"Have you any doubt about it?"

Then the thought forced itself on his mind that his conduct was
infamous, and in order to make a kind of reparation to the dead man, he
offered to watch by his side himself. But, feeling ashamed of this pious
sentiment, he added, in a flippant tone:

"It would be perhaps more seemly."

"Perhaps so, indeed," she said, "on account of the servants."

The bed had been drawn completely out of the alcove. The nun was near
the foot of it, and at the head of it sat a priest, a different one, a
tall, spare man, with the look of a fanatical Spaniard. On the
night-table, covered with a white cloth, three wax-tapers were burning.

Frederick took a chair, and gazed at the corpse.

The face was as yellow as straw. At the corners of the mouth there were
traces of blood-stained foam. A silk handkerchief was tied around the
skull, and on the breast, covered with a knitted waistcoat, lay a silver
crucifix between the two crossed hands.

It was over, this life full of anxieties! How many journeys had he not
made to various places? How many rows of figures had he not piled
together? How many speculations had he not hatched? How many reports had
he not heard read? What quackeries, what smiles and curvets! For he had
acclaimed Napoléon, the Cossacks, Louis XVIII., 1830, the working-men,
every _régime_, loving power so dearly that he would have paid in order
to have the opportunity of selling himself.

But he had left behind him the estate of La Fortelle, three factories in
Picardy, the woods of Crancé in the Yonne, a farm near Orléans, and a
great deal of personal property in the form of bills and papers.

Frederick thus made an estimate of her fortune; and it would soon,
nevertheless, belong to him! First of all, he thought of "what people
would say"; then he asked himself what present he ought to make to his
mother, and he was concerned about his future equipages, and about
employing an old coachman belonging to his own family as the doorkeeper.
Of course, the livery would not be the same. He would convert the large
reception-room into his own study. There was nothing to prevent him by
knocking down three walls from setting up a picture-gallery on the
second-floor. Perhaps there might be an opportunity for introducing into
the lower portion of the house a hall for Turkish baths. As for M.
Dambreuse's office, a disagreeable spot, what use could he make of it?

These reflections were from time to time rudely interrupted by the
sounds made by the priest in blowing his nose, or by the good sister in
settling the fire.

But the actual facts showed that his thoughts rested on a solid
foundation. The corpse was there. The eyelids had reopened, and the
pupils, although steeped in clammy gloom, had an enigmatic, intolerable
expression.

Frederick fancied that he saw there a judgment directed against himself,
and he felt almost a sort of remorse, for he had never any complaint to
make against this man, who, on the contrary----

"Come, now! an old wretch!" and he looked at the dead man more closely
in order to strengthen his mind, mentally addressing him thus:

"Well, what? Have I killed you?"

Meanwhile, the priest read his breviary; the nun, who sat motionless,
had fallen asleep. The wicks of the three wax-tapers had grown longer.

For two hours could be heard the heavy rolling of carts making their way
to the markets. The window-panes began to admit streaks of white. A cab
passed; then a group of donkeys went trotting over the pavement. Then
came strokes of hammers, cries of itinerant vendors of wood and blasts
of horns. Already every other sound was blended with the great voice of
awakening Paris.

Frederick went out to perform the duties assigned to him. He first
repaired to the Mayor's office to make the necessary declaration; then,
when the medical officer had given him a certificate of death, he called
a second time at the municipal buildings in order to name the cemetery
which the family had selected, and to make arrangements for the funeral
ceremonies.

The clerk in the office showed him a plan which indicated the mode of
interment adopted for the various classes, and a programme giving full
particulars with regard to the spectacular portion of the funeral. Would
he like to have an open funeral-car or a hearse with plumes, plaits on
the horses, and aigrettes on the footmen, initials or a coat-of-arms,
funeral-lamps, a man to display the family distinctions? and what number
of carriages would he require?

Frederick did not economise in the slightest degree. Madame Dambreuse
was determined to spare no expense.

After this he made his way to the church.

The curate who had charge of burials found fault with the waste of money
on funeral pomps. For instance, the officer for the display of armorial
distinctions was really useless. It would be far better to have a goodly
display of wax-tapers. A low mass accompanied by music would be
appropriate.

Frederick gave written directions to have everything that was agreed
upon carried out, with a joint undertaking to defray all the expenses.

He went next to the Hôtel de Ville to purchase a piece of ground. A
grant of a piece which was two metres in length and one in breadth[J]
cost five hundred francs. Did he want a grant for fifty years or
forever?

"Oh, forever!" said Frederick.

He took the whole thing seriously and got into a state of intense
anxiety about it. In the courtyard of the mansion a marble-cutter was
waiting to show him estimates and plans of Greek, Egyptian, and Moorish
tombs; but the family architect had already been in consultation with
Madame; and on the table in the vestibule there were all sorts of
prospectuses with reference to the cleaning of mattresses, the
disinfection of rooms, and the various processes of embalming.

After dining, he went back to the tailor's shop to order mourning for
the servants; and he had still to discharge another function, for the
gloves that he had ordered were of beaver, whereas the right kind for a
funeral were floss-silk.

When he arrived next morning, at ten o'clock, the large reception-room
was filled with people, and nearly everyone said, on encountering the
others, in a melancholy tone:

"It is only a month ago since I saw him! Good heavens! it will be the
same way with us all!"


[J] A metre is about 3-1/4 feet--TRANSLATOR.


"Yes; but let us try to keep it as far away from us as possible!"

Then there were little smiles of satisfaction; and they even engaged in
conversations entirely unsuited to the occasion. At length, the master
of the ceremonies, in a black coat in the French fashion and short
breeches, with a cloak, cambric mourning-bands, a long sword by his
side, and a three-cornered hat under his arm, gave utterance, with a
bow, to the customary words:

"Messieurs, when it shall be your pleasure."

The funeral started. It was the market-day for flowers on the Place de
la Madeleine. It was a fine day with brilliant sunshine; and the breeze,
which shook the canvas tents, a little swelled at the edges the enormous
black cloth which was hung over the church-gate. The escutcheon of M.
Dambreuse, which covered a square piece of velvet, was repeated there
three times. It was: _Sable, with an arm sinister or and a clenched hand
with a glove argent_; with the coronet of a count, and this device: _By
every path_.

The bearers lifted the heavy coffin to the top of the staircase, and
they entered the building. The six chapels, the hemicycles, and the
seats were hung with black. The catafalque at the end of the choir
formed, with its large wax-tapers, a single focus of yellow lights. At
the two corners, over the candelabra, flames of spirits of wine were
burning.

The persons of highest rank took up their position in the sanctuary, and
the rest in the nave; and then the Office for the Dead began.

With the exception of a few, the religious ignorance of all was so
profound that the master of the ceremonies had, from time to time, to
make signs to them to rise, to kneel, or to resume their seats. The
organ and the two double-basses could be heard alternately with the
voices. In the intervals of silence, the only sounds that reached the
ear were the mumblings of the priest at the altar; then the music and
the chanting went on again.

The light of day shone dimly through the three cupolas, but the open
door let in, as it were, a stream of white radiance, which, entering in
a horizontal direction, fell on every uncovered head; and in the air,
half-way towards the ceiling of the church, floated a shadow, which was
penetrated by the reflection of the gildings that decorated the ribbing
of the pendentives and the foliage of the capitals.

Frederick, in order to distract his attention, listened to the _Dies
iræ_. He gazed at those around him, or tried to catch a glimpse of the
pictures hanging too far above his head, wherein the life of the
Magdalen was represented. Luckily, Pellerin came to sit down beside him,
and immediately plunged into a long dissertation on the subject of
frescoes. The bell began to toll. They left the church.

The hearse, adorned with hanging draperies and tall plumes, set out for
Père-Lachaise drawn by four black horses, with their manes plaited,
their heads decked with tufts of feathers, and with large trappings
embroidered with silver flowing down to their shoes. The driver of the
vehicle, in Hessian boots, wore a three-cornered hat with a long piece
of crape falling down from it. The cords were held by four personages: a
questor of the Chamber of Deputies, a member of the General Council of
the Aube, a delegate from the coal-mining company, and Fumichon, as a
friend. The carriage of the deceased and a dozen mourning-coaches
followed. The persons attending at the funeral came in the rear, filling
up the middle of the boulevard.

The passers-by stopped to look at the mournful procession. Women, with
their brats in their arms, got up on chairs, and people, who had been
drinking glasses of beer in the cafés, presented themselves at the
windows with billiard-cues in their hands.

The way was long, and, as at formal meals at which people are at first
reserved and then expansive, the general deportment speedily relaxed.
They talked of nothing but the refusal of an allowance by the Chamber to
the President. M. Piscatory had shown himself harsh; Montalembert had
been "magnificent, as usual," and MM. Chamballe, Pidoux, Creton, in
short, the entire committee would be compelled perhaps to follow the
advice of MM. Quentin-Bauchard and Dufour.

This conversation was continued as they passed through the Rue de la
Roquette, with shops on each side, in which could be seen only chains of
coloured glass and black circular tablets covered with drawings and
letters of gold--which made them resemble grottoes full of stalactites
and crockery-ware shops. But, when they had reached the cemetery-gate,
everyone instantaneously ceased speaking.

The tombs among the trees: broken columns, pyramids, temples, dolmens,
obelisks, and Etruscan vaults with doors of bronze. In some of them
might be seen funereal boudoirs, so to speak, with rustic armchairs and
folding-stools. Spiders' webs hung like rags from the little chains of
the urns; and the bouquets of satin ribbons and the crucifixes were
covered with dust. Everywhere, between the balusters on the tombstones,
may be observed crowns of immortelles and chandeliers, vases, flowers,
black discs set off with gold letters, and plaster statuettes--little
boys or little girls or little angels sustained in the air by brass
wires; several of them have even a roof of zinc overhead. Huge cables
made of glass strung together, black, white, or azure, descend from the
tops of the monuments to the ends of the flagstones with long folds,
like boas. The rays of the sun, striking on them, made them scintillate
in the midst of the black wooden crosses. The hearse advanced along the
broad paths, which are paved like the streets of a city. From time to
time the axletrees cracked. Women, kneeling down, with their dresses
trailing in the grass, addressed the dead in tones of tenderness. Little
white fumes arose from the green leaves of the yew trees. These came
from offerings that had been left behind, waste material that had been
burnt.

M. Dambreuse's grave was close to the graves of Manuel and Benjamin
Constant. The soil in this place slopes with an abrupt decline. One has
under his feet there the tops of green trees, further down the chimneys
of steam-pumps, then the entire great city.

Frederick found an opportunity of admiring the scene while the various
addresses were being delivered.

The first was in the name of the Chamber of Deputies, the second in the
name of the General Council of the Aube, the third in the name of the
coal-mining company of Saone-et-Loire, the fourth in the name of the
Agricultural Society of the Yonne, and there was another in the name of
a Philanthropic Society. Finally, just as everyone was going away, a
stranger began reading a sixth address, in the name of the Amiens
Society of Antiquaries.

And thereupon they all took advantage of the occasion to denounce
Socialism, of which M. Dambreuse had died a victim. It was the effect
produced on his mind by the exhibitions of anarchic violence, together
with his devotion to order, that had shortened his days. They praised
his intellectual powers, his integrity, his generosity, and even his
silence as a representative of the people, "for, if he was not an
orator, he possessed instead those solid qualities a thousand times more
useful," etc., with all the requisite phrases--"Premature end; eternal
regrets; the better land; farewell, or rather no, _au revoir!_"

The clay, mingled with stones, fell on the coffin, and he would never
again be a subject for discussion in society.

However, there were a few allusions to him as the persons who had
followed his remains left the cemetery. Hussonnet, who would have to
give an account of the interment in the newspapers, took up all the
addresses in a chaffing style, for, in truth, the worthy Dambreuse had
been one of the most notable _pots-de-vin_[K] of the last reign. Then
the citizens were driven in the mourning-coaches to their various places
of business; the ceremony had not lasted very long; they congratulated
themselves on the circumstance.

Frederick returned to his own abode quite worn out.


[K] The reader will excuse this barbarism on account of its convenience.
_Pot-de-vin_ means a gratuity or something paid to a person who has not
earned it.--TRANSLATOR.


When he presented himself next day at Madame Dambreuse's residence, he
was informed that she was busy below stairs in the room where M.
Dambreuse had kept his papers.

The cardboard receptacles and the different drawers had been opened
confusedly, and the account-books had been flung about right and left. A
roll of papers on which were endorsed the words "Repayment hopeless" lay
on the ground. He was near falling over it, and picked it up. Madame
Dambreuse had sunk back in the armchair, so that he did not see her.

"Well? where are you? What is the matter!"

She sprang to her feet with a bound.

"What is the matter? I am ruined, ruined! do you understand?"

M. Adolphe Langlois, the notary, had sent her a message to call at his
office, and had informed her about the contents of a will made by her
husband before their marriage. He had bequeathed everything to Cécile;
and the other will was lost. Frederick turned very pale. No doubt she
had not made sufficient search.

"Well, then, look yourself!" said Madame Dambreuse, pointing at the
objects contained in the room.

The two strong-boxes were gaping wide, having been broken open with
blows of a cleaver, and she had turned up the desk, rummaged in the
cupboards, and shaken the straw-mattings, when, all of a sudden,
uttering a piercing cry, she dashed into corner where she had just
noticed a little box with a brass lock. She opened it--nothing!

"Ah! the wretch! I, who took such devoted care of him!"

Then she burst into sobs.

"Perhaps it is somewhere else?" said Frederick.

"Oh! no! it was there! in that strong-box, I saw it there lately. 'Tis
burned! I'm certain of it!"

One day, in the early stage of his illness, M. Dambreuse had gone down
to this room to sign some documents.

"'Tis then he must have done the trick!"

And she fell back on a chair, crushed. A mother grieving beside an empty
cradle was not more woeful than Madame Dambreuse was at the sight of the
open strong-boxes. Indeed, her sorrow, in spite of the baseness of the
motive which inspired it, appeared so deep that he tried to console her
by reminding her that, after all, she was not reduced to sheer want.

"It is want, when I am not in a position to offer you a large fortune!"

She had not more than thirty thousand livres a year, without taking into
account the mansion, which was worth from eighteen to twenty thousand,
perhaps.

Although to Frederick this would have been opulence, he felt, none the
less, a certain amount of disappointment. Farewell to his dreams and to
all the splendid existence on which he had intended to enter! Honour
compelled him to marry Madame Dambreuse. For a minute he reflected;
then, in a tone of tenderness:

"I'll always have yourself!"

She threw herself into his arms, and he clasped her to his breast with
an emotion in which there was a slight element of admiration for
himself.

Madame Dambreuse, whose tears had ceased to flow, raised her face,
beaming all over with happiness, and seizing his hand:

"Ah! I never doubted you! I knew I could count on you!"

The young man did not like this tone of anticipated certainty with
regard to what he was pluming himself on as a noble action.

Then she brought him into her own apartment, and they began to arrange
their plans for the future. Frederick should now consider the best way
of advancing himself in life. She even gave him excellent advice with
reference to his candidature.

The first point was to be acquainted with two or three phrases borrowed
from political economy. It was necessary to take up a specialty, such as
the stud system, for example; to write a number of notes on questions of
local interest, to have always at his disposal post-offices or
tobacconists' shops, and to do a heap of little services. In this
respect M. Dambreuse had shown himself a true model. Thus, on one
occasion, in the country, he had drawn up his wagonette, full of friends
of his, in front of a cobbler's stall, and had bought a dozen pairs of
shoes for his guests, and for himself a dreadful pair of boots, which he
had not even the courage to wear for an entire fortnight. This anecdote
put them into a good humour. She related others, and that with a renewal
of grace, youthfulness, and wit.

She approved of his notion of taking a trip immediately to Nogent. Their
parting was an affectionate one; then, on the threshold, she murmured
once more:

"You love me--do you not?"

"Eternally," was his reply.

A messenger was waiting for him at his own house with a line written in
lead-pencil informing him that Rosanette was about to be confined. He
had been so much preoccupied for the past few days that he had not
bestowed a thought upon the matter.

She had been placed in a special establishment at Chaillot.

Frederick took a cab and set out for this institution.

At the corner of the Rue de Marbeuf he read on a board in big letters:
"Private Lying-in-Hospital, kept by Madame Alessandri, first-class
midwife, ex-pupil of the Maternity, author of various works, etc." Then,
in the centre of the street, over the door--a little side-door--there
was another signboard: "Private Hospital of Madame Alessandri," with
all her titles.

Frederick gave a knock. A chambermaid, with the figure of an Abigail,
introduced him into the reception-room, which was adorned with a
mahogany table and armchairs of garnet velvet, and with a clock under a
globe.

Almost immediately Madame appeared. She was a tall brunette of forty,
with a slender waist, fine eyes, and the manners of good society. She
apprised Frederick of the mother's happy delivery, and brought him up to
her apartment.

Rosanette broke into a smile of unutterable bliss, and, as if drowned in
the floods of love that were suffocating her, she said in a low tone:

"A boy--there, there!" pointing towards a cradle close to her bed.

He flung open the curtains, and saw, wrapped up in linen, a
yellowish-red object, exceedingly shrivelled-looking, which had a bad
smell, and which was bawling lustily.

"Embrace him!"

He replied, in order to hide his repugnance:

"But I am afraid of hurting him."

"No! no!"

Then, with the tips of his lips, he kissed his child.

"How like you he is!"

And with her two weak arms, she clung to his neck with an outburst of
feeling which he had never witnessed on her part before.

The remembrance of Madame Dambreuse came back to him. He reproached
himself as a monster for having deceived this poor creature, who loved
and suffered with all the sincerity of her nature. For several days he
remained with her till night.

She felt happy in this quiet place; the window-shutters in front of it
remained always closed. Her room, hung with bright chintz, looked out on
a large garden. Madame Alessandri, whose only shortcoming was that she
liked to talk about her intimate acquaintanceship with eminent
physicians, showed her the utmost attention. Her associates, nearly all
provincial young ladies, were exceedingly bored, as they had nobody to
come to see them. Rosanette saw that they regarded her with envy, and
told this to Frederick with pride. It was desirable to speak low,
nevertheless. The partitions were thin, and everyone stood listening at
hiding-places, in spite of the constant thrumming of the pianos.

At last, he was about to take his departure for Nogent, when he got a
letter from Deslauriers. Two fresh candidates had offered themselves,
the one a Conservative, the other a Red; a third, whatever he might be,
would have no chance. It was all Frederick's fault; he had let the lucky
moment pass by; he should have come sooner and stirred himself.

"You have not even been seen at the agricultural assembly!" The advocate
blamed him for not having any newspaper connection.

"Ah! if you had followed my advice long ago! If we had only a public
print of our own!"

He laid special stress on this point. However, many persons who would
have voted for him out of consideration for M. Dambreuse, abandoned him
now. Deslauriers was one of the number. Not having anything more to
expect from the capitalist, he had thrown over his _protégé_.

Frederick took the letter to show it to Madame Dambreuse.

"You have not been to Nogent, then?" said she.

"Why do you ask?"

"Because I saw Deslauriers three days ago."

Having learned that her husband was dead, the advocate had come to make
a report about the coal-mines, and to offer his services to her as a man
of business. This seemed strange to Frederick; and what was his friend
doing down there?

Madame Dambreuse wanted to know how he had spent his time since they had
parted.

"I have been ill," he replied.

"You ought at least to have told me about it."

"Oh! it wasn't worth while;" besides, he had to settle a heap of things,
to keep appointments and to pay visits.

From that time forth he led a double life, sleeping religiously at the
Maréchale's abode and passing the afternoon with Madame Dambreuse, so
that there was scarcely a single hour of freedom left to him in the
middle of the day.

The infant was in the country at Andilly. They went to see it once a
week.

The wet-nurse's house was on rising ground in the village, at the end of
a little yard as dark as a pit, with straw on the ground, hens here and
there, and a vegetable-cart under the shed.

Rosanette would begin by frantically kissing her baby, and, seized with
a kind of delirium, would keep moving to and fro, trying to milk the
she-goat, eating big pieces of bread, and inhaling the odour of manure;
she even wanted to put a little of it into her handkerchief.

Then they took long walks, in the course of which she went into the
nurseries, tore off branches from the lilac-trees which hung down over
the walls, and exclaimed, "Gee ho, donkey!" to the asses that were
drawing cars along, and stopped to gaze through the gate into the
interior of one of the lovely gardens; or else the wet-nurse would take
the child and place it under the shade of a walnut-tree; and for hours
the two women would keep talking the most tiresome nonsense.

Frederick, not far away from them, gazed at the beds of vines on the
slopes, with here and there a clump of trees; at the dusty paths
resembling strips of grey ribbon; at the houses, which showed white and
red spots in the midst of the greenery; and sometimes the smoke of a
locomotive stretched out horizontally to the bases of the hills, covered
with foliage, like a gigantic ostrich's feather, the thin end of which
was disappearing from view.

Then his eyes once more rested on his son. He imagined the child grown
into a young man; he would make a companion of him; but perhaps he would
be a blockhead, a wretched creature, in any event. He was always
oppressed by the illegality of the infant's birth; it would have been
better if he had never been born! And Frederick would murmur, "Poor
child!" his heart swelling with feelings of unutterable sadness.

They often missed the last train. Then Madame Dambreuse would scold him
for his want of punctuality. He would invent some falsehood.

It was necessary to invent some explanations, too, to satisfy Rosanette.
She could not understand how he spent all his evenings; and when she
sent a messenger to his house, he was never there! One day, when he
chanced to be at home, the two women made their appearance almost at the
same time. He got the Maréchale to go away, and concealed Madame
Dambreuse, pretending that his mother was coming up to Paris.

Ere long, he found these lies amusing. He would repeat to one the oath
which he had just uttered to the other, send them bouquets of the same
sort, write to them at the same time, and then would institute a
comparison between them. There was a third always present in his
thoughts. The impossibility of possessing her seemed to him a
justification of his perfidies, which were intensified by the fact that
he had to practise them alternately; and the more he deceived, no matter
which of the two, the fonder of him she grew, as if the love of one of
them added heat to that of the other, and, as if by a sort of emulation,
each of them were seeking to make him forget the other.

"Admire my confidence in you!" said Madame Dambreuse one day to him,
opening a sheet of paper, in which she was informed that M. Moreau and a
certain Rose Bron were living together as husband and wife.

"Can it be that this is the lady of the races?"

"What an absurdity!" he returned. "Let me have a look at it!"

The letter, written in Roman characters, had no signature. Madame
Dambreuse, in the beginning, had tolerated this mistress, who furnished
a cloak for their adultery. But, as her passion became stronger, she had
insisted on a rupture--a thing which had been effected long since,
according to Frederick's account; and when he had ceased to protest, she
replied, half closing her eyes, in which shone a look like the point of
a stiletto under a muslin robe:

"Well--and the other?"

"What other?"

"The earthenware-dealer's wife!"

He shrugged his shoulders disdainfully. She did not press the matter.

But, a month later, while they were talking about honour and loyalty,
and he was boasting about his own (in a casual sort of way, for the sake
of precaution), she said to him:

"It is true--you are acting uprightly--you don't go back there any
more?"

Frederick, who was at the moment thinking of the Maréchale, stammered:

"Where, pray?"

"To Madame Arnoux's."

He implored her to tell him from whom she got the information. It was
through her second dressmaker, Madame Regimbart.

So, she knew all about his life, and he knew nothing about hers!

In the meantime, he had found in her dressing-room the miniature of a
gentleman with long moustaches--was this the same person about whose
suicide a vague story had been told him at one time? But there was no
way of learning any more about it! However, what was the use of it? The
hearts of women are like little pieces of furniture wherein things are
secreted, full of drawers fitted into each other; one hurts himself,
breaks his nails in opening them, and then finds within only some
withered flower, a few grains of dust--or emptiness! And then perhaps he
felt afraid of learning too much about the matter.

She made him refuse invitations where she was unable to accompany him,
stuck to his side, was afraid of losing him; and, in spite of this union
which was every day becoming stronger, all of a sudden, abysses
disclosed themselves between the pair about the most trifling
questions--an estimate of an individual or a work of art.

She had a style of playing on the piano which was correct and hard. Her
spiritualism (Madame Dambreuse believed in the transmigration of souls
into the stars) did not prevent her from taking the utmost care of her
cash-box. She was haughty towards her servants; her eyes remained dry at
the sight of the rags of the poor. In the expressions of which she
habitually made use a candid egoism manifested itself: "What concern is
that of mine? I should be very silly! What need have I?" and a thousand
little acts incapable of analysis revealed hateful qualities in her. She
would have listened behind doors; she could not help lying to her
confessor. Through a spirit of despotism, she insisted on Frederick
going to the church with her on Sunday. He obeyed, and carried her
prayer-book.

The loss of the property she had expected to inherit had changed her
considerably. These marks of grief, which people attributed to the death
of M. Dambreuse, rendered her interesting, and, as in former times, she
had a great number of visitors. Since Frederick's defeat at the
election, she was ambitious of obtaining for both of them an embassy in
Germany; therefore, the first thing they should do was to submit to the
reigning ideas.

Some persons were in favour of the Empire, others of the Orléans family,
and others of the Comte de Chambord; but they were all of one opinion as
to the urgency of decentralisation, and several expedients were proposed
with that view, such as to cut up Paris into many large streets in order
to establish villages there, to transfer the seat of government to
Versailles, to have the schools set up at Bourges, to suppress the
libraries, and to entrust everything to the generals of division; and
they glorified a rustic existence on the assumption that the uneducated
man had naturally more sense than other men! Hatreds increased--hatred
of primary teachers and wine-merchants, of the classes of philosophy, of
the courses of lectures on history, of novels, red waistcoats, long
beards, of independence in any shape, or any manifestation of
individuality, for it was necessary "to restore the principle of
authority"--let it be exercised in the name of no matter whom; let it
come from no matter where, as long as it was Force, Authority! The
Conservatives now talked in the very same way as Sénécal. Frederick was
no longer able to understand their drift, and once more he found at the
house of his former mistress the same remarks uttered by the same men.

The salons of the unmarried women (it was from this period that their
importance dates) were a sort of neutral ground where reactionaries of
different kinds met. Hussonnet, who gave himself up to the depreciation
of contemporary glories (a good thing for the restoration of Order),
inspired Rosanette with a longing to have evening parties like any
other. He undertook to publish accounts of them, and first of all he
brought a man of grave deportment, Fumichon; then came Nonancourt, M. de
Grémonville, the Sieur de Larsilloix, ex-prefect, and Cisy, who was now
an agriculturist in Lower Brittany, and more Christian than ever.

In addition, men who had at one time been the Maréchale's lovers, such
as the Baron de Comaing, the Comte de Jumillac, and others, presented
themselves; and Frederick was annoyed by their free-and-easy behaviour.

In order that he might assume the attitude of master in the house, he
increased the rate of expenditure there. Then he went in for keeping a
groom, took a new habitation, and got a fresh supply of furniture. These
displays of extravagance were useful for the purpose of making his
alliance appear less out of proportion with his pecuniary position. The
result was that his means were soon terribly reduced--and Rosanette was
entirely ignorant of the fact!

One of the lower middle-class, who had lost caste, she adored a domestic
life, a quiet little home. However, it gave her pleasure to have "an at
home day." In referring to persons of her own class, she called them
"Those women!" She wished to be a society lady, and believed herself to
be one. She begged of him not to smoke in the drawing-room any more, and
for the sake of good form tried to make herself look thin.

She played her part badly, after all; for she grew serious, and even
before going to bed always exhibited a little melancholy, just as there
are cypress trees at the door of a tavern.

He found out the cause of it; she was dreaming of marriage--she, too!
Frederick was exasperated at this. Besides, he recalled to mind her
appearance at Madame Arnoux's house, and then he cherished a certain
spite against her for having held out against him so long.

He made enquiries none the less as to who her lovers had been. She
denied having had any relations with any of the persons he mentioned. A
sort of jealous feeling took possession of him. He irritated her by
asking questions about presents that had been made to her, and were
still being made to her; and in proportion to the exciting effect which
the lower portion of her nature produced upon him, he was drawn towards
her by momentary illusions which ended in hate.

Her words, her voice, her smile, all had an unpleasant effect on him,
and especially her glances with that woman's eye forever limpid and
foolish. Sometimes he felt so tired of her that he would have seen her
die without being moved at it. But how could he get into a passion with
her? She was so mild that there was no hope of picking a quarrel with
her.

Deslauriers reappeared, and explained his sojourn at Nogent by saying
that he was making arrangements to buy a lawyer's office. Frederick was
glad to see him again. It was somebody! and as a third person in the
house, he helped to break the monotony.

The advocate dined with them from time to time, and whenever any little
disputes arose, always took Rosanette's part, so that Frederick, on one
occasion, said to him:

"Ah! you can have with her, if it amuses you!" so much did he long for
some chance of getting rid of her.

About the middle of the month of June, she was served with an order made
by the law courts by which Maître Athanase Gautherot, sheriff's officer,
called on her to pay him four thousand francs due to Mademoiselle
Clemence Vatnaz; if not, he would come to make a seizure on her.

In fact, of the four bills which she had at various times signed, only
one had been paid; the money which she happened to get since then having
been spent on other things that she required.

She rushed off at once to see Arnoux. He lived now in the Faubourg
Saint-Germain, and the porter was unable to tell her the name of the
street. She made her way next to the houses of several friends of hers,
could not find one of them at home, and came back in a state of utter
despair.

She did not wish to tell Frederick anything about it, fearing lest this
new occurrence might prejudice the chance of a marriage between them.

On the following morning, M. Athanase Gautherot presented himself with
two assistants close behind him, one of them sallow with a mean-looking
face and an expression of devouring envy in his glance, the other
wearing a collar and straps drawn very tightly, with a sort of thimble
of black taffeta on his index-finger--and both ignobly dirty, with
greasy necks, and the sleeves of their coats too short.

Their employer, a very good-looking man, on the contrary, began by
apologising for the disagreeable duty he had to perform, while at the
same time he threw a look round the room, "full of pretty things, upon
my word of honour!" He added, "Not to speak of the things that can't be
seized." At a gesture the two bailiff's men disappeared.

Then he became twice as polite as before. Could anyone believe that a
lady so charming would not have a genuine friend! A sale of her goods
under an order of the courts would be a real misfortune. One never gets
over a thing like that. He tried to excite her fears; then, seeing that
she was very much agitated, suddenly assumed a paternal tone. He knew
the world. He had been brought into business relations with all these
ladies--and as he mentioned their names, he examined the frames of the
pictures on the walls. They were old pictures of the worthy Arnoux,
sketches by Sombary, water-colours by Burieu, and three landscapes by
Dittmer. It was evident that Rosanette was ignorant of their value,
Maître Gautherot turned round to her:

"Look here! to show that I am a decent fellow, do one thing: give me up
those Dittmers here--and I am ready to pay all. Do you agree?"

At that moment Frederick, who had been informed about the matter by
Delphine in the anteroom, and who had just seen the two assistants, came
in with his hat on his head, in a rude fashion. Maître Gautherot resumed
his dignity; and, as the door had been left open:

"Come on, gentlemen--write down! In the second room, let us say--an oak
table with its two leaves, two sideboards----"

Frederick here stopped him, asking whether there was not some way of
preventing the seizure.

"Oh! certainly! Who paid for the furniture?"

"I did."

"Well, draw up a claim--you have still time to do it."

Maître Gautherot did not take long in writing out his official report,
wherein he directed that Mademoiselle Bron should attend at an enquiry
in chambers with reference to the ownership of the furniture, and having
done this he withdrew.

Frederick uttered no reproach. He gazed at the traces of mud left on the
floor by the bailiff's shoes, and, speaking to himself:

"It will soon be necessary to look about for money!"

"Ah! my God, how stupid I am!" said the Maréchale.

She ransacked a drawer, took out a letter, and made her way rapidly to
the Languedoc Gas Lighting Company, in order to get the transfer of her
shares.

She came back an hour later. The interest in the shares had been sold to
another. The clerk had said, in answer to her demand, while examining
the sheet of paper containing Arnoux's written promise to her: "This
document in no way constitutes you the proprietor of the shares. The
company has no cognisance of the matter." In short, he sent her away
unceremoniously, while she choked with rage; and Frederick would have to
go to Arnoux's house at once to have the matter cleared up.

But Arnoux would perhaps imagine that he had come to recover in an
indirect fashion the fifteen thousand francs due on the mortgage which
he had lost; and then this claim from a man who had been his mistress's
lover seemed to him a piece of baseness.

Selecting a middle course, he went to the Dambreuse mansion to get
Madame Regimbart's address, sent a messenger to her residence, and in
this way ascertained the name of the café which the Citizen now haunted.

It was the little café on the Place de la Bastille, in which he sat all
day in the corner to the right at the lower end of the establishment,
never moving any more than if he were a portion of the building.

After having gone successively through the half-cup of coffee, the glass
of grog, the "bishop," the glass of mulled wine, and even the red wine
and water, he fell back on beer, and every half hour he let fall this
word, "Bock!" having reduced his language to what was actually
indispensable. Frederick asked him if he saw Arnoux occasionally.

"No!"

"Look here--why?"

"An imbecile!"

Politics, perhaps, kept them apart, and so Frederick thought it a
judicious thing to enquire about Compain.

"What a brute!" said Regimbart.

"How is that?"

"His calf's head!"

"Ha! explain to me what the calf's head is!"

Regimbart's face wore a contemptuous smile.

"Some tomfoolery!"

After a long interval of silence, Frederick went on to ask:

"So, then, he has changed his address?"

"Who?"

"Arnoux!"

"Yes--Rue de Fleurus!"

"What number?"

"Do I associate with the Jesuits?"

"What, Jesuits!"

The Citizen replied angrily:

"With the money of a patriot whom I introduced to him, this pig has set
up as a dealer in beads!"

"It isn't possible!"

"Go there, and see for yourself!"

It was perfectly true; Arnoux, enfeebled by a fit of sickness, had
turned religious; besides, he had always had a stock of religion in his
composition, and (with that mixture of commercialism and ingenuity which
was natural to him), in order to gain salvation and fortune both
together, he had begun to traffick in religious objects.

Frederick had no difficulty in discovering his establishment,
on whose signboard appeared these words: "_Emporium of Gothic
Art_--Restoration of articles used in ecclesiastical ceremonies--Church
ornaments--Polychromatic sculpture--Frankincense of the Magi, Kings,
&c., &c."

At the two corners of the shop-window rose two wooden statues, streaked
with gold, cinnabar, and azure, a Saint John the Baptist with his
sheepskin, and a Saint Genevieve with roses in her apron and a distaff
under her arm; next, groups in plaster, a good sister teaching a little
girl, a mother on her knees beside a little bed, and three collegians
before the holy table. The prettiest object there was a kind of châlet
representing the interior of a crib with the ass, the ox, and the child
Jesus stretched on straw--real straw. From the top to the bottom of the
shelves could be seen medals by the dozen, every sort of beads,
holy-water basins in the form of shells, and portraits of ecclesiastical
dignitaries, amongst whom Monsignor Affre and our Holy Father shone
forth with smiles on their faces.

Arnoux sat asleep at his counter with his head down. He had aged
terribly. He had even round his temples a wreath of rosebuds, and the
reflection of the gold crosses touched by the rays of the sun fell over
him.

Frederick was filled with sadness at this spectacle of decay. Through
devotion to the Maréchale he, however, submitted to the ordeal, and
stepped forward. At the end of the shop Madame Arnoux showed herself;
thereupon, he turned on his heel.

"I couldn't see him," he said, when he came back to Rosanette.

And in vain he went on to promise that he would write at once to his
notary at Havre for some money--she flew into a rage. She had never seen
a man so weak, so flabby. While she was enduring a thousand privations,
other people were enjoying themselves.

Frederick was thinking about poor Madame Arnoux, and picturing to
himself the heart-rending impoverishment of her surroundings. He had
seated himself before the writing-desk; and, as Rosanette's voice still
kept up its bitter railing:

"Ah! in the name of Heaven, hold your tongue!"

"Perhaps you are going to defend them?"

"Well, yes!" he exclaimed; "for what's the cause of this display of
fury?"

"But why is it that you don't want to make them pay up? 'Tis for fear of
vexing your old flame--confess it!"

He felt an inclination to smash her head with the timepiece. Words
failed him. He relapsed into silence.

Rosanette, as she walked up and down the room, continued:

"I am going to hurl a writ at this Arnoux of yours. Oh! I don't want
your assistance. I'll get legal advice."

Three days later, Delphine rushed abruptly into the room where her
mistress sat.

"Madame! madame! there's a man here with a pot of paste who has given me
a fright!"

Rosanette made her way down to the kitchen, and saw there a vagabond
whose face was pitted with smallpox. Moreover, one of his arms was
paralysed, and he was three fourths drunk, and hiccoughed every time he
attempted to speak.

This was Maître Gautherot's bill-sticker. The objections raised against
the seizure having been overruled, the sale followed as a matter of
course.

For his trouble in getting up the stairs he demanded, in the first
place, a half-glass of brandy; then he wanted another favour, namely,
tickets for the theatre, on the assumption that the lady of the house
was an actress. After this he indulged for some minutes in winks, whose
import was perfectly incomprehensible. Finally, he declared that for
forty sous he would tear off the corners of the poster which he had
already affixed to the door below stairs. Rosanette found herself
referred to by name in it--a piece of exceptional harshness which showed
the spite of the Vatnaz.

She had at one time exhibited sensibility, and had even, while suffering
from the effects of a heartache, written to Béranger for his advice. But
under the ravages of life's storms, her spirit had become soured, for
she had been forced, in turn, to give lessons on the piano, to act as
manageress of a _table d'hôte_, to assist others in writing for the
fashion journals, to sublet apartments, and to traffic in lace in the
world of light women, her relations with whom enabled her to make
herself useful to many persons, and amongst others to Arnoux. She had
formerly been employed in a commercial establishment.

There it was one of her functions to pay the workwomen; and for each of
them there were two livres, one of which always remained in her hands.
Dussardier, who, through kindness, kept the amount payable to a girl
named Hortense Baslin, presented himself one day at the cash-office at
the moment when Mademoiselle Vatnaz was presenting this girl's account,
1,682 francs, which the cashier paid her. Now, on the very day before
this, Dussardier had entered down the sum as 1,082 in the girl Baslin's
book. He asked to have it given back to him on some pretext; then,
anxious to bury out of sight the story of this theft, he stated that he
had lost it. The workwoman ingenuously repeated this falsehood to
Mademoiselle Vatnaz, and the latter, in order to satisfy her mind about
the matter, came with a show of indifference to talk to the shopman on
the subject. He contented himself with the answer: "I have burned
it!"--that was all. A little while afterwards she quitted the house,
without believing that the book had been really destroyed, and filled
with the idea that Dussardier had preserved it.

On hearing that he had been wounded, she rushed to his abode, with the
object of getting it back. Then, having discovered nothing, in spite of
the closest searches, she was seized with respect, and presently with
love, for this youth, so loyal, so gentle, so heroic and so strong! At
her age such good fortune in an affair of the heart was a thing that one
would not expect. She threw herself into it with the appetite of an
ogress; and she had given up literature, Socialism, "the consoling
doctrines and the generous Utopias," the course of lectures which she
had projected on the "Desubalternization of Woman"--everything, even
Delmar himself; finally she offered to unite herself to Dussardier in
marriage.

Although she was his mistress, he was not at all in love with her.
Besides, he had not forgotten her theft. Then she was too wealthy for
him. He refused her offer. Thereupon, with tears in her eyes, she told
him about what she had dreamed--it was to have for both of them a
confectioner's shop. She possessed the capital that was required
beforehand for the purpose, and next week this would be increased to the
extent of four thousand francs. By way of explanation, she referred to
the proceedings she had taken against the Maréchale.

Dussardier was annoyed at this on account of his friend. He recalled to
mind the cigar-holder that had been presented to him at the guard-house,
the evenings spent in the Quai Napoléon, the many pleasant chats, the
books lent to him, the thousand acts of kindness which Frederick had
done in his behalf. He begged of the Vatnaz to abandon the proceedings.

She rallied him on his good nature, while exhibiting an antipathy
against Rosanette which he could not understand. She longed only for
wealth, in fact, in order to crush her, by-and-by, with her four-wheeled
carriage.

Dussardier was terrified by these black abysses of hate, and when he had
ascertained what was the exact day fixed for the sale, he hurried out.
On the following morning he made his appearance at Frederick's house
with an embarrassed countenance.

"I owe you an apology."

"For what, pray?"

"You must take me for an ingrate, I, whom she is the----" He faltered.

"Oh! I'll see no more of her. I am not going to be her accomplice!" And
as the other was gazing at him in astonishment:

"Isn't your mistress's furniture to be sold in three days' time?"

"Who told you that?"

"Herself--the Vatnaz! But I am afraid of giving you offence----"

"Impossible, my dear friend!"

"Ah! that is true--you are so good!"

And he held out to him, in a cautious fashion, a hand in which he
clasped a little pocket-book made of sheep-leather.

It contained four thousand francs--all his savings.

"What! Oh! no! no!----"

"I knew well I would wound your feelings," returned Dussardier, with a
tear in the corner of his eye.

Frederick pressed his hand, and the honest fellow went on in a piteous
tone:

"Take the money! Give me that much pleasure! I am in such a state of
despair. Can it be, furthermore, that all is over? I thought we should
be happy when the Revolution had come. Do you remember what a beautiful
thing it was? how freely we breathed! But here we are flung back into a
worse condition of things than ever.

"Now, they are killing our Republic, just as they killed the other
one--the Roman! ay, and poor Venice! poor Poland! poor Hungary! What
abominable deeds! First of all, they knocked down the trees of Liberty,
then they restricted the right to vote, shut up the clubs,
re-established the censorship and surrendered to the priests the power
of teaching, so that we might look out for the Inquisition. Why not? The
Conservatives want to give us a taste of the stick. The newspapers are
fined merely for pronouncing an opinion in favour of abolishing the
death-penalty. Paris is overflowing with bayonets; sixteen departments
are in a state of siege; and then the demand for amnesty is again
rejected!"

He placed both hands on his forehead, then, spreading out his arms as if
his mind were in a distracted state:

"If, however, we only made the effort! if we were only sincere, we might
understand each other. But no! The workmen are no better than the
capitalists, you see! At Elboeuf recently they refused to help at a
fire! There are wretches who profess to regard Barbès as an aristocrat!
In order to make the people ridiculous, they want to get nominated for
the presidency Nadaud, a mason--just imagine! And there is no way out of
it--no remedy! Everybody is against us! For my part, I have never done
any harm; and yet this is like a weight pressing down on my stomach. If
this state of things continues, I'll go mad. I have a mind to do away
with myself. I tell you I want no money for myself! You'll pay it back
to me, deuce take it! I am lending it to you."

Frederick, who felt himself constrained by necessity, ended by taking
the four thousand francs from him. And so they had no more disquietude
so far as the Vatnaz was concerned.

But it was not long ere Rosanette was defeated in her action against
Arnoux; and through sheer obstinacy she wished to appeal.

Deslauriers exhausted his energies in trying to make her understand that
Arnoux's promise constituted neither a gift nor a regular transfer. She
did not even pay the slightest attention to him, her notion being that
the law was unjust--it was because she was a woman; men backed up each
other amongst themselves. In the end, however, she followed his advice.

He made himself so much at home in the house, that on several occasions
he brought Sénécal to dine there. Frederick, who had advanced him money,
and even got his own tailor to supply him with clothes, did not like
this unceremoniousness; and the advocate gave his old clothes to the
Socialist, whose means of existence were now of an exceedingly uncertain
character.

He was, however, anxious to be of service to Rosanette. One day, when
she showed him a dozen shares in the Kaolin Company (that enterprise
which led to Arnoux being cast in damages to the extent of thirty
thousand francs), he said to her:

"But this is a shady transaction, and you have now a grand chance!"

She had the right to call on him to pay her debts. In the first place,
she could prove that he was jointly bound to pay all the company's
liabilities, since he had certified personal debts as collective
debts--in short, he had embezzled sums which were payable only to the
company.

"All this renders him guilty of fraudulent bankruptcy under articles 586
and 587 of the Commercial Code, and you may be sure, my pet, we'll send
him packing."

Rosanette threw herself on his neck. He entrusted her case next day to
his former master, not having time to devote attention to it himself,
as he had business at Nogent. In case of any urgency, Sénécal could
write to him.

His negotiations for the purchase of an office were a mere pretext. He
spent his time at M. Roque's house, where he had begun not only by
sounding the praises of their friend, but by imitating his manners and
language as much as possible; and in this way he had gained Louise's
confidence, while he won over that of her father by making an attack on
Ledru-Rollin.

If Frederick did not return, it was because he mingled in aristocratic
society, and gradually Deslauriers gave them to understand that he was
in love with somebody, that he had a child, and that he was keeping a
fallen creature.

The despair of Louise was intense. The indignation of Madame Moreau was
not less strong. She saw her son whirling towards the bottom of a gulf
the depth of which could not be determined, was wounded in her religious
ideas as to propriety, and as it were, experienced a sense of personal
dishonour; then all of a sudden her physiognomy underwent a change. To
the questions which people put to her with regard to Frederick, she
replied in a sly fashion:

"He is well, quite well."'

She was aware that he was about to be married to Madame Dambreuse.

The date of the event had been fixed, and he was even trying to think of
some way of making Rosanette swallow the thing.

About the middle of autumn she won her action with reference to the
kaolin shares. Frederick was informed about it by Sénécal, whom he met
at his own door, on his way back from the courts.

It had been held that M. Arnoux was privy to all the frauds, and the
ex-tutor had such an air of making merry over it that Frederick
prevented him from coming further, assuring Sénécal that he would convey
the intelligence to Rosanette. He presented himself before her with a
look of irritation on his face.

"Well, now you are satisfied!"

But, without minding what he had said:

"Look here!"

And she pointed towards her child, which was lying in a cradle close to
the fire. She had found it so sick at the house of the wet-nurse that
morning that she had brought it back with her to Paris.

All the infant's limbs were exceedingly thin, and the lips were covered
with white specks, which in the interior of the mouth became, so to
speak, clots of blood-stained milk.

"What did the doctor say?"

"Oh! the doctor! He pretends that the journey has increased his--I don't
know what it is, some name in 'ite'--in short, that he has the
thrush.[L] Do you know what that is?"

Frederick replied without hesitation: "Certainly," adding that it was
nothing.

But in the evening he was alarmed by the child's debilitated look and by
the progress of these whitish spots, resembling mould, as if life,
already abandoning this little frame, had left now nothing but matter
from which vegetation was sprouting. His hands were cold; he was no
longer able to drink anything; and the nurse, another woman, whom the
porter had gone and taken on chance at an office, kept repeating:

"It seems to me he's very low, very low!"


[L] This disease, consisting of ulceration of the tongue and palate, is
also called _aphthæ_--TRANSLATOR.


Rosanette was up all night with the child.

In the morning she went to look for Frederick.

"Just come and look at him. He doesn't move any longer."

In fact, he was dead. She took him up, shook him, clasped him in her
arms, calling him most tender names, covered him with kisses, broke into
sobs, turned herself from one side to the other in a state of
distraction, tore her hair, uttered a number of shrieks, and then let
herself sink on the edge of the divan, where she lay with her mouth open
and a flood of tears rushing from her wildly-glaring eyes.

Then a torpor fell upon her, and all became still in the apartment. The
furniture was overturned. Two or three napkins were lying on the floor.
It struck six. The night-light had gone out.

Frederick, as he gazed at the scene, could almost believe that he was
dreaming. His heart was oppressed with anguish. It seemed to him that
this death was only a beginning, and that behind it was a worse
calamity, which was just about to come on.

Suddenly, Rosanette said in an appealing tone:

"We'll preserve the body--shall we not?"

She wished to have the dead child embalmed. There were many objections
to this. The principal one, in Frederick's opinion, was that the thing
was impracticable in the case of children so young. A portrait would be
better. She adopted this idea. He wrote a line to Pellerin, and Delphine
hastened to deliver it.

Pellerin arrived speedily, anxious by this display of zeal to efface
all recollection of his former conduct. The first thing he said was:

"Poor little angel! Ah, my God, what a misfortune!"

But gradually (the artist in him getting the upper hand) he declared
that nothing could be made out of those yellowish eyes, that livid face,
that it was a real case of still-life, and would, therefore, require
very great talent to treat it effectively; and so he murmured:

"Oh, 'tisn't easy--'tisn't easy!"

"No matter, as long as it is life-like," urged Rosanette.

"Pooh! what do I care about a thing being life-like? Down with Realism!
'Tis the spirit that must be portrayed by the painter! Let me alone! I
am going to try to conjure up what it ought to be!"

He reflected, with his left hand clasping his brow, and with his right
hand clutching his elbow; then, all of a sudden:

"Ha, I have an idea! a pastel! With coloured mezzotints, almost spread
out flat, a lovely model could be obtained with the outer surface
alone!"

He sent the chambermaid to look for his box of colours; then, having a
chair under his feet and another by his side, he began to throw out
great touches with as much complacency as if he had drawn them in
accordance with the bust. He praised the little Saint John of Correggio,
the Infanta Rosa of Velasquez, the milk-white flesh-tints of Reynolds,
the distinction of Lawrence, and especially the child with long hair
that sits in Lady Gower's lap.

"Besides, could you find anything more charming than these little toads?
The type of the sublime (Raphael has proved it by his Madonnas) is
probably a mother with her child?"

Rosanette, who felt herself stifling, went away; and presently Pellerin
said:

"Well, about Arnoux; you know what has happened?"

"No! What?"

"However, it was bound to end that way!"

"What has happened, might I ask?"

"Perhaps by this time he is----Excuse me!"

The artist got up in order to raise the head of the little corpse
higher.

"You were saying----" Frederick resumed.

And Pellerin, half-closing his eyes, in order to take his dimensions
better:

"I was saying that our friend Arnoux is perhaps by this time locked up!"

Then, in a tone of satisfaction:

"Just give a little glance at it. Is that the thing?"

"Yes, 'tis quite right. But about Arnoux?"

Pellerin laid down his pencil.

"As far as I could understand, he was sued by one Mignot, an intimate
friend of Regimbart--a long-headed fellow that, eh? What an idiot! Just
imagine! one day----"

"What! it's not Regimbart that's in question, is it?"

"It is, indeed! Well, yesterday evening, Arnoux had to produce twelve
thousand francs; if not, he was a ruined man."

"Oh! this perhaps is exaggerated," said Frederick.

"Not a bit. It looked to me a very serious business, very serious!"

At that moment Rosanette reappeared, with red spots under her eyes,
which glowed like dabs of paint. She sat down near the drawing and
gazed at it. Pellerin made a sign to the other to hold his tongue on
account of her. But Frederick, without minding her:

"Nevertheless, I can't believe----"

"I tell you I met him yesterday," said the artist, "at seven o'clock in
the evening, in the Rue Jacob. He had even taken the precaution to have
his passport with him; and he spoke about embarking from Havre, he and
his whole camp."

"What! with his wife?"

"No doubt. He is too much of a family man to live by himself."

"And are you sure of this?"

"Certain, faith! Where do you expect him to find twelve thousand
francs?"

Frederick took two or three turns round the room. He panted for breath,
bit his lips, and then snatched up his hat.

"Where are you going now?" said Rosanette.

He made no reply, and the next moment he had disappeared.



CHAPTER XVIII.

AN AUCTION.


Twelve thousand francs should be procured, or, if not, he would see
Madame Arnoux no more; and until now there had lingered in his breast an
unconquerable hope. Did she not, as it were, constitute the very
substance of his heart, the very basis of his life? For some minutes he
went staggering along the footpath, his mind tortured with anxiety, and
nevertheless gladdened by the thought that he was no longer by the
other's side.

Where was he to get the money? Frederick was well aware from his own
experience how hard it was to obtain it immediately, no matter at what
cost. There was only one person who could help him in the matter--Madame
Dambreuse. She always kept a good supply of bank-notes in her
escritoire. He called at her house; and in an unblushing fashion:

"Have you twelve thousand francs to lend me?"

"What for?"

That was another person's secret. She wanted to know who this person
was. He would not give way on this point. They were equally determined
not to yield. Finally, she declared that she would give nothing until
she knew for what purpose it was wanted.

Frederick's face became very flushed; and he stated that one of his
comrades had committed a theft. It was necessary to replace the sum this
very day.

"Let me know his name? His name? Come! what's his name?"

"Dussardier!"

And he threw himself on his knees, imploring of her to say nothing about
it.

"What idea have you got into your head about me?" Madame Dambreuse
replied. "One would imagine that you were the guilty party yourself.
Pray, have done with your tragic airs! Hold on! here's the money! and
much good may it do him!"

He hurried off to see Arnoux. That worthy merchant was not in his shop.
But he was still residing in the Rue de Paradis, for he had two
domiciles.

In the Rue de Paradis, the porter said that M. Arnoux had been away
since the evening before. As for Madame, he ventured to say nothing; and
Frederick, having rushed like an arrow up the stairs, laid his ear
against the keyhole. At length, the door was opened. Madame had gone out
with Monsieur. The servant could not say when they would be back; her
wages had been paid, and she was leaving herself.

Suddenly he heard the door creaking.

"But is there anyone in the room?"

"Oh, no, Monsieur! it is the wind."

Thereupon he withdrew. There was something inexplicable in such a rapid
disappearance.

Regimbart, being Mignot's intimate friend, could perhaps enlighten him?
And Frederick got himself driven to that gentleman's house at
Montmartre in the Rue l'Empereur.

Attached to the house there was a small garden shut in by a grating
which was stopped up with iron plates. Three steps before the hall-door
set off the white front; and a person passing along the footpath could
see the two rooms on the ground-floor, the first of which was a parlour
with ladies' dresses lying on the furniture on every side, and the
second the workshop in which Madame Regimbart's female assistants were
accustomed to sit.

They were all convinced that Monsieur had important occupations,
distinguished connections, that he was a man altogether beyond
comparison. When he was passing through the lobby with his hat cocked up
at the sides, his long grave face, and his green frock-coat, the girls
stopped in the midst of their work. Besides, he never failed to address
to them a few words of encouragement, some observation which showed his
ceremonious courtesy; and, afterwards, in their own homes they felt
unhappy at not having been able to preserve him as their ideal.

No one, however, was so devoted to him as Madame Regimbart, an
intelligent little woman, who maintained him by her handicraft.

As soon as M. Moreau had given his name, she came out quickly to meet
him, knowing through the servants what his relations were with Madame
Dambreuse. Her husband would be back in a moment; and Frederick, while
he followed her, admired the appearance of the house and the profusion
of oil-cloth that was displayed in it. Then he waited a few minutes in a
kind of office, into which the Citizen was in the habit of retiring, in
order to be alone with his thoughts.

When they met, Regimbart's manner was less cranky than usual.

He related Arnoux's recent history. The ex-manufacturer of earthenware
had excited the vanity of Mignot, a patriot who owned a hundred shares
in the _Siècle_, by professing to show that it would be necessary from
the democratic standpoint to change the management and the editorship of
the newspaper; and under the pretext of making his views prevail in the
next meeting of shareholders, he had given the other fifty shares,
telling him that he could pass them on to reliable friends who would
back up his vote. Mignot would have no personal responsibility, and need
not annoy himself about anyone; then, when he had achieved success, he
would be able to secure a good place in the administration of at least
from five to six thousand francs. The shares had been delivered. But
Arnoux had at once sold them, and with the money had entered into
partnership with a dealer in religious articles. Thereupon came
complaints from Mignot, to which Arnoux sent evasive answers. At last
the patriot had threatened to bring against him a charge of cheating if
he did not restore his share-certificates or pay an equivalent
sum--fifty thousand francs.

Frederick's face wore a look of despondency.

"That is not the whole of it," said the Citizen. "Mignot, who is an
honest fellow, has reduced his claim to one fourth. New promises on the
part of the other, and, of course, new dodges. In short, on the morning
of the day before yesterday Mignot sent him a written application to pay
up, within twenty-four hours, twelve thousand francs, without prejudice
to the balance."

"But I have the amount!" said Frederick.

The Citizen slowly turned round:

"Humbug!"

"Excuse me! I have the money in my pocket. I brought it with me."

"How you do go at it! By Jove, you do! However, 'tis too late now--the
complaint has been lodged, and Arnoux is gone."

"Alone?"

"No! along with his wife. They were seen at the Havre terminus."

Frederick grew exceedingly pale. Madame Regimbart thought he was going
to faint. He regained his self-possession with an effort, and had even
sufficient presence of mind to ask two or three questions about the
occurrence. Regimbart was grieved at the affair, considering that it
would injure the cause of Democracy. Arnoux had always been lax in his
conduct and disorderly in his life.

"A regular hare-brained fellow! He burned the candle at both ends! The
petticoat has ruined him! 'Tis not himself that I pity, but his poor
wife!" For the Citizen admired virtuous women, and had a great esteem
for Madame Arnoux.

"She must have suffered a nice lot!"

Frederick felt grateful to him for his sympathy; and, as if Regimbart
had done him a service, pressed his hand effusively.

"Have you done all that's necessary in the matter?" was Rosanette's
greeting to him when she saw him again.

He had not been able to pluck up courage to do it, he answered, and
walked about the streets at random to divert his thoughts.

At eight o'clock, they passed into the dining-room; but they remained
seated face to face in silence, gave vent each to a deep sigh every now
and then, and pushed away their plates.

Frederick drank some brandy. He felt quite shattered, crushed,
annihilated, no longer conscious of anything save a sensation of extreme
fatigue.

She went to look at the portrait. The red, the yellow, the green, and
the indigo made glaring stains that jarred with each other, so that it
looked a hideous thing--almost ridiculous.

Besides, the dead child was now unrecognisable. The purple hue of his
lips made the whiteness of his skin more remarkable. His nostrils were
more drawn than before, his eyes more hollow; and his head rested on a
pillow of blue taffeta, surrounded by petals of camelias, autumn roses,
and violets. This was an idea suggested by the chambermaid, and both of
them had thus with pious care arranged the little corpse. The
mantelpiece, covered with a cloth of guipure, supported silver-gilt
candlesticks with bunches of consecrated box in the spaces between them.
At the corners there were a pair of vases in which pastilles were
burning. All these things, taken in conjunction with the cradle,
presented the aspect of an altar; and Frederick recalled to mind the
night when he had watched beside M. Dambreuse's death-bed.

Nearly every quarter of an hour Rosanette drew aside the curtains in
order to take a look at her child. She saw him in imagination, a few
months hence, beginning to walk; then at college, in the middle of the
recreation-ground, playing a game of base; then at twenty years a
full-grown young man; and all these pictures conjured up by her brain
created for her, as it were, the son she would have lost, had he only
lived, the excess of her grief intensifying in her the maternal
instinct.

Frederick, sitting motionless in another armchair, was thinking of
Madame Arnoux.

No doubt she was at that moment in a train, with her face leaning
against a carriage window, while she watched the country disappearing
behind her in the direction of Paris, or else on the deck of a
steamboat, as on the occasion when they first met; but this vessel
carried her away into distant countries, from which she would never
return. He next saw her in a room at an inn, with trunks covering the
floor, the wall-paper hanging in shreds, and the door shaking in the
wind. And after that--to what would she be compelled to turn? Would she
have to become a school-mistress or a lady's companion, or perhaps a
chambermaid? She was exposed to all the vicissitudes of poverty. His
utter ignorance as to what her fate might be tortured his mind. He ought
either to have opposed her departure or to have followed her. Was he not
her real husband? And as the thought impressed itself on his
consciousness that he would never meet her again, that it was all over
forever, that she was lost to him beyond recall, he felt, so to speak, a
rending of his entire being, and the tears that had been gathering since
morning in his heart overflowed.

Rosanette noticed the tears in his eyes.

"Ah! you are crying just like me! You are grieving, too?"

"Yes! yes! I am----"

He pressed her to his heart, and they both sobbed, locked in each
other's arms.

Madame Dambreuse was weeping too, as she lay, face downwards, on her
bed, with her hands clasped over her head.

Olympe Regimbart having come that evening to try on her first coloured
gown after mourning, had told her about Frederick's visit, and even
about the twelve thousand francs which he had ready to transfer to M.
Arnoux.

So, then, this money, the very money which he had got from her, was
intended to be used simply for the purpose of preventing the other from
leaving Paris--for the purpose, in fact, of preserving a mistress!

At first, she broke into a violent rage, and determined to drive him
from her door, as she would have driven a lackey. A copious flow of
tears produced a soothing effect upon her. It was better to keep it all
to herself, and say nothing about it.

Frederick brought her back the twelve thousand francs on the following
day.

She begged of him to keep the money lest he might require it for his
friend, and she asked a number of questions about this gentleman. Who,
then, had tempted him to such a breach of trust? A woman, no doubt!
Women drag you into every kind of crime.

This bantering tone put Frederick out of countenance. He felt deep
remorse for the calumny he had invented. He was reassured by the
reflection that Madame Dambreuse could not be aware of the facts. All
the same, she was very persistent about the subject; for, two days
later, she again made enquiries about his young friend, and, after that,
about another--Deslauriers.

"Is this young man trustworthy and intelligent?"

Frederick spoke highly of him.

"Ask him to call on me one of these mornings; I want to consult him
about a matter of business."

She had found a roll of old papers in which there were some bills of
Arnoux, which had been duly protested, and which had been signed by
Madame Arnoux. It was about these very bills Frederick had called on M.
Dambreuse on one occasion while the latter was at breakfast; and,
although the capitalist had not sought to enforce repayment of this
outstanding debt, he had not only got judgment on foot of them from the
Tribunal of Commerce against Arnoux, but also against his wife, who knew
nothing about the matter, as her husband had not thought fit to give her
any information on the point.

Here was a weapon placed in Madame Dambreuse's hands--she had no doubt
about it. But her notary would advise her to take no step in the affair.
She would have preferred to act through some obscure person, and she
thought of that big fellow with such an impudent expression of face, who
had offered her his services.

Frederick ingenuously performed this commission for her.

The advocate was enchanted at the idea of having business relations with
such an aristocratic lady.

He hurried to Madame Dambreuse's house.

She informed him that the inheritance belonged to her niece, a further
reason for liquidating those debts which she should repay, her object
being to overwhelm Martinon's wife by a display of greater attention to
the deceased's affairs.

Deslauriers guessed that there was some hidden design underlying all
this. He reflected while he was examining the bills. Madame Arnoux's
name, traced by her own hand, brought once more before his eyes her
entire person, and the insult which he had received at her hands. Since
vengeance was offered to him, why should he not snatch at it?

He accordingly advised Madame Dambreuse to have the bad debts which went
with the inheritance sold by auction. A man of straw, whose name would
not be divulged, would buy them up, and would exercise the legal rights
thus given him to realise them. He would take it on himself to provide a
man to discharge this function.

Towards the end of the month of November, Frederick, happening to pass
through the street in which Madame Arnoux had lived, raised his eyes
towards the windows of her house, and saw posted on the door a placard
on which was printed in large letters:

"Sale of valuable furniture, consisting of kitchen utensils, body and
table linen, shirts and chemises, lace, petticoats, trousers, French and
Indian cashmeres, an Erard piano, two Renaissance oak chests, Venetian
mirrors, Chinese and Japanese pottery."

"'Tis their furniture!" said Frederick to himself, and his suspicions
were confirmed by the doorkeeper.

As for the person who had given instructions for the sale, he could get
no information on that head. But perhaps the auctioneer, Maître
Berthelmot, might be able to throw light on the subject.

The functionary did not at first want to tell what creditor was having
the sale carried out. Frederick pressed him on the point. It was a
gentleman named Sénécal, an agent; and Maître Berthelmot even carried
his politeness so far as to lend his newspaper--the _Petites
Affiches_--to Frederick.

The latter, on reaching Rosanette's house, flung down this paper on the
table spread wide open.

"Read that!"

"Well, what?" said she with a face so calm that it roused up in him a
feeling of revolt.

"Ah! keep up that air of innocence!"

"I don't understand what you mean."

"'Tis you who are selling out Madame Arnoux yourself!"

She read over the announcement again.

"Where is her name?"

"Oh! 'tis her furniture. You know that as well as I do."

"What does that signify to me?" said Rosanette, shrugging her shoulders.

"What does it signify to you? But you are taking your revenge, that's
all. This is the consequence of your persecutions. Haven't you outraged
her so far as to call at her house?--you, a worthless creature! and this
to the most saintly, the most charming, the best woman that ever lived!
Why do you set your heart on ruining her?"

"I assure you, you are mistaken!"

"Come now! As if you had not put Sénécal forward to do this!"

"What nonsense!"

Then he was carried away with rage.

"You lie! you lie! you wretch! You are jealous of her! You have got a
judgment against her husband! Sénécal is already mixed up in your
affairs. He detests Arnoux; and your two hatreds have entered into a
combination with one another. I saw how delighted he was when you won
that action of yours about the kaolin shares. Are you going to deny
this?"

"I give you my word----"

"Oh, I know what that's worth--your word!"

And Frederick reminded her of her lovers, giving their names and
circumstantial details. Rosanette drew back, all the colour fading from
her face.

"You are astonished at this. You thought I was blind because I shut my
eyes. Now I have had enough of it. We do not die through the treacheries
of a woman of your sort. When they become too monstrous we get out of
the way. To inflict punishment on account of them would be only to
degrade oneself."

She twisted her arms about.

"My God, who can it be that has changed him?"

"Nobody but yourself."

"And all this for Madame Arnoux!" exclaimed Rosanette, weeping.

He replied coldly:

"I have never loved any woman but her!"

At this insult her tears ceased to flow.

"That shows your good taste! A woman of mature years, with a complexion
like liquorice, a thick waist, big eyes like the ventholes of a cellar,
and just as empty! As you like her so much, go and join her!"

"This is just what I expected. Thank you!"

Rosanette remained motionless, stupefied by this extraordinary
behaviour.

She even allowed the door to be shut; then, with a bound, she pulled him
back into the anteroom, and flinging her arms around him:

"Why, you are mad! you are mad! this is absurd! I love you!" Then she
changed her tone to one of entreaty:

"Good heavens! for the sake of our dead infant!"

"Confess that it was you who did this trick!" said Frederick.

She still protested that she was innocent.

"You will not acknowledge it?"

"No!"

"Well, then, farewell! and forever!"

"Listen to me!"

Frederick turned round:

"If you understood me better, you would know that my decision is
irrevocable!"

"Oh! oh! you will come back to me again!"

"Never as long as I live!"

And he slammed the door behind him violently.

Rosanette wrote to Deslauriers saying that she wanted to see him at
once.

He called one evening, about five days later; and, when she told him
about the rupture:

"That's all! A nice piece of bad luck!"

She thought at first that he would have been able to bring back
Frederick; but now all was lost. She ascertained through the doorkeeper
that he was about to be married to Madame Dambreuse.

Deslauriers gave her a lecture, and showed himself an exceedingly gay
fellow, quite a jolly dog; and, as it was very late, asked permission to
pass the night in an armchair.

Then, next morning, he set out again for Nogent, informing her that he
was unable to say when they would meet once more. In a little while,
there would perhaps be a great change in his life.

Two hours after his return, the town was in a state of revolution. The
news went round that M. Frederick was going to marry Madame Dambreuse.
At length the three Mesdemoiselles Auger, unable to stand it any longer,
made their way to the house of Madame Moreau, who with an air of pride
confirmed this intelligence. Père Roque became quite ill when he heard
it. Louise locked herself up; it was even rumoured that she had gone
mad.

Meanwhile, Frederick was unable to hide his dejection. Madame Dambreuse,
in order to divert his mind, no doubt, from gloomy thoughts, redoubled
her attentions. Every afternoon they went out for a drive in her
carriage; and, on one occasion, as they were passing along the Place de
la Bourse, she took the idea into her head to pay a visit to the public
auction-rooms for the sake of amusement.

It was the 1st of December, the very day on which the sale of Madame
Arnoux's furniture was to take place. He remembered the date, and
manifested his repugnance, declaring that this place was intolerable on
account of the crush and the noise. She only wanted to get a peep at it.
The brougham drew up. He had no alternative but to accompany her.

In the open space could be seen washhand-stands without basins, the
wooden portions of armchairs, old hampers, pieces of porcelain, empty
bottles, mattresses; and men in blouses or in dirty frock-coats, all
grey with dust, and mean-looking faces, some with canvas sacks over
their shoulders, were chatting in separate groups or hailing each other
in a disorderly fashion.

Frederick urged that it was inconvenient to go on any further.

"Pooh!"

And they ascended the stairs. In the first room, at the right,
gentlemen, with catalogues in their hands, were examining pictures; in
another, a collection of Chinese weapons were being sold. Madame
Dambreuse wanted to go down again. She looked at the numbers over the
doors, and she led him to the end of the corridor towards an apartment
which was blocked up with people.

He immediately recognised the two whatnots belonging to the office of
_L'Art Industriel_, her work-table, all her furniture. Heaped up at the
end of the room according to their respective heights, they formed a
long slope from the floor to the windows, and at the other sides of the
apartment, the carpets and the curtains hung down straight along the
walls. There were underneath steps occupied by old men who had fallen
asleep. At the left rose a sort of counter at which the auctioneer, in a
white cravat, was lightly swinging a little hammer. By his side a young
man was writing, and below him stood a sturdy fellow, between a
commercial traveller and a vendor of countermarks, crying out:
"Furniture for sale." Three attendants placed the articles on a table,
at the sides of which sat in a row second-hand dealers and old-clothes'
women. The general public at the auction kept walking in a circle behind
them.

When Frederick came in, the petticoats, the neckerchiefs, and even the
chemises were being passed on from hand to hand, and then given back.
Sometimes they were flung some distance, and suddenly strips of
whiteness went flying through the air. After that her gowns were sold,
and then one of her hats, the broken feather of which was hanging down,
then her furs, and then three pairs of boots; and the disposal by sale
of these relics, wherein he could trace in a confused sort of way the
very outlines of her form, appeared to him an atrocity, as if he had
seen carrion crows mangling her corpse. The atmosphere of the room,
heavy with so many breaths, made him feel sick. Madame Dambreuse offered
him her smelling-bottle. She said that she found all this highly
amusing.

The bedroom furniture was now exhibited. Maître Berthelmot named a
price. The crier immediately repeated it in a louder voice, and the
three auctioneer's assistants quietly waited for the stroke of the
hammer, and then carried off the article sold to an adjoining apartment.
In this way disappeared, one after the other, the large blue carpet
spangled with camellias, which her dainty feet used to touch so lightly
as she advanced to meet him, the little upholstered easy-chair, in which
he used to sit facing her when they were alone together, the two screens
belonging to the mantelpiece, the ivory of which had been rendered
smoother by the touch of her hands, and a velvet pincushion, which was
still bristling with pins. It was as if portions of his heart had been
carried away with these things; and the monotony of the same voices and
the same gestures benumbed him with fatigue, and caused within him a
mournful torpor, a sensation like that of death itself.

There was a rustle of silk close to his ear. Rosanette touched him.

It was through Frederick himself that she had learned about this
auction. When her first feelings of vexation was over, the idea of
deriving profit from it occurred to her mind. She had come to see it in
a white satin vest with pearl buttons, a furbelowed gown, tight-fitting
gloves on her hands, and a look of triumph on her face.

He grew pale with anger. She stared at the woman who was by his side.

Madame Dambreuse had recognised her, and for a minute they examined each
other from head to foot minutely, in order to discover the defect, the
blemish--the one perhaps envying the other's youth, and the other filled
with spite at the extreme good form, the aristocratic simplicity of her
rival.

At last Madame Dambreuse turned her head round with a smile of
inexpressible insolence.

The crier had opened a piano--her piano! While he remained standing
before it he ran the fingers of his right hand over the keys, and put up
the instrument at twelve hundred francs; then he brought down the
figures to one thousand, then to eight hundred, and finally to seven
hundred.

Madame Dambreuse, in a playful tone, laughed at the appearance of some
socket that was out of gear.

The next thing placed before the second-hand dealers was a little chest
with medallions and silver corners and clasps, the same one which he had
seen at the first dinner in the Rue de Choiseul, which had subsequently
been in Rosanette's house, and again transferred back to Madame Arnoux's
residence. Often, during their conversations his eyes wandered towards
it. He was bound to it by the dearest memories, and his soul was melting
with tender emotions about it, when suddenly Madame Dambreuse said:

"Look here! I am going to buy that!"

"But it is not a very rare article," he returned.

She considered it, on the contrary, very pretty, and the appraiser
commended its delicacy.

"A gem of the Renaissance! Eight hundred francs, messieurs! Almost
entirely of silver! With a little whiting it can be made to shine
brilliantly."

And, as she was pushing forward through the crush of people:

"What an odd idea!" said Frederick.

"You are annoyed at this!"

"No! But what can be done with a fancy article of that sort?"

"Who knows? Love-letters might be kept in it, perhaps!"

She gave him a look which made the allusion very clear.

"A reason the more for not robbing the dead of their secrets."

"I did not imagine she was dead." And then in a loud voice she went on
to bid:

"Eight hundred and eighty francs!"

"What you're doing is not right," murmured Frederick.

She began to laugh.

"But this is the first favour, dear, that I am asking from you."

"Come, now! doesn't it strike you that at this rate you won't be a very
considerate husband?"

Some one had just at that moment made a higher bid.

"Nine hundred francs!"

"Nine hundred francs!" repeated Maître Berthelmot.

"Nine hundred and ten--fifteen--twenty--thirty!" squeaked the
auctioneer's crier, with jerky shakes of his head as he cast a sweeping
glance at those assembled around him.

"Show me that I am going to have a wife who is amenable to reason," said
Frederick.

And he gently drew her towards the door.

The auctioneer proceeded:

"Come, come, messieurs; nine hundred and thirty. Is there any bidder at
nine hundred and thirty?"

Madame Dambreuse, just as she had reached the door, stopped, and raising
her voice to a high pitch:

"One thousand francs!"

There was a thrill of astonishment, and then a dead silence.

"A thousand francs, messieurs, a thousand francs! Is nobody advancing on
this bid? Is that clear? Very well, then--one thousand francs!
going!--gone!"

And down came the ivory hammer. She passed in her card, and the little
chest was handed over to her. She thrust it into her muff.

Frederick felt a great chill penetrating his heart.

Madame Dambreuse had not let go her hold of his arm; and she had not the
courage to look up at his face in the street, where her carriage was
awaiting her.

She flung herself into it, like a thief flying away after a robbery, and
then turned towards Frederick. He had his hat in his hand.

"Are you not going to come in?"

"No, Madame!"

And, bowing to her frigidly, he shut the carriage-door, and then made a
sign to the coachman to drive away.

The first feeling that he experienced was one of joy at having regained
his independence. He was filled with pride at the thought that he had
avenged Madame Arnoux by sacrificing a fortune to her; then, he was
amazed at his own act, and he felt doubled up with extreme physical
exhaustion.

Next morning his man-servant brought him the news.

The city had been declared to be in a state of siege; the Assembly had
been dissolved; and a number of the representatives of the people had
been imprisoned at Mazas. Public affairs had assumed to his mind an
utterly unimportant aspect, so deeply preoccupied was he by his private
troubles.

He wrote to several tradesmen countermanding various orders which he had
given for the purchase of articles in connection with his projected
marriage, which now appeared to him in the light of a rather mean
speculation; and he execrated Madame Dambreuse, because, owing to her,
he had been very near perpetrating a vile action. He had forgotten the
Maréchale, and did not even bother himself about Madame Arnoux--absorbed
only in one thought--lost amid the wreck of his dreams, sick at heart,
full of grief and disappointment, and in his hatred of the artificial
atmosphere wherein he had suffered so much, he longed for the freshness
of green fields, the repose of provincial life, a sleeping existence
spent beneath his natal roof in the midst of ingenuous hearts. At last,
when Wednesday evening arrived, he made his way out into the open air.

On the boulevard numerous groups had taken up their stand. From time to
time a patrol came and dispersed them; they gathered together again in
regular order behind it. They talked freely and in loud tones, made
chaffing remarks about the soldiers, without anything further happening.

"What! are they not going to fight?" said Frederick to a workman.

"They're not such fools as to get themselves killed for the well-off
people! Let them take care of themselves!"

And a gentleman muttered, as he glanced across at the inhabitants of the
faubourgs:

"Socialist rascals! If it were only possible, this time, to exterminate
them!"

Frederick could not, for the life of him, understand the necessity of so
much rancour and vituperative language. His feeling of disgust against
Paris was intensified by these occurrences, and two days later he set
out for Nogent by the first train.

The houses soon became lost to view; the country stretched out before
his gaze. Alone in his carriage, with his feet on the seat in front of
him, he pondered over the events of the last few days, and then on his
entire past. The recollection of Louise came back to his mind.

"She, indeed, loved me truly! I was wrong not to snatch at this chance
of happiness. Pooh! let us not think any more about it!"

Then, five minutes afterwards: "Who knows, after all? Why not, later?"

His reverie, like his eyes, wandered afar towards vague horizons.

"She was artless, a peasant girl, almost a savage; but so good!"

In proportion as he drew nearer to Nogent, her image drew closer to him.
As they were passing through the meadows of Sourdun, he saw her once
more in imagination under the poplar-trees, as in the old days, cutting
rushes on the edges of the pools. And now they had reached their
destination; he stepped out of the train.

Then he leaned with his elbows on the bridge, to gaze again at the isle
and the garden where they had walked together one sunshiny day, and the
dizzy sensation caused by travelling, together with the weakness
engendered by his recent emotions, arousing in his breast a sort of
exaltation, he said to himself:

"She has gone out, perhaps; suppose I were to go and meet her!"

The bell of Saint-Laurent was ringing, and in the square in front of the
church there was a crowd of poor people around an open carriage, the
only one in the district--the one which was always hired for weddings.
And all of a sudden, under the church-gate, accompanied by a number of
well-dressed persons in white cravats, a newly-married couple appeared.

He thought he must be labouring under some hallucination. But no! It
was, indeed, Louise! covered with a white veil which flowed from her red
hair down to her heels; and with her was no other than Deslauriers,
attired in a blue coat embroidered with silver--the costume of a
prefect.

How was this?

Frederick concealed himself at the corner of a house to let the
procession pass.

Shamefaced, vanquished, crushed, he retraced his steps to the
railway-station, and returned to Paris.

The cabman who drove him assured him that the barricades were erected
from the Château d'Eau to the Gymnase, and turned down the Faubourg
Saint-Martin. At the corner of the Rue de Provence, Frederick stepped
out in order to reach the boulevards.

It was five o'clock. A thin shower was falling. A number of citizens
blocked up the footpath close to the Opera House. The houses opposite
were closed. No one at any of the windows. All along the boulevard,
dragoons were galloping behind a row of wagons, leaning with drawn
swords over their horses; and the plumes of their helmets, and their
large white cloaks, rising up behind them, could be seen under the glare
of the gas-lamps, which shook in the wind in the midst of a haze. The
crowd gazed at them mute with fear.

In the intervals between the cavalry-charges, squads of policemen
arrived on the scene to keep back the people in the streets.

But on the steps of Tortoni, a man--Dussardier--who could be
distinguished at a distance by his great height, remained standing as
motionless as a caryatide.

One of the police-officers, marching at the head of his men, with his
three-cornered hat drawn over his eyes, threatened him with his sword.

The other thereupon took one step forward, and shouted:

"Long live the Republic!"

The next moment he fell on his back with his arms crossed.

A yell of horror arose from the crowd. The police-officer, with a look
of command, made a circle around him; and Frederick, gazing at him in
open-mouthed astonishment, recognised Sénécal.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: When a woman suddenly came in.]



CHAPTER XIX.

A BITTER-SWEET REUNION.


He travelled.

He realised the melancholy associated with packet-boats, the chill one
feels on waking up under tents, the dizzy effect of landscapes and
ruins, and the bitterness of ruptured sympathies.

He returned home.

He mingled in society, and he conceived attachments to other women. But
the constant recollection of his first love made these appear insipid;
and besides the vehemence of desire, the bloom of the sensation had
vanished. In like manner, his intellectual ambitions had grown weaker.
Years passed; and he was forced to support the burthen of a life in
which his mind was unoccupied and his heart devoid of energy.

Towards the end of March, 1867, just as it was getting dark, one
evening, he was sitting all alone in his study, when a woman suddenly
came in.

"Madame Arnoux!"

"Frederick!"

She caught hold of his hands, and drew him gently towards the window,
and, as she gazed into his face, she kept repeating:

"'Tis he! Yes, indeed--'tis he!"

In the growing shadows of the twilight, he could see only her eyes under
the black lace veil that hid her face.

When she had laid down on the edge of the mantelpiece a little
pocket-book bound in garnet velvet, she seated herself in front of him,
and they both remained silent, unable to utter a word, smiling at one
another.

At last he asked her a number of questions about herself and her
husband.

They had gone to live in a remote part of Brittany for the sake of
economy, so as to be able to pay their debts. Arnoux, now almost a
chronic invalid, seemed to have become quite an old man. Her daughter
had been married and was living at Bordeaux, and her son was in garrison
at Mostaganem.

Then she raised her head to look at him again:

"But I see you once more! I am happy!"

He did not fail to let her know that, as soon as he heard of their
misfortune, he had hastened to their house.

"I was fully aware of it!"

"How?"

She had seen him in the street outside the house, and had hidden
herself.

"Why did you do that?"

Then, in a trembling voice, and with long pauses between her words:

"I was afraid! Yes--afraid of you and of myself!"

This disclosure gave him, as it were, a shock of voluptuous joy. His
heart began to throb wildly. She went on:

"Excuse me for not having come sooner." And, pointing towards the little
pocket-book covered with golden palm-branches:

"I embroidered it on your account expressly. It contains the amount for
which the Belleville property was given as security."

Frederick thanked her for letting him have the money, while chiding her
at the same time for having given herself any trouble about it.

"No! 'tis not for this I came! I was determined to pay you this
visit--then I would go back there again."

And she spoke about the place where they had taken up their abode.

It was a low-built house of only one story; and there was a garden
attached to it full of huge box-trees, and a double avenue of
chestnut-trees, reaching up to the top of the hill, from which there was
a view of the sea.

"I go there and sit down on a bench, which I have called 'Frederick's
bench.'"

Then she proceeded to fix her gaze on the furniture, the objects of
virtù, the pictures, with eager intentness, so that she might be able to
carry away the impressions of them in her memory. The Maréchale's
portrait was half-hidden behind a curtain. But the gilding and the white
spaces of the picture, which showed their outlines through the midst of
the surrounding darkness, attracted her attention.

"It seems to me I knew that woman?"

"Impossible!" said Frederick. "It is an old Italian painting."

She confessed that she would like to take a walk through the streets on
his arm.

They went out.

The light from the shop-windows fell, every now and then, on her pale
profile; then once more she was wrapped in shadow, and in the midst of
the carriages, the crowd, and the din, they walked on without paying any
heed to what was happening around them, without hearing anything, like
those who make their way across the fields over beds of dead leaves.

They talked about the days which they had formerly spent in each other's
society, the dinners at the time when _L'Art Industriel_ flourished,
Arnoux's fads, his habit of drawing up the ends of his collar and of
squeezing cosmetic over his moustache, and other matters of a more
intimate and serious character. What delight he experienced on the first
occasion when he heard her singing! How lovely she looked on her
feast-day at Saint-Cloud! He recalled to her memory the little garden at
Auteuil, evenings at the theatre, a chance meeting on the boulevard, and
some of her old servants, including the negress.

She was astonished at his vivid recollection of these things.

"Sometimes your words come back to me like a distant echo, like the
sound of a bell carried on by the wind, and when I read passages about
love in books, it seems to me that it is about you I am reading."

"All that people have found fault with as exaggerated in fiction you
have made me feel," said Frederick. "I can understand Werther, who felt
no disgust at his Charlotte for eating bread and butter."

"Poor, dear friend!"

She heaved a sigh; and, after a prolonged silence:

"No matter; we shall have loved each other truly!"

"And still without having ever belonged to each other!"

"This perhaps is all the better," she replied.

"No, no! What happiness we might have enjoyed!"

"Oh, I am sure of it with a love like yours!"

And it must have been very strong to endure after such a long
separation.

Frederick wished to know from her how she first discovered that he loved
her.

"It was when you kissed my wrist one evening between the glove and the
cuff. I said to myself, 'Ah! yes, he loves me--he loves me;'
nevertheless, I was afraid of being assured of it. So charming was your
reserve, that I felt myself the object, as it were, of an involuntary
and continuous homage."

He regretted nothing now. He was compensated for all he had suffered in
the past.

When they came back to the house, Madame Arnoux took off her bonnet. The
lamp, placed on a bracket, threw its light on her white hair. Frederick
felt as if some one had given him a blow in the middle of the chest.

In order to conceal from her his sense of disillusion, he flung himself
on the floor at her feet, and seizing her hands, began to whisper in her
ear words of tenderness:

"Your person, your slightest movements, seemed to me to have a more than
human importance in the world. My heart was like dust under your feet.
You produced on me the effect of moonlight on a summer's night, when
around us we find nothing but perfumes, soft shadows, gleams of
whiteness, infinity; and all the delights of the flesh and of the spirit
were for me embodied in your name, which I kept repeating to myself
while I tried to kiss it with my lips. I thought of nothing further. It
was Madame Arnoux such as you were with your two children, tender,
grave, dazzlingly beautiful, and yet so good! This image effaced every
other. Did I not think of it alone? for I had always in the very depths
of my soul the music of your voice and the brightness of your eyes!"

She accepted with transports of joy these tributes of adoration to the
woman whom she could no longer claim to be. Frederick, becoming
intoxicated with his own words, came to believe himself in the reality
of what he said. Madame Arnoux, with her back turned to the light of the
lamp, stooped towards him. He felt the caress of her breath on his
forehead, and the undefined touch of her entire body through the
garments that kept them apart. Their hands were clasped; the tip of her
boot peeped out from beneath her gown, and he said to her, as if ready
to faint:

"The sight of your foot makes me lose my self-possession."

An impulse of modesty made her rise. Then, without any further movement,
she said, with the strange intonation of a somnambulist:

"At my age!--he--Frederick! Ah! no woman has ever been loved as I have
been. No! Where is the use in being young? What do I care about them,
indeed? I despise them--all those women who come here!"

"Oh! very few women come to this place," he returned, in a complaisant
fashion.

Her face brightened up, and then she asked him whether he meant to be
married.

He swore that he never would.

"Are you perfectly sure? Why should you not?"

"'Tis on your account!" said Frederick, clasping her in his arms.

She remained thus pressed to his heart, with her head thrown back, her
lips parted, and her eyes raised. Suddenly she pushed him away from her
with a look of despair, and when he implored of her to say something to
him in reply, she bent forward and whispered:

"I would have liked to make you happy!"

Frederick had a suspicion that Madame Arnoux had come to offer herself
to him, and once more he was seized with a desire to possess
her--stronger, fiercer, more desperate than he had ever experienced
before. And yet he felt, the next moment, an unaccountable repugnance to
the thought of such a thing, and, as it were, a dread of incurring the
guilt of incest. Another fear, too, had a different effect on him--lest
disgust might afterwards take possession of him. Besides, how
embarrassing it would be!--and, abandoning the idea, partly through
prudence, and partly through a resolve not to degrade his ideal, he
turned on his heel and proceeded to roll a cigarette between his
fingers.

She watched him with admiration.

"How dainty you are! There is no one like you! There is no one like
you!"

It struck eleven.

"Already!" she exclaimed; "at a quarter-past I must go."

She sat down again, but she kept looking at the clock, and he walked up
and down the room, puffing at his cigarette. Neither of them could think
of anything further to say to the other. There is a moment at the hour
of parting when the person that we love is with us no longer.

At last, when the hands of the clock got past the twenty-five minutes,
she slowly took up her bonnet, holding it by the strings.

"Good-bye, my friend--my dear friend! I shall never see you again! This
is the closing page in my life as a woman. My soul shall remain with you
even when you see me no more. May all the blessings of Heaven be yours!"

And she kissed him on the forehead, like a mother.

But she appeared to be looking for something, and then she asked him for
a pair of scissors.

She unfastened her comb, and all her white hair fell down.

With an abrupt movement of the scissors, she cut off a long lock from
the roots.

"Keep it! Good-bye!"

When she was gone, Frederick rushed to the window and threw it open.
There on the footpath he saw Madame Arnoux beckoning towards a passing
cab. She stepped into it. The vehicle disappeared.

And this was all.



CHAPTER XX.

"WAIT TILL YOU COME TO FORTY YEAR."


About the beginning of this winter, Frederick and Deslauriers were
chatting by the fireside, once more reconciled by the fatality of their
nature, which made them always reunite and be friends again.

Frederick briefly explained his quarrel with Madame Dambreuse, who had
married again, her second husband being an Englishman.

Deslauriers, without telling how he had come to marry Mademoiselle
Roque, related to his friend how his wife had one day eloped with a
singer. In order to wipe away to some extent the ridicule that this
brought upon him, he had compromised himself by an excess of
governmental zeal in the exercise of his functions as prefect. He had
been dismissed. After that, he had been an agent for colonisation in
Algeria, secretary to a pasha, editor of a newspaper, and canvasser for
advertisements, his latest employment being the office of settling
disputed cases for a manufacturing company.

As for Frederick, having squandered two thirds of his means, he was now
living like a citizen of comparatively humble rank.

Then they questioned each other about their friends.

Martinon was now a member of the Senate.

Hussonnet occupied a high position, in which he was fortunate enough to
have all the theatres and entire press dependent upon him.

Cisy, given up to religion, and the father of eight children, was living
in the château of his ancestors.

Pellerin, after turning his hand to Fourrièrism, homoeopathy,
table-turning, Gothic art, and humanitarian painting, had become a
photographer; and he was to be seen on every dead wall in Paris, where
he was represented in a black coat with a very small body and a big
head.

"And what about your chum Sénécal?" asked Frederick.

"Disappeared--I can't tell you where! And yourself--what about the woman
you were so passionately attached to, Madame Arnoux?"

"She is probably at Rome with her son, a lieutenant of chasseurs."

"And her husband?"

"He died a year ago."

"You don't say so?" exclaimed the advocate. Then, striking his forehead:

"Now that I think of it, the other day in a shop I met that worthy
Maréchale, holding by the hand a little boy whom she has adopted. She is
the widow of a certain M. Oudry, and is now enormously stout. What a
change for the worse!--she who formerly had such a slender waist!"

Deslauriers did not deny that he had taken advantage of the other's
despair to assure himself of that fact by personal experience.

"As you gave me permission, however."

This avowal was a compensation for the silence he had maintained with
reference to his attempt with Madame Arnoux.

Frederick would have forgiven him, inasmuch as he had not succeeded in
the attempt.

Although a little annoyed at the discovery, he pretended to laugh at it;
and the allusion to the Maréchale brought back the Vatnaz to his
recollection.

Deslauriers had never seen her any more than the others who used to come
to the Arnoux's house; but he remembered Regimbart perfectly.

"Is he still living?"

"He is barely alive. Every evening regularly he drags himself from the
Rue de Grammont to the Rue Montmartre, to the cafés, enfeebled, bent in
two, emaciated, a spectre!"

"Well, and what about Compain?"

Frederick uttered a cry of joy, and begged of the ex-delegate of the
provisional government to explain to him the mystery of the calf's head.

"'Tis an English importation. In order to parody the ceremony which the
Royalists celebrated on the thirtieth of January, some Independents
founded an annual banquet, at which they have been accustomed to eat
calves' heads, and at which they make it their business to drink red
wine out of calves' skulls while giving toasts in favour of the
extermination of the Stuarts. After Thermidor, the Terrorists organised
a brotherhood of a similar description, which proves how prolific folly
is."

"You seem to me very dispassionate about politics?"

"Effect of age," said the advocate.

And then they each proceeded to summarise their lives.

They had both failed in their objects--the one who dreamed only of love,
and the other of power.

What was the reason of this?

"'Tis perhaps from not having taken up the proper line," said Frederick.

"In your case that may be so. I, on the contrary, have sinned through
excess of rectitude, without taking into account a thousand secondary
things more important than any. I had too much logic, and you too much
sentiment."

Then they blamed luck, circumstances, the epoch at which they were born.

Frederick went on:

"We have never done what we thought of doing long ago at Sens, when you
wished to write a critical history of Philosophy and I a great mediæval
romance about Nogent, the subject of which I had found in Froissart:
'How Messire Brokars de Fenestranges and the Archbishop of Troyes
attacked Messire Eustache d'Ambrecicourt.' Do you remember?"

And, exhuming their youth with every sentence, they said to each other:

"Do you remember?"

They saw once more the college playground, the chapel, the parlour, the
fencing-school at the bottom of the staircase, the faces of the ushers
and of the pupils--one named Angelmare, from Versailles, who used to cut
off trousers-straps from old boots, M. Mirbal and his red whiskers, the
two professors of linear drawing and large drawing, who were always
wrangling, and the Pole, the fellow-countryman of Copernicus, with his
planetary system on pasteboard, an itinerant astronomer whose lecture
had been paid for by a dinner in the refectory, then a terrible debauch
while they were out on a walking excursion, the first pipes they had
smoked, the distribution of prizes, and the delightful sensation of
going home for the holidays.

It was during the vacation of 1837 that they had called at the house of
the Turkish woman.

This was the phrase used to designate a woman whose real name was
Zoraide Turc; and many persons believed her to be a Mohammedan, a Turk,
which added to the poetic character of her establishment, situated at
the water's edge behind the rampart. Even in the middle of summer there
was a shadow around her house, which could be recognised by a glass bowl
of goldfish near a pot of mignonette at a window. Young ladies in white
nightdresses, with painted cheeks and long earrings, used to tap at the
panes as the students passed; and as it grew dark, their custom was to
hum softly in their hoarse voices at the doorsteps.

This home of perdition spread its fantastic notoriety over all the
arrondissement. Allusions were made to it in a circumlocutory style:
"The place you know--a certain street--at the bottom of the Bridges." It
made the farmers' wives of the district tremble for their husbands, and
the ladies grow apprehensive as to their servants' virtue, inasmuch as
the sub-prefect's cook had been caught there; and, to be sure, it
exercised a fascination over the minds of all the young lads of the
place.

Now, one Sunday, during vesper-time, Frederick and Deslauriers, having
previously curled their hair, gathered some flowers in Madame Moreau's
garden, then made their way out through the gate leading into the
fields, and, after taking a wide sweep round the vineyards, came back
through the Fishery, and stole into the Turkish woman's house with their
big bouquets still in their hands.

Frederick presented his as a lover does to his betrothed. But the great
heat, the fear of the unknown, and even the very pleasure of seeing at
one glance so many women placed at his disposal, excited him so
strangely that he turned exceedingly pale, and remained there without
advancing a single step or uttering a single word. All the girls burst
out laughing, amused at his embarrassment. Fancying that they were
turning him into ridicule, he ran away; and, as Frederick had the money,
Deslauriers was obliged to follow him.

They were seen leaving the house; and the episode furnished material for
a bit of local gossip which was not forgotten three years later.

They related the story to each other in a prolix fashion, each
supplementing the narrative where the other's memory failed; and, when
they had finished the recital:

"That was the best time we ever had!" said Frederick.

"Yes, perhaps so, indeed! It was the best time we ever had," said
Deslauriers.





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