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Title: Sentimental Education Vol 1
Author: Flaubert, Gustave, 1821-1880
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sentimental Education Vol 1" ***

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SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION

OR, _THE HISTORY OF A YOUNG MAN_

BY GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

    _VOLUME I._

    M. WALTER DUNNE
    NEW YORK AND LONDON

    COPYRIGHT, 1904,
    BY M. WALTER DUNNE
    PUBLISHER


[Illustration: She wore a wide straw hat with red ribbons, which
fluttered in the wind behind her.]



CONTENTS


CHAPTER I. A PROMISING PUPIL

CHAPTER II. DAMON AND PYTHIAS

CHAPTER III. SENTIMENT AND PASSION

CHAPTER IV. THE INEXPRESSIBLE SHE!

CHAPTER V. "LOVE KNOWETH NO LAWS"

CHAPTER VI. BLIGHTED HOPES

CHAPTER VII. CHANGE OF FORTUNE

CHAPTER VIII. FREDERICK ENTERTAINS

CHAPTER IX. THE FRIEND OF THE FAMILY

CHAPTER X. AT THE RACES



ILLUSTRATIONS


SHE WORE A WIDE STRAW HAT WITH RED RIBBONS, WHICH FLUTTERED IN THE WIND
BEHIND HER

"LAUGH, THEN! SHED NO MORE TEARS--BE HAPPY!"

THEN SHE SEIZED HIM BY THE EARS AND KISSED HIM



SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION



CHAPTER I.

A Promising Pupil.


On the 15th of September, 1840, about six o'clock in the morning, the
_Ville de Montereau_, just on the point of starting, was sending forth
great whirlwinds of smoke, in front of the Quai St. Bernard.

People came rushing on board in breathless haste. The traffic was
obstructed by casks, cables, and baskets of linen. The sailors answered
nobody. People jostled one another. Between the two paddle-boxes was
piled up a heap of parcels; and the uproar was drowned in the loud
hissing of the steam, which, making its way through the plates of
sheet-iron, enveloped everything in a white cloud, while the bell at the
prow kept ringing continuously.

At last, the vessel set out; and the two banks of the river, stocked
with warehouses, timber-yards, and manufactories, opened out like two
huge ribbons being unrolled.

A young man of eighteen, with long hair, holding an album under his arm,
remained near the helm without moving. Through the haze he surveyed
steeples, buildings of which he did not know the names; then, with a
parting glance, he took in the Île St. Louis, the Cité, Nôtre Dame; and
presently, as Paris disappeared from his view, he heaved a deep sigh.

Frederick Moreau, having just taken his Bachelor's degree, was returning
home to Nogent-sur-Seine, where he would have to lead a languishing
existence for two months, before going back to begin his legal studies.
His mother had sent him, with enough to cover his expenses, to Havre to
see an uncle, from whom she had expectations of his receiving an
inheritance. He had returned from that place only yesterday; and he
indemnified himself for not having the opportunity of spending a little
time in the capital by taking the longest possible route to reach his
own part of the country.

The hubbub had subsided. The passengers had all taken their places. Some
of them stood warming themselves around the machinery, and the chimney
spat forth with a slow, rhythmic rattle its plume of black smoke. Little
drops of dew trickled over the copper plates; the deck quivered with the
vibration from within; and the two paddle-wheels, rapidly turning round,
lashed the water. The edges of the river were covered with sand. The
vessel swept past rafts of wood which began to oscillate under the
rippling of the waves, or a boat without sails in which a man sat
fishing. Then the wandering haze cleared off; the sun appeared; the hill
which ran along the course of the Seine to the right subsided by
degrees, and another rose nearer on the opposite bank.

It was crowned with trees, which surrounded low-built houses, covered
with roofs in the Italian style. They had sloping gardens divided by
fresh walls, iron railings, grass-plots, hot-houses, and vases of
geraniums, laid out regularly on the terraces where one could lean
forward on one's elbow. More than one spectator longed, on beholding
those attractive residences which looked so peaceful, to be the owner of
one of them, and to dwell there till the end of his days with a good
billiard-table, a sailing-boat, and a woman or some other object to
dream about. The agreeable novelty of a journey by water made such
outbursts natural. Already the wags on board were beginning their jokes.
Many began to sing. Gaiety prevailed, and glasses of brandy were poured
out.

Frederick was thinking about the apartment which he would occupy over
there, on the plan of a drama, on subjects for pictures, on future
passions. He found that the happiness merited by the excellence of his
soul was slow in arriving. He declaimed some melancholy verses. He
walked with rapid step along the deck. He went on till he reached the
end at which the bell was; and, in the centre of a group of passengers
and sailors, he saw a gentleman talking soft nothings to a
country-woman, while fingering the gold cross which she wore over her
breast. He was a jovial blade of forty with frizzled hair. His robust
form was encased in a jacket of black velvet, two emeralds sparkled in
his cambric shirt, and his wide, white trousers fell over odd-looking
red boots of Russian leather set off with blue designs.

The presence of Frederick did not discompose him. He turned round and
glanced several times at the young man with winks of enquiry. He next
offered cigars to all who were standing around him. But getting tired,
no doubt, of their society, he moved away from them and took a seat
further up. Frederick followed him.

The conversation, at first, turned on the various kinds of tobacco, then
quite naturally it glided into a discussion about women. The gentleman
in the red boots gave the young man advice; he put forward theories,
related anecdotes, referred to himself by way of illustration, and he
gave utterance to all these things in a paternal tone, with the
ingenuousness of entertaining depravity.

He was republican in his opinions. He had travelled; he was familiar
with the inner life of theatres, restaurants, and newspapers, and knew
all the theatrical celebrities, whom he called by their Christian names.
Frederick told him confidentially about his projects; and the elder man
took an encouraging view of them.

But he stopped talking to take a look at the funnel, then he went
mumbling rapidly through a long calculation in order to ascertain "how
much each stroke of the piston at so many times per minute would come
to," etc., and having found the number, he spoke about the scenery,
which he admired immensely. Then he gave expression to his delight at
having got away from business.

Frederick regarded him with a certain amount of respect, and politely
manifested a strong desire to know his name. The stranger, without a
moment's hesitation, replied:

"Jacques Arnoux, proprietor of _L'Art Industriel_, Boulevard
Montmartre."

A man-servant in a gold-laced cap came up and said:

"Would Monsieur have the kindness to go below? Mademoiselle is crying."

_L'Art Industriel_ was a hybrid establishment, wherein the functions of
an art-journal and a picture-shop were combined. Frederick had seen this
title several times in the bookseller's window in his native place on
big prospectuses, on which the name of Jacques Arnoux displayed itself
magisterially.

The sun's rays fell perpendicularly, shedding a glittering light on the
iron hoops around the masts, the plates of the barricades, and the
surface of the water, which, at the prow, was cut into two furrows that
spread out as far as the borders of the meadows. At each winding of the
river, a screen of pale poplars presented itself with the utmost
uniformity. The surrounding country at this point had an empty look. In
the sky there were little white clouds which remained motionless, and
the sense of weariness, which vaguely diffused itself over everything,
seemed to retard the progress of the steamboat and to add to the
insignificant appearance of the passengers. Putting aside a few persons
of good position who were travelling first class, they were artisans or
shopmen with their wives and children. As it was customary at that time
to wear old clothes when travelling, they nearly all had their heads
covered with shabby Greek caps or discoloured hats, thin black coats
that had become quite threadbare from constant rubbing against
writing-desks, or frock-coats with the casings of their buttons loose
from continual service in the shop. Here and there some roll-collar
waistcoat afforded a glimpse of a calico shirt stained with coffee.
Pinchbeck pins were stuck into cravats that were all torn. List shoes
were kept up by stitched straps. Two or three roughs who held in their
hands bamboo canes with leathern loops, kept looking askance at their
fellow-passengers; and fathers of families opened their eyes wide while
making enquiries. People chatted either standing up or squatting over
their luggage; some went to sleep in various corners of the vessel;
several occupied themselves with eating. The deck was soiled with walnut
shells, butt-ends of cigars, peelings of pears, and the droppings of
pork-butchers' meat, which had been carried wrapped up in paper. Three
cabinet-makers in blouses took their stand in front of the bottle case;
a harp-player in rags was resting with his elbows on his instrument. At
intervals could be heard the sound of falling coals in the furnace, a
shout, or a laugh; and the captain kept walking on the bridge from one
paddle-box to the other without stopping for a moment.

Frederick, to get back to his place, pushed forward the grating leading
into the part of the vessel reserved for first-class passengers, and in
so doing disturbed two sportsmen with their dogs.

What he then saw was like an apparition. She was seated in the middle of
a bench all alone, or, at any rate, he could see no one, dazzled as he
was by her eyes. At the moment when he was passing, she raised her head;
his shoulders bent involuntarily; and, when he had seated himself, some
distance away, on the same side, he glanced towards her.

She wore a wide straw hat with red ribbons which fluttered in the wind
behind her. Her black tresses, twining around the edges of her large
brows, descended very low, and seemed amorously to press the oval of her
face. Her robe of light muslin spotted with green spread out in numerous
folds. She was in the act of embroidering something; and her straight
nose, her chin, her entire person was cut out on the background of the
luminous air and the blue sky.

As she remained in the same attitude, he took several turns to the right
and to the left to hide from her his change of position; then he placed
himself close to her parasol which lay against the bench, and pretended
to be looking at a sloop on the river.

Never before had he seen more lustrous dark skin, a more seductive
figure, or more delicately shaped fingers than those through which the
sunlight gleamed. He stared with amazement at her work-basket, as if it
were something extraordinary. What was her name, her place of residence,
her life, her past? He longed to become familiar with the furniture of
her apartment, all the dresses that she had worn, the people whom she
visited; and the desire of physical possession yielded to a deeper
yearning, a painful curiosity that knew no bounds.

A negress, wearing a silk handkerchief tied round her head, made her
appearance, holding by the hand a little girl already tall for her age.
The child, whose eyes were swimming with tears, had just awakened. The
lady took the little one on her knees. "Mademoiselle was not good,
though she would soon be seven; her mother would not love her any more.
She was too often pardoned for being naughty." And Frederick heard those
things with delight, as if he had made a discovery, an acquisition.

He assumed that she must be of Andalusian descent, perhaps a Creole: had
she brought this negress across with her from the West Indian Islands?

Meanwhile his attention was directed to a long shawl with violet stripes
thrown behind her back over the copper support of the bench. She must
have, many a time, wrapped it around her waist, as the vessel sped
through the midst of the waves; drawn it over her feet, gone to sleep in
it!

Frederick suddenly noticed that with the sweep of its fringes it was
slipping off, and it was on the point of falling into the water when,
with a bound, he secured it. She said to him:

"Thanks, Monsieur."

Their eyes met.

"Are you ready, my dear?" cried my lord Arnoux, presenting himself at
the hood of the companion-ladder.

Mademoiselle Marthe ran over to him, and, clinging to his neck, she
began pulling at his moustache. The strains of a harp were heard--she
wanted to see the music played; and presently the performer on the
instrument, led forward by the negress, entered the place reserved for
saloon passengers. Arnoux recognized in him a man who had formerly been
a model, and "thou'd" him, to the astonishment of the bystanders. At
length the harpist, flinging back his long hair over his shoulders,
stretched out his hands and began playing.

It was an Oriental ballad all about poniards, flowers, and stars. The
man in rags sang it in a sharp voice; the twanging of the harp strings
broke the harmony of the tune with false notes. He played more
vigorously: the chords vibrated, and their metallic sounds seemed to
send forth sobs, and, as it were, the plaint of a proud and vanquished
love. On both sides of the river, woods extended as far as the edge of
the water. A current of fresh air swept past them, and Madame Arnoux
gazed vaguely into the distance. When the music stopped, she moved her
eyes several times as if she were starting out of a dream.

The harpist approached them with an air of humility. While Arnoux was
searching his pockets for money, Frederick stretched out towards the cap
his closed hand, and then, opening it in a shamefaced manner, he
deposited in it a louis d'or. It was not vanity that had prompted him to
bestow this alms in her presence, but the idea of a blessing in which he
thought she might share--an almost religious impulse of the heart.

Arnoux, pointing out the way, cordially invited him to go below.
Frederick declared that he had just lunched; on the contrary, he was
nearly dying of hunger; and he had not a single centime in his purse.

After that, it occurred to him that he had a perfect right, as well as
anyone else, to remain in the cabin.

Ladies and gentlemen were seated before round tables, lunching, while an
attendant went about serving out coffee. Monsieur and Madame Arnoux were
in the far corner to the right. He took a seat on the long bench covered
with velvet, having picked up a newspaper which he found there.

They would have to take the diligence at Montereau for Châlons. Their
tour in Switzerland would last a month. Madame Arnoux blamed her husband
for his weakness in dealing with his child. He whispered in her ear
something agreeable, no doubt, for she smiled. Then, he got up to draw
down the window curtain at her back. Under the low, white ceiling, a
crude light filled the cabin. Frederick, sitting opposite to the place
where she sat, could distinguish the shade of her eyelashes. She just
moistened her lips with her glass and broke a little piece of crust
between her fingers. The lapis-lazuli locket fastened by a little gold
chain to her wrist made a ringing sound, every now and then, as it
touched her plate. Those present, however, did not appear to notice it.

At intervals one could see, through the small portholes, the side of a
boat taking away passengers or putting them on board. Those who sat
round the tables stooped towards the openings, and called out the names
of the various places they passed along the river.

Arnoux complained of the cooking. He grumbled particularly at the amount
of the bill, and got it reduced. Then, he carried off the young man
towards the forecastle to drink a glass of grog with him. But Frederick
speedily came back again to gaze at Madame Arnoux, who had returned to
the awning, beneath which she seated herself. She was reading a thin,
grey-covered volume. From time to time, the corners of her mouth curled
and a gleam of pleasure lighted up her forehead. He felt jealous of the
inventor of those things which appeared to interest her so much. The
more he contemplated her, the more he felt that there were yawning
abysses between them. He was reflecting that he should very soon lose
sight of her irrevocably, without having extracted a few words from her,
without leaving her even a souvenir!

On the right, a plain stretched out. On the left, a strip of
pasture-land rose gently to meet a hillock where one could see
vineyards, groups of walnut-trees, a mill embedded in the grassy slopes,
and, beyond that, little zigzag paths over the white mass of rocks that
reached up towards the clouds. What bliss it would have been to ascend
side by side with her, his arm around her waist, while her gown would
sweep the yellow leaves, listening to her voice and gazing up into her
glowing eyes! The steamboat might stop, and all they would have to do
was to step out of it; and yet this thing, simple as it might be, was
not less difficult than it would have been to move the sun.

A little further on, a château appeared with pointed roof and square
turrets. A flower garden spread out in the foreground; and avenues ran,
like dark archways, under the tall linden trees. He pictured her to
himself passing along by this group of trees. At that moment a young
lady and a young man showed themselves on the steps in front of the
house, between the trunks of the orange trees. Then the entire scene
vanished.

The little girl kept skipping playfully around the place where he had
stationed himself on the deck. Frederick wished to kiss her. She hid
herself behind her nurse. Her mother scolded her for not being nice to
the gentleman who had rescued her own shawl. Was this an indirect
overture?

"Is she going to speak to me?" he asked himself.

Time was flying. How was he to get an invitation to the Arnoux's house?
And he could think of nothing better than to draw her attention to the
autumnal hues, adding:

"We are close to winter--the season of balls and dinner-parties."

But Arnoux was entirely occupied with his luggage. They had arrived at
the point of the river's bank facing Surville. The two bridges drew
nearer. They passed a ropewalk, then a range of low-built houses, inside
which there were pots of tar and splinters of wood; and brats went
along the sand turning head over heels. Frederick recognised a man with
a sleeved waistcoat, and called out to him:

"Make haste!"

They were at the landing-place. He looked around anxiously for Arnoux
amongst the crowd of passengers, and the other came and shook hands with
him, saying:

"A pleasant time, dear Monsieur!"

When he was on the quay, Frederick turned around. She was standing
beside the helm. He cast a look towards her into which he tried to put
his whole soul. She remained motionless, as if he had done nothing.
Then, without paying the slightest attentions to the obeisances of his
man-servant:

"Why didn't you bring the trap down here?"

The man made excuses.

"What a clumsy fellow you are! Give me some money."

And after that he went off to get something to eat at an inn.

A quarter of an hour later, he felt an inclination to turn into the
coachyard, as if by chance. Perhaps he would see her again.

"What's the use of it?" said he to himself.

The vehicle carried him off. The two horses did not belong to his
mother. She had borrowed one of M. Chambrion, the tax-collector, in
order to have it yoked alongside of her own. Isidore, having set forth
the day before, had taken a rest at Bray until evening, and had slept at
Montereau, so that the animals, with restored vigour, were trotting
briskly.

Fields on which the crops had been cut stretched out in apparently
endless succession; and by degrees Villeneuve, St. Georges, Ablon,
Châtillon, Corbeil, and the other places--his entire journey--came back
to his recollection with such vividness that he could now recall to mind
fresh details, more intimate particulars.... Under the lowest flounce of
her gown, her foot showed itself encased in a dainty silk boot of maroon
shade. The awning made of ticking formed a wide canopy over her head,
and the little red tassels of the edging kept perpetually trembling in
the breeze.

She resembled the women of whom he had read in romances. He would have
added nothing to the charms of her person, and would have taken nothing
from them. The universe had suddenly become enlarged. She was the
luminous point towards which all things converged; and, rocked by the
movement of the vehicle, with half-dosed eyelids, and his face turned
towards the clouds, he abandoned himself to a dreamy, infinite joy.

At Bray, he did not wait till the horses had got their oats; he walked
on along the road ahead by himself. Arnoux had, when he spoke to her,
addressed her as "Marie." He now loudly repeated the name "Marie!" His
voice pierced the air and was lost in the distance.

The western sky was one great mass of flaming purple. Huge stacks of
wheat, rising up in the midst of the stubble fields, projected giant
shadows. A dog began to bark in a farm-house in the distance. He
shivered, seized with disquietude for which he could assign no cause.

When Isidore had come up with him, he jumped up into the front seat to
drive. His fit of weakness was past. He had thoroughly made up his mind
to effect an introduction into the house of the Arnoux, and to become
intimate with them. Their house should be amusing; besides, he liked
Arnoux; then, who could tell? Thereupon a wave of blood rushed up to his
face; his temples throbbed; he cracked his whip, shook the reins, and
set the horses going at such a pace that the old coachman repeatedly
exclaimed:

"Easy! easy now, or they'll get broken-winded!"

Gradually Frederick calmed down, and he listened to what the man was
saying. Monsieur's return was impatiently awaited. Mademoiselle Louise
had cried in her anxiety to go in the trap to meet him.

"Who, pray, is Mademoiselle Louise?"

"Monsieur Roque's little girl, you know."

"Ah! I had forgotten," rejoined Frederick, carelessly.

Meanwhile, the two horses could keep up the pace no longer. They were
both getting lame; and nine o'clock struck at St. Laurent's when he
arrived at the parade in front of his mother's house.

This house of large dimensions, with a garden looking out on the open
country, added to the social importance of Madame Moreau, who was the
most respected lady in the district.

She came of an old family of nobles, of which the male line was now
extinct. Her husband, a plebeian whom her parents forced her to marry,
met his death by a sword-thrust, during her pregnancy, leaving her an
estate much encumbered. She received visitors three times a week, and
from time to time, gave a fashionable dinner. But the number of wax
candles was calculated beforehand, and she looked forward with some
impatience to the payment of her rents. These pecuniary embarrassments,
concealed as if there were some guilt attached to them, imparted a
certain gravity to her character. Nevertheless, she displayed no
prudery, no sourness, in the practice of her peculiar virtue. Her most
trifling charities seemed munificent alms. She was consulted about the
selection of servants, the education of young girls, and the art of
making preserves, and Monseigneur used to stay at her house on the
occasion of his episcopal visitations.

Madame Moreau cherished a lofty ambition for her son. Through a sort of
prudence grounded on the expectation of favours, she did not care to
hear blame cast on the Government. He would need patronage at the start;
then, with its aid, he might become a councillor of State, an
ambassador, a minister. His triumphs at the college of Sens warranted
this proud anticipation; he had carried off there the prize of honour.

When he entered the drawing-room, all present arose with a great racket;
he was embraced; and the chairs, large and small, were drawn up in a big
semi-circle around the fireplace. M. Gamblin immediately asked him what
was his opinion about Madame Lafarge. This case, the rage of the period,
did not fail to lead to a violent discussion. Madame Moreau stopped it,
to the regret, however, of M. Gamblin. He deemed it serviceable to the
young man in his character of a future lawyer, and, nettled at what had
occurred, he left the drawing-room.

Nothing should have caused surprise on the part of a friend of Père
Roque! The reference to Père Roque led them to talk of M. Dambreuse, who
had just become the owner of the demesne of La Fortelle. But the
tax-collector had drawn Frederick aside to know what he thought of M.
Guizot's latest work. They were all anxious to get some information
about his private affairs, and Madame Benoît went cleverly to work with
that end in view by inquiring about his uncle. How was that worthy
relative? They no longer heard from him. Had he not a distant cousin in
America?

The cook announced that Monsieur's soup was served. The guests
discreetly retired. Then, as soon as they were alone in the dining-room,
his mother said to him in a low tone:

"Well?"

The old man had received him in a very cordial manner, but without
disclosing his intentions.

Madame Moreau sighed.

"Where is she now?" was his thought.

The diligence was rolling along the road, and, wrapped up in the shawl,
no doubt, she was leaning against the cloth of the coupé, her beautiful
head nodding asleep.

He and his mother were just going up to their apartments when a waiter
from the Swan of the Cross brought him a note.

"What is that, pray?"

"It is Deslauriers, who wants me," said he.

"Ha! your chum!" said Madame Moreau, with a contemptuous sneer.
"Certainly it is a nice hour to select!"

Frederick hesitated. But friendship was stronger. He got his hat.

"At any rate, don't be long!" said his mother to him.



CHAPTER II.

Damon and Pythias.


Charles Deslauriers' father, an ex-captain in the line, who had left the
service in 1818, had come back to Nogent, where he had married, and with
the amount of the dowry bought up the business of a process-server,[1]
which brought him barely enough to maintain him. Embittered by a long
course of unjust treatment, suffering still from the effects of old
wounds, and always regretting the Emperor, he vented on those around him
the fits of rage that seemed to choke him. Few children received so many
whackings as his son. In spite of blows, however, the brat did not
yield. His mother, when she tried to interpose, was also ill-treated.
Finally, the captain planted the boy in his office, and all the day long
kept him bent over his desk copying documents, with the result that his
right shoulder was noticeably higher than his left.

[Footnote 1: The French word _huissier_ means a sheriff's officer, or a
person whose business it is to serve writs, processes, and legal
documents generally. The word "process-server" must not be understood in
its colloquial English sense, for in France this business is sometimes a
lucrative one.--Translator.]

In 1833, on the invitation of the president, the captain sold his
office. His wife died of cancer. He then went to live at Dijon. After
that he started in business at Troyes, where he was connected with the
slave trade; and, having obtained a small scholarship for Charles,
placed him at the college of Sens, where Frederick came across him. But
one of the pair was twelve years old, while the other was fifteen;
besides, a thousand differences of character and origin tended to keep
them apart.

Frederick had in his chest of drawers all sorts of useful things--choice
articles, such as a dressing-case. He liked to lie late in bed in the
morning, to look at the swallows, and to read plays; and, regretting the
comforts of home, he thought college life rough. To the process-server's
son it seemed a pleasant life. He worked so hard that, at the end of the
second year, he had got into the third form. However, owing to his
poverty or to his quarrelsome disposition, he was regarded with intense
dislike. But when on one occasion, in the courtyard where pupils of the
middle grade took exercise, an attendant openly called him a beggar's
child, he sprang at the fellow's throat, and would have killed him if
three of the ushers had not intervened. Frederick, carried away by
admiration, pressed him in his arms. From that day forward they became
fast friends. The affection of a _grandee_ no doubt flattered the vanity
of the youth of meaner rank, and the other accepted as a piece of good
fortune this devotion freely offered to him. During the holidays
Charles's father allowed him to remain in the college. A translation of
Plato which he opened by chance excited his enthusiasm. Then he became
smitten with a love of metaphysical studies; and he made rapid progress,
for he approached the subject with all the energy of youth and the
self-confidence of an emancipated intellect. Jouffroy, Cousin,
Laromiguière, Malebranche, and the Scotch metaphysicians--everything
that could be found in the library dealing with this branch of knowledge
passed through his hands. He found it necessary to steal the key in
order to get the books.

Frederick's intellectual distractions were of a less serious
description. He made sketches of the genealogy of Christ carved on a
post in the Rue des Trois Rois, then of the gateway of a cathedral.
After a course of mediæval dramas, he took up memoirs--Froissart,
Comines, Pierre de l'Estoile, and Brantôme.

The impressions made on his mind by this kind of reading took such a
hold of it that he felt a need within him of reproducing those pictures
of bygone days. His ambition was to be, one day, the Walter Scott of
France. Deslauriers dreamed of formulating a vast system of philosophy,
which might have the most far-reaching applications.

They chatted over all these matters at recreation hours, in the
playground, in front of the moral inscription painted under the clock.
They kept whispering to each other about them in the chapel, even with
St. Louis staring down at them. They dreamed about them in the
dormitory, which looked out on a burial-ground. On walking-days they
took up a position behind the others, and talked without stopping.

They spoke of what they would do later, when they had left college.
First of all, they would set out on a long voyage with the money which
Frederick would take out of his own fortune on reaching his majority.
Then they would come back to Paris; they would work together, and would
never part; and, as a relaxation from their labours, they would have
love-affairs with princesses in boudoirs lined with satin, or dazzling
orgies with famous courtesans. Their rapturous expectations were
followed by doubts. After a crisis of verbose gaiety, they would often
lapse into profound silence.

On summer evenings, when they had been walking for a long time over
stony paths which bordered on vineyards, or on the high-road in the open
country, and when they saw the wheat waving in the sunlight, while the
air was filled with the fragrance of angelica, a sort of suffocating
sensation took possession of them, and they stretched themselves on
their backs, dizzy, intoxicated. Meanwhile the other lads, in their
shirt-sleeves, were playing at base or flying kites. Then, as the usher
called in the two companions from the playground, they would return,
taking the path which led along by the gardens watered by brooklets;
then they would pass through the boulevards overshadowed by the old city
walls. The deserted streets rang under their tread. The grating flew
back; they ascended the stairs; and they felt as sad as if they had had
a great debauch.

The proctor maintained that they mutually cried up each other.
Nevertheless, if Frederick worked his way up to the higher forms, it was
through the exhortations of his friend; and, during the vacation in
1837, he brought Deslauriers to his mother's house.

Madame Moreau disliked the young man. He had a terrible appetite. He was
fond of making republican speeches. To crown all, she got it into her
head that he had been the means of leading her son into improper
places. Their relations towards each other were watched. This only made
their friendship grow stronger, and they bade one another adieu with
heartfelt pangs when, in the following year, Deslauriers left the
college in order to study law in Paris.

Frederick anxiously looked forward to the time when they would meet
again. For two years they had not laid eyes on each other; and, when
their embraces were over, they walked over the bridges to talk more at
their ease.

The captain, who had now set up a billiard-room at Villenauxe, reddened
with anger when his son called for an account of the expense of
tutelage, and even cut down the cost of victuals to the lowest figure.
But, as he intended to become a candidate at a later period for a
professor's chair at the school, and as he had no money, Deslauriers
accepted the post of principal clerk in an attorney's office at Troyes.
By dint of sheer privation he spared four thousand francs; and, by not
drawing upon the sum which came to him through his mother, he would
always have enough to enable him to work freely for three years while he
was waiting for a better position. It was necessary, therefore, to
abandon their former project of living together in the capital, at least
for the present.

Frederick hung down his head. This was the first of his dreams which had
crumbled into dust.

"Be consoled," said the captain's son. "Life is long. We are young.
We'll meet again. Think no more about it!"

He shook the other's hand warmly, and, to distract his attention,
questioned him about his journey.

Frederick had nothing to tell. But, at the recollection of Madame
Arnoux, his vexation disappeared. He did not refer to her, restrained by
a feeling of bashfulness. He made up for it by expatiating on Arnoux,
recalling his talk, his agreeable manner, his stories; and Deslauriers
urged him strongly to cultivate this new acquaintance.

Frederick had of late written nothing. His literary opinions were
changed. Passion was now above everything else in his estimation. He was
equally enthusiastic about Werther, René, Franck, Lara, Lélia, and other
ideal creations of less merit. Sometimes it seemed to him that music
alone was capable of giving expression to his internal agitation. Then,
he dreamed of symphonies; or else the surface of things seized hold of
him, and he longed to paint. He had, however, composed verses.
Deslauriers considered them beautiful, but did not ask him to write
another poem.

As for himself, he had given up metaphysics. Social economy and the
French Revolution absorbed all his attention. Just now he was a tall
fellow of twenty-two, thin, with a wide mouth, and a resolute look. On
this particular evening, he wore a poor-looking paletot of lasting; and
his shoes were white with dust, for he had come all the way from
Villenauxe on foot for the express purpose of seeing Frederick.

Isidore arrived while they were talking. Madame begged of Monsieur to
return home, and, for fear of his catching cold, she had sent him his
cloak.

"Wait a bit!" said Deslauriers. And they continued walking from one end
to the other of the two bridges which rest on the narrow islet formed by
the canal and the river.

When they were walking on the side towards Nogent, they had, exactly in
front of them, a block of houses which projected a little. At the right
might be seen the church, behind the mills in the wood, whose sluices
had been closed up; and, at the left, the hedges covered with shrubs,
along the skirts of the wood, formed a boundary for the gardens, which
could scarcely be distinguished. But on the side towards Paris the high
road formed a sheer descending line, and the meadows lost themselves in
the distance under the vapours of the night. Silence reigned along this
road, whose white track clearly showed itself through the surrounding
gloom. Odours of damp leaves ascended towards them. The waterfall, where
the stream had been diverted from its course a hundred paces further
away, kept rumbling with that deep harmonious sound which waves make in
the night time.

Deslauriers stopped, and said:

"'Tis funny to have these worthy folks sleeping so quietly! Patience! A
new '89 is in preparation. People are tired of constitutions, charters,
subtleties, lies! Ah, if I had a newspaper, or a platform, how I would
shake off all these things! But, in order to undertake anything
whatever, money is required. What a curse it is to be a tavern-keeper's
son, and to waste one's youth in quest of bread!"

He hung down his head, bit his lips, and shivered under his threadbare
overcoat.

Frederick flung half his cloak over his friend's shoulder. They both
wrapped themselves up in it; and, with their arms around each other's
waists, they walked down the road side by side.

"How do you think I can live over there without you?" said Frederick.

The bitter tone of his friend had brought back his own sadness.

"I would have done something with a woman who loved me. What are you
laughing at? Love is the feeding-ground, and, as it were, the atmosphere
of genius. Extraordinary emotions produce sublime works. As for seeking
after her whom I want, I give that up! Besides, if I should ever find
her, she will repel me. I belong to the race of the disinherited, and I
shall be extinguished with a treasure that will be of paste or of
diamond--I know not which."

Somebody's shadow fell across the road, and at the same time they heard
these words:

"Excuse me, gentlemen!"

The person who had uttered them was a little man attired in an ample
brown frock-coat, and with a cap on his head which under its peak
afforded a glimpse of a sharp nose.

"Monsieur Roque?" said Frederick.

"The very man!" returned the voice.

This resident in the locality explained his presence by stating that he
had come back to inspect the wolf-traps in his garden near the
water-side.

"And so you are back again in the old spot? Very good! I ascertained the
fact through my little girl. Your health is good, I hope? You are not
going away again?"

Then he left them, repelled, probably, by Frederick's chilling
reception.

Madame Moreau, indeed, was not on visiting terms with him. Père Roque
lived in peculiar relations with his servant-girl, and was held in very
slight esteem, although he was the vice-president at elections, and M.
Dambreuse's manager.

"The banker who resides in the Rue d'Anjou," observed Deslauriers. "Do
you know what you ought to do, my fine fellow?"

Isidore once more interrupted. His orders were positive not to go back
without Frederick. Madame would be getting uneasy at his absence.

"Well, well, he will go back," said Deslauriers. "He's not going to stay
out all night."

And, as soon as the man-servant had disappeared:

"You ought to ask that old chap to introduce you to the Dambreuses.
There's nothing so useful as to be a visitor at a rich man's house.
Since you have a black coat and white gloves, make use of them. You must
mix in that set. You can introduce me into it later. Just think!--a man
worth millions! Do all you can to make him like you, and his wife, too.
Become her lover!"

Frederick uttered an exclamation by way of protest.

"Why, I can quote classical examples for you on that point, I rather
think! Remember Rastignac in the _Comédie Humaine_. You will succeed, I
have no doubt."

Frederick had so much confidence in Deslauriers that he felt his
firmness giving way, and forgetting Madame Arnoux, or including her in
the prediction made with regard to the other, he could not keep from
smiling.

The clerk added:

"A last piece of advice: pass your examinations. It is always a good
thing to have a handle to your name: and, without more ado, give up your
Catholic and Satanic poets, whose philosophy is as old as the twelfth
century! Your despair is silly. The very greatest men have had more
difficult beginnings, as in the case of Mirabeau. Besides, our
separation will not be so long. I will make that pickpocket of a father
of mine disgorge. It is time for me to be going back. Farewell! Have you
got a hundred sous to pay for my dinner?"

Frederick gave him ten francs, what was left of those he had got that
morning from Isidore.

Meanwhile, some forty yards away from the bridges, a light shone from
the garret-window of a low-built house.

Deslauriers noticed it. Then he said emphatically, as he took off his
hat:

"Your pardon, Venus, Queen of Heaven, but Penury is the mother of
wisdom. We have been slandered enough for that--so have mercy."

This allusion to an adventure in which they had both taken part, put
them into a jovial mood. They laughed loudly as they passed through the
streets.

Then, having settled his bill at the inn, Deslauriers walked back with
Frederick as far as the crossway near the Hôtel-Dieu, and after a long
embrace, the two friends parted.



CHAPTER III.

Sentiment and Passion.


Two months later, Frederick, having debarked one morning in the Rue
Coq-Héron, immediately thought of paying his great visit.

Chance came to his aid. Père Roque had brought him a roll of papers and
requested him to deliver them up himself to M. Dambreuse; and the worthy
man accompanied the package with an open letter of introduction in
behalf of his young fellow-countryman.

Madame Moreau appeared surprised at this proceeding. Frederick concealed
the delight that it gave him.

M. Dambreuse's real name was the Count d'Ambreuse; but since 1825,
gradually abandoning his title of nobility and his party, he had turned
his attention to business; and with his ears open in every office, his
hand in every enterprise, on the watch for every opportunity, as subtle
as a Greek and as laborious as a native of Auvergne, he had amassed a
fortune which might be called considerable. Furthermore, he was an
officer of the Legion of Honour, a member of the General Council of the
Aube, a deputy, and one of these days would be a peer of France.
However, affable as he was in other respects, he wearied the Minister
by his continual applications for relief, for crosses, and licences for
tobacconists' shops; and in his complaints against authority he was
inclined to join the Left Centre.

His wife, the pretty Madame Dambreuse, of whom mention was made in the
fashion journals, presided at charitable assemblies. By wheedling the
duchesses, she appeased the rancours of the aristocratic faubourg, and
led the residents to believe that M. Dambreuse might yet repent and
render them some services.

The young man was agitated when he called on them.

"I should have done better to take my dress-coat with me. No doubt they
will give me an invitation to next week's ball. What will they say to
me?"

His self-confidence returned when he reflected that M. Dambreuse was
only a person of the middle class, and he sprang out of the cab briskly
on the pavement of the Rue d'Anjou.

When he had pushed forward one of the two gateways he crossed the
courtyard, mounted the steps in front of the house, and entered a
vestibule paved with coloured marble. A straight double staircase, with
red carpet, fastened with copper rods, rested against the high walls of
shining stucco. At the end of the stairs there was a banana-tree, whose
wide leaves fell down over the velvet of the baluster. Two bronze
candelabra, with porcelain globes, hung from little chains; the
atmosphere was heavy with the fumes exhaled by the vent-holes of the
hot-air stoves; and all that could be heard was the ticking of a big
clock fixed at the other end of the vestibule, under a suit of armour.

A bell rang; a valet made his appearance, and introduced Frederick into
a little apartment, where one could observe two strong boxes, with
pigeon-holes filled with pieces of pasteboard. In the centre of it, M.
Dambreuse was writing at a roll-top desk.

He ran his eye over Père Roque's letter, tore open the canvas in which
the papers had been wrapped, and examined them.

At some distance, he presented the appearance of being still young,
owing to his slight figure. But his thin white hair, his feeble limbs,
and, above all, the extraordinary pallor of his face, betrayed a
shattered constitution. There was an expression of pitiless energy in
his sea-green eyes, colder than eyes of glass. His cheek-bones
projected, and his finger-joints were knotted.

At length, he arose and addressed to the young man a few questions with
regard to persons of their acquaintance at Nogent and also with regard
to his studies, and then dismissed him with a bow. Frederick went out
through another lobby, and found himself at the lower end of the
courtyard near the coach-house.

A blue brougham, to which a black horse was yoked, stood in front of the
steps before the house. The carriage door flew open, a lady sprang in,
and the vehicle, with a rumbling noise, went rolling along the gravel.
Frederick had come up to the courtyard gate from the other side at the
same moment. As there was not room enough to allow him to pass, he was
compelled to wait. The young lady, with her head thrust forward past the
carriage blind, talked to the door-keeper in a very low tone. All he
could see was her back, covered with a violet mantle. However, he took a
glance into the interior of the carriage, lined with blue rep, with silk
lace and fringes. The lady's ample robes filled up the space within. He
stole away from this little padded box with its perfume of iris, and, so
to speak, its vague odour of feminine elegance. The coachman slackened
the reins, the horse brushed abruptly past the starting-point, and all
disappeared.

Frederick returned on foot, following the track of the boulevard.

He regretted not having been able to get a proper view of Madame
Dambreuse. A little higher than the Rue Montmartre, a regular jumble of
vehicles made him turn round his head, and on the opposite side, facing
him, he read on a marble plate:

"JACQUES ARNOUX."

How was it that he had not thought about her sooner? It was Deslauriers'
fault; and he approached the shop, which, however, he did not enter. He
was waiting for _her_ to appear.

The high, transparent plate-glass windows presented to one's gaze
statuettes, drawings, engravings, catalogues and numbers of _L'Art
Industriel_, arranged in a skilful fashion; and the amounts of the
subscription were repeated on the door, which was decorated in the
centre with the publisher's initials. Against the walls could be seen
large pictures whose varnish had a shiny look, two chests laden with
porcelain, bronze, alluring curiosities; a little staircase separated
them, shut off at the top by a Wilton portière; and a lustre of old
Saxe, a green carpet on the floor, with a table of marqueterie, gave to
this interior the appearance rather of a drawing-room than of a shop.

Frederick pretended to be examining the drawings. After hesitating for a
long time, he went in. A clerk lifted the portière, and in reply to a
question, said that Monsieur would not be in the shop before five
o'clock. But if the message could be conveyed----

"No! I'll come back again," Frederick answered blandly.

The following days were spent in searching for lodgings; and he fixed
upon an apartment in a second story of a furnished mansion in the Rue
Hyacinthe.

With a fresh blotting-case under his arm, he set forth to attend the
opening lecture of the course. Three hundred young men, bare-headed,
filled an amphitheatre, where an old man in a red gown was delivering a
discourse in a monotonous voice. Quill pens went scratching over the
paper. In this hall he found once more the dusty odour of the school, a
reading-desk of similar shape, the same wearisome monotony! For a
fortnight he regularly continued his attendance at law lectures. But he
left off the study of the Civil Code before getting as far as Article 3,
and he gave up the Institutes at the _Summa Divisio Personarum_.

The pleasures that he had promised himself did not come to him; and when
he had exhausted a circulating library, gone over the collections in the
Louvre, and been at the theatre a great many nights in succession, he
sank into the lowest depths of idleness.

His depression was increased by a thousand fresh annoyances. He found it
necessary to count his linen and to bear with the door keeper, a bore
with the figure of a male hospital nurse who came in the morning to make
up his bed, smelling of alcohol and grunting. He did not like his
apartment, which was ornamented with an alabaster time-piece. The
partitions were thin; he could hear the students making punch, laughing
and singing.

Tired of this solitude, he sought out one of his old schoolfellows named
Baptiste Martinon; and he discovered this friend of his boyhood in a
middle-class boarding-house in the Rue Saint-Jacques, cramming up legal
procedure before a coal fire. A woman in a print dress sat opposite him
darning his socks.

Martinon was what people call a very fine man--big, chubby, with a
regular physiognomy, and blue eyes far up in his face. His father, an
extensive land-owner, had destined him for the magistracy; and wishing
already to present a grave exterior, he wore his beard cut like a collar
round his neck.

As there was no rational foundation for Frederick's complaints, and as
he could not give evidence of any misfortune, Martinon was unable in any
way to understand his lamentations about existence. As for him, he went
every morning to the school, after that took a walk in the Luxembourg,
in the evening swallowed his half-cup of coffee; and with fifteen
hundred francs a year, and the love of this workwoman, he felt perfectly
happy.

"What happiness!" was Frederick's internal comment.

At the school he had formed another acquaintance, a youth of
aristocratic family, who on account of his dainty manners, suggested a
resemblance to a young lady.

M. de Cisy devoted himself to drawing, and loved the Gothic style. They
frequently went together to admire the Sainte-Chapelle and Nôtre Dame.
But the young patrician's rank and pretensions covered an intellect of
the feeblest order. Everything took him by surprise. He laughed
immoderately at the most trifling joke, and displayed such utter
simplicity that Frederick at first took him for a wag, and finally
regarded him as a booby.

The young man found it impossible, therefore, to be effusive with
anyone; and he was constantly looking forward to an invitation from the
Dambreuses.

On New Year's Day, he sent them visiting-cards, but received none in
return.

He made his way back to the office of _L'Art Industriel_.

A third time he returned to it, and at last saw Arnoux carrying on an
argument with five or six persons around him. He scarcely responded to
the young man's bow; and Frederick was wounded by this reception. None
the less he cogitated over the best means of finding his way to her
side.

His first idea was to come frequently to the shop on the pretext of
getting pictures at low prices. Then he conceived the notion of slipping
into the letter-box of the journal a few "very strong" articles, which
might lead to friendly relations. Perhaps it would be better to go
straight to the mark at once, and declare his love? Acting on this
impulse, he wrote a letter covering a dozen pages, full of lyric
movements and apostrophes; but he tore it up, and did nothing, attempted
nothing--bereft of motive power by his want of success.

Above Arnoux's shop, there were, on the first floor, three windows which
were lighted up every evening. Shadows might be seen moving about behind
them, especially one; this was hers; and he went very far out of his way
in order to gaze at these windows and to contemplate this shadow.

A negress who crossed his path one day in the Tuileries, holding a
little girl by the hand, recalled to his mind Madame Arnoux's negress.
She was sure to come there, like the others; every time he passed
through the Tuileries, his heart began to beat with the anticipation of
meeting her. On sunny days he continued his walk as far as the end of
the Champs-Élysées.

Women seated with careless ease in open carriages, and with their veils
floating in the wind, filed past close to him, their horses advancing at
a steady walking pace, and with an unconscious see-saw movement that
made the varnished leather of the harness crackle. The vehicles became
more numerous, and, slackening their motion after they had passed the
circular space where the roads met, they took up the entire track. The
horses' manes and the carriage lamps were close to each other. The steel
stirrups, the silver curbs and the brass rings, flung, here and there,
luminous points in the midst of the short breeches, the white gloves,
and the furs, falling over the blazonry of the carriage doors. He felt
as if he were lost in some far-off world. His eyes wandered along the
rows of female heads, and certain vague resemblances brought back Madame
Arnoux to his recollection. He pictured her to himself, in the midst of
the others, in one of those little broughams like Madame Dambreuse's
brougham.

But the sun was setting, and the cold wind raised whirling clouds of
dust. The coachmen let their chins sink into their neckcloths; the
wheels began to revolve more quickly; the road-metal grated; and all the
equipages descended the long sloping avenue at a quick trot, touching,
sweeping past one another, getting out of one another's way; then, at
the Place de la Concorde, they went off in different directions. Behind
the Tuileries, there was a patch of slate-coloured sky. The trees of the
garden formed two enormous masses violet-hued at their summits. The
gas-lamps were lighted; and the Seine, green all over, was torn into
strips of silver moiré, near the piers of the bridges.

He went to get a dinner for forty-three sous in a restaurant in the Rue
de la Harpe. He glanced disdainfully at the old mahogany counter, the
soiled napkins, the dingy silver-plate, and the hats hanging up on the
wall.

Those around him were students like himself. They talked about their
professors, and about their mistresses. Much he cared about professors!
Had he a mistress? To avoid being a witness of their enjoyment, he came
as late as possible. The tables were all strewn with remnants of food.
The two waiters, worn out with attendance on customers, lay asleep, each
in a corner of his own; and an odour of cooking, of an argand lamp, and
of tobacco, filled the deserted dining-room. Then he slowly toiled up
the streets again. The gas lamps vibrated, casting on the mud long
yellowish shafts of flickering light. Shadowy forms surmounted by
umbrellas glided along the footpaths. The pavement was slippery; the fog
grew thicker, and it seemed to him that the moist gloom, wrapping him
around, descended into the depths of his heart.

He was smitten with a vague remorse. He renewed his attendance at
lectures. But as he was entirely ignorant of the matters which formed
the subject of explanation, things of the simplest description puzzled
him. He set about writing a novel entitled _Sylvio, the Fisherman's
Son_. The scene of the story was Venice. The hero was himself, and
Madame Arnoux was the heroine. She was called Antonia; and, to get
possession of her, he assassinated a number of noblemen, and burned a
portion of the city; after which achievements he sang a serenade under
her balcony, where fluttered in the breeze the red damask curtains of
the Boulevard Montmartre.

The reminiscences, far too numerous, on which he dwelt produced a
disheartening effect on him; he went no further with the work, and his
mental vacuity redoubled.

After this, he begged of Deslauriers to come and share his apartment.
They might make arrangements to live together with the aid of his
allowance of two thousand francs; anything would be better than this
intolerable existence. Deslauriers could not yet leave Troyes. He urged
his friend to find some means of distracting his thoughts, and, with
that end in view, suggested that he should call on Sénécal.

Sénécal was a mathematical tutor, a hard-headed man with republican
convictions, a future Saint-Just, according to the clerk. Frederick
ascended the five flights, up which he lived, three times in succession,
without getting a visit from him in return. He did not go back to the
place.

He now went in for amusing himself. He attended the balls at the Opera
House. These exhibitions of riotous gaiety froze him the moment he had
passed the door. Besides, he was restrained by the fear of being
subjected to insult on the subject of money, his notion being that a
supper with a domino, entailing considerable expense, was rather a big
adventure.

It seemed to him, however, that he must needs love her. Sometimes he
used to wake up with his heart full of hope, dressed himself carefully
as if he were going to keep an appointment, and started on interminable
excursions all over Paris. Whenever a woman was walking in front of him,
or coming in his direction, he would say: "Here she is!" Every time it
was only a fresh disappointment. The idea of Madame Arnoux strengthened
these desires. Perhaps he might find her on his way; and he conjured up
dangerous complications, extraordinary perils from which he would save
her, in order to get near her.

So the days slipped by with the same tiresome experiences, and
enslavement to contracted habits. He turned over the pages of pamphlets
under the arcades of the Odéon, went to read the _Revue des Deux Mondes_
at the café, entered the hall of the Collége de France, and for an hour
stopped to listen to a lecture on Chinese or political economy. Every
week he wrote long letters to Deslauriers, dined from time to time with
Martinon, and occasionally saw M. de Cisy. He hired a piano and composed
German waltzes.

One evening at the theatre of the Palais-Royal, he perceived, in one of
the stage-boxes, Arnoux with a woman by his side. Was it she? The screen
of green taffeta, pulled over the side of the box, hid her face. At
length, the curtain rose, and the screen was drawn aside. She was a tall
woman of about thirty, rather faded, and, when she laughed, her thick
lips uncovered a row of shining teeth. She chatted familiarly with
Arnoux, giving him, from time to time, taps, with her fan, on the
fingers. Then a fair-haired young girl with eyelids a little red, as if
she had just been weeping, seated herself between them. Arnoux after
that remained stooped over her shoulder, pouring forth a stream of talk
to which she listened without replying. Frederick taxed his ingenuity to
find out the social position of these women, modestly attired in gowns
of sober hue with flat, turned-up collars.

At the close of the play, he made a dash for the passages. The crowd of
people going out filled them up. Arnoux, just in front of him, was
descending the staircase step by step, with a woman on each arm.

Suddenly a gas-burner shed its light on him. He wore a crape hat-band.
She was dead, perhaps? This idea tormented Frederick's mind so much,
that he hurried, next day, to the office of _L'Art Industriel_, and
paying, without a moment's delay, for one of the engravings exposed in
the window for sale, he asked the shop-assistant how was Monsieur
Arnoux.

The shop-assistant replied:

"Why, quite well!"

Frederick, growing pale, added:

"And Madame?"

"Madame, also."

Frederick forgot to carry off his engraving.

The winter drew to an end. He was less melancholy in the spring time,
and began to prepare for his examination. Having passed it
indifferently, he started immediately afterwards for Nogent.

He refrained from going to Troyes to see his friend, in order to escape
his mother's comments. Then, on his return to Paris at the end of the
vacation, he left his lodgings, and took two rooms on the Quai Napoléon
which he furnished. He had given up all hope of getting an invitation
from the Dambreuses. His great passion for Madame Arnoux was beginning
to die out.



CHAPTER IV.

The Inexpressible She!


One morning, in the month of December, while going to attend a law
lecture, he thought he could observe more than ordinary animation in the
Rue Saint-Jacques. The students were rushing precipitately out of the
cafés, where, through the open windows, they were calling one another
from one house to the other. The shop keepers in the middle of the
footpath were looking about them anxiously; the window-shutters were
fastened; and when he reached the Rue Soufflot, he perceived a large
assemblage around the Panthéon.

Young men in groups numbering from five to a dozen walked along, arm in
arm, and accosted the larger groups, which had stationed themselves here
and there. At the lower end of the square, near the railings, men in
blouses were holding forth, while policemen, with their three-cornered
hats drawn over their ears, and their hands behind their backs, were
strolling up and down beside the walls making the flags ring under the
tread of their heavy boots. All wore a mysterious, wondering look; they
were evidently expecting something to happen. Each held back a question
which was on the edge of his lips.

Frederick found himself close to a fair-haired young man with a
prepossessing face and a moustache and a tuft of beard on his chin, like
a dandy of Louis XIII.'s time. He asked the stranger what was the cause
of the disorder.

"I haven't the least idea," replied the other, "nor have they, for that
matter! 'Tis their fashion just now! What a good joke!"

And he burst out laughing. The petitions for Reform, which had been
signed at the quarters of the National Guard, together with the
property-census of Humann and other events besides, had, for the past
six months, led to inexplicable gatherings of riotous crowds in Paris,
and so frequently had they broken out anew, that the newspapers had
ceased to refer to them.

"This lacks graceful outline and colour," continued Frederick's
neighbour. "I am convinced, messire, that we have degenerated. In the
good epoch of Louis XI., and even in that of Benjamin Constant, there
was more mutinousness amongst the students. I find them as pacific as
sheep, as stupid as greenhorns, and only fit to be grocers. Gadzooks!
And these are what we call the youth of the schools!"

He held his arms wide apart after the fashion of Frederick Lemaitre in
_Robert Macaire_.

"Youth of the schools, I give you my blessing!"

After this, addressing a rag picker, who was moving a heap of
oyster-shells up against the wall of a wine-merchant's house:

"Do you belong to them--the youth of the schools?"

The old man lifted up a hideous countenance in which one could trace, in
the midst of a grey beard, a red nose and two dull eyes, bloodshot from
drink.

"No, you appear to me rather one of those men with patibulary faces whom
we see, in various groups, liberally scattering gold. Oh, scatter it, my
patriarch, scatter it! Corrupt me with the treasures of Albion! Are you
English? I do not reject the presents of Artaxerxes! Let us have a
little chat about the union of customs!"

Frederick felt a hand laid on his shoulder. It was Martinon, looking
exceedingly pale.

"Well!" said he with a big sigh, "another riot!"

He was afraid of being compromised, and uttered complaints. Men in
blouses especially made him feel uneasy, suggesting a connection with
secret societies.

"You mean to say there are secret societies," said the young man with
the moustaches. "That is a worn-out dodge of the Government to frighten
the middle-class folk!"

Martinon urged him to speak in a lower tone, for fear of the police.

"You believe still in the police, do you? As a matter of fact, how do
you know, Monsieur, that I am not myself a police spy?"

And he looked at him in such a way, that Martinon, much discomposed,
was, at first, unable to see the joke. The people pushed them on, and
they were all three compelled to stand on the little staircase which
led, by one of the passages, to the new amphitheatre.

The crowd soon broke up of its own accord. Many heads could be
distinguished. They bowed towards the distinguished Professor Samuel
Rondelot, who, wrapped in his big frock-coat, with his silver spectacles
held up high in the air, and breathing hard from his asthma, was
advancing at an easy pace, on his way to deliver his lecture. This man
was one of the judicial glories of the nineteenth century, the rival of
the Zachariæs and the Ruhdorffs. His new dignity of peer of France had
in no way modified his external demeanour. He was known to be poor, and
was treated with profound respect.

Meanwhile, at the lower end of the square, some persons cried out:

"Down with Guizot!"

"Down with Pritchard!"

"Down with the sold ones!"

"Down with Louis Philippe!"

The crowd swayed to and fro, and, pressing against the gate of the
courtyard, which was shut, prevented the professor from going further.
He stopped in front of the staircase. He was speedily observed on the
lowest of three steps. He spoke; the loud murmurs of the throng drowned
his voice. Although at another time they might love him, they hated him
now, for he was the representative of authority. Every time he tried to
make himself understood, the outcries recommenced. He gesticulated with
great energy to induce the students to follow him. He was answered by
vociferations from all sides. He shrugged his shoulders disdainfully,
and plunged into the passage. Martinon profited by his situation to
disappear at the same moment.

"What a coward!" said Frederick.

"He was prudent," returned the other.

There was an outburst of applause from the crowd, from whose point of
view this retreat, on the part of the professor, appeared in the light
of a victory. From every window, faces, lighted with curiosity, looked
out. Some of those in the crowd struck up the "Marseillaise;" others
proposed to go to Béranger's house.

"To Laffitte's house!"

"To Chateaubriand's house!"

"To Voltaire's house!" yelled the young man with the fair moustaches.

The policemen tried to pass around, saying in the mildest tones they
could assume:

"Move on, messieurs! Move on! Take yourselves off!"

Somebody exclaimed:

"Down with the slaughterers!"

This was a form of insult usual since the troubles of the month of
September. Everyone echoed it. The guardians of public order were hooted
and hissed. They began to grow pale. One of them could endure it no
longer, and, seeing a low-sized young man approaching too close,
laughing in his teeth, pushed him back so roughly, that he tumbled over
on his back some five paces away, in front of a wine-merchant's shop.
All made way; but almost immediately afterwards the policeman rolled on
the ground himself, felled by a blow from a species of Hercules, whose
hair hung down like a bundle of tow under an oilskin cap. Having stopped
for a few minutes at the corner of the Rue Saint-Jacques, he had very
quickly laid down a large case, which he had been carrying, in order to
make a spring at the policeman, and, holding down that functionary,
punched his face unmercifully. The other policemen rushed to the rescue
of their comrade. The terrible shop-assistant was so powerfully built
that it took four of them at least to get the better of him. Two of them
shook him, while keeping a grip on his collar; two others dragged his
arms; a fifth gave him digs of the knee in the ribs; and all of them
called him "brigand," "assassin," "rioter." With his breast bare, and
his clothes in rags, he protested that he was innocent; he could not, in
cold blood, look at a child receiving a beating.

"My name is Dussardier. I'm employed at Messieurs Valincart Brothers'
lace and fancy warehouse, in the Rue de Cléry. Where's my case? I want
my case!"

He kept repeating:

"Dussardier, Rue de Cléry. My case!"

However, he became quiet, and, with a stoical air, allowed himself to be
led towards the guard-house in the Rue Descartes. A flood of people came
rushing after him. Frederick and the young man with the moustaches
walked immediately behind, full of admiration for the shopman, and
indignant at the violence of power.

As they advanced, the crowd became less thick.

The policemen from time to time turned round, with threatening looks;
and the rowdies, no longer having anything to do, and the spectators not
having anything to look at, all drifted away by degrees. The passers-by,
who met the procession, as they came along, stared at Dussardier, and in
loud tones, gave vent to abusive remarks about him. One old woman, at
her own door, bawled out that he had stolen a loaf of bread from her.
This unjust accusation increased the wrath of the two friends. At
length, they reached the guard-house. Only about twenty persons were
now left in the attenuated crowd, and the sight of the soldiers was
enough to disperse them.

Frederick and his companion boldly asked to have the man who had just
been imprisoned delivered up. The sentinel threatened, if they
persisted, to ram them into jail too. They said they required to see the
commander of the guard-house, and stated their names, and the fact that
they were law-students, declaring that the prisoner was one also.

They were ushered into a room perfectly bare, in which, amid an
atmosphere of smoke, four benches might be seen lining the
roughly-plastered walls. At the lower end there was an open wicket. Then
appeared the sturdy face of Dussardier, who, with his hair all tousled,
his honest little eyes, and his broad snout, suggested to one's mind in
a confused sort of way the physiognomy of a good dog.

"Don't you recognise us?" said Hussonnet.

This was the name of the young man with the moustaches.

"Why----" stammered Dussardier.

"Don't play the fool any further," returned the other. "We know that you
are, just like ourselves, a law-student."

In spite of their winks, Dussardier failed to understand. He appeared to
be collecting his thoughts; then, suddenly:

"Has my case been found?"

Frederick raised his eyes, feeling much discouraged.

Hussonnet, however, said promptly:

"Ha! your case, in which you keep your notes of lectures? Yes, yes, make
your mind easy about it!"

They made further pantomimic signs with redoubled energy, till
Dussardier at last realised that they had come to help him; and he held
his tongue, fearing that he might compromise them. Besides, he
experienced a kind of shamefacedness at seeing himself raised to the
social rank of student, and to an equality with those young men who had
such white hands.

"Do you wish to send any message to anyone?" asked Frederick.

"No, thanks, to nobody."

"But your family?"

He lowered his head without replying; the poor fellow was a bastard. The
two friends stood quite astonished at his silence.

"Have you anything to smoke?" was Frederick's next question.

He felt about, then drew forth from the depths of one of his pockets the
remains of a pipe--a beautiful pipe, made of white talc with a shank of
blackwood, a silver cover, and an amber mouthpiece.

For the last three years he had been engaged in completing this
masterpiece. He had been careful to keep the bowl of it constantly
thrust into a kind of sheath of chamois, to smoke it as slowly as
possible, without ever letting it lie on any cold stone substance, and
to hang it up every evening over the head of his bed. And now he shook
out the fragments of it into his hand, the nails of which were covered
with blood, and with his chin sunk on his chest, his pupils fixed and
dilated, he contemplated this wreck of the thing that had yielded him
such delight with a glance of unutterable sadness.

"Suppose we give him some cigars, eh?" said Hussonnet in a whisper,
making a gesture as if he were reaching them out.

Frederick had already laid down a cigar-holder, filled, on the edge of
the wicket.

"Pray take this. Good-bye! Cheer up!"

Dussardier flung himself on the two hands that were held out towards
him. He pressed them frantically, his voice choked with sobs.

"What? For me!--for me!"

The two friends tore themselves away from the effusive display of
gratitude which he made, and went off to lunch together at the Café
Tabourey, in front of the Luxembourg.

While cutting up the beefsteak, Hussonnet informed his companion that he
did work for the fashion journals, and manufactured catchwords for
_L'Art Industriel_.

"At Jacques Arnoux's establishment?" said Frederick.

"Do you know him?"

"Yes!--no!--that is to say, I have seen him--I have met him."

He carelessly asked Hussonnet if he sometimes saw Arnoux's wife.

"From time to time," the Bohemian replied.

Frederick did not venture to follow up his enquiries. This man
henceforth would fill up a large space in his life. He paid the
lunch-bill without any protest on the other's part.

There was a bond of mutual sympathy between them; they gave one another
their respective addresses, and Hussonnet cordially invited Frederick to
accompany him to the Rue de Fleurus.

They had reached the middle of the garden, when Arnoux's clerk, holding
his breath, twisted his features into a hideous grimace, and began to
crow like a cock. Thereupon all the cocks in the vicinity responded
with prolonged "cock-a-doodle-doos."

"It is a signal," explained Hussonnet.

They stopped close to the Théàtre Bobino, in front of a house to which
they had to find their way through an alley. In the skylight of a
garret, between the nasturtiums and the sweet peas, a young woman showed
herself, bare-headed, in her stays, her two arms resting on the edge of
the roof-gutter.

"Good-morrow, my angel! good-morrow, ducky!" said Hussonnet, sending her
kisses.

He made the barrier fly open with a kick, and disappeared.

Frederick waited for him all the week. He did not venture to call at
Hussonnet's residence, lest it might look as if he were in a hurry to
get a lunch in return for the one he had paid for. But he sought the
clerk all over the Latin Quarter. He came across him one evening, and
brought him to his apartment on the Quai Napoléon.

They had a long chat, and unbosomed themselves to each other. Hussonnet
yearned after the glory and the gains of the theatre. He collaborated in
the writing of vaudevilles which were not accepted, "had heaps of
plans," could turn a couplet; he sang out for Frederick a few of the
verses he had composed. Then, noticing on one of the shelves a volume of
Hugo and another of Lamartine, he broke out into sarcastic criticisms of
the romantic school. These poets had neither good sense nor correctness,
and, above all, were not French! He plumed himself on his knowledge of
the language, and analysed the most beautiful phrases with that snarling
severity, that academic taste which persons of playful disposition
exhibit when they are discussing serious art.

Frederick was wounded in his predilections, and he felt a desire to cut
the discussion short. Why not take the risk at once of uttering the word
on which his happiness depended? He asked this literary youth whether it
would be possible to get an introduction into the Arnoux's house through
his agency.

The thing was declared to be quite easy, and they fixed upon the
following day.

Hussonnet failed to keep the appointment, and on three subsequent
occasions he did not turn up. One Saturday, about four o'clock, he made
his appearance. But, taking advantage of the cab into which they had
got, he drew up in front of the Théàtre Français to get a box-ticket,
got down at a tailor's shop, then at a dressmaker's, and wrote notes in
the door-keeper's lodge. At last they came to the Boulevard Montmartre.
Frederick passed through the shop, and went up the staircase. Arnoux
recognised him through the glass-partition in front of his desk, and
while continuing to write he stretched out his hand and laid it on
Frederick's shoulder.

Five or six persons, standing up, filled the narrow apartment, which was
lighted by a single window looking out on the yard, a sofa of brown
damask wool occupying the interior of an alcove between two
door-curtains of similar material. Upon the chimney-piece, covered with
old papers, there was a bronze Venus. Two candelabra, garnished with
rose-coloured wax-tapers, supported it, one at each side. At the right
near a cardboard chest of drawers, a man, seated in an armchair, was
reading the newspaper, with his hat on. The walls were hidden from view
beneath the array of prints and pictures, precious engravings or
sketches by contemporary masters, adorned with dedications testifying
the most sincere affection for Jacques Arnoux.

"You're getting on well all this time?" said he, turning round to
Frederick.

And, without waiting for an answer, he asked Hussonnet in a low tone:

"What is your friend's name?" Then, raising his voice:

"Take a cigar out of the box on the cardboard stand."

The office of _L'Art Industriel_, situated in a central position in
Paris, was a convenient place of resort, a neutral ground wherein
rivalries elbowed each other familiarly. On this day might be seen there
Anténor Braive, who painted portraits of kings; Jules Burrieu, who by
his sketches was beginning to popularise the wars in Algeria; the
caricaturist Sombary, the sculptor Vourdat, and others. And not a single
one of them corresponded with the student's preconceived ideas. Their
manners were simple, their talk free and easy. The mystic Lovarias told
an obscene story; and the inventor of Oriental landscape, the famous
Dittmer, wore a knitted shirt under his waistcoat, and went home in the
omnibus.

The first topic that came on the carpet was the case of a girl named
Apollonie, formerly a model, whom Burrieu alleged that he had seen on
the boulevard in a carriage. Hussonnet explained this metamorphosis
through the succession of persons who had loved her.

"How well this sly dog knows the girls of Paris!" said Arnoux.

"After you, if there are any of them left, sire," replied the Bohemian,
with a military salute, in imitation of the grenadier offering his flask
to Napoléon.

Then they talked about some pictures in which Apollonie had sat for the
female figures. They criticised their absent brethren, expressing
astonishment at the sums paid for their works; and they were all
complaining of not having been sufficiently remunerated themselves, when
the conversation was interrupted by the entrance of a man of middle
stature, who had his coat fastened by a single button, and whose eyes
glittered with a rather wild expression.

"What a lot of shopkeepers you are!" said he. "God bless my soul! what
does that signify? The old masters did not trouble their heads about the
million--Correggio, Murillo----"

"Add Pellerin," said Sombary.

But, without taking the slightest notice of the epigram, he went on
talking with such vehemence, that Arnoux was forced to repeat twice to
him:

"My wife wants you on Thursday. Don't forget!"

This remark recalled Madame Arnoux to Frederick's thoughts. No doubt,
one might be able to reach her through the little room near the sofa.
Arnoux had just opened the portière leading into it to get a
pocket-handkerchief, and Frédéric had seen a wash-stand at the far end
of the apartment.

But at this point a kind of muttering sound came from the corner of the
chimney-piece; it was caused by the personage who sat in the armchair
reading the newspaper. He was a man of five feet nine inches in height,
with rather heavy eyelashes, a head of grey hair, and an imposing
appearance; and his name was Regimbart.

"What's the matter now, citizen?" said Arnoux.

"Another fresh piece of rascality on the part of Government!"

The thing that he was referring to was the dismissal of a schoolmaster.

Pellerin again took up his parallel between Michael Angelo and
Shakespeare. Dittmer was taking himself off when Arnoux pulled him back
in order to put two bank notes into his hand. Thereupon Hussonnet said,
considering this an opportune time:

"Couldn't you give me an advance, my dear master----?"

But Arnoux had resumed his seat, and was administering a severe
reprimand to an old man of mean aspect, who wore a pair of blue
spectacles.

"Ha! a nice fellow you are, Père Isaac! Here are three works cried down,
destroyed! Everybody is laughing at me! People know what they are now!
What do you want me to do with them? I'll have to send them off to
California--or to the devil! Hold your tongue!"

The specialty of this old worthy consisted in attaching the signatures
of the great masters at the bottom of these pictures. Arnoux refused to
pay him, and dismissed him in a brutal fashion. Then, with an entire
change of manner, he bowed to a gentleman of affectedly grave demeanour,
who wore whiskers and displayed a white tie round his neck and the cross
of the Legion of Honour over his breast.

With his elbow resting on the window-fastening, he kept talking to him
for a long time in honeyed tones. At last he burst out:

"Ah! well, I am not bothered with brokers, Count."

The nobleman gave way, and Arnoux paid him down twenty-five louis. As
soon as he had gone out:

"What a plague these big lords are!"

"A lot of wretches!" muttered Regimbart.

As it grew later, Arnoux was much more busily occupied. He classified
articles, tore open letters, set out accounts in a row; at the sound of
hammering in the warehouse he went out to look after the packing; then
he went back to his ordinary work; and, while he kept his steel pen
running over the paper, he indulged in sharp witticisms. He had an
invitation to dine with his lawyer that evening, and was starting next
day for Belgium.

The others chatted about the topics of the day--Cherubini's portrait,
the hemicycle of the Fine Arts, and the next Exhibition. Pellerin railed
at the Institute. Scandalous stories and serious discussions got mixed
up together. The apartment with its low ceiling was so much stuffed up
that one could scarcely move; and the light of the rose-coloured
wax-tapers was obscured in the smoke of their cigars, like the sun's
rays in a fog.

The door near the sofa flew open, and a tall, thin woman entered with
abrupt movements, which made all the trinkets of her watch rattle under
her black taffeta gown.

It was the woman of whom Frederick had caught a glimpse last summer at
the Palais-Royal. Some of those present, addressing her by name, shook
hands with her. Hussonnet had at last managed to extract from his
employer the sum of fifty francs. The clock struck seven.

All rose to go.

Arnoux told Pellerin to remain, and accompanied Mademoiselle Vatnaz into
the dressing-room.

Frederick could not hear what they said; they spoke in whispers.
However, the woman's voice was raised:

"I have been waiting ever since the job was done, six months ago."

There was a long silence, and then Mademoiselle Vatnaz reappeared.
Arnoux had again promised her something.

"Oh! oh! later, we shall see!"

"Good-bye! happy man," said she, as she was going out.

Arnoux quickly re-entered the dressing-room, rubbed some cosmetic over
his moustaches, raised his braces, stretched his straps; and, while he
was washing his hands:

"I would require two over the door at two hundred and fifty apiece, in
Boucher's style. Is that understood?"

"Be it so," said the artist, his face reddening.

"Good! and don't forget my wife!"

Frederick accompanied Pellerin to the top of the Faubourg Poissonnière,
and asked his permission to come to see him sometimes, a favour which
was graciously accorded.

Pellerin read every work on æsthetics, in order to find out the true
theory of the Beautiful, convinced that, when he had discovered it, he
would produce masterpieces. He surrounded himself with every imaginable
auxiliary--drawings, plaster-casts, models, engravings; and he kept
searching about, eating his heart out. He blamed the weather, his
nerves, his studio, went out into the street to find inspiration there,
quivered with delight at the thought that he had caught it, then
abandoned the work in which he was engaged, and dreamed of another which
should be finer. Thus, tormented by the desire for glory, and wasting
his days in discussions, believing in a thousand fooleries--in systems,
in criticisms, in the importance of a regulation or a reform in the
domain of Art--he had at fifty as yet turned out nothing save mere
sketches. His robust pride prevented him from experiencing any
discouragement, but he was always irritated, and in that state of
exaltation, at the same time factitious and natural, which is
characteristic of comedians.

On entering his studio one's attention was directed towards two large
pictures, in which the first tones of colour laid on here and there made
on the white canvas spots of brown, red, and blue. A network of lines in
chalk stretched overhead, like stitches of thread repeated twenty times;
it was impossible to understand what it meant. Pellerin explained the
subject of these two compositions by pointing out with his thumb the
portions that were lacking. The first was intended to represent "The
Madness of Nebuchadnezzar," and the second "The Burning of Rome by
Nero." Frederick admired them.

He admired academies of women with dishevelled hair, landscapes in which
trunks of trees, twisted by the storm, abounded, and above all freaks of
the pen, imitations from memory of Callot, Rembrandt, or Goya, of which
he did not know the models. Pellerin no longer set any value on these
works of his youth. He was now all in favour of the grand style; he
dogmatised eloquently about Phidias and Winckelmann. The objects around
him strengthened the force of his language; one saw a death's head on a
prie-dieu, yataghans, a monk's habit. Frederick put it on.

When he arrived early, he surprised the artist in his wretched
folding-bed, which was hidden from view by a strip of tapestry; for
Pellerin went to bed late, being an assiduous frequenter of the
theatres. An old woman in tatters attended on him. He dined at a
cook-shop, and lived without a mistress. His acquirements, picked up in
the most irregular fashion, rendered his paradoxes amusing. His hatred
of the vulgar and the "bourgeois" overflowed in sarcasms, marked by a
superb lyricism, and he had such religious reverence for the masters
that it raised him almost to their level.

But why had he never spoken about Madame Arnoux? As for her son, at one
time he called Pellerin a decent fellow, at other times a charlatan.
Frederick was waiting for some disclosures on his part.

One day, while turning over one of the portfolios in the studio, he
thought he could trace in the portrait of a female Bohemian some
resemblance to Mademoiselle Vatnaz; and, as he felt interested in this
lady, he desired to know what was her exact social position.

She had been, as far as Pellerin could ascertain, originally a
schoolmistress in the provinces. She now gave lessons in Paris, and
tried to write for the small journals.

According to Frederick, one would imagine from her manners with Arnoux
that she was his mistress.

"Pshaw! he has others!"

Then, turning away his face, which reddened with shame as he realised
the baseness of the suggestion, the young man added, with a swaggering
air:

"Very likely his wife pays him back for it?"

"Not at all; she is virtuous."

Frederick again experienced a feeling of compunction, and the result was
that his attendance at the office of the art journal became more marked
than before.

The big letters which formed the name of Arnoux on the marble plate
above the shop seemed to him quite peculiar and pregnant with
significance, like some sacred writing. The wide footpath, by its
descent, facilitated his approach; the door almost turned of its own
accord; and the handle, smooth to the touch, gave him the sensation of
friendly and, as it were, intelligent fingers clasping his.
Unconsciously, he became quite as punctual as Regimbart.

Every day Regimbart seated himself in the chimney corner, in his
armchair, got hold of the _National_, and kept possession of it,
expressing his thoughts by exclamations or by shrugs of the
shoulders. From time to time he would wipe his forehead with his
pocket-handkerchief, rolled up in a ball, which he usually stuck in
between two buttons of his green frock-coat. He had trousers with
wrinkles, bluchers, and a long cravat; and his hat, with its turned-up
brim, made him easily recognised, at a distance, in a crowd.

At eight o'clock in the morning he descended the heights of Montmartre,
in order to imbibe white wine in the Rue Nôtre Dame des Victoires. A
late breakfast, following several games of billiards, brought him on to
three o'clock. He then directed his steps towards the Passage des
Panoramas, where he had a glass of absinthe. After the sitting in
Arnoux's shop, he entered the Bordelais smoking-divan, where he
swallowed some bitters; then, in place of returning home to his wife, he
preferred to dine alone in a little café in the Rue Gaillon, where he
desired them to serve up to him "household dishes, natural things."
Finally, he made his way to another billiard-room, and remained there
till midnight, in fact, till one o'clock in the morning, up till the
last moment, when, the gas being put out and the window-shutters
fastened, the master of the establishment, worn out, begged of him to
go.

And it was not the love of drinking that attracted Citizen Regimbart to
these places, but the inveterate habit of talking politics at such
resorts. With advancing age, he had lost his vivacity, and now exhibited
only a silent moroseness. One would have said, judging from the gravity
of his countenence, that he was turning over in his mind the affairs of
the whole world. Nothing, however, came from it; and nobody, even
amongst his own friends, knew him to have any occupation, although he
gave himself out as being up to his eyes in business.

Arnoux appeared to have a very great esteem for him. One day he said to
Frederick:

"He knows a lot, I assure you. He is an able man."

On another occasion Regimbart spread over his desk papers relating to
the kaolin mines in Brittany. Arnoux referred to his own experience on
the subject.

Frederick showed himself more ceremonious towards Regimbart, going so
far as to invite him from time to time to take a glass of absinthe; and,
although he considered him a stupid man, he often remained a full hour
in his company solely because he was Jacques Arnoux's friend.

After pushing forward some contemporary masters in the early portions of
their career, the picture-dealer, a man of progressive ideas, had tried,
while clinging to his artistic ways, to extend his pecuniary profits.
His object was to emancipate the fine arts, to get the sublime at a
cheap rate. Over every industry associated with Parisian luxury he
exercised an influence which proved fortunate with respect to little
things, but fatal with respect to great things. With his mania for
pandering to public opinion, he made clever artists swerve from their
true path, corrupted the strong, exhausted the weak, and got distinction
for those of mediocre talent; he set them up with the assistance of his
connections and of his magazine. Tyros in painting were ambitious of
seeing their works in his shop-window, and upholsterers brought
specimens of furniture to his house. Frederick regarded him, at the same
time, as a millionaire, as a _dilettante_, and as a man of action.
However, he found many things that filled him with astonishment, for my
lord Arnoux was rather sly in his commercial transactions.

He received from the very heart of Germany or of Italy a picture
purchased in Paris for fifteen hundred francs, and, exhibiting an
invoice that brought the price up to four thousand, sold it over again
through complaisance for three thousand five hundred. One of his usual
tricks with painters was to exact as a drink-allowance an abatement in
the purchase-money of their pictures, under the pretence that he would
bring out an engraving of it. He always, when selling such pictures,
made a profit by the abatement; but the engraving never appeared. To
those who complained that he had taken an advantage of them, he would
reply by a slap on the stomach. Generous in other ways, he squandered
money on cigars for his acquaintances, "thee'd" and "thou'd" persons who
were unknown, displayed enthusiasm about a work or a man; and, after
that, sticking to his opinion, and, regardless of consequences, spared
no expense in journeys, correspondence, and advertising. He looked upon
himself as very upright, and, yielding to an irresistible impulse to
unbosom himself, ingenuously told his friends about certain indelicate
acts of which he had been guilty. Once, in order to annoy a member of
his own trade who inaugurated another art journal with a big banquet, he
asked Frederick to write, under his own eyes, a little before the hour
fixed for the entertainment, letters to the guests recalling the
invitations.

"This impugns nobody's honour, do you understand?"

And the young man did not dare to refuse the service.

Next day, on entering with Hussonnet M. Arnoux's office, Frederick saw
through the door (the one opening on the staircase) the hem of a lady's
dress disappearing.

"A thousand pardons!" said Hussonnet. "If I had known that there were
women----"

"Oh! as for that one, she is my own," replied Arnoux. "She just came in
to pay me a visit as she was passing."

"You don't say so!" said Frederick.

"Why, yes; she is going back home again."

The charm of the things around him was suddenly withdrawn. That which
had seemed to him to be diffused vaguely through the place had now
vanished--or, rather, it had never been there. He experienced an
infinite amazement, and, as it were, the painful sensation of having
been betrayed.

Arnoux, while rummaging about in his drawer, began to smile. Was he
laughing at him? The clerk laid down a bundle of moist papers on the
table.

"Ha! the placards," exclaimed the picture-dealer. "I am not ready to
dine this evening."

Regimbart took up his hat.

"What, are you leaving me?"

"Seven o'clock," said Regimbart.

Frederick followed him.

At the corner of the Rue Montmartre, he turned round. He glanced towards
the windows of the first floor, and he laughed internally with self-pity
as he recalled to mind with what love he had so often contemplated them.
Where, then, did she reside? How was he to meet her now? Once more
around the object of his desire a solitude opened more immense than
ever!

"Are you coming to take it?" asked Regimbart.

"To take what?"

"The absinthe."

And, yielding to his importunities, Frederick allowed himself to be led
towards the Bordelais smoking-divan. Whilst his companion, leaning on
his elbow, was staring at the decanter, he was turning his eyes to the
right and to the left. But he caught a glimpse of Pellerin's profile on
the footpath outside; the painter gave a quick tap at the window-pane,
and he had scarcely sat down when Regimbart asked him why they no longer
saw him at the office of _L'Art Industriel_.

"May I perish before ever I go back there again. The fellow is a brute,
a mere tradesman, a wretch, a downright rogue!"

These insulting words harmonised with Frederick's present angry mood.
Nevertheless, he was wounded, for it seemed to him that they hit at
Madame Arnoux more or less.

"Why, what has he done to you?" said Regimbart.

Pellerin stamped with his foot on the ground, and his only response was
an energetic puff.

He had been devoting himself to artistic work of a kind that he did not
care to connect his name with, such as portraits for two crayons, or
pasticcios from the great masters for amateurs of limited knowledge;
and, as he felt humiliated by these inferior productions, he preferred
to hold his tongue on the subject as a general rule. But "Arnoux's dirty
conduct" exasperated him too much. He had to relieve his feelings.

In accordance with an order, which had been given in Frederick's very
presence, he had brought Arnoux two pictures. Thereupon the dealer took
the liberty of criticising them. He found fault with the composition,
the colouring, and the drawing--above all the drawing; he would not, in
short, take them at any price. But, driven to extremities by a bill
falling due, Pellerin had to give them to the Jew Isaac; and, a
fortnight later, Arnoux himself sold them to a Spaniard for two thousand
francs.

"Not a sou less! What rascality! and, faith, he has done many other
things just as bad. One of these mornings we'll see him in the dock!"

"How you exaggerate!" said Frederick, in a timid voice.

"Come, now, that's good; I exaggerate!" exclaimed the artist, giving the
table a great blow with his fist.

This violence had the effect of completely restoring the young man's
self-command. No doubt he might have acted more nicely; still, if Arnoux
found these two pictures----

"Bad! say it out! Are you a judge of them? Is this your profession? Now,
you know, my youngster, I don't allow this sort of thing on the part of
mere amateurs."

"Ah! well, it's not my business," said Frederick.

"Then, what interest have you in defending him?" returned Pellerin,
coldly.

The young man faltered:

"But--since I am his friend----"

"Go, and give him a hug for me. Good evening!"

And the painter rushed away in a rage, and, of course, without paying
for his drink.

Frederick, whilst defending Arnoux, had convinced himself. In the heat
of his eloquence, he was filled with tenderness towards this man, so
intelligent and kind, whom his friends calumniated, and who had now to
work all alone, abandoned by them. He could not resist a strange impulse
to go at once and see him again. Ten minutes afterwards he pushed open
the door of the picture-warehouse.

Arnoux was preparing, with the assistance of his clerks, some huge
placards for an exhibition of pictures.

"Halloa! what brings you back again?"

This question, simple though it was, embarrassed Frederick, and, at a
loss for an answer, he asked whether they had happened to find a
notebook of his--a little notebook with a blue leather cover.

"The one that you put your letters to women in?" said Arnoux.

Frederick, blushing like a young girl, protested against such an
assumption.

"Your verses, then?" returned the picture-dealer.

He handled the pictorial specimens that were to be exhibited,
discovering their form, colouring, and frames; and Frederick felt more
and more irritated by his air of abstraction, and particularly by the
appearance of his hands--large hands, rather soft, with flat nails. At
length, M. Arnoux arose, and saying, "That's disposed of!" he chucked
the young man familiarly under the chin. Frederick was offended at this
liberty, and recoiled a pace or two; then he made a dash for the
shop-door, and passed out through it, as he imagined, for the last time
in his life. Madame Arnoux herself had been lowered by the vulgarity of
her husband.

During the same week he got a letter from Deslauriers, informing him
that the clerk would be in Paris on the following Thursday. Then he
flung himself back violently on this affection as one of a more solid
and lofty character. A man of this sort was worth all the women in the
world. He would no longer have any need of Regimbart, of Pellerin, of
Hussonnet, of anyone! In order to provide his friend with as comfortable
lodgings as possible, he bought an iron bedstead and a second armchair,
and stripped off some of his own bed-covering to garnish this one
properly. On Thursday morning he was dressing himself to go to meet
Deslauriers when there was a ring at the door.

Arnoux entered.

"Just one word. Yesterday I got a lovely trout from Geneva. We expect
you by-and-by--at seven o'clock sharp. The address is the Rue de
Choiseul 24 _bis_. Don't forget!"

Frederick was obliged to sit down; his knees were tottering under him.
He repeated to himself, "At last! at last!" Then he wrote to his
tailor, to his hatter, and to his bootmaker; and he despatched these
three notes by three different messengers.

The key turned in the lock, and the door-keeper appeared with a trunk on
his shoulder.

Frederick, on seeing Deslauriers, began to tremble like an adulteress
under the glance of her husband.

"What has happened to you?" said Deslauriers. "Surely you got my
letter?"

Frederick had not enough energy left to lie. He opened his arms, and
flung himself on his friend's breast.

Then the clerk told his story. His father thought to avoid giving an
account of the expense of tutelage, fancying that the period limited for
rendering such accounts was ten years; but, well up in legal procedure,
Deslauriers had managed to get the share coming to him from his mother
into his clutches--seven thousand francs clear--which he had there with
him in an old pocket-book.

"'Tis a reserve fund, in case of misfortune. I must think over the best
way of investing it, and find quarters for myself to-morrow morning.
To-day I'm perfectly free, and am entirely at your service, my old
friend."

"Oh! don't put yourself about," said Frederick. "If you had anything of
importance to do this evening----"

"Come, now! I would be a selfish wretch----"

This epithet, flung out at random, touched Frederick to the quick, like
a reproachful hint.

The door-keeper had placed on the table close to the fire some chops,
cold meat, a large lobster, some sweets for dessert, and two bottles of
Bordeaux.

Deslauriers was touched by these excellent preparations to welcome his
arrival.

"Upon my word, you are treating me like a king!"

They talked about their past and about the future; and, from time to
time, they grasped each other's hands across the table, gazing at each
other tenderly for a moment.

But a messenger came with a new hat. Deslauriers, in a loud tone,
remarked that this head-gear was very showy. Next came the tailor
himself to fit on the coat, to which he had given a touch with the
smoothing-iron.

"One would imagine you were going to be married," said Deslauriers.

An hour later, a third individual appeared on the scene, and drew forth
from a big black bag a pair of shining patent leather boots. While
Frederick was trying them on, the bootmaker slyly drew attention to the
shoes of the young man from the country.

"Does Monsieur require anything?"

"Thanks," replied the clerk, pulling behind his chair his old shoes
fastened with strings.

This humiliating incident annoyed Frederick. At length he exclaimed, as
if an idea had suddenly taken possession of him:

"Ha! deuce take it! I was forgetting."

"What is it, pray?"

"I have to dine in the city this evening."

"At the Dambreuses'? Why did you never say anything to me about them in
your letters?"

"It is not at the Dambreuses', but at the Arnoux's."

"You should have let me know beforehand," said Deslauriers. "I would
have come a day later."

"Impossible," returned Frederick, abruptly. "I only got the invitation
this morning, a little while ago."

And to redeem his error and distract his friend's mind from the
occurrence, he proceeded to unfasten the tangled cords round the trunk,
and to arrange all his belongings in the chest of drawers, expressed his
willingness to give him his own bed, and offered to sleep himself in the
dressing-room bedstead. Then, as soon as it was four o'clock, he began
the preparations for his toilet.

"You have plenty of time," said the other.

At last he was dressed and off he went.

"That's the way with the rich," thought Deslauriers.

And he went to dine in the Rue Saint-Jacques, at a little restaurant
kept by a man he knew.

Frederick stopped several times while going up the stairs, so violently
did his heart beat. One of his gloves, which was too tight, burst, and,
while he was fastening back the torn part under his shirt-cuff, Arnoux,
who was mounting the stairs behind him, took his arm and led him in.

The anteroom, decorated in the Chinese fashion, had a painted lantern
hanging from the ceiling, and bamboos in the corners. As he was passing
into the drawing-room, Frederick stumbled against a tiger's skin. The
place had not yet been lighted up, but two lamps were burning in the
boudoir in the far corner.

Mademoiselle Marthe came to announce that her mamma was dressing. Arnoux
raised her as high as his mouth in order to kiss her; then, as he wished
to go to the cellar himself to select certain bottles of wine, he left
Frederick with the little girl.

She had grown much larger since the trip in the steamboat. Her dark hair
descended in long ringlets, which curled over her bare arms. Her dress,
more puffed out than the petticoat of a _danseuse_, allowed her rosy
calves to be seen, and her pretty childlike form had all the fresh odour
of a bunch of flowers. She received the young gentleman's compliments
with a coquettish air, fixed on him her large, dreamy eyes, then
slipping on the carpet amid the furniture, disappeared like a cat.

After this he no longer felt ill at ease. The globes of the lamps,
covered with a paper lace-work, sent forth a white light, softening the
colour of the walls, hung with mauve satin. Through the fender-bars, as
through the slits in a big fan, the coal could be seen in the fireplace,
and close beside the clock there was a little chest with silver clasps.
Here and there things lay about which gave the place a look of home--a
doll in the middle of the sofa, a fichu against the back of a chair, and
on the work-table a knitted woollen vest, from which two ivory needles
were hanging with their points downwards. It was altogether a peaceful
spot, suggesting the idea of propriety and innocent family life.

Arnoux returned, and Madame Arnoux appeared at the other doorway. As she
was enveloped in shadow, the young man could at first distinguish only
her head. She wore a black velvet gown, and in her hair she had fastened
a long Algerian cap, in a red silk net, which coiling round her comb,
fell over her left shoulder.

Arnoux introduced Frederick.

"Oh! I remember Monsieur perfectly well," she responded.

Then the guests arrived, nearly all at the same time--Dittmer, Lovarias,
Burrieu, the composer Rosenwald, the poet Théophile Lorris, two art
critics, colleagues of Hussonnet, a paper manufacturer, and in the rear
the illustrious Pierre Paul Meinsius, the last representative of the
grand school of painting, who blithely carried along with his glory his
forty-five years and his big paunch.

When they were passing into the dining-room, Madame Arnoux took his arm.
A chair had been left vacant for Pellerin. Arnoux, though he took
advantage of him, was fond of him. Besides, he was afraid of his
terrible tongue, so much so, that, in order to soften him, he had given
a portrait of him in _L'Art Industriel_, accompanied by exaggerated
eulogies; and Pellerin, more sensitive about distinction than about
money, made his appearance about eight o'clock quite out of breath.
Frederick fancied that they had been a long time reconciled.

He liked the company, the dishes, everything. The dining-room, which
resembled a mediæval parlour, was hung with stamped leather. A Dutch
whatnot faced a rack for chibouks, and around the table the Bohemian
glasses, variously coloured, had, in the midst of the flowers and
fruits, the effect of an illumination in a garden.

He had to make his choice between ten sorts of mustard. He partook of
daspachio, of curry, of ginger, of Corsican blackbirds, and a species of
Roman macaroni called lasagna; he drank extraordinary wines, lip-fraeli
and tokay. Arnoux indeed prided himself on entertaining people in good
style. With an eye to the procurement of eatables, he paid court to
mail-coach drivers, and was in league with the cooks of great houses,
who communicated to him the secrets of rare sauces.

But Frederick was particularly amused by the conversation. His taste for
travelling was tickled by Dittmer, who talked about the East; he
gratified his curiosity about theatrical matters by listening to
Rosenwald's chat about the opera; and the atrocious existence of Bohemia
assumed for him a droll aspect when seen through the gaiety of
Hussonnet, who related, in a picturesque fashion, how he had spent an
entire winter with no food except Dutch cheese. Then, a discussion
between Lovarias and Burrieu about the Florentine School gave him new
ideas with regard to masterpieces, widened his horizon, and he found
difficulty in restraining his enthusiasm when Pellerin exclaimed:

"Don't bother me with your hideous reality! What does it mean--reality?
Some see things black, others blue--the multitude sees them
brute-fashion. There is nothing less natural than Michael Angelo; there
is nothing more powerful! The anxiety about external truth is a mark of
contemporary baseness; and art will become, if things go on that way, a
sort of poor joke as much below religion as it is below poetry, and as
much below politics as it is below business. You will never reach its
end--yes, its end!--which is to cause within us an impersonal
exaltation, with petty works, in spite of all your finished execution.
Look, for instance, at Bassolier's pictures: they are pretty,
coquettish, spruce, and by no means dull. You might put them into your
pocket, bring them with you when you are travelling. Notaries buy them
for twenty thousand francs, while pictures of the ideal type are sold
for three sous. But, without ideality, there is no grandeur; without
grandeur there is no beauty. Olympus is a mountain. The most swagger
monument will always be the Pyramids. Exuberance is better than taste;
the desert is better than a street-pavement, and a savage is better than
a hairdresser!"

Frederick, as these words fell upon his ear, glanced towards Madame
Arnoux. They sank into his soul like metals falling into a furnace,
added to his passion, and supplied the material of love.

His chair was three seats below hers on the same side. From time to
time, she bent forward a little, turning aside her head to address a few
words to her little daughter; and as she smiled on these occasions, a
dimple took shape in her cheek, giving to her face an expression of more
dainty good-nature.

As soon as the time came for the gentlemen to take their wine, she
disappeared. The conversation became more free and easy. M. Arnoux shone
in it, and Frederick was astonished at the cynicism of men. However,
their preoccupation with woman established between them and him, as it
were, an equality, which raised him in his own estimation.

When they had returned to the drawing-room, he took up, to keep himself
in countenance, one of the albums which lay about on the table. The
great artists of the day had illustrated them with drawings, had written
in them snatches of verse or prose, or their signatures simply. In the
midst of famous names he found many that he had never heard of before,
and original thoughts appeared only underneath a flood of nonsense. All
these effusions contained a more or less direct expression of homage
towards Madame Arnoux. Frederick would have been afraid to write a line
beside them.

She went into her boudoir to look at the little chest with silver clasps
which he had noticed on the mantel-shelf. It was a present from her
husband, a work of the Renaissance. Arnoux's friends complimented him,
and his wife thanked him. His tender emotions were aroused, and before
all the guests he gave her a kiss.

After this they all chatted in groups here and there. The worthy
Meinsius was with Madame Arnoux on an easy chair close beside the fire.
She was leaning forward towards his ear; their heads were just touching,
and Frederick would have been glad to become deaf, infirm, and ugly if,
instead, he had an illustrious name and white hair--in short, if he only
happened to possess something which would install him in such intimate
association with her. He began once more to eat out his heart, furious
at the idea of being so young a man.

But she came into the corner of the drawing-room in which he was
sitting, asked him whether he was acquainted with any of the guests,
whether he was fond of painting, how long he had been a student in
Paris. Every word that came out of her mouth seemed to Frederick
something entirely new, an exclusive appendage of her personality. He
gazed attentively at the fringes of her head-dress, the ends of which
caressed her bare shoulder, and he was unable to take away his eyes; he
plunged his soul into the whiteness of that feminine flesh, and yet he
did not venture to raise his eyelids to glance at her higher, face to
face.

Rosenwald interrupted them, begging of Madame Arnoux to sing something.
He played a prelude, she waited, her lips opened slightly, and a sound,
pure, long-continued, silvery, ascended into the air.

Frederick did not understand a single one of the Italian words. The song
began with a grave measure, something like church music, then in a more
animated strain, with a crescendo movement, it broke into repeated
bursts of sound, then suddenly subsided, and the melody came back again
in a tender fashion with a wide and easy swing.

She stood beside the keyboard with her arms hanging down and a far-off
look on her face. Sometimes, in order to read the music, she advanced
her forehead for a moment and her eyelashes moved to and fro. Her
contralto voice in the low notes took a mournful intonation which had a
chilling effect on the listener, and then her beautiful head, with those
great brows of hers, bent over her shoulder; her bosom swelled; her eyes
were wide apart; her neck, from which roulades made their escape, fell
back as if under aërial kisses. She flung out three sharp notes, came
down again, cast forth one higher still, and, after a silence, finished
with an organ-point.

Rosenwald did not leave the piano. He continued playing, to amuse
himself. From time to time a guest stole away. At eleven o'clock, as the
last of them were going off, Arnoux went out along with Pellerin, under
the pretext of seeing him home. He was one of those people who say that
they are ill when they do not "take a turn" after dinner. Madame Arnoux
had made her way towards the anteroom. Dittmer and Hussonnet bowed to
her. She stretched out her hand to them. She did the same to Frederick;
and he felt, as it were, something penetrating every particle of his
skin.

He quitted his friends. He wished to be alone. His heart was
overflowing. Why had she offered him her hand? Was it a thoughtless
act, or an encouragement? "Come now! I am mad!" Besides, what did it
matter, when he could now visit her entirely at his ease, live in the
very atmosphere she breathed?

The streets were deserted. Now and then a heavy wagon would roll past,
shaking the pavements. The houses came one after another with their grey
fronts, their closed windows; and he thought with disdain of all those
human beings who lived behind those walls without having seen her, and
not one of whom dreamed of her existence. He had no consciousness of his
surroundings, of space, of anything, and striking the ground with his
heel, rapping with his walking-stick on the shutters of the shops, he
kept walking on continually at random, in a state of excitement, carried
away by his emotions. Suddenly he felt himself surrounded by a circle of
damp air, and found that he was on the edge of the quays.

The gas-lamps shone in two straight lines, which ran on endlessly, and
long red flames flickered in the depths of the water. The waves were
slate-coloured, while the sky, which was of clearer hue, seemed to be
supported by vast masses of shadow that rose on each side of the river.
The darkness was intensified by buildings whose outlines the eye could
not distinguish. A luminous haze floated above the roofs further on. All
the noises of the night had melted into a single monotonous hum.

He stopped in the middle of the Pont Neuf, and, taking off his hat and
exposing his chest, he drank in the air. And now he felt as if something
that was inexhaustible were rising up from the very depths of his being,
an afflux of tenderness that enervated him, like the motion of the
waves under his eyes. A church-clock slowly struck one, like a voice
calling out to him.

Then, he was seized with one of those shuddering sensations of the soul
in which one seems to be transported into a higher world. He felt, as it
were, endowed with some extraordinary faculty, the aim of which he could
not determine. He seriously asked himself whether he would be a great
painter or a great poet; and he decided in favour of painting, for the
exigencies of this profession would bring him into contact with Madame
Arnoux. So, then, he had found his vocation! The object of his existence
was now perfectly clear, and there could be no mistake about the future.

When he had shut his door, he heard some one snoring in the dark closet
near his apartment. It was his friend. He no longer bestowed a thought
on him.

His own face presented itself to his view in the glass. He thought
himself handsome, and for a minute he remained gazing at himself.



CHAPTER V.

"Love Knoweth No Laws."


Before twelve o'clock next day he had bought a box of colours,
paintbrushes, and an easel. Pellerin consented to give him lessons, and
Frederick brought him to his lodgings to see whether anything was
wanting among his painting utensils.

Deslauriers had come back, and the second armchair was occupied by a
young man. The clerk said, pointing towards him:

"'Tis he! There he is! Sénécal!" Frederick disliked this young man. His
forehead was heightened by the way in which he wore his hair, cut
straight like a brush. There was a certain hard, cold look in his grey
eyes; and his long black coat, his entire costume, savoured of the
pedagogue and the ecclesiastic.

They first discussed topics of the hour, amongst others the _Stabat_ of
Rossini. Sénécal, in answer to a question, declared that he never went
to the theatre.

Pellerin opened the box of colours.

"Are these all for you?" said the clerk.

"Why, certainly!"

"Well, really! What a notion!" And he leaned across the table, at which
the mathematical tutor was turning over the leaves of a volume of Louis
Blanc. He had brought it with him, and was reading passages from it in
low tones, while Pellerin and Frederick were examining together the
palette, the knife, and the bladders; then the talk came round to the
dinner at Arnoux's.

"The picture-dealer, is it?" asked Sénécal. "A nice gentleman, truly!"

"Why, now?" said Pellerin. Sénécal replied:

"A man who makes money by political turpitude!"

And he went on to talk about a well-known lithograph, in which the Royal
Family was all represented as being engaged in edifying occupations:
Louis Philippe had a copy of the Code in his hand; the Queen had a
Catholic prayer-book; the Princesses were embroidering; the Duc de
Nemours was girding on a sword; M. de Joinville was showing a map to his
young brothers; and at the end of the apartment could be seen a bed with
two divisions. This picture, which was entitled "A Good Family," was a
source of delight to commonplace middle-class people, but of grief to
patriots.

Pellerin, in a tone of vexation, as if he had been the producer of this
work himself, observed by way of answer that every opinion had some
value. Sénécal protested: Art should aim exclusively at promoting
morality amongst the masses! The only subjects that ought to be
reproduced were those which impelled people to virtuous actions; all
others were injurious.

"But that depends on the execution," cried Pellerin. "I might produce
masterpieces."

"So much the worse for you, then; you have no right----"

"What?"

"No, monsieur, you have no right to excite my interest in matters of
which I disapprove. What need have we of laborious trifles, from which
it is impossible to derive any benefit--those Venuses, for instance,
with all your landscapes? I see there no instruction for the people!
Show us rather their miseries! arouse enthusiasm in us for their
sacrifices! Ah, my God! there is no lack of subjects--the farm, the
workshop----"

Pellerin stammered forth his indignation at this, and, imagining that he
had found an argument:

"Molière, do you accept him?"

"Certainly!" said Sénécal. "I admire him as the precursor of the French
Revolution."

"Ha! the Revolution! What art! Never was there a more pitiable epoch!"

"None greater, Monsieur!"

Pellerin folded his arms, and looking at him straight in the face:

"You have the appearance of a famous member of the National Guard!"

His opponent, accustomed to discussions, responded:

"I am not, and I detest it just as much as you. But with such principles
we corrupt the crowd. This sort of thing, however, is profitable to the
Government. It would not be so powerful but for the complicity of a lot
of rogues of that sort."

The painter took up the defence of the picture-dealer, for Sénécal's
opinions exasperated him. He even went so far as to maintain that Arnoux
was really a man with a heart of gold, devoted to his friends, deeply
attached to his wife.

"Oho! if you offered him a good sum, he would not refuse to let her
serve as a model."

Frederick turned pale.

"So then, he has done you some great injury, Monsieur?"

"Me? no! I saw him once at a café with a friend. That's all."

Sénécal had spoken truly. But he had his teeth daily set on edge by the
announcements in _L'Art Industriel_. Arnoux was for him the
representative of a world which he considered fatal to democracy. An
austere Republican, he suspected that there was something corrupt in
every form of elegance, and the more so as he wanted nothing and was
inflexible in his integrity.

They found some difficulty in resuming the conversation. The painter
soon recalled to mind his appointment, the tutor his pupils; and, when
they had gone, after a long silence, Deslauriers asked a number of
questions about Arnoux.

"You will introduce me there later, will you not, old fellow?"

"Certainly," said Frederick. Then they thought about settling
themselves. Deslauriers had without much trouble obtained the post of
second clerk in a solicitor's office; he had also entered his name for
the terms at the Law School, and bought the indispensable books; and the
life of which they had dreamed now began.

It was delightful, owing to their youth, which made everything assume a
beautiful aspect. As Deslauriers had said nothing as to any pecuniary
arrangement, Frederick did not refer to the subject. He helped to defray
all the expenses, kept the cupboard well stocked, and looked after all
the household requirements; but if it happened to be desirable to give
the door-keeper a rating, the clerk took that on his own shoulders,
still playing the part, which he had assumed in their college days, of
protector and senior.

Separated all day long, they met again in the evening. Each took his
place at the fireside and set about his work. But ere long it would be
interrupted. Then would follow endless outpourings, unaccountable bursts
of merriment, and occasional disputes about the lamp flaring too much or
a book being mislaid, momentary ebullitions of anger which subsided in
hearty laughter.

While in bed they left open the door of the little room where
Deslauriers slept, and kept chattering to each other from a distance.

In the morning they walked in their shirt-sleeves on the terrace. The
sun rose; light vapours passed over the river. From the flower-market
close beside them the noise of screaming reached their ears; and the
smoke from their pipes whirled round in the clear air, which was
refreshing to their eyes still puffed from sleep. While they inhaled it,
their hearts swelled with great expectations.

When it was not raining on Sunday they went out together, and, arm in
arm, they sauntered through the streets. The same reflection nearly
always occurred to them at the same time, or else they would go on
chatting without noticing anything around them. Deslauriers longed for
riches, as a means for gaining power over men. He was anxious to possess
an influence over a vast number of people, to make a great noise, to
have three secretaries under his command, and to give a big political
dinner once a month.

Frederick would have furnished for himself a palace in the Moorish
fashion, to spend his life reclining on cashmere divans, to the murmur
of a jet of water, attended by negro pages. And these things, of which
he had only dreamed, became in the end so definite that they made him
feel as dejected as if he had lost them.

"What is the use of talking about all these things," said he, "when
we'll never have them?"

"Who knows?" returned Deslauriers.

In spite of his democratic views, he urged Frederick to get an
introduction into the Dambreuses' house.

The other, by way of objection, pointed to the failure of his previous
attempts.

"Bah! go back there. They'll give you an invitation!"

Towards the close of the month of March, they received amongst other
bills of a rather awkward description that of the restaurant-keeper who
supplied them with dinners. Frederick, not having the entire amount,
borrowed a hundred crowns from Deslauriers. A fortnight afterwards, he
renewed the same request, and the clerk administered a lecture to him on
the extravagant habits to which he gave himself up in the Arnoux's
society.

As a matter of fact, he put no restraint upon himself in this respect. A
view of Venice, a view of Naples, and another of Constantinople
occupying the centre of three walls respectively, equestrian subjects by
Alfred de Dreux here and there, a group by Pradier over the mantelpiece,
numbers of _L'Art Industriel_ lying on the piano, and works in boards on
the floor in the corners, encumbered the apartment which he occupied to
such an extent that it was hard to find a place to lay a book on, or to
move one's elbows about freely. Frederick maintained that he needed all
this for his painting.

He pursued his art-studies under Pellerin. But when he called on the
artist, the latter was often out, being accustomed to attend at every
funeral and public occurrence of which an account was given in the
newspapers, and so it was that Frederick spent entire hours alone in the
studio. The quietude of this spacious room, which nothing disturbed save
the scampering of the mice, the light falling from the ceiling, or the
hissing noise of the stove, made him sink into a kind of intellectual
ease. Then his eyes, wandering away from the task at which he was
engaged, roamed over the shell-work on the wall, around the objects of
virtù on the whatnot, along the torsos on which the dust that had
collected made, as it were, shreds of velvet; and, like a traveller who
has lost his way in the middle of a wood, and whom every path brings
back to the same spot, continually, he found underlying every idea in
his mind the recollection of Madame Arnoux.

He selected days for calling on her. When he had reached the second
floor, he would pause on the threshold, hesitating as to whether he
ought to ring or not. Steps drew nigh, the door opened, and the
announcement "Madame is gone out," a sense of relief would come upon
him, as if a weight had been lifted from his heart. He met her, however.
On the first occasion there were three other ladies with her; the next
time it was in the afternoon, and Mademoiselle Marthe's writing-master
came on the scene. Besides, the men whom Madame Arnoux received were
not very punctilious about paying visits. For the sake of prudence he
deemed it better not to call again.

But he did not fail to present himself regularly at the office of _L'Art
Industriel_ every Wednesday in order to get an invitation to the
Thursday dinners, and he remained there after all the others, even
longer than Regimbart, up to the last moment, pretending to be looking
at an engraving or to be running his eye through a newspaper. At last
Arnoux would say to him, "Shall you be disengaged to-morrow evening?"
and, before the sentence was finished, he would give an affirmative
answer. Arnoux appeared to have taken a fancy to him. He showed him how
to become a good judge of wines, how to make hot punch, and how to
prepare a woodcock ragoût. Frederick followed his advice with docility,
feeling an attachment to everything connected with Madame Arnoux--her
furniture, her servants, her house, her street.

During these dinners he scarcely uttered a word; he kept gazing at her.
She had a little mole close to her temple. Her head-bands were darker
than the rest of her hair, and were always a little moist at the edges;
from time to time she stroked them with only two fingers. He knew the
shape of each of her nails. He took delight in listening to the rustle
of her silk skirt as she swept past doors; he stealthily inhaled the
perfume that came from her handkerchief; her comb, her gloves, her rings
were for him things of special interest, important as works of art,
almost endowed with life like individuals; all took possession of his
heart and strengthened his passion.

He had not been sufficiently self-contained to conceal it from
Deslauriers. When he came home from Madame Arnoux's, he would wake up
his friend, as if inadvertently, in order to have an opportunity of
talking about her.

Deslauriers, who slept in the little off-room, close to where they had
their water-supply, would give a great yawn. Frederick seated himself on
the side of the bed. At first, he spoke about the dinner; then he
referred to a thousand petty details, in which he saw marks of contempt
or of affection. On one occasion, for instance, she had refused his arm,
in order to take Dittmer's; and Frederick gave vent to his humiliation:

"Ah! how stupid!"

Or else she had called him her "dear friend."

"Then go after her gaily!"

"But I dare not do that," said Frederick.

"Well, then, think no more about her! Good night!"

Deslauriers thereupon turned on his side, and fell asleep. He felt
utterly unable to comprehend this love, which seemed to him the last
weakness of adolescence; and, as his own society was apparently not
enough to content Frederick, he conceived the idea of bringing together,
once a week, those whom they both recognised as friends.

They came on Saturday about nine o'clock. The three Algerine curtains
were carefully drawn. The lamp and four wax-lights were burning. In the
middle of the table the tobacco-pot, filled with pipes, displayed itself
between the beer-bottles, the tea-pot, a flagon of rum, and some fancy
biscuits.

They discussed the immortality of the soul, and drew comparisons between
the different professors.

One evening Hussonnet introduced a tall young man, attired in a
frock-coat, too short in the wrists, and with a look of embarrassment in
his face. It was the young fellow whom they had gone to release from
the guard-house the year before.

As he had not been able to restore the box of lace which he had lost in
the scuffle, his employer had accused him of theft, and threatened to
prosecute him. He was now a clerk in a wagon-office. Hussonnet had come
across him that morning at the corner of the street, and brought him
along, for Dussardier, in a spirit of gratitude, had expressed a wish to
see "the other."

He stretched out towards Frederick the cigar-holder, still full, which
he had religiously preserved, in the hope of being able to give it back.
The young men invited him to pay them a second visit; and he was not
slow in doing so.

They all had sympathies in common. At first, their hatred of the
Government reached the height of an unquestionable dogma. Martinon alone
attempted to defend Louis Philippe. They overwhelmed him with the
commonplaces scattered through the newspapers--the "Bastillization" of
Paris, the September laws, Pritchard, Lord Guizot--so that Martinon held
his tongue for fear of giving offence to somebody. During his seven
years at college he had never incurred the penalty of an imposition, and
at the Law School he knew how to make himself agreeable to the
professors. He usually wore a big frock-coat of the colour of putty,
with india-rubber goloshes; but one evening he presented himself arrayed
like a bridegroom, in a velvet roll-collar waistcoat, a white tie, and a
gold chain.

The astonishment of the other young men was greatly increased when they
learned that he had just come away from M. Dambreuse's house. In fact,
the banker Dambreuse had just bought a portion of an extensive wood
from Martinon senior; and, when the worthy man introduced his son, the
other had invited them both to dinner.

"Was there a good supply of truffles there?" asked Deslauriers. "And did
you take his wife by the waist between the two doors, _sicut decet_?"

Hereupon the conversation turned on women. Pellerin would not admit that
there were beautiful women (he preferred tigers); besides the human
female was an inferior creature in the æsthetic hierarchy.

"What fascinates you is just the very thing that degrades her as an
idea; I mean her breasts, her hair----"

"Nevertheless," urged Frederick, "long black hair and large dark
eyes----"

"Oh! we know all about that," cried Hussonnet. "Enough of Andalusian
beauties on the lawn. Those things are out of date; no thank you! For
the fact is, honour bright! a fast woman is more amusing than the Venus
of Milo. Let us be Gallic, in Heaven's name, and after the Regency
style, if we can!

    'Flow, generous wines; ladies, deign to smile!'[2]

[Footnote 2: _Coules, bons vins; femmes, deignez sourire._]

We must pass from the dark to the fair. Is that your opinion, Father
Dussardier?"

Dussardier did not reply. They all pressed him to ascertain what his
tastes were.

"Well," said he, colouring, "for my part, I would like to love the same
one always!"

This was said in such a way that there was a moment of silence, some of
them being surprised at this candour, and others finding in his words,
perhaps, the secret yearning of their souls.

Sénécal placed his glass of beer on the mantelpiece, and declared
dogmatically that, as prostitution was tyrannical and marriage immoral,
it was better to practice abstinence. Deslauriers regarded women as a
source of amusement--nothing more. M. de Cisy looked upon them with the
utmost dread.

Brought up under the eyes of a grandmother who was a devotee, he found
the society of those young fellows as alluring as a place of ill-repute
and as instructive as the Sorbonne. They gave him lessons without stint;
and so much zeal did he exhibit that he even wanted to smoke in spite of
the qualms that upset him every time he made the experiment. Frederick
paid him the greatest attention. He admired the shade of this young
gentleman's cravat, the fur on his overcoat, and especially his boots,
as thin as gloves, and so very neat and fine that they had a look of
insolent superiority. His carriage used to wait for him below in the
street.

One evening, after his departure, when there was a fall of snow, Sénécal
began to complain about his having a coachman. He declaimed against
kid-gloved exquisites and against the Jockey Club. He had more respect
for a workman than for these fine gentlemen.

"For my part, anyhow, I work for my livelihood! I am a poor man!"

"That's quite evident," said Frederick, at length, losing patience.

The tutor conceived a grudge against him for this remark.

But, as Regimbart said he knew Sénécal pretty well, Frederick, wishing
to be civil to a friend of the Arnoux, asked him to come to the
Saturday meetings; and the two patriots were glad to be brought together
in this way.

However, they took opposite views of things.

Sénécal--who had a skull of the angular type--fixed his attention merely
on systems, whereas Regimbart, on the contrary, saw in facts nothing but
facts. The thing that chiefly troubled him was the Rhine frontier. He
claimed to be an authority on the subject of artillery, and got his
clothes made by a tailor of the Polytechnic School.

The first day, when they asked him to take some cakes, he disdainfully
shrugged his shoulders, saying that these might suit women; and on the
next few occasions his manner was not much more gracious. Whenever
speculative ideas had reached a certain elevation, he would mutter: "Oh!
no Utopias, no dreams!" On the subject of Art (though he used to visit
the studios, where he occasionally out of complaisance gave a lesson in
fencing) his opinions were not remarkable for their excellence. He
compared the style of M. Marast to that of Voltaire, and Mademoiselle
Vatnaz to Madame de Staël, on account of an Ode on Poland in which
"there was some spirit." In short, Regimbart bored everyone, and
especially Deslauriers, for the Citizen was a friend of the Arnoux
family. Now the clerk was most anxious to visit those people in the hope
that he might there make the acquaintance of some persons who would be
an advantage to him.

"When are you going to take me there with you?" he would say. Arnoux was
either overburdened with business, or else starting on a journey. Then
it was not worth while, as the dinners were coming to an end.

If he had been called on to risk his life for his friend, Frederick
would have done so. But, as he was desirous of making as good a figure
as possible, and with this view was most careful about his language and
manners, and so attentive to his costume that he always presented
himself at the office of _L'Art Industriel_ irreproachably gloved, he
was afraid that Deslauriers, with his shabby black coat, his
attorney-like exterior, and his swaggering kind of talk, might make
himself disagreeable to Madame Arnoux, and thus compromise him and lower
him in her estimation. The other results would have been bad enough, but
the last one would have annoyed him a thousand times more.

The clerk saw that his friend did not wish to keep his promise, and
Frederick's silence seemed to him an aggravation of the insult. He would
have liked to exercise absolute control over him, to see him developing
in accordance with the ideal of their youth; and his inactivity excited
the clerk's indignation as a breach of duty and a want of loyalty
towards himself. Moreover, Frederick, with his thoughts full of Madame
Arnoux, frequently talked about her husband; and Deslauriers now began
an intolerable course of boredom by repeating the name a hundred times a
day, at the end of each remark, like the parrot-cry of an idiot.

When there was a knock at the door, he would answer, "Come in, Arnoux!"
At the restaurant he asked for a Brie cheese "in imitation of Arnoux,"
and at night, pretending to wake up from a bad dream, he would rouse his
comrade by howling out, "Arnoux! Arnoux!" At last Frederick, worn out,
said to him one day, in a piteous voice:

"Oh! don't bother me about Arnoux!"

"Never!" replied the clerk:

    "He always, everywhere, burning or icy cold,
    The pictured form of Arnoux----"[3]

[Footnote 3: _Toujours lui! lui partout! ou brulante ou glacée, L'image
de l'Arnoux._]

"Hold your tongue, I tell you!" exclaimed Frederick, raising his fist.

Then less angrily he added:

"You know well this is a painful subject to me."

"Oh! forgive me, old fellow," returned Deslauriers with a very low bow.
"From this time forth we will be considerate towards Mademoiselle's
nerves. Again, I say, forgive me. A thousand pardons!"

And so this little joke came to an end.

But, three weeks later, one evening, Deslauriers said to him:

"Well, I have just seen Madame Arnoux."

"Where, pray?"

"At the Palais, with Balandard, the solicitor. A dark woman, is she not,
of the middle height?"

Frederick made a gesture of assent. He waited for Deslauriers to speak.
At the least expression of admiration he would have been most effusive,
and would have fairly hugged the other. However, Deslauriers remained
silent. At last, unable to contain himself any longer, Frederick, with
assumed indifference, asked him what he thought of her.

Deslauriers considered that "she was not so bad, but still nothing
extraordinary."

"Ha! you think so," said Frederick.

They soon reached the month of August, the time when he was to present
himself for his second examination. According to the prevailing opinion,
the subjects could be made up in a fortnight. Frederick, having full
confidence in his own powers, swallowed up in a trice the first four
books of the Code of Procedure, the first three of the Penal Code, many
bits of the system of criminal investigation, and a part of the Civil
Code, with the annotations of M. Poncelet. The night before, Deslauriers
made him run through the whole course, a process which did not finish
till morning, and, in order to take advantage of even the last quarter
of an hour, continued questioning him while they walked along the
footpath together.

As several examinations were taking place at the same time, there were
many persons in the precincts, and amongst others Hussonnet and Cisy:
young men never failed to come and watch these ordeals when the fortunes
of their comrades were at stake.

Frederick put on the traditional black gown; then, followed by the
throng, with three other students, he entered a spacious apartment, into
which the light penetrated through uncurtained windows, and which was
garnished with benches ranged along the walls. In the centre, leather
chairs were drawn round a table adorned with a green cover. This
separated the candidates from the examiners in their red gowns and
ermine shoulder-knots, the head examiners wearing gold-laced flat caps.

Frederick found himself the last but one in the series--an unfortunate
place. In answer to the first question, as to the difference between a
convention and a contract, he defined the one as if it were the other;
and the professor, who was a fair sort of man, said to him, "Don't be
agitated, Monsieur! Compose yourself!" Then, having asked two easy
questions, which were answered in a doubtful fashion, he passed on at
last to the fourth. This wretched beginning made Frederick lose his
head. Deslauriers, who was facing him amongst the spectators, made a
sign to him to indicate that it was not a hopeless case yet; and at the
second batch of questions, dealing with the criminal law, he came out
tolerably well. But, after the third, with reference to the "mystic
will," the examiner having remained impassive the whole time, his mental
distress redoubled; for Hussonnet brought his hands together as if to
applaud, whilst Deslauriers liberally indulged in shrugs of the
shoulders. Finally, the moment was reached when it was necessary to be
examined on Procedure. The professor, displeased at listening to
theories opposed to his own, asked him in a churlish tone:

"And so this is your view, monsieur? How do you reconcile the principle
of article 1351 of the Civil Code with this application by a third party
to set aside a judgment by default?"

Frederick had a great headache from not having slept the night before. A
ray of sunlight, penetrating through one of the slits in a Venetian
blind, fell on his face. Standing behind the seat, he kept wriggling
about and tugging at his moustache.

"I am still awaiting your answer," the man with the gold-edged cap
observed.

And as Frederick's movements, no doubt, irritated him:

"You won't find it in that moustache of yours!"

This sarcasm made the spectators laugh. The professor, feeling
flattered, adopted a wheedling tone. He put two more questions with
reference to adjournment and summary jurisdiction, then nodded his head
by way of approval. The examination was over. Frederick retired into the
vestibule.

While an usher was taking off his gown, to draw it over some other
person immediately afterwards, his friends gathered around him, and
succeeded in fairly bothering him with their conflicting opinions as to
the result of his examination. Presently the announcement was made in a
sonorous voice at the entrance of the hall: "The third was--put off!"

"Sent packing!" said Hussonnet. "Let us go away!"

In front of the door-keeper's lodge they met Martinon, flushed, excited,
with a smile on his face and the halo of victory around his brow. He had
just passed his final examination without any impediment. All he had now
to do was the thesis. Before a fortnight he would be a licentiate. His
family enjoyed the acquaintance of a Minister; "a beautiful career" was
opening before him.

"All the same, this puts you into a mess," said Deslauriers.

There is nothing so humiliating as to see blockheads succeed in
undertakings in which we fail. Frederick, filled with vexation, replied
that he did not care a straw about the matter. He had higher
pretensions; and as Hussonnet made a show of leaving, Frederick took him
aside, and said to him:

"Not a word about this to them, mind!"

It was easy to keep it secret, since Arnoux was starting the next
morning for Germany.

When he came back in the evening the clerk found his friend singularly
altered: he danced about and whistled; and the other was astonished at
this capricious change of mood. Frederick declared that he did not
intend to go home to his mother, as he meant to spend his holidays
working.

At the news of Arnoux's departure, a feeling of delight had taken
possession of him. He might present himself at the house whenever he
liked without any fear of having his visits broken in upon. The
consciousness of absolute security would make him self-confident. At
last he would not stand aloof, he would not be separated from her!
Something more powerful than an iron chain attached him to Paris; a
voice from the depths of his heart called out to him to remain.

There were certain obstacles in his path. These he got over by writing
to his mother: he first of all admitted that he had failed to pass,
owing to alterations made in the course--a mere mischance--an unfair
thing; besides, all the great advocates (he referred to them by name)
had been rejected at their examinations. But he calculated on presenting
himself again in the month of November. Now, having no time to lose, he
would not go home this year; and he asked, in addition to the quarterly
allowance, for two hundred and fifty francs, to get coached in law by a
private tutor, which would be of great assistance to him; and he threw
around the entire epistle a garland of regrets, condolences, expressions
of endearment, and protestations of filial love.

Madame Moreau, who had been expecting him the following day, was doubly
grieved. She threw a veil over her son's misadventure, and in answer
told him to "come all the same." Frederick would not give way, and the
result was a falling out between them. However, at the end of the week,
he received the amount of the quarter's allowance together with the sum
required for the payment of the private tutor, which helped to pay for
a pair of pearl-grey trousers, a white felt hat, and a gold-headed
switch. When he had procured all these things he thought:

"Perhaps this is only a hairdresser's fancy on my part!"

And a feeling of considerable hesitation took possession of him.

In order to make sure as to whether he ought to call on Madame Arnoux,
he tossed three coins into the air in succession. On each occasion luck
was in his favour. So then Fate must have ordained it. He hailed a cab
and drove to the Rue de Choiseul.

He quickly ascended the staircase and drew the bell-pull, but without
effect. He felt as if he were about to faint.

Then, with fierce energy, he shook the heavy silk tassel. There was a
resounding peal which gradually died away till no further sound was
heard. Frederick got rather frightened.

He pasted his ear to the door--not a breath! He looked in through the
key-hole, and only saw two reed-points on the wall-paper in the midst of
designs of flowers. At last, he was on the point of going away when he
changed his mind. This time, he gave a timid little ring. The door flew
open, and Arnoux himself appeared on the threshold, with his hair all in
disorder, his face crimson, and his features distorted by an expression
of sullen embarrassment.

"Hallo! What the deuce brings you here? Come in!"

He led Frederick, not into the boudoir or into the bedroom, but into the
dining-room, where on the table could be seen a bottle of champagne and
two glasses; and, in an abrupt tone:

"There is something you want to ask me, my dear friend?"

"No! nothing! nothing!" stammered the young man, trying to think of some
excuse for his visit. At length, he said to Arnoux that he had called to
know whether they had heard from him, as Hussonnet had announced that he
had gone to Germany.

"Not at all!" returned Arnoux. "What a feather-headed fellow that is to
take everything in the wrong way!"

In order to conceal his agitation, Frederick kept walking from right to
left in the dining-room. Happening to come into contact with a chair, he
knocked down a parasol which had been laid across it, and the ivory
handle got broken.

"Good heavens!" he exclaimed. "How sorry I am for having broken Madame
Arnoux's parasol!"

At this remark, the picture-dealer raised his head and smiled in a very
peculiar fashion. Frederick, taking advantage of the opportunity thus
offered to talk about her, added shyly:

"Could I not see her?"

No. She had gone to the country to see her mother, who was ill.

He did not venture to ask any questions as to the length of time that
she would be away. He merely enquired what was Madame Arnoux's native
place.

"Chartres. Does this astonish you?"

"Astonish me? Oh, no! Why should it! Not in the least!"

After that, they could find absolutely nothing to talk about. Arnoux,
having made a cigarette for himself, kept walking round the table,
puffing. Frederick, standing near the stove, stared at the walls, the
whatnot, and the floor; and delightful pictures flitted through his
memory, or, rather, before his eyes. Then he left the apartment.

A piece of a newspaper, rolled up into a ball, lay on the floor in the
anteroom. Arnoux snatched it up, and, raising himself on the tips of his
toes, he stuck it into the bell, in order, as he said, that he might be
able to go and finish his interrupted siesta. Then, as he grasped
Frederick's hand:

"Kindly tell the porter that I am not in."

And he shut the door after him with a bang.

Frederick descended the staircase step by step. The ill-success of this
first attempt discouraged him as to the possible results of those that
might follow. Then began three months of absolute boredom. As he had
nothing to do, his melancholy was aggravated by the want of occupation.

He spent whole hours gazing from the top of his balcony at the river as
it flowed between the quays, with their bulwarks of grey stone,
blackened here and there by the seams of the sewers, with a pontoon of
washerwomen moored close to the bank, where some brats were amusing
themselves by making a water-spaniel swim in the slime. His eyes,
turning aside from the stone bridge of Nôtre Dame and the three
suspension bridges, continually directed their glance towards the
Quai-aux-Ormes, resting on a group of old trees, resembling the
linden-trees of the Montereau wharf. The Saint-Jacques tower, the Hôtel
de Ville, Saint-Gervais, Saint-Louis, and Saint-Paul, rose up in front
of him amid a confused mass of roofs; and the genius of the July Column
glittered at the eastern side like a large gold star, whilst at the
other end the dome of the Tuileries showed its outlines against the sky
in one great round mass of blue. Madame Arnoux's house must be on this
side in the rear!

He went back to his bedchamber; then, throwing himself on the sofa, he
abandoned himself to a confused succession of thoughts--plans of work,
schemes for the guidance of his conduct, attempts to divine the future.
At last, in order to shake off broodings all about himself, he went out
into the open air.

He plunged at random into the Latin Quarter, usually so noisy, but
deserted at this particular time, for the students had gone back to join
their families. The huge walls of the colleges, which the silence seemed
to lengthen, wore a still more melancholy aspect. All sorts of peaceful
sounds could be heard--the flapping of wings in cages, the noise made by
the turning of a lathe, or the strokes of a cobbler's hammer; and the
old-clothes men, standing in the middle of the street, looked up at each
house fruitlessly. In the interior of a solitary café the barmaid was
yawning between her two full decanters. The newspapers were left
undisturbed on the tables of reading-rooms. In the ironing
establishments linen quivered under the puffs of tepid wind. From time
to time he stopped to look at the window of a second-hand book-shop; an
omnibus which grazed the footpath as it came rumbling along made him
turn round; and, when he found himself before the Luxembourg, he went no
further.

Occasionally he was attracted towards the boulevards by the hope of
finding there something that might amuse him. After he had passed
through dark alleys, from which his nostrils were greeted by fresh moist
odours, he reached vast, desolate, open spaces, dazzling with light, in
which monuments cast at the side of the pavement notches of black
shadow. But once more the wagons and the shops appeared, and the crowd
had the effect of stunning him, especially on Sunday, when, from the
Bastille to the Madeleine, it kept swaying in one immense flood over the
asphalt, in the midst of a cloud of dust, in an incessant clamour. He
felt disgusted at the meanness of the faces, the silliness of the talk,
and the idiotic self-satisfaction that oozed through these sweating
foreheads. However, the consciousness of being superior to these
individuals mitigated the weariness which he experienced in gazing at
them.

Every day he went to the office of _L'Art Industriel_; and in order to
ascertain when Madame Arnoux would be back, he made elaborate enquiries
about her mother. Arnoux's answer never varied--"the change for the
better was continuing"--his wife, with his little daughter, would be
returning the following week. The longer she delayed in coming back, the
more uneasiness Frederick exhibited, so that Arnoux, touched by so much
affection, brought him five or six times a week to dine at a restaurant.

In the long talks which they had together on these occasions Frederick
discovered that the picture-dealer was not a very intellectual type of
man. Arnoux might, however, take notice of his chilling manner; and now
Frederick deemed it advisable to pay back, in a small measure, his
polite attentions.

So, being anxious to do things on a good scale, the young man sold all
his new clothes to a second-hand clothes-dealer for the sum of eighty
francs, and having increased it with a hundred more francs which he had
left, he called at Arnoux's house to bring him out to dine. Regimbart
happened to be there, and all three of them set forth for Les Trois
Frères Provençaux.

The Citizen began by taking off his surtout, and, knowing that the two
others would defer to his gastronomic tastes, drew up the _menu_. But in
vain did he make his way to the kitchen to speak himself to the _chef_,
go down to the cellar, with every corner of which he was familiar, and
send for the master of the establishment, to whom he gave "a blowing
up." He was not satisfied with the dishes, the wines, or the attendance.
At each new dish, at each fresh bottle, as soon as he had swallowed the
first mouthful, the first draught, he threw down his fork or pushed his
glass some distance away from him; then, leaning on his elbows on the
tablecloth, and stretching out his arms, he declared in a loud tone that
he could no longer dine in Paris! Finally, not knowing what to put into
his mouth, Regimbart ordered kidney-beans dressed with oil, "quite
plain," which, though only a partial success, slightly appeased him.
Then he had a talk with the waiter all about the latter's predecessors
at the "Provençaux":--"What had become of Antoine? And a fellow named
Eugène? And Théodore, the little fellow who always used to attend down
stairs? There was much finer fare in those days, and Burgundy vintages
the like of which they would never see again."

Then there was a discussion as to the value of ground in the suburbs,
Arnoux having speculated in that way, and looked on it as a safe thing.
In the meantime, however, he would lie out of the interest on his money.
As he did not want to sell out at any price, Regimbart would find out
some one to whom he could let the ground; and so these two gentlemen
proceeded at the close of the dessert to make calculations with a lead
pencil.

They went out to get coffee in the smoking-divan on the ground-floor in
the Passage du Saumon. Frederick had to remain on his legs while
interminable games of billiards were being played, drenched in
innumerable glasses of beer; and he lingered on there till midnight
without knowing why, through want of energy, through sheer
senselessness, in the vague expectation that something might happen
which would give a favourable turn to his love.

When, then, would he next see her? Frederick was in a state of despair
about it. But, one evening, towards the close of November, Arnoux said
to him:

"My wife, you know, came back yesterday!"

Next day, at five o'clock, he made his way to her house. He began by
congratulating her on her mother's recovery from such a serious illness.

"Why, no! Who told you that?"

"Arnoux!"

She gave vent to a slight "Ah!" then added that she had grave fears at
first, which, however, had now been dispelled. She was seated close
beside the fire in an upholstered easy-chair. He was on the sofa, with
his hat between his knees; and the conversation was difficult to carry
on, as it was broken off nearly every minute, so he got no chance
of giving utterance to his sentiments. But, when he began to
complain of having to study legal quibbles, she answered, "Oh! I
understand--business!" and she let her face fall, buried suddenly in her
own reflections.

He was eager to know what they were, and even did not bestow a thought
on anything else. The twilight shadows gathered around them.

She rose, having to go out about some shopping; then she reappeared in a
bonnet trimmed with velvet, and a black mantle edged with minever. He
plucked up courage and offered to accompany her.

It was now so dark that one could scarcely see anything. The air was
cold, and had an unpleasant odour, owing to a heavy fog, which partially
blotted out the fronts of the houses. Frederick inhaled it with delight;
for he could feel through the wadding of his coat the form of her arm;
and her hand, cased in a chamois glove with two buttons, her little hand
which he would have liked to cover with kisses, leaned on his sleeve.
Owing to the slipperiness of the pavement, they lost their balance a
little; it seemed to him as if they were both rocked by the wind in the
midst of a cloud.

The glitter of the lamps on the boulevard brought him back to the
realities of existence. The opportunity was a good one, there was no
time to lose. He gave himself as far as the Rue de Richeliéu to declare
his love. But almost at that very moment, in front of a china-shop, she
stopped abruptly and said to him:

"We are at the place. Thanks. On Thursday--is it not?--as usual."

The dinners were now renewed; and the more visits he paid at Madame
Arnoux's, the more his love-sickness increased. The contemplation of
this woman had an enervating effect upon him, like the use of a perfume
that is too strong. It penetrated into the very depths of his nature,
and became almost a kind of habitual sensation, a new mode of existence.

The prostitutes whom he brushed past under the gaslight, the female
ballad-singers breaking into bursts of melody, the ladies rising on
horseback at full gallop, the shopkeepers' wives on foot, the grisettes
at their windows, all women brought her before his mental vision, either
from the effect of their resemblance to her or the violent contrast to
her which they presented. As he walked along by the shops, he gazed at
the cashmeres, the laces, and the jewelled eardrops, imagining how they
would look draped around her figure, sewn in her corsage, or lighting up
her dark hair. In the flower-girls' baskets the bouquets blossomed for
her to choose one as she passed. In the shoemakers' show-windows the
little satin slippers with swan's-down edges seemed to be waiting for
her foot. Every street led towards her house; the hackney-coaches stood
in their places to carry her home the more quickly; Paris was associated
with her person, and the great city, with all its noises, roared around
her like an immense orchestra.

When he went into the Jardin des Plantes the sight of a palm-tree
carried him off into distant countries. They were travelling together on
the backs of dromedaries, under the awnings of elephants, in the cabin
of a yacht amongst the blue archipelagoes, or side by side on mules with
little bells attached to them who went stumbling through the grass
against broken columns. Sometimes he stopped in the Louvre before old
pictures; and, his love embracing her even in vanished centuries, he
substituted her for the personages in the paintings. Wearing a hennin on
her head, she was praying on bended knees before a stained-glass window.
Lady Paramount of Castile or Flanders, she remained seated in a starched
ruff and a body lined with whalebone with big puffs. Then he saw her
descending some wide porphyry staircase in the midst of senators under a
dais of ostriches' feathers in a robe of brocade. At another time he
dreamed of her in yellow silk trousers on the cushions of a harem--and
all that was beautiful, the scintillation of the stars, certain tunes in
music, the turn of a phrase, the outlines of a face, led him to think
about her in an abrupt, unconscious fashion.

As for trying to make her his mistress, he was sure that any such
attempt would be futile.

One evening, Dittmer, on his arrival, kissed her on the forehead;
Lovarias did the same, observing:

"You give me leave--don't you?--as it is a friend's privilege?"

Frederick stammered out:

"It seems to me that we are all friends."

"Not all old friends!" she returned.

This was repelling him beforehand indirectly.

Besides, what was he to do? To tell her that he loved her? No doubt, she
would decline to listen to him or else she would feel indignant and turn
him out of the house. But he preferred to submit to even the most
painful ordeal rather than run the horrible risk of seeing her no more.
He envied pianists for their talents and soldiers for their scars. He
longed for a dangerous attack of sickness, hoping in this way to make
her take an interest in him.

One thing caused astonishment to himself, that he felt in no way jealous
of Arnoux; and he could not picture her in his imagination undressed, so
natural did her modesty appear, and so far did her sex recede into a
mysterious background.

Nevertheless, he dreamed of the happiness of living with her, of
"theeing" and "thouing" her, of passing his hand lingeringly over her
head-bands, or remaining in a kneeling posture on the floor, with both
arms clasped round her waist, so as to drink in her soul through his
eyes. To accomplish this it would be necessary to conquer Fate; and so,
incapable of action, cursing God, and accusing himself of being a
coward, he kept moving restlessly within the confines of his passion
just as a prisoner keeps moving about in his dungeon. The pangs which he
was perpetually enduring were choking him. For hours he would remain
quite motionless, or else he would burst into tears; and one day when he
had not the strength to restrain his emotion, Deslauriers said to him:

"Why, goodness gracious! what's the matter with you?"

Frederick's nerves were unstrung. Deslauriers did not believe a word of
it. At the sight of so much mental anguish, he felt all his old
affection reawakening, and he tried to cheer up his friend. A man like
him to let himself be depressed, what folly! It was all very well while
one was young; but, as one grows older, it is only loss of time.

"You are spoiling my Frederick for me! I want him whom I knew in bygone
days. The same boy as ever! I liked him! Come, smoke a pipe, old chap!
Shake yourself up a little! You drive me mad!"

"It is true," said Frederick, "I am a fool!"

The clerk replied:

"Ah! old troubadour, I know well what's troubling you! A little affair
of the heart? Confess it! Bah! One lost, four found instead! We console
ourselves for virtuous women with the other sort. Would you like me to
introduce you to some women? You have only to come to the Alhambra."

(This was a place for public balls recently opened at the top of the
Champs-Elysées, which had gone down owing to a display of licentiousness
somewhat ruder than is usual in establishments of the kind.)

"That's a place where there seems to be good fun. You can take your
friends, if you like. I can even pass in Regimbart for you."

Frederick did not think fit to ask the Citizen to go. Deslauriers
deprived himself of the pleasure of Sénécal's society. They took only
Hussonnet and Cisy along with Dussardier; and the same hackney-coach set
the group of five down at the entrance of the Alhambra.

Two Moorish galleries extended on the right and on the left, parallel to
one another. The wall of a house opposite occupied the entire backguard;
and the fourth side (that in which the restaurant was) represented a
Gothic cloister with stained-glass windows. A sort of Chinese roof
screened the platform reserved for the musicians. The ground was covered
all over with asphalt; the Venetian lanterns fastened to posts formed,
at regular intervals, crowns of many-coloured flame above the heads of
the dancers. A pedestal here and there supported a stone basin, from
which rose a thin streamlet of water. In the midst of the foliage could
be seen plaster statues, and Hebes and Cupid, painted in oil, and
presenting a very sticky appearance; and the numerous walks, garnished
with sand of a deep yellow, carefully raked, made the garden look much
larger than it was in reality.

Students were walking their mistresses up and down; drapers' clerks
strutted about with canes in their hands; lads fresh from college were
smoking their regalias; old men had their dyed beards smoothed out with
combs. There were English, Russians, men from South America, and three
Orientals in tarbooshes. Lorettes, grisettes, and girls of the town had
come there in the hope of finding a protector, a lover, a gold coin, or
simply for the pleasure of dancing; and their dresses, with tunics of
water-green, cherry-red, or violet, swept along, fluttered between the
ebony-trees and the lilacs. Nearly all the men's clothes were of striped
material; some of them had white trousers, in spite of the coolness of
the evening. The gas was lighted.

Hussonnet was acquainted with a number of the women through his
connection with the fashion-journals and the smaller theatres. He sent
them kisses with the tips of his fingers, and from time to time he
quitted his friends to go and chat with them.

Deslauriers felt jealous of these playful familiarities. He accosted in
a cynical manner a tall, fair-haired girl, in a nankeen costume. After
looking at him with a certain air of sullenness, she said:

"No! I wouldn't trust you, my good fellow!" and turned on her heel.

His next attack was on a stout brunette, who apparently was a little
mad; for she gave a bounce at the very first word he spoke to her,
threatening, if he went any further, to call the police. Deslauriers
made an effort to laugh; then, coming across a little woman sitting by
herself under a gas-lamp, he asked her to be his partner in a quadrille.

The musicians, perched on the platform in the attitude of apes, kept
scraping and blowing away with desperate energy. The conductor, standing
up, kept beating time automatically. The dancers were much crowded and
enjoyed themselves thoroughly. The bonnet-strings, getting loose,
rubbed against the cravats; the boots sank under the petticoats; and all
this bouncing went on to the accompaniment of the music. Deslauriers
hugged the little woman, and, seized with the delirium of the cancan,
whirled about, like a big marionnette, in the midst of the dancers. Cisy
and Deslauriers were still promenading up and down. The young aristocrat
kept ogling the girls, and, in spite of the clerk's exhortations, did
not venture to talk to them, having an idea in his head that in the
resorts of these women there was always "a man hidden in the cupboard
with a pistol who would come out of it and force you to sign a bill of
exchange."

They came back and joined Frederick. Deslauriers had stopped dancing;
and they were all asking themselves how they were to finish up the
evening, when Hussonnet exclaimed:

"Look! Here's the Marquise d'Amaëgui!"

The person referred to was a pale woman with a _retroussé_ nose, mittens
up to her elbows, and big black earrings hanging down her cheeks, like
two dog's ears. Hussonnet said to her:

"We ought to organise a little fête at your house--a sort of Oriental
rout. Try to collect some of your friends here for these French
cavaliers. Well, what is annoying you? Are you going to wait for your
hidalgo?"

The Andalusian hung down her head: being well aware of the by no means
lavish habits of her friend, she was afraid of having to pay for any
refreshments he ordered. When, at length, she let the word "money" slip
from her, Cisy offered five napoleons--all he had in his purse; and so
it was settled that the thing should come off.

But Frederick was absent. He fancied that he had recognised the voice of
Arnoux, and got a glimpse of a woman's hat; and accordingly he hastened
towards an arbour which was not far off.

Mademoiselle Vatnaz was alone there with Arnoux.

"Excuse me! I am in the way?"

"Not in the least!" returned the picture-merchant.

Frederick, from the closing words of their conversation, understood that
Arnoux had come to the Alhambra to talk over a pressing matter of
business with Mademoiselle Vatnaz; and it was evident that he was not
completely reassured, for he said to her, with some uneasiness in his
manner:

"You are quite sure?"

"Perfectly certain! You are loved. Ah! what a man you are!"

And she assumed a pouting look, putting out her big lips, so red that
they seemed tinged with blood. But she had wonderful eyes, of a tawny
hue, with specks of gold in the pupils, full of vivacity, amorousness,
and sensuality. They illuminated, like lamps, the rather yellow tint of
her thin face. Arnoux seemed to enjoy her exhibition of pique. He
stooped over her, saying:

"You are nice--give me a kiss!"

She caught hold of his two ears, and pressed her lips against his
forehead.

At that moment the dancing stopped; and in the conductor's place
appeared a handsome young man, rather fat, with a waxen complexion. He
had long black hair, which he wore in the same fashion as Christ, and a
blue velvet waistcoat embroidered with large gold palm-branches. He
looked as proud as a peacock, and as stupid as a turkey-cock; and,
having bowed to the audience, he began a ditty. A villager was supposed
to be giving an account of his journey to the capital. The singer used
the dialect of Lower Normandy, and played the part of a drunken man. The
refrain--

    "Ah! I laughed at you there, I laughed at you there,
         In that rascally city of Paris!"[4]

was greeted with enthusiastic stampings of feet. Delmas, "a vocalist who
sang with expression," was too shrewd to let the excitement of his
listeners cool. A guitar was quickly handed to him and he moaned forth a
ballad entitled "The Albanian Girl's Brother."

[Footnote 4: _Ah! j'ai l'y ri, j'ai l'y ri. Dans ce gueusard de Paris!_]

The words recalled to Frederick those which had been sung by the man in
rags between the paddle-boxes of the steamboat. His eyes involuntarily
attached themselves to the hem of the dress spread out before him.

After each couplet there was a long pause, and the blowing of the wind
through the trees resembled the sound of the waves.

Mademoiselle Vatnaz blushed the moment she saw Dussardier. She soon
rose, and stretching out her hand towards him:

"You do not remember me, Monsieur Auguste?"

"How do you know her?" asked Frederick.

"We have been in the same house," he replied.

Cisy pulled him by the sleeve; they went out; and, scarcely had they
disappeared, when Madame Vatnaz began to pronounce a eulogy on his
character. She even went so far as to add that he possessed "the genius
of the heart."

Then they chatted about Delmas, admitting that as a mimic he might be a
success on the stage; and a discussion followed in which Shakespeare,
the Censorship, Style, the People, the receipts of the Porte
Saint-Martin, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Dumersan were all mixed
up together.

Arnoux had known many celebrated actresses; the young men bent forward
their heads to hear what he had to say about these ladies. But his words
were drowned in the noise of the music; and, as soon as the quadrille or
the polka was over, they all squatted round the tables, called the
waiter, and laughed. Bottles of beer and of effervescent lemonade went
off with detonations amid the foliage; women clucked like hens; now and
then, two gentlemen tried to fight; and a thief was arrested. The
dancers, in the rush of a gallop, encroached on the walks. Panting, with
flushed, smiling faces, they filed off in a whirlwind which lifted up
the gowns with the coat-tails. The trombones brayed more loudly; the
rhythmic movement became more rapid. Behind the mediæval cloister could
be heard crackling sounds; squibs went off; artificial suns began
turning round; the gleam of the Bengal fires, like emeralds in colour,
lighted up for the space of a minute the entire garden; and, with the
last rocket, a great sigh escaped from the assembled throng.

It slowly died away. A cloud of gunpowder floated into the air.
Frederick and Deslauriers were walking step by step through the midst of
the crowd, when they happened to see something that made them suddenly
stop: Martinon was in the act of paying some money at the place where
umbrellas were left; and he was accompanying a woman of fifty,
plain-looking, magnificently dressed, and of problematic social rank.

"That sly dog," said Deslauriers, "is not so simple as we imagine. But
where in the world is Cisy?"

Dussardier pointed out to them the smoking-divan, where they perceived
the knightly youth, with a bowl of punch before him, and a pink hat by
his side, to keep him company. Hussonnet, who had been away for the past
few minutes, reappeared at the same moment.

A young girl was leaning on his arm, and addressing him in a loud voice
as "My little cat."

"Oh! no!" said he to her--"not in public! Call me rather 'Vicomte.' That
gives you a cavalier style--Louis XIII. and dainty boots--the sort of
thing I like! Yes, my good friends, one of the old _régime_!--nice,
isn't she?"--and he chucked her by the chin--"Salute these gentlemen!
they are all the sons of peers of France. I keep company with them in
order that they may get an appointment for me as an ambassador."

"How insane you are!" sighed Mademoiselle Vatnaz. She asked Dussardier
to see her as far as her own door.

Arnoux watched them going off; then, turning towards Frederick:

"Did you like the Vatnaz? At any rate, you're not quite frank about
these affairs. I believe you keep your amours hidden."

Frederick, turning pale, swore that he kept nothing hidden.

"Can it be possible you don't know what it is to have a mistress?" said
Arnoux.

Frederick felt a longing to mention a woman's name at random. But the
story might be repeated to her. So he replied that as a matter of fact
he had no mistress.

The picture-dealer reproached him for this.

"This evening you had a good opportunity! Why didn't you do like the
others, each of whom went off with a woman?"

"Well, and what about yourself?" said Frederick, provoked by his
persistency.

"Oh! myself--that's quite a different matter, my lad! I go home to my
own one!"

Then he called a cab, and disappeared.

The two friends walked towards their own destination. An east wind was
blowing. They did not exchange a word. Deslauriers was regretting that
he had not succeeded in making a _shine_ before a certain
newspaper-manager, and Frederick was lost once more in his melancholy
broodings. At length, breaking silence, he said that this public-house
ball appeared to him a stupid affair.

"Whose fault is it? If you had not left us, to join that Arnoux of
yours----"

"Bah! anything I could have done would have been utterly useless!"

But the clerk had theories of his own. All that was necessary in order
to get a thing was to desire it strongly.

"Nevertheless, you yourself, a little while ago----"

"I don't care a straw about that sort of thing!" returned Deslauriers,
cutting short Frederick's allusion. "Am I going to get entangled with
women?"

And he declaimed against their affectations, their silly ways--in short,
he disliked them.

"Don't be acting, then!" said Frederick.

Deslauriers became silent. Then, all at once:

"Will you bet me a hundred francs that I won't _do_ the first woman that
passes?"

"Yes--it's a bet!"

The first who passed was a hideous-looking beggar-woman, and they were
giving up all hope of a chance presenting itself when, in the middle of
the Rue de Rivoli, they saw a tall girl with a little bandbox in her
hand.

Deslauriers accosted her under the arcades. She turned up abruptly by
the Tuileries, and soon diverged into the Place du Carrousel. She
glanced to the right and to the left. She ran after a hackney-coach;
Deslauriers overtook her. He walked by her side, talking to her with
expressive gestures. At length, she accepted his arm, and they went on
together along the quays. Then, when they reached the rising ground in
front of the Châtelet, they kept tramping up and down for at least
twenty minutes, like two sailors keeping watch. But, all of a sudden,
they passed over the Pont-au-Change, through the Flower Market, and
along the Quai Napoléon. Frederick came up behind them. Deslauriers gave
him to understand that he would be in their way, and had only to follow
his own example.

"How much have you got still?"

"Two hundred sous pieces."

"That's enough--good night to you!"

Frederick was seized with the astonishment one feels at seeing a piece
of foolery coming to a successful issue.

"He has the laugh at me," was his reflection. "Suppose I went back
again?"

Perhaps Deslauriers imagined that he was envious of this paltry love!
"As if I had not one a hundred times more rare, more noble, more
absorbing." He felt a sort of angry feeling impelling him onward. He
arrived in front of Madame Arnoux's door.

None of the outer windows belonged to her apartment. Nevertheless, he
remained with his eyes pasted on the front of the house--as if he
fancied he could, by his contemplation, break open the walls. No doubt,
she was now sunk in repose, tranquil as a sleeping flower, with her
beautiful black hair resting on the lace of the pillow, her lips
slightly parted, and one arm under her head. Then Arnoux's head rose
before him, and he rushed away to escape from this vision.

The advice which Deslauriers had given to him came back to his memory.
It only filled him with horror. Then he walked about the streets in a
vagabond fashion.

When a pedestrian approached, he tried to distinguish the face. From
time to time a ray of light passed between his legs, tracing a great
quarter of a circle on the pavement; and in the shadow a man appeared
with his dosser and his lantern. The wind, at certain points, made the
sheet-iron flue of a chimney shake. Distant sounds reached his ears,
mingling with the buzzing in his brain; and it seemed to him that he was
listening to the indistinct flourish of quadrille music. His movements
as he walked on kept up this illusion. He found himself on the Pont de
la Concorde.

Then he recalled that evening in the previous winter, when, as he left
her house for the first time, he was forced to stand still, so rapidly
did his heart beat with the hopes that held it in their clasp. And now
they had all withered!

Dark clouds were drifting across the face of the moon. He gazed at it,
musing on the vastness of space, the wretchedness of life, the
nothingness of everything. The day dawned; his teeth began to chatter,
and, half-asleep, wet with the morning mist, and bathed in tears, he
asked himself, Why should I not make an end of it? All that was
necessary was a single movement. The weight of his forehead dragged him
along--he beheld his own dead body floating in the water. Frederick
stooped down. The parapet was rather wide, and it was through pure
weariness that he did not make the attempt to leap over it.

Then a feeling of dismay swept over him. He reached the boulevards once
more, and sank down upon a seat. He was aroused by some police-officers,
who were convinced that he had been indulging a little too freely.

He resumed his walk. But, as he was exceedingly hungry, and as all the
restaurants were closed, he went to get a "snack" at a tavern by the
fish-markets; after which, thinking it too soon to go in yet, he kept
sauntering about the Hôtel de Ville till a quarter past eight.

Deslauriers had long since got rid of his wench; and he was writing at
the table in the middle of his room. About four o'clock, M. de Cisy came
in.

Thanks to Dussardier, he had enjoyed the society of a lady the night
before; and he had even accompanied her home in the carriage with her
husband to the very threshold of their house, where she had given him an
assignation. He parted with her without even knowing her name.

"And what do you propose that I should do in that way?" said Frederick.

Thereupon the young gentleman began to cudgel his brains to think of a
suitable woman; he mentioned Mademoiselle Vatnaz, the Andalusian, and
all the rest. At length, with much circumlocution, he stated the object
of his visit. Relying on the discretion of his friend, he came to aid
him in taking an important step, after which he might definitely regard
himself as a man; and Frederick showed no reluctance. He told the story
to Deslauriers without relating the facts with reference to himself
personally.

The clerk was of opinion that he was now going on very well. This
respect for his advice increased his good humour. He owed to that
quality his success, on the very first night he met her, with
Mademoiselle Clémence Daviou, embroideress in gold for military outfits,
the sweetest creature that ever lived, as slender as a reed, with large
blue eyes, perpetually staring with wonder. The clerk had taken
advantage of her credulity to such an extent as to make her believe that
he had been decorated. At their private conversations he had his
frock-coat adorned with a red ribbon, but divested himself of it in
public in order, as he put it, not to humiliate his master. However, he
kept her at a distance, allowed himself to be fawned upon, like a pasha,
and, in a laughing sort of way, called her "daughter of the people."
Every time they met, she brought him little bunches of violets.
Frederick would not have cared for a love affair of this sort.

Meanwhile, whenever they set forth arm-in-arm to visit Pinson's or
Barillot's circulating library, he experienced a feeling of singular
depression. Frederick did not realise how much pain he had made
Deslauriers endure for the past year, while brushing his nails before
going out to dine in the Rue de Choiseul!

One evening, when from the commanding position in which his balcony
stood, he had just been watching them as they went out together, he saw
Hussonnet, some distance off, on the Pont d'Arcole. The Bohemian began
calling him by making signals towards him, and, when Frederick had
descended the five flights of stairs:

"Here is the thing--it is next Saturday, the 24th, Madame Arnoux's
feast-day."

"How is that, when her name is Marie?"

"And Angèle also--no matter! They will entertain their guests at their
country-house at Saint-Cloud. I was told to give you due notice about
it. You'll find a vehicle at the magazine-office at three o'clock. So
that makes matters all right! Excuse me for having disturbed you! But I
have such a number of calls to make!"

Frederick had scarcely turned round when his door-keeper placed a letter
in his hand:

"Monsieur and Madame Dambreuse beg of Monsieur F. Moreau to do them the
honour to come and dine with them on Saturday the 24th inst.--R.S.V.P."

"Too late!" he said to himself. Nevertheless, he showed the letter to
Deslauriers, who exclaimed:

"Ha! at last! But you don't look as if you were satisfied. Why?"

After some little hesitation, Frederick said that he had another
invitation for the same day.

"Be kind enough to let me run across to the Rue de Choiseul. I'm not
joking! I'll answer this for you if it puts you about."

And the clerk wrote an acceptance of the invitation in the third person.

Having seen nothing of the world save through the fever of his desires,
he pictured it to himself as an artificial creation discharging its
functions by virtue of mathematical laws. A dinner in the city, an
accidental meeting with a man in office, a smile from a pretty woman,
might, by a series of actions deducing themselves from one another, have
gigantic results. Certain Parisian drawing-rooms were like those
machines which take a material in the rough and render it a hundred
times more valuable. He believed in courtesans advising diplomatists, in
wealthy marriages brought about by intrigues, in the cleverness of
convicts, in the capacity of strong men for getting the better of
fortune. In short, he considered it so useful to visit the Dambreuses,
and talked about it so plausibly, that Frederick was at a loss to know
what was the best course to take.

The least he ought to do, as it was Madame Arnoux's feast-day, was to
make her a present. He naturally thought of a parasol, in order to make
reparation for his awkwardness. Now he came across a shot-silk parasol
with a little carved ivory handle, which had come all the way from
China. But the price of it was a hundred and seventy-five francs, and he
had not a sou, having in fact to live on the credit of his next
quarter's allowance. However, he wished to get it; he was determined to
have it; and, in spite of his repugnance to doing so, he had recourse to
Deslauriers.

Deslauriers answered Frederick's first question by saying that he had no
money.

"I want some," said Frederick--"I want some very badly!"

As the other made the same excuse over again, he flew into a passion.

"You might find it to your advantage some time----"

"What do you mean by that?"

"Oh! nothing."

The clerk understood. He took the sum required out of his reserve-fund,
and when he had counted out the money, coin by coin:

"I am not asking you for a receipt, as I see you have a lot of expense!"

Frederick threw himself on his friend's neck with a thousand
affectionate protestations. Deslauriers received this display of emotion
frigidly. Then, next morning, noticing the parasol on the top of the
piano:

"Ah! it was for that!"

"I will send it, perhaps," said Frederick, with an air of carelessness.

Good fortune was on his side, for that evening he got a note with a
black border from Madame Dambreuse announcing to him that she had lost
an uncle, and excusing herself for having to defer till a later period
the pleasure of making his acquaintance. At two o'clock, he reached the
office of the art journal. Instead of waiting for him in order to drive
him in his carriage, Arnoux had left the city the night before, unable
to resist his desire to get some fresh air.

Every year it was his custom, as soon as the leaves were budding forth,
to start early in the morning and to remain away several days, making
long journeys across the fields, drinking milk at the farm-houses,
romping with the village girls, asking questions about the harvest, and
carrying back home with him stalks of salad in his pocket-handkerchief.
At length, in order to realise a long-cherished dream of his, he had
bought a country-house.

While Frederick was talking to the picture-dealer's clerk, Mademoiselle
Vatnaz suddenly made her appearance, and was disappointed at not seeing
Arnoux. He would, perhaps, be remaining away two days longer. The clerk
advised her "to go there"--she could not go there; to write a
letter--she was afraid that the letter might get lost. Frederick offered
to be the bearer of it himself. She rapidly scribbled off a letter, and
implored of him to let nobody see him delivering it.

Forty minutes afterwards, he found himself at Saint-Cloud. The house,
which was about a hundred paces farther away than the bridge, stood
half-way up the hill. The garden-walls were hidden by two rows of
linden-trees, and a wide lawn descended to the bank of the river. The
railed entrance before the door was open, and Frederick went in.

Arnoux, stretched on the grass, was playing with a litter of kittens.
This amusement appeared to absorb him completely. Mademoiselle Vatnaz's
letter drew him out of his sleepy idleness.

"The deuce! the deuce!--this is a bore! She is right, though; I must
go."

Then, having stuck the missive into his pocket, he showed the young man
through the grounds with manifest delight. He pointed out
everything--the stable, the cart-house, the kitchen. The drawing-room
was at the right, on the side facing Paris, and looked out on a floored
arbour, covered over with clematis. But presently a few harmonious notes
burst forth above their heads: Madame Arnoux, fancying that there was
nobody near, was singing to amuse herself. She executed quavers,
trills, arpeggios. There were long notes which seemed to remain
suspended in the air; others fell in a rushing shower like the spray of
a waterfall; and her voice passing out through the Venetian blind, cut
its way through the deep silence and rose towards the blue sky. She
ceased all at once, when M. and Madame Oudry, two neighbours, presented
themselves.

Then she appeared herself at the top of the steps in front of the house;
and, as she descended, he caught a glimpse of her foot. She wore little
open shoes of reddish-brown leather, with three straps crossing each
other so as to draw just above her stockings a wirework of gold.

Those who had been invited arrived. With the exception of Maître
Lefaucheur, an advocate, they were the same guests who came to the
Thursday dinners. Each of them had brought some present--Dittmer a
Syrian scarf, Rosenwald a scrap-book of ballads, Burieu a water-colour
painting, Sombary one of his own caricatures, and Pellerin a
charcoal-drawing, representing a kind of dance of death, a hideous
fantasy, the execution of which was rather poor. Hussonnet dispensed
with the formality of a present.

Frederick was waiting to offer his, after the others.

She thanked him very much for it. Thereupon, he said:

"Why, 'tis almost a debt. I have been so much annoyed----"

"At what, pray?" she returned. "I don't understand."

"Come! dinner is waiting!" said Arnoux, catching hold of his arm; then
in a whisper: "You are not very knowing, certainly!"

Nothing could well be prettier than the dining-room, painted in
water-green. At one end, a nymph of stone was dipping her toe in a basin
formed like a shell. Through the open windows the entire garden could be
seen with the long lawn flanked by an old Scotch fir, three-quarters
stripped bare; groups of flowers swelled it out in unequal plots; and at
the other side of the river extended in a wide semi-circle the Bois de
Boulogne, Neuilly, Sèvres, and Meudon. Before the railed gate in front a
canoe with sail outspread was tacking about.

They chatted first about the view in front of them, then about scenery
in general; and they were beginning to plunge into discussions when
Arnoux, at half-past nine o'clock, ordered the horse to be put to the
carriage.

"Would you like me to go back with you?" said Madame Arnoux.

"Why, certainly!" and, making her a graceful bow: "You know well,
madame, that it is impossible to live without you!"

Everyone congratulated her on having so good a husband.

"Ah! it is because I am not the only one," she replied quietly, pointing
towards her little daughter.

Then, the conversation having turned once more on painting, there was
some talk about a Ruysdaél, for which Arnoux expected a big sum, and
Pellerin asked him if it were true that the celebrated Saul Mathias from
London had come over during the past month to make him an offer of
twenty-three thousand francs for it.

"'Tis a positive fact!" and turning towards Frederick: "That was the
very same gentleman I brought with me a few days ago to the Alhambra,
much against my will, I assure you, for these English are by no means
amusing companions."

Frederick, who suspected that Mademoiselle Vatnaz's letter contained
some reference to an intrigue, was amazed at the facility with which my
lord Arnoux found a way of passing it off as a perfectly honourable
transaction; but his new lie, which was quite needless, made the young
man open his eyes in speechless astonishment.

The picture-dealer added, with an air of simplicity:

"What's the name, by-the-by, of that young fellow, your friend?"

"Deslauriers," said Frederick quickly.

And, in order to repair the injustice which he felt he had done to his
comrade, he praised him as one who possessed remarkable ability.

"Ah! indeed? But he doesn't look such a fine fellow as the other--the
clerk in the wagon-office."

Frederick bestowed a mental imprecation on Dussardier. She would now be
taking it for granted that he associated with the common herd.

Then they began to talk about the ornamentation of the capital--the new
districts of the city--and the worthy Oudry happened to refer to M.
Dambreuse as one of the big speculators.

Frederick, taking advantage of the opportunity to make a good figure,
said he was acquainted with that gentleman. But Pellerin launched into a
harangue against shopkeepers--he saw no difference between them, whether
they were sellers of candles or of money. Then Rosenwald and Burieu
talked about old china; Arnoux chatted with Madame Oudry about
gardening; Sombary, a comical character of the old school, amused
himself by chaffing her husband, referring to him sometimes as "Odry,"
as if he were the actor of that name, and remarking that he must be
descended from Oudry, the dog-painter, seeing that the bump of the
animals was visible on his forehead. He even wanted to feel M. Oudry's
skull; but the latter excused himself on account of his wig; and the
dessert ended with loud bursts of laughter.

When they had taken their coffee, while they smoked, under the
linden-trees, and strolled about the garden for some time, they went out
for a walk along the river.

The party stopped in front of a fishmonger's shop, where a man was
washing eels. Mademoiselle Marthe wanted to look at them. He emptied the
box in which he had them out on the grass; and the little girl threw
herself on her knees in order to catch them, laughed with delight, and
then began to scream with terror. They all got spoiled, and Arnoux paid
for them.

He next took it into his head to go out for a sail in the cutter.

One side of the horizon was beginning to assume a pale aspect, while on
the other side a wide strip of orange colour showed itself in the sky,
deepening into purple at the summits of the hills, which were steeped in
shadow. Madame Arnoux seated herself on a big stone with this glittering
splendour at her back. The other ladies sauntered about here and there.
Hussonnet, at the lower end of the river's bank, went making ducks and
drakes over the water.

Arnoux presently returned, followed by a weather-beaten long boat, into
which, in spite of the most prudent remonstrances, he packed his
guests. The boat got upset, and they had to go ashore again.

By this time wax-tapers were burning in the drawing-room, all hung with
chintz, and with branched candlesticks of crystal fixed close to the
walls. Mère Oudry was sleeping comfortably in an armchair, and the
others were listening to M. Lefaucheux expatiating on the glories of the
Bar. Madame Arnoux was sitting by herself near the window. Frederick
came over to her.

They chatted about the remarks which were being made in their vicinity.
She admired oratory; he preferred the renown gained by authors. But, she
ventured to suggest, it must give a man greater pleasure to move crowds
directly by addressing them in person, face to face, than it does to
infuse into their souls by his pen all the sentiments that animate his
own. Such triumphs as these did not tempt Frederick much, as he had no
ambition.

Then he broached the subject of sentimental adventures. She spoke
pityingly of the havoc wrought by passion, but expressed indignation at
hypocritical vileness, and this rectitude of spirit harmonised so well
with the regular beauty of her face that it seemed indeed as if her
physical attractions were the outcome of her moral nature.

She smiled, every now and then, letting her eyes rest on him for a
minute. Then he felt her glances penetrating his soul like those great
rays of sunlight which descend into the depths of the water. He loved
her without mental reservation, without any hope of his love being
returned, unconditionally; and in those silent transports, which were
like outbursts of gratitude, he would fain have covered her forehead
with a rain of kisses. However, an inspiration from within carried him
beyond himself--he felt moved by a longing for self-sacrifice, an
imperative impulse towards immediate self-devotion, and all the stronger
from the fact that he could not gratify it.

He did not leave along with the rest. Neither did Hussonnet. They were
to go back in the carriage; and the vehicle was waiting just in front of
the steps when Arnoux rushed down and hurried into the garden to gather
some flowers there. Then the bouquet having been tied round with a
thread, as the stems fell down unevenly, he searched in his pocket,
which was full of papers, took out a piece at random, wrapped them up,
completed his handiwork with the aid of a strong pin, and then offered
it to his wife with a certain amount of tenderness.

"Look here, my darling! Excuse me for having forgotten you!"

But she uttered a little scream: the pin, having been awkwardly fixed,
had cut her, and she hastened up to her room. They waited nearly a
quarter of an hour for her. At last, she reappeared, carried off Marthe,
and threw herself into the carriage.

"And your bouquet?" said Arnoux.

"No! no--it is not worth while!" Frederick was running off to fetch it
for her; she called out to him:

"I don't want it!"

But he speedily brought it to her, saying that he had just put it into
an envelope again, as he had found the flowers lying on the floor. She
thrust them behind the leathern apron of the carriage close to the seat,
and off they started.

Frederick, seated by her side, noticed that she was trembling
frightfully. Then, when they had passed the bridge, as Arnoux was
turning to the left:

"Why, no! you are making a mistake!--that way, to the right!"

She seemed irritated; everything annoyed her. At length, Marthe having
closed her eyes, Madame Arnoux drew forth the bouquet, and flung it out
through the carriage-door, then caught Frederick's arm, making a sign to
him with the other hand to say nothing about it.

After this, she pressed her handkerchief against her lips, and sat quite
motionless.

The two others, on the dickey, kept talking about printing and about
subscribers. Arnoux, who was driving recklessly, lost his way in the
middle of the Bois de Boulogne. Then they plunged into narrow paths. The
horse proceeded along at a walking pace; the branches of the trees
grazed the hood. Frederick could see nothing of Madame Arnoux save her
two eyes in the shade. Marthe lay stretched across her lap while he
supported the child's head.

"She is tiring you!" said her mother.

He replied:

"No! Oh, no!"

Whirlwinds of dust rose up slowly. They passed through Auteuil. All the
houses were closed up; a gas-lamp here and there lighted up the angle of
a wall; then once more they were surrounded by darkness. At one time he
noticed that she was shedding tears.

Was this remorse or passion? What in the world was it? This grief, of
whose exact nature he was ignorant, interested him like a personal
matter. There was now a new bond between them, as if, in a sense, they
were accomplices; and he said to her in the most caressing voice he
could assume:

"You are ill?"

"Yes, a little," she returned.

The carriage rolled on, and the honeysuckles and the syringas trailed
over the garden fences, sending forth puffs of enervating odour into the
night air. Her gown fell around her feet in numerous folds. It seemed to
him as if he were in communication with her entire person through the
medium of this child's body which lay stretched between them. He stooped
over the little girl, and spreading out her pretty brown tresses, kissed
her softly on the forehead.

"You are good!" said Madame Arnoux.

"Why?"

"Because you are fond of children."

"Not all!"

He said no more, but he let his left hand hang down her side wide open,
fancying that she would follow his example perhaps, and that he would
find her palm touching his. Then he felt ashamed and withdrew it. They
soon reached the paved street. The carriage went on more quickly; the
number of gas-lights vastly increased--it was Paris. Hussonnet, in front
of the lumber-room, jumped down from his seat. Frederick waited till
they were in the courtyard before alighting; then he lay in ambush at
the corner of the Rue de Choiseul, and saw Arnoux slowly making his way
back to the boulevards.

Next morning he began working as hard as ever he could.

He saw himself in an Assize Court, on a winter's evening, at the close
of the advocates' speeches, when the jurymen are looking pale, and when
the panting audience make the partitions of the prætorium creak; and
after having being four hours speaking, he was recapitulating all his
proofs, feeling with every phrase, with every word, with every gesture,
the chopper of the guillotine, which was suspended behind him, rising
up; then in the tribune of the Chamber, an orator who bears on his lips
the safety of an entire people, drowning his opponents under his figures
of rhetoric, crushing them under a repartee, with thunders and musical
intonations in his voice, ironical, pathetic, fiery, sublime. She would
be there somewhere in the midst of the others, hiding beneath her veil
her enthusiastic tears. After that they would meet again, and he would
be unaffected by discouragements, calumnies, and insults, if she would
only say, "Ah, that is beautiful!" while drawing her light hand across
his brow.

These images flashed, like beacon-lights, on the horizon of his life.
His intellect, thereby excited, became more active and more vigorous. He
buried himself in study till the month of August, and was successful at
his final examination.

Deslauriers, who had found it so troublesome to coach him once more for
the second examination at the close of December, and for the third in
February, was astonished at his ardour. Then the great expectations of
former days returned. In ten years it was probable that Frederick would
be deputy; in fifteen a minister. Why not? With his patrimony, which
would soon come into his hands, he might, at first, start a newspaper;
this would be the opening step in his career; after that they would see
what the future would bring. As for himself, he was still ambitious of
obtaining a chair in the Law School; and he sustained his thesis for
the degree of Doctor in such a remarkable fashion that it won for him
the compliments of the professors.

Three days afterwards, Frederick took his own degree. Before leaving for
his holidays, he conceived the idea of getting up a picnic to bring to a
close their Saturday reunions.

He displayed the utmost gaiety on the occasion. Madame Arnoux was now
with her mother at Chartres. But he would soon come across her again,
and would end by being her lover.

Deslauriers, admitted the same day to the young advocates' pleading
rehearsals at Orsay, had made a speech which was greatly applauded.
Although he was sober, he drank a little more wine than was good for
him, and said to Dussardier at dessert:

"You are an honest fellow!--and, when I'm a rich man, I'll make you my
manager."

All were in a state of delight. Cisy was not going to finish his
law-course. Martinon intended to remain during the period before his
admission to the Bar in the provinces, where he would be nominated a
deputy-magistrate. Pellerin was devoting himself to the production of a
large picture representing "The Genius of the Revolution." Hussonnet
was, in the following week, about to read for the Director of Public
Amusements the scheme of a play, and had no doubt as to its success:

"As for the framework of the drama, they may leave that to me! As for
the passions, I have knocked about enough to understand them thoroughly;
and as for witticisms, they're entirely in my line!"

He gave a spring, fell on his two hands, and thus moved for some time
around the table with his legs in the air. This performance, worthy of
a street-urchin, did not get rid of Sénécal's frowns. He had just been
dismissed from the boarding-school, in which he had been a teacher, for
having given a whipping to an aristocrat's son. His straitened
circumstances had got worse in consequence: he laid the blame of this on
the inequalities of society, and cursed the wealthy. He poured out his
grievances into the sympathetic ears of Regimbart, who had become every
day more and more disillusioned, saddened, and disgusted. The Citizen
had now turned his attention towards questions arising out of the
Budget, and blamed the Court party for the loss of millions in Algeria.

As he could not sleep without having paid a visit to the Alexandre
smoking-divan, he disappeared at eleven o'clock. The rest went away some
time afterwards; and Frederick, as he was parting with Hussonnet,
learned that Madame Arnoux was to have come back the night before.

He accordingly went to the coach-office to change his time for starting
to the next day; and, at about six o'clock in the evening, presented
himself at her house. Her return, the door keeper said, had been put off
for a week. Frederick dined alone, and then lounged about the
boulevards.

Rosy clouds, scarf-like in form, stretched beyond the roofs; the
shop-tents were beginning to be taken away; water-carts were letting a
shower of spray fall over the dusty pavement; and an unexpected coolness
was mingled with emanations from cafés, as one got a glimpse through
their open doors, between some silver plate and gilt ware, of flowers in
sheaves, which were reflected in the large sheets of glass. The crowd
moved on at a leisurely pace. Groups of men were chatting in the middle
of the footpath; and women passed along with an indolent expression in
their eyes and that camelia tint in their complexions which intense heat
imparts to feminine flesh. Something immeasurable in its vastness seemed
to pour itself out and enclose the houses. Never had Paris looked so
beautiful. He saw nothing before him in the future but an interminable
series of years all full of love.

He stopped in front of the theatre of the Porte Saint-Martin to look at
the bill; and, for want of something to occupy him, paid for a seat and
went in.

An old-fashioned dramatic version of a fairy-tale was the piece on the
stage. There was a very small audience; and through the skylights of the
top gallery the vault of heaven seemed cut up into little blue squares,
whilst the stage lamps above the orchestra formed a single line of
yellow illuminations. The scene represented a slave-market at Pekin,
with hand-bells, tomtoms, sweeping robes, sharp-pointed caps, and
clownish jokes. Then, as soon as the curtain fell, he wandered into the
foyer all alone and gazed out with admiration at a large green landau
which stood on the boulevard outside, before the front steps of the
theatre, yoked to two white horses, while a coachman with short breeches
held the reins.

He had just got back to his seat when, in the balcony, a lady and a
gentleman entered the first box in front of the stage. The husband had a
pale face with a narrow strip of grey beard round it, the rosette of a
Government official, and that frigid look which is supposed to
characterise diplomatists.

His wife, who was at least twenty years younger, and who was neither
tall nor under-sized, neither ugly nor pretty, wore her fair hair in
corkscrew curls in the English fashion, and displayed a long-bodiced
dress and a large black lace fan. To make people so fashionable as these
come to the theatre at such a season one would imagine either that there
was some accidental cause, or that they had got tired of spending the
evening in one another's society. The lady kept nibbling at her fan,
while the gentleman yawned. Frederick could not recall to mind where he
had seen that face.

In the next interval between the acts, while passing through one of the
lobbies, he came face to face with both of them. As he bowed in an
undecided manner, M. Dambreuse, at once recognising him, came up and
apologised for having treated him with unpardonable neglect. It was an
allusion to the numerous visiting-cards he had sent in accordance with
the clerk's advice. However, he confused the periods, supposing that
Frederick was in the second year of his law-course. Then he said he
envied the young man for the opportunity of going into the country. He
sadly needed a little rest himself, but business kept him in Paris.

Madame Dambreuse, leaning on his arm, nodded her head slightly, and the
agreeable sprightliness of her face contrasted with its gloomy
expression a short time before.

"One finds charming diversions in it, nevertheless," she said, after her
husband's last remark. "What a stupid play that was--was it not,
Monsieur?" And all three of them remained there chatting about theatres
and new pieces.

Frederick, accustomed to the grimaces of provincial dames, had not seen
in any woman such ease of manner combined with that simplicity which is
the essence of refinement, and in which ingenuous souls trace the
expression of instantaneous sympathy.

They would expect to see him as soon as he returned. M. Dambreuse told
him to give his kind remembrances to Père Roque.

Frederick, when he reached his lodgings, did not fail to inform
Deslauriers of their hospitable invitation.

"Grand!" was the clerk's reply; "and don't let your mamma get round you!
Come back without delay!"

On the day after his arrival, as soon as they had finished breakfast,
Madame Moreau brought her son out into the garden.

She said she was happy to see him in a profession, for they were not as
rich as people imagined. The land brought in little; the people who
farmed it paid badly. She had even been compelled to sell her carriage.
Finally, she placed their situation in its true colours before him.

During the first embarrassments which followed the death of her late
husband, M. Roque, a man of great cunning, had made her loans of money
which had been renewed, and left long unpaid, in spite of her desire to
clear them off. He had suddenly made a demand for immediate payment, and
she had gone beyond the strict terms of the agreement by giving up to
him, at a contemptible figure, the farm of Presles. Ten years later, her
capital disappeared through the failure of a banker at Melun. Through a
horror which she had of mortgages, and to keep up appearances, which
might be necessary in view of her son's future, she had, when Père Roque
presented himself again, listened to him once more. But now she was free
from debt. In short, there was left them an income of about ten thousand
francs, of which two thousand three hundred belonged to him--his entire
patrimony.

"It isn't possible!" exclaimed Frederick.

She nodded her head, as if to declare that it was perfectly possible.

But his uncle would leave him something?

That was by no means certain!

And they took a turn around the garden without exchanging a word. At
last she pressed him to her heart, and in a voice choked with rising
tears:

"Ah! my poor boy! I have had to give up my dreams!"

He seated himself on a bench in the shadow of the large acacia.

Her advice was that he should become a clerk to M. Prouharam, solicitor,
who would assign over his office to him; if he increased its value, he
might sell it again and find a good practice.

Frederick was no longer listening to her. He was gazing automatically
across the hedge into the other garden opposite.

A little girl of about twelve with red hair happened to be there all
alone. She had made earrings for herself with the berries of the
service-tree. Her bodice, made of grey linen-cloth, allowed her
shoulders, slightly gilded by the sun, to be seen. Her short white
petticoat was spotted with the stains made by sweets; and there was, so
to speak, the grace of a young wild animal about her entire person, at
the same time, nervous and thin. Apparently, the presence of a stranger
astonished her, for she had stopped abruptly with her watering-pot in
her hand darting glances at him with her large bright eyes, which were
of a limpid greenish-blue colour.

"That is M. Roque's daughter," said Madame Moreau. "He has just married
his servant and legitimised the child that he had by her."



CHAPTER VI.

Blighted Hopes.


Ruined, stripped of everything, undermined!

He remained seated on the bench, as if stunned by a shock. He cursed
Fate; he would have liked to beat somebody; and, to intensify his
despair, he felt a kind of outrage, a sense of disgrace, weighing down
upon him; for Frederick had been under the impression that the fortune
coming to him through his father would mount up one day to an income of
fifteen thousand livres, and he had so informed the Arnoux' in an
indirect sort of way. So then he would be looked upon as a braggart, a
rogue, an obscure blackguard, who had introduced himself to them in the
expectation of making some profit out of it! And as for her--Madame
Arnoux--how could he ever see her again now?

Moreover, that was completely impossible when he had only a yearly
income of three thousand francs, He could not always lodge on the fourth
floor, have the door keeper as a servant, and make his appearance with
wretched black gloves turning blue at the ends, a greasy hat, and the
same frock-coat for a whole year. No, no! never! And yet without her
existence was intolerable. Many people were well able to live without
any fortune, Deslauriers amongst the rest; and he thought himself a
coward to attach so much importance to matters of trifling consequence.
Need would perhaps multiply his faculties a hundredfold. He excited
himself by thinking on the great men who had worked in garrets. A soul
like that of Madame Arnoux ought to be touched at such a spectacle, and
she would be moved by it to sympathetic tenderness. So, after all, this
catastrophe was a piece of good fortune; like those earthquakes which
unveil treasures, it had revealed to him the hidden wealth of his
nature. But there was only one place in the world where this could be
turned to account--Paris; for to his mind, art, science, and love (those
three faces of God, as Pellerin would have said) were associated
exclusively with the capital. That evening, he informed his mother of
his intention to go back there. Madame Moreau was surprised and
indignant. She regarded it as a foolish and absurd course. It would be
better to follow her advice, namely, to remain near her in an office.
Frederick shrugged his shoulders, "Come now"--looking on this proposal
as an insult to himself.

Thereupon, the good lady adopted another plan. In a tender voice broken
by sobs she began to dwell on her solitude, her old age, and the
sacrifices she had made for him. Now that she was more unhappy than
ever, he was abandoning her. Then, alluding to the anticipated close of
her life:

"A little patience--good heavens! you will soon be free!"

These lamentations were renewed twenty times a day for three months; and
at the same time the luxuries of a home made him effeminate. He found it
enjoyable to have a softer bed and napkins that were not torn, so that,
weary, enervated, overcome by the terrible force of comfort, Frederick
allowed himself to be brought to Maître Prouharam's office.

He displayed there neither knowledge nor aptitude. Up to this time, he
had been regarded as a young man of great means who ought to be the
shining light of the Department. The public would now come to the
conclusion that he had imposed upon them.

At first, he said to himself:

"It is necessary to inform Madame Arnoux about it;" and for a whole week
he kept formulating in his own mind dithyrambic letters and short notes
in an eloquent and sublime style. The fear of avowing his actual
position restrained him. Then he thought that it was far better to write
to the husband. Arnoux knew life and could understand the true state of
the case. At length, after a fortnight's hesitation:

"Bah! I ought not to see them any more: let them forget me! At any rate,
I shall be cherished in her memory without having sunk in her
estimation! She will believe that I am dead, and will regret
me--perhaps."

As extravagant resolutions cost him little, he swore in his own mind
that he would never return to Paris, and that he would not even make any
enquiries about Madame Arnoux.

Nevertheless, he regretted the very smell of the gas and the noise of
the omnibuses. He mused on the things that she might have said to him,
on the tone of her voice, on the light of her eyes--and, regarding
himself as a dead man, he no longer did anything at all.

He arose very late, and looked through the window at the passing teams
of wagoners. The first six months especially were hateful.

On certain days, however, he was possessed by a feeling of indignation
even against her. Then he would go forth and wander through the meadows,
half covered in winter time by the inundations of the Seine. They were
cut up by rows of poplar-trees. Here and there arose a little bridge. He
tramped about till evening, rolling the yellow leaves under his feet,
inhaling the fog, and jumping over the ditches. As his arteries began to
throb more vigorously, he felt himself carried away by a desire to do
something wild; he longed to become a trapper in America, to attend on a
pasha in the East, to take ship as a sailor; and he gave vent to his
melancholy in long letters to Deslauriers.

The latter was struggling to get on. The slothful conduct of his friend
and his eternal jeremiads appeared to him simply stupid. Their
correspondence soon became a mere form. Frederick had given up all his
furniture to Deslauriers, who stayed on in the same lodgings. From time
to time his mother spoke to him. At length he one day told her about the
present he had made, and she was giving him a rating for it, when a
letter was placed in his hands.

"What is the matter now?" she said, "you are trembling?"

"There is nothing the matter with me," replied Frederick.

Deslauriers informed him that he had taken Sénécal under his protection,
and that for the past fortnight they had been living together. So now
Sénécal was exhibiting himself in the midst of things that had come
from the Arnoux's shop. He might sell them, criticise, make jokes about
them. Frederick felt wounded in the depths of his soul. He went up to
his own apartment. He felt a yearning for death.

His mother called him to consult him about a plantation in the garden.

This garden was, after the fashion of an English park, cut in the middle
by a stick fence; and the half of it belonged to Père Roque, who had
another for vegetables on the bank of the river. The two neighbours,
having fallen out, abstained from making their appearance there at the
same hour. But since Frederick's return, the old gentleman used to walk
about there more frequently, and was not stinted in his courtesies
towards Madame Moreau's son. He pitied the young man for having to live
in a country town. One day he told him that Madame Dambreuse had been
anxious to hear from him. On another occasion he expatiated on the
custom of Champagne, where the stomach conferred nobility.

"At that time you would have been a lord, since your mother's name was
De Fouvens. And 'tis all very well to talk--never mind! there's
something in a name. After all," he added, with a sly glance at
Frederick, "that depends on the Keeper of the Seals."

This pretension to aristocracy contrasted strangely with his personal
appearance. As he was small, his big chestnut-coloured frock-coat
exaggerated the length of his bust. When he took off his hat, a face
almost like that of a woman with an extremely sharp nose could be seen;
his hair, which was of a yellow colour, resembled a wig. He saluted
people with a very low bow, brushing against the wall.

Up to his fiftieth year, he had been content with the services of
Catherine, a native of Lorraine, of the same age as himself, who was
strongly marked with small-pox. But in the year 1834, he brought back
with him from Paris a handsome blonde with a sheep-like type of
countenance and a "queenly carriage." Ere long, she was observed
strutting about with large earrings; and everything was explained by the
birth of a daughter who was introduced to the world under the name of
Elisabeth Olympe Louise Roque.

Catherine, in her first ebullition of jealousy, expected that she would
curse this child. On the contrary, she became fond of the little girl,
and treated her with the utmost care, consideration, and tenderness, in
order to supplant her mother and render her odious--an easy task,
inasmuch as Madame Éléonore entirely neglected the little one,
preferring to gossip at the tradesmen's shops. On the day after her
marriage, she went to pay a visit at the Sub-prefecture, no longer
"thee'd" and "thou'd" the servants, and took it into her head that, as a
matter of good form, she ought to exhibit a certain severity towards the
child. She was present while the little one was at her lessons. The
teacher, an old clerk who had been employed at the Mayor's office, did
not know how to go about the work of instructing the girl. The pupil
rebelled, got her ears boxed, and rushed away to shed tears on the lap
of Catherine, who always took her part. After this the two women
wrangled, and M. Roque ordered them to hold their tongues. He had
married only out of tender regard for his daughter, and did not wish to
be annoyed by them.

She often wore a white dress with ribbons, and pantalettes trimmed with
lace; and on great festival-days she would leave the house attired like
a princess, in order to mortify a little the matrons of the town, who
forbade their brats to associate with her on account of her illegitimate
birth.

She passed her life nearly always by herself in the garden, went
see-sawing on the swing, chased butterflies, then suddenly stopped to
watch the floral beetles swooping down on the rose-trees. It was, no
doubt, these habits which imparted to her face an expression at the same
time of audacity and dreaminess. She had, moreover, a figure like
Marthe, so that Frederick said to her, at their second interview:

"Will you permit me to kiss you, mademoiselle?"

The little girl lifted up her head and replied:

"I will!"

But the stick-hedge separated them from one another.

"We must climb over," said Frederick.

"No, lift me up!"

He stooped over the hedge, and raising her off the ground with his
hands, kissed her on both cheeks; then he put her back on her own side
by a similar process; and this performance was repeated on the next
occasions when they found themselves together.

Without more reserve than a child of four, as soon as she heard her
friend coming, she sprang forward to meet him, or else, hiding behind a
tree, she began yelping like a dog to frighten him.

One day, when Madame Moreau had gone out, he brought her up to his own
room. She opened all the scent-bottles, and pomaded her hair
plentifully; then, without the slightest embarrassment, she lay down on
the bed, where she remained stretched out at full length, wide awake.

"I fancy myself your wife," she said to him.

Next day he found her all in tears. She confessed that she had been
"weeping for her sins;" and, when he wished to know what they were, she
hung down her head, and answered:

"Ask me no more!"

The time for first communion was at hand. She had been brought to
confession in the morning. The sacrament scarcely made her wiser.
Occasionally, she got into a real passion; and Frederick was sent for to
appease her.

He often brought her with him in his walks. While he indulged in
day-dreams as he walked along, she would gather wild poppies at the
edges of the corn-fields; and, when she saw him more melancholy than
usual, she tried to console him with her pretty childish prattle. His
heart, bereft of love, fell back on this friendship inspired by a little
girl. He gave her sketches of old fogies, told her stories, and devoted
himself to reading books for her.

He began with the _Annales Romantiques_, a collection of prose and verse
celebrated at the period. Then, forgetting her age, so much was he
charmed by her intelligence, he read for her in succession, _Atala_,
_Cinq-Mars_, and _Les Feuilles d'Automne_. But one night (she had that
very evening heard _Macbeth_ in Letourneur's simple translation) she
woke up, exclaiming:

"The spot! the spot!" Her teeth chattered, she shivered, and, fixing
terrified glances on her right hand, she kept rubbing it, saying:

"Always a spot!"

At last a doctor was brought, who directed that she should be kept free
from violent emotions.

The townsfolk saw in this only an unfavourable prognostic for her
morals. It was said that "young Moreau" wished to make an actress of her
later.

Soon another event became the subject of discussion--namely, the arrival
of uncle Barthélemy. Madame Moreau gave up her sleeping-apartment to
him, and was so gracious as to serve up meat to him on fast-days.

The old man was not very agreeable. He was perpetually making
comparisons between Havre and Nogent, the air of which he considered
heavy, the bread bad, the streets ill-paved, the food indifferent, and
the inhabitants very lazy. "How wretched trade is with you in this
place!" He blamed his deceased brother for his extravagance, pointing
out by way of contrast that he had himself accumulated an income of
twenty-seven thousand livres a year. At last, he left at the end of the
week, and on the footboard of the carriage gave utterance to these by no
means reassuring words:

"I am always very glad to know that you are in a good position."

"You will get nothing," said Madame Moreau as they re-entered the
dining-room.

He had come only at her urgent request, and for eight days she had been
seeking, on her part, for an opening--only too clearly perhaps. She
repented now of having done so, and remained seated in her armchair with
her head bent down and her lips tightly pressed together. Frederick sat
opposite, staring at her; and they were both silent, as they had been
five years before on his return home by the Montereau steamboat. This
coincidence, which presented itself even to her mind, recalled Madame
Arnoux to his recollection.

At that moment the crack of a whip outside the window reached their
ears, while a voice was heard calling out to him.

It was Père Roque, who was alone in his tilted cart. He was going to
spend the whole day at La Fortelle with M. Dambreuse, and cordially
offered to drive Frederick there.

"You have no need of an invitation as long as you are with me. Don't be
afraid!"

Frederick felt inclined to accept this offer. But how would he explain
his fixed sojourn at Nogent? He had not a proper summer suit. Finally,
what would his mother say? He accordingly decided not to go.

From that time, their neighbour exhibited less friendliness. Louise was
growing tall; Madame Éléonore fell dangerously ill; and the intimacy
broke off, to the great delight of Madame Moreau, who feared lest her
son's prospects of being settled in life might be affected by
association with such people.

She was thinking of purchasing for him the registrarship of the Court of
Justice. Frederick raised no particular objection to this scheme. He now
accompanied her to mass; in the evening he took a hand in a game of "all
fours." He became accustomed to provincial habits of life, and allowed
himself to slide into them; and even his love had assumed a character of
mournful sweetness, a kind of soporific charm. By dint of having poured
out his grief in his letters, mixed it up with everything he read, given
full vent to it during his walks through the country, he had almost
exhausted it, so that Madame Arnoux was for him, as it were, a dead
woman whose tomb he wondered that he did not know, so tranquil and
resigned had his affection for her now become.

One day, the 12th of December, 1845, about nine o'clock in the morning,
the cook brought up a letter to his room. The address, which was in big
characters, was written in a hand he was not acquainted with; and
Frederick, feeling sleepy, was in no great hurry to break the seal. At
length, when he did so, he read:

    "Justice of the Peace at Havre,
    111th Arrondissement.

"MONSIEUR,--Monsieur Moreau, your uncle, having died intestate----"

He had fallen in for the inheritance! As if a conflagration had burst
out behind the wall, he jumped out of bed in his shirt, with his feet
bare. He passed his hand over his face, doubting the evidence of his own
eyes, believing that he was still dreaming, and in order to make his
mind more clearly conscious of the reality of the event, he flung the
window wide open.

There had been a fall of snow; the roofs were white, and he even
recognised in the yard outside a washtub which had caused him to stumble
after dark the evening before.

He read the letter over three times in succession. Could there be
anything more certain? His uncle's entire fortune! A yearly income of
twenty-seven thousand livres![5] And he was overwhelmed with frantic joy
at the idea of seeing Madame Arnoux once more. With the vividness of a
hallucination he saw himself beside her, at her house, bringing her some
present in silver paper, while at the door stood a tilbury--no, a
brougham rather!--a black brougham, with a servant in brown livery. He
could hear his horse pawing the ground and the noise of the curb-chain
mingling with the rippling sound of their kisses. And every day this was
renewed indefinitely. He would receive them in his own house: the
dining-room would be furnished in red leather; the boudoir in yellow
silk; sofas everywhere! and such a variety of whatnots, china vases, and
carpets! These images came in so tumultuous a fashion into his mind that
he felt his head turning round. Then he thought of his mother; and he
descended the stairs with the letter in his hand.

[Footnote 5: About £1,350.--Translator.]

Madame Moreau made an effort to control her emotion, but could not keep
herself from swooning. Frederick caught her in his arms and kissed her
on the forehead.

"Dear mother, you can now buy back your carriage--laugh then! shed no
more tears! be happy!"

[Illustration: Laugh then! shed no more tears! be happy!]

Ten minutes later the news had travelled as far as the faubourgs. Then
M. Benoist, M. Gamblin, M. Chambion, and other friends hurried towards
the house. Frederick got away for a minute in order to write to
Deslauriers. Then other visitors turned up. The afternoon passed in
congratulations. They had forgotten all about "Roque's wife," who,
however, was declared to be "very low."

When they were alone, the same evening, Madame Moreau said to her son
that she would advise him to set up as an advocate at Troyes. As he was
better known in his own part of the country than in any other, he might
more easily find there a profitable connection.

"Ah, it is too hard!" exclaimed Frederick. He had scarcely grasped his
good fortune in his hands when he longed to carry it to Madame Arnoux.
He announced his express determination to live in Paris.

"And what are you going to do there?"

"Nothing!"

Madame Moreau, astonished at his manner, asked what he intended to
become.

"A minister," was Frederick's reply. And he declared that he was not at
all joking, that he meant to plunge at once into diplomacy, and that his
studies and his instincts impelled him in that direction. He would first
enter the Council of State under M. Dambreuse's patronage.

"So then, you know him?"

"Oh, yes--through M. Roque."

"That is singular," said Madame Moreau. He had awakened in her heart her
former dreams of ambition. She internally abandoned herself to them, and
said no more about other matters.

If he had yielded to his impatience, Frederick would have started that
very instant. Next morning every seat in the diligence had been engaged;
and so he kept eating out his heart till seven o'clock in the evening.

They had sat down to dinner when three prolonged tolls of the
church-bell fell on their ears; and the housemaid, coming in, informed
them that Madame Éléonore had just died.

This death, after all, was not a misfortune for anyone, not even for her
child. The young girl would only find it all the better for herself
afterwards.

As the two houses were close to one another, a great coming and going
and a clatter of tongues could be heard; and the idea of this corpse
being so near them threw a certain funereal gloom over their parting.
Madame Moreau wiped her eyes two or three times. Frederick felt his
heart oppressed.

When the meal was over, Catherine stopped him between two doors.
Mademoiselle had peremptorily expressed a wish to see him. She was
waiting for him in the garden. He went out there, strode over the hedge,
and knocking more or less against the trees, directed his steps towards
M. Roque's house. Lights were glittering through a window in the second
story then a form appeared in the midst of the darkness, and a voice
whispered:

"'Tis I!"

She seemed to him taller than usual, owing to her black dress, no doubt.
Not knowing what to say to her, he contented himself with catching her
hands, and sighing forth:

"Ah! my poor Louise!"

She did not reply. She gazed at him for a long time with a look of sad,
deep earnestness.

Frederick was afraid of missing the coach; he fancied that he could hear
the rolling of wheels some distance away, and, in order to put an end to
the interview without any delay:

"Catherine told me that you had something----"

"Yes--'tis true! I wanted to tell you----"

He was astonished to find that she addressed him in the plural; and, as
she again relapsed into silence:

"Well, what?"

"I don't know. I forget! Is it true that you're going away?"

"Yes, I'm starting just now."

She repeated: "Ah! just now?--for good?--we'll never see one another
again?"

She was choking with sobs.

"Good-bye! good-bye! embrace me then!"

And she threw her arms about him passionately.



CHAPTER VII.

A Change of Fortune.


Then he had taken his place behind the other passengers in the front of
the diligence, and when the vehicle began to shake as the five horses
started into a brisk trot all at the same time, he allowed himself to
plunge into an intoxicating dream of the future. Like an architect
drawing up the plan of a palace, he mapped out his life beforehand. He
filled it with dainties and with splendours; it rose up to the sky; a
profuse display of allurements could be seen there; and so deeply was he
buried in the contemplation of these things that he lost sight of all
external objects.

At the foot of the hill of Sourdun his attention was directed to the
stage which they had reached in their journey. They had travelled only
about five kilometres[6] at the most. He was annoyed at this tardy rate
of travelling. He pulled down the coach-window in order to get a view of
the road. He asked the conductor several times at what hour they would
reach their destination. However, he eventually regained his composure,
and remained seated in his corner of the vehicle with eyes wide open.

[Footnote 6: A little over three miles.--Translator.]

The lantern, which hung from the postilion's seat, threw its light on
the buttocks of the shaft-horses. In front, only the manes of the other
horses could be seen undulating like white billows. Their breathing
caused a kind of fog to gather at each side of the team. The little iron
chains of the harness rang; the windows shook in their sashes; and the
heavy coach went rolling at an even pace over the pavement. Here and
there could be distinguished the wall of a barn, or else an inn standing
by itself. Sometimes, as they entered a village, a baker's oven threw
out gleams of light; and the gigantic silhouettes of the horses kept
rushing past the walls of the opposite houses. At every change of
horses, when the harness was unfastened, there was a great silence for a
minute. Overhead, under the awning, some passenger might be heard
tapping with his feet, while a woman sitting at the threshold of the
door screened her candle with her hand. Then the conductor would jump on
the footboard, and the vehicle would start on its way again.

At Mormans, the striking of the clocks announced that it was a quarter
past one.

"So then we are in another day," he thought, "we have been in it for
some time!"

But gradually his hopes and his recollections, Nogent, the Rue de
Choiseul, Madame Arnoux, and his mother, all got mixed up together.

He was awakened by the dull sound of wheels passing over planks: they
were crossing the Pont de Charenton--it was Paris. Then his two
travelling companions, the first taking off his cap, and the second his
silk handkerchief, put on their hats, and began to chat.

The first, a big, red-faced man in a velvet frock-coat, was a merchant;
the second was coming up to the capital to consult a physician; and,
fearing that he had disturbed this gentleman during the night, Frederick
spontaneously apologised to him, so much had the young man's heart been
softened by the feelings of happiness that possessed it. The wharf of
the wet dock being flooded, no doubt, they went straight ahead; and once
more they could see green fields. In the distance, tall factory-chimneys
were sending forth their smoke. Then they turned into Ivry. Then drove
up a street: all at once, he saw before him the dome of the Panthéon.

The plain, quite broken up, seemed a waste of ruins. The enclosing wall
of the fortifications made a horizontal swelling there; and, on the
footpath, on the ground at the side of the road, little branchless trees
were protected by laths bristling with nails. Establishments for
chemical products and timber-merchants' yards made their appearance
alternately. High gates, like those seen in farm-houses, afforded
glimpses, through their opening leaves, of wretched yards within, full
of filth, with puddles of dirty water in the middle of them. Long
wine-shops, of the colour of ox's blood, displayed in the first floor,
between the windows, two billiard-cues crossing one another, with a
wreath of painted flowers. Here and there might be noticed a half-built
plaster hut, which had been allowed to remain unfinished. Then the
double row of houses was no longer interrupted; and over their bare
fronts enormous tin cigars showed themselves at some distance from each
other, indicating tobacconists' shops. Midwives' signboards represented
in each case a matron in a cap rocking a doll under a counterpane
trimmed with lace. The corners of the walls were covered with placards,
which, three-quarters torn, were quivering in the wind like rags.
Workmen in blouses, brewers' drays, laundresses' and butchers' carts
passed along. A thin rain was falling. It was cold. There was a pale
sky; but two eyes, which to him were as precious as the sun, were
shining behind the haze.

They had to wait a long time at the barrier, for vendors of poultry,
wagoners, and a flock of sheep caused an obstruction there. The sentry,
with his great-coat thrown back, walked to and fro in front of his box,
to keep himself warm. The clerk who collected the city-dues clambered up
to the roof of the diligence, and a cornet-à-piston sent forth a
flourish. They went down the boulevard at a quick trot, the
whipple-trees clapping and the traces hanging loose. The lash of the
whip went cracking through the moist air. The conductor uttered his
sonorous shout:

"Look alive! look alive! oho!" and the scavengers drew out of the way,
the pedestrians sprang back, the mud gushed against the coach-windows;
they crossed dung-carts, cabs, and omnibuses. At length, the iron gate
of the Jardin des Plantes came into sight.

The Seine, which was of a yellowish colour, almost reached the platforms
of the bridges. A cool breath of air issued from it. Frederick inhaled
it with his utmost energy, drinking in this good air of Paris, which
seems to contain the effluvia of love and the emanations of the
intellect. He was touched with emotion at the first glimpse of a
hackney-coach. He gazed with delight on the thresholds of the
wine-merchants' shops garnished with straw, on the shoe-blacks with
their boxes, on the lads who sold groceries as they shook their
coffee-burners. Women hurried along at a jog-trot with umbrellas over
their heads. He bent forward to try whether he could distinguish their
faces--chance might have led Madame Arnoux to come out.

The shops displayed their wares. The crowd grew denser; the noise in the
streets grew louder. After passing the Quai Saint-Bernard, the Quai de
la Tournelle, and the Quai Montebello, they drove along the Quai
Napoléon. He was anxious to see the windows there; but they were too far
away from him. Then they once more crossed the Seine over the Pont-Neuf,
and descended in the direction of the Louvre; and, having traversed the
Rues Saint-Honoré, Croix des Petits-Champs, and Du Bouloi, he reached
the Rue Coq-Héron, and entered the courtyard of the hotel.

To make his enjoyment last the longer, Frederick dressed himself as
slowly as possible, and even walked as far as the Boulevard Montmartre.
He smiled at the thought of presently beholding once more the beloved
name on the marble plate. He cast a glance upwards; there was no longer
a trace of the display in the windows, the pictures, or anything else.

He hastened to the Rue de Choiseul. M. and Madame Arnoux no longer
resided there, and a woman next door was keeping an eye on the porter's
lodge. Frederick waited to see the porter himself. After some time he
made his appearance--it was no longer the same man. He did not know
their address.

Frederick went into a café, and, while at breakfast, consulted the
Commercial Directory. There were three hundred Arnoux in it, but no
Jacques Arnoux. Where, then, were they living? Pellerin ought to know.

He made his way to the very top of the Faubourg Poissonnière, to the
artist's studio. As the door had neither a bell nor a knocker, he rapped
loudly on it with his knuckles, and then called out--shouted. But the
only response was the echo of his voice from the empty house.

After this he thought of Hussonnet; but where could he discover a man of
that sort? On one occasion he had waited on Hussonnet when the latter
was paying a visit to his mistress's house in the Rue de Fleurus.
Frederick had just reached the Rue de Fleurus when he became conscious
of the fact that he did not even know the lady's name.

He had recourse to the Prefecture of Police. He wandered from staircase
to staircase, from office to office. He found that the Intelligence
Department was closed for the day, and was told to come back again next
morning.

Then he called at all the picture-dealers' shops that he could discover,
and enquired whether they could give him any information as to Arnoux's
whereabouts. The only answer he got was that M. Arnoux was no longer in
the trade.

At last, discouraged, weary, sickened, he returned to his hotel, and
went to bed. Just as he was stretching himself between the sheets, an
idea flashed upon him which made him leap up with delight:

"Regimbart! what an idiot I was not to think of him before!"

Next morning, at seven o'clock, he arrived in the Rue Nôtre Dame des
Victoires, in front of a dram-shop, where Regimbart was in the habit of
drinking white wine. It was not yet open. He walked about the
neighbourhood, and at the end of about half-an-hour, presented himself
at the place once more. Regimbart had left it.

Frederick rushed out into the street. He fancied that he could even
notice Regimbart's hat some distance away. A hearse and some mourning
coaches intercepted his progress. When they had got out of the way, the
vision had disappeared.

Fortunately, he recalled to mind that the Citizen breakfasted every day
at eleven o'clock sharp, at a little restaurant in the Place Gaillon.
All he had to do was to wait patiently till then; and, after sauntering
about from the Bourse to the Madeleine, and from the Madeleine to the
Gymnase, so long that it seemed as if it would never come to an end,
Frederick, just as the clocks were striking eleven, entered the
restaurant in the Rue Gaillon, certain of finding Regimbart there.

"Don't know!" said the restaurant-keeper, in an unceremonious tone.

Frederick persisted: the man replied:

"I have no longer any acquaintance with him, Monsieur"--and, as he
spoke, he raised his eyebrows majestically and shook his head in a
mysterious fashion.

But, in their last interview, the Citizen had referred to the Alexandre
smoking-divan. Frederick swallowed a cake, jumped into a cab, and asked
the driver whether there happened to be anywhere on the heights of
Sainte-Geneviève a certain Café Alexandre. The cabman drove him to the
Rue des Francs Bourgeois Saint-Michel, where there was an establishment
of that name, and in answer to his question:

"M. Regimbart, if you please?" the keeper of the café said with an
unusually gracious smile:

"We have not seen him as yet, Monsieur," while he directed towards his
wife, who sat behind the counter, a look of intelligence. And the next
moment, turning towards the clock:

"But he'll be here, I hope, in ten minutes, or at most a quarter of an
hour. Celestin, hurry with the newspapers! What would Monsieur like to
take?"

Though he did not want to take anything, Frederick swallowed a glass of
rum, then a glass of kirsch, then a glass of curaçoa, then several
glasses of grog, both cold and hot. He read through that day's _Siècle_,
and then read it over again; he examined the caricatures in the
_Charivari_ down to the very tissue of the paper. When he had finished,
he knew the advertisements by heart. From time to time, the tramp of
boots on the footpath outside reached his ears--it was he! and some
one's form would trace its outlines on the window-panes; but it
invariably passed on.

In order to get rid of the sense of weariness he experienced, Frederick
shifted his seat. He took up his position at the lower end of the room;
then at the right; after that at the left; and he remained in the middle
of the bench with his arms stretched out. But a cat, daintily pressing
down the velvet at the back of the seat, startled him by giving a sudden
spring, in order to lick up the spots of syrup on the tray; and the
child of the house, an insufferable brat of four, played noisily with a
rattle on the bar steps. His mother, a pale-faced little woman, with
decayed teeth, was smiling in a stupid sort of way. What in the world
could Regimbart be doing? Frederick waited for him in an exceedingly
miserable frame of mind.

The rain clattered like hail on the covering of the cab. Through the
opening in the muslin curtain he could see the poor horse in the street
more motionless than a horse made of wood. The stream of water, becoming
enormous, trickled down between two spokes of the wheels, and the
coachman was nodding drowsily with the horsecloth wrapped round him for
protection, but fearing lest his fare might give him the slip, he opened
the door every now and then, with the rain dripping from him as if
falling from a mountain torrent; and, if things could get worn out by
looking at them, the clock ought to have by this time been utterly
dissolved, so frequently did Frederick rivet his eyes on it. However, it
kept going. "Mine host" Alexandre walked up and down repeating, "He'll
come! Cheer up! he'll come!" and, in order to divert his thoughts,
talked politics, holding forth at some length. He even carried civility
so far as to propose a game of dominoes.

At length when it was half-past four, Frederick, who had been there
since about twelve, sprang to his feet, and declared that he would not
wait any longer.

"I can't understand it at all myself," replied the café-keeper, in a
tone of straightforwardness. "This is the first time that M. Ledoux has
failed to come!"

"What! Monsieur Ledoux?"

"Why, yes, Monsieur!"

"I said Regimbart," exclaimed Frederick, exasperated.

"Ah! a thousand pardons! You are making a mistake! Madame Alexandre, did
not Monsieur say M. Ledoux?"

And, questioning the waiter: "You heard him yourself, just as I did?"

No doubt, to pay his master off for old scores, the waiter contented
himself with smiling.

Frederick drove back to the boulevards, indignant at having his time
wasted, raging against the Citizen, but craving for his presence as if
for that of a god, and firmly resolved to drag him forth, if necessary,
from the depths of the most remote cellars. The vehicle in which he was
driving only irritated him the more, and he accordingly got rid of it.
His ideas were in a state of confusion. Then all the names of the cafés
which he had heard pronounced by that idiot burst forth at the same time
from his memory like the thousand pieces of an exhibition of
fireworks--the Café Gascard, the Café Grimbert, the Café Halbout, the
Bordelais smoking-divan, the Havanais, the Havrais, the Boeuf à la
Mode, the Brasserie Allemande, and the Mère Morel; and he made his way
to all of them in succession. But in one he was told that Regimbart had
just gone out; in another, that he might perhaps call at a later hour;
in a third, that they had not seen him for six months; and, in another
place, that he had the day before ordered a leg of mutton for Saturday.
Finally, at Vautier's dining-rooms, Frederick, on opening the door,
knocked against the waiter.

"Do you know M. Regimbart?"

"What, monsieur! do I know him? 'Tis I who have the honour of attending
on him. He's upstairs--he is just finishing his dinner!"

And, with a napkin under his arm, the master of the establishment
himself accosted him:

"You're asking him for M. Regimbart, monsieur? He was here a moment
ago."

Frederick gave vent to an oath, but the proprietor of the dining-rooms
stated that he would find the gentleman as a matter of certainty at
Bouttevilain's.

"I assure you, on my honour, he left a little earlier than usual, for he
had a business appointment with some gentlemen. But you'll find him, I
tell you again, at Bouttevilain's, in the Rue Saint-Martin, No. 92, the
second row of steps at the left, at the end of the courtyard--first
floor--door to the right!"

At last, he saw Regimbart, in a cloud of tobacco-smoke, by himself, at
the lower end of the refreshment-room, near the billiard-table, with a
glass of beer in front of him, and his chin lowered in a thoughtful
attitude.

"Ah! I have been a long time searching for you!"

Without rising, Regimbart extended towards him only two fingers, and, as
if he had seen Frederick the day before, he gave utterance to a number
of commonplace remarks about the opening of the session.

Frederick interrupted him, saying in the most natural tone he could
assume:

"Is Arnoux going on well?"

The reply was a long time coming, as Regimbart was gargling the liquor
in his throat:

"Yes, not badly."

"Where is he living now?"

"Why, in the Rue Paradis Poissonnière," the Citizen returned with
astonishment.

"What number?"

"Thirty-seven--confound it! what a funny fellow you are!"

Frederick rose.

"What! are you going?"

"Yes, yes! I have to make a call--some business matter I had forgotten!
Good-bye!"

Frederick went from the smoking-divan to the Arnoux's residence, as if
carried along by a tepid wind, with a sensation of extreme ease such as
people experience in dreams.

He found himself soon on the second floor in front of a door, at the
ringing of whose bell a servant appeared. A second door was flung open.
Madame Arnoux was seated near the fire. Arnoux jumped up, and rushed
across to embrace Frederick. She had on her lap a little boy not quite
three years old. Her daughter, now as tall as herself, was standing up
at the opposite side of the mantelpiece.

"Allow me to present this gentleman to you," said Arnoux, taking his son
up in his arms. And he amused himself for some minutes in making the
child jump up in the air very high, and then catching him with both
hands as he came down.

"You'll kill him!--ah! good heavens, have done!" exclaimed Madame
Arnoux.

But Arnoux, declaring that there was not the slightest danger, still
kept tossing up the child, and even addressed him in words of endearment
such as nurses use in the Marseillaise dialect, his natal tongue: "Ah!
my fine picheoun! my ducksy of a little nightingale!"

Then, he asked Frederick why he had been so long without writing to
them, what he had been doing down in the country, and what brought him
back.

"As for me, I am at present, my dear friend, a dealer in faïence. But
let us talk about yourself!"

Frederick gave as reasons for his absence a protracted lawsuit and the
state of his mother's health.

He laid special stress on the latter subject in order to make himself
interesting. He ended by saying that this time he was going to settle in
Paris for good; and he said nothing about the inheritance, lest it might
be prejudicial to his past.

The curtains, like the upholstering of the furniture, were of maroon
damask wool. Two pillows were close beside one another on the bolster.
On the coal-fire a kettle was boiling; and the shade of the lamp, which
stood near the edge of the chest of drawers, darkened the apartment.
Madame Arnoux wore a large blue merino dressing-gown. With her face
turned towards the fire and one hand on the shoulder of the little boy,
she unfastened with the other the child's bodice. The youngster in his
shirt began to cry, while scratching his head, like the son of M.
Alexandre.

Frederick expected that he would have felt spasms of joy; but the
passions grow pale when we find ourselves in an altered situation; and,
as he no longer saw Madame Arnoux in the environment wherein he had
known her, she seemed to him to have lost some of her fascination; to
have degenerated in some way that he could not comprehend--in fact, not
to be the same. He was astonished at the serenity of his own heart. He
made enquiries about some old friends, about Pellerin, amongst others.

"I don't see him often," said Arnoux. She added:

"We no longer entertain as we used to do formerly!"

Was the object of this to let him know that he would get no invitation
from them? But Arnoux, continuing to exhibit the same cordiality,
reproached him for not having come to dine with them uninvited; and he
explained why he had changed his business.

"What are you to do in an age of decadence like ours? Great painting is
gone out of fashion! Besides, we may import art into everything. You
know that, for my part, I am a lover of the beautiful. I must bring you
one of these days to see my earthenware works."

And he wanted to show Frederick immediately some of his productions in
the store which he had between the ground-floor and the first floor.

Dishes, soup-tureens, and washhand-basins encumbered the floor. Against
the walls were laid out large squares of pavement for bathrooms and
dressing-rooms, with mythological subjects in the Renaissance style;
whilst in the centre, a pair of whatnots, rising up to the ceiling,
supported ice-urns, flower-pots, candelabra, little flower-stands, and
large statuettes of many colours, representing a negro or a shepherdess
in the Pompadour fashion. Frederick, who was cold and hungry, was bored
with Arnoux's display of his wares. He hurried off to the Café Anglais,
where he ordered a sumptuous supper, and while eating, said to himself:

"I was well off enough below there with all my troubles! She scarcely
took any notice of me! How like a shopkeeper's wife!"

And in an abrupt expansion of healthfulness, he formed egoistic
resolutions. He felt his heart as hard as the table on which his elbows
rested. So then he could by this time plunge fearlessly into the vortex
of society. The thought of the Dambreuses recurred to his mind. He would
make use of them. Then he recalled Deslauriers to mind. "Ah! faith, so
much the worse!" Nevertheless, he sent him a note by a messenger, making
an appointment with him for the following day, in order that they might
breakfast together.

Fortune had not been so kind to the other.

He had presented himself at the examination for a fellowship with a
thesis on the law of wills, in which he maintained that the powers of
testators ought to be restricted as much as possible; and, as his
adversary provoked him in such a way as to make him say foolish things,
he gave utterance to many of these absurdities without in any way
inducing the examiners to falter in deciding that he was wrong. Then
chance so willed it that he should choose by lot, as a subject for a
lecture, Prescription. Thereupon, Deslauriers gave vent to some
lamentable theories: the questions in dispute in former times ought to
be brought forward as well as those which had recently arisen; why
should the proprietor be deprived of his estate because he could furnish
his title-deeds only after the lapse of thirty-one years? This was
giving the security of the honest man to the inheritor of the enriched
thief. Every injustice was consecrated by extending this law, which was
a form of tyranny, the abuse of force! He had even exclaimed: "Abolish
it; and the Franks will no longer oppress the Gauls, the English oppress
the Irish, the Yankee oppress the Redskins, the Turks oppress the Arabs,
the whites oppress the blacks, Poland----"

The President interrupted him: "Well! well! Monsieur, we have nothing to
do with your political opinions--you will have them represented in your
behalf by-and-by!"

Deslauriers did not wish to have his opinions represented; but this
unfortunate Title XX. of the Third Book of the Civil Code had become a
sort of mountain over which he stumbled. He was elaborating a great work
on "Prescription considered as the Basis of the Civil Law and of the Law
of Nature amongst Peoples"; and he got lost in Dunod, Rogerius, Balbus,
Merlin, Vazeille, Savigny, Traplong, and other weighty authorities on
the subject. In order to have more leisure for the purpose of devoting
himself to this task, he had resigned his post of head-clerk. He lived
by giving private tuitions and preparing theses; and at the meetings of
newly-fledged barristers to rehearse legal arguments he frightened by
his display of virulence those who held conservative views, all the
young doctrinaires who acknowledged M. Guizot as their master--so that
in a certain set he had gained a sort of celebrity, mingled, in a slight
degree, with lack of confidence in him as an individual.

He came to keep the appointment in a big paletot, lined with red
flannel, like the one Sénécal used to wear in former days.

Human respect on account of the passers-by prevented them from straining
one another long in an embrace of friendship; and they made their way to
Véfour's arm-in-arm, laughing pleasantly, though with tear-drops
lingering in the depths of their eyes. Then, as soon as they were free
from observation, Deslauriers exclaimed:

"Ah! damn it! we'll have a jolly time of it now!"

Frederick was not quite pleased to find Deslauriers all at once
associating himself in this way with his own newly-acquired
inheritance. His friend exhibited too much pleasure on account of them
both, and not enough on his account alone.

After this, Deslauriers gave details about the reverse he had met with,
and gradually told Frederick all about his occupations and his daily
existence, speaking of himself in a stoical fashion, and of others in
tones of intense bitterness. He found fault with everything; there was
not a man in office who was not an idiot or a rascal. He flew into a
passion against the waiter for having a glass badly rinsed, and, when
Frederick uttered a reproach with a view to mitigating his wrath: "As if
I were going to annoy myself with such numbskulls, who, you must know,
can earn as much as six and even eight thousand francs a year, who are
electors, perhaps eligible as candidates. Ah! no, no!"

Then, with a sprightly air, "But I've forgotten that I'm talking to a
capitalist, to a Mondor,[7] for you are a Mondor now!"

[Footnote 7: Mondor was a celebrated Italian charlatan, who,
in the seventeenth century, settled in Paris and made a large
fortune.--Translator.]

And, coming back to the question of the inheritance, he gave expression
to this view--that collateral successorship (a thing unjust in itself,
though in the present case he was glad it was possible) would be
abolished one of these days at the approaching revolution.

"Do you believe in that?" said Frederick.

"Be sure of it!" he replied. "This sort of thing cannot last. There is
too much suffering. When I see into the wretchedness of men like
Sénécal----"

"Always Sénécal!" thought Frederick.

"But, at all events, tell me the news? Are you still in love with Madame
Arnoux? Is it all over--eh?"

Frederick, not knowing what answer to give him, closed his eyes and hung
down his head.

With regard to Arnoux, Deslauriers told him that the journal was now the
property of Hussonnet, who had transformed it. It was called "_L'Art_, a
literary institution--a company with shares of one hundred francs each;
capital of the firm, forty thousand francs," each shareholder having the
right to put into it his own contributions; for "the company has for its
object to publish the works of beginners, to spare talent, perchance
genius, the sad crises which drench," etc.

"You see the dodge!" There was, however, something to be effected by the
change--the tone of the journal could be raised; then, without any
delay, while retaining the same writers, and promising a continuation of
the feuilleton, to supply the subscribers with a political organ: the
amount to be advanced would not be very great.

"What do you think of it? Come! would you like to have a hand in it?"

Frederick did not reject the proposal; but he pointed out that it was
necessary for him to attend to the regulation of his affairs.

"After that, if you require anything----"

"Thanks, my boy!" said Deslauriers.

Then, they smoked puros, leaning with their elbows on the shelf covered
with velvet beside the window. The sun was shining; the air was balmy.
Flocks of birds, fluttering about, swooped down into the garden. The
statues of bronze and marble, washed by the rain, were glistening.
Nursery-maids wearing aprons, were seated on chairs, chatting together;
and the laughter of children could be heard mingling with the continuous
plash that came from the sheaf-jets of the fountain.

Frederick was troubled by Deslauriers' irritability; but under the
influence of the wine which circulated through his veins, half-asleep,
in a state of torpor, with the sun shining full on his face, he was no
longer conscious of anything save a profound sense of comfort, a kind of
voluptuous feeling that stupefied him, as a plant is saturated with heat
and moisture. Deslauriers, with half-closed eyelids, was staring
vacantly into the distance. His breast swelled, and he broke out in the
following strain:

"Ah! those were better days when Camille Desmoulins, standing below
there on a table, drove the people on to the Bastille. Men really lived
in those times; they could assert themselves, and prove their strength!
Simple advocates commanded generals. Kings were beaten by beggars;
whilst now----"

He stopped, then added all of a sudden:

"Pooh! the future is big with great things!"

And, drumming a battle-march on the window-panes, he declaimed some
verses of Barthélemy, which ran thus:

    "'That dread Assembly shall again appear,
    Which, after forty years, fills you with fear,
    Marching with giant stride and dauntless soul'[8]

--I don't know the rest of it! But 'tis late; suppose we go?"

[Footnote 8:   "Elle reparaîtra, la terrible Assemblée,
               Dont, après quarante ans, votre tête est troublée,
               Colosse qui sans peur marche d'un pas puissant."]

And he went on setting forth his theories in the street.

Frederick, without listening to him, was looking at certain materials
and articles of furniture in the shop-windows which would be suitable
for his new residence in Paris; and it was, perhaps, the thought of
Madame Arnoux that made him stop before a second-hand dealer's window,
where three plates made of fine ware were exposed to view. They were
decorated with yellow arabesques with metallic reflections, and were
worth a hundred crowns apiece. He got them put by.

"For my part, if I were in your place," said Deslauriers, "I would
rather buy silver plate," revealing by this love of substantial things
the man of mean extraction.

As soon as he was alone, Frederick repaired to the establishment of the
celebrated Pomadère, where he ordered three pairs of trousers, two
coats, a pelisse trimmed with fur, and five waistcoats. Then he called
at a bootmaker's, a shirtmaker's, and a hatter's, giving them directions
in each shop to make the greatest possible haste. Three days later, on
the evening of his return from Havre, he found his complete wardrobe
awaiting him in his Parisian abode; and impatient to make use of it, he
resolved to pay an immediate visit to the Dambreuses. But it was too
early yet--scarcely eight o'clock.

"Suppose I went to see the others?" said he to himself.

He came upon Arnoux, all alone, in the act of shaving in front of his
glass. The latter proposed to drive him to a place where they could
amuse themselves, and when M. Dambreuse was referred to, "Ah, that's
just lucky! You'll see some of his friends there. Come on, then! It will
be good fun!"

Frederick asked to be excused. Madame Arnoux recognised his voice, and
wished him good-day, through the partition, for her daughter was
indisposed, and she was also rather unwell herself. The noise of a
soup-ladle against a glass could be heard from within, and all those
quivering sounds made by things being lightly moved about, which are
usual in a sick-room. Then Arnoux left his dressing-room to say good-bye
to his wife. He brought forward a heap of reasons for going out:

"You know well that it is a serious matter! I must go there; 'tis a case
of necessity. They'll be waiting for me!"

"Go, go, my dear! Amuse yourself!"

Arnoux hailed a hackney-coach:

"Palais Royal, No. 7 Montpensier Gallery." And, as he let himself sink
back in the cushions:

"Ah! how tired I am, my dear fellow! It will be the death of me!
However, I can tell it to you--to you!"

He bent towards Frederick's ear in a mysterious fashion:

"I am trying to discover again the red of Chinese copper!"

And he explained the nature of the glaze and the little fire.

On their arrival at Chevet's shop, a large hamper was brought to him,
which he stowed away in the hackney-coach. Then he bought for his "poor
wife" pine-apples and various dainties, and directed that they should be
sent early next morning.

After this, they called at a costumer's establishment; it was to a ball
they were going.

Arnoux selected blue velvet breeches, a vest of the same material, and a
red wig; Frederick a domino; and they went down the Rue de Laval towards
a house the second floor of which was illuminated by coloured lanterns.

At the foot of the stairs they heard violins playing above.

"Where the deuce are you bringing me to?" said Frederick.

"To see a nice girl! don't be afraid!"

The door was opened for them by a groom; and they entered the anteroom,
where paletots, mantles, and shawls were thrown together in a heap on
some chairs. A young woman in the costume of a dragoon of Louis XIV.'s
reign was passing at that moment. It was Mademoiselle Rosanette Bron,
the mistress of the place.

"Well?" said Arnoux.

"'Tis done!" she replied.

"Ah! thanks, my angel!"

And he wanted to kiss her.

"Take care, now, you foolish man! You'll spoil the paint on my face!"

Arnoux introduced Frederick.

"Step in there, Monsieur; you are quite welcome!"

She drew aside a door-curtain, and cried out with a certain emphasis:

"Here's my lord Arnoux, girl, and a princely friend of his!"

Frederick was at first dazzled by the lights. He could see nothing save
some silk and velvet dresses, naked shoulders, a mass of colours swaying
to and fro to the accompaniment of an orchestra hidden behind green
foliage, between walls hung with yellow silk, with pastel portraits here
and there and crystal chandeliers in the style of Louis XVI.'s period.
High lamps, whose globes of roughened glass resembled snowballs, looked
down on baskets of flowers placed on brackets in the corners; and at the
opposite side, at the rear of a second room, smaller in size, one could
distinguish, in a third, a bed with twisted posts, and at its head a
Venetian mirror.

The dancing stopped, and there were bursts of applause, a hubbub of
delight, as Arnoux was seen advancing with his hamper on his head; the
eatables contained in it made a lump in the centre.

"Make way for the lustre!"

Frederick raised his eyes: it was the lustre of old Saxe that had
adorned the shop attached to the office of _L'Art Industriel_. The
memory of former days was brought back to his mind. But a foot-soldier
of the line in undress, with that silly expression of countenance
ascribed by tradition to conscripts, planted himself right in front of
him, spreading out his two arms in order to emphasise his astonishment,
and, in spite of the hideous black moustaches, unusually pointed, which
disfigured his face, Frederick recognised his old friend Hussonnet. In a
half-Alsatian, half-negro kind of gibberish, the Bohemian loaded him
with congratulations, calling him his colonel. Frederick, put out of
countenance by the crowd of personages assembled around him, was at a
loss for an answer. At a tap on the desk from a fiddlestick, the
partners in the dance fell into their places.

They were about sixty in number, the women being for the most part
dressed either as village-girls or marchionesses, and the men, who were
nearly all of mature age, being got up as wagoners, 'longshoremen, or
sailors.

Frederick having taken up his position close to the wall, stared at
those who were going through the quadrille in front of him.

An old beau, dressed like a Venetian Doge in a long gown or purple silk,
was dancing with Mademoiselle Rosanette, who wore a green coat, laced
breeches, and boots of soft leather with gold spurs. The pair in front
of them consisted of an Albanian laden with yataghans and a Swiss girl
with blue eyes and skin white as milk, who looked as plump as a quail
with her chemise-sleeves and red corset exposed to view. In order to
turn to account her hair, which fell down to her hips, a tall blonde, a
walking lady in the opera, had assumed the part of a female savage; and
over her brown swaddling-cloth she displayed nothing save leathern
breeches, glass bracelets, and a tinsel diadem, from which rose a large
sheaf of peacock's feathers. In front of her, a gentleman who had
intended to represent Pritchard,[9] muffled up in a grotesquely big
black coat, was beating time with his elbows on his snuff-box. A little
Watteau shepherd in blue-and-silver, like moonlight, dashed his crook
against the thyrsus of a Bacchante crowned with grapes, who wore a
leopard's skin over her left side, and buskins with gold ribbons. On the
other side, a Polish lady, in a spencer of nacarat-coloured velvet, made
her gauze petticoat flutter over her pearl-gray stockings, which rose
above her fashionable pink boots bordered with white fur. She was
smiling on a big-paunched man of forty, disguised as a choir-boy, who
was skipping very high, lifting up his surplice with one hand, and with
the other his red clerical cap. But the queen, the star, was
Mademoiselle Loulou, a celebrated dancer at public halls. As she had now
become wealthy, she wore a large lace collar over her vest of smooth
black velvet; and her wide trousers of poppy-coloured silk, clinging
closely to her figure, and drawn tight round her waist by a cashmere
scarf, had all over their seams little natural white camellias. Her pale
face, a little puffed, and with the nose somewhat _retroussé_, looked
all the more pert from the disordered appearance of her wig, over which
she had with a touch of her hand clapped a man's grey felt hat, so that
it covered her right ear; and, with every bounce she made, her pumps,
adorned with diamond buckles, nearly reached the nose of her neighbour,
a big mediæval baron, who was quite entangled in his steel armour. There
was also an angel, with a gold sword in her hand, and two swan's wings
over her back, who kept rushing up and down, every minute losing her
partner who appeared as Louis XIV., displaying an utter ignorance of the
figures and confusing the quadrille.

[Footnote 9: This probably refers to the English astronomer of that
name.--Translator.]

Frederick, as he gazed at these people, experienced a sense of
forlornness, a feeling of uneasiness. He was still thinking of Madame
Arnoux and it seemed to him as if he were taking part in some plot that
was being hatched against her.

When the quadrille was over, Mademoiselle Rosanette accosted him. She
was slightly out of breath, and her gorget, polished like a mirror,
swelled up softly under her chin.

"And you, Monsieur," said she, "don't you dance?"

Frederick excused himself; he did not know how to dance.

"Really! but with me? Are you quite sure?" And, poising herself on one
hip, with her other knee a little drawn back, while she stroked with her
left hand the mother-of-pearl pommel of her sword, she kept staring at
him for a minute with a half-beseeching, half-teasing air. At last she
said "Good night! then," made a pirouette, and disappeared.

Frederick, dissatisfied with himself, and not well knowing what to do,
began to wander through the ball-room.

He entered the boudoir padded with pale blue silk, with bouquets of
flowers from the fields, whilst on the ceiling, in a circle of gilt
wood, Cupids, emerging out of an azure sky, played over the clouds,
resembling down in appearance. This display of luxuries, which would
to-day be only trifles to persons like Rosanette, dazzled him, and he
admired everything--the artificial convolvuli which adorned the surface
of the mirror, the curtains on the mantelpiece, the Turkish divan, and a
sort of tent in a recess in the wall, with pink silk hangings and a
covering of white muslin overhead. Furniture made of dark wood with
inlaid work of copper filled the sleeping apartment, where, on a
platform covered with swan's-down, stood the large canopied bedstead
trimmed with ostrich-feathers. Pins, with heads made of precious stones,
stuck into pincushions, rings trailing over trays, lockets with hoops of
gold, and little silver chests, could be distinguished in the shade
under the light shed by a Bohemian urn suspended from three chainlets.
Through a little door, which was slightly ajar, could be seen a
hot-house occupying the entire breadth of a terrace, with an aviary at
the other end.

Here were surroundings specially calculated to charm him. In a sudden
revolt of his youthful blood he swore that he would enjoy such things;
he grew bold; then, coming back to the place opening into the
drawing-room, where there was now a larger gathering--it kept moving
about in a kind of luminous pulverulence--he stood to watch the
quadrilles, blinking his eyes to see better, and inhaling the soft
perfumes of the women, which floated through the atmosphere like an
immense kiss.

But, close to him, on the other side of the door, was
Pellerin--Pellerin, in full dress, his left arm over his breast and with
his hat and a torn white glove in his right.

"Halloa! 'Tis a long time since we saw you! Where the deuce have you
been? Gone to travel in Italy? 'Tis a commonplace country enough--Italy,
eh? not so unique as people say it is? No matter! Will you bring me your
sketches one of these days?"

And, without giving him time to answer, the artist began talking about
himself. He had made considerable progress, having definitely satisfied
himself as to the stupidity of the line. We ought not to look so much
for beauty and unity in a work as for character and diversity of
subject.

"For everything exists in nature; therefore, everything is legitimate;
everything is plastic. It is only a question of catching the note, mind
you! I have discovered the secret." And giving him a nudge, he repeated
several times, "I have discovered the secret, you see! just look at that
little woman with the head-dress of a sphinx who is dancing with a
Russian postilion--that's neat, dry, fixed, all in flats and in stiff
tones--indigo under the eyes, a patch of vermilion on the cheek, and
bistre on the temples--pif! paf!" And with his thumb he drew, as it
were, pencil-strokes in the air. "Whilst the big one over there," he
went on, pointing towards a fishwife in a cherry gown with a gold cross
hanging from her neck, and a lawn fichu fastened round her shoulders,
"is nothing but curves. The nostrils are spread out just like the
borders of her cap; the corners of the mouth are rising up; the chin
sinks: all is fleshy, melting, abundant, tranquil, and sunshiny--a true
Rubens! Nevertheless, they are both perfect! Where, then, is the type?"
He grew warm with the subject. "What is this but a beautiful woman? What
is it but the beautiful? Ah! the beautiful--tell me what that is----"

Frederick interrupted him to enquire who was the merry-andrew with the
face of a he-goat, who was in the very act of blessing all the dancers
in the middle of a pastourelle.

"Oh! he's not much!--a widower, the father of three boys. He leaves them
without breeches, spends his whole day at the club, and lives with the
servant!"

"And who is that dressed like a bailiff talking in the recess of the
window to a Marquise de Pompadour?"

"The Marquise is Mademoiselle Vandael, formerly an actress at the
Gymnase, the mistress of the Doge, the Comte de Palazot. They have now
been twenty years living together--nobody can tell why. Had she fine
eyes at one time, this woman? As for the citizen by her side, his name
is Captain d'Herbigny, an old man of the hurdy-gurdy sort that you can
play on, with nothing in the world except his Cross of the Legion of
Honour and his pension. He passes for the uncle of the grisettes at
festival times, arranges duels, and dines in the city."

"A rascal?" said Frederick.

"No! an honest man!"

"Ha!"

The artist was going on to mention the names of many others, when,
perceiving a gentleman who, like Molière's physician, wore a big black
serge gown opening very wide as it descended in order to display all his
trinkets:

"The person who presents himself there before you is Dr. Des Rogis, who,
full of rage at not having made a name for himself, has written a book
of medical pornography, and willingly blacks people's boots in society,
while he is at the same time discreet. These ladies adore him. He and
his wife (that lean châtelaine in the grey dress) trip about together at
every public place--aye, and at other places too. In spite of domestic
embarrassments, they have a _day_--artistic teas, at which verses are
recited. Attention!"

In fact, the doctor came up to them at that moment; and soon they formed
all three, at the entrance to the drawing-room, a group of talkers,
which was presently augmented by Hussonnet, then by the lover of the
female savage, a young poet who displayed, under a court cloak of
Francis I.'s reign, the most pitiful of anatomies, and finally a
sprightly youth disguised as a Turk of the barrier. But his vest with
its yellow galloon had taken so many voyages on the backs of strolling
dentists, his wide trousers full of creases, were of so faded a red, his
turban, rolled about like an eel in the Tartar fashion, was so poor in
appearance--in short, his entire costume was so wretched and made-up,
that the women did not attempt to hide their disgust. The doctor
consoled him by pronouncing eulogies on his mistress, the lady in the
dress of a 'longshorewoman. This Turk was a banker's son.

Between two quadrilles, Rosanette advanced towards the mantelpiece,
where an obese little old man, in a maroon coat with gold buttons, had
seated himself in an armchair. In spite of his withered cheeks, which
fell over his white cravat, his hair, still fair, and curling naturally
like that of a poodle, gave him a certain frivolity of aspect.

She was listening to him with her face bent close to his. Presently, she
accommodated him with a little glass of syrup; and nothing could be more
dainty than her hands under their laced sleeves, which passed over the
facings of her green coat. When the old man had swallowed it, he kissed
them.

"Why, that's M. Oudry, a neighbor of Arnoux!"

"He has lost her!" said Pellerin, smiling.

A Longjumeau postilion caught her by the waist. A waltz was beginning.
Then all the women, seated round the drawing-room on benches, rose up
quickly at the same time; and their petticoats, their scarfs, and their
head-dresses went whirling round.

They whirled so close to him that Frederick could notice the beads of
perspiration on their foreheads; and this gyral movement, more and more
lively, regular, provocative of dizzy sensations, communicated to his
mind a sort of intoxication, which made other images surge up within it,
while every woman passed with the same dazzling effect, and each of them
with a special kind of exciting influence, according to her style of
beauty.

The Polish lady, surrendering herself in a languorous fashion, inspired
him with a longing to clasp her to his heart while they were both
spinning forward on a sledge along a plain covered with snow. Horizons
of tranquil voluptuousness in a châlet at the side of a lake opened out
under the footsteps of the Swiss girl, who waltzed with her bust erect
and her eyelashes drooping. Then, suddenly, the Bacchante, bending back
her head with its dark locks, made him dream of devouring caresses in a
wood of oleanders, in the midst of a storm, to the confused
accompaniment of tabours. The fishwife, who was panting from the
rapidity of the music, which was far too great for her, gave vent to
bursts of laughter; and he would have liked, while drinking with her in
some tavern in the "Porcherons,"[10] to rumple her fichu with both
hands, as in the good old times. But the 'longshorewoman, whose light
toes barely skimmed the floor, seemed to conceal under the suppleness of
her limbs and the seriousness of her face all the refinements of modern
love, which possesses the exactitude of a science and the mobility of a
bird. Rosanette was whirling with arms akimbo; her wig, in an awkward
position, bobbing over her collar, flung iris-powder around her; and, at
every turn, she was near catching hold of Frederick with the ends of her
gold spurs.

[Footnote 10: The "Porcherons" was the name given to an old quarter of
Paris famous for its taverns, situated between the Rue du Faubourg
Montmartre and the Rue de Saint-Lazare.--Translator.]

During the closing bar of the waltz, Mademoiselle Vatnaz made her
appearance. She had an Algerian handkerchief on her head, a number of
piastres on her forehead, antimony at the edges of her eyes, with a kind
of paletot made of black cashmere falling over a petticoat of sparkling
colour, with stripes of silver; and in her hand she held a tambourine.

Behind her back came a tall fellow in the classical costume of Dante,
who happened to be--she now made no concealment any longer about it--the
ex-singer of the Alhambra, and who, though his name was Auguste
Delamare, had first called himself Anténor Delamarre, then Delmas, then
Belmar, and at last Delmar, thus modifying and perfecting his name, as
his celebrity increased, for he had forsaken the public-house concert
for the theatre, and had even just made his _début_ in a noisy fashion
at the Ambigu in _Gaspardo le Pécheur_.

Hussonnet, on seeing him, knitted his brows. Since his play had been
rejected, he hated actors. It was impossible to conceive the vanity of
individuals of this sort, and above all of this fellow. "What a prig!
Just look at him!"

After a light bow towards Rosanette, Delmar leaned back against the
mantelpiece; and he remained motionless with one hand over his heart,
his left foot thrust forward, his eyes raised towards heaven, with his
wreath of gilt laurels above his cowl, while he strove to put into the
expression of his face a considerable amount of poetry in order to
fascinate the ladies. They made, at some distance, a great circle around
him.

But the Vatnaz, having given Rosanette a prolonged embrace, came to beg
of Hussonnet to revise, with a view to the improvement of the style, an
educational work which she intended to publish, under the title of "The
Young Ladies' Garland," a collection of literature and moral philosophy.

The man of letters promised to assist her in the preparation of the
work. Then she asked him whether he could not in one of the prints to
which he had access give her friend a slight puff, and even assign to
him, later, some part. Hussonnet had forgotten to take a glass of punch
on account of her.

It was Arnoux who had brewed the beverage; and, followed by the Comte's
groom carrying an empty tray, he offered it to the ladies with a
self-satisfied air.

When he came to pass in front of M. Oudry, Rosanette stopped him.

"Well--and this little business?"

He coloured slightly; finally, addressing the old man:

"Our fair friend tells me that you would have the kindness----"

"What of that, neighbour? I am quite at your service!"

And M. Dambreuse's name was pronounced. As they were talking to one
another in low tones, Frederick could only hear indistinctly; and he
made his way to the other side of the mantelpiece, where Rosanette and
Delmar were chatting together.

The mummer had a vulgar countenance, made, like the scenery of the
stage, to be viewed from a distance--coarse hands, big feet, and a heavy
jaw; and he disparaged the most distinguished actors, spoke of poets
with patronising contempt, made use of the expressions "my organ," "my
physique," "my powers," enamelling his conversation with words that were
scarcely intelligible even to himself, and for which he had quite an
affection, such as "_morbidezza_," "analogue," and "homogeneity."

Rosanette listened to him with little nods of approbation. One could see
her enthusiasm bursting out under the paint on her cheeks, and a touch
of moisture passed like a veil over her bright eyes of an indefinable
colour. How could such a man as this fascinate her? Frederick internally
excited himself to greater contempt for him, in order to banish,
perhaps, the species of envy which he felt with regard to him.

Mademoiselle Vatnaz was now with Arnoux, and, while laughing from time
to time very loudly, she cast glances towards Rosanette, of whom M.
Oudry did not lose sight.

Then Arnoux and the Vatnaz disappeared. The old man began talking in a
subdued voice to Rosanette.

"Well, yes, 'tis settled then! Leave me alone!"

And she asked Frederick to go and give a look into the kitchen to see
whether Arnoux happened to be there.

A battalion of glasses half-full covered the floor; and the saucepans,
the pots, the turbot-kettle, and the frying-stove were all in a state of
commotion. Arnoux was giving directions to the servants, whom he
"thee'd" and "thou'd," beating up the mustard, tasting the sauces, and
larking with the housemaid.

"All right," he said; "tell them 'tis ready! I'm going to have it served
up."

The dancing had ceased. The women came and sat down; the men were
walking about. In the centre of the drawing-room, one of the curtains
stretched over a window was swelling in the wind; and the Sphinx, in
spite of the observations of everyone, exposed her sweating arms to the
current of air.

Where could Rosanette be? Frederick went on further to find her, even
into her boudoir and her bedroom. Some, in order to be alone, or to be
in pairs, had retreated into the corners. Whisperings intermingled with
the shade. There were little laughs stifled under handkerchiefs, and at
the sides of women's corsages one could catch glimpses of fans quivering
with slow, gentle movements, like the beating of a wounded bird's wings.

As he entered the hot-house, he saw under the large leaves of a caladium
near the jet d'eau, Delmar lying on his face on the sofa covered with
linen cloth. Rosanette, seated beside him, had passed her fingers
through his hair; and they were gazing into each other's faces. At the
same moment, Arnoux came in at the opposite side--that which was near
the aviary. Delmar sprang to his feet; then he went out at a rapid pace,
without turning round; and even paused close to the door to gather a
hibiscus flower, with which he adorned his button-hole. Rosanette hung
down her head; Frederick, who caught a sight of her profile, saw that
she was in tears.

"I say! What's the matter with you?" exclaimed Arnoux.

She shrugged her shoulders without replying.

"Is it on account of him?" he went on.

She threw her arms round his neck, and kissing him on the forehead,
slowly:

"You know well that I will always love you, my big fellow! Think no more
about it! Let us go to supper!"

A copper chandelier with forty wax tapers lighted up the dining-room,
the walls of which were hidden from view under some fine old earthenware
that was hung up there; and this crude light, falling perpendicularly,
rendered still whiter, amid the side-dishes and the fruits, a huge
turbot which occupied the centre of the tablecloth, with plates all
round filled with crayfish soup. With a rustle of garments, the women,
having arranged their skirts, their sleeves, and their scarfs, took
their seats beside one another; the men, standing up, posted themselves
at the corners. Pellerin and M. Oudry were placed near Rosanette. Arnoux
was facing her. Palazot and his female companion had just gone out.

"Good-bye to them!" said she. "Now let us begin the attack!"

And the choir-boy, a facetious man with a big sign of the cross, said
grace.

The ladies were scandalised, and especially the fishwife, the mother of
a young girl of whom she wished to make an honest woman. Neither did
Arnoux like "that sort of thing," as he considered that religion ought
to be respected.

A German clock with a cock attached to it happening to chime out the
hour of two, gave rise to a number of jokes about the cuckoo. All kinds
of talk followed--puns, anecdotes, bragging remarks, bets, lies taken
for truth, improbable assertions, a tumult of words, which soon became
dispersed in the form of chats between particular individuals. The wines
went round; the dishes succeeded each other; the doctor carved. An
orange or a cork would every now and then be flung from a distance.
People would quit their seats to go and talk to some one at another end
of the table. Rosanette turned round towards Delmar, who sat motionless
behind her; Pellerin kept babbling; M. Oudry smiled. Mademoiselle Vatnaz
ate, almost alone, a group of crayfish, and the shells crackled under
her long teeth. The angel, poised on the piano-stool--the only place on
which her wings permitted her to sit down--was placidly masticating
without ever stopping.

"What an appetite!" the choir-boy kept repeating in amazement, "what an
appetite!"

And the Sphinx drank brandy, screamed out with her throat full, and
wriggled like a demon. Suddenly her jaws swelled, and no longer being
able to keep down the blood which rushed to her head and nearly choked
her, she pressed her napkin against her lips, and threw herself under
the table.

Frederick had seen her falling: "'Tis nothing!" And at his entreaties to
be allowed to go and look after her, she replied slowly:

"Pooh! what's the good? That's just as pleasant as anything else. Life
is not so amusing!"

Then, he shivered, a feeling of icy sadness taking possession of him, as
if he had caught a glimpse of whole worlds of wretchedness and
despair--a chafing-dish of charcoal beside a folding-bed, the corpses of
the Morgue in leathern aprons, with the tap of cold water that flows
over their heads.

Meanwhile, Hussonnet, squatted at the feet of the female savage, was
howling in a hoarse voice in imitation of the actor Grassot:

"Be not cruel, O Celuta! this little family fête is charming! Intoxicate
me with delight, my loves! Let us be gay! let us be gay!"

And he began kissing the women on the shoulders. They quivered under the
tickling of his moustaches. Then he conceived the idea of breaking a
plate against his head by rapping it there with a little energy. Others
followed his example. The broken earthenware flew about in bits like
slates in a storm; and the 'longshorewoman exclaimed:

"Don't bother yourselves about it; these cost nothing. We get a present
of them from the merchant who makes them!"

Every eye was riveted on Arnoux. He replied:

"Ha! about the invoice--allow me!" desiring, no doubt, to pass for not
being, or for no longer being, Rosanette's lover.

But two angry voices here made themselves heard:

"Idiot!"

"Rascal!"

"I am at your command!"

"So am I at yours!"

It was the mediæval knight and the Russian postilion who were disputing,
the latter having maintained that armour dispensed with bravery, while
the other regarded this view as an insult. He desired to fight; all
interposed to prevent him, and in the midst of the uproar the captain
tried to make himself heard.

"Listen to me, messieurs! One word! I have some experience, messieurs!"

Rosanette, by tapping with her knife on a glass, succeeded eventually in
restoring silence, and, addressing the knight, who had kept his helmet
on, and then the postilion, whose head was covered with a hairy cap:

"Take off that saucepan of yours! and you, there, your wolf's head! Are
you going to obey me, damn you? Pray show respect to my epaulets! I am
your commanding officer!"

They complied, and everyone present applauded, exclaiming, "Long live
the Maréchale! long live the Maréchale!" Then she took a bottle of
champagne off the stove, and poured out its contents into the cups which
they successively stretched forth to her. As the table was very large,
the guests, especially the women, came over to her side, and stood erect
on tiptoe on the slats of the chairs, so as to form, for the space of a
minute, a pyramidal group of head-dresses, naked shoulders, extended
arms, and stooping bodies; and over all these objects a spray of wine
played for some time, for the merry-andrew and Arnoux, at opposite
corners of the dining-room, each letting fly the cork of a bottle,
splashed the faces of those around them.

The little birds of the aviary, the door of which had been left open,
broke into the apartment, quite scared, flying round the chandelier,
knocking against the window-panes and against the furniture, and some of
them, alighting on the heads of the guests, presented the appearance
there of large flowers.

The musicians had gone. The piano had been drawn out of the anteroom.
The Vatnaz seated herself before it, and, accompanied by the choir-boy,
who thumped his tambourine, she made a wild dash into a quadrille,
striking the keys like a horse pawing the ground, and wriggling her
waist about, the better to mark the time. The Maréchale dragged out
Frederick; Hussonnet took the windmill; the 'longshorewoman put out her
joints like a circus-clown; the merry-andrew exhibited the manoeuvres
of an orang-outang; the female savage, with outspread arms, imitated the
swaying motion of a boat. At last, unable to go on any further, they all
stopped; and a window was flung open.

The broad daylight penetrated the apartment with the cool breath of
morning. There was an exclamation of astonishment, and then came
silence. The yellow flames flickered, making the sockets of the
candlesticks crack from time to time. The floor was strewn with ribbons,
flowers, and pearls. The pier-tables were sticky with the stains of
punch and syrup. The hangings were soiled, the dresses rumpled and
dusty. The plaits of the women's hair hung loose over their shoulders,
and the paint, trickling down with the perspiration, revealed pallid
faces and red, blinking eyelids.

The Maréchale, fresh as if she had come out of a bath, had rosy checks
and sparkling eyes. She flung her wig some distance away, and her hair
fell around her like a fleece, allowing none of her uniform to be seen
except her breeches, the effect thus produced being at the same time
comical and pretty.

The Sphinx, whose teeth chattered as if she had the ague, wanted a
shawl.

Rosanette rushed up to her own room to look for one, and, as the other
came after her, she quickly shut the door in her face.

The Turk remarked, in a loud tone, that M. Oudry had not been seen going
out. Nobody noticed the maliciousness of this observation, so worn out
were they all.

Then, while waiting for vehicles, they managed to get on their
broad-brimmed hats and cloaks. It struck seven. The angel was still in
the dining-room, seated at the table with a plate of sardines and fruit
stewed in melted butter in front of her, and close beside her was the
fishwife, smoking cigarettes, while giving her advice as to the right
way to live.

At last, the cabs having arrived, the guests took their departure.
Hussonnet, who had an engagement as correspondent for the provinces, had
to read through fifty-three newspapers before his breakfast. The female
savage had a rehearsal at the theatre; Pellerin had to see a model; and
the choir-boy had three appointments. But the angel, attacked by the
preliminary symptoms of indigestion, was unable to rise. The mediæval
baron carried her to the cab.

"Take care of her wings!" cried the 'longshorewoman through the window.

At the top of the stairs, Mademoiselle Vatnaz said to Rosanette:

"Good-bye, darling! That was a very nice evening party of yours."

Then, bending close to her ear: "Take care of him!"

"Till better times come," returned the Maréchale, in drawling tones, as
she turned her back.

Arnoux and Frederick returned together, just as they had come. The
dealer in faïence looked so gloomy that his companion wished to know if
he were ill.

"I? Not at all!"

He bit his moustache, knitted his brows; and Frederick asked him, was it
his business that annoyed him.

"By no means!"

Then all of a sudden:

"You know him--Père Oudry--don't you?"

And, with a spiteful expression on his countenance:

"He's rich, the old scoundrel!"

After this, Arnoux spoke about an important piece of ware-making, which
had to be finished that day at his works. He wanted to see it; the
train was starting in an hour.

"Meantime, I must go and embrace my wife."

"Ha! his wife!" thought Frederick. Then he made his way home to go to
bed, with his head aching terribly; and, to appease his thirst, he
swallowed a whole carafe of water.

Another thirst had come to him--the thirst for women, for licentious
pleasure, and all that Parisian life permitted him to enjoy. He felt
somewhat stunned, like a man coming out of a ship, and in the visions
that haunted his first sleep, he saw the shoulders of the fishwife, the
loins of the 'longshorewoman, the calves of the Polish lady, and the
head-dress of the female savage flying past him and coming back again
continually. Then, two large black eyes, which had not been at the ball,
appeared before him; and, light as butterflies, burning as torches, they
came and went, ascended to the cornice and descended to his very mouth.

Frederick made desperate efforts to recognise those eyes, without
succeeding in doing so. But already the dream had taken hold of him. It
seemed to him that he was yoked beside Arnoux to the pole of a
hackney-coach, and that the Maréchale, astride of him, was
disembowelling him with her gold spurs.



CHAPTER VIII.

Frederick Entertains


Frederick found a little mansion at the corner of the Rue Rumfort, and
he bought it along with the brougham, the horse, the furniture, and two
flower-stands which were taken from the Arnoux's house to be placed on
each side of his drawing-room door. In the rear of this apartment were a
bedroom and a closet. The idea occurred to his mind to put up
Deslauriers there. But how could he receive her--_her_, his future
mistress? The presence of a friend would be an obstacle. He knocked down
the partition-wall in order to enlarge the drawing-room, and converted
the closet into a smoking-room.

He bought the works of the poets whom he loved, books of travel,
atlases, and dictionaries, for he had innumerable plans of study. He
hurried on the workmen, rushed about to the different shops, and in his
impatience to enjoy, carried off everything without even holding out for
a bargain beforehand.

From the tradesmen's bills, Frederick ascertained that he would have to
expend very soon forty thousand francs, not including the succession
duties, which would exceed thirty-seven thousand. As his fortune was in
landed property, he wrote to the notary at Havre to sell a portion of it
in order to pay off his debts, and to have some money at his disposal.
Then, anxious to become acquainted at last with that vague entity,
glittering and indefinable, which is known as "society," he sent a note
to the Dambreuses to know whether he might be at liberty to call upon
them. Madame, in reply, said she would expect a visit from him the
following day.

This happened to be their reception-day. Carriages were standing in the
courtyard. Two footmen rushed forward under the marquée, and a third at
the head of the stairs began walking in front of him.

He was conducted through an anteroom, a second room, and then a
drawing-room with high windows and a monumental mantel-shelf supporting
a time-piece in the form of a sphere, and two enormous porcelain vases,
in each of which bristled, like a golden bush, a cluster of sconces.
Pictures in the manner of Espagnolet hung on the walls. The heavy
tapestry portières fell majestically, and the armchairs, the brackets,
the tables, the entire furniture, which was in the style of the Second
Empire, had a certain imposing and diplomatic air.

Frederick smiled with pleasure in spite of himself.

At last he reached an oval apartment wainscoted in cypress-wood, stuffed
with dainty furniture, and letting in the light through a single sheet
of plate-glass, which looked out on a garden. Madame Dambreuse was
seated at the fireside, with a dozen persons gathered round her in a
circle. With a polite greeting, she made a sign to him to take a seat,
without, however, exhibiting any surprise at not having seen him for so
long a time.

Just at the moment when he was entering the room, they had been praising
the eloquence of the Abbé Coeur. Then they deplored the immorality of
servants, a topic suggested by a theft which a _valet-de-chambre_ had
committed, and they began to indulge in tittle-tattle. Old Madame de
Sommery had a cold; Mademoiselle de Turvisot had got married; the
Montcharrons would not return before the end of January; neither would
the Bretancourts, now that people remained in the country till a late
period of the year. And the triviality of the conversation was, so to
speak, intensified by the luxuriousness of the surroundings; but what
they said was less stupid than their way of talking, which was aimless,
disconnected, and utterly devoid of animation. And yet there were
present men versed in life--an ex-minister, the curé of a large parish,
two or three Government officials of high rank. They adhered to the most
hackneyed commonplaces. Some of them resembled weary dowagers; others
had the appearance of horse-jockeys; and old men accompanied their
wives, of whom they were old enough to be the grandfathers.

Madame Dambreuse received all of them graciously. When it was mentioned
that anyone was ill, she knitted her brows with a painful expression on
her face, and when balls or evening parties were discussed, assumed a
joyous air. She would ere long be compelled to deprive herself of these
pleasures, for she was going to take away from a boarding-school a niece
of her husband, an orphan. The guests extolled her devotedness: this was
behaving like a true mother of a family.

Frederick gazed at her attentively. The dull skin of her face looked as
if it had been stretched out, and had a bloom in which there was no
brilliancy; like that of preserved fruit. But her hair, which was in
corkscrew curls, after the English fashion, was finer than silk; her
eyes of a sparkling blue; and all her movements were dainty. Seated at
the lower end of the apartment, on a small sofa, she kept brushing off
the red flock from a Japanese screen, no doubt in order to let her hands
be seen to greater advantage--long narrow hands, a little thin, with
fingers tilting up at the points. She wore a grey moiré gown with a
high-necked body, like a Puritan lady.

Frederick asked her whether she intended to go to La Fortelle this year.
Madame Dambreuse was unable to say. He was sure, however, of one thing,
that one would be bored to death in Nogent.

Then the visitors thronged in more quickly. There was an incessant
rustling of robes on the carpet. Ladies, seated on the edges of chairs,
gave vent to little sneering laughs, articulated two or three words, and
at the end of five minutes left along with their young daughters. It
soon became impossible to follow the conversation, and Frederick
withdrew when Madame Dambreuse said to him:

"Every Wednesday, is it not, Monsieur Moreau?" making up for her
previous display of indifference by these simple words.

He was satisfied. Nevertheless, he took a deep breath when he got out
into the open air; and, needing a less artificial environment, Frederick
recalled to mind that he owed the Maréchale a visit.

The door of the anteroom was open. Two Havanese lapdogs rushed forward.
A voice exclaimed:

"Delphine! Delphine! Is that you, Felix?"

He stood there without advancing a step. The two little dogs kept
yelping continually. At length Rosanette appeared, wrapped up in a sort
of dressing-gown of white muslin trimmed with lace, and with her
stockingless feet in Turkish slippers.

"Ah! excuse me, Monsieur! I thought it was the hairdresser. One minute;
I am coming back!"

And he was left alone in the dining-room. The Venetian blinds were
closed. Frederick, as he cast a glance round, was beginning to recall
the hubbub of the other night, when he noticed on the table, in the
middle of the room, a man's hat, an old felt hat, bruised, greasy,
dirty. To whom did this hat belong? Impudently displaying its torn
lining, it seemed to say:

"I have the laugh, after all! I am the master!"

The Maréchale suddenly reappeared on the scene. She took up the hat,
opened the conservatory, flung it in there, shut the door again (other
doors flew open and closed again at the same moment), and, having
brought Frederick through the kitchen, she introduced him into her
dressing-room.

It could at once be seen that this was the most frequented room in the
house, and, so to speak, its true moral centre. The walls, the
armchairs, and a big divan with a spring were adorned with a chintz
pattern on which was traced a great deal of foliage. On a white marble
table stood two large washhand-basins of fine blue earthenware. Crystal
shelves, forming a whatnot overhead, were laden with phials, brushes,
combs, sticks of cosmetic, and powder-boxes. The fire was reflected in a
high cheval-glass. A sheet was hanging outside a bath, and odours of
almond-paste and of benzoin were exhaled.

"You'll excuse the disorder. I'm dining in the city this evening."

And as she turned on her heel, she was near crushing one of the little
dogs. Frederick declared that they were charming. She lifted up the pair
of them, and raising their black snouts up to her face:

"Come! do a laugh--kiss the gentleman!"

A man dressed in a dirty overcoat with a fur collar here entered
abruptly.

"Felix, my worthy fellow," said she, "you'll have that business of yours
disposed of next Sunday without fail."

The man proceeded to dress her hair. Frederick told her he had heard
news of her friends, Madame de Rochegune, Madame de Saint-Florentin, and
Madame Lombard, every woman being noble, as if it were at the mansion of
the Dambreuses. Then he talked about the theatres. An extraordinary
performance was to be given that evening at the Ambigu.

"Shall you go?"

"Faith, no! I'm staying at home."

Delphine appeared. Her mistress gave her a scolding for having gone out
without permission.

The other vowed that she was just "returning from market."

"Well, bring me your book. You have no objection, isn't that so?"

And, reading the pass-book in a low tone, Rosanette made remarks on
every item. The different sums were not added up correctly.

"Hand me over four sous!"

Delphine handed the amount over to her, and, when she had sent the maid
away:

"Ah! Holy Virgin! could I be more unfortunate than I am with these
creatures?"

Frederick was shocked at this complaint about servants. It recalled the
others too vividly to his mind, and established between the two houses a
kind of vexatious equality.

When Delphine came back again, she drew close to the Maréchale's side in
order to whisper something in her ear.

"Ah, no! I don't want her!"

Delphine presented herself once more.

"Madame, she insists."

"Ah, what a plague! Throw her out!"

At the same moment, an old lady, dressed in black, pushed forward the
door. Frederick heard nothing, saw nothing. Rosanette rushed into her
apartment to meet her.

When she reappeared her cheeks were flushed, and she sat down in one of
the armchairs without saying a word. A tear fell down her face; then,
turning towards the young man, softly:

"What is your Christian name?"

"Frederick."

"Ha! Federico! It doesn't annoy you when I address you in that way?"

And she gazed at him in a coaxing sort of way that was almost amorous.

All of a sudden she uttered an exclamation of delight at the sight of
Mademoiselle Vatnaz.

The lady-artist had no time to lose before presiding at her _table
d'hôte_ at six o'clock sharp; and she was panting for breath, being
completely exhausted. She first took out of her pocket a gold chain in a
paper, then various objects that she had bought.

"You should know that there are in the Rue Joubert splendid Suède gloves
at thirty-six sous. Your dyer wants eight days more. As for the guipure,
I told you that they would dye it again. Bugneaux has got the instalment
you paid. That's all, I think. You owe me a hundred and eighty-five
francs."

Rosanette went to a drawer to get ten napoleons. Neither of the pair had
any money. Frederick offered some.

"I'll pay you back," said the Vatnaz, as she stuffed the fifteen francs
into her handbag. "But you are a naughty boy! I don't love you any
longer--you didn't get me to dance with you even once the other evening!
Ah! my dear, I came across a case of stuffed humming-birds which are
perfect loves at a shop in the Quai Voltaire. If I were in your place, I
would make myself a present of them. Look here! What do you think of
it?"

And she exhibited an old remnant of pink silk which she had purchased at
the Temple to make a mediæval doublet for Delmar.

"He came to-day, didn't he?"

"No."

"That's singular."

And, after a minute's silence:

"Where are you going this evening?"

"To Alphonsine's," said Rosanette, this being the third version given by
her as to the way in which she was going to pass the evening.

Mademoiselle Vatnaz went on: "And what news about the old man of the
mountain?"

But, with an abrupt wink, the Maréchale bade her hold her tongue; and
she accompanied Frederick out as far as the anteroom to ascertain from
him whether he would soon see Arnoux.

"Pray ask him to come--not before his wife, mind!"

At the top of the stairs an umbrella was placed against the wall near a
pair of goloshes.

"Vatnaz's goloshes," said Rosanette. "What a foot, eh? My little friend
is rather strongly built!"

And, in a melodramatic tone, making the final letter of the word roll:

"Don't tru-us-st her!"

Frederick, emboldened by a confidence of this sort, tried to kiss her on
the neck.

"Oh, do it! It costs nothing!"

He felt rather light-hearted as he left her, having no doubt that ere
long the Maréchale would be his mistress. This desire awakened another
in him; and, in spite of the species of grudge that he owed her, he felt
a longing to see Madame Arnoux.

Besides, he would have to call at her house in order to execute the
commission with which he had been entrusted by Rosanette.

"But now," thought he (it had just struck six), "Arnoux is probably at
home."

So he put off his visit till the following day.

She was seated in the same attitude as on the former day, and was sewing
a little boy's shirt.

The child, at her feet, was playing with a wooden toy menagerie. Marthe,
a short distance away, was writing.

He began by complimenting her on her children. She replied without any
exaggeration of maternal silliness.

The room had a tranquil aspect. A glow of sunshine stole in through the
window-panes, lighting up the angles of the different articles of
furniture, and, as Madame Arnoux sat close beside the window, a large
ray, falling on the curls over the nape of her neck, penetrated with
liquid gold her skin, which assumed the colour of amber.

Then he said:

"This young lady here has grown very tall during the past three years!
Do you remember, Mademoiselle, when you slept on my knees in the
carriage?"

Marthe did not remember.

"One evening, returning from Saint-Cloud?"

There was a look of peculiar sadness in Madame

Arnoux's face. Was it in order to prevent any allusion on his part to
the memories they possessed in common?

Her beautiful black eyes, whose sclerotics were glistening, moved gently
under their somewhat drooping lids, and her pupils revealed in their
depths an inexpressible kindness of heart. He was seized with a love
stronger than ever, a passion that knew no bounds. It enervated him to
contemplate the object of his attachment; however, he shook off this
feeling. How was he to make the most of himself? by what means? And,
having turned the matter over thoroughly in his mind, Frederick could
think of none that seemed more effectual than money.

He began talking about the weather, which was less cold than it had been
at Havre.

"You have been there?"

"Yes; about a family matter--an inheritance."

"Ah! I am very glad," she said, with an air of such genuine pleasure
that he felt quite touched, just as if she had rendered him a great
service.

She asked him what he intended to do, as it was necessary for a man to
occupy himself with something.

He recalled to mind his false position, and said that he hoped to reach
the Council of State with the help of M. Dambreuse, the secretary.

"You are acquainted with him, perhaps?"

"Merely by name."

Then, in a low tone:

"_He_ brought you to the ball the other night, did he not?"

Frederick remained silent.

"That was what I wanted to know; thanks!"

After that she put two or three discreet questions to him about his
family and the part of the country in which he lived. It was very kind
of him not to have forgotten them after having lived so long away from
Paris.

"But could I do so?" he rejoined. "Have you any doubt about it?"

Madame Arnoux arose: "I believe that you entertain towards us a true and
solid affection. _Au revoir!_"

And she extended her hand towards him in a sincere and virile fashion.

Was this not an engagement, a promise? Frederick felt a sense of delight
at merely living; he had to restrain himself to keep from singing. He
wanted to burst out, to do generous deeds, and to give alms. He looked
around him to see if there were anyone near whom he could relieve. No
wretch happened to be passing by; and his desire for self-devotion
evaporated, for he was not a man to go out of his way to find
opportunities for benevolence.

Then he remembered his friends. The first of whom he thought was
Hussonnet, the second, Pellerin. The lowly position of Dussardier
naturally called for consideration. As for Cisy, he was glad to let that
young aristocrat get a slight glimpse as to the extent of his fortune.
He wrote accordingly to all four to come to a housewarming the following
Sunday at eleven o'clock sharp; and he told Deslauriers to bring
Sénécal.

The tutor had been dismissed from the third boarding-school in which he
had been employed for not having given his consent to the distribution
of prizes--a custom which he looked upon as dangerous to equality. He
was now with an engine-builder, and for the past six months had been no
longer living with Deslauriers. There had been nothing painful about
their parting.

Sénécal had been visited by men in blouses--all patriots, all workmen,
all honest fellows, but at the same time men whose society seemed
distasteful to the advocate. Besides, he disliked certain ideas of his
friend, excellent though they might be as weapons of warfare. He held
his tongue on the subject through motives of ambition, deeming it
prudent to pay deference to him in order to exercise control over him,
for he looked forward impatiently to a revolutionary movement, in which
he calculated on making an opening for himself and occupying a prominent
position.

Sénécal's convictions were more disinterested. Every evening, when his
work was finished, he returned to his garret and sought in books for
something that might justify his dreams. He had annotated the _Contrat
Social_; he had crammed himself with the _Revue Indépendante_; he was
acquainted with Mably, Morelly, Fourier, Saint-Simon, Comte, Cabet,
Louis Blanc--the heavy cartload of Socialistic writers--those who claim
for humanity the dead level of barracks, those who would like to amuse
it in a brothel or to bend it over a counter; and from a medley of all
these things he constructed an ideal of virtuous democracy, with the
double aspect of a farm in which the landlord was to receive a share of
the produce, and a spinning-mill, a sort of American Lacedæmon, in which
the individual would only exist for the benefit of society, which was to
be more omnipotent, absolute, infallible, and divine than the Grand
Lamas and the Nebuchadnezzars. He had no doubt as to the approaching
realisation of this ideal; and Sénécal raged against everything that he
considered hostile to it with the reasoning of a geometrician and the
zeal of an Inquisitor. Titles of nobility, crosses, plumes, liveries
above all, and even reputations that were too loud-sounding scandalised
him, his studies as well as his sufferings intensifying every day his
essential hatred of every kind of distinction and every form of social
superiority.

"What do I owe to this gentleman that I should be polite to him? If he
wants me, he can come to me."

Deslauriers, however, forced him to go to Frederick's reunion.

They found their friend in his bedroom. Spring-roller blinds and double
curtains, Venetian mirrors--nothing was wanting there. Frederick, in a
velvet vest, was lying back on an easy-chair, smoking cigarettes of
Turkish tobacco.

Sénécal wore the gloomy look of a bigot arriving in the midst of a
pleasure-party.

Deslauriers gave him a single comprehensive glance; then, with a very
low bow:

"Monseigneur, allow me to pay my respects to you!"

Dussardier leaped on his neck. "So you are a rich man now. Ah! upon my
soul, so much the better!"

Cisy made his appearance with crape on his hat. Since the death of his
grandmother, he was in the enjoyment of a considerable fortune, and was
less bent on amusing himself than on being distinguished from
others--not being the same as everyone else--in short, on "having the
proper stamp." This was his favourite phrase.

However, it was now midday, and they were all yawning.

Frederick was waiting for some one.

At the mention of Arnoux's name, Pellerin made a wry face. He looked on
him as a renegade since he had abandoned the fine arts.

"Suppose we pass over him--what do you say to that?"

They all approved of this suggestion.

The door was opened by a man-servant in long gaiters; and the
dining-room could be seen with its lofty oak plinths relieved with gold,
and its two sideboards laden with plate.

The bottles of wine were heating on the stove; the blades of new knives
were glittering beside oysters. In the milky tint of the enamelled
glasses there was a kind of alluring sweetness; and the table
disappeared from view under its load of game, fruit, and meats of the
rarest quality.

These attentions were lost on Sénécal. He began by asking for household
bread (the hardest that could be got), and in connection with this
subject, spoke of the murders of Buzançais and the crisis arising from
lack of the means of subsistence.

Nothing of this sort could have happened if agriculture had been better
protected, if everything had not been given up to competition, to
anarchy, and to the deplorable maxim of "Let things alone! let things go
their own way!" It was in this way that the feudalism of money was
established--the worst form of feudalism. But let them take care! The
people in the end will get tired of it, and may make the capitalist pay
for their sufferings either by bloody proscriptions or by the plunder of
their houses.

Frederick saw, as if by a lightning-flash, a flood of men with bare arms
invading Madame Dambreuse's drawing-room, and smashing the mirrors with
blows of pikes.

Sénécal went on to say that the workman, owing to the insufficiency of
wages, was more unfortunate than the helot, the negro, and the pariah,
especially if he has children.

"Ought he to get rid of them by asphyxia, as some English doctor, whose
name I don't remember--a disciple of Malthus--advises him?"

And, turning towards Cisy: "Are we to be obliged to follow the advice of
the infamous Malthus?"

Cisy, who was ignorant of the infamy and even of the existence of
Malthus, said by way of reply, that after all, much human misery was
relieved, and that the higher classes----

"Ha! the higher classes!" said the Socialist, with a sneer. "In the
first place, there are no higher classes. 'Tis the heart alone that
makes anyone higher than another. We want no alms, understand! but
equality, the fair division of products."

What he required was that the workman might become a capitalist, just as
the soldier might become a colonel. The trade-wardenships, at least, in
limiting the number of apprentices, prevented workmen from growing
inconveniently numerous, and the sentiment of fraternity was kept up by
means of the fêtes and the banners.

Hussonnet, as a poet, regretted the banners; so did Pellerin, too--a
predilection which had taken possession of him at the Café Dagneaux,
while listening to the Phalansterians talking. He expressed the opinion
that Fourier was a great man.

"Come now!" said Deslauriers. "An old fool who sees in the overthrow of
governments the effects of Divine vengeance. He is just like my lord
Saint-Simon and his church, with his hatred of the French Revolution--a
set of buffoons who would fain re-establish Catholicism."

M. de Cisy, no doubt in order to get information or to make a good
impression, broke in with this remark, which he uttered in a mild tone:

"These two men of science are not, then, of the same way of thinking as
Voltaire?"

"That fellow! I make you a present of him!"

"How is that? Why, I thought----"

"Oh! no, he did not love the people!"

Then the conversation came down to contemporary events: the Spanish
marriages, the dilapidations of Rochefort, the new chapter-house of
Saint-Denis, which had led to the taxes being doubled. Nevertheless,
according to Sénécal, they were not high enough!

"And why are they paid? My God! to erect the palace for apes at the
Museum, to make showy staff-officers parade along our squares, or to
maintain a Gothic etiquette amongst the flunkeys of the Château!"

"I have read in the _Mode_," said Cisy, "that at the Tuileries ball on
the feast of Saint-Ferdinand, everyone was disguised as a miser."

"How pitiable!" said the Socialist, with a shrug of his shoulders, as if
to indicate his disgust.

"And the Museum of Versailles!" exclaimed Pellerin. "Let us talk about
it! These idiots have foreshortened a Delacroix and lengthened a Gros!
At the Louvre they have so well restored, scratched, and made a jumble
of all the canvases, that in ten years probably not one will be left. As
for the errors in the catalogue, a German has written a whole volume on
the subject. Upon my word, the foreigners are laughing at us."

"Yes, we are the laughing-stock of Europe," said Sénécal.

"'Tis because Art is conveyed in fee-simple to the Crown."

"As long as you haven't universal suffrage----"

"Allow me!"--for the artist, having been rejected at every _salon_ for
the last twenty years, was filled with rage against Power.

"Ah! let them not bother us! As for me, I ask for nothing. Only the
Chambers ought to pass enactments in the interests of Art. A chair of
æsthetics should be established with a professor who, being a practical
man as well as a philosopher, would succeed, I hope, in grouping the
multitude. You would do well, Hussonnet, to touch on this matter with a
word or two in your newspaper?"

"Are the newspapers free? are we ourselves free?" said Deslauriers in an
angry tone. "When one reflects that there might be as many as
twenty-eight different formalities to set up a boat on the river, it
makes me feel a longing to go and live amongst the cannibals! The
Government is eating us up. Everything belongs to it--philosophy, law,
the arts, the very air of heaven; and France, bereft of all energy, lies
under the boot of the gendarme and the cassock of the devil-dodger with
the death-rattle in her throat!"

The future Mirabeau thus poured out his bile in abundance. Finally he
took his glass in his right hand, raised it, and with his other arm
akimbo, and his eyes flashing:

"I drink to the utter destruction of the existing order of things--that
is to say, of everything included in the words Privilege, Monopoly,
Regulation, Hierarchy, Authority, State!"--and in a louder voice--"which
I would like to smash as I do this!" dashing on the table the beautiful
wine-glass, which broke into a thousand pieces.

They all applauded, and especially Dussardier.

The spectacle of injustices made his heart leap up with indignation.
Everything that wore a beard claimed his sympathy. He was one of those
persons who fling themselves under vehicles to relieve the horses who
have fallen. His erudition was limited to two works, one entitled
_Crimes of Kings_, and the other _Mysteries of the Vatican_. He had
listened to the advocate with open-mouthed delight. At length, unable to
stand it any longer:

"For my part, the thing I blame Louis Philippe for is abandoning the
Poles!"

"One moment!" said Hussonnet. "In the first place, Poland has no
existence; 'tis an invention of Lafayette! The Poles, as a general rule,
all belong to the Faubourg Saint-Marceau, the real ones having been
drowned with Poniatowski." In short, "he no longer gave into it;" he had
"got over all that sort of thing; it was just like the sea-serpent, the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and that antiquated hum-bug about the
Saint-Bartholomew massacre!"

Sénécal, while he did not defend the Poles, extolled the latest remarks
made by the men of letters. The Popes had been calumniated, inasmuch as
they, at any rate, defended the people, and he called the League "the
aurora of Democracy, a great movement in the direction of equality as
opposed to the individualism of Protestants."

Frederick was a little surprised at these views. They probably bored
Cisy, for he changed the conversation to the _tableaux vivants_ at the
Gymnase, which at that time attracted a great number of people.

Sénécal regarded them with disfavour. Such exhibitions corrupted the
daughters of the proletariat. Then, it was noticeable that they went in
for a display of shameless luxury. Therefore, he approved of the conduct
of the Bavarian students who insulted Lola Montès. In imitation of
Rousseau, he showed more esteem for the wife of a coal-porter than for
the mistress of a king.

"You don't appreciate dainties," retorted Hussonnet in a majestic tone.
And he took up the championship of ladies of this class in order to
praise Rosanette. Then, as he happened to make an allusion to the ball
at her house and to Arnoux's costume, Pellerin remarked:

"People maintain that he is becoming shaky?"

The picture-dealer had just been engaged in a lawsuit with reference to
his grounds at Belleville, and he was actually in a kaolin company in
Lower Brittany with other rogues of the same sort.

Dussardier knew more about him, for his own master, M. Moussinot, having
made enquiries about Arnoux from the banker, Oscar Lefébvre, the latter
had said in reply that he considered him by no means solvent, as he knew
about bills of his that had been renewed.

The dessert was over; they passed into the drawing-room, which was hung,
like that of the Maréchale, in yellow damask in the style of Louis XVI.

Pellerin found fault with Frederick for not having chosen in preference
the Neo-Greek style; Sénécal rubbed matches against the hangings;
Deslauriers did not make any remark.

There was a bookcase set up there, which he called "a little girl's
library." The principal contemporary writers were to be found there. It
was impossible to speak about their works, for Hussonnet immediately
began relating anecdotes with reference to their personal
characteristics, criticising their faces, their habits, their dress,
glorifying fifth-rate intellects and disparaging those of the first; and
all the while making it clear that he deplored modern decadence.

He instanced some village ditty as containing in itself alone more
poetry than all the lyrics of the nineteenth century. He went on to say
that Balzac was overrated, that Byron was effaced, and that Hugo knew
nothing about the stage.

"Why, then," said Sénécal, "have you not got the volumes of the
working-men poets?"

And M. de Cisy, who devoted his attention to literature, was astonished
at not seeing on Frederick's table some of those new physiological
studies--the physiology of the smoker, of the angler, of the man
employed at the barrier.

They went on irritating him to such an extent that he felt a longing to
shove them out by the shoulders.

"But they are making me quite stupid!" And then he drew Dussardier
aside, and wished to know whether he could do him any service.

The honest fellow was moved. He answered that his post of cashier
entirely sufficed for his wants.

After that, Frederick led Deslauriers into his own apartment, and,
taking out of his escritoire two thousand francs:

"Look here, old boy, put this money in your pocket. 'Tis the balance of
my old debts to you."

"But--what about the journal?" said the advocate. "You are, of course,
aware that I spoke about it to Hussonnet."

And, when Frederick replied that he was "a little short of cash just
now," the other smiled in a sinister fashion.

After the liqueurs they drank beer, and after the beer, grog; and then
they lighted their pipes once more. At last they left, at five o'clock
in the evening, and they were walking along at each others' side without
speaking, when Dussardier broke the silence by saying that Frederick had
entertained them in excellent style. They all agreed with him on that
point.

Then Hussonnet remarked that his luncheon was too heavy. Sénécal found
fault with the trivial character of his household arrangements. Cisy
took the same view. It was absolutely devoid of the "proper stamp."

"For my part, I think," said Pellerin, "he might have had the grace to
give me an order for a picture."

Deslauriers held his tongue, as he had the bank-notes that had been
given to him in his breeches' pocket.

Frederick was left by himself. He was thinking about his friends, and it
seemed to him as if a huge ditch surrounded with shade separated him
from them. He had nevertheless held out his hand to them, and they had
not responded to the sincerity of his heart.

He recalled to mind what Pellerin and Dussardier had said about Arnoux.
Undoubtedly it must be an invention, a calumny? But why? And he had a
vision of Madame Arnoux, ruined, weeping, selling her furniture. This
idea tormented him all night long. Next day he presented himself at her
house.

At a loss to find any way of communicating to her what he had heard, he
asked her, as if in casual conversation, whether Arnoux still held
possession of his building grounds at Belleville.

"Yes, he has them still."

"He is now, I believe, a shareholder in a kaolin company in Brittany."

"That's true."

"His earthenware-works are going on very well, are they not?"

"Well--I suppose so----"

And, as he hesitated:

"What is the matter with you? You frighten me!"

He told her the story about the renewals. She hung down her head, and
said:

"I thought so!"

In fact, Arnoux, in order to make a good speculation, had refused to
sell his grounds, had borrowed money extensively on them, and finding no
purchasers, had thought of rehabilitating himself by establishing the
earthenware manufactory. The expense of this had exceeded his
calculations. She knew nothing more about it. He evaded all her
questions, and declared repeatedly that it was going on very well.

Frederick tried to reassure her. These in all probability were mere
temporary embarrassments. However, if he got any information, he would
impart it to her.

"Oh! yes, will you not?" said she, clasping her two hands with an air of
charming supplication.

So then, he had it in his power to be useful to her. He was now entering
into her existence--finding a place in her heart.

Arnoux appeared.

"Ha! how nice of you to come to take me out to dine!"

Frederick was silent on hearing these words.

Arnoux spoke about general topics, then informed his wife that he would
be returning home very late, as he had an appointment with M. Oudry.

"At his house?"

"Why, certainly, at his house."

As they went down the stairs, he confessed that, as the Maréchale had no
engagement at home, they were going on a secret pleasure-party to the
Moulin Rouge; and, as he always needed somebody to be the recipient of
his outpourings, he got Frederick to drive him to the door.

In place of entering, he walked about on the footpath, looking up at the
windows on the second floor. Suddenly the curtains parted.

"Ha! bravo! Père Oudry is no longer there! Good evening!"

Frederick did not know what to think now.

From this day forth, Arnoux was still more cordial than before; he
invited the young man to dine with his mistress; and ere long Frederick
frequented both houses at the same time.

Rosanette's abode furnished him with amusement. He used to call there of
an evening on his way back from the club or the play. He would take a
cup of tea there, or play a game of loto. On Sundays they played
charades; Rosanette, more noisy than the rest, made herself conspicuous
by funny tricks, such as running on all-fours or muffling her head in a
cotton cap. In order to watch the passers-by through the window, she had
a hat of waxed leather; she smoked chibouks; she sang Tyrolese airs. In
the afternoon, to kill time, she cut out flowers in a piece of chintz
and pasted them against the window-panes, smeared her two little dogs
with varnish, burned pastilles, or drew cards to tell her fortune.
Incapable of resisting a desire, she became infatuated about some
trinket which she happened to see, and could not sleep till she had gone
and bought it, then bartered it for another, sold costly dresses for
little or nothing, lost her jewellery, squandered money, and would have
sold her chemise for a stage-box at the theatre. Often she asked
Frederick to explain to her some word she came across when reading a
book, but did not pay any attention to his answer, for she jumped
quickly to another idea, while heaping questions on top of each other.
After spasms of gaiety came childish outbursts of rage, or else she sat
on the ground dreaming before the fire with her head down and her hands
clasping her knees, more inert than a torpid adder. Without minding it,
she made her toilet in his presence, drew on her silk stockings, then
washed her face with great splashes of water, throwing back her figure
as if she were a shivering naiad; and her laughing white teeth, her
sparkling eyes, her beauty, her gaiety, dazzled Frederick, and made his
nerves tingle under the lash of desire.

Nearly always he found Madame Arnoux teaching her little boy how to
read, or standing behind Marthe's chair while she played her scales on
the piano. When she was doing a piece of sewing, it was a great source
of delight to him to pick up her scissors now and then. In all her
movements there was a tranquil majesty. Her little hands seemed made to
scatter alms and to wipe away tears, and her voice, naturally rather
hollow, had caressing intonations and a sort of breezy lightness.

She did not display much enthusiasm about literature; but her
intelligence exercised a charm by the use of a few simple and
penetrating words. She loved travelling, the sound of the wind in the
woods, and a walk with uncovered head under the rain.

Frederick listened to these confidences with rapture, fancying that he
saw in them the beginning of a certain self-abandonment on her part.

His association with these two women made, as it were, two different
strains of music in his life, the one playful, passionate, diverting,
the other grave and almost religious, and vibrating both at the same
time, they always increased in volume and gradually blended with one
another; for if Madame Arnoux happened merely to touch him with her
finger, the image of the other immediately presented itself to him as an
object of desire, because from that quarter a better opportunity was
thrown in his way, and, when his heart happened to be touched while in
Rosanette's company, he was immediately reminded of the woman for whom
he felt such a consuming passion.

This confusion was, in some measure, due to a similarity which existed
between the interiors of the two houses. One of the trunks which was
formerly to be seen in the Boulevard Montmartre now adorned Rosanette's
dining-room. The same courses were served up for dinner in both places,
and even the same velvet cap was to be found trailing over the
easy-chairs; then, a heap of little presents--screens, boxes, fans--went
to the mistress's house from the wife's and returned again, for Arnoux,
without the slightest embarrassment, often took back from the one what
he had given to her in order to make a present of it to the other.

The Maréchale laughed with Frederick at the utter disregard for
propriety which his habits exhibited. One Sunday, after dinner, she led
him behind the door, and showed him in the pocket of Arnoux's overcoat a
bag of cakes which he had just pilfered from the table, in order, no
doubt, to regale his little family with it at home. M. Arnoux gave
himself up to some rogueries which bordered on vileness. It seemed to
him a duty to practise fraud with regard to the city dues; he never paid
when he went to the theatre, or if he took a ticket for the second seats
always tried to make his way into the first; and he used to relate as
an excellent joke that it was a custom of his at the cold baths to put
into the waiters' collection-box a breeches' button instead of a
ten-sous piece--and this did not prevent the Maréchale from loving him.

One day, however, she said, while talking about him:

"Ah! he's making himself a nuisance to me, at last! I've had enough of
him! Faith, so much the better--I'll find another instead!"

Frederick believed that the other had already been found, and that his
name was M. Oudry.

"Well," said Rosanette, "what does that signify?"

Then, in a voice choked with rising tears:

"I ask very little from him, however, and he won't give me that."

He had even promised a fourth of his profits in the famous kaolin mines.
No profit made its appearance any more than the cashmere with which he
had been luring her on for the last six months.

Frederick immediately thought of making her a present. Arnoux might
regard it as a lesson for himself, and be annoyed at it.

For all that, he was good-natured, his wife herself said so, but so
foolish! Instead of bringing people to dine every day at his house, he
now entertained his acquaintances at a restaurant. He bought things that
were utterly useless, such as gold chains, timepieces, and household
articles. Madame Arnoux even pointed out to Frederick in the lobby an
enormous supply of tea-kettles, foot-warmers, and samovars. Finally, she
one day confessed that a certain matter caused her much anxiety. Arnoux
had made her sign a promissory note payable to M. Dambreuse.

Meanwhile Frederick still cherished his literary projects as if it were
a point of honour with himself to do so. He wished to write a history of
æsthetics, a result of his conversations with Pellerin; next, to write
dramas dealing with different epochs of the French Revolution, and to
compose a great comedy, an idea traceable to the indirect influence of
Deslauriers and Hussonnet. In the midst of his work her face or that of
the other passed before his mental vision. He struggled against the
longing to see her, but was not long ere he yielded to it; and he felt
sadder as he came back from Madame Arnoux's house.

One morning, while he was brooding over his melancholy thoughts by the
fireside, Deslauriers came in. The incendiary speeches of Sénécal had
filled his master with uneasiness, and once more he found himself
without resources.

"What do you want me to do?" said Frederick.

"Nothing! I know you have no money. But it will not be much trouble for
you to get him a post either through M. Dambreuse or else through
Arnoux. The latter ought to have need of engineers in his
establishment."

Frederick had an inspiration. Sénécal would be able to let him know when
the husband was away, carry letters for him and assist him on a thousand
occasions when opportunities presented themselves. Services of this sort
are always rendered between man and man. Besides, he would find means of
employing him without arousing any suspicion on his part. Chance offered
him an auxiliary; it was a circumstance that omened well for the future,
and he hastened to take advantage of it; and, with an affectation of
indifference, he replied that the thing was feasible perhaps, and that
he would devote attention to it.

And he did so at once. Arnoux took a great deal of pains with his
earthenware works. He was endeavouring to discover the copper-red of the
Chinese, but his colours evaporated in the process of baking. In order
to avoid cracks in his ware, he mixed lime with his potter's clay; but
the articles got broken for the most part; the enamel of his paintings
on the raw material boiled away; his large plates became bulged; and,
attributing these mischances to the inferior plant of his manufactory,
he was anxious to start other grinding-mills and other drying-rooms.
Frederick recalled some of these things to mind, and, when he met
Arnoux, said that he had discovered a very able man, who would be
capable of finding his famous red. Arnoux gave a jump; then, having
listened to what the young man had to tell him, replied that he wanted
assistance from nobody.

Frederick spoke in a very laudatory style about Sénécal's prodigious
attainments, pointing out that he was at the same time an engineer, a
chemist, and an accountant, being a mathematician of the first rank.

The earthenware-dealer consented to see him.

But they squabbled over the emoluments. Frederick interposed, and, at
the end of a week, succeeded in getting them to come to an agreement.

But as the works were situated at Creil, Sénécal could not assist him in
any way. This thought alone was enough to make his courage flag, as if
he had met with some misfortune. His notion was that the more Arnoux
would be kept apart from his wife the better would be his own chance
with her. Then he proceeded to make repeated apologies for Rosanette.
He referred to all the wrongs she had sustained at the other's hands,
referred to the vague threats which she had uttered a few days before,
and even spoke about the cashmere without concealing the fact that she
had accused Arnoux of avarice.

Arnoux, nettled at the word (and, furthermore, feeling some uneasiness),
brought Rosanette the cashmere, but scolded her for having made any
complaint to Frederick. When she told him that she had reminded him a
hundred times of his promise, he pretended that, owing to pressure of
business, he had forgotten all about it.

The next day Frederick presented himself at her abode, and found the
Maréchale still in bed, though it was two o'clock, with Delmar beside
her finishing a _pâté de foie gras_ at a little round table. Before he
had advanced many paces, she broke out into a cry of delight, saying: "I
have him! I have him!" Then she seized him by the ears, kissed him on
the forehead, thanked him effusively, "thee'd" and "thou'd" him, and
even wanted to make him sit down on the bed. Her fine eyes, full of
tender emotion, were sparkling with pleasure. There was a smile on her
humid mouth. Her two round arms emerged through the sleeveless opening
of her night-dress, and, from time to time, he could feel through the
cambric the well-rounded outlines of her form.

[Illustration: Then she seized him by the ears and kissed him.]

All this time Delmar kept rolling his eyeballs about.

"But really, my dear, my own pet..."

It was the same way on the occasion when he saw her next. As soon as
Frederick entered, she sat up on a cushion in order to embrace him with
more ease, called him a darling, a "dearie," put a flower in his
button-hole, and settled his cravat. These delicate attentions were
redoubled when Delmar happened to be there. Were they advances on her
part? So it seemed to Frederick.

As for deceiving a friend, Arnoux, in his place, would not have had many
scruples on that score, and he had every right not to adhere to rigidly
virtuous principles with regard to this man's mistress, seeing that his
relations with the wife had been strictly honourable, for so he
thought--or rather he would have liked Arnoux to think so, in any event,
as a sort of justification of his own prodigious cowardice. Nevertheless
he felt somewhat bewildered; and presently he made up his mind to lay
siege boldly to the Maréchale.

So, one afternoon, just as she was stooping down in front of her chest
of drawers, he came across to her, and repeated his overtures without a
pause.

Thereupon, she began to cry, saying that she was very unfortunate, but
that people should not despise her on that account.

He only made fresh advances. She now adopted a different plan, namely,
to laugh at his attempts without stopping. He thought it a clever thing
to answer her sarcasms with repartees in the same strain, in which there
was even a touch of exaggeration. But he made too great a display of
gaiety to convince her that he was in earnest; and their comradeship was
an impediment to any outpouring of serious feeling. At last, when she
said one day, in reply to his amorous whispers, that she would not take
another woman's leavings, he answered.

"What other woman?"

"Ah! yes, go and meet Madame Arnoux again!"

For Frederick used to talk about her often. Arnoux, on his side, had the
same mania. At last she lost patience at always hearing this woman's
praises sung, and her insinuation was a kind of revenge.

Frederick resented it. However, Rosanette was beginning to excite his
love to an unusual degree. Sometimes, assuming the attitude of a woman
of experience, she spoke ill of love with a sceptical smile that made
him feel inclined to box her ears. A quarter of an hour afterwards, it
was the only thing of any consequence in the world, and, with her arms
crossed over her breast, as if she were clasping some one close to her:
"Oh, yes, 'tis good! 'tis good!" and her eyelids would quiver in a kind
of rapturous swoon. It was impossible to understand her, to know, for
instance, whether she loved Arnoux, for she made fun of him, and yet
seemed jealous of him. So likewise with the Vatnaz, whom she would
sometimes call a wretch, and at other times her best friend. In short,
there was about her entire person, even to the very arrangement of her
chignon over her head, an inexpressible something, which seemed like a
challenge; and he desired her for the satisfaction, above all, of
conquering her and being her master.

How was he to accomplish this? for she often sent him away
unceremoniously, appearing only for a moment between two doors in order
to say in a subdued voice, "I'm engaged--for the evening;" or else he
found her surrounded by a dozen persons; and when they were alone, so
many impediments presented themselves one after the other, that one
would have sworn there was a bet to keep matters from going any further.
He invited her to dinner; as a rule, she declined the invitation. On one
occasion, she accepted it, but did not come.

A Machiavellian idea arose in his brain.

Having heard from Dussardier about Pellerin's complaints against
himself, he thought of giving the artist an order to paint the
Maréchale's portrait, a life-sized portrait, which would necessitate a
good number of sittings. He would not fail to be present at all of them.
The habitual incorrectness of the painter would facilitate their private
conversations. So then he would urge Rosanette to get the picture
executed in order to make a present of her face to her dear Arnoux. She
consented, for she saw herself in the midst of the Grand Salon in the
most prominent position with a crowd of people staring at her picture,
and the newspapers would all talk about it, which at once would set her
afloat.

As for Pellerin, he eagerly snatched at the offer. This portrait ought
to place him in the position of a great man; it ought to be a
masterpiece. He passed in review in his memory all the portraits by
great masters with which he was acquainted, and decided finally in
favour of a Titian, which would be set off with ornaments in the style
of Veronese. Therefore, he would carry out his design without artificial
backgrounds in a bold light, which would illuminate the flesh-tints with
a single tone, and which would make the accessories glitter.

"Suppose I were to put on her," he thought, "a pink silk dress with an
Oriental bournous? Oh, no! the bournous is only a rascally thing! Or
suppose, rather, I were to make her wear blue velvet with a grey
background, richly coloured? We might likewise give her a white guipure
collar with a black fan and a scarlet curtain behind." And thus, seeking
for ideas, he enlarged his conception, and regarded it with admiration.

He felt his heart beating when Rosanette, accompanied by Frederick,
called at his house for the first sitting. He placed her standing up on
a sort of platform in the midst of the apartment, and, finding fault
with the light and expressing regret at the loss of his former studio,
he first made her lean on her elbow against a pedestal, then sit down in
an armchair, and, drawing away from her and coming near her again by
turns in order to adjust with a fillip the folds of her dress, he
watched her with eyelids half-closed, and appealed to Frederick's taste
with a passing word.

"Well, no," he exclaimed; "I return to my own idea. I will set you up in
the Venetian style."

She would have a poppy-coloured velvet gown with a jewelled girdle; and
her wide sleeve lined with ermine would afford a glimpse of her bare
arm, which was to touch the balustrade of a staircase rising behind her.
At her left, a large column would mount as far as the top of the canvas
to meet certain structures so as to form an arch. Underneath one would
vaguely distinguish groups of orange-trees almost black, through which
the blue sky, with its streaks of white cloud, would seem cut into
fragments. On the baluster, covered with a carpet, there would be, on a
silver dish, a bouquet of flowers, a chaplet of amber, a poniard, and a
little chest of antique ivory, rather yellow with age, which would
appear to be disgorging gold sequins. Some of them, falling on the
ground here and there, would form brilliant splashes, as it were, in
such a way as to direct one's glance towards the tip of her foot, for
she would be standing on the last step but one in a natural position, as
if in the act of moving under the glow of the broad sunlight.

He went to look for a picture-case, which he laid on the platform to
represent the step. Then he arranged as accessories, on a stool by way
of balustrade, his pea-jacket, a buckler, a sardine-box, a bundle of
pens, and a knife; and when he had flung in front of Rosanette a dozen
big sous, he made her assume the attitude he required.

"Just try to imagine that these things are riches, magnificent presents.
The head a little on one side! Perfect! and don't stir! This majestic
posture exactly suits your style of beauty."

She wore a plaid dress and carried a big muff, and only kept from
laughing outright by an effort of self-control.

"As regards the head-dress, we will mingle with it a circle of pearls.
It always produces a striking effect with red hair."

The Maréchale burst out into an exclamation, remarking that she had not
red hair.

"Nonsense! The red of painters is not that of ordinary people."

He began to sketch the position of the masses; and he was so much
preoccupied with the great artists of the Renaissance that he kept
talking about them persistently. For a whole hour he went on musing
aloud on those splendid lives, full of genius, glory, and sumptuous
displays, with triumphal entries into the cities, and galas by
torchlight among half-naked women, beautiful as goddesses.

"You were made to live in those days. A creature of your calibre would
have deserved a monseigneur."

Rosanette thought the compliments he paid her very pretty. The day was
fixed for the next sitting. Frederick took it on himself to bring the
accessories.

As the heat of the stove had stupefied her a little, they went home on
foot through the Rue du Bac, and reached the Pont Royal.

It was fine weather, piercingly bright and warm. Some windows of houses
in the city shone in the distance, like plates of gold, whilst behind
them at the right the turrets of Nôtre Dame showed their outlines in
black against the blue sky, softly bathed at the horizon in grey
vapours.

The wind began to swell; and Rosanette, having declared that she felt
hungry, they entered the "Patisserie Anglaise."

Young women with their children stood eating in front of the marble
buffet, where plates of little cakes had glass covers pressed down on
them. Rosanette swallowed two cream-tarts. The powdered sugar formed
moustaches at the sides of her mouth. From time to time, in order to
wipe it, she drew out her handkerchief from her muff, and her face,
under her green silk hood, resembled a full-blown rose in the midst of
its leaves.

They resumed their walk. In the Rue de la Paix she stood before a
goldsmith's shop to look at a bracelet. Frederick wished to make her a
present of it.

"No!" said she; "keep your money!"

He was hurt by these words.

"What's the matter now with the ducky? We are melancholy?"

And, the conversation having been renewed, he began making the same
protestations of love to her as usual.

"You know well 'tis impossible!"

"Why?"

"Ah! because----"

They went on side by side, she leaning on his arm, and the flounces of
her gown kept flapping against his legs. Then, he recalled to mind one
winter twilight when on the same footpath Madame Arnoux walked thus by
his side, and he became so much absorbed in this recollection that he no
longer saw Rosanette, and did not bestow a thought upon her.

She kept looking straight before her in a careless fashion, lagging a
little, like a lazy child. It was the hour when people had just come
back from their promenade, and equipages were making their way at a
quick trot over the hard pavement.

Pellerin's flatteries having probably recurred to her mind, she heaved a
sigh.

"Ah! there are some lucky women in the world. Decidedly, I was made for
a rich man!"

He replied, with a certain brutality in his tone:

"You have one, in the meantime!" for M. Oudry was looked upon as a man
that could count a million three times over.

She asked for nothing better than to get free from him.

"What prevents you from doing so?" And he gave utterance to bitter jests
about this old bewigged citizen, pointing out to her that such an
intrigue was unworthy of her, and that she ought to break it off.

"Yes," replied the Maréchale, as if talking to herself. "'Tis what I
shall end by doing, no doubt!"

Frederick was charmed by this disinterestedness. She slackened her pace,
and he fancied that she was fatigued. She obstinately refused to let him
take a cab, and she parted with him at her door, sending him a kiss with
her finger-tips.

"Ah! what a pity! and to think that imbeciles take me for a man of
wealth!"

He reached home in a gloomy frame of mind.

Hussonnet and Deslauriers were awaiting him. The Bohemian, seated before
the table, made sketches of Turks' heads; and the advocate, in dirty
boots, lay asleep on the sofa.

"Ha! at last," he exclaimed. "But how sullen you look! Will you listen
to me?"

His vogue as a tutor had fallen off, for he crammed his pupils with
theories unfavourable for their examinations. He had appeared in two or
three cases in which he had been unsuccessful, and each new
disappointment flung him back with greater force on the dream of his
earlier days--a journal in which he could show himself off, avenge
himself, and spit forth his bile and his opinions. Fortune and
reputation, moreover, would follow as a necessary consequence. It was in
this hope that he had got round the Bohemian, Hussonnet happening to be
the possessor of a press.

At present, he printed it on pink paper. He invented hoaxes, composed
rebuses, tried to engage in polemics, and even intended, in spite of the
situation of the premises, to get up concerts. A year's subscription was
to give a right to a place in the orchestra in one of the principal
theatres of Paris. Besides, the board of management took on itself to
furnish foreigners with all necessary information, artistic and
otherwise. But the printer gave vent to threats; there were three
quarters' rent due to the landlord. All sorts of embarrassments arose;
and Hussonnet would have allowed _L'Art_ to perish, were it not for the
exhortations of the advocate, who kept every day exciting his mind. He
had brought the other with him, in order to give more weight to the
application he was now making.

"We've come about the journal," said he.

"What! are you still thinking about that?" said Frederick, in an absent
tone.

"Certainly, I am thinking about it!"

And he explained his plan anew. By means of the Bourse returns, they
would get into communication with financiers, and would thus obtain the
hundred thousand francs indispensable as security. But, in order that
the print might be transformed into a political journal, it was
necessary beforehand to have a large _clientèle_, and for that purpose
to make up their minds to go to some expense--so much for the cost of
paper and printing, and for outlay at the office; in short, a sum of
about fifteen thousand francs.

"I have no funds," said Frederick.

"And what are we to do, then?" said Deslauriers, with folded arms.

Frederick, hurt by the attitude which Deslauriers was assuming, replied:

"Is that my fault?"

"Ah! very fine. A man has wood in his fire, truffles on his table, a
good bed, a library, a carriage, every kind of comfort. But let another
man shiver under the slates, dine at twenty sous, work like a convict,
and sprawl through want in the mire--is it the rich man's fault?"

And he repeated, "Is it the rich man's fault?" with a Ciceronian irony
which smacked of the law-courts.

Frederick tried to speak.

"However, I understand one has certain wants--aristocratic wants; for,
no doubt, some woman----"

"Well, even if that were so? Am I not free----?"

"Oh! quite free!"

And, after a minute's silence:

"Promises are so convenient!"

"Good God! I don't deny that I gave them!" said Frederick.

The advocate went on:

"At college we take oaths; we are going to set up a phalanx; we are
going to imitate Balzac's Thirteen. Then, on meeting a friend after a
separation: 'Good night, old fellow! Go about your business!' For he who
might help the other carefully keeps everything for himself alone."

"How is that?"

"Yes, you have not even introduced me to the Dambreuses."

Frederick cast a scrutinising glance at him. With his shabby frock-coat,
his spectacles of rough glass, and his sallow face, that advocate seemed
to him such a typical specimen of the penniless pedant that he could not
prevent his lips from curling with a disdainful smile.

Deslauriers perceived this, and reddened.

He had already taken his hat to leave. Hussonnet, filled with
uneasiness, tried to mollify him with appealing looks, and, as Frederick
was turning his back on him:

"Look here, my boy, become my Mæcenas! Protect the arts!"

Frederick, with an abrupt movement of resignation, took a sheet of
paper, and, having scrawled some lines on it, handed it to him. The
Bohemian's face lighted up.

Then, passing across the sheet of paper to Deslauriers:

"Apologise, my fine fellow!"

Their friend begged his notary to send him fifteen thousand francs as
quickly as possible.

"Ah! I recognise you in that," said Deslauriers.

"On the faith of a gentleman," added the Bohemian, "you are a noble
fellow, you'll be placed in the gallery of useful men!"

The advocate remarked:

"You'll lose nothing by it, 'tis an excellent speculation."

"Faith," exclaimed Hussonnet, "I'd stake my head at the scaffold on its
success!"

And he said so many foolish things, and promised so many wonderful
things, in which perhaps he believed, that Frederick did not know
whether he did this in order to laugh at others or at himself.

The same evening he received a letter from his mother. She expressed
astonishment at not seeing him yet a minister, while indulging in a
little banter at his expense. Then she spoke of her health, and informed
him that M. Roque had now become one of her visitors.

"Since he is a widower, I thought there would be no objection to
inviting him to the house. Louise is greatly changed for the better."
And in a postscript: "You have told me nothing about your fine
acquaintance, M. Dambreuse; if I were you, I would make use of him."

Why not? His intellectual ambitions had left him, and his fortune (he
saw it clearly) was insufficient, for when his debts had been paid, and
the sum agreed on remitted to the others, his income would be diminished
by four thousand at least! Moreover, he felt the need of giving up this
sort of life, and attaching himself to some pursuit. So, next day, when
dining at Madame Arnoux's, he said that his mother was tormenting him in
order to make him take up a profession.

"But I was under the impression," she said, "that M. Dambreuse was going
to get you into the Council of State? That would suit you very well."

So, then, she wished him to take this course. He regarded her wish as a
command.

The banker, as on the first occasion, was seated at his desk, and, with
a gesture, intimated that he desired Frederick to wait a few minutes;
for a gentleman who was standing at the door with his back turned had
been discussing some serious topic with him.

The subject of their conversation was the proposed amalgamation of the
different coal-mining companies.

On each side of the glass hung portraits of General Foy and Louis
Philippe. Cardboard shelves rose along the panels up to the ceiling, and
there were six straw chairs, M. Dambreuse not requiring a more
fashionably-furnished apartment for the transaction of business. It
resembled those gloomy kitchens in which great banquets are prepared.

Frederick noticed particularly two chests of prodigious size which stood
in the corners. He asked himself how many millions they might contain.
The banker unlocked one of them, and as the iron plate revolved, it
disclosed to view nothing inside but blue paper books full of entries.

At last, the person who had been talking to M. Dambreuse passed in front
of Frederick. It was Père Oudry. The two saluted one another, their
faces colouring--a circumstance which surprised M. Dambreuse. However,
he exhibited the utmost affability, observing that nothing would be
easier than to recommend the young man to the Keeper of the Seals. They
would be too happy to have him, he added, concluding his polite
attentions by inviting him to an evening party which he would be giving
in a few days.

Frederick was stepping into a brougham on his way to this party when a
note from the Maréchale reached him. By the light of the carriage-lamps
he read:

"Darling, I have followed your advice: I have just expelled my savage.
After to-morrow evening, liberty! Say whether I am not brave!"

Nothing more. But it was clearly an invitation to him to take the vacant
place. He uttered an exclamation, squeezed the note into his pocket, and
set forth.

Two municipal guards on horseback were stationed in the street. A row of
lamps burned on the two front gates, and some servants were calling out
in the courtyard to have the carriages brought up to the end of the
steps before the house under the marquée.

Then suddenly the noise in the vestibule ceased.

Large trees filled up the space in front of the staircase. The porcelain
globes shed a light which waved like white moiré satin on the walls.

Frederick rushed up the steps in a joyous frame of mind. An usher
announced his name. M. Dambreuse extended his hand. Almost at the very
same moment, Madame Dambreuse appeared. She wore a mauve dress trimmed
with lace. The ringlets of her hair were more abundant than usual, and
not a single jewel did she display.

She complained of his coming to visit them so rarely, and seized the
opportunity to exchange a few confidential words with him.

The guests began to arrive. In their mode of bowing they twisted their
bodies on one side or bent in two, or merely lowered their heads a
little. Then, a married pair, a family passed in, and all scattered
themselves about the drawing-room, which was already filled. Under the
chandelier in the centre, an enormous ottoman-seat supported a stand,
the flowers of which, bending forward, like plumes of feathers, hung
over the heads of the ladies seated all around in a ring, while others
occupied the easy-chairs, which formed two straight lines symmetrically
interrupted by the large velvet curtains of the windows and the lofty
bays of the doors with their gilded lintels.

The crowd of men who remained standing on the floor with their hats in
their hands seemed, at some distance, like one black mass, into which
the ribbons in the button-holes introduced red points here and there,
and rendered all the more dull the monotonous whiteness of their
cravats. With the exception of the very young men with the down on their
faces, all appeared to be bored. Some dandies, with an expression of
sullenness on their countenances, were swinging on their heels. There
were numbers of men with grey hair or wigs. Here and there glistened a
bald pate; and the visages of many of these men, either purple or
exceedingly pale, showed in their worn aspect the traces of immense
fatigues: for they were persons who devoted themselves either to
political or commercial pursuits. M. Dambreuse had also invited a number
of scholars and magistrates, two or three celebrated doctors, and he
deprecated with an air of humility the eulogies which they pronounced on
his entertainment and the allusions to his wealth.

An immense number of men-servants, with fine gold-laced livery, kept
moving about on every side. The large branched candlesticks, like
bouquets of flame, threw a glow over the hangings. They were reflected
in the mirrors; and at the bottom of the dining-room, which was adorned
with a jessamine treillage, the side-board resembled the high altar of a
cathedral or an exhibition of jewellery, there were so many dishes,
bells, knives and forks, silver and silver-gilt spoons in the midst of
crystal ware glittering with iridescence.

The three other reception-rooms overflowed with artistic
objects--landscapes by great masters on the walls, ivory and porcelain
at the sides of the tables, and Chinese ornaments on the brackets.
Lacquered screens were displayed in front of the windows, clusters of
camelias rose above the mantel-shelves, and a light music vibrated in
the distance, like the humming of bees.

The quadrilles were not numerous, and the dancers, judged by the
indifferent fashion in which they dragged their pumps after them, seemed
to be going through the performance of a duty.

Frederick heard some phrases, such as the following:

"Were you at the last charity fête at the Hôtel Lambert, Mademoiselle?"
"No, Monsieur." "It will soon be intolerably warm here." "Oh! yes,
indeed; quite suffocating!" "Whose polka, pray, is this?" "Good heavens,
Madame, I don't know!"

And, behind him, three greybeards, who had posted themselves in the
recess of a window, were whispering some _risqué_ remarks. A sportsman
told a hunting story, while a Legitimist carried on an argument with an
Orléanist. And, wandering about from one group to another, he reached
the card-room, where, in the midst of grave-looking men gathered in a
circle, he recognised Martinon, now attached to the Bar of the capital.

His big face, with its waxen complexion, filled up the space encircled
by his collar-like beard, which was a marvel with its even surface of
black hair; and, observing the golden mean between the elegance which
his age might yearn for and the dignity which his profession exacted
from him, he kept his thumbs stuck under his armpits, according to the
custom of beaux, and then put his hands into his waistcoat pockets after
the manner of learned personages. Though his boots were polished to
excess, he kept his temples shaved in order to have the forehead of a
thinker.

After he had addressed a few chilling words to Frederick, he turned once
more towards those who were chatting around him. A land-owner was
saying: "This is a class of men that dreams of upsetting society."

"They are calling for the organisation of labour," said another: "Can
this be conceived?"

"What could you expect," said a third, "when we see M. de Genoude giving
his assistance to the _Siècle_?"

"And even Conservatives style themselves Progressives. To lead us to
what? To the Republic! as if such a thing were possible in France!"

Everyone declared that the Republic was impossible in France.

"No matter!" remarked one gentleman in a loud tone. "People take too
much interest in the Revolution. A heap of histories, of different kinds
of works, are published concerning it!"

"Without taking into account," said Martinon, "that there are probably
subjects of far more importance which might be studied."

A gentleman occupying a ministerial office laid the blame on the
scandals associated with the stage:

"Thus, for instance, this new drama of _La Reine Margot_ really goes
beyond the proper limits. What need was there for telling us about the
Valois? All this exhibits loyalty in an unfavourable light. 'Tis just
like your press! There is no use in talking, the September laws are
altogether too mild. For my part, I would like to have court-martials,
to gag the journalists! At the slightest display of insolence, drag them
before a council of war, and then make an end of the business!"

"Oh, take care, Monsieur! take care!" said a professor. "Don't attack
the precious boons we gained in 1830! Respect our liberties!" It would
be better, he contended, to adopt a policy of decentralisation, and to
distribute the surplus populations of the towns through the country
districts.

"But they are gangrened!" exclaimed a Catholic. "Let religion be more
firmly established!"

Martinon hastened to observe:

"As a matter of fact, it is a restraining force."

All the evil lay in this modern longing to rise above one's class and to
possess luxuries.

"However," urged a manufacturer, "luxury aids commerce. Therefore, I
approve of the Duc de Nemours' action in insisting on having short
breeches at his evening parties."

"M. Thiers came to one of them in a pair of trousers. You know his joke
on the subject?"

"Yes; charming! But he turned round to the demagogues, and his speech on
the question of incompatibilities was not without its influence in
bringing about the attempt of the twelfth of May."

"Oh, pooh!"

"Ay, ay!"

The circle had to make a little opening to give a passage to a
man-servant carrying a tray, who was trying to make his way into the
card-room.

Under the green shades of the wax-lights the tables were covered with
two rows of cards and gold coins. Frederick stopped beside one corner of
the table, lost the fifteen napoleons which he had in his pocket,
whirled lightly about, and found himself on the threshold of the boudoir
in which Madame Dambreuse happened to be at that moment.

It was filled with women sitting close to one another in little groups
on seats without backs. Their long skirts, swelling round them, seemed
like waves, from which their waists emerged; and their breasts were
clearly outlined by the slope of their corsages. Nearly every one of
them had a bouquet of violets in her hand. The dull shade of their
gloves showed off the whiteness of their arms, which formed a contrast
with its human flesh tints. Over the shoulders of some of them hung
fringe or mourning-weeds, and, every now and then, as they quivered with
emotion, it seemed as if their bodices were about to fall down.

But the decorum of their countenances tempered the exciting effect of
their costumes. Several of them had a placidity almost like that of
animals; and this resemblance to the brute creation on the part of
half-nude women made him think of the interior of a harem--indeed, a
grosser comparison suggested itself to the young man's mind.

Every variety of beauty was to be found there--some English ladies, with
the profile familiar in "keepsakes"; an Italian, whose black eyes shot
forth lava-like flashes, like a Vesuvius; three sisters, dressed in
blue; three Normans, fresh as April apples; a tall red-haired girl, with
a set of amethysts. And the bright scintillation of diamonds, which
trembled in aigrettes worn over their hair, the luminous spots of
precious stones laid over their breasts, and the delightful radiance of
pearls which adorned their foreheads mingled with the glitter of gold
rings, as well as with the lace, powder, the feathers, the vermilion of
dainty mouths, and the mother-of-pearl hue of teeth. The ceiling,
rounded like a cupola, gave to the boudoir the form of a flower-basket,
and a current of perfumed air circulated under the flapping of their
fans.

Frederick, planting himself behind them, put up his eyeglass and scanned
their shoulders, not all of which did he consider irreproachable. He
thought about the Maréchale, and this dispelled the temptations that
beset him or consoled him for not yielding to them.

He gazed, however, at Madame Dambreuse, and he considered her charming,
in spite of her mouth being rather large and her nostrils too dilated.
But she was remarkably graceful in appearance. There was, as it were, an
expression of passionate languor in the ringlets of her hair, and her
forehead, which was like agate, seemed to cover a great deal, and
indicated a masterful intelligence.

She had placed beside her her husband's niece, a rather plain-looking
young person. From time to time she left her seat to receive those who
had just come in; and the murmur of feminine voices, made, as it were, a
cackling like that of birds.

They were talking about the Tunisian ambassadors and their costumes. One
lady had been present at the last reception of the Academy. Another
referred to the _Don Juan_ of Molière, which had recently been performed
at the Théâtre Français.

But with a significant glance towards her niece, Madame Dambreuse laid a
finger on her lips, while the smile which escaped from her contradicted
this display of austerity.

Suddenly, Martinon appeared at the door directly in front of her. She
arose at once. He offered her his arm. Frederick, in order to watch the
progress of these gallantries on Martinon's part, walked past the
card-table, and came up with them in the large drawing-room. Madame
Dambreuse very soon quitted her cavalier, and began chatting with
Frederick himself in a very familiar tone.

She understood that he did not play cards, and did not dance.

"Young people have a tendency to be melancholy!" Then, with a single
comprehensive glance around:

"Besides, this sort of thing is not amusing--at least for certain
natures!"

And she drew up in front of the row of armchairs, uttering a few polite
remarks here and there, while some old men with double eyeglasses came
to pay court to her. She introduced Frederick to some of them. M.
Dambreuse touched him lightly on the elbow, and led him out on the
terrace.

He had seen the Minister. The thing was not easy to manage. Before he
could be qualified for the post of auditor to the Council of State, he
should pass an examination. Frederick, seized with an unaccountable
self-confidence, replied that he had a knowledge of the subjects
prescribed for it.

The financier was not surprised at this, after all the eulogies M. Roque
had pronounced on his abilities.

At the mention of this name, a vision of little Louise, her house and
her room, passed through his mind, and he remembered how he had on
nights like this stood at her window listening to the wagoners driving
past. This recollection of his griefs brought back the thought of Madame
Arnoux, and he relapsed into silence as he continued to pace up and down
the terrace. The windows shone amid the darkness like slabs of flame.
The buzz of the ball gradually grew fainter; the carriages were
beginning to leave.

"Why in the world," M. Dambreuse went on, "are you so anxious to be
attached to the Council of State?"

And he declared, in the tone of a man of broad views, that the public
functions led to nothing--he could speak with some authority on that
point--business was much better.

Frederick urged as an objection the difficulty of grappling with all the
details of business.

"Pooh! I could post you up well in them in a very short time."

Would he like to be a partner in any of his own undertakings?

The young man saw, as by a lightning-flash, an enormous fortune coming
into his hands.

"Let us go in again," said the banker. "You are staying for supper with
us, are you not?"

It was three o'clock. They left the terrace.

In the dining-room, a table at which supper was served up awaited the
guests.

M. Dambreuse perceived Martinon, and, drawing near his wife, in a low
tone:

"Is it you who invited him?"

She answered dryly:

"Yes, of course."

The niece was not present.

The guests drank a great deal of wine, and laughed very loudly; and
risky jokes did not give any offence, all present experiencing that
sense of relief which follows a somewhat prolonged period of constraint.

Martinon alone displayed anything like gravity. He refused to drink
champagne, as he thought this good form, and, moreover, he assumed an
air of tact and politeness, for when M. Dambreuse, who had a contracted
chest, complained of an oppression, he made repeated enquiries about
that gentleman's health, and then let his blue eyes wander in the
direction of Madame Dambreuse.

She questioned Frederick in order to find out which of the young ladies
he liked best. He had noticed none of them in particular, and besides,
he preferred the women of thirty.

"There, perhaps, you show your sense," she returned.

Then, as they were putting on their pelisses and paletots, M. Dambreuse
said to him:

"Come and see me one of these mornings and we'll have a chat."

Martinon, at the foot of the stairs, was lighting a cigar, and, as he
puffed it, he presented such a heavy profile that his companion allowed
this remark to escape from him:

"Upon my word, you have a fine head!"

"It has turned a few other heads," replied the young magistrate, with an
air of mingled self-complacency and annoyance.

As soon as Frederick was in bed, he summed up the main features of the
evening party. In the first place, his own toilet (he had looked at
himself several times in the mirrors), from the cut of his coat to the
knot of his pumps left nothing to find fault with. He had spoken to
influential men, and seen wealthy ladies at close quarters. M. Dambreuse
had shown himself to be an admirable type of man, and Madame Dambreuse
an almost bewitching type of woman. He weighed one by one her slightest
words, her looks, a thousand things incapable of being analysed. It
would be a right good thing to have such a mistress. And, after all, why
should he not? He would have as good a chance with her as any other man.
Perhaps she was not so hard to win? Then Martinon came back to his
recollection; and, as he fell asleep, he smiled with pity for this
worthy fellow.

He woke up with the thought of the Maréchale in his mind. Those words of
her note, "After to-morrow evening," were in fact an appointment for the
very same day.

He waited until nine o'clock, and then hurried to her house.

Some one who had been going up the stairs before him shut the door. He
rang the bell; Delphine came out and told him that "Madame" was not
there.

Frederick persisted, begging of her to admit him. He had something of a
very serious nature to communicate to her; only a word would suffice. At
length, the hundred-sous-piece argument proved successful, and the maid
let him into the anteroom.

Rosanette appeared. She was in a negligée, with her hair loose, and,
shaking her head, she waved her arms when she was some paces away from
him to indicate that she could not receive him now.

Frederick descended the stairs slowly. This caprice was worse than any
of the others she had indulged in. He could not understand it at all.

In front of the porter's lodge Mademoiselle Vatnaz stopped him.

"Has she received you?"

"No."

"You've been put out?"

"How do you know that?"

"'Tis quite plain. But come on; let us go away. I am suffocating!"

She made him accompany her along the street; she panted for breath; he
could feel her thin arm trembling on his own. Suddenly, she broke out:

"Ah! the wretch!"

"Who, pray?"

"Why, he--he--Delmar!"

This revelation humiliated Frederick. He next asked:

"Are you quite sure of it?"

"Why, when I tell you I followed him!" exclaimed the Vatnaz. "I saw him
going in! Now do you understand? I ought to have expected it for that
matter--'twas I, in my stupidity, that introduced him to her. And if you
only knew all; my God! Why, I picked him up, supported him, clothed him!
And then all the paragraphs I got into the newspapers about him! I loved
him like a mother!"

Then, with a sneer:

"Ha! Monsieur wants velvet robes! You may be sure 'tis a speculation on
his part. And as for her!--to think that I knew her to earn her living
as a seamstress! If it were not for me, she would have fallen into the
mire twenty times over! But I will plunge her into it yet! I'll see her
dying in a hospital--and everything about her will be known!"

And, like a torrent of dirty water from a vessel full of refuse, her
rage poured out in a tumultuous fashion into Frederick's ear the recital
of her rival's disgraceful acts.

"She lived with Jumillac, with Flacourt, with little Allard, with
Bertinaux, with Saint-Valéry, the pock-marked fellow! No, 'twas the
other! They are two brothers--it makes no difference. And when she was
in difficulties, I settled everything. She is so avaricious! And then,
you will agree with me, 'twas nice and kind of me to go to see her, for
we are not persons of the same grade! Am I a fast woman--I? Do I sell
myself? Without taking into account that she is as stupid as a head of
cabbage. She writes 'category' with a 'th.' After all, they are well
met. They make a precious couple, though he styles himself an artist and
thinks himself a man of genius. But, my God! if he had only
intelligence, he would not have done such an infamous thing! Men don't,
as a rule, leave a superior woman for a hussy! What do I care about him
after all? He is becoming ugly. I hate him! If I met him, mind you, I'd
spit in his face." She spat out as she uttered the words.

"Yes, this is what I think about him now. And Arnoux, eh? Isn't it
abominable? He has forgiven her so often! You can't conceive the
sacrifices he has made for her. She ought to kiss his feet! He is so
generous, so good!"

Frederick was delighted at hearing Delmar disparaged. He had taken sides
with Arnoux. This perfidy on Rosanette's part seemed to him an abnormal
and inexcusable thing; and, infected with this elderly spinster's
emotion, he felt a sort of tenderness towards her. Suddenly he found
himself in front of Arnoux's door. Mademoiselle Vatnaz, without his
attention having been drawn to it, had led him down towards the Rue
Poissonnière.

"Here we are!" said she. "As for me, I can't go up; but you, surely
there is nothing to prevent you?"

"From doing what?"

"From telling him everything, faith!"

Frederick, as if waking up with a start, saw the baseness towards which
she was urging him.

"Well?" she said after a pause.

He raised his eyes towards the second floor. Madame Arnoux's lamp was
burning. In fact there was nothing to prevent him from going up.

"I am going to wait for you here. Go on, then!"

This direction had the effect of chilling him, and he said:

"I shall be a long time up there; you would do better to return home. I
will call on you to-morrow."

"No, no!" replied the Vatnaz, stamping with her foot. "Take him with
you! Bring him there! Let him catch them together!"

"But Delmar will no longer be there."

She hung down her head.

"Yes; that's true, perhaps."

And she remained without speaking in the middle of the street, with
vehicles all around her; then, fixing on him her wild-cat's eyes:

"I may rely on you, may I not? There is now a sacred bond between us. Do
what you say, then; we'll talk about it to-morrow."

Frederick, in passing through the lobby, heard two voices responding to
one another.

Madame Arnoux's voice was saying:

"Don't lie! don't lie, pray!"

He went in. The voices suddenly ceased.

Arnoux was walking from one end of the apartment to the other, and
Madame was seated on the little chair near the fire, extremely pale and
staring straight before her. Frederick stepped back, and was about to
retire, when Arnoux grasped his hand, glad that some one had come to his
rescue.

"But I am afraid----" said Frederick.

"Stay here, I beg of you!" he whispered in his ear.

Madame remarked:

"You must make some allowance for this scene, Monsieur Moreau. Such
things sometimes unfortunately occur in households."

"They do when we introduce them there ourselves," said Arnoux in a jolly
tone. "Women have crotchets, I assure you. This, for instance, is not a
bad one--see! No; quite the contrary. Well, she has been amusing
herself for the last hour by teasing me with a heap of idle stories."

"They are true," retorted Madame Arnoux, losing patience; "for, in fact,
you bought it yourself."

"I?"

"Yes, you yourself, at the Persian House."

"The cashmere," thought Frederick.

He was filled with a consciousness of guilt, and got quite alarmed.

She quickly added:

"It was on Saturday, the fourteenth."

"The fourteenth," said Arnoux, looking up, as if he were searching in
his mind for a date.

"And, furthermore, the clerk who sold it to you was a fair-haired young
man."

"How could I remember what sort of man the clerk was?"

"And yet it was at your dictation he wrote the address, 18 Rue de
Laval."

"How do you know?" said Arnoux in amazement.

She shrugged her shoulders.

"Oh! 'tis very simple: I went to get my cashmere altered, and the
superintendent of the millinery department told me that they had just
sent another of the same sort to Madame Arnoux."

"Is it my fault if there is a Madame Arnoux in the same street?"

"Yes; but not Jacques Arnoux," she returned.

Thereupon, he began to talk in an incoherent fashion, protesting that he
was innocent. It was some misapprehension, some accident, one of those
things that happen in some way that is utterly unaccountable. Men should
not be condemned on mere suspicion, vague probabilities; and he
referred to the case of the unfortunate Lesurques.

"In short, I say you are mistaken. Do you want me to take my oath on
it?"

"'Tis not worth while."

"Why?"

She looked him straight in the face without saying a word, then
stretched out her hand, took down the little silver chest from the
mantelpiece, and handed him a bill which was spread open.

Arnoux coloured up to his ears, and his swollen and distorted features
betrayed his confusion.

"But," he said in faltering tones, "what does this prove?"

"Ah!" she said, with a peculiar ring in her voice, in which sorrow and
irony were blended. "Ah!"

Arnoux held the bill in his hands, and turned it round without removing
his eyes from it, as if he were going to find in it the solution of a
great problem.

"Ah! yes, yes; I remember," said he at length. "'Twas a commission. You
ought to know about that matter, Frederick." Frederick remained silent.
"A commission that Père Oudry entrusted to me."

"And for whom?"

"For his mistress."

"For your own!" exclaimed Madame Arnoux, springing to her feet and
standing erect before him.

"I swear to you!"

"Don't begin over again. I know everything."

"Ha! quite right. So you're spying on me!"

She returned coldly:

"Perhaps that wounds your delicacy?"

"Since you are in a passion," said Arnoux, looking for his hat, "and
can't be reasoned with----"

Then, with a big sigh:

"Don't marry, my poor friend, don't, if you take my advice!"

And he took himself off, finding it absolutely necessary to get into the
open air.

Then there was a deep silence, and it seemed as if everything in the
room had become more motionless than before. A luminous circle above the
lamp whitened the ceiling, while at the corners stretched out bits of
shade resembling pieces of black gauze placed on top of one another. The
ticking of the clock and the crackling of the fire were the only sounds
that disturbed the stillness.

Madame Arnoux had just seated herself in the armchair at the opposite
side of the chimney-piece. She bit her lip and shivered. She drew her
hands up to her face; a sob broke from her, and she began to weep.

He sat down on the little couch, and in the soothing tone in which one
addresses a sick person:

"You don't suspect me of having anything to do with----?"

She made no reply. But, continuing presently to give utterance to her
own thoughts:

"I leave him perfectly free! There was no necessity for lying on his
part!"

"That is quite true," said Frederick. "No doubt," he added, "it was the
result of Arnoux's habits; he had acted thoughtlessly, but perhaps in
matters of a graver character----"

"What do you see, then, that can be graver?"

"Oh, nothing!"

Frederick bent his head with a smile of acquiescence. Nevertheless, he
urged, Arnoux possessed certain good qualities; he was fond of his
children.

"Ay, and he does all he can to ruin them!"

Frederick urged that this was due to an excessively easy-going
disposition, for indeed he was a good fellow.

She exclaimed:

"But what is the meaning of that--a good fellow?"

And he proceeded to defend Arnoux in the vaguest kind of language he
could think of, and, while expressing his sympathy with her, he
rejoiced, he was delighted, at the bottom of his heart. Through
retaliation or need of affection she would fly to him for refuge. His
love was intensified by the hope which had now grown immeasurably
stronger in his breast.

Never had she appeared to him so captivating, so perfectly beautiful.
From time to time a deep breath made her bosom swell. Her two eyes,
gazing fixedly into space, seemed dilated by a vision in the depths of
her consciousness, and her lips were slightly parted, as if to let her
soul escape through them. Sometimes she pressed her handkerchief over
them tightly. He would have liked to be this dainty little piece of
cambric moistened with her tears. In spite of himself, he cast a look at
the bed at the end of the alcove, picturing to himself her head lying on
the pillow, and so vividly did this present itself to his imagination
that he had to restrain himself to keep from clasping her in his arms.
She closed her eyelids, and now she appeared quiescent and languid. Then
he drew closer to her, and, bending over her, he eagerly scanned her
face. At that moment, he heard the noise of boots in the lobby
outside--it was the other. They heard him shutting the door of his own
room. Frederick made a sign to Madame Arnoux to ascertain from her
whether he ought to go there.

She replied "Yes," in the same voiceless fashion; and this mute exchange
of thoughts between them was, as it were, an assent--the preliminary
step in adultery.

Arnoux was just taking off his coat to go to bed.

"Well, how is she going on?"

"Oh! better," said Frederick; "this will pass off."

But Arnoux was in an anxious state of mind.

"You don't know her; she has got hysterical now! Idiot of a clerk! This
is what comes of being too good. If I had not given that cursed shawl to
Rosanette!"

"Don't regret having done so a bit. Nobody could be more grateful to you
than she is."

"Do you really think so?"

Frederick had not a doubt of it. The best proof of it was her dismissal
of Père Oudry.

"Ah! poor little thing!"

And in the excess of his emotion, Arnoux wanted to rush off to her
forthwith.

"'Tisn't worth while. I am calling to see her. She is unwell."

"All the more reason for my going."

He quickly put on his coat again, and took up his candlestick. Frederick
cursed his own stupidity, and pointed out to him that for decency's sake
he ought to remain this night with his wife. He could not leave her; it
would be very nasty.

"I tell you candidly you would be doing wrong. There is no hurry over
there. You will go to-morrow. Come; do this for my sake."

Arnoux put down his candlestick, and, embracing him, said:

"You are a right good fellow!"



CHAPTER IX.

The Friend of the Family.


Then began for Frederick an existence of misery. He became the parasite
of the house.

If anyone were indisposed, he called three times a day to know how the
patient was, went to the piano-tuner's, contrived to do a thousand acts
of kindness; and he endured with an air of contentment Mademoiselle
Marthe's poutings and the caresses of little Eugène, who was always
drawing his dirty hands over the young man's face. He was present at
dinners at which Monsieur and Madame, facing each other, did not
exchange a word, unless it happened that Arnoux provoked his wife with
the absurd remarks he made. When the meal was over, he would play about
the room with his son, conceal himself behind the furniture, or carry
the little boy on his back, walking about on all fours, like the
Bearnais.[11] At last, he would go out, and she would at once plunge
into the eternal subject of complaint--Arnoux.

[Footnote 11: Henry IV.--Translator.]

It was not his misconduct that excited her indignation, but her pride
appeared to be wounded, and she did not hide her repugnance towards this
man, who showed an absence of delicacy, dignity, and honour.

"Or rather, he is mad!" she said.

Frederick artfully appealed to her to confide in him. Ere long he knew
all the details of her life. Her parents were people in a humble rank in
life at Chartres. One day, Arnoux, while sketching on the bank of the
river (at this period he believed himself to be a painter), saw her
leaving the church, and made her an offer of marriage. On account of his
wealth, he was unhesitatingly accepted. Besides, he was desperately in
love with her. She added:

"Good heavens! he loves me still, after his fashion!"

They spent the few months immediately after their marriage in travelling
through Italy.

Arnoux, in spite of his enthusiasm at the sight of the scenery and the
masterpieces, did nothing but groan over the wine, and, to find some
kind of amusement, organised picnics along with some English people. The
profit which he had made by reselling some pictures tempted him to take
up the fine arts as a commercial speculation. Then, he became infatuated
about pottery. Just now other branches of commerce attracted him; and,
as he had become more and more vulgarised, he contracted coarse and
extravagant habits. It was not so much for his vices she had to reproach
him as for his entire conduct. No change could be expected in him, and
her unhappiness was irreparable.

Frederick declared that his own life in the same way was a failure.

He was still a young man, however. Why should he despair? And she gave
him good advice: "Work! and marry!" He answered her with bitter smiles;
for in place of giving utterance to the real cause of his grief, he
pretended that it was of a different character, a sublime feeling, and
he assumed the part of an Antony to some extent, the man accursed by
fate--language which did not, however, change very materially the
complexion of his thoughts.

For certain men action becomes more difficult as desire becomes
stronger. They are embarrassed by self-distrust, and terrified by the
fear of making themselves disliked. Besides, deep attachments resemble
virtuous women: they are afraid of being discovered, and pass through
life with downcast eyes.

Though he was now better acquainted with Madame Arnoux (for that very
reason perhaps), he was still more faint-hearted than before. Each
morning he swore in his own mind that he would take a bold course. He
was prevented from doing so by an unconquerable feeling of bashfulness;
and he had no example to guide him, inasmuch as she was different from
other women. From the force of his dreams, he had placed her outside the
ordinary pale of humanity. At her side he felt himself of less
importance in the world than the sprigs of silk that escaped from her
scissors.

Then he thought of some monstrous and absurd devices, such as surprises
at night, with narcotics and false keys--anything appearing easier to
him than to face her disdain.

Besides, the children, the two servant-maids, and the relative position
of the rooms caused insurmountable obstacles. So then he made up his
mind to possess her himself alone, and to bring her to live with him
far away in the depths of some solitude. He even asked himself what lake
would be blue enough, what seashore would be delightful enough for her,
whether it would be in Spain, Switzerland, or the East; and expressly
fixing on days when she seemed more irritated than usual, he told her
that it would be necessary for her to leave the house, to find out some
ground to justify such a step, and that he saw no way out of it but a
separation. However, for the sake of the children whom she loved, she
would never resort to such an extreme course. So much virtue served to
increase his respect for her.

He spent each afternoon in recalling the visit he had paid the night
before, and in longing for the evening to come in order that he might
call again. When he did not dine with them, he posted himself about nine
o'clock at the corner of the street, and, as soon as Arnoux had slammed
the hall-door behind him, Frederick quickly ascended the two flights of
stairs, and asked the servant-girl in an ingenuous fashion:

"Is Monsieur in?"

Then he would exhibit surprise at finding that Arnoux was gone out.

The latter frequently came back unexpectedly. Then Frederick had to
accompany him to the little café in the Rue Sainte-Anne, which Regimbart
now frequented.

The Citizen began by giving vent to some fresh grievance which he had
against the Crown. Then they would chat, pouring out friendly abuse on
one another, for the earthenware manufacturer took Regimbart for a
thinker of a high order, and, vexed at seeing him neglecting so many
chances of winning distinction, teased the Citizen about his laziness.
It seemed to Regimbart that Arnoux was a man full of heart and
imagination, but decidedly of lax morals, and therefore he was quite
unceremonious towards a personage he respected so little, refusing even
to dine at his house on the ground that "such formality was a bore."

Sometimes, at the moment of parting, Arnoux would be seized with hunger.
He found it necessary to order an omelet or some roasted apples; and, as
there was never anything to eat in the establishment, he sent out for
something. They waited. Regimbart did not leave, and ended by consenting
in a grumbling fashion to have something himself. He was nevertheless
gloomy, for he remained for hours seated before a half-filled glass. As
Providence did not regulate things in harmony with his ideas, he was
becoming a hypochondriac, no longer cared even to read the newspapers,
and at the mere mention of England's name began to bellow with rage. On
one occasion, referring to a waiter who attended on him carelessly, he
exclaimed:

"Have we not enough of insults from the foreigner?"

Except at these critical periods he remained taciturn, contemplating "an
infallible stroke of business that would burst up the whole shop."

Whilst he was lost in these reflections, Arnoux in a monotonous voice
and with a slight look of intoxication, related incredible anecdotes in
which he always shone himself, owing to his assurance; and Frederick
(this was, no doubt, due to some deep-rooted resemblances) felt more or
less attracted towards him. He reproached himself for this weakness,
believing that on the contrary he ought to hate this man.

Arnoux, in Frederick's presence, complained of his wife's ill-temper,
her obstinacy, her unjust accusations. She had not been like this in
former days.

"If I were you," said Frederick, "I would make her an allowance and live
alone."

Arnoux made no reply; and the next moment he began to sound her praises.
She was good, devoted, intelligent, and virtuous; and, passing to her
personal beauty, he made some revelations on the subject with the
thoughtlessness of people who display their treasures at taverns.

His equilibrium was disturbed by a catastrophe.

He had been appointed one of the Board of Superintendence in a kaolin
company. But placing reliance on everything that he was told, he had
signed inaccurate reports and approved, without verification, of the
annual inventories fraudulently prepared by the manager. The company had
now failed, and Arnoux, being legally responsible, was, along with the
others who were liable under the guaranty, condemned to pay damages,
which meant a loss to him of thirty thousand francs, not to speak of the
costs of the judgment.

Frederick read the report of the case in a newspaper, and at once
hurried off to the Rue de Paradis.

He was ushered into Madame's apartment. It was breakfast-time. A round
table close to the fire was covered with bowls of _café au lait_.
Slippers trailed over the carpet, and clothes over the armchairs. Arnoux
was attired in trousers and a knitted vest, with his eyes bloodshot and
his hair in disorder. Little Eugène was crying at the pain caused by an
attack of mumps, while nibbling at a slice of bread and butter. His
sister was eating quietly. Madame Arnoux, a little paler than usual, was
attending on all three of them.

"Well," said Arnoux, heaving a deep sigh, "you know all about it?"

And, as Frederick gave him a pitying look: "There, you see, I have been
the victim of my own trustfulness!"

Then he relapsed into silence, and so great was his prostration, that he
pushed his breakfast away from him. Madame Arnoux raised her eyes with a
shrug of the shoulders. He passed his hand across his forehead.

"After all, I am not guilty. I have nothing to reproach myself with.
'Tis a misfortune. It will be got over--ay, and so much the worse,
faith!"

He took a bite of a cake, however, in obedience to his wife's
entreaties.

That evening, he wished that she should go and dine with him alone in a
private room at the Maison d'Or. Madame Arnoux did not at all understand
this emotional impulse, taking offence, in fact, at being treated as if
she were a light woman. Arnoux, on the contrary, meant it as a proof of
affection. Then, as he was beginning to feel dull, he went to pay the
Maréchale a visit in order to amuse himself.

Up to the present, he had been pardoned for many things owing to his
reputation for good-fellowship. His lawsuit placed him amongst men of
bad character. No one visited his house.

Frederick, however, considered that he was bound in honour to go there
more frequently than ever. He hired a box at the Italian opera, and
brought them there with him every week. Meanwhile, the pair had reached
that period in unsuitable unions when an invincible lassitude springs
from concessions which people get into the habit of making, and which
render existence intolerable. Madame Arnoux restrained her pent-up
feelings from breaking out; Arnoux became gloomy; and Frederick grew sad
at witnessing the unhappiness of these two ill-fated beings.

She had imposed on him the obligation, since she had given him her
confidence, of making enquiries as to the state of her husband's
affairs. But shame prevented him from doing so. It was painful to him to
reflect that he coveted the wife of this man, at whose dinner-table he
constantly sat. Nevertheless, he continued his visits, excusing himself
on the ground that he was bound to protect her, and that an occasion
might present itself for being of service to her.

Eight days after the ball, he had paid a visit to M. Dambreuse. The
financier had offered him twenty shares in a coal-mining speculation;
Frederick did not go back there again. Deslauriers had written letters
to him, which he left unanswered. Pellerin had invited him to go and see
the portrait; he always put it off. He gave way, however, to Cisy's
persistent appeals to be introduced to Rosanette.

She received him very nicely, but without springing on his neck as she
used to do formerly. His comrade was delighted at being received by a
woman of easy virtue, and above all at having a chat with an actor.
Delmar was there when he called. A drama in which he appeared as a
peasant lecturing Louis XIV. and prophesying the events of '89 had made
him so conspicuous, that the same part was continually assigned to him;
and now his function consisted of attacks on the monarchs of all
nations. As an English brewer, he inveighed against Charles I.; as a
student at Salamanca, he cursed Philip II.; or, as a sensitive father,
he expressed indignation against the Pompadour--this was the most
beautiful bit of acting! The brats of the street used to wait at the
door leading to the side-scenes in order to see him; and his biography,
sold between the acts, described him as taking care of his aged mother,
reading the Bible, assisting the poor, in fact, under the aspect of a
Saint Vincent de Paul together with a dash of Brutus and Mirabeau.
People spoke of him as "Our Delmar." He had a mission; he became another
Christ.

All this had fascinated Rosanette; and she had got rid of Père Oudry,
without caring one jot about consequences, as she was not of a covetous
disposition.

Arnoux, who knew her, had taken advantage of the state of affairs for
some time past to spend very little money on her. M. Roque had appeared
on the scene, and all three of them carefully avoided anything like a
candid explanation. Then, fancying that she had got rid of the other
solely on his account, Arnoux increased her allowance, for she was
living at a very expensive rate. She had even sold her cashmere in her
anxiety to pay off her old debts, as she said; and he was continually
giving her money, while she bewitched him and imposed upon him
pitilessly. Therefore, bills and stamped paper rained all over the
house. Frederick felt that a crisis was approaching.

One day he called to see Madame Arnoux. She had gone out. Monsieur was
at work below stairs in the shop. In fact, Arnoux, in the midst of his
Japanese vases, was trying to take in a newly-married pair who happened
to be well-to-do people from the provinces. He talked about
wheel-moulding and fine-moulding, about spotted porcelain and glazed
porcelain; the others, not wishing to appear utterly ignorant of the
subject, listened with nods of approbation, and made purchases.

When the customers had gone out, he told Frederick that he had that very
morning been engaged in a little altercation with his wife. In order to
obviate any remarks about expense, he had declared that the Maréchale
was no longer his mistress. "I even told her that she was yours."

Frederick was annoyed at this; but to utter reproaches might only betray
him. He faltered: "Ah! you were in the wrong--greatly in the wrong!"

"What does that signify?" said Arnoux. "Where is the disgrace of passing
for her lover? I am really so myself. Would you not be flattered at
being in that position?"

Had she spoken? Was this a hint? Frederick hastened to reply:

"No! not at all! on the contrary!"

"Well, what then?"

"Yes, 'tis true; it makes no difference so far as that's concerned."

Arnoux next asked: "And why don't you call there oftener?"

Frederick promised that he would make it his business to go there again.

"Ah! I forgot! you ought, when talking about Rosanette, to let out in
some way to my wife that you are her lover. I can't suggest how you can
best do it, but you'll find out that. I ask this of you as a special
favour--eh?"

The young man's only answer was an equivocal grimace. This calumny had
undone him. He even called on her that evening, and swore that Arnoux's
accusation was false.

"Is that really so?"

He appeared to be speaking sincerely, and, when she had taken a long
breath of relief, she said to him:

"I believe you," with a beautiful smile. Then she hung down her head,
and, without looking at him:

"Besides, nobody has any claim on you!"

So then she had divined nothing; and she despised him, seeing that she
did not think he could love her well enough to remain faithful to her!
Frederick, forgetting his overtures while with the other, looked on the
permission accorded to him as an insult to himself.

After this she suggested that he ought now and then to pay Rosanette a
visit, to get a little glimpse of what she was like.

Arnoux presently made his appearance, and, five minutes later, wished to
carry him off to Rosanette's abode.

The situation was becoming intolerable.

His attention was diverted by a letter from a notary, who was going to
send him fifteen thousand francs the following day; and, in order to
make up for his neglect of Deslauriers, he went forthwith to tell him
this good news.

The advocate was lodging in the Rue des Trois-Maries, on the fifth
floor, over a courtyard. His study, a little tiled apartment, chilly,
and with a grey paper on the walls, had as its principal decoration a
gold medal, the prize awarded him on the occasion of taking out his
degree as a Doctor of Laws, which was fixed in an ebony frame near the
mirror. A mahogany bookcase enclosed under its glass front a hundred
volumes, more or less. The writing-desk, covered with sheep-leather,
occupied the centre of the apartment. Four old armchairs upholstered in
green velvet were placed in the corners; and a heap of shavings made a
blaze in the fireplace, where there was always a bundle of sticks ready
to be lighted as soon as he rang the bell. It was his consultation-hour,
and the advocate had on a white cravat.

The announcement as to the fifteen thousand francs (he had, no doubt,
given up all hope of getting the amount) made him chuckle with delight.

"That's right, old fellow, that's right--that's quite right!"

He threw some wood into the fire, sat down again, and immediately began
talking about the journal. The first thing to do was to get rid of
Hussonnet.

"I'm quite tired of that idiot! As for officially professing opinions,
my own notion is that the most equitable and forcible position is to
have no opinions at all."

Frederick appeared astonished.

"Why, the thing is perfectly plain. It is time that politics should be
dealt with scientifically. The old men of the eighteenth century began
it when Rousseau and the men of letters introduced into the political
sphere philanthropy, poetry, and other fudge, to the great delight of
the Catholics--a natural alliance, however, since the modern reformers
(I can prove it) all believe in Revelation. But, if you sing high masses
for Poland, if, in place of the God of the Dominicans, who was an
executioner, you take the God of the Romanticists, who is an
upholsterer, if, in fact, you have not a wider conception of the
Absolute than your ancestors, Monarchy will penetrate underneath your
Republican forms, and your red cap will never be more than the headpiece
of a priest. The only difference will be that the cell system will take
the place of torture, the outrageous treatment of Religion that of
sacrilege, and the European Concert that of the Holy Alliance; and in
this beautiful order which we admire, composed of the wreckage of the
followers of Louis XIV., the last remains of the Voltaireans, with some
Imperial white-wash on top, and some fragments of the British
Constitution, you will see the municipal councils trying to give
annoyance to the Mayor, the general councils to their Prefect, the
Chambers to the King, the Press to Power, and the Administration to
everybody. But simple-minded people get enraptured about the Civil Code,
a work fabricated--let them say what they like--in a mean and tyrannical
spirit, for the legislator, in place of doing his duty to the State,
which simply means to observe customs in a regular fashion, claims to
model society like another Lycurgus. Why does the law impede fathers of
families with regard to the making of wills? Why does it place shackles
on the compulsory sale of real estate? Why does it punish as a
misdemeanour vagrancy, which ought not even to be regarded as a
technical contravention of the Code. And there are other things! I know
all about them! and so I am going to write a little novel, entitled
'The History of the Idea of Justice,' which will be amusing. But I am
infernally thirsty! And you?"

He leaned out through the window, and called to the porter to go and
fetch them two glasses of grog from the public-house over the way.

"To sum up, I see three parties--no! three groups--in none of which do I
take the slightest interest: those who have, those who have nothing, and
those who are trying to have. But all agree in their idiotic worship of
Authority! For example, Mably recommends that the philosophers should be
prevented from publishing their doctrines; M. Wronsky, the geometrician,
describes the censorship as the 'critical expression of speculative
spontaneity'; Père Enfantin gives his blessing to the Hapsburgs for
having passed a hand across the Alps in order to keep Italy down; Pierre
Leroux wishes people to be compelled to listen to an orator; and Louis
Blanc inclines towards a State religion--so much rage for government
have these vassals whom we call the people! Nevertheless, there is not a
single legitimate government, in spite of their sempiternal principles.
But 'principle' signifies 'origin.' It is always necessary to go back to
a revolution, to an act of violence, to a transitory fact. Thus, our
principle is the national sovereignty embodied in the Parliamentary
form, though the Parliament does not assent to this! But in what way
could the sovereignty of the people be more sacred than the Divine
Right? They are both fictions. Enough of metaphysics; no more phantoms!
There is no need of dogmas in order to get the streets swept! It will be
said that I am turning society upside down. Well, after all, where would
be the harm of that? It is, indeed, a nice thing--this society of
yours."

Frederick could have given many answers. But, seeing that his theories
were far less advanced than those of Sénécal, he was full of indulgence
towards Deslauriers. He contented himself with arguing that such a
system would make them generally hated.

"On the contrary, as we should have given to each party a pledge of
hatred against his neighbour, all will reckon on us. You are about to
enter into it yourself, and to furnish us with some transcendent
criticism!"

It was necessary to attack accepted ideas--the Academy, the Normal
School, the Consérvatoire, the Comédie Française, everything that
resembled an institution. It was in that way that they would give
uniformity to the doctrines taught in their review. Then, as soon as it
had been thoroughly well-established, the journal would suddenly be
converted into a daily publication. Thereupon they could find fault with
individuals.

"And they will respect us, you may be sure!"

Deslauriers touched upon that old dream of his--the position of
editor-in-chief, so that he might have the unutterable happiness of
directing others, of entirely cutting down their articles, of ordering
them to be written or declining them. His eyes twinkled under his
goggles; he got into a state of excitement, and drank a few glasses of
brandy, one after the other, in an automatic fashion.

"You'll have to stand me a dinner once a week. That's indispensable,
even though you should have to squander half your income on it. People
would feel pleasure in going to it; it would be a centre for the
others, a lever for yourself; and by manipulating public opinion at its
two ends--literature and politics--you will see how, before six months
have passed, we shall occupy the first rank in Paris."

Frederick, as he listened to Deslauriers, experienced a sensation of
rejuvenescence, like a man who, after having been confined in a room for
a long time, is suddenly transported into the open air. The enthusiasm
of his friend had a contagious effect upon him.

"Yes, I have been an idler, an imbecile--you are right!"

"All in good time," said Deslauriers. "I have found my Frederick again!"

And, holding up his jaw with closed fingers:

"Ah! you have made me suffer! Never mind, I am fond of you all the
same."

They stood there gazing into each other's faces, both deeply affected,
and were on the point of embracing each other.

A woman's cap appeared on the threshold of the anteroom.

"What brings you here?" said Deslauriers.

It was Mademoiselle Clémence, his mistress.

She replied that, as she happened to be passing, she could not resist
the desire to go in to see him, and in order that they might have a
little repast together, she had brought some cakes, which she laid on
the table.

"Take care of my papers!" said the advocate, sharply. "Besides,
this is the third time that I have forbidden you to come at my
consultation-hours."

She wished to embrace him.

"All right! Go away! Cut your stick!"

He repelled her; she heaved a great sigh.

"Ah! you are plaguing me again!"

"'Tis because I love you!"

"I don't ask you to love me, but to oblige me!"

This harsh remark stopped Clémence's tears. She took up her station
before the window, and remained there motionless, with her forehead
against the pane.

Her attitude and her silence had an irritating effect on Deslauriers.

"When you have finished, you will order your carriage, will you not?"

She turned round with a start.

"You are sending me away?"

"Exactly."

She fixed on him her large blue eyes, no doubt as a last appeal, then
drew the two ends of her tartan across each other, lingered for a minute
or two, and went away.

"You ought to call her back," said Frederick.

"Come, now!"

And, as he wished to go out, Deslauriers went into the kitchen, which
also served as his dressing-room. On the stone floor, beside a pair of
boots, were to be seen the remains of a meagre breakfast, and a mattress
with a coverlid was rolled up on the floor in a corner.

"This will show you," said he, "that I receive few marchionesses. 'Tis
easy to get enough of them, ay, faith! and some others, too! Those who
cost nothing take up your time--'tis money under another form. Now, I'm
not rich! And then they are all so silly, so silly! Can you chat with a
woman yourself?"

As they parted, at the corner of the Pont Neuf, Deslauriers said: "It's
agreed, then; you'll bring the thing to me to-morrow as soon as you have
it!"

"Agreed!" said Frederick.

When he awoke next morning, he received through the post a cheque on the
bank for fifteen thousand francs.

This scrap of paper represented to him fifteen big bags of money; and he
said to himself that, with such a sum he could, first of all, keep his
carriage for three years instead of selling it, as he would soon be
forced to do, or buy for himself two beautiful damaskeened pieces of
armour, which he had seen on the Quai Voltaire, then a quantity of other
things, pictures, books and what a quantity of bouquets of flowers,
presents for Madame Arnoux! anything, in short, would have been
preferable to risking losing everything in that journal! Deslauriers
seemed to him presumptuous, his insensibility on the night before having
chilled Frederick's affection for him; and the young man was indulging
in these feelings of regret, when he was quite surprised by the sudden
appearance of Arnoux, who sat down heavily on the side of the bed, like
a man overwhelmed with trouble.

"What is the matter now?"

"I am ruined!"

He had to deposit that very day at the office of Maître Beaumont,
notary, in the Rue Saint-Anne, eighteen thousand francs lent him by one
Vanneroy.

"'Tis an unaccountable disaster. I have, however, given him a mortgage,
which ought to keep him quiet. But he threatens me with a writ if it is
not paid this afternoon promptly."

"And what next?"

"Oh! the next step is simple enough; he will take possession of my real
estate. Once the thing is publicly announced, it means ruin to
me--that's all! Ah! if I could find anyone to advance me this cursed
sum, he might take Vanneroy's place, and I should be saved! You don't
chance to have it yourself?"

The cheque had remained on the night-table near a book. Frederick took
up a volume, and placed it on the cheque, while he replied:

"Good heavens, my dear friend, no!"

But it was painful to him to say "no" to Arnoux.

"What, don't you know anyone who would----?"

"Nobody! and to think that in eight days I should be getting in money!
There is owing to me probably fifty thousand francs at the end of the
month!"

"Couldn't you ask some of the persons that owe you money to make you an
advance?"

"Ah! well, so I did!"

"But have you any bills or promissory notes?"

"Not one!"

"What is to be done?" said Frederick.

"That's what I'm asking myself," said Arnoux. "'Tisn't for myself, my
God! but for my children and my poor wife!"

Then, letting each phrase fall from his lips in a broken fashion:

"In fact--I could rough it--I could pack off all I have--and go and seek
my fortune--I don't know where!"

"Impossible!" exclaimed Frederick.

Arnoux replied with an air of calmness:

"How do you think I could live in Paris now?"

There was a long silence. Frederick broke it by saying:

"When could you pay back this money?"

Not that he had it; quite the contrary! But there was nothing to prevent
him from seeing some friends, and making an application to them.

And he rang for his servant to get himself dressed.

Arnoux thanked him.

"The amount you want is eighteen thousand francs--isn't it?"

"Oh! I could manage easily with sixteen thousand! For I could make two
thousand five hundred out of it, or get three thousand on my silver
plate, if Vanneroy meanwhile would give me till to-morrow; and, I repeat
to you, you may inform the lender, give him a solemn undertaking, that
in eight days, perhaps even in five or six, the money will be
reimbursed. Besides, the mortgage will be security for it. So there is
no risk, you understand?"

Frederick assured him that he thoroughly understood the state of
affairs, and added that he was going out immediately.

He would be sure on his return to bestow hearty maledictions on
Deslauriers, for he wished to keep his word, and in the meantime, to
oblige Arnoux.

"Suppose I applied to M. Dambreuse? But on what pretext could I ask for
money? 'Tis I, on the contrary, that should give him some for the shares
I took in his coal-mining company. Ah! let him go hang himself--his
shares! I am really not liable for them!"

And Frederick applauded himself for his own independence, as if he had
refused to do some service for M. Dambreuse.

"Ah, well," said he to himself afterwards, "since I'm going to meet with
a loss in this way--for with fifteen thousand francs I might gain a
hundred thousand! such things sometimes happen on the Bourse--well,
then, since I am breaking my promise to one of them, am I not free?
Besides, when Deslauriers might wait? No, no; that's wrong; let us go
there."

He looked at his watch.

"Ah! there's no hurry. The bank does not close till five o'clock."

And, at half-past four, when he had cashed the cheque:

"'Tis useless now; I should not find him in. I'll go this evening." Thus
giving himself the opportunity of changing his mind, for there always
remain in the conscience some of those sophistries which we pour into it
ourselves. It preserves the after-taste of them, like some unwholesome
liquor.

He walked along the boulevards, and dined alone at the restaurant. Then
he listened to one act of a play at the Vaudeville, in order to divert
his thoughts. But his bank-notes caused him as much embarrassment as if
he had stolen them. He would not have been very sorry if he had lost
them.

When he reached home again he found a letter containing these words:

"What news? My wife joins me, dear friend, in the hope, etc.--Yours."

And then there was a flourish after his signature.

"His wife! She appeals to me!"

At the same moment Arnoux appeared, to have an answer as to whether he
had been able to obtain the sum so sorely needed.

"Wait a moment; here it is," said Frederick.

And, twenty-four hours later, he gave this reply to Deslauriers:

"I have no money."

The advocate came back three days, one after the other, and urged
Frederick to write to the notary. He even offered to take a trip to
Havre in connection with the matter.

At the end of the week, Frederick timidly asked the worthy Arnoux for
his fifteen thousand francs. Arnoux put it off till the following day,
and then till the day after. Frederick ventured out late at night,
fearing lest Deslauriers might come on him by surprise.

One evening, somebody knocked against him at the corner of the
Madeleine. It was he.

And Deslauriers accompanied Frederick as far as the door of a house in
the Faubourg Poissonnière.

"Wait for me!"

He waited. At last, after three quarters of an hour, Frederick came out,
accompanied by Arnoux, and made signs to him to have patience a little
longer. The earthenware merchant and his companion went up the Rue de
Hauteville arm-in-arm, and then turned down the Rue de Chabrol.

The night was dark, with gusts of tepid wind. Arnoux walked on slowly,
talking about the Galleries of Commerce--a succession of covered
passages which would have led from the Boulevard Saint-Denis to the
Châtelet, a marvellous speculation, into which he was very anxious to
enter; and he stopped from time to time in order to have a look at the
grisettes' faces in front of the shop-windows, and then, raising his
head again, resumed the thread of his discourse.

Frederick heard Deslauriers' steps behind him like reproaches, like
blows falling on his conscience. But he did not venture to claim his
money, through a feeling of bashfulness, and also through a fear that
it would be fruitless. The other was drawing nearer. He made up his mind
to ask.

Arnoux, in a very flippant tone, said that, as he had not got in his
outstanding debts, he was really unable to pay back the fifteen thousand
francs.

"You have no need of money, I fancy?"

At that moment Deslauriers came up to Frederick, and, taking him aside:

"Be honest. Have you got the amount? Yes or no?"

"Well, then, no," said Frederick; "I've lost it."

"Ah! and in what way?"

"At play."

Deslauriers, without saying a single word in reply, made a very low bow,
and went away. Arnoux had taken advantage of the opportunity to light a
cigar in a tobacconist's shop. When he came back, he wanted to know from
Frederick "who was that young man?"

"Oh! nobody--a friend."

Then, three minutes later, in front of Rosanette's door:

"Come on up," said Arnoux; "she'll be glad to see you. What a savage you
are just now!"

A gas-lamp, which was directly opposite, threw its light on him; and,
with his cigar between his white teeth and his air of contentment, there
was something intolerable about him.

"Ha! now that I think of it, my notary has been at your place this
morning about that mortgage-registry business. 'Tis my wife reminded me
about it."

"A wife with brains!" returned Frederick automatically.

"I believe you."

And once more Arnoux began to sing his wife's praises. There was no one
like her for spirit, tenderness, and thrift; he added in a low tone,
rolling his eyes about: "And a woman with so many charms, too!"

"Good-bye!" said Frederick.

Arnoux made a step closer to him.

"Hold on! Why are you going?" And, with his hand half-stretched out
towards Frederick, he stared at the young man, quite abashed by the look
of anger in his face.

Frederick repeated in a dry tone, "Good-bye!"

He hurried down the Rue de Bréda like a stone rolling headlong, raging
against Arnoux, swearing in his own mind that he would never see the man
again, nor her either, so broken-hearted and desolate did he feel. In
place of the rupture which he had anticipated, here was the other, on
the contrary, exhibiting towards her a most perfect attachment from the
ends of her hair to the inmost depths of her soul. Frederick was
exasperated by the vulgarity of this man. Everything, then, belonged to
him! He would meet Arnoux again at his mistress's door; and the
mortification of a rupture would be added to rage at his own
powerlessness. Besides, he felt humiliated by the other's display of
integrity in offering him guaranties for his money. He would have liked
to strangle him, and over the pangs of disappointment floated in his
conscience, like a fog, the sense of his baseness towards his friend.
Rising tears nearly suffocated him.

Deslauriers descended the Rue des Martyrs, swearing aloud with
indignation; for his project, like an obelisk that has fallen, now
assumed extraordinary proportions. He considered himself robbed, as if
he had suffered a great loss. His friendship for Frederick was dead, and
he experienced a feeling of joy at it--it was a sort of compensation to
him! A hatred of all rich people took possession of him. He leaned
towards Sénécal's opinions, and resolved to make every effort to
propagate them.

All this time, Arnoux was comfortably seated in an easy-chair near the
fire, sipping his cup of tea, with the Maréchale on his knees.

Frederick did not go back there; and, in order to distract his attention
from his disastrous passion, he determined to write a "History of the
Renaissance." He piled up confusedly on his table the humanists, the
philosophers, and the poets, and he went to inspect some engravings of
Mark Antony, and tried to understand Machiavelli. Gradually, the
serenity of intellectual work had a soothing effect upon him. While his
mind was steeped in the personality of others, he lost sight of his
own--which is the only way, perhaps, of getting rid of suffering.

One day, while he was quietly taking notes, the door opened, and the
man-servant announced Madame Arnoux.

It was she, indeed! and alone? Why, no! for she was holding little
Eugène by the hand, followed by a nurse in a white apron. She sat down,
and after a preliminary cough:

"It is a long time since you came to see us."

As Frederick could think of no excuse at the moment, she added:

"It was delicacy on your part!"

He asked in return:

"Delicacy about what?"

"About what you have done for Arnoux!" said she.

Frederick made a significant gesture. "What do I care about him, indeed?
It was for your sake I did it!"

She sent off the child to play with his nurse in the drawing-room. Two
or three words passed between them as to their state of health; then the
conversation hung fire.

She wore a brown silk gown, which had the colour of Spanish wine, with a
paletot of black velvet bordered with sable. This fur made him yearn to
pass his hand over it; and her head-bands, so long and so exquisitely
smooth, seemed to draw his lips towards them. But he was agitated by
emotion, and, turning his eyes towards the door:

"'Tis rather warm here!"

Frederick understood what her discreet glance meant.

"Ah! excuse me! the two leaves of the door are merely drawn together."

"Yes, that's true!"

And she smiled, as much as to say:

"I'm not a bit afraid!"

He asked her presently what was the object of her visit.

"My husband," she replied with an effort, "has urged me to call on you,
not venturing to take this step himself!"

"And why?"

"You know M. Dambreuse, don't you?"

"Yes, slightly."

"Ah! slightly."

She relapsed into silence.

"No matter! finish what you were going to say."

Thereupon she told him that, two days before, Arnoux had found himself
unable to meet four bills of a thousand francs, made payable at the
banker's order and with his signature attached to them. She felt sorry
for having compromised her children's fortune. But anything was
preferable to dishonour; and, if M. Dambreuse stopped the proceedings,
they would certainly pay him soon, for she was going to sell a little
house which she had at Chartres.

"Poor woman!" murmured Frederick. "I will go. Rely on me!"

"Thanks!"

And she arose to go.

"Oh! there is nothing to hurry you yet."

She remained standing, examining the trophy of Mongolian arrows
suspended from the ceiling, the bookcase, the bindings, all the utensils
for writing. She lifted up the bronze bowl which held his pens. Her feet
rested on different portions of the carpet. She had visited Frederick
several times before, but always accompanied by Arnoux. They were now
alone together--alone in his own house. It was an extraordinary
event--almost a successful issue of his love.

She wished to see his little garden. He offered her his arm to show her
his property--thirty feet of ground enclosed by some houses, adorned
with shrubs at the corners and flower-borders in the middle. The early
days of April had arrived. The leaves of the lilacs were already showing
their borders of green. A breath of pure air was diffused around, and
the little birds chirped, their song alternating with the distant sound
that came from a coachmaker's forge.

Frederick went to look for a fire-shovel; and, while they walked on side
by side, the child kept making sand-pies in the walk.

Madame Arnoux did not believe that, as he grew older, he would have a
great imagination; but he had a winning disposition. His sister, on the
other hand, possessed a caustic humour that sometimes wounded her.

"That will change," said Frederick. "We must never despair."

She returned:

"We must never despair!"

This automatic repetition of the phrase he had used appeared to him a
sort of encouragement; he plucked a rose, the only one in the garden.

"Do you remember a certain bouquet of roses one evening, in a carriage?"

She coloured a little; and, with an air of bantering pity:

"Ah, I was very young then!"

"And this one," went on Frederick, in a low tone, "will it be the same
way with it?"

She replied, while turning about the stem between her fingers, like the
thread of a spindle:

"No, I will preserve it."

She called over the nurse, who took the child in her arms; then, on the
threshold of the door in the street, Madame Arnoux inhaled the odour of
the flower, leaning her head on her shoulder with a look as sweet as a
kiss.

When he had gone up to his study, he gazed at the armchair in which she
had sat, and every object which she had touched. Some portion of her was
diffused around him. The caress of her presence lingered there still.

"So, then, she came here," said he to himself.

And his soul was bathed in the waves of infinite tenderness.

Next morning, at eleven o'clock, he presented himself at M. Dambreuse's
house. He was received in the dining-room. The banker was seated
opposite his wife at breakfast. Beside her sat his niece, and at the
other side of the table appeared the governess, an English woman,
strongly pitted with small-pox.

M. Dambreuse invited his young friend to take his place among them, and
when he declined:

"What can I do for you? I am listening to whatever you have to say to
me."

Frederick confessed, while affecting indifference, that he had come to
make a request in behalf of one Arnoux.

"Ha! ha! the ex-picture-dealer," said the banker, with a noiseless laugh
which exposed his gums. "Oudry formerly gave security for him; he has
given a lot of trouble."

And he proceeded to read the letters and newspapers which lay close
beside him on the table.

Two servants attended without making the least noise on the floor; and
the loftiness of the apartment, which had three portières of richest
tapestry, and two white marble fountains, the polish of the
chafing-dish, the arrangement of the side-dishes, and even the rigid
folds of the napkins, all this sumptuous comfort impressed Frederick's
mind with the contrast between it and another breakfast at the Arnouxs'
house. He did not take the liberty of interrupting M. Dambreuse.

Madame noticed his embarrassment.

"Do you occasionally see our friend Martinon?"

"He will be here this evening," said the young girl in a lively tone.

"Ha! so you know him?" said her aunt, fixing on her a freezing look.

At that moment one of the men-servants, bending forward, whispered in
her ear.

"Your dressmaker, Mademoiselle--Miss John!"

And the governess, in obedience to this summons, left the room along
with her pupil.

M. Dambreuse, annoyed at the disarrangement of the chairs by this
movement, asked what was the matter.

"'Tis Madame Regimbart."

"Wait a moment! Regimbart! I know that name. I have come across his
signature."

Frederick at length broached the question. Arnoux deserved some
consideration; he was even going, for the sole purpose of fulfilling his
engagements, to sell a house belonging to his wife.

"She is considered very pretty," said Madame Dambreuse.

The banker added, with a display of good-nature:

"Are you on friendly terms with them--on intimate terms?"

Frederick, without giving an explicit reply, said that he would be very
much obliged to him if he considered the matter.

"Well, since it pleases you, be it so; we will wait. I have some time to
spare yet; suppose we go down to my office. Would you mind?"

They had finished breakfast. Madame Dambreuse bowed slightly towards
Frederick, smiling in a singular fashion, with a mixture of politeness
and irony. Frederick had no time to reflect about it, for M. Dambreuse,
as soon as they were alone:

"You did not come to get your shares?"

And, without permitting him to make any excuses:

"Well! well! 'tis right that you should know a little more about the
business."

He offered Frederick a cigarette, and began his statement.

The General Union of French Coal Mines had been constituted. All that
they were waiting for was the order for its incorporation. The mere fact
of the amalgamation had diminished the cost of superintendence, and of
manual labour, and increased the profits. Besides, the company had
conceived a new idea, which was to interest the workmen in its
undertaking. It would erect houses for them, healthful dwellings;
finally, it would constitute itself the purveyor of its _employés_, and
would have everything supplied to them at net prices.

"And they will be the gainers by it, Monsieur: there's true progress!
that's the way to reply effectively to certain Republican brawlings. We
have on our Board"--he showed the prospectus--"a peer of France, a
scholar who is a member of the Institute, a retired field-officer of
genius. Such elements reassure the timid capitalists, and appeal to
intelligent capitalists!"

The company would have in its favour the sanction of the State, then the
railways, the steam service, the metallurgical establishments, the gas
companies, and ordinary households.

"Thus we heat, we light, we penetrate to the very hearth of the humblest
home. But how, you will say to me, can we be sure of selling? By the aid
of protective laws, dear Monsieur, and we shall get them!--that is a
matter that concerns us! For my part, however, I am a downright
prohibitionist! The country before anything!"

He had been appointed a director; but he had no time to occupy himself
with certain details, amongst other things with the editing of their
publications.

"I find myself rather muddled with my authors. I have forgotten my
Greek. I should want some one who could put my ideas into shape."

And suddenly: "Will you be the man to perform those duties, with the
title of general secretary?"

Frederick did not know what reply to make.

"Well, what is there to prevent you?"

His functions would be confined to writing a report every year for the
shareholders. He would find himself day after day in communication with
the most notable men in Paris. Representing the company with the
workmen, he would ere long be worshipped by them as a natural
consequence, and by this means he would be able, later, to push him into
the General Council, and into the position of a deputy.

Frederick's ears tingled. Whence came this goodwill? He got confused in
returning thanks. But it was not necessary, the banker said, that he
should be dependent on anyone. The best course was to take some shares,
"a splendid investment besides, for your capital guarantees your
position, as your position does your capital."

"About how much should it amount to?" said Frederick.

"Oh, well! whatever you please--from forty to sixty thousand francs, I
suppose."

This sum was so trifling in M. Dambreuse's eyes, and his authority was
so great, that the young man resolved immediately to sell a farm.

He accepted the offer. M. Dambreuse was to select one of his disengaged
days for an appointment in order to finish their arrangements.

"So I can say to Jacques Arnoux----?"

"Anything you like--the poor chap--anything you like!"

Frederick wrote to the Arnouxs' to make their minds easy, and he
despatched the letter by a man-servant, who brought back the letter:
"All right!" His action in the matter deserved better recognition. He
expected a visit, or, at least, a letter. He did not receive a visit,
and no letter arrived.

Was it forgetfulness on their part, or was it intentional? Since Madame
Arnoux had come once, what was to prevent her from coming again? The
species of confidence, of avowal, of which she had made him the
recipient on the occasion, was nothing better, then, than a manoeuvre
which she had executed through interested motives.

"Are they playing on me? and is she an accomplice of her husband?" A
sort of shame, in spite of his desire, prevented him from returning to
their house.

One morning (three weeks after their interview), M. Dambreuse wrote to
him, saying that he expected him the same day in an hour's time.

On the way, the thought of Arnoux oppressed him once more, and, not
having been able to discover any reason for his conduct, he was seized
with a feeling of wretchedness, a melancholy presentiment. In order to
shake it off, he hailed a cab, and drove to the Rue de Paradis.

Arnoux was away travelling.

"And Madame?"

"In the country, at the works."

"When is Monsieur coming back?"

"To-morrow, without fail."

He would find her alone; this was the opportune moment. Something
imperious seemed to cry out in the depths of his consciousness: "Go,
then, and meet her!"

But M. Dambreuse? "Ah! well, so much the worse. I'll say that I was
ill."

He rushed to the railway-station, and, as soon as he was in the
carriage:

"Perhaps I have done wrong. Pshaw! what does it matter?"

Green plains stretched out to the right and to the left. The train
rolled on. The little station-houses glistened like stage-scenery, and
the smoke of the locomotive kept constantly sending forth on the same
side its big fleecy masses, which danced for a little while on the
grass, and were then dispersed.

Frederick, who sat alone in his compartment, gazed at these objects
through sheer weariness, lost in that languor which is produced by the
very excess of impatience. But cranes and warehouses presently appeared.
They had reached Creil.

The town, built on the slopes of two low-lying hills (the first of which
was bare, and the second crowned by a wood), with its church-tower, its
houses of unequal size, and its stone bridge, seemed to him to present
an aspect of mingled gaiety, reserve, and propriety. A long flat barge
descended to the edge of the water, which leaped up under the lash of
the wind.

Fowl perched on the straw at the foot of the crucifix erected on the
spot; a woman passed with some wet linen on her head.

After crossing the bridge, he found himself in an isle, where he beheld
on his right the ruins of an abbey. A mill with its wheels revolving
barred up the entire width of the second arm of the Oise, over which the
manufactory projected. Frederick was greatly surprised by the imposing
character of this structure. He felt more respect for Arnoux on account
of it. Three paces further on, he turned up an alley, which had a
grating at its lower end.

He went in. The door-keeper called him back, exclaiming:

"Have you a permit?"

"For what purpose?"

"For the purpose of visiting the establishment."

Frederick said in a rather curt tone that he had come to see M. Arnoux.

"Who is M. Arnoux?"

"Why, the chief, the master, the proprietor, in fact!"

"No, monsieur! These are MM. Leboeuf and Milliet's works!"

The good woman was surely joking! Some workmen arrived; he came up and
spoke to two or three of them. They gave the same response.

Frederick left the premises, staggering like a drunken man; and he had
such a look of perplexity, that on the Pont de la Boucherie an
inhabitant of the town, who was smoking his pipe, asked whether he
wanted to find out anything. This man knew where Arnoux's manufactory
was. It was situated at Montataire.

Frederick asked whether a vehicle was to be got. He was told that the
only place where he could find one was at the station. He went back
there. A shaky-looking calash, to which was yoked an old horse, with
torn harness hanging over the shafts, stood all alone in front of the
luggage office. An urchin who was looking on offered to go and find Père
Pilon. In ten minutes' time he came back, and announced that Père Pilon
was at his breakfast. Frederick, unable to stand this any longer, walked
away. But the gates of the thoroughfare across the line were closed. He
would have to wait till two trains had passed. At last, he made a dash
into the open country.

The monotonous greenery made it look like the cover of an immense
billiard-table. The scoriæ of iron were ranged on both sides of the
track, like heaps of stones. A little further on, some factory chimneys
were smoking close beside each other. In front of him, on a round
hillock, stood a little turreted château, with the quadrangular belfry
of a church. At a lower level, long walls formed irregular lines past
the trees; and, further down again, the houses of the village spread
out.

They had only a single story, with staircases consisting of three steps
made of uncemented blocks. Every now and then the bell in front of a
grocery-shop could be heard tinkling. Heavy steps sank into the black
mire, and a light shower was falling, which cut the pale sky with a
thousand hatchings.

Frederick pursued his way along the middle of the street. Then, he saw
on his left, at the opening of a pathway, a large wooden arch, whereon
was traced, in letters of gold, the word "Faïences."

It was not without an object that Jacques Arnoux had selected the
vicinity of Creil. By placing his works as close as possible to the
other works (which had long enjoyed a high reputation), he had created a
certain confusion in the public mind, with a favourable result so far as
his own interests were concerned.

The main body of the building rested on the same bank of a river which
flows through the meadowlands. The master's house, surrounded by a
garden, could be distinguished by the steps in front of it, adorned with
four vases, in which cactuses were bristling.

Heaps of white clay were drying under sheds. There were others in the
open air; and in the midst of the yard stood Sénécal with his
everlasting blue paletot lined with red.

The ex-tutor extended towards Frederick his cold hand.

"You've come to see the master? He's not there."

Frederick, nonplussed, replied in a stupefied fashion:

"I knew it." But the next moment, correcting himself:

"'Tis about a matter that concerns Madame Arnoux. Can she receive me?"

"Ha! I have not seen her for the last three days," said Sénécal.

And he broke into a long string of complaints. When he accepted the post
of manager, he understood that he would have been allowed to reside in
Paris, and not be forced to bury himself in this country district, far
from his friends, deprived of newspapers. No matter! he had overlooked
all that. But Arnoux appeared to pay no heed to his merits. He was,
moreover, shallow and retrograde--no one could be more ignorant. In
place of seeking for artistic improvements, it would have been better to
introduce firewood instead of coal and gas. The shop-keeping spirit
_thrust itself in_--Sénécal laid stress on the last words. In short, he
disliked his present occupation, and he all but appealed to Frederick to
say a word in his behalf in order that he might get an increase of
salary.

"Make your mind easy," said the other.

He met nobody on the staircase. On the first floor, he pushed his way
head-foremost into an empty room. It was the drawing-room. He called out
at the top of his voice. There was no reply. No doubt, the cook had gone
out, and so had the housemaid. At length, having reached the second
floor, he pushed a door open. Madame Arnoux was alone in this room, in
front of a press with a mirror attached. The belt of her dressing-gown
hung down her hips; one entire half of her hair fell in a dark wave over
her right shoulder; and she had raised both arms in order to hold up her
chignon with one hand and to put a pin through it with the other. She
broke into an exclamation and disappeared.

Then, she came back again properly dressed. Her waist, her eyes, the
rustle of her dress, her entire appearance, charmed him. Frederick felt
it hard to keep from covering her with kisses.

"I beg your pardon," said she, "but I could not----"

He had the boldness to interrupt her with these words:

"Nevertheless--you looked very nice--just now."

She probably thought this compliment a little coarse, for her cheeks
reddened. He was afraid that he might have offended her. She went on:

"What lucky chance has brought you here?"

He did not know what reply to make; and, after a slight chuckle, which
gave him time for reflection:

"If I told you, would you believe me?"

"Why not?"

Frederick informed her that he had had a frightful dream a few nights
before.

"I dreamt that you were seriously ill--near dying."

"Oh! my husband and I are never ill."

"I have dreamt only of you," said he.

She gazed at him calmly: "Dreams are not always realised."

Frederick stammered, sought to find appropriate words to express himself
in, and then plunged into a flowing period about the affinity of souls.
There existed a force which could, through the intervening bounds of
space, bring two persons into communication with each other, make known
to each the other's feelings, and enable them to reunite.

She listened to him with downcast face, while she smiled with that
beautiful smile of hers. He watched her out of the corner of his eye
with delight, and poured out his love all the more freely through the
easy channel of a commonplace remark.

She offered to show him the works; and, as she persisted, he made no
objection.

In order to divert his attention with something of an amusing nature,
she showed him the species of museum that decorated the staircase. The
specimens, hung up against the wall or laid on shelves, bore witness to
the efforts and the successive fads of Arnoux. After seeking vainly for
the red of Chinese copper, he had wished to manufacture majolicas,
faiënce, Etruscan and Oriental ware, and had, in fact, attempted all the
improvements which were realised at a later period.

So it was that one could observe in the series big vases covered with
figures of mandarins, porringers of shot reddish-brown, pots adorned
with Arabian inscriptions, drinking-vessels in the style of the
Renaissance, and large plates on which two personages were outlined as
it were on bloodstone, in a delicate, aërial fashion. He now made
letters for signboards and wine-labels; but his intelligence was not
high enough to attain to art, nor commonplace enough to look merely to
profit, so that, without satisfying anyone, he had ruined himself.

They were both taking a view of these things when Mademoiselle Marthe
passed.

"So, then, you did not recognise him?" said her mother to her.

"Yes, indeed," she replied, bowing to him, while her clear and sceptical
glance--the glance of a virgin--seemed to say in a whisper: "What are
you coming here for?" and she rushed up the steps with her head slightly
bent over her shoulder.

Madame Arnoux led Frederick into the yard attached to the works, and
then explained to him in a grave tone how different clays were ground,
cleaned, and sifted.

"The most important thing is the preparation of pastes."

And she introduced him into a hall filled with vats, in which a vertical
axis with horizontal arms kept turning. Frederick felt some regret that
he had not flatly declined her offer a little while before.

"These things are merely the slobberings," said she.

He thought the word grotesque, and, in a measure, unbecoming on her
lips.

Wide straps ran from one end of the ceiling to the other, so as to roll
themselves round the drums, and everything kept moving continuously with
a provoking mathematical regularity.

They left the spot, and passed close to a ruined hut, which had formerly
been used as a repository for gardening implements.

"It is no longer of any use," said Madame Arnoux.

He replied in a tremulous voice:

"Happiness may have been associated with it!"

The clacking of the fire-pump drowned his words, and they entered the
workshop where rough drafts were made.

Some men, seated at a narrow table, placed each in front of himself on a
revolving disc a piece of paste. Then each man with his left hand
scooped out the insides of his own piece while smoothing its surface
with the right; and vases could be seen bursting into shape like
blossoming flowers.

Madame Arnoux had the moulds for more difficult works shown to him.

In another portion of the building, the threads, the necks, and the
projecting lines were being formed. On the floor above, they removed the
seams, and stopped up with plaster the little holes that had been left
by the preceding operations.

At every opening in the walls, in corners, in the middle of the
corridor, everywhere, earthenware vessels had been placed side by side.

Frederick began to feel bored.

"Perhaps these things are tiresome to you?" said she.

Fearing lest it might be necessary to terminate his visit there and
then, he affected, on the contrary, a tone of great enthusiasm. He even
expressed regret at not having devoted himself to this branch of
industry.

She appeared surprised.

"Certainly! I would have been able to live near you."

And as he tried to catch her eye, Madame Arnoux, in order to avoid him,
took off a bracket little balls of paste, which had come from abortive
readjustments, flattened them out into a thin cake, and pressed her hand
over them.

"Might I carry these away with me?" said Frederick.

"Good heavens! are you so childish?"

He was about to reply when in came Sénécal.

The sub-manager, on the threshold, had noticed a breach of the rules.
The workshops should be swept every week. This was Saturday, and, as the
workmen had not done what was required, Sénécal announced that they
would have to remain an hour longer.

"So much the worse for you!"

They stooped over the work assigned to them unmurmuringly, but their
rage could be divined by the hoarse sounds which came from their chests.
They were, moreover, very easy to manage, having all been dismissed from
the big manufactory. The Republican had shown himself a hard taskmaster
to them. A mere theorist, he regarded the people only in the mass, and
exhibited an utter absence of pity for individuals.

Frederick, annoyed by his presence, asked Madame Arnoux in a low tone
whether they could have an opportunity of seeing the kilns. They
descended to the ground-floor; and she was just explaining the use of
caskets, when Sénécal, who had followed close behind, placed himself
between them.

He continued the explanation of his own motion, expatiated on the
various kinds of combustibles, the process of placing in the kiln, the
pyroscopes, the cylindrical furnaces; the instruments for rounding, the
lustres, and the metals, making a prodigious display of chemical terms,
such as "chloride," "sulphuret," "borax," and "carbonate." Frederick did
not understand a single one of them, and kept turning round every minute
towards Madame Arnoux.

"You are not listening," said she. "M. Sénécal, however, is very clear.
He knows all these things much better than I."

The mathematician, flattered by this eulogy, proposed to show the way in
which colours were laid on. Frederick gave Madame Arnoux an anxious,
questioning look. She remained impassive, not caring to be alone with
him, very probably, and yet unwilling to leave him.

He offered her his arm.

"No--many thanks! the staircase is too narrow!"

And, when they had reached the top, Sénécal opened the door of an
apartment filled with women.

They were handling brushes, phials, shells, and plates of glass. Along
the cornice, close to the wall, extended boards with figures engraved on
them; scraps of thin paper floated about, and a melting-stove sent forth
fumes that made the temperature oppressive, while there mingled with it
the odour of turpentine.

The workwomen had nearly all sordid costumes. It was noticeable,
however, that one of them wore a Madras handkerchief, and long
earrings. Of slight frame, and, at the same time, plump, she had large
black eyes and the fleshy lips of a negress. Her ample bosom projected
from under her chemise, which was fastened round her waist by the string
of her petticoat; and, with one elbow on the board of the work-table and
the other arm hanging down, she gazed vaguely at the open country, a
long distance away. Beside her were a bottle of wine and some pork
chops.

The regulations prohibited eating in the workshops, a rule intended to
secure cleanliness at work and to keep the hands in a healthy condition.

Sénécal, through a sense of duty or a longing to exercise despotic
authority, shouted out to her ere he had come near her, while pointing
towards a framed placard:

"I say, you girl from Bordeaux over there! read out for me Article 9!"

"Well, what then?"

"What then, mademoiselle? You'll have to pay a fine of three francs."

She looked him straight in the face in an impudent fashion.

"What does that signify to me? The master will take off your fine when
he comes back! I laugh at you, my good man!"

Sénécal, who was walking with his hands behind his back, like an usher
in the study-room, contented himself with smiling.

"Article 13, insubordination, ten francs!"

The girl from Bordeaux resumed her work. Madame Arnoux, through a sense
of propriety, said nothing; but her brows contracted. Frederick
murmured:

"Ha! you are very severe for a democrat!"

The other replied in a magisterial tone:

"Democracy is not the unbounded license of individualism. It is the
equality of all belonging to the same community before the law, the
distribution of work, order."

"You are forgetting humanity!" said Frederick.

Madame Arnoux took his arm. Sénécal, perhaps, offended by this mark of
silent approbation, went away.

Frederick experienced an immense relief. Since morning he had been
looking out for the opportunity to declare itself; now it had arrived.
Besides, Madame Arnoux's spontaneous movements seemed to him to contain
promises; and he asked her, as if on the pretext of warming their feet,
to come up to her room. But, when he was seated close beside her, he
began once more to feel embarrassed. He was at a loss for a
starting-point. Sénécal, luckily, suggested an idea to his mind.

"Nothing could be more stupid," said he, "than this punishment!"

Madame Arnoux replied: "There are certain severe measures which are
indispensable!"

"What! you who are so good! Oh! I am mistaken, for you sometimes take
pleasure in making other people suffer!"

"I don't understand riddles, my friend!"

And her austere look, still more than the words she used, checked him.
Frederick was determined to go on. A volume of De Musset chanced to be
on the chest of drawers; he turned over some pages, then began to talk
about love, about his hopes and his transports.

All this, according to Madame Arnoux, was criminal or factitious. The
young man felt wounded by this negative attitude with regard to his
passion, and, in order to combat it, he cited, by way of proof, the
suicides which they read about every day in the newspapers, extolled the
great literary types, Phèdre, Dido, Romeo, Desgrieux. He talked as if he
meant to do away with himself.

The fire was no longer burning on the hearth; the rain lashed against
the window-panes. Madame Arnoux, without stirring, remained with her
hands resting on the sides of her armchair. The flaps of her cap fell
like the fillets of a sphinx. Her pure profile traced out its clear-cut
outlines in the midst of the shadow.

He was anxious to cast himself at her feet. There was a creaking sound
in the lobby, and he did not venture to carry out his intention.

He was, moreover, restrained by a kind of religious awe. That robe,
mingling with the surrounding shadows, appeared to him boundless,
infinite, incapable of being touched; and for this very reason his
desire became intensified. But the fear of doing too much, and, again,
of not doing enough, deprived him of all judgment.

"If she dislikes me," he thought, "let her drive me away; if she cares
for me, let her encourage me."

He said, with a sigh:

"So, then, you don't admit that a man may love--a woman?"

Madame Arnoux replied:

"Assuming that she is at liberty to marry, he may marry her; when she
belongs to another, he should keep away from her."

"So happiness is impossible?"

"No! But it is never to be found in falsehood, mental anxiety, and
remorse."

"What does it matter, if one is compensated by the enjoyment of supreme
bliss?"

"The experience is too costly."

Then he sought to assail her with irony.

"Would not virtue in that case be merely cowardice?"

"Say rather, clear-sightedness. Even for those women who might forget
duty or religion, simple good sense is sufficient. A solid foundation
for wisdom may be found in self-love."

"Ah, what shop-keeping maxims these are of yours!"

"But I don't boast of being a fine lady."

At that moment the little boy rushed in.

"Mamma, are you coming to dinner?"

"Yes, in a moment."

Frederick arose. At the same instant, Marthe made her appearance.

He could not make up his mind to go away, and, with a look of entreaty:

"These women you speak of are very unfeeling, then?"

"No, but deaf when it is necessary to be so."

And she remained standing on the threshold of her room with her two
children beside her. He bowed without saying a word. She mutely returned
his salutation.

What he first experienced was an unspeakable astonishment. He felt
crushed by this mode of impressing on him the emptiness of his hopes. It
seemed to him as if he were lost, like a man who has fallen to the
bottom of an abyss and knows that no help will come to him, and that he
must die. He walked on, however, but at random, without looking before
him. He knocked against stones; he mistook his way. A clatter of wooden
shoes sounded close to his ear; it was caused by some of the
working-girls who were leaving the foundry. Then he realised where he
was.

The railway lamps traced on the horizon a line of flames. He arrived
just as the train was starting, let himself be pushed into a carriage,
and fell asleep.

An hour later on the boulevards, the gaiety of Paris by night made his
journey all at once recede into an already far-distant past. He resolved
to be strong, and relieved his heart by vilifying Madame Arnoux with
insulting epithets.

"She is an idiot, a goose, a mere brute; let us not bestow another
thought on her!"

When he got home, he found in his study a letter of eight pages on blue
glazed paper, with the initials "R. A."

It began with friendly reproaches.

"What has become of you, my dear? I am getting quite bored."

But the handwriting was so abominable, that Frederick was about to fling
away the entire bundle of sheets, when he noticed in the postscript the
following words:

"I count on you to come to-morrow and drive me to the races."

What was the meaning of this invitation? Was it another trick of the
Maréchale? But a woman does not make a fool of the same man twice
without some object; and, seized with curiosity, he read the letter over
again attentively.

Frederick was able to distinguish "Misunderstanding--to have taken a
wrong path--disillusions--poor children that we are!--like two rivers
that join each other!" etc.

He kept the sheets for a long time between his fingers. They had the
odour of orris; and there was in the form of the characters and the
irregular spaces between the lines something suggestive, as it were, of
a disorderly toilet, that fired his blood.

"Why should I not go?" said he to himself at length. "But if Madame
Arnoux were to know about it? Ah! let her know! So much the better! and
let her feel jealous over it! In that way I shall be avenged!"



CHAPTER X.

At the Races.


The Maréchale was prepared for his visit, and had been awaiting him.

"This is nice of you!" she said, fixing a glance of her fine eyes on his
face, with an expression at the same time tender and mirthful.

When she had fastened her bonnet-strings, she sat down on the divan, and
remained silent.

"Shall we go?" said Frederick. She looked at the clock on the
mantelpiece.

"Oh, no! not before half-past one!" as if she had imposed this limit to
her indecision.

At last, when the hour had struck:

"Ah! well, _andiamo, caro mio_!" And she gave a final touch to her
head-bands, and left directions for Delphine.

"Is Madame coming home to dinner?"

"Why should we, indeed? We shall dine together somewhere--at the Café
Anglais, wherever you wish."

"Be it so!"

Her little dogs began yelping around her.

"We can bring them with us, can't we?"

Frederick carried them himself to the vehicle. It was a hired berlin
with two post-horses and a postilion. He had put his man-servant in the
back seat. The Maréchale appeared satisfied with his attentions. Then,
as soon as she had seated herself, she asked him whether he had been
lately at the Arnouxs'.

"Not for the past month," said Frederick.

"As for me, I met him the day before yesterday. He would have even come
to-day, but he has all sorts of troubles--another lawsuit--I don't know
what. What a queer man!"

Frederick added with an air of indifference:

"Now that I think of it, do you still see--what's that his name
is?--that ex-vocalist--Delmar?"

She replied dryly:

"No; that's all over."

So it was clear that there had been a rupture between them. Frederick
derived some hope from this circumstance.

They descended the Quartier Bréda at an easy pace. As it happened to be
Sunday, the streets were deserted, and some citizens' faces presented
themselves at the windows. The carriage went on more rapidly. The noise
of wheels made the passers-by turn round; the leather of the hood, which
had slid down, was glittering. The man-servant doubled himself up, and
the two Havanese, beside one another, seemed like two ermine muffs laid
on the cushions. Frederick let himself jog up and down with the rocking
of the carriage-straps. The Maréchale turned her head to the right and
to the left with a smile on her face.

Her straw hat of mother-of-pearl colour was trimmed with black lace. The
hood of her bournous floated in the wind, and she sheltered herself
from the rays of the sun under a parasol of lilac satin pointed at the
top like a pagoda.

"What loves of little fingers!" said Frederick, softly taking her other
hand, her left being adorned with a gold bracelet in the form of a
curb-chain.

"I say! that's pretty! Where did it come from?"

"Oh! I've had it a long time," said the Maréchale.

The young man did not challenge this hypocritical answer in any way. He
preferred to profit by the circumstance. And, still keeping hold of the
wrist, he pressed his lips on it between the glove and the cuff.

"Stop! People will see us!"

"Pooh! What does it signify?"

After passing by the Place de la Concorde, they drove along the Quai de
la Conférence and the Quai de Billy, where might be noticed a cedar in a
garden. Rosanette believed that Lebanon was situated in China; she
laughed herself at her own ignorance, and asked Frederick to give her
lessons in geography. Then, leaving the Trocadéro at the right, they
crossed the Pont de Jéna, and drew up at length in the middle of the
Champ de Mars, near some other vehicles already drawn up in the
Hippodrome.

The grass hillocks were covered with common people. Some spectators
might be seen on the balcony of the Military School; and the two
pavilions outside the weighing-room, the two galleries contained within
its enclosure, and a third in front of that of the king, were filled
with a fashionably dressed crowd whose deportment showed their regard
for this as yet novel form of amusement.

The public around the course, more select at this period, had a less
vulgar aspect. It was the era of trouser-straps, velvet collars, and
white gloves. The ladies, attired in showy colours, displayed gowns with
long waists; and seated on the tiers of the stands, they formed, so to
speak, immense groups of flowers, spotted here and there with black by
the men's costumes. But every glance was directed towards the celebrated
Algerian Bou-Maza, who sat, impassive, between two staff officers in one
of the private galleries. That of the Jockey Club contained none but
grave-looking gentlemen.

The more enthusiastic portion of the throng were seated underneath,
close to the track, protected by two lines of sticks which supported
ropes. In the immense oval described by this passage, cocoanut-sellers
were shaking their rattles, others were selling programmes of the races,
others were hawking cigars, with loud cries. On every side there was a
great murmur. The municipal guards passed to and fro. A bell, hung from
a post covered with figures, began ringing. Five horses appeared, and
the spectators in the galleries resumed their seats.

Meanwhile, big clouds touched with their winding outlines the tops of
the elms opposite. Rosanette was afraid that it was going to rain.

"I have umbrellas," said Frederick, "and everything that we need to
afford ourselves diversion," he added, lifting up the chest, in which
there was a stock of provisions in a basket.

"Bravo! we understand each other!"

"And we'll understand each other still better, shall we not?"

"That may be," she said, colouring.

The jockeys, in silk jackets, were trying to draw up their horses in
order, and were holding them back with both hands. Somebody lowered a
red flag. Then the entire five bent over the bristling manes, and off
they started. At first they remained pressed close to each other in a
single mass; this presently stretched out and became cut up. The jockey
in the yellow jacket was near falling in the middle of the first round;
for a long time it was uncertain whether Filly or Tibi should take the
lead; then Tom Pouce appeared in front. But Clubstick, who had been in
the rear since the start, came up with the others and outstripped them,
so that he was the first to reach the winning-post, beating Sir Charles
by two lengths. It was a surprise. There was a shout of applause; the
planks shook with the stamping of feet.

"We are amusing ourselves," said the Maréchale. "I love you, darling!"

Frederick no longer doubted that his happiness was secure. Rosanette's
last words were a confirmation of it.

A hundred paces away from him, in a four-wheeled cabriolet, a lady could
be seen. She stretched her head out of the carriage-door, and then
quickly drew it in again. This movement was repeated several times.
Frederick could not distinguish her face. He had a strong suspicion,
however, that it was Madame Arnoux. And yet this seemed impossible! Why
should she have come there?

He stepped out of his own vehicle on the pretence of strolling into the
weighing-room.

"You are not very gallant!" said Rosanette.

He paid no heed to her, and went on. The four-wheeled cabriolet, turning
back, broke into a trot.

Frederick at the same moment, found himself button-holed by Cisy.

"Good-morrow, my dear boy! how are you going on? Hussonnet is over
there! Are you listening to me?"

Frederick tried to shake him off in order to get up with the
four-wheeled cabriolet. The Maréchale beckoned to him to come round to
her. Cisy perceived her, and obstinately persisted in bidding her
good-day.

Since the termination of the regular period of mourning for his
grandmother, he had realised his ideal, and succeeded in "getting the
proper stamp." A Scotch plaid waistcoat, a short coat, large bows over
the pumps, and an entrance-card stuck in the ribbon of his hat; nothing,
in fact, was wanting to produce what he described himself as his
_chic_--a _chic_ characterised by Anglomania and the swagger of the
musketeer. He began by finding fault with the Champ de Mars, which he
referred to as an "execrable turf," then spoke of the Chantilly races,
and the droll things that had occurred there, swore that he could drink
a dozen glasses of champagne while the clock was striking the midnight
hour, offered to make a bet with the Maréchale, softly caressed her two
lapdogs; and, leaning against the carriage-door on one elbow, he kept
talking nonsense, with the handle of his walking-stick in his mouth, his
legs wide apart, and his back stretched out. Frederick, standing beside
him, was smoking, while endeavouring to make out what had become of the
cabriolet.

The bell having rung, Cisy took himself off, to the great delight of
Rosanette, who said he had been boring her to death.

The second race had nothing special about it; neither had the third,
save that a man was thrown over the shaft of a cart while it was taking
place. The fourth, in which eight horses contested the City Stakes, was
more interesting.

The spectators in the gallery had clambered to the top of their seats.
The others, standing up in the vehicles, followed with opera-glasses in
their hands the movements of the jockeys. They could be seen starting
out like red, yellow, white, or blue spots across the entire space
occupied by the crowd that had gathered around the ring of the
hippodrome. At a distance, their speed did not appear to be very great;
at the opposite side of the Champ de Mars, they seemed even to be
slackening their pace, and to be merely slipping along in such a way
that the horses' bellies touched the ground without their outstretched
legs bending at all. But, coming back at a more rapid stride, they
looked bigger; they cut the air in their wild gallop. The sun's rays
quivered; pebbles went flying about under their hoofs. The wind, blowing
out the jockeys' jackets, made them flutter like veils. Each of them
lashed the animal he rode with great blows of his whip in order to reach
the winning-post--that was the goal they aimed at. One swept away the
figures, another was hoisted off his saddle, and, in the midst of a
burst of applause, the victorious horse dragged his feet to the
weighing-room, all covered with sweat, his knees stiffened, his neck and
shoulders bent down, while his rider, looking as if he were expiring in
his saddle, clung to the animal's flanks.

The final start was retarded by a dispute which had arisen. The crowd,
getting tired, began to scatter. Groups of men were chatting at the
lower end of each gallery. The talk was of a free-and-easy description.
Some fashionable ladies left, scandalised by seeing fast women in their
immediate vicinity.

There were also some specimens of the ladies who appeared at public
balls, some light-comedy actresses of the boulevards, and it was not the
best-looking portion of them that got the most appreciation. The elderly
Georgine Aubert, she whom a writer of vaudevilles called the Louis XI.
of her profession, horribly painted, and giving vent every now and then
to a laugh resembling a grunt, remained reclining at full length in her
big calash, covered with a sable fur-tippet, as if it were midwinter.
Madame de Remoussat, who had become fashionable by means of a notorious
trial in which she figured, sat enthroned on the seat of a brake in
company with some Americans; and Thérèse Bachelu, with her look of a
Gothic virgin, filled with her dozen furbelows the interior of a trap
which had, in place of an apron, a flower-stand filled with roses. The
Maréchale was jealous of these magnificent displays. In order to attract
attention, she began to make vehement gestures and to speak in a very
loud voice.

Gentlemen recognised her, and bowed to her. She returned their
salutations while telling Frederick their names. They were all counts,
viscounts, dukes, and marquises, and carried a high head, for in all
eyes he could read a certain respect for his good fortune.

Cisy had a no less happy air in the midst of the circle of mature men
that surrounded them. Their faces wore cynical smiles above their
cravats, as if they were laughing at him. At length he gave a tap in
the hand of the oldest of them, and made his way towards the Maréchale.

She was eating, with an affectation of gluttony, a slice of _pâté de
foie gras_. Frederick, in order to make himself agreeable to her,
followed her example, with a bottle of wine on his knees.

The four-wheeled cabriolet reappeared. It _was_ Madame Arnoux! Her face
was startlingly pale.

"Give me some champagne," said Rosanette.

And, lifting up her glass, full to the brim as high as possible, she
exclaimed:

"Look over there! Look at my protector's wife, one of the virtuous
women!"

There was a great burst of laughter all round her; and the cabriolet
disappeared from view. Frederick tugged impatiently at her dress, and
was on the point of flying into a passion. But Cisy was there, in the
same attitude as before, and, with increased assurance, he invited
Rosanette to dine with him that very evening.

"Impossible!" she replied; "we're going together to the Café Anglais."

Frederick, as if he had heard nothing, remained silent; and Cisy quitted
the Maréchale with a look of disappointment on his face.

While he had been talking to her at the right-hand door of the carriage,
Hussonnet presented himself at the opposite side, and, catching the
words "Café Anglais":

"It's a nice establishment; suppose we had a pick there, eh?"

"Just as you like," said Frederick, who, sunk down in the corner of the
berlin, was gazing at the horizon as the four-wheeled cabriolet vanished
from his sight, feeling that an irreparable thing had happened, and
that there was an end of his great love. And the other woman was there
beside him, the gay and easy love! But, worn out, full of conflicting
desires, and no longer even knowing what he wanted, he was possessed by
a feeling of infinite sadness, a longing to die.

A great noise of footsteps and of voices made him raise his head. The
little ragamuffins assembled round the track sprang over the ropes and
came to stare at the galleries. Thereupon their occupants rose to go. A
few drops of rain began to fall. The crush of vehicles increased, and
Hussonnet got lost in it.

"Well! so much the better!" said Frederick.

"We like to be alone better--don't we?" said the Maréchale, as she
placed her hand in his.

Then there swept past him with a glitter of copper and steel a
magnificent landau to which were yoked four horses driven in the Daumont
style by two jockeys in velvet vests with gold fringes. Madame Dambreuse
was by her husband's side, and Martinon was on the other seat facing
them. All three of them gazed at Frederick in astonishment.

"They have recognised me!" said he to himself.

Rosanette wished to stop in order to get a better view of the people
driving away from the course. Madame Arnoux might again make her
appearance! He called out to the postilion:

"Go on! go on! forward!" And the berlin dashed towards the
Champs-Élysées in the midst of the other vehicles--calashes, britzkas,
wurths, tandems, tilburies, dog-carts, tilted carts with leather
curtains, in which workmen in a jovial mood were singing, or one-horse
chaises driven by fathers of families. In victorias crammed with people
some young fellows seated on the others' feet let their legs both hang
down. Large broughams, which had their seats lined with cloth, carried
dowagers fast asleep, or else a splendid machine passed with a seat as
simple and coquettish as a dandy's black coat.

The shower grew heavier. Umbrellas, parasols, and mackintoshes were put
into requisition. People cried out at some distance away: "Good-day!"
"Are you quite well?" "Yes!" "No!" "Bye-bye!"--and the faces succeeded
each other with the rapidity of Chinese shadows.

Frederick and Rosanette did not say a word to each other, feeling a sort
of dizziness at seeing all these wheels continually revolving close to
them.

At times, the rows of carriages, too closely pressed together, stopped
all at the same time in several lines. Then they remained side by side,
and their occupants scanned one another. Over the sides of panels
adorned with coats-of-arms indifferent glances were cast on the crowd.
Eyes full of envy gleamed from the interiors of hackney-coaches.
Depreciatory smiles responded to the haughty manner in which some people
carried their heads. Mouths gaping wide expressed idiotic admiration;
and, here and there, some lounger, in the middle of the road, fell back
with a bound, in order to avoid a rider who had been galloping through
the midst of the vehicles, and had succeeded in getting away from them.
Then, everything set itself in motion once more; the coachmen let go the
reins, and lowered their long whips; the horses, excited, shook their
curb-chains, and flung foam around them; and the cruppers and the
harness getting moist, were smoking with the watery evaporation, through
which struggled the rays of the sinking sun. Passing under the Arc de
Triomphe, there stretched out at the height of a man, a reddish light,
which shed a glittering lustre on the naves of the wheels, the handles
of the carriage-doors, the ends of the shafts, and the rings of the
carriage-beds; and on the two sides of the great avenue--like a river in
which manes, garments, and human heads were undulating--the trees, all
glittering with rain, rose up like two green walls. The blue of the sky
overhead, reappearing in certain places, had the soft hue of satin.

Then, Frederick recalled the days, already far away, when he yearned for
the inexpressible happiness of finding himself in one of these carriages
by the side of one of these women. He had attained to this bliss, and
yet he was not thereby one jot the happier.

The rain had ceased falling. The pedestrians, who had sought shelter
between the columns of the Public Storerooms, took their departure.
Persons who had been walking along the Rue Royale, went up again towards
the boulevard. In front of the residence of the Minister of Foreign
Affairs a group of boobies had taken up their posts on the steps.

When it had got up as high as the Chinese Baths, as there were holes in
the pavement, the berlin slackened its pace. A man in a hazel-coloured
paletot was walking on the edge of the footpath. A splash, spurting out
from under the springs, showed itself on his back. The man turned round
in a rage. Frederick grew pale; he had recognised Deslauriers.

At the door of the Café Anglais he sent away the carriage. Rosanette had
gone in before him while he was paying the postilion.

He found her subsequently on the stairs chatting with a gentleman.
Frederick took her arm; but in the lobby a second gentleman stopped her.

"Go on," said she; "I am at your service."

And he entered the private room alone. Through the two open windows
people could be seen at the casements of the other houses opposite.
Large watery masses were quivering on the pavement as it began to dry,
and a magnolia, placed on the side of a balcony, shed a perfume through
the apartment. This fragrance and freshness had a relaxing effect on his
nerves. He sank down on the red divan underneath the glass.

The Maréchale here entered the room, and, kissing him on the forehead:

"Poor pet! there's something annoying you!"

"Perhaps so," was his reply.

"You are not alone; take heart!"--which was as much as to say: "Let us
each forget our own concerns in a bliss which we shall enjoy in common."

Then she placed the petal of a flower between her lips and extended it
towards him so that he might peck at it. This movement, full of grace
and of almost voluptuous gentleness, had a softening influence on
Frederick.

"Why do you give me pain?" said he, thinking of Madame Arnoux.

"I give you pain?"

And, standing before him, she looked at him with her lashes drawn close
together and her two hands resting on his shoulders.

All his virtue, all his rancour gave way before the utter weakness of
his will.

He continued:

"Because you won't love me," and he took her on his knees.

She gave way to him. He pressed his two hands round her waist. The
crackling sound of her silk dress inflamed him.

"Where are they?" said Hussonnet's voice in the lobby outside.

The Maréchale arose abruptly, and went across to the other side of the
room, where she sat down with her back to the door.

She ordered oysters, and they seated themselves at table.

Hussonnet was not amusing. By dint of writing every day on all sorts of
subjects, reading many newspapers, listening to a great number of
discussions, and uttering paradoxes for the purpose of dazzling people,
he had in the end lost the exact idea of things, blinding himself with
his own feeble fireworks. The embarrassments of a life which had
formerly been frivolous, but which was now full of difficulty, kept him
in a state of perpetual agitation; and his impotency, which he did not
wish to avow, rendered him snappish and sarcastic. Referring to a new
ballet entitled _Ozai_, he gave a thorough blowing-up to the dancing,
and then, when the opera was in question, he attacked the Italians, now
replaced by a company of Spanish actors, "as if people had not quite
enough of Castilles[12] already!" Frederick was shocked at this, owing
to his romantic attachment to Spain, and, with a view to diverting the
conversation into a new channel, he enquired about the Collége of
France, where Edgar Quinet and Mickiewicz had attended. But Hussonnet,
an admirer of M. de Maistre, declared himself on the side of Authority
and Spiritualism. Nevertheless, he had doubts about the most
well-established facts, contradicted history, and disputed about things
whose certainty could not be questioned; so that at mention of the word
"geometry," he exclaimed: "What fudge this geometry is!" All this he
intermingled with imitations of actors. Sainville was specially his
model.

[Footnote 12: This pun of Hussonnet turns on the double sense of the
word "Castille," which not only means a place in Spain, but also an
altercation.--Translator.]

Frederick was quite bored by these quibbles. In an outburst of
impatience he pushed his foot under the table, and pressed it on one of
the little dogs.

Thereupon both animals began barking in a horrible fashion.

"You ought to get them sent home!" said he, abruptly.

Rosanette did not know anyone to whom she could intrust them.

Then, he turned round to the Bohemian:

"Look here, Hussonnet; sacrifice yourself!"

"Oh! yes, my boy! That would be a very obliging act!"

Hussonnet set off, without even requiring to have an appeal made to him.

In what way could they repay him for his kindness? Frederick did not
bestow a thought on it. He was even beginning to rejoice at finding
himself alone with her, when a waiter entered.

"Madame, somebody is asking for you!"

"What! again?"

"However, I must see who it is," said Rosanette.

He was thirsting for her; he wanted her. This disappearance seemed to
him an act of prevarication, almost a piece of rudeness. What, then,
did she mean? Was it not enough to have insulted Madame Arnoux? So much
for the latter, all the same! Now he hated all women; and he felt the
tears choking him, for his love had been misunderstood and his desire
eluded.

The Maréchale returned, and presented Cisy to him.

"I have invited Monsieur. I have done right, have I not?"

"How is that! Oh! certainly."

Frederick, with the smile of a criminal about to be executed, beckoned
to the gentleman to take a seat.

The Maréchale began to run her eye through the bill of fare, stopping at
every fantastic name.

"Suppose we eat a turban of rabbits _à la Richeliéu_ and a pudding _à la
d'Orléans_?"[13]

[Footnote 13: The word "Orléans" means light woollen cloth, and
possibly Cisy's pun might be rendered: "Oh! no cloth pudding,
please."--Translator.]

"Oh! not Orléans, pray!" exclaimed Cisy, who was a Legitimist, and
thought of making a pun.

"Would you prefer a turbot _à la_ Chambord?" she next asked.

Frederick was disgusted with this display of politeness.

The Maréchale made up her mind to order a simple fillet of beef cut up
into steaks, some crayfishes, truffles, a pine-apple salad, and vanilla
ices.

"We'll see what next. Go on for the present! Ah! I was forgetting! Bring
me a sausage!--not with garlic!"

And she called the waiter "young man," struck her glass with her knife,
and flung up the crumbs of her bread to the ceiling. She wished to
drink some Burgundy immediately.

"It is not taken in the beginning," said Frederick.

This was sometimes done, according to the Vicomte.

"Oh! no. Never!"

"Yes, indeed; I assure you!"

"Ha! you see!"

The look with which she accompanied these words meant: "This is a rich
man--pay attention to what he says!"

Meantime, the door was opening every moment; the waiters kept shouting;
and on an infernal piano in the adjoining room some one was strumming a
waltz. Then the races led to a discussion about horsemanship and the two
rival systems. Cisy was upholding Baucher and Frederick the Comte d'Aure
when Rosanette shrugged her shoulders:

"Enough--my God!--he is a better judge of these things than you
are--come now!"

She kept nibbling at a pomegranate, with her elbow resting on the table.
The wax-candles of the candelabrum in front of her were flickering in
the wind. This white light penetrated her skin with mother-of-pearl
tones, gave a pink hue to her lids, and made her eyeballs glitter. The
red colour of the fruit blended with the purple of her lips; her thin
nostrils heaved; and there was about her entire person an air of
insolence, intoxication, and recklessness that exasperated Frederick,
and yet filled his heart with wild desires.

Then, she asked, in a calm voice, who owned that big landau with
chestnut-coloured livery.

Cisy replied that it was "the Comtesse Dambreuse"

"They're very rich--aren't they?"

"Oh! very rich! although Madame Dambreuse, who was merely a Mademoiselle
Boutron and the daughter of a prefect, had a very modest fortune."

Her husband, on the other hand, must have inherited several
estates--Cisy enumerated them: as he visited the Dambreuses, he knew
their family history.

Frederick, in order to make himself disagreeable to the other, took a
pleasure in contradicting him. He maintained that Madame Dambreuse's
maiden name was De Boutron, which proved that she was of a noble family.

"No matter! I'd like to have her equipage!" said the Maréchale, throwing
herself back on the armchair.

And the sleeve of her dress, slipping up a little, showed on her left
wrist a bracelet adorned with three opals.

Frederick noticed it.

"Look here! why----"

All three looked into one another's faces, and reddened.

The door was cautiously half-opened; the brim of a hat could be seen,
and then Hussonnet's profile exhibited itself.

"Pray excuse me if I disturb the lovers!"

But he stopped, astonished at seeing Cisy, and that Cisy had taken his
own seat.

Another cover was brought; and, as he was very hungry, he snatched up at
random from what remained of the dinner some meat which was in a dish,
fruit out of a basket, and drank with one hand while he helped himself
with the other, all the time telling them the result of his mission. The
two bow-wows had been taken home. Nothing fresh at the house. He had
found the cook in the company of a soldier--a fictitious story which he
had especially invented for the sake of effect.

The Maréchale took down her cloak from the window-screw. Frederick made
a rush towards the bell, calling out to the waiter, who was some
distance away:

"A carriage!"

"I have one of my own," said the Vicomte.

"But, Monsieur!"

"Nevertheless, Monsieur!"

And they stared into each other's eyes, both pale and their hands
trembling.

At last, the Maréchale took Cisy's arm, and pointing towards the
Bohemian seated at the table:

"Pray mind him! He's choking himself. I wouldn't care to let his
devotion to my pugs be the cause of his death."

The door closed behind him.

"Well?" said Hussonnet.

"Well, what?"

"I thought----"

"What did you think?"

"Were you not----?"

He completed the sentence with a gesture.

"Oh! no--never in all my life!"

Hussonnet did not press the matter further.

He had an object in inviting himself to dinner. His journal,--which was
no longer called _L'Art_, but _Le Flambart_,[14] with this epigraph,
"Gunners, to your cannons!"--not being at all in a flourishing
condition, he had a mind to change it into a weekly review, conducted
by himself, without any assistance from Deslauriers. He again referred
to the old project and explained his latest plan.

[Footnote 14: _The Blaser._]

Frederick, probably not understanding what he was talking about, replied
with some vague words. Hussonnet snatched up several cigars from the
tables, said "Good-bye, old chap," and disappeared.

Frederick called for the bill. It had a long list of items; and the
waiter, with his napkin under his arm, was expecting to be paid by
Frederick, when another, a sallow-faced individual, who resembled
Martinon, came and said to him:

"Beg pardon; they forgot at the bar to add in the charge for the cab."

"What cab?"

"The cab the gentleman took a short time ago for the little dogs."

And the waiter put on a look of gravity, as if he pitied the poor young
man. Frederick felt inclined to box the fellow's ears. He gave the
waiter the twenty francs' change as a _pour-boire_.

"Thanks, Monseigneur," said the man with the napkin, bowing low.





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