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

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Juana" ***

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JUANA


BY HONORE DE BALZAC



Translated By Katharine Prescott Wormeley



                             DEDICATION

                  To Madame la Comtesse Merlin.



JUANA

(THE MARANAS)



CHAPTER I. EXPOSITION

Notwithstanding the discipline which Marechal Suchet had introduced into
his army corps, he was unable to prevent a short period of trouble and
disorder at the taking of Tarragona. According to certain fair-minded
military men, this intoxication of victory bore a striking resemblance
to pillage, though the marechal promptly suppressed it. Order being
re-established, each regiment quartered in its respective lines, and
the commandant of the city appointed, military administration began. The
place assumed a mongrel aspect. Though all things were organized on a
French system, the Spaniards were left free to follow “in petto” their
national tastes.

This period of pillage (it is difficult to determine how long it lasted)
had, like all other sublunary effects, a cause, not so difficult
to discover. In the marechal’s army was a regiment, composed almost
entirely of Italians and commanded by a certain Colonel Eugene, a man
of remarkable bravery, a second Murat, who, having entered the military
service too late, obtained neither a Grand Duchy of Berg nor a Kingdom
of Naples, nor balls at the Pizzo. But if he won no crown he had ample
opportunity to obtain wounds, and it was not surprising that he met with
several. His regiment was composed of the scattered fragments of the
Italian legion. This legion was to Italy what the colonial battalions
are to France. Its permanent cantonments, established on the island of
Elba, served as an honorable place of exile for the troublesome sons of
good families and for those great men who have just missed greatness,
whom society brands with a hot iron and designates by the term “mauvais
sujets”; men who are for the most part misunderstood; whose existence
may become either noble through the smile of a woman lifting them out
of their rut, or shocking at the close of an orgy under the influence of
some damnable reflection dropped by a drunken comrade.

Napoleon had incorporated these vigorous beings in the sixth of the
line, hoping to metamorphose them finally into generals,--barring those
whom the bullets might take off. But the emperor’s calculation was
scarcely fulfilled, except in the matter of the bullets. This regiment,
often decimated but always the same in character, acquired a great
reputation for valor in the field and for wickedness in private life.
At the siege of Tarragona it lost its celebrated hero, Bianchi, the man
who, during the campaign, had wagered that he would eat the heart of a
Spanish sentinel, and did eat it. Though Bianchi was the prince of the
devils incarnate to whom the regiment owed its dual reputation, he had,
nevertheless, that sort of chivalrous honor which excuses, in the army,
the worst excesses. In a word, he would have been, at an earlier period,
an admirable pirate. A few days before his death he distinguished
himself by a daring action which the marechal wished to reward. Bianchi
refused rank, pension, and additional decoration, asking, for sole
recompense, the favor of being the first to mount the breach at the
assault on Tarragona. The marechal granted the request and then forgot
his promise; but Bianchi forced him to remember Bianchi. The enraged
hero was the first to plant our flag on the wall, where he was shot by a
monk.

This historical digression was necessary, in order to explain how it was
that the 6th of the line was the regiment to enter Tarragona, and why
the disorder and confusion, natural enough in a city taken by storm,
degenerated for a time into a slight pillage.

This regiment possessed two officers, not at all remarkable among these
men of iron, who played, nevertheless, in the history we shall now
relate, a somewhat important part.

The first, a captain in the quartermaster’s department, an officer half
civil, half military, was considered, in soldier phrase, to be fighting
his own battle. He pretended bravery, boasted loudly of belonging to
the 6th of the line, twirled his moustache with the air of a man who was
ready to demolish everything; but his brother officers did not esteem
him. The fortune he possessed made him cautious. He was nicknamed, for
two reasons, “captain of crows.” In the first place, he could smell
powder a league off, and took wing at the sound of a musket; secondly,
the nickname was based on an innocent military pun, which his position
in the regiment warranted. Captain Montefiore, of the illustrious
Montefiore family of Milan (though the laws of the Kingdom of Italy
forbade him to bear his title in the French service) was one of the
handsomest men in the army. This beauty may have been among the secret
causes of his prudence on fighting days. A wound which might have
injured his nose, cleft his forehead, or scarred his cheek, would have
destroyed one of the most beautiful Italian faces which a woman ever
dreamed of in all its delicate proportions. This face, not unlike the
type which Girodet has given to the dying young Turk, in the “Revolt at
Cairo,” was instinct with that melancholy by which all women are more or
less duped.

The Marquis de Montefiore possessed an entailed property, but his income
was mortgaged for a number of years to pay off the costs of certain
Italian escapades which are inconceivable in Paris. He had ruined
himself in supporting a theatre at Milan in order to force upon a public
a very inferior prima donna, whom he was said to love madly. A fine
future was therefore before him, and he did not care to risk it for the
paltry distinction of a bit of red ribbon. He was not a brave man, but
he was certainly a philosopher; and he had precedents, if we may use so
parliamentary an expression. Did not Philip the Second register a vow
after the battle of Saint Quentin that never again would he put himself
under fire? And did not the Duke of Alba encourage him in thinking that
the worst trade in the world was the involuntary exchange of a crown
for a bullet? Hence, Montefiore was Philippiste in his capacity of rich
marquis and handsome man; and in other respects also he was quite as
profound a politician as Philip the Second himself. He consoled himself
for his nickname, and for the disesteem of the regiment by thinking
that his comrades were blackguards, whose opinion would never be of any
consequence to him if by chance they survived the present war, which
seemed to be one of extermination. He relied on his face to win him
promotion; he saw himself made colonel by feminine influence and a
carefully managed transition from captain of equipment to orderly
officer, and from orderly officer to aide-de-camp on the staff of some
easy-going marshal. By that time, he reflected, he should come into his
property of a hundred thousand scudi a year, some journal would speak of
him as “the brave Montefiore,” he would marry a girl of rank, and no one
would dare to dispute his courage or verify his wounds.

Captain Montefiore had one friend in the person of the quartermaster,
--a Provencal, born in the neighborhood of Nice, whose name was Diard.
A friend, whether at the galleys or in the garret of an artist, consoles
for many troubles. Now Montefiore and Diard were two philosophers, who
consoled each other for their present lives by the study of vice,
as artists soothe the immediate disappointment of their hopes by the
expectation of future fame. Both regarded the war in its results, not
its action; they simply considered those who died for glory fools.
Chance had made soldiers of them; whereas their natural proclivities
would have seated them at the green table of a congress. Nature had
poured Montefiore into the mould of a Rizzio, and Diard into that of
a diplomatist. Both were endowed with that nervous, feverish,
half-feminine organization, which is equally strong for good or evil,
and from which may emanate, according to the impulse of these singular
temperaments, a crime or a generous action, a noble deed or a base one.
The fate of such natures depends at any moment on the pressure, more
or less powerful, produced on their nervous systems by violent and
transitory passions.

Diard was considered a good accountant, but no soldier would have
trusted him with his purse or his will, possibly because of the
antipathy felt by all real soldiers against the bureaucrats. The
quartermaster was not without courage and a certain juvenile generosity,
sentiments which many men give up as they grow older, by dint of
reasoning or calculating. Variable as the beauty of a fair woman, Diard
was a great boaster and a great talker, talking of everything. He said
he was artistic, and he made prizes (like two celebrated generals) of
works of art, solely, he declared, to preserve them for posterity.
His military comrades would have been puzzled indeed to form a correct
judgment of him. Many of them, accustomed to draw upon his funds when
occasion obliged them, thought him rich; but in truth, he was a gambler,
and gamblers may be said to have nothing of their own. Montefiore was
also a gambler, and all the officers of the regiment played with the
pair; for, to the shame of men be it said, it is not a rare thing to
see persons gambling together around a green table who, when the game is
finished, will not bow to their companions, feeling no respect for them.
Montefiore was the man with whom Bianchi made his bet about the heart of
the Spanish sentinel.

Montefiore and Diard were among the last to mount the breach at
Tarragona, but the first in the heart of the town as soon as it was
taken. Accidents of this sort happen in all attacks, but with this pair
of friends they were customary. Supporting each other, they made their
way bravely through a labyrinth of narrow and gloomy little streets in
quest of their personal objects; one seeking for painted madonnas, the
other for madonnas of flesh and blood.

In what part of Tarragona it happened I cannot say, but Diard presently
recognized by its architecture the portal of a convent, the gate of
which was already battered in. Springing into the cloister to put a
stop to the fury of the soldiers, he arrived just in time to prevent two
Parisians from shooting a Virgin by Albano. In spite of the moustache
with which in their military fanaticism they had decorated her face, he
bought the picture. Montefiore, left alone during this episode, noticed,
nearly opposite the convent, the house and shop of a draper, from which
a shot was fired at him at the moment when his eyes caught a flaming
glance from those of an inquisitive young girl, whose head was advanced
under the shelter of a blind. Tarragona taken by assault, Tarragona
furious, firing from every window, Tarragona violated, with dishevelled
hair, and half-naked, was indeed an object of curiosity,--the curiosity
of a daring Spanish woman. It was a magnified bull-fight.

Montefiore forgot the pillage, and heard, for the moment, neither the
cries, nor the musketry, nor the growling of the artillery. The profile
of that Spanish girl was the most divinely delicious thing which he,
an Italian libertine, weary of Italian beauty, and dreaming of an
impossible woman because he was tired of all women, had ever seen.
He could still quiver, he, who had wasted his fortune on a thousand
follies, the thousand passions of a young and blase man--the most
abominable monster that society generates. An idea came into his head,
suggested perhaps by the shot of the draper-patriot, namely,--to set
fire to the house. But he was now alone, and without any means of
action; the fighting was centred in the market-place, where a few
obstinate beings were still defending the town. A better idea then
occurred to him. Diard came out of the convent, but Montefiore said not
a word of his discovery; on the contrary, he accompanied him on a series
of rambles about the streets. But the next day, the Italian had obtained
his military billet in the house of the draper,--an appropriate lodging
for an equipment captain!

The house of the worthy Spaniard consisted, on the ground-floor, of a
vast and gloomy shop, externally fortified with stout iron bars, such
as we see in the old storehouses of the rue des Lombards. This shop
communicated with a parlor lighted from an interior courtyard, a large
room breathing the very spirit of the middle-ages, with smoky old
pictures, old tapestries, antique “brazero,” a plumed hat hanging to
a nail, the musket of the guerrillas, and the cloak of Bartholo. The
kitchen adjoined this unique living-room, where the inmates took their
meals and warmed themselves over the dull glow of the brazier, smoking
cigars and discoursing bitterly to animate all hearts with hatred
against the French. Silver pitchers and precious dishes of plate and
porcelain adorned a buttery shelf of the old fashion. But the light,
sparsely admitted, allowed these dazzling objects to show but slightly;
all things, as in pictures of the Dutch school, looked brown, even the
faces. Between the shop and this living-room, so fine in color and
in its tone of patriarchal life, was a dark staircase leading to
a ware-room where the light, carefully distributed, permitted the
examination of goods. Above this were the apartments of the merchant and
his wife. Rooms for an apprentice and a servant-woman were in a garret
under the roof, which projected over the street and was supported by
buttresses, giving a somewhat fantastic appearance to the exterior of
the building. These chambers were now taken by the merchant and his
wife who gave up their own rooms to the officer who was billeted upon
them,--probably because they wished to avoid all quarrelling.

Montefiore gave himself out as a former Spanish subject, persecuted by
Napoleon, whom he was serving against his will; and these semi-lies
had the success he expected. He was invited to share the meals of the
family, and was treated with the respect due to his name, his birth,
and his title. He had his reasons for capturing the good-will of the
merchant and his wife; he scented his madonna as the ogre scented
the youthful flesh of Tom Thumb and his brothers. But in spite of
the confidence he managed to inspire in the worthy pair the latter
maintained the most profound silence as to the said madonna; and not
only did the captain see no trace of the young girl during the first day
he spent under the roof of the honest Spaniard, but he heard no sound
and came upon no indication which revealed her presence in that ancient
building. Supposing that she was the only daughter of the old couple,
Montefiore concluded they had consigned her to the garret, where, for
the time being, they made their home.

But no revelation came to betray the hiding-place of that precious
treasure. The marquis glued his face to the lozenge-shaped leaded panes
which looked upon the black-walled enclosure of the inner courtyard;
but in vain; he saw no gleam of light except from the windows of the old
couple, whom he could see and hear as they went and came and talked and
coughed. Of the young girl, not a shadow!

Montefiore was far too wary to risk the future of his passion by
exploring the house nocturnally, or by tapping softly on the doors.
Discovery by that hot patriot, the mercer, suspicious as a Spaniard
must be, meant ruin infallibly. The captain therefore resolved to wait
patiently, resting his faith on time and the imperfection of men, which
always results--even with scoundrels, and how much more with honest
men!--in the neglect of precautions.

The next day he discovered a hammock in the kitchen, showing plainly
where the servant-woman slept. As for the apprentice, his bed was
evidently made on the shop counter. During supper on the second day
Montefiore succeeded, by cursing Napoleon, in smoothing the anxious
forehead of the merchant, a grave, black-visaged Spaniard, much like the
faces formerly carved on the handles of Moorish lutes; even the wife let
a gay smile of hatred appear in the folds of her elderly face. The lamp
and the reflections of the brazier illumined fantastically the shadows
of the noble room. The mistress of the house offered a “cigarrito” to
their semi-compatriot. At this moment the rustle of a dress and the fall
of a chair behind the tapestry were plainly heard.

“Ah!” cried the wife, turning pale, “may the saints assist us! God grant
no harm has happened!”

“You have some one in the next room, have you not?” said Montefiore,
giving no sign of emotion.

The draper dropped a word of imprecation against the girls. Evidently
alarmed, the wife opened a secret door, and led in, half fainting, the
Italian’s madonna, to whom he was careful to pay no attention; only,
to avoid a too-studied indifference, he glanced at the girl before he
turned to his host and said in his own language:--

“Is that your daughter, signore?”

Perez de Lagounia (such was the merchant’s name) had large commercial
relations with Genoa, Florence, and Livorno; he knew Italian, and
replied in the same language:--

“No; if she were my daughter I should take less precautions. The child
is confided to our care, and I would rather die than see any evil happen
to her. But how is it possible to put sense into a girl of eighteen?”

“She is very handsome,” said Montefiore, coldly, not looking at her face
again.

“Her mother’s beauty is celebrated,” replied the merchant, briefly.

They continued to smoke, watching each other. Though Montefiore
compelled himself not to give the slightest look which might contradict
his apparent coldness, he could not refrain, at a moment when Perez
turned his head to expectorate, from casting a rapid glance at the young
girl, whose sparkling eyes met his. Then, with that science of vision
which gives to a libertine, as it does to a sculptor, the fatal power of
disrobing, if we may so express it, a woman, and divining her shape by
inductions both rapid and sagacious, he beheld one of those masterpieces
of Nature whose creation appears to demand as its right all the
happiness of love. Here was a fair young face, on which the sun of Spain
had cast faint tones of bistre which added to its expression of seraphic
calmness a passionate pride, like a flash of light infused beneath
that diaphanous complexion,--due, perhaps, to the Moorish blood which
vivified and colored it. Her hair, raised to the top of her head, fell
thence with black reflections round the delicate transparent ears and
defined the outlines of a blue-veined throat. These luxuriant locks
brought into strong relief the dazzling eyes and the scarlet lips of
a well-arched mouth. The bodice of the country set off the lines of
a figure that swayed as easily as a branch of willow. She was not the
Virgin of Italy, but the Virgin of Spain, of Murillo, the only artist
daring enough to have painted the Mother of God intoxicated with the joy
of conceiving the Christ,--the glowing imagination of the boldest and
also the warmest of painters.

In this young girl three things were united, a single one of which would
have sufficed for the glory of a woman: the purity of the pearl in the
depths of ocean; the sublime exaltation of the Spanish Saint Teresa; and
a passion of love which was ignorant of itself. The presence of such a
woman has the virtue of a talisman. Montefiore no longer felt worn and
jaded. That young girl brought back his youthful freshness.

But, though the apparition was delightful, it did not last. The girl was
taken back to the secret chamber, where the servant-woman carried to her
openly both light and food.

“You do right to hide her,” said Montefiore in Italian. “I will keep
your secret. The devil! we have generals in our army who are capable of
abducting her.”

Montefiore’s infatuation went so far as to suggest to him the idea of
marrying her. He accordingly asked her history, and Perez very willingly
told him the circumstances under which she had become his ward. The
prudent Spaniard was led to make this confidence because he had heard of
Montefiore in Italy, and knowing his reputation was desirous to let him
see how strong were the barriers which protected the young girl from the
possibility of seduction. Though the good-man was gifted with a certain
patriarchal eloquence, in keeping with his simple life and customs, his
tale will be improved by abridgment.

At the period when the French Revolution changed the manners and
morals of every country which served as the scene of its wars, a street
prostitute came to Tarragona, driven from Venice at the time of its
fall. The life of this woman had been a tissue of romantic adventures
and strange vicissitudes. To her, oftener than to any other woman of her
class, it had happened, thanks to the caprice of great lords struck with
her extraordinary beauty, to be literally gorged with gold and jewels
and all the delights of excessive wealth,--flowers, carriages, pages,
maids, palaces, pictures, journeys (like those of Catherine II.); in
short, the life of a queen, despotic in her caprices and obeyed, often
beyond her own imaginings. Then, without herself, or any one, chemist,
physician, or man of science, being able to discover how her gold
evaporated, she would find herself back in the streets, poor, denuded of
everything, preserving nothing but her all-powerful beauty, yet living
on without thought or care of the past, the present, or the future.
Cast, in her poverty, into the hands of some poor gambling officer, she
attached herself to him as a dog to its master, sharing the discomforts
of the military life, which indeed she comforted, as content under the
roof of a garret as beneath the silken hangings of opulence. Italian and
Spanish both, she fulfilled very scrupulously the duties of religion,
and more than once she had said to love:--

“Return to-morrow; to-day I belong to God.”

But this slime permeated with gold and perfumes, this careless
indifference to all things, these unbridled passions, these religious
beliefs cast into that heart like diamonds into mire, this life begun,
and ended, in a hospital, these gambling chances transferred to the
soul, to the very existence,--in short, this great alchemy, for which
vice lit the fire beneath the crucible in which fortunes were melted
up and the gold of ancestors and the honor of great names evaporated,
proceeded from a _cause_, a particular heredity, faithfully transmitted
from mother to daughter since the middle ages. The name of this woman
was La Marana. In her family, existing solely in the female line, the
idea, person, name and power of a father had been completely unknown
since the thirteenth century. The name Marana was to her what the
designation of Stuart is to the celebrated royal race of Scotland, a
name of distinction substituted for the patronymic name by the constant
heredity of the same office devolving on the family.

Formerly, in France, Spain, and Italy, when those three countries had,
in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, mutual interests which united
and disunited them by perpetual warfare, the name Marana served to
express in its general sense, a prostitute. In those days women of that
sort had a certain rank in the world of which nothing in our day can
give an idea. Ninon de l’Enclos and Marian Delorme have alone played,
in France, the role of the Imperias, Catalinas, and Maranas who, in
preceding centuries, gathered around them the cassock, gown, and
sword. An Imperia built I forget which church in Rome in a frenzy of
repentance, as Rhodope built, in earlier times, a pyramid in Egypt. The
name Marana, inflicted at first as a disgrace upon the singular family
with which we are now concerned, had ended by becoming its veritable
name and by ennobling its vice by incontestable antiquity.

One day, a day of opulence or of penury I know not which, for this event
was a secret between herself and God, but assuredly it was in a moment
of repentance and melancholy, this Marana of the nineteenth century
stood with her feet in the slime and her head raised to heaven. She
cursed the blood in her veins, she cursed herself, she trembled lest she
should have a daughter, and she swore, as such women swear, on the honor
and with the will of the galleys--the firmest will, the most scrupulous
honor that there is on earth--she swore, before an altar, and believing
in that altar, to make her daughter a virtuous creature, a saint, and
thus to gain, after that long line of lost women, criminals in love, an
angel in heaven for them all.

The vow once made, the blood of the Maranas spoke; the courtesan
returned to her reckless life, a thought the more within her heart. At
last she loved, with the violent love of such women, as Henrietta Wilson
loved Lord Ponsonby, as Mademoiselle Dupuis loved Bolingbroke, as the
Marchesa Pescara loved her husband--but no, she did not love, she adored
one of those fair men, half women, to whom she gave the virtues which
she had not, striving to keep for herself all that there was of vice
between them. It was from that weak man, that senseless marriage
unblessed by God or man which happiness is thought to justify, but which
no happiness absolves, and for which men blush at last, that she had a
daughter, a daughter to save, a daughter for whom to desire a noble life
and the chastity she had not. Henceforth, happy or not happy, opulent or
beggared, she had in her heart a pure, untainted sentiment, the highest
of all human feelings because the most disinterested. Love has its
egotism, but motherhood has none. La Marana was a mother like none
other; for, in her total, her eternal shipwreck, motherhood might still
redeem her. To accomplish sacredly through life the task of sending
a pure soul to heaven, was not that a better thing than a tardy
repentance? was it not, in truth, the only spotless prayer which she
could lift to God?

So, when this daughter, when her Marie-Juana-Pepita (she would fain have
given her all the saints in the calendar as guardians), when this dear
little creature was granted to her, she became possessed of so high an
idea of the dignity of motherhood that she entreated vice to grant her a
respite. She made herself virtuous and lived in solitude. No more fetes,
no more orgies, no more love. All joys, all fortunes were centred now
in the cradle of her child. The tones of that infant voice made an oasis
for her soul in the burning sands of her existence. That sentiment could
not be measured or estimated by any other. Did it not, in fact, comprise
all human sentiments, all heavenly hopes? La Marana was so resolved not
to soil her daughter with any stain other than that of birth, that she
sought to invest her with social virtues; she even obliged the young
father to settle a handsome patrimony upon the child and to give her
his name. Thus the girl was not know as Juana Marana, but as Juana di
Mancini.

Then, after seven years of joy, and kisses, and intoxicating happiness,
the time came when the poor Marana deprived herself of her idol. That
Juana might never bow her head under their hereditary shame, the mother
had the courage to renounce her child for her child’s sake, and to seek,
not without horrible suffering, for another mother, another home, other
principles to follow, other and saintlier examples to imitate. The
abdication of a mother is either a revolting act or a sublime one; in
this case, was it not sublime?

At Tarragona a lucky accident threw the Lagounias in her way, under
circumstances which enabled her to recognize the integrity of the
Spaniard and the noble virtue of his wife. She came to them at a time
when her proposal seemed that of a liberating angel. The fortune and
honor of the merchant, momentarily compromised, required a prompt and
secret succor. La Marana made over to the husband the whole sum she
had obtained of the father for Juana’s “dot,” requiring neither
acknowledgment nor interest. According to her own code of honor, a
contract, a trust, was a thing of the heart, and God its supreme
judge. After stating the miseries of her position to Dona Lagounia, she
confided her daughter and her daughter’s fortune to the fine old Spanish
honor, pure and spotless, which filled the precincts of that ancient
house. Dona Lagounia had no child, and she was only too happy to obtain
one to nurture. The mother then parted from her Juana, convinced that
the child’s future was safe, and certain of having found her a mother, a
mother who would bring her up as a Mancini, and not as a Marana.

Leaving her child in the simple modest house of the merchant where the
burgher virtues reigned, where religion and sacred sentiments and honor
filled the air, the poor prostitute, the disinherited mother was enabled
to bear her trial by visions of Juana, virgin, wife, and mother, a
mother throughout her life. On the threshold of that house Marana left a
tear such as the angels garner up.

Since that day of mourning and hope the mother, drawn by some invincible
presentiment, had thrice returned to see her daughter. Once when Juana
fell ill with a dangerous complaint:

“I knew it,” she said to Perez when she reached the house.

Asleep, she had seen her Juana dying. She nursed her and watched her,
until one morning, sure of the girl’s convalescence, she kissed her,
still asleep, on the forehead and left her without betraying whom she
was. A second time the Marana came to the church where Juana made her
first communion. Simply dressed, concealing herself behind a column, the
exiled mother recognized herself in her daughter such as she once had
been, pure as the snow fresh-fallen on the Alps. A courtesan even
in maternity, the Marana felt in the depths of her soul a jealous
sentiment, stronger for the moment than that of love, and she left
the church, incapable of resisting any longer the desire to kill Dona
Lagounia, as she sat there, with radiant face, too much the mother of
her child. A third and last meeting had taken place between mother and
daughter in the streets of Milan, to which city the merchant and his
wife had paid a visit. The Marana drove through the Corso in all
the splendor of a sovereign; she passed her daughter like a flash of
lightning and was not recognized. Horrible anguish! To this Marana,
surfeited with kisses, one was lacking, a single one, for which she
would have bartered all the others: the joyous, girlish kiss of a
daughter to a mother, an honored mother, a mother in whom shone all the
domestic virtues. Juana living was dead to her. One thought revived the
soul of the courtesan--a precious thought! Juana was henceforth safe.
She might be the humblest of women, but at least she was not what her
mother was--an infamous courtesan.

The merchant and his wife had fulfilled their trust with scrupulous
integrity. Juana’s fortune, managed by them, had increased tenfold.
Perez de Lagounia, now the richest merchant in the provinces, felt for
the young girl a sentiment that was semi-superstitious. Her money had
preserved his ancient house from dishonorable ruin, and the presence of
so precious a treasure had brought him untold prosperity. His wife, a
heart of gold, and full of delicacy, had made the child religious, and
as pure as she was beautiful. Juana might well become the wife of either
a great seigneur or a wealthy merchant; she lacked no virtue necessary
to the highest destiny. Perez had intended taking her to Madrid and
marrying her to some grandee, but the events of the present war delayed
the fulfilment of this project.

“I don’t know where the Marana now is,” said Perez, ending the above
history, “but in whatever quarter of the world she may be living, when
she hears of the occupation of our province by your armies, and of the
siege of Tarragona, she will assuredly set out at once to come here and
see to her daughter’s safety.”



CHAPTER II. AUCTION


The foregoing narrative changed the intentions of the Italian captain;
no longer did he think of making a Marchesa di Montefiore of Juana di
Mancini. He recognized the blood of the Maranas in the glance the girl
had given from behind the blinds, in the trick she had just played to
satisfy her curiosity, and also in the parting look she had cast upon
him. The libertine wanted a virtuous woman for a wife.

The adventure was full of danger, but danger of a kind that never
daunts the least courageous man, for love and pleasure followed it. The
apprentice sleeping in the shop, the cook bivouacking in the kitchen,
Perez and his wife sleeping, no doubt, the wakeful sleep of the aged,
the echoing sonority of the old mansion, the close surveillance of the
girl in the day-time,--all these things were obstacles, and made success
a thing well-nigh impossible. But Montefiore had in his favor against
all impossibilities the blood of the Maranas which gushed in the heart
of that inquisitive girl, Italian by birth, Spanish in principles,
virgin indeed, but impatient to love. Passion, the girl, and Montefiore
were ready and able to defy the whole universe.

Montefiore, impelled as much by the instinct of a man of gallantry as
by those vague hopes which cannot be explained, and to which we give
the name of presentiments (a word of astonishing verbal accuracy),
Montefiore spent the first hours of the night at his window, endeavoring
to look below him to the secret apartment where, undoubtedly, the
merchant and his wife had hidden the love and joyfulness of their old
age. The ware-room of the “entresol” separated him from the rooms on the
ground-floor. The captain therefore could not have recourse to noises
significantly made from one floor to the other, an artificial language
which all lovers know well how to create. But chance, or it may have
been the young girl herself, came to his assistance. At the moment when
he stationed himself at his window, he saw, on the black wall of the
courtyard, a circle of light, in the centre of which the silhouette of
Juana was clearly defined; the consecutive movement of the arms, and the
attitude, gave evidence that she was arranging her hair for the night.

“Is she alone?” Montefiore asked himself; “could I, without danger,
lower a letter filled with coin and strike it against that circular
window in her hiding-place?”

At once he wrote a note, the note of a man exiled by his family to Elba,
the note of a degraded marquis now a mere captain of equipment. Then he
made a cord of whatever he could find that was capable of being turned
into string, filled the note with a few silver crowns, and lowered it in
the deepest silence to the centre of that spherical gleam.

“The shadows will show if her mother or the servant is with her,”
 thought Montefiore. “If she is not alone, I can pull up the string at
once.”

But, after succeeding with infinite trouble in striking the glass, a
single form, the little figure of Juana, appeared upon the wall. The
young girl opened her window cautiously, saw the note, took it, and
stood before the window while she read it. In it, Montefiore had given
his name and asked for an interview, offering, after the style of the
old romances, his heart and hand to the Signorina Juana di Mancini--a
common trick, the success of which is nearly always certain. At Juana’s
age, nobility of soul increases the dangers which surround youth. A poet
of our day has said: “Woman succumbs only to her own nobility. The lover
pretends to doubt the love he inspires at the moment when he is most
beloved; the young girl, confident and proud, longs to make sacrifices
to prove her love, and knows the world and men too little to continue
calm in the midst of her rising emotions and repel with contempt the man
who accepts a life offered in expiation of a false reproach.”

Ever since the constitution of societies the young girl finds herself
torn by a struggle between the caution of prudent virtue and the evils
of wrong-doing. Often she loses a love, delightful in prospect, and the
first, if she resists; on the other hand, she loses a marriage if she
is imprudent. Casting a glance over the vicissitudes of social life
in Paris, it is impossible to doubt the necessity of religion; and
yet Paris is situated in the forty-eighth degree of latitude, while
Tarragona is in the forty-first. The old question of climates is still
useful to narrators to explain the sudden denouements, the imprudences,
or the resistances of love.

Montefiore kept his eyes fixed on the exquisite black profile projected
by the gleam upon the wall. Neither he nor Juana could see each other;
a troublesome cornice, vexatiously placed, deprived them of the mute
correspondence which may be established between a pair of lovers as they
bend to each other from their windows. Thus the mind and the attention
of the captain were concentrated on that luminous circle where, without
perhaps knowing it herself, the young girl would, he thought, innocently
reveal her thoughts by a series of gestures. But no! The singular
motions she proceeded to make gave not a particle of hope to the
expectant lover. Juana was amusing herself by cutting up his missive.
But virtue and innocence sometimes imitate the clever proceedings
inspired by jealousy to the Bartholos of comedy. Juana, without
pens, ink, or paper, was replying by snip of scissors. Presently she
refastened the note to the string; the officer drew it up, opened it,
and read by the light of his lamp one word, carefully cut out of the
paper: COME.

“Come!” he said to himself; “but what of poison? or the dagger or
carbine of Perez? And that apprentice not yet asleep, perhaps, in the
shop? and the servant in her hammock? Besides, this old house echoes the
slightest sound; I can hear old Perez snoring even here. Come, indeed!
She can have nothing more to lose.”

Bitter reflection! rakes alone are logical and will punish a woman for
devotion. Man created Satan and Lovelace; but a virgin is an angel
on whom he can bestow naught but his own vices. She is so grand, so
beautiful, that he cannot magnify or embellish her; he has only the
fatal power to blast her and drag her down into his own mire.

Montefiore waited for a later and more somnolent hour of the night;
then, in spite of his reflections, he descended the stairs without
boots, armed with his pistols, moving step by step, stopping to question
the silence, putting forth his hands, measuring the stairs, peering into
the darkness, and ready at the slightest incident to fly back into his
room. The Italian had put on his handsomest uniform; he had perfumed his
black hair, and now shone with the particular brilliancy which dress and
toilet bestow upon natural beauty. Under such circumstances most men are
as feminine as a woman.

The marquis arrived without hindrance before the secret door of the room
in which the girl was hidden, a sort of cell made in the angle of the
house and belonging exclusively to Juana, who had remained there hidden
during the day from every eye while the siege lasted. Up to the present
time she had slept in the room of her adopted mother, but the limited
space in the garret where the merchant and his wife had gone to make
room for the officer who was billeted upon them, did not allow of her
going with them. Dona Lagounia had therefore left the young girl to the
guardianship of lock and key, under the protection of religious ideas,
all the more efficacious because they were partly superstitious, and
also under the shield of a native pride and sensitive modesty which made
the young Mancini in sort an exception among her sex. Juana possessed
in an equal degree the most attaching virtues and the most passionate
impulses; she had needed the modesty and sanctity of this monotonous
life to calm and cool the tumultuous blood of the Maranas which bounded
in her heart, the desires of which her adopted mother told her were an
instigation of the devil.

A faint ray of light traced along the sill of the secret door guided
Montefiore to the place; he scratched the panel softly and Juana opened
to him. Montefiore entered, palpitating, but he recognized in the
expression of the girl’s face complete ignorance of her peril, a sort of
naive curiosity, and an innocent admiration. He stopped short, arrested
for a moment by the sacredness of the picture which met his eyes.

He saw before him a tapestry on the walls with a gray ground sprinkled
with violets, a little coffer of ebony, an antique mirror, an immense
and very old arm chair also in ebony and covered with tapestry, a table
with twisted legs, a pretty carpet on the floor, near the table a
single chair; and that was all. On the table, however, were flowers and
embroidery; in a recess at the farther end of the room was the narrow
little bed where Juana dreamed. Above the bed were three pictures;
and near the pillow a crucifix, with a holy water basin and a prayer,
printed in letters of gold and framed. Flowers exhaled their perfume
faintly; the candles cast a tender light; all was calm and pure and
sacred. The dreamy thoughts of Juana, but above all Juana herself, had
communicated to all things her own peculiar charm; her soul appeared
to shine there, like the pearl in its matrix. Juana, dressed in white,
beautiful with naught but her own beauty, laying down her rosary to
answer love, might have inspired respect, even in a Montefiore, if
the silence, if the night, if Juana herself had not seemed so amorous.
Montefiore stood still, intoxicated with an unknown happiness, possibly
that of Satan beholding heaven through a rift of the clouds which form
its enclosure.

“As soon as I saw you,” he said in pure Tuscan, and in the modest tone
of voice so peculiarly Italian, “I loved you. My soul and my life are
now in you, and in you they will be forever, if you will have it so.”

Juana listened, inhaling from the atmosphere the sound of these words
which the accents of love made magnificent.

“Poor child! how have you breathed so long the air of this dismal house
without dying of it? You, made to reign in the world, to inhabit the
palace of a prince, to live in the midst of fetes, to feel the joys
which love bestows, to see the world at your feet, to efface all other
beauty by your own which can have no rival--you, to live here, solitary,
with those two shopkeepers!”

Adroit question! He wished to know if Juana had a lover.

“True,” she replied. “But who can have told you my secret thoughts? For
the last few months I have nearly died of sadness. Yes, I would _rather_
die than stay longer in this house. Look at that embroidery; there is
not a stitch there which I did not set with dreadful thoughts. How many
times I have thought of escaping to fling myself into the sea! Why? I
don’t know why,--little childish troubles, but very keen, though they
are so silly. Often I have kissed my mother at night as one would kiss
a mother for the last time, saying in my heart: ‘To-morrow I will kill
myself.’ But I do not die. Suicides go to hell, you know, and I am so
afraid of hell that I resign myself to live, to get up in the morning
and go to bed at night, and work the same hours, and do the same things.
I am not so weary of it, but I suffer--And yet, my father and mother
adore me. Oh! I am bad, I am bad; I say so to my confessor.”

“Do you always live here alone, without amusement, without pleasures?”

“Oh! I have not always been like this. Till I was fifteen the festivals
of the church, the chants, the music gave me pleasure. I was happy,
feeling myself like the angels without sin and able to communicate every
week--I loved God then. But for the last three years, from day to day,
all things have changed. First, I wanted flowers here--and I have them,
lovely flowers! Then I wanted--but I want nothing now,” she added, after
a pause, smiling at Montefiore. “Have you not said that you would love
me always?”

“Yes, my Juana,” cried Montefiore, softly, taking her round the waist
and pressing her to his heart, “yes. But let me speak to you as you
speak to God. Are you not as beautiful as Mary in heaven? Listen. I
swear to you,” he continued, kissing her hair, “I swear to take that
forehead for my altar, to make you my idol, to lay at your feet all the
luxuries of the world. For you, my palace at Milan; for you my horses,
my jewels, the diamonds of my ancient family; for you, each day, fresh
jewels, a thousand pleasures, and all the joys of earth!”

“Yes,” she said reflectively, “I would like that; but I feel within my
soul that I would like better than all the world my husband. Mio caro
sposo!” she said, as if it were impossible to give in any other language
the infinite tenderness, the loving elegance with which the Italian
tongue and accent clothe those delightful words. Besides, Italian was
Juana’s maternal language.

“I should find,” she continued, with a glance at Montefiore in which
shone the purity of the cherubim, “I should find in _him_ my dear
religion, him and God--God and him. Is he to be you?” she said. “Yes,
surely it will be you,” she cried, after a pause. “Come, and see the
picture my father brought me from Italy.”

She took a candle, made a sign to Montefiore, and showed him at the foot
of her bed a Saint Michael overthrowing the demon.

“Look!” she said, “has he not your eyes? When I saw you from my window
in the street, our meeting seemed to me a sign from heaven. Every day
during my morning meditation, while waiting for my mother to call me to
prayer, I have so gazed at that picture, that angel, that I have ended
by thinking him my husband--oh! heavens, I speak to you as though you
were myself. I must seem crazy to you; but if you only knew how a poor
captive wants to tell the thoughts that choke her! When alone, I talk to
my flowers, to my tapestry; they can understand me better, I think, than
my father and mother, who are so grave.”

“Juana,” said Montefiore, taking her hands and kissing them with the
passion that gushed in his eyes, in his gestures, in the tones of his
voice, “speak to me as your husband, as yourself. I have suffered all
that you have suffered. Between us two few words are needed to make
us comprehend our past, but there will never be enough to express our
coming happiness. Lay your hand upon my heart. Feel how it beats. Let us
promise before God, who sees and hears us, to be faithful to each other
throughout our lives. Here, take my ring--and give me yours.”

“Give you my ring!” she said in terror.

“Why not?” asked Montefiore, uneasy at such artlessness.

“But our holy father the Pope has blessed it; it was put upon my finger
in childhood by a beautiful lady who took care of me, and who told me
never to part with it.”

“Juana, you cannot love me!”

“Ah!” she said, “here it is; take it. You, are you not another myself?”

She held out the ring with a trembling hand, holding it tightly as she
looked at Montefiore with a clear and penetrating eye that questioned
him. That ring! all of herself was in it; but she gave it to him.

“Oh, my Juana!” said Montefiore, again pressing her in his arms. “I
should be a monster indeed if I deceived you. I will love you forever.”

Juana was thoughtful. Montefiore, reflecting that in this first
interview he ought to venture upon nothing that might frighten a young
girl so ignorantly pure, so imprudent by virtue rather than from desire,
postponed all further action to the future, relying on his beauty, of
which he knew the power, and on this innocent ring-marriage, the hymen
of the heart, the lightest, yet the strongest of all ceremonies. For the
rest of that night, and throughout the next day, Juana’s imagination was
the accomplice of her passion.

On this first evening Montefiore forced himself to be as respectful as
he was tender. With that intention, in the interests of his passion and
the desires with which Juana inspired him, he was caressing and unctuous
in language; he launched the young creature into plans for a new
existence, described to her the world under glowing colors, talked to
her of household details always attractive to the mind of girls, giving
her a sense of the rights and realities of love. Then, having agreed
upon the hour for their future nocturnal interviews, he left her happy,
but changed; the pure and pious Juana existed no longer; in the last
glance she gave him, in the pretty movement by which she brought her
forehead to his lips, there was already more of passion than a girl
should feel. Solitude, weariness of employments contrary to her nature
had brought this about. To make the daughter of the Maranas truly
virtuous, she ought to have been habituated, little by little, to the
world, or else to have been wholly withdrawn from it.

“The day, to-morrow, will seem very long to me,” she said, receiving his
kisses on her forehead. “But stay in the salon, and speak loud, that I
may hear your voice; it fills my soul.”

Montefiore, clever enough to imagine the girl’s life, was all the more
satisfied with himself for restraining his desires because he saw
that it would lead to his greater contentment. He returned to his room
without accident.

Ten days went by without any event occurring to trouble the peace and
solitude of the house. Montefiore employed his Italian cajolery on old
Perez, on Dona Lagounia, on the apprentice, even on the cook, and they
all liked him; but, in spite of the confidence he now inspired in them,
he never asked to see Juana, or to have the door of her mysterious
hiding-place opened to him. The young girl, hungry to see her lover,
implored him to do so; but he always refused her from an instinct of
prudence. Besides, he had used his best powers and fascinations to lull
the suspicions of the old couple, and had now accustomed them to see
him, a soldier, stay in bed till midday on pretence that he was ill.
Thus the lovers lived only in the night-time, when the rest of
the household were asleep. If Montefiore had not been one of those
libertines whom the habit of gallantry enables to retain their
self-possession under all circumstances, he might have been lost a dozen
times during those ten days. A young lover, in the simplicity of a
first love, would have committed the enchanting imprudences which are
so difficult to resist. But he did resist even Juana herself, Juana
pouting, Juana making her long hair a chain which she wound about his
neck when caution told him he must go.

The most suspicious of guardians would however have been puzzled to
detect the secret of their nightly meetings. It is to be supposed
that, sure of success, the Italian marquis gave himself the ineffable
pleasures of a slow seduction, step by step, leading gradually to the
fire which should end the affair in a conflagration. On the eleventh
day, at the dinner-table, he thought it wise to inform old Perez, under
seal of secrecy, that the reason of his separation from his family was
an ill-assorted marriage. This false revelation was an infamous thing
in view of the nocturnal drama which was being played under that roof.
Montefiore, an experienced rake, was preparing for the finale of that
drama which he foresaw and enjoyed as an artist who loves his art. He
expected to leave before long, and without regret, the house and his
love. It would happen, he thought, in this way: Juana, after waiting for
him in vain for several nights, would risk her life, perhaps, in asking
Perez what had become of his guest; and Perez would reply, not aware of
the importance of his answer,--

“The Marquis de Montefiore is reconciled to his family, who consent to
receive his wife; he has gone to Italy to present her to them.”

And Juana?--The marquis never asked himself what would become of Juana;
but he had studied her character, its nobility, candor, and strength,
and he knew he might be sure of her silence.

He obtained a mission from one of the generals. Three days later, on the
night preceding his intended departure, Montefiore, instead of returning
to his own room after dinner, contrived to enter unseen that of Juana,
to make that farewell night the longer. Juana, true Spaniard and true
Italian, was enchanted with such boldness; it argued ardor! For herself
she did not fear discovery. To find in the pure love of marriage the
excitements of intrigue, to hide her husband behind the curtains of her
bed, and say to her adopted father and mother, in case of detection: “I
am the Marquise de Montefiore!”--was to an ignorant and romantic young
girl, who for three years past had dreamed of love without dreaming of
its dangers, delightful. The door closed on this last evening upon her
folly, her happiness, like a veil, which it is useless here to raise.

It was nine o’clock; the merchant and his wife were reading their
evening prayers; suddenly the noise of a carriage drawn by several
horses resounded in the street; loud and hasty raps echoed from the
shop where the servant hurried to open the door, and into that venerable
salon rushed a woman, magnificently dressed in spite of the mud upon the
wheels of her travelling-carriage, which had just crossed Italy, France,
and Spain. It was, of course, the Marana,--the Marana who, in spite
of her thirty-six years, was still in all the glory of her ravishing
beauty; the Marana who, being at that time the mistress of a king, had
left Naples, the fetes, the skies of Naples, the climax of her life of
luxury, on hearing from her royal lover of the events in Spain and the
siege of Tarragona.

“Tarragona! I must get to Tarragona before the town is taken!” she
cried. “Ten days to reach Tarragona!”

Then without caring for crown or court, she arrived in Tarragona,
furnished with an almost imperial safe-conduct; furnished too with gold
which enabled her to cross France with the velocity of a rocket.

“My daughter! my daughter!” cried the Marana.

At this voice, and the abrupt invasion of their solitude, the
prayer-book fell from the hands of the old couple.

“She is there,” replied the merchant, calmly, after a pause during which
he recovered from the emotion caused by the abrupt entrance, and the
look and voice of the mother. “She is there,” he repeated, pointing to
the door of the little chamber.

“Yes, but has any harm come to her; is she still--”

“Perfectly well,” said Dona Lagounia.

“O God! send me to hell if it so pleases thee!” cried the Marana,
dropping, exhausted and half dead, into a chair.

The flush in her cheeks, due to anxiety, paled suddenly; she had
strength to endure suffering, but none to bear this joy. Joy was more
violent in her soul than suffering, for it contained the echoes of her
pain and the agonies of its own emotion.

“But,” she said, “how have you kept her safe? Tarragona is taken.”

“Yes,” said Perez, “but since you see me living why do you ask that
question? Should I not have died before harm could have come to Juana?”

At that answer, the Marana seized the calloused hand of the old man, and
kissed it, wetting it with the tears that flowed from her eyes--she who
never wept! those tears were all she had most precious under heaven.

“My good Perez!” she said at last. “But have you had no soldiers
quartered in your house?”

“Only one,” replied the Spaniard. “Fortunately for us the most loyal
of men; a Spaniard by birth, but now an Italian who hates Bonaparte; a
married man. He is ill, and gets up late and goes to bed early.”

“An Italian! What is his name?”

“Montefiore.”

“Can it be the Marquis de Montefiore--”

“Yes, Senora, he himself.”

“Has he seen Juana?”

“No,” said Dona Lagounia.

“You are mistaken, wife,” said Perez. “The marquis must have seen her
for a moment, a short moment, it is true; but I think he looked at her
that evening she came in here during supper.”

“Ah, let me see my daughter!”

“Nothing easier,” said Perez; “she is now asleep. If she has left the
key in the lock we must waken her.”

As he rose to take the duplicate key of Juana’s door his eyes fell by
chance on the circular gleam of light upon the black wall of the inner
courtyard. Within that circle he saw the shadow of a group such as
Canova alone has attempted to render. The Spaniard turned back.

“I do not know,” he said to the Marana, “where to find the key.”

“You are very pale,” she said.

“And I will show you why,” he cried, seizing his dagger and rapping its
hilt violently on Juana’s door as he shouted,--

“Open! open! open! Juana!”

Juana did not open, for she needed time to conceal Montefiore. She knew
nothing of what was passing in the salon; the double portieres of thick
tapestry deadened all sounds.

“Madame, I lied to you in saying I could not find the key. Here it is,”
 added Perez, taking it from a sideboard. “But it is useless. Juana’s key
is in the lock; her door is barricaded. We have been deceived, my wife!”
 he added, turning to Dona Lagounia. “There is a man in Juana’s room.”

“Impossible! By my eternal salvation I say it is impossible!” said his
wife.

“Do not swear, Dona Lagounia. Our honor is dead, and this woman--”
 He pointed to the Marana, who had risen and was standing motionless,
blasted by his words, “this woman has the right to despise us. She saved
our life, our fortune, and our honor, and we have saved nothing for her
but her money--Juana!” he cried again, “open, or I will burst in your
door.”

His voice, rising in violence, echoed through the garrets in the roof.
He was cold and calm. The life of Montefiore was in his hands; he would
wash away his remorse in the blood of that Italian.

“Out, out, out! out, all of you!” cried the Marana, springing like
a tigress on the dagger, which she wrenched from the hand of the
astonished Perez. “Out, Perez,” she continued more calmly, “out, you and
your wife and servants! There will be murder here. You might be shot by
the French. Have nothing to do with this; it is my affair, mine only.
Between my daughter and me there is none but God. As for the man, he
belongs to _me_. The whole earth could not tear him from my grasp. Go,
go! I forgive you. I see plainly that the girl is a Marana. You, your
religion, your virtue, were too weak to fight against my blood.”

She gave a dreadful sigh, turning her dry eyes on them. She had lost
all, but she knew how to suffer,--a true courtesan.

The door opened. The Marana forgot all else, and Perez, making a sign to
his wife, remained at his post. With his old invincible Spanish honor he
was determined to share the vengeance of the betrayed mother. Juana, all
in white, and softly lighted by the wax candles, was standing calmly in
the centre of her chamber.

“What do you want with me?” she said.

The Marana could not repress a passing shudder.

“Perez,” she asked, “has this room another issue?”

Perez made a negative gesture; confiding in that gesture, the mother
entered the room.

“Juana,” she said, “I am your mother, your judge; you have placed
yourself in the only situation in which I could reveal myself to you.
You have come down to me, you, whom I thought in heaven. Ah! you have
fallen low indeed. You have a lover in this room.”

“Madame, there is and can be no one but my husband,” answered the girl.
“I am the Marquise de Montefiore.”

“Then there are two,” said Perez, in a grave voice. “He told me he was
married.”

“Montefiore, my love!” cried the girl, tearing aside the curtain and
revealing the officer. “Come! they are slandering you.”

The Italian appeared, pale and speechless; he saw the dagger in the
Marana’s hand, and he knew her well. With one bound he sprang from the
room, crying out in a thundering voice,--

“Help! help! they are murdering a Frenchman. Soldiers of the 6th of the
line, rush for Captain Diard! Help, help!”

Perez had gripped the man and was trying to gag him with his large hand,
but the Marana stopped him, saying,--

“Bind him fast, but let him shout. Open the doors, leave them open,
and go, go, as I told you; go, all of you.--As for you,” she said,
addressing Montefiore, “shout, call for help if you choose; by the
time your soldiers get here this blade will be in your heart. Are you
married? Answer.”

Montefiore, who had fallen on the threshold of the door, scarcely a step
from Juana, saw nothing but the blade of the dagger, the gleam of which
blinded him.

“Has he deceived me?” said Juana, slowly. “He told me he was free.”

“He told me that he was married,” repeated Perez, in his solemn voice.

“Holy Virgin!” murmured Dona Lagounia.

“Answer, soul of corruption,” said the Marana, in a low voice, bending
to the ear of the marquis.

“Your daughter--” began Montefiore.

“The daughter that was mine is dead or dying,” interrupted the Marana.
“I have no daughter; do not utter that word. Answer, are you married?”

“No, madame,” said Montefiore, at last, striving to gain time, “I desire
to marry your daughter.”

“My noble Montefiore!” said Juana, drawing a deep breath.

“Then why did you attempt to fly and cry for help?” asked Perez.

Terrible, revealing light!

Juana said nothing, but she wrung her hands and went to her arm-chair
and sat down.

At that moment a tumult rose in the street which was plainly heard in
the silence of the room. A soldier of the 6th, hearing Montefiore’s cry
for help, had summoned Diard. The quartermaster, who was fortunately in
his bivouac, came, accompanied by friends.

“Why did I fly?” said Montefiore, hearing the voice of his friend.
“Because I told you the truth; I am married--Diard! Diard!” he shouted
in a piercing voice.

But, at a word from Perez, the apprentice closed and bolted the doors,
so that the soldiers were delayed by battering them in. Before they
could enter, the Marana had time to strike her dagger into the guilty
man; but anger hindered her aim, the blade slipped upon the Italian’s
epaulet, though she struck her blow with such force that he fell at the
very feet of Juana, who took no notice of him. The Marana sprang upon
him, and this time, resolved not to miss her prey, she caught him by the
throat.

“I am free and I will marry her! I swear it, by God, by my mother, by
all there is most sacred in the world; I am a bachelor; I will marry
her, on my honor!”

And he bit the arm of the courtesan.

“Mother,” said Juana, “kill him. He is so base that I will not have him
for my husband, were he ten times as beautiful.”

“Ah! I recognize my daughter!” cried the mother.

“What is all this?” demanded the quartermaster, entering the room.

“They are murdering me,” cried Montefiore, “on account of this girl; she
says I am her lover. She inveigled me into a trap, and they are forcing
me to marry her--”

“And you reject her?” cried Diard, struck with the splendid beauty which
contempt, hatred, and indignation had given to the girl, already so
beautiful. “Then you are hard to please. If she wants a husband I am
ready to marry her. Put up your weapons; there is no trouble here.”

The Marana pulled the Italian to the side of her daughter’s bed and said
to him, in a low voice,--

“If I spare you, give thanks for the rest of your life; but, remember
this, if your tongue ever injures my daughter you will see me again.
Go!--How much ‘dot’ do you give her?” she continued, going up to Perez.

“She has two hundred thousand gold piastres,” replied the Spaniard.

“And that is not all, monsieur,” said the Marana, turning to Diard. “Who
are you?--Go!” she repeated to Montefiore.

The marquis, hearing this statement of gold piastres, came forward once
more, saying,--

“I am really free--”

A glance from Juana silenced him.

“You are really free to go,” she said.

And he went immediately.

“Alas! monsieur,” said the girl, turning to Diard, “I thank you with
admiration. But my husband is in heaven. To-morrow I shall enter a
convent--”

“Juana, my Juana, hush!” cried the mother, clasping her in her arms.
Then she whispered in the girl’s ear. “You _must_ have another husband.”

Juana turned pale. She freed herself from her mother and sat down once
more in her arm-chair.

“Who are you, monsieur?” repeated the Marana, addressing Diard.

“Madame, I am at present only the quartermaster of the 6th of the line.
But for such a wife I have the heart to make myself a marshal of France.
My name is Pierre-Francois Diard. My father was provost of merchants. I
am not--”

“But, at least, you are an honest man, are you not?” cried the Marana,
interrupting him. “If you please the Signorina Juana di Mancini, you can
marry her and be happy together.--Juana,” she continued in a grave tone,
“in becoming the wife of a brave and worthy man remember that you will
also be a mother. I have sworn that you shall kiss your children without
a blush upon your face” (her voice faltered slightly). “I have sworn
that you shall live a virtuous life; expect, therefore, many troubles.
But, whatever happens, continue pure, and be faithful to your husband.
Sacrifice all things to him, for he will be the father of your
children--the father of your children! If you take a lover, I, your
mother, will stand between you and him. Do you see that dagger? It is in
your ‘dot,’” she continued, throwing the weapon on Juana’s bed. “I leave
it there as the guarantee of your honor so long as my eyes are open and
my arm free. Farewell,” she said, restraining her tears. “God grant that
we may never meet again.”

At that idea, her tears began to flow.

“Poor child!” she added, “you have been happier than you knew in this
dull home.--Do not allow her to regret it,” she said, turning to Diard.

The foregoing rapid narrative is not the principal subject of this
Study, for the understanding of which it was necessary to explain how
it happened that the quartermaster Diard married Juana di Mancini, that
Montefiore and Diard were intimately known to each other, and to show
plainly what blood and what passions were in Madame Diard.



CHAPTER III. THE HISTORY OF MADAME DIARD


By the time that the quartermaster had fulfilled all the long and
dilatory formalities without which no French soldier can be married, he
was passionately in love with Juana di Mancini, and Juana had had time
to think of her coming destiny.

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

“And Love remade me virgin.”

That line seems like a reminiscence of a tragedy of Corneille, so
truly does it recall the energetic diction of the father of our modern
theatre. Yet the poet was forced to sacrifice it to the essentially
vaudevillist spirit of the pit.

So Juana loveless was doomed to be Juana humiliated, degraded, hopeless.
She could not honor the man who took her thus. She felt, in all
the conscientious purity of her youth, that distinction, subtle in
appearance but sacredly true, legal with the heart’s legality, which
women apply instinctively to all their feelings, even the least
reflective. Juana became profoundly sad as she saw the nature and the
extent of the life before her. Often she turned her eyes, brimming
with tears proudly repressed, upon Perez and Dona Lagounia, who fully
comprehended, both of them, the bitter thoughts those tears contained.
But they were silent: of what good were reproaches now; why look for
consolations? The deeper they were, the more they enlarged the wound.

One evening, Juana, stupid with grief, heard through the open door of
her little room, which the old couple had thought shut, a pitying moan
from her adopted mother.

“The child will die of grief.”

“Yes,” said Perez, in a shaking voice, “but what can we do? I cannot now
boast of her beauty and her chastity to Comte d’Arcos, to whom I hoped
to marry her.”

“But a single fault is not vice,” said the old woman, pitying as the
angels.

“Her mother gave her to this man,” said Perez.

“Yes, in a moment; without consulting the poor child!” cried Dona
Lagounia.

“She knew what she was doing.”

“But oh! into what hands our pearl is going!”

“Say no more, or I shall seek a quarrel with that Diard.”

“And that would only lead to other miseries.”

Hearing these dreadful words Juana saw the happy future she had lost by
her own wrongdoing. The pure and simple years of her quiet life would
have been rewarded by a brilliant existence such as she had fondly
dreamed,--dreams which had caused her ruin. To fall from the height of
Greatness to Monsieur Diard! She wept. At times she went nearly mad.
She floated for a while between vice and religion. Vice was a speedy
solution, religion a lifetime of suffering. The meditation was stormy
and solemn. The next day was the fatal day, the day for the marriage.
But Juana could still remain free. Free, she knew how far her misery
would go; married, she was ignorant of where it went or what it might
bring her.

Religion triumphed. Dona Lagounia stayed beside her child and prayed and
watched as she would have prayed and watched beside the dying.

“God wills it,” she said to Juana.

Nature gives to woman alternately a strength which enables her to suffer
and a weakness which leads her to resignation. Juana resigned herself;
and without restriction. She determined to obey her mother’s prayer,
and cross the desert of life to reach God’s heaven, knowing well that no
flowers grew for her along the way of that painful journey.

She married Diard. As for the quartermaster, though he had no grace in
Juana’s eyes, we may well absolve him. He loved her distractedly. The
Marana, so keen to know the signs of love, had recognized in that man
the accents of passion and the brusque nature, the generous impulses,
that are common to Southerners. In the paroxysm of her anger and her
distress she had thought such qualities enough for her daughter’s
happiness.

The first days of this marriage were apparently happy; or, to express
one of those latent facts, the miseries of which are buried by women
in the depths of their souls, Juana would not cast down her husband’s
joy,--a double role, dreadful to play, but to which, sooner or later,
all women unhappily married come. This is a history impossible to
recount in its full truth. Juana, struggling hourly against her nature,
a nature both Spanish and Italian, having dried up the source of her
tears by dint of weeping, was a human type, destined to represent
woman’s misery in its utmost expression, namely, sorrow undyingly
active; the description of which would need such minute observations
that to persons eager for dramatic emotions they would seem insipid.
This analysis, in which every wife would find some one of her own
sufferings, would require a volume to express them all; a fruitless,
hopeless volume by its very nature, the merit of which would consist in
faintest tints and delicate shadings which critics would declare to be
effeminate and diffuse. Besides, what man could rightly approach,
unless he bore another heart within his heart, those solemn and touching
elegies which certain women carry with them to their tomb; melancholies,
misunderstood even by those who cause them; sighs unheeded, devotions
unrewarded,--on earth at least,--splendid silences misconstrued;
vengeances withheld, disdained; generosities perpetually bestowed and
wasted; pleasures longed for and denied; angelic charities secretly
accomplished,--in short, all the religions of womanhood and its
inextinguishable love.

Juana knew that life; fate spared her nought. She was wholly a wife,
but a sorrowful and suffering wife; a wife incessantly wounded, yet
forgiving always; a wife pure as a flawless diamond,--she who had the
beauty and the glow of the diamond, and in that beauty, that glow, a
vengeance in her hand; for she was certainly not a woman to fear the
dagger added to her “dot.”

At first, inspired by a real love, by one of those passions which for
the time being change even odious characters and bring to light all that
may be noble in a soul, Diard behaved like a man of honor. He forced
Montefiore to leave the regiment and even the army corps, so that his
wife might never meet him during the time they remained in Spain.
Next, he petitioned for his own removal, and succeeded in entering the
Imperial Guard. He desired at any price to obtain a title, honors, and
consideration in keeping with his present wealth. With this idea in
his mind, he behaved courageously in one of the most bloody battles in
Germany, but, unfortunately, he was too severely wounded to remain in
the service. Threatened with the loss of a leg, he was forced to retire
on a pension, without the title of baron, without those rewards he hoped
to win, and would have won had he not been Diard.

This event, this wound, and his thwarted hopes contributed to change his
character. His Provencal energy, roused for a time, sank down. At first
he was sustained by his wife, in whom his efforts, his courage, his
ambition had induced some belief in his nature, and who showed herself,
what women are, tender and consoling in the troubles of life. Inspired
by a few words from Juana, the retired soldier came to Paris, resolved
to win in an administrative career a position to command respect, bury
in oblivion the quartermaster of the 6th of the line, and secure for
Madame Diard a noble title. His passion for that seductive creature
enabled him to divine her most secret wishes. Juana expressed nothing,
but he understood her. He was not loved as a lover dreams of being
loved; he knew this, and he strove to make himself respected, loved, and
cherished. He foresaw a coming happiness, poor man, in the patience and
gentleness shown on all occasions by his wife; but that patience, that
gentleness, were only the outward signs of the resignation which had
made her his wife. Resignation, religion, were they love? Often Diard
wished for refusal where he met with chaste obedience; often he would
have given his eternal life that Juana might have wept upon his bosom
and not disguised her secret thoughts behind a smiling face which lied
to him nobly. Many young men--for after a certain age men no longer
struggle--persist in the effort to triumph over an evil fate, the
thunder of which they hear, from time to time, on the horizon of their
lives; and when at last they succumb and roll down the precipice
of evil, we ought to do them justice and acknowledge these inward
struggles.

Like many men Diard tried all things, and all things were hostile to
him. His wealth enabled him to surround his wife with the enjoyments of
Parisian luxury. She lived in a fine house, with noble rooms, where she
maintained a salon, in which abounded artists (by nature no judges
of men), men of pleasure ready to amuse themselves anywhere, a few
politicians who swelled the numbers, and certain men of fashion, all
of whom admired Juana. Those who put themselves before the eyes of the
public in Paris must either conquer Paris or be subject to it. Diard’s
character was not sufficiently strong, compact, or persistent to
command society at that epoch, because it was an epoch when all men were
endeavoring to rise. Social classifications ready-made are perhaps a
great boon even for the people. Napoleon has confided to us the pains
he took to inspire respect in his court, where most of the courtiers had
been his equals. But Napoleon was Corsican, and Diard Provencal. Given
equal genius, an islander will always be more compact and rounded than
the man of terra firma in the same latitude; the arm of the sea which
separates Corsica from Provence is, in spite of human science, an ocean
which has made two nations.

Diard’s mongrel position, which he himself made still more questionable,
brought him great troubles. Perhaps there is useful instruction to be
derived from the almost imperceptible connection of acts which led to
the finale of this history.

In the first place, the sneerers of Paris did not see without malicious
smiles and words the pictures with which the former quartermaster
adorned his handsome mansion. Works of art purchased the night before
were said to be spoils from Spain; and this accusation was the revenge
of those who were jealous of his present fortune. Juana comprehended
this reproach, and by her advice Diard sent back to Tarragona all the
pictures he had brought from there. But the public, determined to see
things in the worst light, only said, “That Diard is shrewd; he has
sold his pictures.” Worthy people continued to think that those which
remained in the Diard salons were not honorably acquired. Some jealous
women asked how it was that a _Diard_ (!) had been able to marry so rich
and beautiful a young girl. Hence comments and satires without end, such
as Paris contributes. And yet, it must be said, that Juana met on
all sides the respect inspired by her pure and religious life, which
triumphed over everything, even Parisian calumny; but this respect
stopped short with her, her husband received none of it. Juana’s
feminine perception and her keen eye hovering over her salons, brought
her nothing but pain.

This lack of esteem was perfectly natural. Diard’s comrades, in spite of
the virtues which our imaginations attribute to soldiers, never forgave
the former quartermaster of the 6th of the line for becoming suddenly so
rich and for attempting to cut a figure in Paris. Now in Paris, from
the last house in the faubourg Saint-Germain to the last in the rue
Saint-Lazare, between the heights of the Luxembourg and the heights of
Montmartre, all that clothes itself and gabbles, clothes itself to
go out and goes out to gabble. All that world of great and small
pretensions, that world of insolence and humble desires, of envy and
cringing, all that is gilded or tarnished, young or old, noble of
yesterday or noble from the fourth century, all that sneers at a
parvenu, all that fears to commit itself, all that wants to demolish
power and worships power if it resists,--_all_ those ears hear, _all_
those tongues say, _all_ those minds know, in a single evening, where
the new-comer who aspires to honor among them was born and brought up,
and what that interloper has done, or has not done, in the course of his
life. There may be no court of assizes for the upper classes of society;
but at any rate they have the most cruel of public prosecutors, an
intangible moral being, both judge and executioner, who accuses and
brands. Do not hope to hide anything from him; tell him all yourself;
he wants to know all and he will know all. Do not ask what mysterious
telegraph it was which conveyed to him in the twinkling of an eye, at
any hour, in any place, that story, that bit of news, that scandal;
do not ask what prompts him. That telegraph is a social mystery;
no observer can report its effects. Of many extraordinary instances
thereof, one may suffice: The assassination of the Duc de Berry, which
occurred at the Opera-house, was related within ten minutes in the
Ile-Saint-Louis. Thus the opinion of the 6th of the line as to its
quartermaster filtered through society the night on which he gave his
first ball.

Diard was therefore debarred from succeeding in society. Henceforth his
wife alone had the power to make anything of him. Miracle of our strange
civilization! In Paris, if a man is incapable of being anything himself,
his wife, when she is young and clever, may give him other chances
for elevation. We sometimes meet with invalid women, feeble beings
apparently, who, without rising from sofas or leaving their chambers,
have ruled society, moved a thousand springs, and placed their husbands
where their ambition or their vanity prompted. But Juana, whose
childhood was passed in her retreat in Tarragona, knew nothing of the
vices, the meannesses, or the resources of Parisian society; she looked
at that society with the curiosity of a girl, but she learned from it
only that which her sorrow and her wounded pride revealed to her.

Juana had the tact of a virgin heart which receives impressions in
advance of the event, after the manner of what are called “sensitives.”
 The solitary young girl, so suddenly become a woman and a wife, saw
plainly that were she to attempt to compel society to respect her
husband, it must be after the manner of Spanish beggars, carbine in
hand. Besides, the multiplicity of the precautions she would have to
take, would they meet the necessity? Suddenly she divined society as,
once before, she had divined life, and she saw nothing around her but
the immense extent of an irreparable disaster. She had, moreover, the
additional grief of tardily recognizing her husband’s peculiar form
of incapacity; he was a man unfitted for any purpose that required
continuity of ideas. He could not understand a consistent part, such as
he ought to play in the world; he perceived it neither as a whole nor
in its gradations, and its gradations were everything. He was in one of
those positions where shrewdness and tact might have taken the place
of strength; when shrewdness and tact succeed, they are, perhaps, the
highest form of strength.

Now Diard, far from arresting the spot of oil on his garments left by
his antecedents, did his best to spread it. Incapable of studying the
phase of the empire in the midst of which he came to live in Paris, he
wanted to be made prefect. At that time every one believed in the genius
of Napoleon; his favor enhanced the value of all offices. Prefectures,
those miniature empires, could only be filled by men of great names, or
chamberlains of H.M. the emperor and king. Already the prefects were
a species of vizier. The myrmidons of the great man scoffed at Diard’s
pretensions to a prefecture, whereupon he lowered his demand to a
sub-prefecture. There was, of course, a ridiculous discrepancy between
this latter demand and the magnitude of his fortune. To frequent the
imperial salons and live with insolent luxury, and then to abandon that
millionaire life and bury himself as sub-prefect at Issoudun or Savenay
was certainly holding himself below his position. Juana, too late aware
of our laws and habits and administrative customs, did not enlighten her
husband soon enough. Diard, desperate, petitioned successively all the
ministerial powers; repulsed everywhere, he found nothing open to him;
and society then judged him as the government judged him and as he
judged himself. Diard, grievously wounded on the battlefield, was
nevertheless not decorated; the quartermaster, rich as he was, was
allowed no place in public life, and society logically refused him that
to which he pretended in its midst.

Finally, to cap all, the luckless man felt in his own home the
superiority of his wife. Though she used great tact--we might say velvet
softness if the term were admissible--to disguise from her husband this
supremacy, which surprised and humiliated herself, Diard ended by being
affected by it.

At a game of life like this men are either unmanned, or they grow the
stronger, or they give themselves to evil. The courage or the ardor of
this man lessened under the reiterated blows which his own faults dealt
to his self-appreciation, and fault after fault he committed. In the
first place he had to struggle against his own habits and character.
A passionate Provencal, frank in his vices as in his virtues, this man
whose fibres vibrated like the strings of a harp, was all heart to his
former friends. He succored the shabby and spattered man as readily as
the needy of rank; in short, he accepted everybody, and gave his hand in
his gilded salons to many a poor devil. Observing this on one occasion,
a general of the empire, a variety of the human species of which no
type will presently remain, refused his hand to Diard, and called him,
insolently, “my good fellow” when he met him. The few persons of really
good society whom Diard knew, treated him with that elegant, polished
contempt against which a new-made man has seldom any weapons. The
manners, the semi-Italian gesticulations, the speech of Diard, his
style of dress,--all contributed to repulse the respect which careful
observation of matters of good taste and dignity might otherwise obtain
for vulgar persons; the yoke of such conventionalities can only be cast
off by great and unthinkable powers. So goes the world.

These details but faintly picture the many tortures to which Juana was
subjected; they came upon her one by one; each social nature pricked her
with its own particular pin; and to a soul which preferred the thrust of
a dagger, there could be no worse suffering than this struggle in which
Diard received insults he did not feel and Juana felt those she did not
receive. A moment came, an awful moment, when she gained a clear and
lucid perception of society, and felt in one instant all the sorrows
which were gathering themselves together to fall upon her head. She
judged her husband incapable of rising to the honored ranks of the
social order, and she felt that he would one day descend to where his
instincts led him. Henceforth Juana felt pity for him.

The future was very gloomy for this young woman. She lived in constant
apprehension of some disaster. This presentiment was in her soul as
a contagion is in the air, but she had strength of mind and will to
disguise her anguish beneath a smile. Juana had ceased to think of
herself. She used her influence to make Diard resign his various
pretensions and to show him, as a haven, the peaceful and consoling life
of home. Evils came from society--why not banish it? In his home Diard
found peace and respect; he reigned there. She felt herself strong to
accept the trying task of making him happy,--he, a man dissatisfied with
himself. Her energy increased with the difficulties of life; she had all
the secret heroism necessary to her position; religion inspired her with
those desires which support the angel appointed to protect a Christian
soul--occult poesy, allegorical image of our two natures!

Diard abandoned his projects, closed his house to the world, and lived
in his home. But here he found another reef. The poor soldier had one of
those eccentric souls which need perpetual motion. Diard was one of
the men who are instinctively compelled to start again the moment they
arrive, and whose vital object seems to be to come and go incessantly,
like the wheels mentioned in Holy Writ. Perhaps he felt the need of
flying from himself. Without wearying of Juana, without blaming Juana,
his passion for her, rendered tranquil by time, allowed his natural
character to assert itself. Henceforth his days of gloom were more
frequent, and he often gave way to southern excitement. The more
virtuous a woman is and the more irreproachable, the more a man likes
to find fault with her, if only to assert by that act his legal
superiority. But if by chance she seems really imposing to him, he feels
the need of foisting faults upon her. After that, between man and wife,
trifles increase and grow till they swell to Alps.

But Juana, patient and without pride, gentle and without that bitterness
which women know so well how to cast into their submission, left Diard
no chance for planned ill-humor. Besides, she was one of those noble
creatures to whom it is impossible to speak disrespectfully; her glance,
in which her life, saintly and pure, shone out, had the weight of a
fascination. Diard, embarrassed at first, then annoyed, ended by feeling
that such high virtue was a yoke upon him. The goodness of his wife gave
him no violent emotions, and violent emotions were what he wanted. What
myriads of scenes are played in the depths of his souls, beneath the
cold exterior of lives that are, apparently, commonplace! Among these
dramas, lasting each but a short time, though they influence life so
powerfully and are frequently the forerunners of the great misfortune
doomed to fall on so many marriages, it is difficult to choose an
example. There was a scene, however, which particularly marked the
moment when in the life of this husband and wife estrangement began.
Perhaps it may also serve to explain the finale of this narrative.

Juana had two children, happily for her, two sons. The first was born
seven months after her marriage. He was called Juan, and he strongly
resembled his mother. The second was born about two years after her
arrival in Paris. The latter resembled both Diard and Juana, but more
particularly Diard. His name was Francisque. For the last five years
Francisque had been the object of Juana’s most tender and watchful care.
The mother was constantly occupied with that child; to him her prettiest
caresses; to him the toys, but to him, especially, the penetrating
mother-looks. Juana had watched him from his cradle; she had studied his
cries, his motions; she endeavored to discern his nature that she might
educate him wisely. It seemed at times as if she had but that one child.
Diard, seeing that the eldest, Juan, was in a way neglected, took him
under his own protection; and without inquiring even of himself whether
the boy was the fruit of that ephemeral love to which he owed his wife,
he made him his Benjamin.

Of all the sentiments transmitted to her through the blood of her
grandmothers which consumed her, Madame Diard accepted one alone,
--maternal love. But she loved her children doubly: first with the
noble violence of which her mother the Marana had given her the example;
secondly, with grace and purity, in the spirit of those social
virtues the practice of which was the glory of her life and her inward
recompense. The secret thought, the conscience of her motherhood, which
gave to the Marana’s life its stamp of untaught poesy, was to Juana an
acknowledged life, an open consolation at all hours. Her mother had
been virtuous as other women are criminal,--in secret; she had stolen a
fancied happiness, she had never really tasted it. But Juana, unhappy
in her virtue as her mother was unhappy in her vice, could enjoy at all
moments the ineffable delights which her mother had so craved and could
not have. To her, as to her mother, maternity comprised all earthly
sentiments. Each, from differing causes, had no other comfort in their
misery. Juana’s maternal love may have been the strongest because,
deprived of all other affections, she put the joys she lacked into the
one joy of her children; and there are noble passions that resemble
vice; the more they are satisfied the more they increase. Mothers and
gamblers are alike insatiable.

When Juana saw the generous pardon laid silently on the head of Juan by
Diard’s fatherly affection, she was much moved, and from the day when
the husband and wife changed parts she felt for him the true and deep
interest she had hitherto shown to him as a matter of duty only. If that
man had been more consistent in his life; if he had not destroyed
by fitful inconstancy and restlessness the forces of a true though
excitable sensibility, Juana would doubtless have loved him in the end.
Unfortunately, he was a type of those southern natures which are keen in
perceptions they cannot follow out; capable of great things over-night,
and incapable the next morning; often the victim of their own virtues,
and often lucky through their worst passions; admirable men in some
respects, when their good qualities are kept to a steady energy by some
outward bond. For two years after his retreat from active life Diard
was held captive in his home by the softest chains. He lived, almost in
spite of himself, under the influence of his wife, who made herself gay
and amusing to cheer him, who used the resources of feminine genius
to attract and seduce him to a love of virtue, but whose ability and
cleverness did not go so far as to simulate love.

At this time all Paris was talking of the affair of a captain in the
army who in a paroxysm of libertine jealousy had killed a woman. Diard,
on coming home to dinner, told his wife that the officer was dead. He
had killed himself to avoid the dishonor of a trial and the shame of
death upon the scaffold. Juana did not see at first the logic of
such conduct, and her husband was obliged to explain to her the fine
jurisprudence of French law, which does not prosecute the dead.

“But, papa, didn’t you tell us the other day that the king could
pardon?” asked Francisque.

“The king can give nothing but life,” said Juan, half scornfully.

Diard and Juana, the spectators of this little scene, were differently
affected by it. The glance, moist with joy, which his wife cast upon her
eldest child was a fatal revelation to the husband of the secrets of
a heart hitherto impenetrable. That eldest child was all Juana; Juana
comprehended him; she was sure of his heart, his future; she adored him,
but her ardent love was a secret between herself, her child, and God.
Juan instinctively enjoyed the seeming indifference of his mother in
presence of his father and brother, for she pressed him to her heart
when alone. Francisque was Diard, and Juana’s incessant care and
watchfulness betrayed her desire to correct in the son the vices of the
father and to encourage his better qualities. Juana, unaware that her
glance had said too much and that her husband had rightly interpreted
it, took Francisque in her lap and gave him, in a gentle voice still
trembling with the pleasure that Juan’s answer had brought her, a lesson
upon honor, simplified to his childish intelligence.

“That boy’s character requires care,” said Diard.

“Yes,” she replied simply.

“How about Juan?”

Madame Diard, struck by the tone in which the words were uttered, looked
at her husband.

“Juan was born perfect,” he added.

Then he sat down gloomily, and reflected. Presently, as his wife
continued silent, he added:--

“You love one of _your_ children better than the other.”

“You know that,” she said.

“No,” said Diard, “I did not know until now which of them you
preferred.”

“But neither of them have ever given me a moment’s uneasiness,” she
answered quickly.

“But one of them gives you greater joys,” he said, more quickly still.

“I never counted them,” she said.

“How false you women are!” cried Diard. “Will you dare to say that Juan
is not the child of your heart?”

“If that were so,” she said, with dignity, “do you think it a
misfortune?”

“You have never loved me. If you had chosen, I would have conquered
worlds for your sake. You know all that I have struggled to do in life,
supported by the hope of pleasing you. Ah! if you had only loved me!”

“A woman who loves,” said Juana, “likes to live in solitude, far from
the world, and that is what we are doing.”

“I know, Juana, that _you_ are never in the wrong.”

The words were said bitterly, and cast, for the rest of their lives
together, a coldness between them.

On the morrow of that fatal day Diard went back to his old companions
and found distractions for his mind in play. Unfortunately, he won
much money, and continued playing. Little by little, he returned to the
dissipated life he had formerly lived. Soon he ceased even to dine in
his own home.

Some months went by in the enjoyment of this new independence; he was
determined to preserve it, and in order to do so he separated himself
from his wife, giving her the large apartments and lodging himself in
the entresol. By the end of the year Diard and Juana only saw each other
in the morning at breakfast.

Like all gamblers, he had his alternations of loss and gain. Not
wishing to cut into the capital of his fortune, he felt the necessity
of withdrawing from his wife the management of their income; and the day
came when he took from her all she had hitherto freely disposed of
for the household benefit, giving her instead a monthly stipend. The
conversation they had on this subject was the last of their married
intercourse. The silence that fell between them was a true divorce;
Juana comprehended that from henceforth she was only a mother, and she
was glad, not seeking for the causes of this evil. For such an event is
a great evil. Children are conjointly one with husband and wife in the
home, and the life of her husband could not be a source of grief and
injury to Juana only.

As for Diard, now emancipated, he speedily grew accustomed to win and
lose enormous sums. A fine player and a heavy player, he soon became
celebrated for his style of playing. The social consideration he had
been unable to win under the Empire, he acquired under the Restoration
by the rolling of his gold on the green cloth and by his talent for
all games that were in vogue. Ambassadors, bankers, persons with
newly-acquired large fortunes, and all those men who, having sucked life
to the dregs, turn to gambling for its feverish joys, admired Diard at
their clubs,--seldom in their own houses,--and they all gambled with
him. He became the fashion. Two or three times during the winter he
gave a fete as a matter of social pride in return for the civilities he
received. At such times Juana once more caught a glimpse of the world of
balls, festivities, luxury, and lights; but for her it was a sort of
tax imposed upon the comfort of her solitude. She, the queen of these
solemnities, appeared like a being fallen from some other planet. Her
simplicity, which nothing had corrupted, her beautiful virginity of
soul, which her peaceful life restored to her, her beauty and her
true modesty, won her sincere homage. But observing how few women ever
entered her salons, she came to understand that though her husband
was following, without communicating its nature to her, a new line of
conduct, he had gained nothing actually in the world’s esteem.

Diard was not always lucky; far from it. In three years he had
dissipated three fourths of his fortune, but his passion for play gave
him the energy to continue it. He was intimate with a number of men,
more particularly with the roues of the Bourse, men who, since the
revolution, have set up the principle that robbery done on a large scale
is only a _smirch_ to the reputation,--transferring thus to financial
matters the loose principles of love in the eighteenth century. Diard
now became a sort of business man, and concerned himself in several of
those affairs which are called _shady_ in the slang of the law-courts.
He practised the decent thievery by which so many men, cleverly
masked, or hidden in the recesses of the political world, make their
fortunes,--thievery which, if done in the streets by the light of an oil
lamp, would see a poor devil to the galleys, but, under gilded ceilings
and by the light of candelabra, is sanctioned. Diard brought up,
monopolized, and sold sugars; he sold offices; he had the glory of
inventing the “man of straw” for lucrative posts which it was necessary
to keep in his own hands for a short time; he bought votes, receiving,
on one occasion, so much per cent on the purchase of fifteen
parliamentary votes which all passed on one division from the benches of
the Left to the benches of the Right. Such actions are no longer crimes
or thefts,--they are called governing, developing industry, becoming
a financial power. Diard was placed by public opinion on the bench of
infamy where many an able man was already seated. On that bench is the
aristocracy of evil. It is the upper Chamber of scoundrels of high life.
Diard was, therefore, not a mere commonplace gambler who is seen to be a
blackguard, and ends by begging. That style of gambler is no longer
seen in society of a certain topographical height. In these days bold
scoundrels die brilliantly in the chariot of vice with the trappings of
luxury. Diard, at least, did not buy his remorse at a low price; he made
himself one of these privileged men. Having studied the machinery of
government and learned all the secrets and the passions of the men in
power, he was able to maintain himself in the fiery furnace into which
he had sprung.

Madame Diard knew nothing of her husband’s infernal life. Glad of his
abandonment, she felt no curiosity about him, and all her hours were
occupied. She devoted what money she had to the education of her
children, wishing to make men of them, and giving them straight-forward
reasons, without, however, taking the bloom from their young
imaginations. Through them alone came her interests and her emotions;
consequently, she suffered no longer from her blemished life. Her
children were to her what they are to many mothers for a long period
of time,--a sort of renewal of their own existence. Diard was now an
accidental circumstance, not a participator in her life, and since he
had ceased to be the father and the head of the family, Juana felt
bound to him by no tie other than that imposed by conventional laws.
Nevertheless, she brought up her children to the highest respect for
paternal authority, however imaginary it was for them. In this she was
greatly seconded by her husband’s continual absence. If he had been much
in the home Diard would have neutralized his wife’s efforts. The boys
had too much intelligence and shrewdness not to have judged their
father; and to judge a father is moral parricide.

In the long run, however, Juana’s indifference to her husband wore
itself away; it even changed to a species of fear. She understood at
last how the conduct of a father might long weigh on the future of
her children, and her motherly solicitude brought her many, though
incomplete, revelations of the truth. From day to day the dread of some
unknown but inevitable evil in the shadow of which she lived became
more and more keen and terrible. Therefore, during the rare moments when
Diard and Juana met she would cast upon his hollow face, wan from nights
of gambling and furrowed by emotions, a piercing look, the penetration
of which made Diard shudder. At such times the assumed gaiety of her
husband alarmed Juana more than his gloomiest expressions of anxiety
when, by chance, he forgot that assumption of joy. Diard feared his wife
as a criminal fears the executioner. In him, Juana saw her children’s
shame; and in her Diard dreaded a calm vengeance, the judgment of that
serene brow, an arm raised, a weapon ready.

After fifteen years of marriage Diard found himself without resources.
He owed three hundred thousand francs and he could scarcely muster one
hundred thousand. The house, his only visible possession, was mortgaged
to its fullest selling value. A few days more, and the sort of prestige
with which opulence had invested him would vanish. Not a hand would be
offered, not a purse would be open to him. Unless some favorable event
occurred he would fall into a slough of contempt, deeper perhaps than
he deserved, precisely because he had mounted to a height he could
not maintain. At this juncture he happened to hear that a number of
strangers of distinction, diplomats and others, were assembled at the
watering-places in the Pyrenees, where they gambled for enormous sums,
and were doubtless well supplied with money.

He determined to go at once to the Pyrenees; but he would not leave his
wife in Paris, lest some importunate creditor might reveal to her the
secret of his horrible position. He therefore took her and the two
children with him, refusing to allow her to take the tutor and scarcely
permitting her to take a maid. His tone was curt and imperious; he
seemed to have recovered some energy. This sudden journey, the cause of
which escaped her penetration, alarmed Juana secretly. Her husband made
it gaily. Obliged to occupy the same carriage, he showed himself day
by day more attentive to the children and more amiable to their
mother. Nevertheless, each day brought Juana dark presentiments, the
presentiments of mothers who tremble without apparent reason, but who
are seldom mistaken when they tremble thus. For them the veil of the
future seems thinner than for others.

At Bordeaux, Diard hired in a quiet street a quiet little house, neatly
furnished, and in it he established his wife. The house was at the
corner of two streets, and had a garden. Joined to the neighboring house
on one side only, it was open to view and accessible on the other three
sides. Diard paid the rent in advance, and left Juana barely enough
money for the necessary expenses of three months, a sum not exceeding
a thousand francs. Madame Diard made no observation on this unusual
meanness. When her husband told her that he was going to the
watering-places and that she would stay at Bordeaux, Juana offered no
difficulty, and at once formed a plan to teach the children Spanish
and Italian, and to make them read the two masterpieces of the two
languages. She was glad to lead a retired life, simply and naturally
economical. To spare herself the troubles of material life, she arranged
with a “traiteur” the day after Diard’s departure to send in their
meals. Her maid then sufficed for the service of the house, and she thus
found herself without money, but her wants all provided for until her
husband’s return. Her pleasures consisted in taking walks with the
children. She was then thirty-three years old. Her beauty, greatly
developed, was in all its lustre. Therefore as soon as she appeared,
much talk was made in Bordeaux about the beautiful Spanish stranger. At
the first advances made to her Juana ceased to walk abroad, and confined
herself wholly to her own large garden.

Diard at first made a fortune at the baths. In two months he won three
hundred thousand dollars, but it never occurred to him to send any money
to his wife; he kept it all, expecting to make some great stroke of
fortune on a vast stake. Towards the end of the second month the Marquis
de Montefiore appeared at the same baths. The marquis was at this time
celebrated for his wealth, his handsome face, his fortunate marriage
with an Englishwoman, and more especially for his love of play. Diard,
his former companion, encountered him, and desired to add his spoils to
those of others. A gambler with four hundred thousand francs in hand is
always in a position to do as he pleases. Diard, confident in his luck,
renewed acquaintance with Montefiore. The latter received him very
coldly, but nevertheless they played together, and Diard lost every
penny that he possessed, and more.

“My dear Montefiore,” said the ex-quartermaster, after making a tour
of the salon, “I owe you a hundred thousand francs; but my money is in
Bordeaux, where I have left my wife.”

Diard had the money in bank-bills in his pocket; but with the
self-possession and rapid bird’s-eye view of a man accustomed to catch
at all resources, he still hoped to recover himself by some one of the
endless caprices of play. Montefiore had already mentioned his intention
of visiting Bordeaux. Had he paid his debt on the spot, Diard would
have been left without the power to take his revenge; a revenge at cards
often exceeds the amount of all preceding losses. But these burning
expectations depended on the marquis’s reply.

“Wait, my dear fellow,” said Montefiore, “and we will go together to
Bordeaux. In all conscience, I am rich enough to-day not to wish to take
the money of an old comrade.”

Three days later Diard and Montefiore were in Bordeaux at a gambling
table. Diard, having won enough to pay his hundred thousand francs, went
on until he had lost two hundred thousand more on his word. He was gay
as a man who swam in gold. Eleven o’clock sounded; the night was superb.
Montefiore may have felt, like Diard, a desire to breathe the open air
and recover from such emotions in a walk. The latter proposed to the
marquis to come home with him to take a cup of tea and get his money.

“But Madame Diard?” said Montefiore.

“Bah!” exclaimed the husband.

They went down-stairs; but before taking his hat Diard entered the
dining-room of the establishment and asked for a glass of water. While
it was being brought, he walked up and down the room, and was able,
without being noticed, to pick up one of those small sharp-pointed steel
knives with pearl handles which are used for cutting fruit at dessert.

“Where do you live?” said Montefiore, in the courtyard, “for I want to
send a carriage there to fetch me.”

Diard told him the exact address.

“You see,” said Montefiore, in a low voice, taking Diard’s arm, “that as
long as I am with you I have nothing to fear; but if I came home alone
and a scoundrel were to follow me, I should be profitable to kill.”

“Have you much with you?”

“No, not much,” said the wary Italian, “only my winnings. But they would
make a pretty fortune for a beggar and turn him into an honest man for
the rest of his life.”

Diard led the marquis along a lonely street where he remembered to have
seen a house, the door of which was at the end of an avenue of trees
with high and gloomy walls on either side of it. When they reached this
spot he coolly invited the marquis to precede him; but as if the latter
understood him he preferred to keep at his side. Then, no sooner were
they fairly in the avenue, then Diard, with the agility of a tiger,
tripped up the marquis with a kick behind the knees, and putting a foot
on his neck stabbed him again and again to the heart till the blade of
the knife broke in it. Then he searched Montefiore’s pockets, took his
wallet, money, everything. But though he had taken the Italian unawares,
and had done the deed with lucid mind and the quickness of a pickpocket,
Montefiore had time to cry “Murder! Help!” in a shrill and piercing
voice which was fit to rouse every sleeper in the neighborhood. His last
sighs were given in those horrible shrieks.

Diard was not aware that at the moment when they entered the avenue a
crowd just issuing from a theatre was passing at the upper end of the
street. The cries of the dying man reached them, though Diard did his
best to stifle the noise by setting his foot firmly on Montefiore’s
neck. The crowd began to run towards the avenue, the high walls of which
appeared to echo back the cries, directing them to the very spot where
the crime was committed. The sound of their coming steps seemed to beat
on Diard’s brain. But not losing his head as yet, the murderer left
the avenue and came boldly into the street, walking very gently, like a
spectator who sees the inutility of trying to give help. He even turned
round once or twice to judge of the distance between himself and the
crowd, and he saw them rushing up the avenue, with the exception of one
man, who, with a natural sense of caution, began to watch Diard.

“There he is! there he is!” cried the people, who had entered the avenue
as soon as they saw Montefiore stretched out near the door of the empty
house.

As soon as that clamor rose, Diard, feeling himself well in the advance,
began to run or rather to fly, with the vigor of a lion and the bounds
of a deer. At the other end of the street he saw, or fancied he saw, a
mass of persons, and he dashed down a cross street to avoid them. But
already every window was open, and heads were thrust forth right and
left, while from every door came shouts and gleams of light. Diard kept
on, going straight before him, through the lights and the noise; and
his legs were so actively agile that he soon left the tumult behind him,
though without being able to escape some eyes which took in the
extent of his course more rapidly than he could cover it. Inhabitants,
soldiers, gendarmes, every one, seemed afoot in the twinkling of an eye.
Some men awoke the commissaries of police, others stayed by the body
to guard it. The pursuit kept on in the direction of the fugitive, who
dragged it after him like the flame of a conflagration.

Diard, as he ran, had all the sensations of a dream when he heard a
whole city howling, running, panting after him. Nevertheless, he kept
his ideas and his presence of mind. Presently he reached the wall of the
garden of his house. The place was perfectly silent, and he thought he
had foiled his pursuers, though a distant murmur of the tumult came to
his ears like the roaring of the sea. He dipped some water from a brook
and drank it. Then, observing a pile of stones on the road, he hid
his treasure in it; obeying one of those vague thoughts which come to
criminals at a moment when the faculty to judge their actions under all
bearings deserts them, and they think to establish their innocence by
want of proof of their guilt.

That done, he endeavored to assume a placid countenance; he even tried
to smile as he rapped softly on the door of his house, hoping that no
one saw him. He raised his eyes, and through the outer blinds of one
window came a gleam of light from his wife’s room. Then, in the midst of
his trouble, visions of her gentle life, spent with her children, beat
upon his brain with the force of a hammer. The maid opened the door,
which Diard hastily closed behind him with a kick. For a moment he
breathed freely; then, noticing that he was bathed in perspiration,
he sent the servant back to Juana and stayed in the darkness of the
passage, where he wiped his face with his handkerchief and put his
clothes in order, like a dandy about to pay a visit to a pretty woman.
After that he walked into a track of the moonlight to examine his hands.
A quiver of joy passed over him as he saw that no blood stains were on
them; the hemorrhage from his victim’s body was no doubt inward.

But all this took time. When at last he mounted the stairs to Juana’s
room he was calm and collected, and able to reflect on his position,
which resolved itself into two ideas: to leave the house, and get to the
wharves. He did not _think_ these ideas, he _saw_ them written in fiery
letters on the darkness. Once at the wharves he could hide all day,
return at night for his treasure, then conceal himself, like a rat,
in the hold of some vessel and escape without any one suspecting
his whereabouts. But to do all this, money, gold, was his first
necessity,--and he did not possess one penny.

The maid brought a light to show him up.

“Felicie,” he said, “don’t you hear a noise in the street, shouts,
cries? Go and see what it means, and come and tell me.”

His wife, in her white dressing-gown, was sitting at a table, reading
aloud to Francisque and Juan from a Spanish Cervantes, while the boys
followed her pronunciation of the words from the text. They all three
stopped and looked at Diard, who stood in the doorway with his hands in
his pockets; overcome, perhaps, by finding himself in this calm scene,
so softly lighted, so beautiful with the faces of his wife and children.
It was a living picture of the Virgin between her son and John.

“Juana, I have something to say to you.”

“What has happened?” she asked, instantly perceiving from the livid
paleness of her husband that the misfortune she had daily expected was
upon them.

“Oh, nothing; but I want to speak to you--to you, alone.”

And he glanced at his sons.

“My dears, go to your room, and go to bed,” said Juana; “say your
prayers without me.”

The boys left the room in silence, with the incurious obedience of
well-trained children.

“My dear Juana,” said Diard, in a coaxing voice, “I left you with very
little money, and I regret it now. Listen to me; since I relieved you
of the care of our income by giving you an allowance, have you not, like
other women, laid something by?”

“No,” replied Juana, “I have nothing. In making that allowance you did
not reckon the costs of the children’s education. I don’t say that to
reproach you, my friend, only to explain my want of money. All that you
gave me went to pay masters and--”

“Enough!” cried Diard, violently. “Thunder of heaven! every instant is
precious! Where are your jewels?”

“You know very well I have never worn any.”

“Then there’s not a sou to be had here!” cried Diard, frantically.

“Why do you shout in that way?” she asked.

“Juana,” he replied, “I have killed a man.”

Juana sprang to the door of her children’s room and closed it; then she
returned.

“Your sons must hear nothing,” she said. “With whom have you fought?”

“Montefiore,” he replied.

“Ah!” she said with a sigh, “the only man you had the right to kill.”

“There were many reasons why he should die by my hand. But I can’t lose
time--Money, money! for God’s sake, money! I may be pursued. We did not
fight. I--I killed him.”

“Killed him!” she cried, “how?”

“Why, as one kills anything. He stole my whole fortune and I took it
back, that’s all. Juana, now that everything is quiet you must go down
to that heap of stones--you know the heap by the garden wall--and get
that money, since you haven’t any in the house.”

“The money that you stole?” said Juana.

“What does that matter to you? Have you any money to give me? I tell you
I must get away. They are on my traces.”

“Who?”

“The people, the police.”

Juana left the room, but returned immediately.

“Here,” she said, holding out to him at arm’s length a jewel, “that is
Dona Lagounia’s cross. There are four rubies in it, of great value, I
have been told. Take it and go--go!”

“Felicie hasn’t come back,” he cried, with a sudden thought. “Can she
have been arrested?”

Juana laid the cross on the table, and sprang to the windows that looked
on the street. There she saw, in the moonlight, a file of soldiers
posting themselves in deepest silence along the wall of the house. She
turned, affecting to be calm, and said to her husband:--

“You have not a minute to lose; you must escape through the garden. Here
is the key of the little gate.”

As a precaution she turned to the other windows, looking on the garden.
In the shadow of the trees she saw the gleam of the silver lace on the
hats of a body of gendarmes; and she heard the distant mutterings of
a crowd of persons whom sentinels were holding back at the end of the
streets up which curiosity had drawn them. Diard had, in truth, been
seen to enter his house by persons at their windows, and on their
information and that of the frightened maid-servant, who was arrested,
the troops and the people had blocked the two streets which led to the
house. A dozen gendarmes, returning from the theatre, had climbed the
walls of the garden, and guarded all exit in that direction.

“Monsieur,” said Juana, “you cannot escape. The whole town is here.”

Diard ran from window to window with the useless activity of a captive
bird striking against the panes to escape. Juana stood silent and
thoughtful.

“Juana, dear Juana, help me! give me, for pity’s sake, some advice.”

“Yes,” said Juana, “I will; and I will save you.”

“Ah! you are always my good angel.”

Juana left the room and returned immediately, holding out to Diard, with
averted head, one of his own pistols. Diard did not take it. Juana heard
the entrance of the soldiers into the courtyard, where they laid down
the body of the murdered man to confront the assassin with the sight of
it. She turned round and saw Diard white and livid. The man was nearly
fainting, and tried to sit down.

“Your children implore you,” she said, putting the pistol beneath his
hand.

“But--my good Juana, my little Juana, do you think--Juana! is it so
pressing?--I want to kiss you.”

The gendarmes were mounting the staircase. Juana grasped the pistol,
aimed it at Diard, holding him, in spite of his cries, by the throat;
then she blew his brains out and flung the weapon on the ground.

At that instant the door was opened violently. The public prosecutor,
followed by an examining judge, a doctor, a sheriff, and a posse of
gendarmes, all the representatives, in short, of human justice, entered
the room.

“What do you want?” asked Juana.

“Is that Monsieur Diard?” said the prosecutor, pointing to the dead body
bent double on the floor.

“Yes, monsieur.”

“Your gown is covered with blood, madame.”

“Do you not see why?” replied Juana.

She went to the little table and sat down, taking up the volume of
Cervantes; she was pale, with a nervous agitation which she nevertheless
controlled, keeping it wholly inward.

“Leave the room,” said the prosecutor to the gendarmes.

Then he signed to the examining judge and the doctor to remain.

“Madame, under the circumstances, we can only congratulate you on the
death of your husband,” he said. “At least he has died as a soldier
should, whatever crime his passions may have led him to commit. His act
renders negatory that of justice. But however we may desire to spare you
at such a moment, the law requires that we should make an exact report
of all violent deaths. You will permit us to do our duty?”

“May I go and change my dress?” she asked, laying down the volume.

“Yes, madame; but you must bring it back to us. The doctor may need it.”

“It would be too painful for madame to see me operate,” said the doctor,
understanding the suspicions of the prosecutor. “Messieurs,” he added,
“I hope you will allow her to remain in the next room.”

The magistrates approved the request of the merciful physician,
and Felicie was permitted to attend her mistress. The judge and the
prosecutor talked together in a low voice. Officers of the law are
very unfortunate in being forced to suspect all, and to imagine evil
everywhere. By dint of supposing wicked intentions, and of comprehending
them, in order to reach the truth hidden under so many contradictory
actions, it is impossible that the exercise of their dreadful functions
should not, in the long run, dry up at their source the generous
emotions they are constrained to repress. If the sensibilities of the
surgeon who probes into the mysteries of the human body end by growing
callous, what becomes of those of the judge who is incessantly compelled
to search the inner folds of the soul? Martyrs to their mission,
magistrates are all their lives in mourning for their lost illusions;
crime weighs no less heavily on them than on the criminal. An old man
seated on the bench is venerable, but a young judge makes a thoughtful
person shudder. The examining judge in this case was young, and he felt
obliged to say to the public prosecutor,--

“Do you think that woman was her husband’s accomplice? Ought we to take
her into custody? Is it best to question her?”

The prosecutor replied, with a careless shrug of his shoulders,--

“Montefiore and Diard were two well-known scoundrels. The maid evidently
knew nothing of the crime. Better let the thing rest there.”

The doctor performed the autopsy, and dictated his report to the
sheriff. Suddenly he stopped, and hastily entered the next room.

“Madame--” he said.

Juana, who had removed her bloody gown, came towards him.

“It was you,” he whispered, stooping to her ear, “who killed your
husband.”

“Yes, monsieur,” she replied.

The doctor returned and continued his dictation as follows,--

“And, from the above assemblage of facts, it appears evident that the
said Diard killed himself voluntarily and by his own hand.”

“Have you finished?” he said to the sheriff after a pause.

“Yes,” replied the writer.

The doctor signed the report. Juana, who had followed him into the room,
gave him one glance, repressing with difficulty the tears which for an
instant rose into her eyes and moistened them.

“Messieurs,” she said to the public prosecutor and the judge, “I am a
stranger here, and a Spaniard. I am ignorant of the laws, and I know
no one in Bordeaux. I ask of you one kindness: enable me to obtain a
passport for Spain.”

“One moment!” cried the examining judge. “Madame, what has become of the
money stolen from the Marquis de Montefiore?”

“Monsieur Diard,” she replied, “said something to me vaguely about a
heap of stones, under which he must have hidden it.”

“Where?”

“In the street.”

The two magistrates looked at each other. Juana made a noble gesture and
motioned to the doctor.

“Monsieur,” she said in his ear, “can I be suspected of some infamous
action? I! The pile of stones must be close to the wall of my garden. Go
yourself, I implore you. Look, search, find that money.”

The doctor went out, taking with him the examining judge, and together
they found Montefiore’s treasure.

Within two days Juana had sold her cross to pay the costs of a journey.
On her way with her two children to take the diligence which would carry
her to the frontiers of Spain, she heard herself being called in the
street. Her dying mother was being carried to a hospital, and through
the curtains of her litter she had seen her daughter. Juana made the
bearers enter a porte-cochere that was near them, and there the last
interview between the mother and the daughter took place. Though the two
spoke to each other in a low voice, Juan heard these parting words,--

“Mother, die in peace; I have suffered for you all.”





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